Working Life http://www.workinglife.org Jonathan Tasini's Ruminations on Work, The Economy, and Politics Wed, 29 Jul 2015 14:01:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.3 Anti-Iran Deal Republican House “Chicken Hawks” Who Want More Americans To Die http://www.workinglife.org/2015/07/29/anti-iran-deal-republican-house-chicken-hawks-who-want-more-americans-to-die/ http://www.workinglife.org/2015/07/29/anti-iran-deal-republican-house-chicken-hawks-who-want-more-americans-to-die/#comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 13:42:07 +0000 http://www.workinglife.org/?p=10111

Republicans are embracing the full Dick Cheney doctrine. I don’t mean simply the “let’s break international law and bomb the fuck out of people in service to Halliburton.” I mean the doctrine that, for all the tough talk, when it came time to serve, the vast majority of these guys who are ready to go to war with Iran, decided, like Cheney, that when it came to serve in the military and put their lives on the line, they all had other priorities.

This is a group of “chicken hawks” who are ready to have more people die–Americans and others–but would never put their own lives on the line.

I thought of this watching John Kerry–Vietnam Vet, Lt. in the Navy, recipient of the Silver Star, Bronze Star, and three Purple Hearts–testify yesterday before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. I’m not an unabashed Kerry fan (and think he ran a horrendous presidential campaign). But, what he and the president have done with the deal with Iran is remarkable and potentially a game changer in the relationship with Iran and the region for decades to come. It could certainly mean that hundreds of thousands of people will not die in war for perhaps a coming decade.

I listened to the idiotic questions being lobbed at Kerry. You could see Kerry barely contain himself having to sit there and listen to these half-wits read from prepared questions–and sometimes he got a bit testy, but who wouldn’t? In particular, Rep. Tom Marino from Pennsylvania’s 10th District–I mean, the man is a fool, asking pre-written questions and, then, as Kerry was answering methodically, intelligently, you could see Marino’s eyes moving quickly, looking down at his paper, a bit worried, as in, “What do I say next?”

But, it was Marino that made me wonder: how many of these phony chicken hawks actually served? So, I looked it up.

Of the 25 Republicans who sit on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, only five have been anywhere close to military service (note: I take this info from their official biographies and assume that they would rush to mention military service if such a thing had occurred). Two of them–Joe Wilson and Darrell Issa–had the “Ferris Bueller” version of service–some sort of reserve duty they can throw on their resumes, and appear never to have seen combat.

One, Ron Desantis, from Florida’s 6th District, says that, “During his active duty Navy service, he served as a military prosecutor, supported operations at the terrorist detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and deployed to Iraq during the 2007 troop surge as an advisor to a U.S. Navy SEAL commander in support of counterinsurgency operations in Iraq…” which seems to try to imply he was in battle but, ok, he was in a war zone.  Lee Zeldin, 1st District from New York, says that he “spent four years on Active Duty with the U.S. Army and served in different capacities including as a Military Intelligence Officer, Federal Prosecutor and Military Magistrate. In the summer of 2006, while assigned to the Army’s elite 82nd Airborne Division, Lee deployed to Iraq with an infantry battalion of fellow paratroopers in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom…” again seems a tad like embellishment about “deploying” as if he was about to be in a firefight, but, fair enough, he was in a war zone.

The only two people who seems to actually have been in combat are Paul Cook, from California’s 8th District, who is a Marine Vietnam Vet, with two purple hearts and a Bronze Star, and Scott Perry who served in the PA National Guard [corrected–this was not in his official Congressional bio]

Well, you know, Randy Weber, Republican from the 14th District of Texas, who is a “proven conservative”, “built his air conditioning company, Weber’s Air & Heat, in 1981 from scratch, and grew his business by using, what his grandfather used to call, ‘good old-fashion Texas horse sense and a strong work ethic.’ ”

Did that work ethic lead him to serve? Nope.

Scott Perry, Republican from the 4th District of Pennsylvania, has been active everywhere: “He was active in the Jaycees and was the regional director for the state organization. He also is a member of Dillsburg Legion Post #26, Dillsburg VFW Post #6771, Lions Club International, Army Aviation Association of America, the NRA, and numerous other associations.”

