Jeff Bryant

How The GOP Tax Scheme Will Screw Your Local Schools

There’s a lot that’s bad in the tax scheme Republicans are cooking up on Capitol Hill right now, but one particularly odious ingredient is a proposal to eliminate the deduction for state and local taxes (SALT) which could end up undercutting funding for education, fire and police protection, and other public services in communities across the country. Some Republicans in the House are having a hard time swallowing the proposal, but Senate Republicans are dead set on making sure their final recipe for tax reform takes away the SALT tax expenditure. Eliminating the SALT deduction would be “an assault on local governance” and the “long-term economic stability in our communities,” says the National School Boards Association.

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Robert Borosage

The Great American Tax Heist

With passage of their budget framework, Republicans in Congress have embarked on a preposterous mission of passing—in three weeks—a tax bill that still hasn’t been released to the public as of this writing. They plan to pass the bill, which is likely to end up near 1,000 pages in length, with only Republican votes. This dynamic will set off a lobbyist scrum. This is when the rules get fixed to benefit the few, with lies and false promises floated to delude the many. One of the most egregious examples is the tax-repatriation and territoriality provisions, a “reform” that will reward tax avoidance by the big corporations. Today global corporations are able to avoid paying US taxes by a legal loophole known as deferral. Taxes are deferred on an estimated $2.6 trillion in profits that corporations book as having been earned offshore.

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Jeff Bryant

Dear Democrats: Screwing Public Schools Won’t Get You Elected

“Here we go again,” was what many left-leaning folks likely felt after seeing a recent announcement about a new effort by wealthy donors to rescue the Democratic Party from its electoral doldrums. Backed by $20 million, the “New Blue” campaign, coming from politically centrist think tank Third Way, promises to lead the  party out of the “wilderness” of its minority status to a pathway to “achieving progressive majorities up and down the ballot.” But Third Way’s offer sounds more like a continuation of the old losing ways. This is especially true on the issue of education where Third Way continues to bang the drum for a failed agenda that voters mostly reject.

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Richard Eskow

Dems Want to Ditch Leaders and Move Left; They’re Right

A new poll shows most Democratic voters want their party to move left, with new people in charge. In other words, they want a political revolution. They’ve got the right idea. If the party establishment thinks Robert Mueller’s investigation will save it, it’s probably wrong. After President Richard Nixon and Vice President Spiro Agnew were both removed from office for malfeasance, Jimmy Carter barely eked out a win in 1976. Four years later, Ronald Reagan’s victory ushered in 12 years of Republican leadership in the White House. That’s a lesson for today’s Democrats. High crimes and misdemeanors don’t automatically translate into enthusiasm for the other party, especially in today’s murky political environment.  Corruption is more likely to lead to cynicism than to citizen involvement, unless voters are given something to believe in.

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Joe Mangino

Five Years After Sandy: The Long Road Home

I’m Joe Mangino, and I live with my family in the Jersey Shore town of Beach Haven West. Five years after Hurricane Sandy, we’re still on the long road home. Sandy took away my house and my livelihood. Like many of our neighbors, the Mangino family was knocked down. But we got up, made new friends, rebuilt and refused to be knocked out. We’ve learned so much from the storm. More than anything, I’ve learned that we’re strong when we stand together. I joke that I hugged more people in the year after Sandy then I had in the first 40 years of my life. But we’ve also learned how much needs to be changed. Too many of us are still hurting, because of greed, government inertia and indifference. If Sandy taught us we can rebuild, it also taught us that we must find a better way. Our Story Our home, along with 40,000 others, was totally wrecked by Sandy.

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Leo Gerard

GOP Smash-And-Burn Tax Plan Does Nothing for Workers

Congressional Republicans are selling a trickle-down tax scam times two. It’s the same old snake oil, with double hype and no cure. A single statistic explains it all: one percent of Americans – that is the tiny, exclusive club of billionaires and millionaires – get 80 percent of the gain from this tax con. Eighty percent! But that’s not all! To pay for that unneeded and unwarranted red-ribbon wrapped gift to the uber wealthy, Republicans are slashing and burning $5 trillion in programs cherished by workers, including Medicare and Medicaid. Look at the statistic in reverse, and it seems worse: 99 percent of Americans will get only 20 percent of the benefit from this GOP tax scam. That’s not tax reform. That’s tax defraud. Republican tax hucksters claim the uber rich will share. It’s the trickle down effect, they say, the 99 percent will get some trickle down.

