Dave Johnson

Where Are The Issues?

You know those TV segments where they go out and ask regular Americans things like “Who is the Vice President?” and “Should we allow immigration from New Mexico?”, and the people-on-the-street give answers like, “What’s a Vice President?” and “I think we should send all the Muslims back to New Mexico”? Apparently the people working in America’s “news” media would do even worse if forced to answer similar questions. Corporate Media Not Covering Issues America’s news media used to cover actual news and felt a responsibility to provide information to citizens in a democracy. Now, they don’t.

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Robert Reich

Trump’s Yuge Bamboozle

Donald Trump poses as a working-class populist, but about his new economic plan would be a gusher for the wealthy. And almost nothing will trickle down to anyone else. He’d knock down the top tax rate on businesses from 35 percent to 15 percent, thereby richly rewarding the investor class. He’d cut taxes the top tax rate on the wealthy from 39.6 percent to 33 percent, another boon to the top. He’d eliminate the estate tax – now paid by a relative handful of families whose net worth exceeds $5.5 million. Not incidentally, this is an especial windfall for the Trump family. If Trump is worth as much as he says, his heirs would get a tax break of $4 billion to $7 billion. He’d let global corporations pay just a 10 percent tax rate on untaxed offshore profits – another mammoth gift to big shareholders.

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Bill Moyers

There’s No Debate

Bill Moyers and Michael Winship Let’s call the whole thing off. Not the election, although if we only had a magic reset button we could pretend this sorry spectacle never happened and start all over. No, we mean the presidential debates — which, if the present format and moderators remain as they are, threaten an effect on democracy more like Leopold and Loeb than Lincoln and Douglas. We had a humiliating sneak preview Sept. 7, when NBC’s celebrity interviewer Matt Lauer hosted a one-hour “Commander-in-Chief Forum” in which Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump spoke with Lauer from the same stage but in separate interviews.

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Richard Eskow

Despite Some Good Economic News, The Status Quo Is Not Enough

Should Democrats present themselves as fighters for a transformative economic vision, or as skilled managers whose job is to restore and maintain the status quo of the last several decades? The question came up again last week, when new economic data for 2015 was released. President Obama told a Philadelphia crowd: “… last year, across every age, every race in America, incomes rose and the poverty rate fell …the typical household income of Americans rose by $2,800, which is the single biggest one-year increase on record … We lifted 3.5 million people out of poverty. That’s the largest one-year drop in poverty since 1968. The uninsured rate is the lowest it has been since they kept record. The pay gap between men and women shrank to the lowest level ever.” It’s all true, and it’s a welcome burst of unexpected good news. These are major advances by any standard.

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Martha Burk

Trump’s Economic “Fixes” for Women Mean the Fix Is In

Donald Trump gave what was billed as a major economic address to the Economic Club of New York last week. Overall, the speech was same song, umpteenth verse of well-worn Republican bromides. Across-the-board tax cuts, especially for corporations and the wealthy (no more “death tax!”), and getting rid of government regulation. This will of course bring jobs, jobs, jobs. Trickle-down economics redux. Works great in Kansas, where there’s an outright voter revolt over massive cuts to education and public services, due to those same no-taxes and jobs-in-the-sky promises. But Trump’s so-called economic fixes for the nation’s majority – women – were woefully lacking.   His proposed slash of the top income-tax rate from 39.6% to 33% would definitely benefit upper-income female workers who earn more than $413,350 per year.

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Terrance Heath

Wingnut Week In Review: Invasion of the Clinton Body Doubles

After Hillary Clinton went a bit wobbly at the 9/11 memorial, the internet went off the deep end with speculation about her health, and whether she’s even the real Hillary Clinton. It was the swoon felt around the world. After continuing to campaign despite being diagnosed with pneumonia, Hillary Clinton had to admit she was human and needed a rest. It came to a head after Clinton was noticeably wobbly at the 9/11 memorial in New York, and had to be helped in to a vehicle in order to leave the event early. Even though she appeared rested and recovered when she emerged from her daughter’s apartment building hours later, the damage was done.

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Sam Pizzigati

Sandbagging Customers for Fun and Profit

John Stumpf, the CEO of America’s most profitable megabank, sent me an email earlier this week. Imagine that. The bank Stumpf runs, Wells Fargo, has 268,000 employees. Stumpf must be a very busy man. Especially these days. Wells Fargo has been operating in crisis mode ever since the federal Consumer Finance Protection Bureau hit the bank earlier this month with a $185-million fine, the largest penalty the new agency has ever assessed. What prompted this sizeable ding? Wells Fargo employees, CFPB investigators found, have over the past five years opened more than 2 million accounts that customers, as one press account puts it, “did not authorize, did not know they had, did not need, and clearly did not understand.” Some customers even ended up paying late fees on these bogus accounts.

