Leo Gerard

A New NAFTA Must Help, Not Hurt, Workers

Promises were made. And workers believed candidate Donald Trump when he pledged to stop corporations from exporting American factories. Workers cast votes based on Trump swearing he would end the trade cheating that kills American jobs. This week, though, workers got bad news from Washington, D.C. President Trump proposed virtually eliminating funding for a Labor Department bureau that helps prevent U.S. workers from having to compete with forced and child labor overseas. In addition, the administration issued only vague objectives for renegotiating the job-killing North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). When NAFTA has cost at least 900,000 Americans their jobs, vague is unacceptable. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said his first rule in negotiations for a new NAFTA would be to “do no harm.” That’s not good enough. That’s the status quo, and promises were made.

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Bryce Oates

Trump Is No FDR: Public Electricity Proves it

Trump is no FDR, no matter what he claims. To see why, we need look no further than his efforts to dismantle one of FDR’s greatest achievements: public investment in electric power. I live in the Pacific Northwest, where the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) sells electricity from 31 federally owned hydroelectric dams along the Columbia River Basin. This publicly-owned utility also operates three-quarters of the Northwest’s high-voltage transmission lines. Thanks to the BPA, electric rates for Northwest families and entrepreneurs are more affordable than in many other parts of the country. And like many of the New Deal’s public-sector programs –  which successfully lifted this country out of the Great Depression, and still meet the needs of millions of Americans – the BPA is now under attack by the Trump administration.

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LeeAnn Hall

Health Victory Opens Way to Better Care for All

Today, we have a lot to celebrate. We saved health care for 23 million people – and for our whole country. Yes, it was the months of tireless effort by opponents of the Trump-Republican health care repeal effort that set the stage for the legislative defeat that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was forced to acknowledge Monday night. Our sustained grassroots pressure derailed legislation that would have dismantled Medicaid, hiked our premiums and deductibles, and hurt people with pre-existing conditions – all while giving a $600 billion tax break to drug corporations, insurance companies and the ultra-rich.

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George Goehl, LeeAnn Hall

The Lessons of Love Canal

In 1978 in Love Canal, N.Y., Lois Gibbs forged a new model for environmental activism focused on the human cost of environmental destruction and grassroots leaders’ power to combat it. She went on to create the Center for Health, Environment, & Justice (CHEJ), which now shares that model with 300 community organizations fighting to put people and planet first. Almost forty years later, we’re at another crossroads in the fight for climate justice. The stakes have never been higher. And the lessons of Love Canal may be more relevant than ever. The good news is that a burgeoning multiracial, working-class movement for climate justice has taken on corporate polluters and government enablers, with Native-led water protection campaigns capturing worldwide attention.

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Dean Baker

Mulvaney’s MAGAnomics Mix of Groundhog Day and Flat Out Lies

Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney had a Wall Street Journal column highlighting the benefits of “MAGAnomics.” The piece can best be described as a combination of Groundhog Day and outright lies. In terms of Groundhog Day, we have actually tried MAGAnomics twice before and it didn’t work. We had huge cuts in taxes and regulation under both President Reagan and George W. Bush. In neither case, was there any huge uptick in growth and investment. In fact, the Bush years were striking for the weak growth in the economy and especially the labor market. We saw what was at the time the longest period without net job growth since the Great Depression. And of course, his policy of giving finance free rein gave us the housing bubble and the Great Recession. The story of the 1980s was somewhat better but hardly follows the MAGAnomics script.

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Tim Wilkins

Sen. Bernie Sanders in Iowa: ‘We’re Fighting for the Future’

“We’re fighting for the future of this planet, for our kids and grandchildren,” Sen. Bernie Sanders told Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. “And to do your best, you’ve got to be involved in the political process.” Sanders delivered the keynote address to 1,200 people on Saturday at Iowa CCI’s annual convention in Des Moines. He also called on Iowa lawmakers to vote against Republicans’ proposed repeal of the Affordable Care Act. “”President Trump, don’t tell the people of this country that you support the working class when you are defending legislation which will throw 22 million Americans off of the health care they currently have,” Sanders said. “That is not defending the working class.

