Katherine Kiel

Trump’s Superfund Cuts: Doing Less With Less

Next year will mark the 40th anniversary of the Love Canal crisis, when toxic chemicals were found to be leaking from an underground dump into homes in Niagara Falls, New York. State and federal agencies relocated more than 200 families out of the affected area. A state investigation later found elevated rates of birth defects among families who had lived at Love Canal. Cleanup at the GE Housatonic Superfund site in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, 2007. Photo Credit: USACE/Flickr, CC BY-ND This disaster called public attention to health risks from improperly controlled toxic waste. In response, President Jimmy Carter signed the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), commonly known as Superfund, into law in December 1980. Superfund has supported cleanups of toxic waste sites in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia.

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Jeff Bryant

Our School Funding Crisis Has a Cause: Bad Leadership

This week’s disturbing news that Oklahoma schools are so poorly funded some of them may move from five days a week to four got a lot of people’s attention, including my colleague Richard Eskow, who called this an example of “the Republican party’s sickness of the soul.” Unfortunately, the illness is highly contagious. The contagion stems from revenue shortfalls in states that counted on money that never materialized – at least 29 states, according to Education Week. Although unemployment rates have generally declined in these states, and economies have improved since the Great Recession, lawmakers in many of these states also decided to enact tax cuts and to do nothing about stagnating wages, so income tax and sales tax revenues flattened or even dipped.

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Libero Della Piana

There Is No Win in 2018 Without Full Voting Rights

As resistance to Trump’s agenda gathers steam, many sectors of the progressive left and Democratic Party leaders turn their eyes toward the 2018 elections as the next step in the struggle. But too few are working to defend and restore voting rights. Source: Wikimedia Commons Don’t get me wrong – the argument for building momentum to win elections is solid. There is only so much a mass movement can do, however, from the position of energetic opposition. The Republican Party controls both houses of Congress; their appointees have a majority in the Supreme Court. On a federal level, we are largely reduced to defense. Like it or not, the Trump administration will change government enforcement of key regulations, including civil rights.

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Robert Borosage

Will the GOP Health-Care Debacle Pave the Way for ‘Medicare for All’?

The Congressional Budget Office has confirmed what was already apparent: The revised House Republican health-care bill will still deprive millions of Americans – 23 million in the CBO estimate – of health insurance. Senate Republicans are devising their plan in secret, because it too will likely deprive millions of health coverage. During the campaign, Donald Trump pledged, “I am not going to cut Medicaid”; now Trumpcare and his budget would slash it by 45 percent. In contrast with Republican horrors, Obamacare has grown in popularity, but premiums are rising as insurance companies consolidate monopolies in various states and Trump works to sabotage it. Surely, now is the time for progressives to wage a fierce campaign for Medicare for All. More Than Ready Americans are more than ready.

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Richard Eskow

The Republican Party’s Sickness of the Soul

There’s a sickness on the land. You know the facts: millions of Americans lives in poverty. The number of Americans in the workforce remains low. Wages are stagnating and inequality is growing. “Deaths of despair” from alcoholism, opioid overdose, and suicide are on the rise. But it’s not just the inequality, or the poverty, or the despair, that wounds us. It’s the fact that so many Republican leaders and voters find ways to justify living with these injustices, and are now making them worse. There’s no polite way to say it: they suffer from a sickness of the soul. That kind of talk upsets the delicate feelings of conservatives like Tucker Carlson, who recently complained about the unreasonableness… (the) assumption — and it’s held by a lot of people I live around — that you’re on God’s side … and by calling them names you’re doing the Lord’s work.

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Jeff Bryant

DeVos Budget Robs from Poor Kids to Fund Schools That Discriminate

You and I witnessed history last week, and not the good kind. At a House subcommittee hearing In Washington, DC, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was called to defend to Congress the Trump administration’s education budget which cuts education options for poor kids and increases options for parents to leave public schools. DeVos called this a matter of making “tough choices” and “putting an emphasis on the programs that are proven to help students.” But tough questioning from Democratic Representatives revealed the real priority of this administration isn’t pragmatic; it’s ideological – and it’s a particularly ugly ideology our federal government has historically been focused on dismantling. More specifically, Trump’s education budget cuts $9.2 billion (13.5 percent) of federal outlays to public schools, and eliminates or phases-out twenty-two programs.

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Leo Gerard

Trump Budget Makes America Land of No Opportunity

A few hundred billion cut here, a few hundred billion slashed there, and the Trump budget proposal adds up to real crushed opportunity. The spending plan slices a pound of flesh from everyone, well, everyone who isn’t a millionaire or billionaire. For the rich, it promises massive tax breaks. There are cuts to worker safety programs, veterans’ programs, Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, food stamps, vocational training, public education, environmental protection, health research and more. So much more. The list is shockingly long. Each incision is painful. But what’s worse is the collective result: the annihilation of opportunity. The rich can buy opportunity. The rest cannot. What was always special about America was its guarantee of opportunity to everyone. All who worked hard and pulled themselves up by their  bootstraps could earn their own picket-fenced home.