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Bill Scher

If You Liked the Bush Economy, You’ll Love Trump’s Economy

President George W. Bush tried to grow the economy by giving corporations and the wealthy lower taxes and less regulation. He left office having sparked a global economic meltdown and net loss in private sector jobs. Donald Trump would do it all over again. Yesterday Trump tweaked his tax plan, making it somewhat less ridiculous, but more like what Bush did. Trump raised his proposal for the top tax rate from 25% to 33%. But that’s still a big cut from the current 39.6% top tax rate. In fact, a drop from 39.6% to 33% in the top tax rate is exactly what Bush ran on in 2000, though he settled for 35%. Like Bush, Trump would completely eliminate the estate tax (though Bush failed to make his repeal permanent). Trump would not cut the capital gains rate (Bush cut it to 15% and Obama raised it to 20%), but Trump would slash the corporate tax rate from 35% to 15%.

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Richard Eskow

Stiglitz Speaks: Globalization’s Grand Failure, Apple & Bad Trade Deals

Joseph Stiglitz speaks with Richard Eskow on “The Zero Hour.”   Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz has a new book out entitled “The Euro: How a Common Currency Threatens the Future of Europe.” On “The Zero Hour,” we spoke with Professor Stiglitz about the tension between globalization and democracy, the mistaken thinking that gave rise to the euro experiment, and what that experience can tell us about the need to resist bad trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, renegotiate older ones like NAFTA, and invest in jobs and growth in the United States. He also expressed opposition to a tax giveaway that’s reportedly in the works for corporations like Apple.

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Chuck Collins

Anti-Pipeline Movement Gathers Steam

Thousands of Native Americans at Standing Rock in North Dakota are protesting a pipeline project that puts their water supply at risk, threatens to plow up their sacred sites, and would worsen climate change. Their rallying echoes hundreds of local struggles across the U.S. that question the prudence, safety, and necessity of thousands of new gas pipeline projects. The gas industry tells us these projects promote energy independence and meet local gas needs. But the driving force behind most of these billion dollar infrastructure projects? Gas export. Big gas is desperate to get their cheap shale gas to global export terminals — and they’ve dug up millions of backyards to do it. Fortunately for the industry, they have a subservient federal agency that grants them the power of eminent domain to take those backyards. Image via The All Nite Image @ Flickr.

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Jeff Bryant

Is Donald Trump The Charter School Industry’s Worst Nightmare?

Presidential candidate Donald Trump likely just handed the charter school industry the worst sort of favor. In unveiling his education plan, the Republican candidate proposed a $20 billion federal block grant to allow states to give vouchers to low-income students to attend whatever school they want. The proposal is the most full-throated support for school choice ever issued by a presidential candidate in a general election campaign. It’s also the ill-conceived, grandiose and politically polarizing gesture that many charter school proponents feared most.

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Terrance Heath

Minimum Wage Increases On the Ballot In Four States

There’s a lot more going on in this election than the presidential race between Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump. Borne out of the dedication and hard work of activists, ballot initiatives give citizens the opportunity to vote directly on legislation and constitutional amendments at the state and local level, sometimes even bypassing the legislature. This year, People’s Action affiliates in four states have seen their hard work pay off by successfully getting initiatives to increase the minimum wage on the ballot. Arizona In Arizona, voters will decide whether to pass The Fair Wages and Healthy Families Initiative. The ballot initiative, if passed, will raise Arizona’s minimum wage to $10 per hour in 2017, and gradually raise it to $12 by 2020.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Trump Dodges His Racist Past In His Latest Black Voter Outreach

Cellphone video shot by someone attending Donald Trump’s appearance at a Flint, Mich. church shows the Republican presidential candidate being interrupted and confronted by protesters.   The Associated Press reported Wednesday that when Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump visited a predominantly African American church in Flint, Michigan, he was “heckled by several members of the sparse crowd.” Those weren’t just any hecklers, and the “heckling” was actually an attempt to bring to light serious issues in Trump’s past that he’s now trying to whitewash. These were members of the Michigan People’s Campaign, who stood during Trump’s appearance at Bethel United Methodist Church to demand Trump answer for specific instances of racial discrimination by him and his companies.

