Leo Gerard

Kavanaugh’s Disdain for Workers Disqualifies Him

In his statement to Congress during confirmation hearings, Judge Brett Kavanaugh said his mother taught him judges must always stand in the shoes of others. Though hardly original or deeply inspirational, it’s not bad advice. The problem is that Kavanaugh never chooses steel-toed work boots. In every case involving workers, Kavanaugh has put himself instead in the wingtips of CEOs. He is a man born to wealth and privilege who attended Georgetown Preparatory, one of the most expensive private high schools in the country, with annual tuition of nearly $57,000, followed by a similarly exclusive Ivy League college education. The vast majority of Americans cannot conceive of paying $228,000 to get a kid through high school. Kavanaugh’s opinions illustrate that he has no idea how to relate to, and, in fact, doesn’t care to try to understand people with grit under their fingernails.

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Jeff Bryant

It’s Back-To-Underfunding, Charter-Scandal School Time

Some of the most memorable education news stories from the 2017-18 school year were the photos spreading online virally showing Baltimore school children bundled up against the cold in unheated classrooms, the enormous outpourings of teachers walking out of schools and protesting at their state capitols, and the seemingly endless litany of scandals from the charter school industry coming from Arizona, California, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere. With a new school year starting across the nation, families, teachers, and communities may be feeling a sense of renewal and possibility, but much of the news from schools is still mired in negative reports of underfunded buildings, beleaguered teachers, and charter school corruption.

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Robert Borosage

Trump Betrays Workers – Again and Again and Again

“Promises made, Promises Kept” will be Donald Trump’s slogan as he campaigns “six or seven days a week” for Republicans this fall. During the 2016 election, Trump promised workers “more jobs and better wages,” that he would bring jobs back from abroad. “Every policy decision we make must pass a simple test,” he said, “Does it create more jobs and better wages for Americans?” Trump not only hasn’t delivered for workers; he’s joined the other side. It’s not an accident that workers in America have suffered stagnant wages and reduced benefits. It is the result of a systematic corporate campaign to crush unions, rig trading rules to benefit investors and undermine workers, and roll back public regulations and investments that benefit working people. Trump’s administration and the Republican Congress are doubling down on that assault.

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Sam Pizzigati

How to Recognize a Plutocracy: The Dead Giveaway

How can we tell when a democracy, or rule by the people, evolves into a plutocracy, the reign of the rich? Easy. We have a democracy when a political system can and does make a good-faith effort to address the problems average people face. In a plutocracy, on the other hand, the political system pays no more than lip service to average people’s problems and works diligently instead at protecting — and growing — the wealth of the already wealthy. By this simple standard, we Americans today unquestionably live in a plutocracy. Our latest slam-dunk evidence: the record of the decade since the Wall Street financial crash ushered in the Great Recession. Almost exactly ten years ago, in late summer 2008, the tremors that had been roiling the U.S. economy ever since the housing bubble popped the year before turned into an economic earthquake.

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Leo Gerard

Labor Day: 24 Hours When Workers Are Human

Labor Day recognizes the humanity of workers. It commemorates their year-long efforts with time off dedicated relaxation, family, friends, and barbeques. There’s no holiday for robots, raw materials, or the energy that animates the machines of manufacturing. Because, of course, they’re not human. Somehow, though, business schools and the corporate executives they spit out have lumped workers together with robots and raw materials as “inputs,” as if laborers aren’t human. That makes it easier for CEOs in ungodly profitable corporations to deny workers raises. U.S. CEOs and shareholders can seize for themselves all the gains produced by faceless inputs. And that’s what they’ve done. Republicans gave corporations a massive tax break this year with the promise that executives would share those gains with workers, to the tune of $4,000 to $9,000 raises each. The U.S.

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Frank Clemente

Check Your Wallet: Can You Find the $4k Trump Promised You?

It was a promise that couldn’t have been clearer: when President Trump sold his tax scam to Congress and the American people, he said the average family would see a $4,000 pay raise from their employers. “I would expect to see an immediate jump in wage growth,” added Kevin Hassett, head of Trump’s Council of Economic Advisors. That was last October. The tax bill passed in December, and it’s now Labor Day, a good time to review how if at all the Trump-GOP tax scam is actually serving working people. For most of them there’s a simple answer: it’s not. They’re still waiting for that $4,000 pay raise they were promised.

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Jeff Bryant

‘Educator Spring’ Ousts Incumbents, Fuels Teachers’ November

  Maybe from now on politicians will think twice before crossing public school teachers. That’s likely what defeated candidates in at least one state, Oklahoma, are thinking after the results of this year’s primary and runoff elections. After widespread statewide teacher walkouts earlier this year, in which teachers protested poor pay and inadequate school funding, educators running for office and advocates for public schools are making their voices heard in the Sooner State and elsewhere. Of the 29 Oklahoma state legislators who voted against the teacher pay bill, 18 aren’t returning, CNN reports. Only three won their primaries, a few decided not to run or were term-limited out, and six didn’t have to run.

