Sara Robinson

Time to Deliver: No Turning Back, Part I

Terrance’s last post heroically set out and engaged the two dominant scenarios about the American future that progressives seem to be wrestling with right now. These two scenarios might be described as: 1) Permanent Decline — Due to Americans’ native hyperindividualism, political apathy, and overweening willingness to accept personal blame for their country’s failures, the corporatists finally succeed in turning the US into Indonesia. This time, we will not find the will to fight back (or, if we do, it will be too late). As a result, in a few years there will be no more middle class, no upward mobility, few remaining public institutions devoted to the common good, no health care, no education, and no hope of ever restoring American ideals or getting back to some semblance of the America we knew.

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Sam Pizzigati

The New National CEO Pay Figures: The Outrage Continues

Despite the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, top corporate executives are still taking home staggeringly more than their counterparts a generation ago. Millions of Americans last year lost their jobs, their homes, and their retirement security. American CEOs last year lost some pocket change — and some of them didn’t even lose that. In 2008, the Wall Street Journal reported this past Friday, pay for typical big-time U.S. CEOs dropped a mere 3.4 percent, to a $7.6 million median. Two days later, the New York Times pronounced a 9.4 percent CEO pay falloff last year. But the Times put median CEO pay at $8.4 million, a higher total. The Journal figures cover the first 200 U.S. corporations with over $5 billion in revenue to file executive pay figures for 2008.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Opportunities Missed At The G-20

The debate over how well President Obama did at the G-20 summit last week—and certainly the debate over who touched who first in the encounter between First Lady Michelle Obama and Britain’s Queen Elizabeth—doesn’t address the most important question of all: What did working families around the world get out of the summit? What could they have gotten? Co-director Robert Borosage’s assessment of the summit of global leaders is that this was a major missed opportunity. “The G-20 leaders chose to agree to agree. The Europeans avoided bold new stimulus commitments. The British and Americans avoided bold new regulation of the financial community. Clearly, the leaders decided to let the crisis decide whether new steps are necessary.” Putting off the difficult questions for another day only risks hobbling recovery in the United States and throughout the globe.

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Terrance Heath

Progressive Budget, Progressive Values

“Budgets are moral documents” ~ Rev. Jim Wallis “What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility… This is the price and promise of citizenship.” ~Barack Obama, January 20, 2009 There are moments when the stark contrast of values between progressives and conservatives is crystal clear. Appropriately enough many of these moments happen when budgets are considered. The vote on Bush’s 2006 budget was one such moment, and now we are witnessing another.

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Tula Connell

Her Son’s a Quadriplegic. That’s the Least of Her Worries

It was tragic enough that her 11-year-old son became a quadriplegic after gunshots hit him while he was playing outside. But now Alberta, a single mother, worries every day because she can’t leave her job to take care of her son. Without her job, she has no way to get, or pay for, health coverage for her son. Alberta told us her story as part of the AFL-CIO and Working America 2009 Health Care for America Survey. She did so because, as she put it: I wanted to share this story because I just wanted people to understand that your life could change so much in just a few seconds and if the safety enjoyed by those of us who have insurance provided by work could be shattered. Health care is necessary and I didn’t think much about it until I was faced with tragedy and met so many others that were in similar situations some of which have lost everything as a result.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Job Crisis For African-American Men

As bad as today’s unemployment news is for the nation, for the African-American community it’s much worse. African Americans as a group continue to bear a disproportionate share of the damage done to the economy by misguided conservative policies. It consequently needs a much greater focus from the Obama administration, Congress—and us. The unemployment rate is now 8.5 percent nationally, but among African Americans it is at 13.3 percent. The percentage in March went down a tenth of a percentage point from February, but only because the size of the African-American labor force shrank by 161,000 people—a likely sign that a lot of African American people are at least for now giving up looking for work. While the percentage was down slightly, the reality is that 124,000 fewer African Americans were employed in March than they were in February.

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Sam Pizzigati

Getting Past Philanthropic Foolery

The good folks at the Indiana University Center on Philanthropy would like us to know that we can gain “new insights” aplenty from the just-published second edition of their ongoing landmark research on the charitable giving of America’s rich. The first edition of this research — the largest survey of wealthy Americans about charity “ever conducted” — covered 2005. The Center’s new Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy, based on a random sampling of “over 20,000 households in high net-worth neighborhoods,” covers 2007. And what can we learn from this massive research? In the news release announcing the new report’s unveiling, we get an answer from the Bank of America, the financial institution that’s sponsoring the Center’s research on the eminently comfortable and their charitable contributions.

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Bill Scher

When You Honor An Unsung Progressive Hero…

What does it mean for an unsung hero of the progressive movement to be recognized for his or her behind-the-scenes work with the annual Maria Leavey Tribute Award? The annual award will be presented at America’s Future Now! convening June 1-3. While nominations remain open for the Third Annual Maria Leavey Tribute Award, we asked our prior winners how the award has continued to inspire their work. Our inaugural honoree Ari Lipman, of the Industrial Areas Foundation and lead get-out-the-vote organizer for the Faith Vote Columbus project, spoke of inspiration that kept him going: Most days-in days-out, you’re getting recognized by the vacant house in front of you. To get to step outside of that, and have people recognize your work, is really inspiring.

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Terrance Heath

Everything is Not Slavery

Under normal circumstances, it wouldn’t occur to me to respond to the madness of Michele Bachmann. There’s a point at which merely legitimizes mindless rantings like hers, and dignifies them are more than they deserve. However, there is a point at which those unhinged ravings must be addressed: the point at which they insult the memories of — as well as the present realities of countless people. Ms. Bachmann’s latest is one such case in point: Yesterday, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) delivered a “speech filled with urgent and violent rhetoric” at a gathering sponsored by the Independence Institute in Denver.

