Leo Gerard

American Workers Crushed Under China’s Deliberate Overproduction

I went to Washington, D.C., last week to ask trade experts and lawmakers to stop the relentless, lawless, callous dumping of Chinese steel, aluminum, paper, rubber, glass, chemicals and other products, which has closed mills, killed jobs, destroyed lives, devastated American communities and imperiled national security. American steel is made in the most efficient, cost-effective mills in the world by the most skilled, productive workers anywhere. That’s a fact. It’s a fact that steel executives testified to last week in hearings conducted by members of Congress and trade law enforcers. We want the trade enforcers and Congress to stop the dumping and to force China to dramatically cut its steel production because China has kept none of its promises over the past seven years to voluntarily do so. In fact, it has continuously increased production.

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Dave Johnson

Panama Trade Agreement: Was Tax Evasion The Point All Along?

The Bush administration negotiated the Panama free trade agreement without addressing Panama’s bank and corporate secrecy. Panama has little to “trade” with the U.S., so maybe leaving secrecy out of the agreement wasn’t an accident; it was the point. It provided a stamp of legitimacy and protections for “investors” moving their money to Panama. Panama Trade Agreement The Panama–United States Trade Promotion Agreement, negotiated by the Bush administration, was finalized by the Obama administration and went into effect in 2012. The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) website promotes the agreement as removing “barriers to U.S. services, including financial services.” It removed some duties and tariffs on U.S. exports and phased out others, like agricultural goods and technology products. It provided “protections” for U.S.

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Bernie Sanders

Inequality: The Great Political And Moral Issue Of Our Time

Remarks delivered by Bernie Sanders at The Vatican, on April 15, 2016. I am honored to be with you today and was pleased to receive your invitation to speak to this conference of The Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. Today we celebrate the encyclical Centesimus Annus and reflect on its meaning for our world a quarter-century after it was presented by Pope John Paul II. With the fall of Communism, Pope John Paul II gave a clarion call for human freedom in its truest sense: freedom that defends the dignity of every person and that is always oriented towards the common good. The Church’s social teachings, stretching back to the first modern encyclical about the industrial economy, Rerum Novarum in 1891, to Centesimus Annus, to Pope Francis’s inspiring encyclical Laudato Si’ this past year, have grappled with the challenges of the market economy.

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Burning Issues Video

Burning Issues: The U.S. Exporting Climate Change

Given the threat of global climate change, the United States should not have a two-faced energy policy – encouraging green energy at home and encouraging fossil fuel exports abroad. Kyle Ash, senior legislative representative at Greenpeace, says in this Burning Issues video that there are real dangers that the U.S., through such mechanisms as the Export-Import Bank, will facilitate the extraction of new fossil fuel sources around the world, despite its participation in the Paris climate accords. As a senator, Bernie Sanders sponsored legislation that would end all U.S. subsidies to fossil fuel companies, including export assistance. As a presidential candidate, Sanders is the only one to have signed a Greenpeace pledge to not accept campaign contributions from fossil fuel companies.

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Roger Hickey

Getting Arrested to Demand Democracy

On Monday I joined hundreds of others to get arrested at the U.S. Capitol building. It’s been a while since I last engaged in civil disobedience. But I am just one of millions of people in America who want to stop the growing attacks on our democracy. Organizations representing those millions have come together last week for a Democracy Spring and Democracy Awakening. Before Monday, 900 people have been arrested in carefully planned acts of civil disobedience, and after Monday, that number will be much, much larger. News flash: Capitol Police just confirmed that Monday’s arrests totaled over 300. On Capitol Hill, I joined Rev.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Elizabeth Warren Takes On TurboTax (And Its Fellow Scavengers)

One of the right’s favorite talking points is how they’d like the tax code to be so simple that a citizen could file their taxes on a postcard. Here’s what the right doesn’t talk about: There is already a law on that books that would make tax filing simpler and save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars – but the tax preparation industry has succeeded in keeping the law from being implemented as intended. That’s not a surprise that companies like Intuit, the maker of TurboTax, would go to war against this law: Simplified tax preparation is a mortal threat to their business. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has taken on the tax preparation industry, issuing a report last week and a petition on Monday calling on Congress to pass the Tax Filing Simplification Act.

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Dean Baker

Summing Up the Clinton-Sanders Policy Debate in One Line

I like Jonathan Cohn personally and have great respect for his work as a reporter and writer on health care issues. However, I think he actually told readers the opposite of what he intended in his Huffington Post piece headlined, “this one line sums up the big Clinton-Sanders policy argument.” The big line in Cohn’s piece is that Senator Sanders’ proposal for a single-payer system would cause a single mother with two children, earning $26,813 a year, to pay $2,314 in payroll taxes rather than getting health insurance for her family free through Medicaid, as would be the case now. Cohn sees this as a major hit to this family, which is a serious problem with Sanders’ proposal. There are several points here worth noting. First, as Cohn points out, Sanders is also proposing a $15 an hour minimum wage.