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Leo Gerard

Republicans Working Against Workers

Ever-worsening is the chasm between the loaded, who luxuriate in gated communities, and the workers, who are hounded at their rickety gates by bill collectors. Even though last week’s Bureau of Labor Statistics report showed unemployment at a low 4.4 percent, wages continue to flatline, killing both opportunity and the consumer economy. Meanwhile, corporations persist in showering CEOs and their cronies with ever-fatter pay packages and golden parachutes when they mess up. This would all be sufferable if workers felt those in control in Washington, D.C. were striving to turn it all around. But the Republicans, who boast majorities in both houses of Congress, are just the opposite. Their legislation shows they’re indentured to big business. Ever since they took power, they’ve labored tirelessly to destroy worker protections.

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Aditi Katti

Tenants March to Stop Giveaways to Wall Street Landlords

It was a brutally hot and humid day in the nation’s capital and Margie Mathers needed a cane to get up to the podium, but the Florida senior had a story she was determined to tell. Photo credit: Inequality.org “When I moved into our manufactured housing community in North Fort Myers, it was a beautiful, peaceful place,” Mathers told the crowd of around 1,000 activists who’d converged on the city for a July 13 Tenant March on Washington. “Now I have neighbors who are really struggling. They’re taking their medications every other day instead of every day and not eating the food they need to be healthy.” What changed? Her development had been purchased Equity LifeStyles Property Inc., a private equity firm specializing in developments where residents own their trailer homes but rent the land under them.

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Peter Certo

Trump’s Worst Collusion Isn’t With Russia, It’s With Corporations

I’ve always been a little skeptical that there’d be a smoking gun about the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with Russia. The latest news about Donald Trump, Jr., however, is tantalizingly close. The short version of the story, revealed by emails the New York Times obtained, is that the president’s eldest son was offered “some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary” and “would be very useful to your father.” More to the point, the younger Trump was explicitly told this was “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” Donald, Jr.’s reply? “I love it.” Trump Jr. didn’t just host that meeting at Trump Tower. He also brought along campaign manager Paul Manafort and top Trump confidante (and son-in-law) Jared Kushner.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Get Back Your Right To Take Your Bank To Court

Wall Street, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and right-wing Republicans are ganging up again this week against consumers who want to hold financial institutions that rip them off accountable. The target this time is a rule issued this week by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that is designed to restore the ability bank and credit card customers, as individuals or as a group, to take a financial dispute to court. “Our new rule will restore the ability of groups of people to file or join group lawsuits. In some cases, not only will companies have to provide relief, they will also have to change their behavior moving forward,” said a statement issued by the agency.

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Josh Crandell

Keep the Internet Open and Fair for Small Businesses

Small businesses can’t compete without an open Internet. Today, hundreds of activists, big companies and small businesses are coming together for a Net Neutrality Day of Action. In 2010, the Obama Administration issued the Open Internet Order, which prohibited internet service providers (ISPs) and cable companies from blocking, slowing down websites, or giving preferential treatment to certain websites. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) oversees the enforcement of an open internet, also called “net neutrality.” With net neutrality, ISPs can’t determine the pages you see or the speeds at which they download or stream. However, the Trump Administration’s appointees at the FCC want to undermine net neutrality. and repeal the Open Internet Order, an action that would have serious ramifications. Ok, I know all this policy and technology talk can get a bit wonky.

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LeeAnn Hall

Worried Sick About Prescription Costs

Ask about health care at a summer cookout, and you’ll likely get an earful about how drug corporations are gouging us, leaving many families to choose between buying medications or putting food on the table. Why? Because corporations put profits before patients. Photo credit: Shutterstock Look at a corporation like Mylan, the maker of EpiPen, which raked in $480 million in profits last year and paid its chairman $97.6 million, all while raising the price of the medication to more than $600 per dose. And take Michael Pearson, the former CEO of the drug corporation Valeant. In an investor meeting in the spring, Pearson said that “from your standpoint [raising prices] is not a bad thing,” according to a tape recording of the meeting. “The capitalistic approach to pricing is to charge what the market will bear,” an analyst at Sequoia told that fund’s investors.

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Richard Eskow

Medicare For All Is Coming, No Matter What They Say

The idea of Medicare for All, or single-payer health care, has grown in popularity so quickly that it was recently an answer on the quiz show Jeopardy: More than half of all Americans, 53 percent, now want a single-payer plan, up from 40 percent in 1998-2000. But at the same time, Medicare for All suffers from the rise of a new growth industry: telling Americans what can’t be done to make their lives better. It seems like the nation that used to pride itself on its “can-do” spirit is constantly being told, “No, we can’t.” Why do critics oppose this idea, which could improve the lives of so many? Bernie Opens the Door Bernie Sanders’ presidential candidacy injected the single-payer idea into the political discourse. That created an opening for Democrats to embrace the idea as they seek to oppose Republican efforts to dismantle Obamacare. These include, significantly, Sen.

