Justin Vest

Standing Up For Immigrants – In Alabama

Justin Vest and other members of Hometown Action are hosting a #FamiliesBelongTogether Potluck in Athens, AL on August 26, 2018. To attend or host a cookout in your hometown, click here.  This summer, people gathered in cities throughout the country to protest our government’s separation and incarceration of immigrant families. In Alabama, hundreds of local residents came together in Birmingham, Montgomery, and Dothan. Immigrant rights rally, Huntsville, AL. Photo credit: Shutterstock / cc It was only the Huntsville rally that made national news — after an armed counter-protester attempted to disrupt the event. Whether explicitly stated or not, the narrative was the same: A white Trump supporter threatening violence came to epitomize Alabama’s stance on immigration.

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Richard Eskow

An Economy in the Fast Lane – With No Brakes

Donald Trump has been bragging about the economy a lot lately. He says the United States is now the “economic envy” of the world. Unfortunately, Trump is once again trying to reshape reality to fit his own delusions. Reality is refusing to cooperate. It’s true the U.S. economy is in the fast lane, by some measures, just as it was in the final years of Barack Obama’s presidency.  But where, exactly, is it headed? And what will happen when the next blowout comes, as it inevitably will? We know one thing: average Americans, who have seen their incomes stagnate while inequality rises, and their wealth declines, will bear the brunt of the next recession. Less Than Amazing First, it should be noted that what Trump calls an “amazing” economy isn’t amazing for everyone.

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Robert Borosage

Dems Shouldn’t Defend Bad Policies Just to Resist Trump

When Trump strikes a populist tone, expose him as a fraud – don’t back the corporate stance. Last week on CNBC, President Donald Trump upbraided the Federal Reserve for raising interest rates. “I don’t like all of this work that we’re putting into the economy and then I see rates going up,” he said. The president’s remarks elicited a furious response in the financial press. “Attacking central bank is one more step in what seems like a Presidential strategy of turning the United States into a banana republic,” tweeted Larry Summers, Clinton’s former treasury secretary and wannabe Fed Chair.

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Jeff Bryant

Why the New Push for Charter Schools Should Anger Progressives

A new push by supporters of charter schools to promote their “education reform” agenda and vilify opponents should anger progressives. Those who mention the flaws and failures of charters are now being accused of “classic whataboutism.” Specifically, David Leonhardt, in the opinion pages of the New York Times, draws a false equivalency in the debate on charter schools and accuses “the political left” of “fact-twisting” when they question the academic record of charter schools and their impact on communities.

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George Goehl

Show Trump Who We Love, And Who We Are

There’s an old Creole proverb, “Tell me who you love, and I’ll tell you who you are.” By standing up for migrant families and children, people from small towns and small cities across the country are telling us who we love and what they stand for. On June 30th, hundreds of thousands of people marched under the banner, “Families Belong Together,” to support the reunification of families and demand an end to Trump’s inhumane immigration policy. Of the 750 marches and rallies that took place on June 30th, nearly half took place in counties that voted for Donald Trump. Over 130 of these were organized in counties where Trump won 60 percent or more of the vote, often winning by more than 30 percent.

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Richard Eskow

Was Goldman’s CEO “Inspiring” or Good for the Economy? Nope, and Nope

One easy way to draw attention to an opinion piece is with a “hot take” or two that change some widely-held belief. This is an especially popular gambit if that belief is held by the left. Financial journalist Roger Lowenstein did that recently in the Washington Post, when he challenged the widely-held opinion that Lloyd Blankfein, outgoing CEO of Goldman Sachs, is a bad person who has done a great deal of harm to the economy. In this case, the wisdom of crowds got it right. Lowenstein should know better. His recent commentary on Elon Musk, whom he described as a “a one-person corporate inequality machine,” was pointed and smart. His piece on the “myth of the superhero executive” was an excellent summary of our broken system of executive compensation.

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Miles Mogulescu

It’s Time for a Mass Movement to Impeach Trump

A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear. –Marcus Tullius Cicero, 42 B.C.