Serve in the military or or even the George W. Bush weekend-retreat style of service? Nope. [Correction: see above]

And in North Carolina, we find Mark Meadows, representing the 11th District: “After working as a small business owner for 27 years, Representative Mark Meadows brings a business-style approach to Washington, D.C. During his time in Congress, he has championed pro-growth jobs policies, a sensible approach to reducing the national deficit, and a robust national defense.” [emphasis added]

Mark is such a stalwart proponent of a “robust national defense” that, you got it, he didn’t serve either.

Florida’s 3rd District has Ted Yoho. He’s a prince: Ted and Carolyn began instilling a strong work ethic in their children early on by making family projects out of real estate investments and building their businesses…When he is not in Washington representing his constituents and serving the country he loves, he is home spending time with his wife and three kids, cheering on the Gators, and if time permits occasionally fishing.

Does he have time to serve in the military? Nope.

Tennessee (the “Volunteer State”) rings in with Scott DesJarlais, a doctor…woohoo. Scott is really conservative and he brags about it: “National Journal Magazine has ranked Congressman DesJarlais as the fourth most conservative member of the United States House of Representatives and Congressional Quarterly listed him as one of the top five Members of Congress who has consistently voted against President Obama’s agenda.”

Volunteer time for the military, Scott? Nope.

Reid Ribble, from the 4th District in Wisconsin, “owned and operated his family’s small business for over 30 years, so he knows the importance of a balanced budget.”

No military service.

To be clear, I don’t think you **have to serve** to comment on military affairs. But, I do think that those who want to rush so quickly into battle, and sacrifice the sons, daughters, fathers of other families–mostly working class people in the absence of a draft–should have a special burden to tone down their rhetoric, not engage in phony political posturing to score political points and, at least, ask questions that have a semblance of fact and sober inquiry.

Some Democrats are just as bad. But, for today, I give you the new generation of chicken hawks–who are happy to have people killed while they sit at home.

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Bernie Gets 2/3 Labor Union Delegate Vote, And Some Space To Work For AFL-CIO Nod http://www.workinglife.org/2015/07/27/bernie-gets-23-labor-union-delegate-vote-and-some-space-to-work-for-afl-cio-nod/ http://www.workinglife.org/2015/07/27/bernie-gets-23-labor-union-delegate-vote-and-some-space-to-work-for-afl-cio-nod/#comments Mon, 27 Jul 2015 13:49:21 +0000 http://www.workinglife.org/?p=10109 I had heard, now leaking out to the media, that the AFL-CIO will not rush to endorse anyone in the Democratic primary. This is good news for Bernie Sanders, and not so good for those on the Chipotle-eating circuit. It gives Bernie more time to show a hard-edged practical reason–as opposed to the obvious “I’d actually take on Wall Street and be good for unions”–for the AFL-CIO to support him, and it also gives more time for the Chipotle-eating crowd to show that, hey, we’re actually like regular, working people (though probably not “dead broke” like real people).

Bernie did show some some official support from a union endorsement poll:

At a meeting of the Utility Workers Union of America in Florida this week, Bernie Sanders won 65 percent of the vote in cell phone poll of the 400 elected delegates to the convention. Clinton won 23 percent, with Martin O’Malley taking 7 percent and the combined Republican field winning 5 percent.

The union is relatively small but still worth noting.

More important:

In a possible setback for Hillary Clinton, the AFL-CIO’s political committee has recommended the nation’s largest labor union federation delay endorsing a candidate for the 2016 presidential race as it seeks to push her to be more supportive of its policies on issues such as trade and wages.The committee on Monday voted unanimously to support the proposal, three union sources told Reuters. The recommendation will be presented at a July 29-30 meeting of the executive council of the federation, which will make the final decision. It could reject the recommendation and still go ahead with an endorsement, though one of the sources said that is unlikely.

The move highlights the pressures Clinton is facing to take a tough stand against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a proposed free trade deal backed by President Barack Obama but vigorously opposed by unions who see it as detrimental to jobs and wages in the U.S. Unions also want her to back labor-friendly policies on other issues, such as the minimum wage and the Federal Reserve.

And:

The federation has been trying to quell a revolt in its ranks as some local unions have declared their support for Sanders, who is known for his progressive stance and who has spoken out strongly against the TPP.In contrast, Clinton has simply said that any final trade agreement needs to include strong worker protections and that she will reserve judgment until a completed deal is presented. Negotiators from the U.S, and 11 other nations from the Pacific Rim, including Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Australia, Mexico and Canada, are meeting in the next week in Hawaii in an attempt to reach a final agreement.