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Robert Borosage

It’s Time For Progressives To Raise Their Game

Victory is sweet, but celebration brief – for our struggle has only just begun. The progressive populist insurgency in the Democratic Party has tasted frequent victories this primary season: Tuesday featured more stunning upsets, highlighted by Andrew Gillum’s late surge in the Florida and David García’s strong victory in the Arizona primaries for governor. David García with members of LUCHA on election night – Photo credit: LUCHA / cc These headline wins were accompanied by victories down the ballots, most significantly in Oklahoma where voters in that thoroughly red state continue to throw out the Republicans who voted against providing more money to schools and teachers. The mainstream media tends to describe these victories in terms of identity. Female candidates continue to fare well.

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Alejandra Gomez

LUCHA Fights To Win For David García And All Arizonans

Arizonans are standing up to say once and for all, ¡YA BASTA! It’s time we have the elected leaders we deserve, who will courageously fight for us at all levels of government. Tuesday’s primary victories are clear evidence that when we fight, we win. Photo credit: LUCHA / cc It’s been a long road to get us here, but there’s no turning back for us – not now, not ever. Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA) congratulates David García on his nomination to become Arizona’s next governor – when he wins in November, he’ll be the first Democrat to hold that seat in a decade, and the first Latino in forty years. But to us, David is much more than a symbol – he is entrenched in community,  a proven grassroots leader, whose support comes not from big-money interests or party strategists, but from the very constituents he will represent.

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Jasmine Budnella

It’s Time To Fight Like Hell To End Our Overdose Crisis

Our country’s overdose crisis kills more people every day than gun violence, suicides, and traffic accidents.  Even more shocking is that these lives could be saved – yet we fail to act. Our government’s failure to save lives, when it knows how, is the greatest tragedy of all – and we refuse to accept it. Photo credit: VOCAL-NY / cc That’s why on August 31, International Overdose Awareness Day, VOCAL-NY and other People’s Action affiliates across the country demand the common-sense, compassionate solutions to drug use that will actually save lives. VOCAL-NY is a grassroots, membership organization that mobilizes low-income New Yorkers to fight for policies that end the war on drugs, mass incarceration, homelessness, and HIV/AIDS.

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Miles Mogulescu

Kavanaugh Threatens the Supreme Court’s Legitimacy

If the Republican-controlled Senate proceeds with hearings scheduled Sept. 4 to confirm Trump’s appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court, it will delegitimize the Supreme Court as an independent branch of government, and lead the nation towards an authoritarianism which undermines the rule of law. Confirming such a Justice would be a travesty to American democracy. With the Senate currently split 50-49 in favor of Republicans, is there not a single Republican Senator who will stand up for the principles of the Constitution and block this confirmation? A Hand-Picked Extremist Kavanaugh comes from a list of potential judicial nominees hand-picked for Trump by The Federalist Society. This discreet organization has spent the past several decades recruiting and grooming jurists with extreme right-wing views for lifetime appointments to the the Federal Bench.

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Sam Pizzigati

Why Do Corporate Boards So Overpay U.S. CEOs?

Back in 1999, near the dizzying height of the dot-com boom, no executive in Corporate America personified the soaring pay packages of America’s CEOs more than Jack Welch, the chief exec at General Electric. Welch took home $75 million that year. What explained the enormity of that compensation? Welch didn’t claim any genius on his part. He credited his success, instead, to the genius of the free market. “Is my salary too high?” mused Welch. “Somebody else will have to decide that, but this is a competitive marketplace.” Translation: “I deserve every penny. The market says so.” Top U.S. corporate execs today, on average, are doing even better than top execs in Welch’s heyday. In 1999, notes a just-released new report from the Economic Policy Institute, CEOs at the nation’s 350 biggest corporations pocketed 248 times the pay of average workers in their industries.

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Jeff Bryant

Progressives May End Education’s ‘Funding Vs. Accountability’ War

For nearly three decades, education politics have been dominated by a conflict over inputs versus outcomes. Some say public schools and teachers need support and resources to adequately educate all students. Others argue measures of achievement and efficiency prove our education system is simply not up to the task of educating all students – that is, schools and teachers need to work harder and be smarter with the money and resources they have to produce better outcomes. Thus far, the outcome crowd has almost always won these debates. But that might be changing.