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Terrance Heath

What Clinton and Millions of Workers Have in Common: Going To Work Sick

Hillary Clinton was feeling a little woozy. On Sunday morning, after standing around for an hour and a half at the 9/11 memorial event at Ground Zero, possibly while wearing a bullet proof vest in 80 degree heat, the 68-year-old Democratic nominee felt a bit less than well, and left the event early. She was even seen to wobble a bit, and buckle at the knees, before she was into a waiting vehicle. Clinton later emerged from her daughter’s apartment building, looking completely recovered. That afternoon, we learned that Hillary Clinton was just doing what millions of Americans do every day: going to work sick. Clinton’s longtime physician, Dr. Lisa Bardack, M.D., announced that the candidate had pneumonia, and had been advised to rest. Clearly, that’s not advice that Clinton has been inclined to take.

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Steve Rouzer

Income Increase In Census Report Is A Boon For Small Business

In the midst of slow recovery, the U.S. Census Bureau’s report Tuesday showing an uptick in household incomes is music to the ears of Main Street small business owners. The report documented the first increase in median household incomes since 2007, and a 1.2 percent decrease in our nation’s poverty rate. Small businesses have already begun to feel the impact on their bottom line as incomes surged to near pre-recession levels. The boost in household income is one factor in recently reported increases in consumer spending, particularly in the retail and food service sectors. Also encouraging was the decrease in households living below the poverty line.

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Bill Scher

What Obama’s Climate Legacy Tells Us About Executive Power

President Barack Obama recently sat with the New York Times to discuss his legacy on climate, and was asked about his failure to enact legislation to cap greenhouse emission. He responded: “Here, in 2016, we’ve actually achieved more carbon emissions [reduction] that we would have under the cap-and-trade bill that … went down in [Congress].” This is correct, though more context is needed. The cap-and-trade bill that passed the House but never reached the Senate floor aimed to cut greenhouse gas emissions, from their level in 2005, 3 percent by 2012 and 17 percent in 2020. If those reductions were steady, there would have been a 6.5 percent cut by 2014. Blocked by Congress, Obama leveraged executive power. For example, vehicle fuel-efficiency standards have been raised.

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Dave Johnson

Wednesday Is National Call-In Day To Stop the TPP

Wall Street, the multinational corporations and President Obama are pushing for a vote on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in the “lame duck” session of Congress that follows the election. Wednesday, September 14, is a national call-in day to Congress to stop this. Use this link, or use this number, 888-659-7351. Ask your representative to issue a public statement against the TPP. Setting aside all the other bad things in TPP, and there are so many, one part of TPP places corporations above governments – above even our democracy. TPP sets up a system in which corporations can sue our government for passing laws and regulations that hurt their profits – even their “expected” profits. The cases are heard in a corporate tribunal outside of our own court system, where corporate attorneys hear the cases, and there is no appeal of their rulings.

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Leo Gerard

Dishonest Don

Donald Trump likes to brag on the campaign trail that he’s the best at bribing politicians. He said, for example, “When you give, they do whatever the hell you want them to do.”  But then when he got caught giving and getting exactly what the hell he wanted, he claimed that’s not what happened. Not only that, Trump promises as president he would surround himself with the best advisers. The best! Just like he says he did as a businessman. And he claims he’s a great businessman. The greatest! Well, maybe he forgot about his four bankruptcies that left hundreds of small businessmen and craftsmen unpaid. And maybe he forgot about the fiasco surrounding his namesake foundation illegally giving a “donation” to an attorney general who then decided to drop a fraud investigation against him. The advisers in that case? Not exactly the best.

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Richard Eskow

Al Capone, Meet Wells Fargo

As the latest Wells Fargo scandal was breaking, the music world learned of the death of Prince Buster. He’s the Jamaican ska legend who made a record called “Al Capone” and sang “Enjoy yourself/it’s later than you think.” I wonder what he thought about Wall Street? Banking giant Wells Fargo agreed to pay a $185 million fine last week, after it was discovered that its employees have opened than 2 million phony checking and credit card accounts in its customers’ names. There’s a pattern here. A week before Wells Fargo’s settlement was announcement, banking giant HSBC was charged with foreign-exchange trading violations. That appears to have voided a deal which allowed its bankers escaped prosecution for a persistent pattern of violating international sanctions and laundering money for the Mexican drug cartels. Wells Fargo has a drug connection too.

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Sam Pizzigati

CEO Pay as a Menace to Our Health

Peter Drucker, the internationally acclaimed founder of modern management science, lived nearly a century. He died in 2006 at age 95. He died troubled. The Austrian-born Drucker had always considered management a noble calling, a profession essential to the common good. Humankind would only prosper, he believed, if enterprises operated efficiently and effectively. Only skilled executives who respected their employees — and valued their insights — could nurture enterprises this high-performing. But Drucker would live long enough to see executives in his adopted United States pervert his management ideal. The corporate “downsizing” epidemic of the 1990s appalled him. The leader of South Korea’s Justice Party, Sim Sang-jung, is taking the management wisdom of Peter Drucker to heart.

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