The trade deal will likely be the top issue at the two-day gathering of the AFL-CIO, which represents workers in a wide range of occupations, from brick layers to machinists to nurses.[emphasis added]

Like the rest of the challenges facing Bernie, it’s a steep hill to climb to nab the AFL-CIo’s endorsement, whatever the merits. But, time, in this case, is his friend.

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The Essential Bernie Sanders and His Vision for America–THE BOOK!!! http://www.workinglife.org/2015/07/22/the-essential-bernie-sanders-and-his-vision-for-america-the-book/ http://www.workinglife.org/2015/07/22/the-essential-bernie-sanders-and-his-vision-for-america-the-book/#comments Wed, 22 Jul 2015 13:53:03 +0000 http://www.workinglife.org/?p=10106

It’s a book…about to see the light of day.

It’s an organizing tool.

It’s Bernie’s voice.

The facts: it’s a book I’ve written that is coming out from Chelsea Green.

The structure: 19 very short chapters on a whole set of the key issues–class warfare, taxes, the economy, trade, racism, climate change and more. Each chapter starts with a quote from a person, mostly not politicians. It’s followed by a short intro from yours truly to set the context and ends up at the bottom with three bullet points about specific things Bernie has done…

AND MOST IMPORTANT, EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN…IS BERNIE…

It’s 95 percent Bernie’s words: I thought of this as an organizing challenge–how do you get Bernie’s ideas into a compact format so supporters and those who want to learn more can here BERNIE SPEAK? It’s a small, not heavy book people can carry around. You can read each chapter on its own so it’s a quick time investment for very busy people…just before you get on a call to a family member or you have to write a response to a friend, you can pick out specific things Bernie has said and what he has done.

Why I hope you’ll buy it here and share it around: well, sure, that’s an obvious self-interested point. Consider this as well–

First, I think it helps spread Bernie’s message. You won’t read the usual nonsense about his hair. It’s actually what he believes in–and has done. No intervening bullshit analysis.

Second, doing this book with Chelsea Green was the perfect fit, and a pleasure: a Vermont-based, worker owned independent publisher. Chelsea Green is Bernie’s message: the peoples’ publisher versus the big conglomerates. For writers and for the progressive political movement, we need more Chelsea Greens.

And I’ll add: Chelsea Green has a great track record pushing progressive books into the mainstream. It published George Lakoff’s “Don’t Think of an Elephant!” which was a must-read in political circles in 2004 on how to frame political messages.

I am providing the introduction here, published for the first time, so people get a sense of the book.

I’ve been involved in politics my whole life, from stuffing envelopes to knocking on doors in all kinds of weather to working closely with politicians. So, my bullshit alarm is on a hair-trigger alert in the presence of most politicians—and it goes off with regularity, even among politicians who I agree with.A couple of years ago, something different happened. Over the course of a couple of days in 2013, I spent a number of hours chatting with Bernie Sanders for an interview for Playboy. To be sure, it was a pleasure—unfortunately, too rare an experience—to be with a member of Congress who actually had an informed, complex understanding of the issues facing the people. It’s a deep understanding steeped in a worldview that seeks to represent the regular person, not because it tests well in 2015 polls but because Bernie believes what he says.

When I walked out of Bernie Sanders’ office, aside from the energy one feels from a good policy give-and-take, I was left with an unusually strong sense of something else: authenticity.

Authenticity is hard to manufacture—and, as we all know, politicians of all stripes spend many hours and millions of dollars to painfully, and often comically, try to say to voters, “I’m like you, I’m real.”

But, authenticity is easy to explain. It’s a simple sense: “Here it is. Here is what I believe from deep inside. I don’t need to convene a think-a-thon of consultants and other sycophants to tell me what I should believe. This is me.”

That is the essence of Bernie Sanders. No bullshit. Unvarnished opinions and beliefs.

Now, Bernie carries that authenticity into the national arena in his quest to become president of the United States. As I write these words, tens of thousands of people have already swarmed to hear Bernie speak the truth at mass rallies in arenas and halls across the nation.

To be clear: this is an electorally successful politician, winning races for office as an independent to be Mayor of Burlington, Vermont (four times beginning in 1981), serving as the state’s lone member in the House of Representatives (from 1990-2006) and, finally, in 2006, ascending to the United States Senate.

