Jeff Bryant

Is Donald Trump The Charter School Industry’s Worst Nightmare?

Presidential candidate Donald Trump likely just handed the charter school industry the worst sort of favor. In unveiling his education plan, the Republican candidate proposed a $20 billion federal block grant to allow states to give vouchers to low-income students to attend whatever school they want. The proposal is the most full-throated support for school choice ever issued by a presidential candidate in a general election campaign. It’s also the ill-conceived, grandiose and politically polarizing gesture that many charter school proponents feared most.

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Terrance Heath

Minimum Wage Increases On the Ballot In Four States

There’s a lot more going on in this election than the presidential race between Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump. Borne out of the dedication and hard work of activists, ballot initiatives give citizens the opportunity to vote directly on legislation and constitutional amendments at the state and local level, sometimes even bypassing the legislature. This year, People’s Action affiliates in four states have seen their hard work pay off by successfully getting initiatives to increase the minimum wage on the ballot. Arizona In Arizona, voters will decide whether to pass The Fair Wages and Healthy Families Initiative. The ballot initiative, if passed, will raise Arizona’s minimum wage to $10 per hour in 2017, and gradually raise it to $12 by 2020.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Trump Dodges His Racist Past In His Latest Black Voter Outreach

Cellphone video shot by someone attending Donald Trump’s appearance at a Flint, Mich. church shows the Republican presidential candidate being interrupted and confronted by protesters.   The Associated Press reported Wednesday that when Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump visited a predominantly African American church in Flint, Michigan, he was “heckled by several members of the sparse crowd.” Those weren’t just any hecklers, and the “heckling” was actually an attempt to bring to light serious issues in Trump’s past that he’s now trying to whitewash. These were members of the Michigan People’s Campaign, who stood during Trump’s appearance at Bethel United Methodist Church to demand Trump answer for specific instances of racial discrimination by him and his companies.

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Terrance Heath

What Clinton and Millions of Workers Have in Common: Going To Work Sick

Hillary Clinton was feeling a little woozy. On Sunday morning, after standing around for an hour and a half at the 9/11 memorial event at Ground Zero, possibly while wearing a bullet proof vest in 80 degree heat, the 68-year-old Democratic nominee felt a bit less than well, and left the event early. She was even seen to wobble a bit, and buckle at the knees, before she was into a waiting vehicle. Clinton later emerged from her daughter’s apartment building, looking completely recovered. That afternoon, we learned that Hillary Clinton was just doing what millions of Americans do every day: going to work sick. Clinton’s longtime physician, Dr. Lisa Bardack, M.D., announced that the candidate had pneumonia, and had been advised to rest. Clearly, that’s not advice that Clinton has been inclined to take.

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Steve Rouzer

Income Increase In Census Report Is A Boon For Small Business

In the midst of slow recovery, the U.S. Census Bureau’s report Tuesday showing an uptick in household incomes is music to the ears of Main Street small business owners. The report documented the first increase in median household incomes since 2007, and a 1.2 percent decrease in our nation’s poverty rate. Small businesses have already begun to feel the impact on their bottom line as incomes surged to near pre-recession levels. The boost in household income is one factor in recently reported increases in consumer spending, particularly in the retail and food service sectors. Also encouraging was the decrease in households living below the poverty line.

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Bill Scher

What Obama’s Climate Legacy Tells Us About Executive Power

President Barack Obama recently sat with the New York Times to discuss his legacy on climate, and was asked about his failure to enact legislation to cap greenhouse emission. He responded: “Here, in 2016, we’ve actually achieved more carbon emissions [reduction] that we would have under the cap-and-trade bill that … went down in [Congress].” This is correct, though more context is needed. The cap-and-trade bill that passed the House but never reached the Senate floor aimed to cut greenhouse gas emissions, from their level in 2005, 3 percent by 2012 and 17 percent in 2020. If those reductions were steady, there would have been a 6.5 percent cut by 2014. Blocked by Congress, Obama leveraged executive power. For example, vehicle fuel-efficiency standards have been raised.

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Dave Johnson

Wednesday Is National Call-In Day To Stop the TPP

Wall Street, the multinational corporations and President Obama are pushing for a vote on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in the “lame duck” session of Congress that follows the election. Wednesday, September 14, is a national call-in day to Congress to stop this. Use this link, or use this number, 888-659-7351. Ask your representative to issue a public statement against the TPP. Setting aside all the other bad things in TPP, and there are so many, one part of TPP places corporations above governments – above even our democracy. TPP sets up a system in which corporations can sue our government for passing laws and regulations that hurt their profits – even their “expected” profits. The cases are heard in a corporate tribunal outside of our own court system, where corporate attorneys hear the cases, and there is no appeal of their rulings.