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LeeAnn Hall

The GOP’s Tax Bill Is A Turkey No Pardon Can Save

GOP lawmakers are laughing into their hats as they head home from Capitol Hill, thinking tax cuts for the rich – the ones they’ve wanted for so long – are finally within reach, if they can hold on a little longer. There’ll be smiles all around the Thanksgiving table, they imagine, with a fat turkey in the middle of the feast, if they can just hang tight for a few more weeks. They’re wrong; we’re going to stop them. There is a fat turkey in this story, but it’s not on the Thanksgiving table, surrounded by trimmings and gravy. It’s in the Senate, hoping to land on the President’s desk. The GOP, desperate for a legislative win it can take home to donors, has shown itself willing to tell all lies, sacrifice lives, and pay any cost, as long as it’s borne by working people, and not by them or their rich friends.

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Jeff Bryant

Center For American Progress Makes a Failed Case for Charters

President Donald Trump swept into office on a platform that included support for charter schools and other alternatives to public schools, and his Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, an ardent supporter of “school choice” in all its forms, recently announced her department would provide over a quarter-billion dollars to help expand charters. So it’s surprising to see the Center for American Progress, originators of the #Resist campaign, issue a “Progressive Case for Charter Schools” that decries the “waning” support for charters among Democrats and scolds charter school skeptics for being against progressive institutions. But CAP’s argument for charters is flawed and unconvincing in multiple ways.

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Sam Pizzigati

Trump’s ‘Reform’ Tilts Tax Code to Favor the Rich

How much did your paychecks total last year? You know the answer, of course. So does the Social Security Administration. The totals for every American’s paycheck income are sitting in Social Security’s computers. Once every year, Social Security does a serious data dump out of those computers to let us know just how much working Americans are actually making. The latest totals — covering 2016 — have just appeared. Most of us, the new numbers show, are simply not making all that much. In fact, nearly half of our nation’s employed — 49.3 percent — earned less than $30,000 in 2016. A good many of these Americans lived in poverty. In 2016, families of four that earned less than $24,339 ranked as officially poor. We don’t have an “official” figure for middle class status.

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Richard Eskow

Why “Centrists” Will Sink the Democrats, If They Haven’t Already

No political ideology in modern American history has failed as consistently, or for as long, as the Wall Street-friendly political brand known as “Democratic centrism.” It’s true that individual politicians have succeeded under this umbrella, through art and luck, but their party and their policies have faltered under this ideology.  Yet its practitioners continue to hawk their wares, undeterred by a losing streak that has brought their party to its knees. Consider the recent New York Times column from Steven Rattner, the Wall Street executive who helped Barack Obama rescue the auto industry. Mr. Rattner is unhappy with Medicare For All’s growing support among Democrats and centrism’s waning fortunes. He frames that dissatisfaction, first and foremost, as a personal critique of Medicare For All’s leading proponent.

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Harvey J Kaye

Do Democrats Really Need Wall Street?

Halloween is coming and fear mongering seems to be the order of the day – not just on the part of Republicans, but apparently no less so on the part of “centrist” and conservative Democrats who are expressing growing anxiety about offending big donors who see politics not as the pursuit of justice but as the pursuit of their interests. Douglas Schoen, said to have been Bill Clinton’s favorite pollster during his presidency, has taken to the Op-Ed page of the New York Times to warn center-right party members and friends that all Hell will break loose if the Democrats embrace a platform promising “wealth redistribution through higher taxes and Medicare for all” and utilizing democracy to challenge the power of money.

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Robert Borosage

Dems Need To Ignore Wall Street’s Advice for the Party

The Wall Street wing of the Democratic Party will always be with us. Its policies—on financial deregulation, trade, fiscal austerity, mass incarceration, and military intervention—have been ruinous. Its political aversion to populist appeals has been self-defeating. But Wall Street has the money, so it will always enjoy upholstered think tanks, perches on op-ed pages, and gaggles of politicians eager to peddle its proposals. As the Democratic Party finds itself in the wilderness, the Wall Streeters are trying to argue that they have a way out. Will Marshall, co-founder of the Democratic Leadership Council and rabid advocate of the Iraq War and the Libyan debacle, has announced another venture, New Democracy, to develop “really big ideas” for Democrats.

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Imre Szalai

Why We Need Moral Leadership and Access to Justice

In the wake of White Nationalist demonstrations in Charlottesville, American business leaders surprisingly and boldly stepped up to demonstrate moral leadership at a time when we needed it most. That response, from the CEOs who spoke out against hatred, was a stunning and landmark moment in American history. I hope their actions are just the start of displaying moral guidance in other critically important fields, such as healthcare, immigration, and climate change. One area where leadership is needed right now is access to justice and the American legal system. Read the Fine Print Over the last few years, large companies have used the fine print in their consumer and employment contracts to insulate themselves from liability for corporate wrongdoing and sexual harassment.