Which elicits a question some have asked about his inspiring campaign for the White House: Why is the longest serving independent in Congress, who describes himself without hesitation as a Democratic Socialist, running for president in the Democratic Party primaries?

To be sure, some of it is practical. Unless you are a billionaire, it’s virtually impossible to win a national election as an independent in the dominant two-party system (and even, as Ross Perot proved, being a billionaire does not make it a cinch). Some of it has to do with  branding and the corrupted nature of Super PAC-fueled elections in the post-Citizens United world, a topic Bernie feels passionately about, and as you will read in the book.

But, there is something more here. In an exchange we had back in 2013, I asked Bernie whether he thinks people understand the term class warfare, which is at the heart of his orations about how the historic divide between rich and poor is ripping apart the nation.

He replied: “Sometimes people come up to me and say I’m courageous for saying all these things. I say, ‘I’m not courageous. Go look at these guys who want to give more tax breaks to billionaires and cut programs for working families. That is incredibly courageous, because the vast majority of the American people think that’s crazy.’ The polling says: Don’t cut Social Security, don’t cut Medicare, don’t cut Medicaid. Ask the wealthy and large corporations to pay more taxes. The political question is, why have the Republicans not been reduced to a 15 percent marginal third party? [The answer is] most people do not perceive a heck of a lot of difference between either party. The Democrats are too diffuse, and their message is so unclear the American people don’t see the real difference.”

This is the essence of his belief that he can win: he is certain that if he speaks boldly, clearly, honestly, and authentically, that he can win the Democratic nomination for president, and the party he leads can win everywhere—in all fifty states—and relegate a regressive anti-worker, pro-corporate Republican Party to rump status. It would be a party transformed, with a standard bearer who would not hesitate to say exactly what he believes, as this book lays out, whether he is walking the streets of Newark, Tampa, Eugene, Detroit, or, Dallas, trekking from the Deep South to the Midwest, or traveling from sea to shining sea.

The goal of this book is to present to the country, in a succinct way, Bernie’s authenticity and his accomplishments, a vision that be believes is a winning agenda because it exactly reflects, whatever labels one sticks on the messenger, the desires and beliefs of a majority of people. No one should underestimate—and Bernie does not—the challenge of winning the White House; it is a steep climb, for a whole set of logistical and organizational reasons.

But, what is laid out here is a simple point: his path to victory is possible because, in his authenticity, his views are America’s views.

Bernie Sanders carries with him a hope and vision for a 21st Century caring, sustainable, more just and fairer United States of America.

I aimed to be brief. Each chapter is short. Each chapter can be read on its own, depending on a reader’s interest. I’ve used Bernie’s direct words, mostly from speeches on the floor of the Senate or House or in statements he’s made, because he usually does so with very concrete explanations and descriptions of a problem that any reader can follow. Each chapter has my own very short introduction to give some background, and ends with very specific steps Bernie has taken to implement his views.

It’s important to underscore a point from the title of the book. This is what I think are the essential views of Bernie Sanders, not a complete list. I wanted this book out fast, as a handy organizing tool. It allows readers to read conclusions about Bernie’s worldview and overall philosophy, and seek out additional positions on other issues not covered in the chapters.

Hopefully, the words presented here help individuals make the argument for Bernie’s candidacy to a family member, neighbor, friend or co-worker.

But, ultimately, as Bernie often says, this is not about him. It’s about our chance to ignite a political revolution by exercising collective power to restore democracy and justice.

Feel the Bern.

I’d be honored and pleased if you would consider ordering a copy. And, if you are willing, move it around your social networks.By the way, if it’s relevant, bulk discounts are totally doable, so private message me:
40% for 10-49 books
45% for 50-199
50% for 200-499
55% for 500+ books

I’ll update people on the book, and try not to overdo it!

The Essential Bernie Sanders and His Vision for America

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Good Line, Rich http://www.workinglife.org/2015/07/20/good-line-rich/ http://www.workinglife.org/2015/07/20/good-line-rich/#comments Mon, 20 Jul 2015 19:30:56 +0000 http://www.workinglife.org/?p=10104 This is a good one from Rich Trumka.

Word:

“Why would any sane human being, knowing his background and who pulls the strings, vote for Scott Walker?” he added. “If you cut the two strings behind him that go to the Koch brothers, he’s like putty. He falls down.”