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Leo Gerard

Dishonest Don

Donald Trump likes to brag on the campaign trail that he’s the best at bribing politicians. He said, for example, “When you give, they do whatever the hell you want them to do.”  But then when he got caught giving and getting exactly what the hell he wanted, he claimed that’s not what happened. Not only that, Trump promises as president he would surround himself with the best advisers. The best! Just like he says he did as a businessman. And he claims he’s a great businessman. The greatest! Well, maybe he forgot about his four bankruptcies that left hundreds of small businessmen and craftsmen unpaid. And maybe he forgot about the fiasco surrounding his namesake foundation illegally giving a “donation” to an attorney general who then decided to drop a fraud investigation against him. The advisers in that case? Not exactly the best.

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Richard Eskow

Al Capone, Meet Wells Fargo

As the latest Wells Fargo scandal was breaking, the music world learned of the death of Prince Buster. He’s the Jamaican ska legend who made a record called “Al Capone” and sang “Enjoy yourself/it’s later than you think.” I wonder what he thought about Wall Street? Banking giant Wells Fargo agreed to pay a $185 million fine last week, after it was discovered that its employees have opened than 2 million phony checking and credit card accounts in its customers’ names. There’s a pattern here. A week before Wells Fargo’s settlement was announcement, banking giant HSBC was charged with foreign-exchange trading violations. That appears to have voided a deal which allowed its bankers escaped prosecution for a persistent pattern of violating international sanctions and laundering money for the Mexican drug cartels. Wells Fargo has a drug connection too.

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Sam Pizzigati

CEO Pay as a Menace to Our Health

Peter Drucker, the internationally acclaimed founder of modern management science, lived nearly a century. He died in 2006 at age 95. He died troubled. The Austrian-born Drucker had always considered management a noble calling, a profession essential to the common good. Humankind would only prosper, he believed, if enterprises operated efficiently and effectively. Only skilled executives who respected their employees — and valued their insights — could nurture enterprises this high-performing. But Drucker would live long enough to see executives in his adopted United States pervert his management ideal. The corporate “downsizing” epidemic of the 1990s appalled him. The leader of South Korea’s Justice Party, Sim Sang-jung, is taking the management wisdom of Peter Drucker to heart.

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Isaiah J. Poole

A Day of Action To Stop An Oil Pipeline and “Keep It In The Ground”

Bolstered by an extraordinary order from the Obama administration to halt construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline at a site considered sacred and environmentally vulnerable by Standing Rock Sioux in North Dakota, thousands upon thousands of pipeline opponents will participate Tuesday in “#NoDAPL Day of Action” events around the country, including an event at the White House at 5 p.m. featuring Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.). At the same time, a broad coalition of organizations has launched a petition drive calling on President Obama to cancel oil and gas sale leases on public lands, such as the Bakken fields that are the source of the crude oil the Dakota Access Pipeline is being built to transport.

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Dave Johnson

Wisconsin’s “Smoking Gun Of The Rigged Economy”

“Outsourcing is the smoking gun of the rigged economy.” — Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. Companies extort tax breaks and subsidies by threatening to withhold jobs. After their demands are met, they instead outsource the promised jobs. For the workers who remain, the threat of outsourcing causes their wages to fall. As Donald Trump said, if companies outsource jobs to places where workers make less, then “… you’ll come back … because those guys are going to want their jobs back even if it is less.” But lately people have been figuring out ways to start doing something about these kinds of things.

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Jeff Bryant

The Racism of School Closures

As parents, students and teachers celebrate the start of a new school year, many communities across the country are facing the pain of having their schools permanently closed. Politicians and policy leaders—Democrats and Republicans alike—support dealing with schools that show poor results on standardized tests by shutting them down. School closings happen all the time, and the number of students affected is increasing at an alarming rate. The total number of public schools in the country, which steadily increased throughout the 1980s, 90s, and early 2000s, has been drifting downward since 2007, despite an expanding student population. According to data compiled by the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of students affected by school closures increased from less than 1,000 in 1994 to more than 1,800 in 2011.