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Lois Gibbs

Fight Back for Energy Independence Over Corporate Profits

‘Homeland Security – No more wars over oil!’ That’s what families in communities across Pennsylvania were promised a decade ago. ‘We’ll extract natural gas from the ground, using an unconventional process called hydrofracturing, to acquire enough natural gas that the U.S. will no longer be dependent on foreign oil!’ At least that’s what we were told. No longer would we need to send our young men and women overseas to fight oil wars. Today America is there, with over 100 years of natural gas reserves. Moreover, if our country was to also invest in energy conservation and renewables, our nation could have 200 years of reserves today. So what happened to that promise of ‘Homeland Security’ and ‘Energy Independence’? And why aren’t we celebrating? The Big Energy Lie It was a lie.

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Tobita Chow

New NAFTA Must Put People and Planet First

The White House has sent formal notice to Congress that it is initiating the process to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). All evidence suggests that despite Trump’s claims to the contrary, this puts us on track to yet another corporate trade deal that will protect the profits of multinational corporations at the expense of workers and the environment around the world. Even so, progressives now have a historic opportunity to rewrite the rules of global trade to put people and the planet first. Above all, we must end the corporate court system “free trade” relies on, which tilts the playing field in favor of multinational capital, and replace it will strong standards that protect workers and the environment, backed by enforcement mechanisms with real teeth.

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Bryce Oates

Preserving Public Lands in Montana and Beyond

Long before the nation got to know Greg Gianforte as a body-slamming, reporter-punching candidate to Congress, I knew the guy was a jerk. Why? Because he sued his own state, Montana, to remove public access to fishing on a public riverbank near his property. He sued to privatize public lands access rights, and to threaten traditional uses of our public lands. Bears Ears National Monument. Photo credit: Bureau of Land Management Sadly, Gianforte and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, whose Montana seat in Congress he now fills, are among the growing number of Republican lawmakers and industry leaders who feel public lands should be treated as their property, and who feel empowered by President Trump to go out and take what they want. Many Americans will work together to make sure this doesn’t happen. Here’s why.

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Liz Ryan Murray, Ben Ishibashi

There Is a Plan to Fix Infrastructure; It’s Not Trump’s

There’s broad agreement across our country, and across party lines, that we need more good jobs and that we need to rebuild our nation’s crumbling infrastructure. But that’s where the agreement ends. The answers to how we do that, what we build, where we build and who gets the jobs couldn’t be more different. One plan will move us backwards – deepening the climate crisis, income and wealth inequality, make our neighborhoods more toxic and more vulnerable. The other takes on the challenges of a warming planet and toxic neighborhoods head on by investing in repairing and replacing deteriorating infrastructure. This creates good, living wage jobs communities where they’re needed most and empowers our communities to build the new green, climate-change ready and just economy that finally works for all of us, not just the wealthy few.

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Richard Eskow

Of Budgets and Beatitudes: The Pope Meets the Donald

Well, that happened. Pope Francis, who has made his mark with proclamations for social and environmental justice and a humble lifestyle, met the president whose life has been marked by self-indulgence, grandiosity, and greed. Their meeting took place as Donald Trump’s administration was releasing a budget that, despite the president’s self-proclaimed faith, makes a mockery of Christian teachings. Contrary to what some might have expected, the universe did not explode in an antimatter fireball when these two opposites finally came together. Although they exchanged strong words during Trump’s presidential campaign – among other things, the Pope said Trump was “not a Christian” –  the tone of their meeting was civil. Nevertheless, the Pope’s dissatisfaction was in plain view.

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Sam Pizzigati

How Compassion Becomes Contempt in America

Somebody get this man a dictionary. Mick Mulvaney, the Trump administration budget chief, desperately needs some serious lexicological support. That became obvious when Mulvaney stepped up before reporters to defend the new Trump budget for the federal fiscal year starts in October. Image credit: DonkeyHotey / CC The assembled scribes, noting the hundreds of billions in cuts for the poor and the vulnerable in the new budget plan, wanted to know if Mulvaney considered his budget compassionate. Mulvaney promptly set about defining “compassion” — in his own terms.