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Leo Gerard

There’s a Way to Make Corporations Work for Workers, Too

The stock market is bubbly. Unemployment is at record lows. On financial news shows, someone always seems to be singing, “Happy Days are Here Again.” But the chorus isn’t so cheery on factory floors. There are no Happy Days at the Harley Davidson plant to be shuttered in Kansas City, destroying 800 jobs as the motorcycle maker spends its big fat tax break on stock buybacks instead. There’s no joy at paper maker Kimberly-Clark’s plant in Wisconsin where hundreds learned in January that the corporation would use its tax break to cover the cost of closing their factory – and eight others. In fact, there’s bitterness among blue collar workers whose wages have flatlined for decades, then declined in May and June, even as CEO compensation skyrocketed 17.6 percent last year. Happy Days? Only for the already rich – for stockholders and CEOs and trust fund babies.

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Erica Johnson

Turning Back the Tide of Hate In Iowa and Beyond

There’s a phrase we use here in Iowa to say how people should treat one another: “Iowa Nice.” We think of ourselves as kind, generous, family friendly and closely-knit, and with a knack for finding common-sense solutions together. But “Iowa Nice” takes on a different ring in the Trump-Sessions era, when forced family separations and mass arrests of immigrants in small towns like the one where I grew up, Mount Pleasant, in southeast Iowa, are on the rise. Mount Pleasant, population 8,539, is about as Iowa as you get – it’s surrounded by soybeans and corn, with a handful of factories. One of these, Midwest Precast Concrete (MPC), is where they used to make the yellow Bluebird school buses. On May 9, ICE raided the plant and took away 32 workers – from Mexico, Guatemala and elsewhere in Central America. Iowans see families ripped apart like this, and it opens their eyes.

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Robert Borosage

How to Win Elections from the Ground Up

Mainstream media has settled into conventional themes about this year’s primary elections. After Tuesday’s voting in Wisconsin, Iowa, Vermont and Connecticut, the press trotted out the expected conclusions: “Democrats go for diversity; Republicans pick pro Trump candidates” trumpeted one headline from Salon. Midwest Democrats’ answer to Trump, Politico declared, is “white, conventional and boring.” According to analysts at 585, these primaries told us what we already knew  – Democratic turnout is up, Trump is remaking the Republican Party, and control of the House is still in play. Here’s the big story the mainstream media missed. Focusing solely on the top line – gubernatorial, Senate and House races – misses the critical story of these primaries:   Progressive populists are beginning to build for real power, starting from the ground up.

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Miles Mogulescu

The Constitution’s Case for Impeachment

Millions of Americans sit helplessly by as an unfit, narcissistic, ignorant, pathologically lying, misogynistic, racist, xenophobic President allies himself with Russia and Putin against our government. He does nothing to protect American elections against continued attacks from a hostile foreign adversary. He supports suppressing the votes of citizens who may oppose him, and attacks fundamental American and Constitutional values in a manner that may irreversibly damage our system of democracy. This, and much more, adds up to a constitutional crisis.

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Robert Kraig

Progressives Win Big in Wisconsin Primary

Mandela Barnes, Marisabel Cabrera, Jeff Smith and Sarah Godlewski: remember these names. These four members of Citizen Action Wisconsin, who all won primary races Tuesday night by wide margins, are proof the blue wave Democrats hope will crest in November continues to rise. But there’s more to this story. These four are the tip of a progressive iceberg, which is much bigger just below the surface. And like an iceberg, they’re getting ready to crash into the GOP’s “unsinkable” ship of gerrymandering and dark money and send it straight to the bottom of Lake Superior. Our Direction National headlines focus on the top of our ticket, but beneath the surface, there is an important battle shaping up in Wisconsin for the heart and soul of the Democratic Party. The general Democratic trend in our state in 2018 has been unmistakable.

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Adrienne Evans

What’s At Stake When We Vote This Year

A lot is at stake when we go to vote this year. It’s about restoring our faith in our leaders, but more than that, it’s about restoring our faith in one another. Members of United Vision for Idaho at a Community Cookout in Garden City How did we get here? Let’s step back to November, two years ago. For some, that was a vote of privilege – a statement of dissent. But for others it revealed the deep and painful wounds of the oppression they’ve always experienced. It uncovered just how pervasive discrimination is, precisely because it was so shocking to others.  It uncovered just how entrenched institutionalized discrimination has become in America. Thank God we don’t all have to have the same experiences, but we must understand that we don’t all have the same experiences, or face the same limits and consequences for being who we are.

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Jeff Bryant

WI Governor’s Race Puts Education in the Spotlight

Tony Evers leads in polls among the slew of Democratic candidates vying to take on Scott Walker to become Wisconsin’s next governor. But is he pro-public school enough to win? U.S. Air Force/Kathleen D. Bryant Support for public education and public school teachers is burgeoning into a critical issue for candidates in primary races and November midterm elections in a year in which local and state issues are strongly influencing major electoral contests. Nowhere is this more the case than in Wisconsin, where governor Scott Walker has based his campaign on being the “education governor” despite a horrible record of slashing school funding, undermining teachers, and redirecting taxpayer money to charter and private schools funded by a voucher program he expanded.

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