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Bill Moyers

We, the Plutocrats vs. We, the People: Saving the Soul of Democracy

Sixty-six years ago this summer, on my 16th birthday, I went to work for the daily newspaper in the small East Texas town of Marshall where I grew up. It was a good place to be a cub reporter – small enough to navigate but big enough to keep me busy and learning something every day. I soon had a stroke of luck. Some of the paper’s old hands were on vacation or out sick and I was assigned to help cover what came to be known across the country as “the housewives’ rebellion.” Fifteen women in my hometown decided not to pay the Social Security withholding tax for their domestic workers. Those housewives were white, their housekeepers black. Almost half of all employed black women in the country then were in domestic service.

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Terrance Heath

Wingnut Week In Review: To Russia With Love?

If Donald Trump wasn’t the Republican nominee, what would it take for his words and actions to be labeled treason? In fact, why does no one dare call it treason? It was bad enough when Trump invited Russia to engage in cyber-espionage against the United States, just to help him win the presidential election. However, he outdid himself at the Commander-in-Chief Forum on NBC, when he lavished praise upon Russian president Vladimir Putin, saying “He’s been a leader far more than our president has been a leader.” But Trump managed to top even that when he went on Russian-sponsored television to complain about the US media. In an interview with Larry King on RT America, Trump railed about the “dishonesty of the media,” and its impact on the political process.

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Robert Reich

There’s One Unfinished Clinton Promise that Hillary Should Put To Bed

What can be done to deter pharmaceutical companies from jacking up prices of critical drugs? To prevent Wall Street banks from excessive gambling? To nudge CEOs into taking a longer-term view? To restrain runaway CEO pay? Answer to all four: Fulfill Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign pledge. When he ran for president, Bill Clinton said he’d bar companies from deducting executive pay above $1 million. Once elected, he asked his economic advisors (among them, yours truly) to put the measure into his first budget. My colleagues weren’t exactly enthusiastic about the new president’s campaign promise. “Maybe there’s some way we can do this without actually limiting executive pay,” one said. “Look, we’re not limiting executive pay,” I argued. “Companies could still pay their executives whatever they wanted to pay them.

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Gail Ablow

What You Need to Know About the Dakota Access Pipeline Protest

Over the past month, thousands of protesters, including Native Americans from more than 100 tribes across the country, have traveled to North Dakota to help the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe block the Dakota Access Pipeline from being built. Last week, the Standing Rock Nation filed an emergency petition to overturn the Army Corps of Engineers’ permit for the pipeline, which will be located a half-mile from the reservation through land taken from the tribe in 1958. The tribe says they were not consulted and a survey of the area found several sites of “significant cultural and historic value” in the pipeline path, including burial grounds. But on Saturday, Dakota Access crews began bulldozing anyway, leading to a violent confrontation between protesters and security guards.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Time For Obama and Clinton To Oppose The Dakota Access Pipeline

KOTV reports Thursday night on the hundreds who gathered in Tulsa in support of the Standing Rock Sioux and others opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline. The fight between Native Americans and the financial interests dead set on pushing an environmentally hazardous oil pipeline through sacred Native lands in the Midwest intensified on Thursday, ahead of what is expected to be a climactic court decision Friday on whether work on the pipeline can proceed.

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Dave Johnson

Offshore Tax Loophole Leaves Small Businesses Behind

You’re a small business. You struggle to compete against the giants like the Walmarts, the Caterpillars, the Apples… On top of the advantages they have with their economies of scale, their nearly unlimited financing and ability to attract the top talent, their size also lets them purchase (and/or extort) special favors from our government. One such special favor is the offshore “deferral” tax break. Giant multinationals can set up subsidiaries in tax havens, and shift profits to those subsidiaries. Our government lets them do this, and doesn’t make them pay taxes until they “bring the money home.” Thanks to this loophole, the big multinational corporations have stashed more than $2.2 trillion of profits into tax havens. They now owe us about $700 billion in taxes on those profits.

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Martha Burk

Servicewomen Get Short Shrift in Commander-in-Chief Forum

Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton sparred separately on military matters with back-to-back appearances on NBC’s Commander-in-Chief Forum on Wednesday. Trump stuck with his usual empty bombast, assuring a meek Matt Lauer that he would fix things up just fine – while offering no concrete plans or budgets. Clinton had more substance, stating she would not put ground troops in Iraq or Syria, and stressing the steadiness and temperament needed for the job. Lack of timely treatment of veterans in Veterans Affairs hospitals got a good deal of the attention from both candidates. But in all the discussion about PTSD and the need for mental health treatment, one group was all but ignored – female service members. They were barely mentioned, except when one questioner from the audience asked Donald Trump what he would do about sexual assault in the military.

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