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Robert Borosage

The Great Betrayal: Donald Trump’s Budget

Donald Trump’s FY 2018 budget is, the White House admits, a “message document” –  at best, a marker to begin negotiations. So what is the message this White House is sending? First, it raises a long, fat middle finger pointed at the working class voters who helped to put Trump in office. For them, this budget isn’t a con job; it is a stunning betrayal. Second, it constitutes a wet kiss for House Speaker Paul Ryan and right-wing Republican efforts to reward the rich and punish the poor. It even recycles the transparent lies that are standard Ryan fare – that top-end tax cuts will pay for themselves, that a budget that slashes taxes, raises money on the military, protects Social Security and Medicare will magically end up balanced in 10 years, that giving the rich more money will produce jobs and the poor will benefit from reversing efforts to assist them.

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Jeff Bryant

What Betsy DeVos Calls Education Transformation Is Actually Public Theft

Betsy DeVos wants to give your tax dollars to private schools and businesses and tell you it’s an education “transformation.” That’s the main theme of an address she gave this week to a conference held by the organization she helped found and lead, the American Federation for Children. Declaring “the time has expired for ‘reform,'” she called instead for a “transformation… that will open up America’s closed and antiquated education system.” Her plan also opens your wallet to new moochers of taxpayer dollars.

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Liz Ryan Murray

Trump’s Budget Builds a Wall Between the Wealthy and All of Us

With its 2018 federal budget proposal, the Trump administration made public, and made plain, its priorities for our nation. Its vision for America is one where the sick, children, families and the disabled are sacrificed for tax breaks for the very wealthiest and giveaways to trillion-dollar corporations. Click here or on the image below to download our full point-by-point answer to Trump’s 2018 budget on health care, immigration, education, housing, energy and more. Our economy has been meticulously engineered to divert the flow of money to the top of the income scale. Everything from our tax code to our housing policy to our education policy to our trade policy is designed to make it nearly impossible for someone to scale the walls of structural racism and classism and climb out of poverty.

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Jeff Bryant

Fed Up with a Budget Crisis, Illinois Citizens Take to the Streets

Joe Padilla and Egle Malinauskaite are part of a small group marching 200 miles from Chicago to the Illinois State Legislature in Springfield bringing a “People & Planet First Budget” to their lawmakers. “We’re in a narrative battle to change education from a ‘privilege’ to a fundamental right,” Joe Padilla tells me. “The problem is a lack of vision from our political leaders,” adds Egle Malinauskaite. Photo credit: March to Springfield Padilla and Malinauskaite are part of a small group marching 200 miles from Chicago to the Illinois State Legislature in Springfield to demand the passage of a new Illinois state budget. Some ten to fifteen marchers – ranging in age from twenty-three to ninety – set out on May 15 and expect to reach the state capital on May 30.

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Richard Eskow

They’re Talking a Better Game, But Will the Democrats Fight?

  In public, leading Democrats blame outside forces like Russia and former FBI Director James Comey for their losses in 2016. But privately, many acknowledge the party needs a new direction. The Democrats’ massive losses at state and congressional levels cannot be blamed on WikiLeaks, Comey or even Trump. Something clearly needs to change, and fast. Source americanprogress.org While Democrats embark on a search for bold new ideas, Trump and the Republicans are boldly dismantling large chunks of the government, with massive cuts to assistance programs from Social Security to Medicaid. These cuts will get far worse under Trump’s budget for 2018. This dismantling of our social safety net is a declaration of war against the social contract in this country, and our shared belief that we look out for one another.

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Mark Trahant

Trump Reality Show Distracts From Dismantling Medicaid

The best moment for the new Trump administration was the one where the president smiled in Saudi Arabia and said only 26 words in public. This was terrible reality TV, but we all watched knowing that it was likely just a pause. Something outrageous must be coming up next. Meanwhile, beyond the distraction, Republicans work to dismantle the most successful government health insurance for the poor, Medicaid. Photo credit: White House Reality TV works for one simple reason: The antics of the characters are beyond what’s believable in fiction. It’s compelling drama because normal people do not do such things. So part of watching is to find out when the story arc ends, to discover when the situation becomes “normal” again. Even though the story does go on and on and on. That’s why the presidency of Donald J.

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Isaiah J. Poole

The Time Is Now to Stand Up for the CFPB

Mark Feuer, the Los Angeles City Attorney who helped hold Wells Fargo accountable for creating millions of fake accounts without customers’ knowledge, now warns against efforts by the Trump administration and Congress to dismantle the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. “I’m appalled at the spectacle of the House attempting to dismantle or at least severely diminish the CFPB,” Feuer told CNNMoney in a recent interview. He was referring to a bill disingenuously called the CHOICE Act, which would neuter the now-independent CFPB so that it no longer serves as a watchdog against the predatory practices of financial institutions. People’s Action is asking for signatures on a petition calling on Congress to vote “no” on the CHOICE Act, which in expected to come up for a vote in the coming weeks.

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