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Jeff Bryant

Here Comes The Charter School Sneak Attack On Bipartisan Policy

Everyone talks about the “do-nothing Congress” and how Republican obstruction has neutered the federal government. But recently there was one policy area where warring parties in Congress actually settled their differences. Late last year, both houses passed and President Obama signed new national education legislation to replace the infamous No Child Left Behind law from the early years of the George W. Bush administration. The Washington Post reported, “The Every Student Succeeds Act, which received strong bipartisan support from both houses of Congress, will directly affect nearly 50 million students and their 3.4 million teachers in the nation’s 100,000 public schools.” Obama declared it “a Christmas Miracle.” Unfortunately, when it comes to education policy, the b-word, “bipartisan,” has not necessarily been a good thing.

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Robert Borosage

Tax Day: Global Corporations Prefer to Defer

Tax day. In the District of Columbia, the main post office stays open until midnight. Taxpayers who waited until the last moment line up to get a receipt showing they filed on time. America’s civic ritual. But not everyone participates. America’s major corporations – Apple, Pfizer, Microsoft, Citigroup – have stashed a stunning $2.4 trillion abroad in order to avoid paying an estimated $700 billion in taxes. Under American tax law, multinationals earning profits abroad get a credit for the taxes they must pay to a foreign country. They are supposed to pay the difference between those taxes and the U.S. rate. Congress passed a loophole in the law called “deferral.” They can defer paying taxes on profits earned abroad until they return the money to the U.S. This doesn’t make much sense.

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Burning Issues Video

Burning Issues: When Fracking Goes Global

Hydraulic fracturing – “fracking” – to extract oil and gas deposits deep underground is rapidly becoming a global concern, says Jesse Coleman, a research investigator for Greenpeace, in this Burning Issues video segment. The globalization of what has been a United States environmental issue intensifies the global warming crisis, Coleman explains, and undermines the deployment of renewable energy in developing countries. Nonetheless, the United States government is supporting U.S. oil companies as they engage in fracking in other countries. Coleman reviews the positions of the presidential candidates. On the Democratic side, Coleman explains that while Hillary Clinton favors regulating future fracking activities, Bernie Sanders supports banning fracking altogether because of its global warming and environmental impact.

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Terrance Heath

Wingnut Week In Review: Out Of Business

Governor Pat McCrory’s sleight of hand won’t fix North Carolina’s anti-LGBT law, save his political career, or keep his state from hemorrhaging jobs and money. If it isn’t repealed, the state might find itself literally “out of business.” To hear Republican North Carolina governor Pat McCrory tell it, not long ago the state legislature convened in a special session — at a $42,000 cost to tax payers — to pass House Bill 2, a law that didn’t really change anything. And all because the city of Charlotte passed a non-discrimination ordinance including sexual orientation and gender identity, which prohibited discrimination against LGBT people in public accommodations.

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Dave Johnson

Did The Administration Offer New Balance A Big Contract For TPP Silence?

Last year President Obama went to Nike headquarters to promote the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). But Nike doesn’t make shoes in the US,  and TPP would force companies like New Balance to stop making shoes here. New Balance kept quiet about this, but now says the administration offered the company a big contract in exchange for its silence. New Balance is talking now, because the contract never came through. A Contract In Exchange For Silence? The Bangor Daily News has a big story this week, “New Balance claims Defense Department strung it along on military sneaker contract”: New Balance officials say they’ve broken their silence over the Trans-Pacific Partnership because the Obama administration has failed to offer the company a chance for a contract to sell sneakers to the military.

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Robert Borosage

The Big Apple Debate

Last night’s CNN Democratic presidential debate in Brooklyn was both contentious and clarifying. It was contentious because the each candidate has had it with the other. Clinton is aggravated that Sanders has been surging and irritated that he keeps pointing out that she’s the big money, establishment candidate in the race. Sanders is tired of Clinton distorting his record, and being slippery about her own positions. But, contrary to the hand wringing of pundits, it isn’t the personal distemper that will make unity difficult in the fall. It is significant differences on policy, direction and strategy. The Obama Card Once more, Clinton made herself the candidate of continuity. She wrapped herself in President Obama again and again. She invoked him to defend taking big bucks from Wall Street and special interests.