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Mark Trahant

Health Care Debate Should Also Focus on Jobs in Indian Country

I am not sure of the exact year. It probably happened around 1996. That’s when the Indian Health Service became the single largest employer in Indian Country. This makes sense when you think about it: Indian health was once a small (unappreciated) division of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. But by 1996 the agency’s budget was larger than the BIA’s — and there were likely more workers. The administration estimates that next year the BIA will have some 6,770 full-time employees (a decrease of 241) while the Indian Health Service will have more than 15,119 employees (including 1,928 uniformed Public Health Service officers). Big numbers, right? But that reflects what is happening with health care generally. Google “region’s top employers” and it’s common to see clinics, hospital systems, and university medical centers as any region’s largest employer.

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Robert Borosage

The Big Fix: Will the GOP Turn to Dems to Fix Obamacare?

Senate leader Mitch McConnell has warned Republicans that if he can’t find 50 Republican votes to repeal and replace Obamacare soon, he’ll open negotiations with Democrats to “fix” the thing. He intended this as a threat – a club to help round up the necessary support among Republicans for his original bill. Now, as push comes to shove, Republican Senate leaders claim they’ll put a marginally revised health care bill on the floor for a vote before the August recess. With more and more Senators literally besieged by their constituents in Town Hall meetings, and with the current draft registering little more than single digits in popularity, McConnell is finding it harder to round up the Republican votes he needs. As early as next week, McConnell may be reaching out to Democrats to find a bipartisan “fix” for Obamacare.

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Robert Borosage

 There’s Only One Way to End the War in Afghanistan

“None of us would say that we are on a course to success here in Afghanistan,” said Senator John McCain, speaking for a five-member bipartisan Senate delegation at a Kabul press briefing on July 4. The senators didn’t have to skip the July 4 parades to discover that. The United States continues its longest war–now in its 16th year–without a clue about how to win or how to get out. President Trump shows no sign of changing course: At the end of this month, he is slated to sign off on sending a few thousand more troops to Afghanistan. Since invading in 2001, the United States has poured more than $117 billion into Afghanistan, one of the world’s poorest countries. The United States has also suffered the loss of 2,400 American soldiers’ lives and over 20,000 wounded. We’ve spent $11 billion in equipping the Afghanistan National Army, which is still unable to defend itself.

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Sam Pizzigati

What the Gutting of Sears Tells Us About America

Sears is fading. Fast. The 124-year-old retailer — the place where all America once shopped — is tumbling into a shopping horror. Sears store in Springdale, OH, 1967. Photo credit: Flickr / CC At some Sears stores, recent news accounts report, ceilings are collapsing, rats are racing, and toilets aren’t working “for weeks on end.” Job cutbacks and a decade of under-investment have left store shelves bare — and customers on their own. “You could fire a cannon in any direction and not hit one salesperson,” Michael Looney, a former Sears employee in California, recently told Business Insider. Lampert’s Way Meanwhile, the hedge-fund billionaire who’s been running Sears the last dozen years is keeping up a brave front. Eddie Lampert is sticking to his story that Sears is wondrously transforming itself into a “member”-oriented retailer for the online age.

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Leo Gerard

American Workers Seek Trade Enforcement, Not Protection

American workers have made a simple request of politicians for decades: stop the trade violations that kill American manufacturers and jobs. American factories and workers are willing to compete. They are able to compete. But the playing field must be level. American workers and employers can’t win when their rival is not a company but a country. U.S. manufacturers and unions have filed untold numbers of cases against trade law violators, and they almost always win. As a result, the United States now has 28 separate tariffs on a variety of Chinese steel products, and in January it filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization about China’s aluminum policies. But China and other countries continue to violate and circumvent the rules.

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Richard Eskow

There’s a Big Hole in the Center of the Democratic Party

“I mean, have you seen the other guys?” That’s one of the slogans that was recently proposed by Democratic Party strategists, presumably in a lighthearted way. But the joke, if that’s what it was, reflects an underlying belief among party leaders that Democrats’ best bet is to stand in contrast to Republican extremism, rather than take strong, affirmative positions or moral stands on the issues that affect people’s lives.

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