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Richard Eskow

Geithner’s Grift, Paydays and Democratic Drift

What does it mean when Timothy Geithner, Barack Obama’s bro-ish and apparently self-satisfied former Secretary of the Treasury, becomes president of a company that hoodwinks the victims of the financial system he helped rescue? If you care about economic justice, or if you want the Democratic Party to win more elections, the answer is: more than you might think. Monetizing the Poor Geithner made some (presumably unwelcome) news last week when it was reported that Warburg Pincus, the financial firm he now helms, is in the words of one employee, “monetizing poor people” with exploitative practices and rates that meet the textbook definition of usury.

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Jeff Bryant

Teachers Join Progressives as Partners “In a Revolution”

Conservatives may believe they accomplished what they’ve endeavored to do for decades with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Janus v AFSCME, which undermined the ability of public-sector unions to raise funds from workers, but they may have also unintentionally unified progressive Democrats with teachers’ unions as never before to form a more powerful grassroots movement. That unification is certainly the image conveyed by the annual conventions of the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers that both took place in July. Union leaders at both events made strong speeches denouncing President Trump and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, vowing to thrive despite Janus, and pledging to harness the energy of the #RedForEd movement that sent teachers out into the streets to protest in state after state across the nation this spring.

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George Goehl

Trump’s Policy Agenda Is an All-Out War on Kids

Donald Trump’s choice to separate migrant children from their parents unleashed a flood of outrage across the political spectrum. While he has been forced to step back from separating families at the border, the administration’s solution is to imprison children with their parents, and change laws so they can hold them indefinitely. Photo credit: Shutterstock / cc Trump is a master of bait-and-switch: He distracts voters with tough-on-immigration politics, then sells out working families. Irreparable harm to thousands of children is a price he’s willing to pay, if it helps him score political points. While these hateful acts against children are Trump’s most blatant to date, they’re hardly the first. His policy agenda is a full-throated attack on children from poor and working class families.

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Robert Borosage

Will the Foreign-Policy Elite Learn From Trump?

American elites have reinforced a global order in which the “winners” are protected, and the “losers” are ignored. Donald Trump’s election stunned the national-security establishment, which the precocious Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national-security adviser, once dubbed “the Blob.” In his campaign speeches, Trump mocked its “stupid” wars and “lousy” deals on trade, Iran, and the environment. He scorned it in his inaugural address: “The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories.” His trumpeting of an “America First” policy, with its disgraced isolationist provenance, offended the Blob’s core beliefs. Not surprisingly, the mandarins sounded the alarm.

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Miles Mogulescu

Treasonous! Impeach! Time’s Up!

As former CIA Director John Brennan just stated, “Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors.’ It was nothing short of treasonous.” And as the editors of The Washington Post wrote, “In Helsinki, Mr. Trump again insisted ‘there was not collusion’ with Russia. Yet in refusing to acknowledge the plan facts about Russia’s behavior, while trashing his own country’s justice system, Mr. Trump in fact was openly colluding with the criminal leader of a hostile power.” In short, Trump committed impeachable offenses while standing on the stage next to Russian President Vladimir Putin, in front of television cameras broadcasting to hundreds of millions of people around the globe.

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Sam Pizzigati

A Sweet New Century for America’s Most Privileged

The United States ended the 20th century on a roll — for the rich. Between 1973 and 2000, the nation’s most prosperous 1 percent tripled their incomes, after taking inflation into account. The even more prosperous top tenth of that 1 percent did quite a bit better. Their incomes more than quintupled between 1973 and 2000, rising an amazing 414.6 percent. And what about Americans of less exalted means, those stuck in the nation’s bottom 90 percent? Between 1973 and 2000, their incomes rose all of… 2.6 percent. Something, in other words, went horribly wrong over the last quarter of the 20th century. And what has happened so far in century 21? Our decision makers in Washington have done their best to make things even worse. How much worse? We now have a new report from the Washington, D.C.-based Institute on Taxation and Economic and Policy that offers a distressing new answer.

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Jeff Bryant

Kavanaugh Would Advance DeVos’s Religious Agenda for Schools

Immediately after Betsy DeVos took over as U.S. Secretary of Education, numerous education policy experts expressed doubts she’d have much success in enacting her well-documented agenda to impose her brand of Christian religion on public schools and direct more public money to private religious schools. Photo credit: Concit.org / cc President Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, however, is yet another indicator that DeVos’s detractors were wrong, as he would surely support a legal pathway to what DeVos wants.