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O.J. Semans

Indian Country Knows: Your Voting Rights Are At Risk

Years ago I heard a Federal Prosecutor, upon losing a case, quote Benjamin Franklin in this way: “It is better a hundred guilty persons should escape than that one innocent person should suffer.” Franklin’s words came back to me when I learned about President Trump’s Commission on Election Integrity, which he created to back up his baseless claim that “millions” voted illegally for his opponent in 2016.

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Richard Eskow

Trump’s Muslim Bans Impoverish Us All

Economically, culturally, strategically, and morally, Donald Trump’s obsessive efforts to ban Muslim immigrants and refugees from the United States have impoverished us all. His most recent attempt proves it. Premeditated Hate On Tuesday, a federal judge in Hawaii partially blocked Trump’s third attempt at a Muslim ban, saying that it failed to provide “sufficient findings”  to support the argument that allowing immigration from six Muslim-majority nations would harm the United States. The judge, Derrick K. Watson, cited a Trump campaign document that said, “Donald J.

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Jeff Bryant

In Disasters’ Wake, Public School System DeVos Attacks Proves Essential

A favorite talking point of U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is to say that conversations about education should not be about “systems and buildings” but about “individual students.” It’s a skillfully crafted soundbite designed to cast schools as oppressive bureaucracies that limit the education opportunities available to children and families. It also differentiates schools from other essential public infrastructure such as fire and police protection, sanitation, and roads. Few people question the need to have a fire department or an office responsible for transportation, but DeVos’s scripted phrase is an attempt to convince us that education has become a consumer good we can pick up anywhere and that schools are relics of a bygone era when we didn’t have the internet and other means of conveying knowledge.

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Hannah Gelder

We Can Stop the GOP’s Heartless Budget

Republicans in Congress want to drive our nation’s economy, and budget, off a cliff. They just don’t care. But it doesn’t have to be that way; here in Illinois, we know from experience there is a way out of this madness, if we stand together and put people and planet first. Desperate for a win, Republicans are poised to ram a spending plan through the Senate that cuts over $5 trillion from domestic programs, including $1 trillion from Medicaid and $470 billion from Medicare. Why? So they can give tax cuts to the rich and other giveaways that, by their own admission, help those who need them least. Here in Illinois, we saw this coming. Our state leaders, drunk on austerity, have cut spending by 27 percent since 2002, driving us into a budget impasse that lasted two years, devastating our social safety net and public university systems. But out of crisis comes clarity.

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Sam Pizzigati

Bargains in the Clouds

What a great time to be alive — if you’re sitting on a couple hundred million and have a hankering for your own private jet. Buying a pair of luxury wings has never been more of a bargain. Prices for new and “pre-owned” jets have simply gone “insane,” as aviation analyst Barry Justice puts it. Gulfstream, for instance, has slashed the $43-million sticker price on the company’s G450 model by 35 percent. Bombardier has discounted the $26-million Challenger 350 by $7 million. Prices for used jets, meanwhile, have plummeted 16 percent over the past year. For deep pockets worldwide, says analyst Justice, the bargains have become too good to pass up.

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Richard Eskow

How to Profit from the Coming Trump Apocalypse

Somebody ought to write a self-help book for Republican politicians called, “How to Profit from the Coming Trump Apocalypse.”  Although, come to think of it, they’re doing pretty well with that already. The newspapers have been filled with stories of Trump’s tense relationship with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.  And Trump’s escalating war of words with North Korea is making everyone else tense, as the planet learns more about the man with the nuclear codes. A Google search for the words “Trump unstable” yields more than 10 million hits.

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Daniel Doubet

The Rise of Pennsylvania’s Racist Right Is a Warning to the Nation

State Senator Scott Wagner, the waste treatment millionaire who wants to become Pennsylvania’s next governor, derides left-leaning donor George Soros as a “Hungarian Jew” who harbors “hatred for America.” Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Dave Reed used campaign funds to pay for his membership in the “Indiana Armstrong Patriots,” a Tea Party group in western PA that defended Neo-Nazis when they attacked counter-protesters in Charlottesville. When Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R), who claims the state is under attack by “illegal aliens,” invited avowed White Nationalist Bob Vandervoort to testify in favor of making English the state’s official language, he defended Vandervoort’s racialized views.

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