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Isaiah J. Poole

No Budget Debate on the House Floor, So Let’s Take It To The Streets

The House Republicans, who under the leadership of their new speaker, Rep. Paul Ryan, was supposed to prove this year that they could govern and not merely obstruct, has failed one of its most important tests. The Republicans are so divided they can’t even bring their own budget to the House floor by the April 15 deadline. House Republicans failed in this basic part of their job because they are divided between the “severely conservative” wing led by Ryan – to use the inartful language of Mitt Romney when he was running for president with Ryan as his running mate – and the bat-dung crazy conservatives of the House Freedom Caucus, for whom the record reductions in domestic government spending and shredding of the social safety net embraced by the broad majority of House Republicans are not Draconian enough.

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Jeff Bryant

The Flint Effect: Will One City’s Crisis Spark A National Awakening?

When news about lead contamination in the water supply of Flint Michigan made headlines across the nation, many compared the crisis to Hurricane Katrina. Even Michigan Governor Rick Snyder called the disaster “his Katrina,” comparing the failure of government leadership in his state to the failure of public officials who left Katrina victims stranded. But while Katrina was a singular event with a tragically long legacy, Flint is proving to be the beginning of a story playing out over a much longer time period and in more than one place. It’s the difference between a blockbuster movie and the season opener of a TV serial. In an update on Flint from the New York Times, we learn the crisis is anything but over. “Reports of rashes, itchiness, and hair loss” are making people fearful of using the city water to bathe in.

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Dave Johnson

Verizon Workers Strike To Keep America’s Middle Class

After months and months of contract negotiations went nowhere, 39,000 Verizon workers went on strike . The strike is about corporate greed. The workers want job stability, acceptable working conditions, and respect as human beings. The company wants the “flexibility” to be able to change workers days and hours at will, do even more outsourcing, make workers do more to make up for their desire to employ fewer people, and generally treat human beings as commodities. And of course the company doesn’t want to provide decent pay and benefits. Verizon’s Business Verizon has a “wireline” business, which is both “landline” phone and wire Internet services. This brought the company $37.7 billion in revenue in 2015, but this is down 1.8 percent from 2014, so Verizon is not happy.

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Dave Johnson

The Big Fight Over Chinese Steel

China increased its steel production capacity by 540 percent between 2000 and 2014. Then the market slowed. To keep from having to lay off workers, China’s steel companies started “dumping” steel on world markets at below-market prices. As a result, steel companies outside of China, including in the U.S., have to lay off workers or close down. What’s the solution? Overcapacity When China’s growth was very high, and China was building tall buildings and high-speed rail all over the place they needed a lot of steel. Then their economy slowed. Now China is making more steel than they need. Meanwhile countries around the world are fighting their own slow growth with austerity policies that literally take money out of their economies – like cutting back on infrastructure maintenance and modernization. And their slowing economies mean less steel use.

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Bill Scher

Does The Republican Party Really Want To Steal a Trump Nom For Ted Cruz?

At The New Republic today, I question whether the Republican Party has the courage to stop Donald Trump on the convention floor. Assuming Trump ends up short of majority, the delegates will have the means to block his path. But they need the will to withstand the virulent charges of subverting democracy. And after Speaker Paul Ryan said the convention should not turn to a new candidate who didn’t compete in the primaries, that leaves only existing candidates who performed worse than Trump in the primaries. If the party actually resists Trump and his plurality support — 37 percent of the raw vote so far — the likeliest beneficiary is Ted Cruz, the runner-up with 28 percent of the vote.

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Burning Issues Video

Burning Issues: The Money Hidden In Shell Companies

There is as much as $27 trillion hidden in shell companies around the world, outside of the reach of governments and public scrutiny, according to Porter McConnell, the director of the Financial Transparency Coalition. That has a huge impact on the global economy, she says, from corporate tax evasion to international criminal trafficking. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, developing countries lose because of money hidden in tax havens seven times as much as they receive in development aid. The Panama Papers has brought global attention to the impact one Panama-based firm has had in setting up shell companies for wealthy individuals and politicians around the world.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Fight for $15 Movement Confronts The Presidential Candidates

Thursday night is a big night for both political parties in New York City, with the Democratic presidential candidates staging a presidential debate in Brooklyn and the Republican candidates appearing at a black-tie fundraiser at the New York Hilton. But before they get to their big nights, the candidates will have to get through the big day planned by the Fight for $15 movement, which is staging major demonstrations and strikes in New York, Washington and hundreds of other cities around the country. In Manhattan, marchers started gathering Thursday morning at the Times Square McDonald’s and planned a “die-in” at a McDonald’s in Brooklyn. The protests are expected to culminate in an afternoon march that would end at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, where all three of the major Republican candidates are scheduled to appear.

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