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Terrance Heath

Time to Deliver: The Transformation to Come

Last week, I wrote: “After a transformational election and at the beginning of a transformational presidency, progressives need to remember: the real transformation hasn’t happened yet.” The truth is, there will be a transformation. The question is what kind of transformation.

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Isaiah J. Poole

What A Progressive Budget Looks Like

Unlike the 19-page propaganda document House Republicans lamely called their alternative budget last week, the Congressional Progressive Caucus has released a real budget with real numbers. Plus, it gets to the core of the country’s fiscal problems, not with platitudes and excessive giveaways to the rich, but with sound, responsible proposals for making government work as it should. The Progressive Caucus alternative budget will be introduced on the House floor as early as this afternoon. It is a wonderful demonstration of progressive principles in action. Here are some highlights, from the CPC’s “Dear Colleague” letter: Elimination of unneeded, unwanted, and unproven Cold War Era weapons systems ($60 billion/year); Elimination of waste, fraud, and abuse at DOD. ($8.7 billion/year); Redeployment of all U.S.

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Robert Borosage

Time for a Grand Inquest on the Financial Crisis

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has called for “sweeping regulation” of the financial community, beginning a discussion of how we restructure the banking system—in and out of the shadows—as we emerge from what Robert Kuttner calls the Great Collapse. Literally trillions have already been committed in loans, guarantees, swaps, direct equity to stave off a complete financial collapse, even as the real economy declines. But before we decide on the salvation, we need a public probe of the fall. What caused the Great Collapse? We need a grand inquest—either a special congressional committee or an independent commission like the 9/11 Commission armed with subpoena power—to expose misbegotten policies, malpractices, and mistaken ideas that allowed the wizards of Wall Street to transport us over the cliff.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Toxic Flaws In The Toxic Asset Plan

There are at least three serious flaws in the financial rescue plan that the Treasury Department has put forward for the banking system that financial expert and Institute for America’s Future board member Rob Johnson lays out in an interview with Jane Hamsher of FireDogLake.

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Terrance Heath

“Sacrificing Left and Right”

I missed president Obama’s press conference. (Probably because it took place during the 2.5 hours of family time we have — including dinner — before the kids go to bed, and because afterwards I was either too busy catching up on reading and/or writing, or too tired to remember to turn it on.) Thankfully, the blogosphere brought me up to speed, so I know what I missed. And, thanks to Steve Benen at Washington Monthly, I know I missed a moment that would surely have had me yelling, “Are you kidding me!?” at the television screen.

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Sam Pizzigati

Down But Not Out at $464 Million a Year

Not everyone in the international hedge fund industry is making millions. Not everyone in the hedge fund industry right now even has a job. Amid the worst global economic meltdown since the Great Depression, hedge funds are hemorrhaging positions. An estimated 20,000 will be gone by year’s end. But the hedge fund industry still does have something no other industry in the known universe can match: the best-paid top executives who ever lived.

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Terrance Heath

A Dead-End “Road to Recovery”

I don’t know whether to praise the Republicans or pity them. On one hand, they’ve been given chance after chance to "bring it," in term of ideas to address the crises we face — an act of astounding generosity, if you ask me, extended to a party that worked very hard for a very long time to bring us to this point — and they’ve consistently shown up empty-handed. I muster some admiration for someone who brings a knife to a gun fight, because at least he brought something. But to show up empty-handed is, well, pitiful. On the other hand,I have to give them credit.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Avoiding Quagmire In Afghanistan

The essence of President Obama’s analysis of the right-wing “war on terror” is dead-on: The Bush administration’s reframing the phenomenon of rogue extremists as a presumptively defined group of “terrorists” who can be defeated in a “war” led us down a path in which we squandered billions of dollars, thousands of lives and our moral standing in the global community. Meanwhile, a central incubator of Islamic extremism in the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan flourished under Bush’s watch.

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Tula Connell

Economic Terrorism

Corporate opponents of workers’ freedom to form unions repeatedly have shown they are not interested in the welfare of their employees or any of the pseudo-lofty ideals they cite while fighting the Employee Free Choice Act. Now, they’ve made clear they will do anything–even destroy jobs, communities and harm the U.S. economy–to ensure that more American workers do not have a voice on the job. (And this just in–they’re now using Joe the Plumber as an anti-Employee Free Choice Act spokes-idiot. That guy can’t seem to keep a job.) In Wisconsin, a local economic development official in Eau Claire County said a project was derailed because of the proposed Employee Free Choice Act.

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Eric Lotke

The Obama Budget: A Stick In The Eye For Banks

With all the fuss over Wall Street bailouts and AIG bonuses, one banking breakthrough is going unnoticed. Obama’s proposed budget completely eliminates an unnecessary, obsolete bank subsidy: College student loans – where the subsidy goes to the bank, not the student. It’s a stick in the eye of the banking industry, and the banks aren’t taking it lightly.

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Robert Borosage

Learning Deficits

Will Obama’s transformative budget survive? As his press conference last night illustrated, it runs a serious risk of drowning in a swamp of cant. The budget is getting strafed by politicians in both parties for its deficits and debt. (The deficit is the annual shortfall between revenue and spending; debt is essentially the accumulation of net deficits over time). Republicans, having joined Rush Limbaugh in betting that Obama fails, have done most of the ranting. Sen. Judd Gregg, lead Republican on the Senate budget committee, fulminates that if we pass Obama’s budget, “this country will go bankrupt. People will not buy our debt.

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