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Sam Pizzigati

How ‘Janus’ Will Boost Income Inequality in America

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision against workers in the Janus vs. AFSCME case surprised no one who pays attention to America’s highest judicial panel. Every analyst following the case expected the Supremes to rule against America’s public sector unions. And that’s exactly what the high court, by a 5-4 margin, did. The impact from this decision? That will surprise no one who pays attention to how modern economies work: The Supreme Court’s decision in Janus will leave the United States still more unequal. The five justices who decided Janus never, of course, mentioned anything about inequality in their ruling that public sector unions cannot collect representational fees from the nonmembers they are legally required to represent. The Janus majority justices talked instead about protecting First Amendment rights.

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Tobita Chow

How Tariffs Play In To Trump’s Xenophobic Agenda

In early March, President Trump announced steel tariffs as part of a protectionist, anti-China economic strategy. Since then, he’s put tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese products, and threatens to sanction $200 billion more. Some progressives support these tariffs on the grounds they protect workers in the United States. For example, United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard argues that steel tariffs may give a badly needed boost to employment in the steel industry and the communities that depend on it. Nonetheless, it is strategically disastrous to offer support to Trump’s tariffs, and the strategy that underlies them. Progressives cannot compete with the Right on protectionism. In 2016 Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders attempted to make use of anti-China rhetoric, but Trump outdid them with ease.

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Jeff Bryant

After an ‘Educator Spring,’ Teachers Storm Elections

For Progressives, the stunning upset victory by first-time congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over a prominent incumbent candidate in New York seems to be a sign that a wave of change coming in the midterm elections. But a perhaps bigger, clearer sign of change is the groundswell of educators entering political contests. As an outcome of the wave of teacher walkouts and protests that swept through West Virginia, Oklahoma, North Carolina and other states – a chain of events increasingly referred to as an “Educator Spring” – “angry educators are flooding down-ballot races,” Politico reports. The number of educator candidates is staggering, with nearly 300 coming from just the American Federation of Teachers union alone. Many of them are winning – and not just as Democrats.

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Leo Gerard

Billionaire Wolves in Workers’ Clothing

Multimillionaire Bruce Rauner, the Republican Governor of Illinois, just couldn’t wait to tell his state’s workers the U.S. Supreme Court had given them what he considered a gift. Within hours of the court’s ruling in the Janus case, Rauner emailed Illinois state workers to tell them the decision meant they no longer needed to pay either dues or fair share fees to their labor union but the union would still be required to represent them. What a deal! Free service! And it was brought to them by Rauner! The governor had filed the lawsuit that led to the Janus decision. When a court tossed him as plaintiff, the right-wing foundations whose billionaire donors paid for the lawsuit drummed up replacement plaintiffs including Mark Janus.

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George Goehl

The Future of “American” Is Up To Us

We should be skeptical of the motivation and messengers behind calls for civility. We hear people say that what is happening to migrants in the United States right now is un-American. I wish that were true. Sadly, American history is full of periods where children of color were routinely taken from their parents. Resistance and organizing, on the other hand, are truly American. In fact, many of our nation’s best moments have been when we heeded the call to stand down hatred and racism. The Trump Administration has been off the rails since day one. But Donald Trump’s zero tolerance policy of arresting and detaining families seeking asylum in the US is a new kind of off the rails.

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Jeremiah Jaynes

I Stand With Migrants, So Should You

Jeremiah Jaynes, a leader with Down Home North Carolina, a People’s Action affiliate, delivered these comments before fifty thousand people at the #FamiliesBelongTogether march in Washington, DC on June 30, 2018. Click on the image below to hear the speech. My name is Jeremiah Jaynes, and I grew up in the country: back on a small farm in Waynesville, North Carolina. We grew tobacco and raised chickens in the Appalachian Mountains. I have five younger brothers and sisters, and my dad is a carpenter. We moved around a lot as a child because it was hard to find a house that we could afford. If we couldn’t find a home to rent, we would camp in the woods. Sometimes, my only option for a bed was a door put across the front seat of the RV. When I was a kid, I didn’t see the big picture: I used to think immigrants were a burden on the economy.

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