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Bernie: America’s Approach to Children an “International Embarrassment” http://www.workinglife.org/2015/07/09/bernie-americas-approach-to-children-an-international-embarrassment/ http://www.workinglife.org/2015/07/09/bernie-americas-approach-to-children-an-international-embarrassment/#comments Thu, 09 Jul 2015 14:16:49 +0000 http://www.workinglife.org/?p=10101

So true. The country where politicians run around talking about “family values” and never miss a chance to be photographed with a child–while too many of them cut health care for kids and vote for illegal, immoral wars that bankrupt the country and send kids to war (though their own kids never serve–they just give speeches for five-figures in which they say nothing).

Bernie pegs it. And wants to at least create 1 million jobs for young people over the next two years.

This:

“It is beyond belief that in the richest country in the history of the world millions of young people are unable to find work and begin their careers. According to the Economic Policy Institute, unbelievably, youth unemployment for high school graduates and dropouts is 33 percent for white youth, 36 percent for Hispanic youth and 51 percent for African-American young people.“It is not a coincidence that we have outrageously high youth unemployment rates while at the same time we have more people in jail than any other country on earth. Maybe, just maybe, we should be providing jobs and education to our young people  rather than spending more and more money on jails and incarceration.”

Sanders also is the sponsor of legislation to provide four years of tuition-free higher education at public colleges and universities. “Hundreds of thousands of qualified young people are unable to afford to go to college, while millions of others leave school with crushing debt which impacts their lives for decades,” he said.

“While we give tax breaks to billionaires, we continue to have, by far, the highest rate of childhood poverty of any major country on earth,” Sanders said. “Our child care system is a disaster with working families desperately searching for affordable, quality child care, which is almost impossible to find.”

Sanders concluded: “This country faces an enormous crisis in how we treat our young people. It is time to bring this issue out of the dark and to start addressing it. If this country is to succeed in the future, we cannot continue to turn our backs on an entire generation of young people.”

Watch here “Congress is way out of touch as to where the American people are”:

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The Sides Are Drawn: Bernie/Us Versus Chuck Schumer/Tax-Dodging Big Corps/”Bi-Partisanship” http://www.workinglife.org/2015/07/08/the-sides-are-drawn-bernieus-versus-chuck-schumertax-dodging-big-corpsbi-partisanship/ http://www.workinglife.org/2015/07/08/the-sides-are-drawn-bernieus-versus-chuck-schumertax-dodging-big-corpsbi-partisanship/#comments Wed, 08 Jul 2015 21:17:20 +0000 http://www.workinglife.org/?p=10099

WTF? Ok, I guess I should actually say: this is not shocking but because Chuck Schumer just made me yell “WTF?” and ruin my schedule for the rest of the day…

The loud yelling and clapping you just heard came cascading down from executive suites of all the tax-dodging big corporations who must be dancing in the halls. “Bi-partisanship” is about to fleece the American people–yet again. And it’s being led by the presumed Democratic majority leader come 2016, Chuck Schumer.

This is entirely absurd:

Two senior senators – one Republican, one Democrat – proposed on Wednesday that the government largely end the taxation of United States corporate profits overseas, but with a mandatory, one-time tax on such profits to pay for an expansive highway and infrastructure program.The plan, by Senators Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio, and Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, is similar to earlier proposals from President Obama and former Representative Dave Camp, once the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. The current chairman, Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, greeted the proposal warmly as well.

“What’s exciting to me is we now have a bipartisan road map on how to do international tax reform to make the American worker more competitive,” Mr. Portman said. “This is not about the boardroom. This is about the shop floor.”

And:

The current system taxes overseas profits at 35 percent – minus taxes paid to the host country – once a business brings its income back to the United States. That has prompted American-based multinational companies to, in effect, leave trillions of dollars abroad, either in cash or as investments in foreign operations.Senators Portman and Schumer would largely end the taxation of those repatriated profits, instead imposing a light annual tax on overseas income, whether it comes home or not. That, they said, would end the incentive to leave profits abroad or reinvest them in overseas operations. Mr. Obama’s international tax plan would set that minimum overseas profit tax at 14 percent. The new proposal does not set a rate, but Mr. Portman said the administration’s was far too high.

Ridiculous.I’ve written a lot about this, including back in 2011 when I pointed out how correct then-Sen. Carl Levin was when he criticized a proposed “tax holiday” as a bogus incentive for corporations to repatriate tens of billions of dollars in profits stashed overseas–bogus because it had already been tried years before and failed because, surprise, corporations reneged on most of the key pieces of the deal (particularly, around investing the repatriated, free money into new jobs–guess where it went instead…stock buy backs and more CEO benefits).

In this case, oh, thank you, “bi-partisanship”, what is being proposed is “a light annual tax on overseas income”…

To which Citizens for Tax Justice says:

Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today released a long-awaited tax reform plan that reads like a wish list for multinational corporations.The Senate Finance Committee working group’s report provides recommendations for restructuring the federal government’s international corporation tax rules. The plan is long on misguided ideas and short on specifics. The heart of the plan is a proposal to move to a territorial tax system in which all corporate income reported in countries other than the United States– including notorious tax havens such as Bermuda and the Cayman Islands– would be exempt from U.S. corporate income taxes.

As Citizens for Tax Justice has noted, such a system would dramatically increase the incentive for U.S. multinational corporations to use accounting maneuvers and paperwork to shift their profits from the United States to offshore tax havens. At a time when corporations have accumulated more than $2.1 trillion in offshore holdings, much of which may be U.S. profits that are reported as “earned” in zero-tax jurisdictions such as the Cayman Islands, the first step toward corporate tax reform should be removing incentives to offshore profits — not providing even more.[emphasis added]

And:

Under the Portman-Schumer plan, big multinationals would find new avenues for tax avoidance whether they report their income in the U.S. or shift profits to tax havens — truly a “win-win” for corporations seeking to avoid paying their fair share. But the broad outlines of the Finance Committee’s recommendations make it clear that the plan would be a big loss for the rest of us.

From Americans for Tax Fairness:

“The framework fails on three counts. It appears to create a territorial tax system, under which most U.S. corporate profits earned offshore are no longer taxed here at home. This will provide huge incentives for corporations to invest overseas at the expense of U.S. jobs. It suggests a very low tax rate be paid on the $2 trillion in U.S. corporate profits that are currently offshore, much of it in tax havens, and that are untaxed here at home. This rewards companies that have been the most successful tax dodgers. It creates a giant new tax loophole, known as a patent or innovation box, which will exacerbate the current massive tax avoidance by high-tech and pharmaceutical companies.“Corporate America recently succeeded in getting Congress to support trade promotion authority, which will result in the loss of jobs for American workers and disinvestment in our economy. The Schumer-Portman framework will do the same and result in large revenue losses needed to create an economy that works for all Americans.”

Bernie Sanders has not yet released a statement on the current proposal. But, earlier this year, evaluating candidates’ tax plans and track record, I wrote that Citizens for Tax Justice said that Sanders:

“has been the lone voice in the Senate fighting for legislation that would ensure that corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share,”

And he specifically opposed this scam allowing corporations to dodge paying a serious and fair tax on overseas profits.I won’t make any unfair projections about what the “presumed front runner” believes on this effort at “bi-partisanship” and will see if she makes a statement after consulting with her 200-person policy team, which will poll-test the idea.

But, this is, in some way, a perfect example of both why Bernie has tapped into a lot of energy and anger AND why the current system is entirely broken when it comes to protecting the people from big corporations and elite power: this is, pure and simply, a sell-out to big donors, big corporations and the wealthy, and a robbery of the U.S. Treasury. Giving big corporations a pretty big wet kiss when it comes to paying a “light annual tax” is robbery because it effectively means more money will be lifted out of the pockets of ordinary people…or safety net programs will be cut.

It’s robbing society.

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The Fed Should Provide Cash To Greek Banks, Or Dump ECB (Kudos to Bernie for Indirect Idea) http://www.workinglife.org/2015/07/06/the-fed-should-provide-cash-to-greek-banks-or-dump-ecb-kudos-to-bernie-for-indirect-idea/ http://www.workinglife.org/2015/07/06/the-fed-should-provide-cash-to-greek-banks-or-dump-ecb-kudos-to-bernie-for-indirect-idea/#comments Mon, 06 Jul 2015 14:51:31 +0000 http://www.workinglife.org/?p=10096

Banks on the brink. Financial system close to collapse–or so said the experts. To the rescue rode the Federal Reserve Board, which authorized trillions of dollars for all sorts of financial institutions, domestic and foreign…even if said institutions didn’t need the money but were happy to take essentially free money.

That was back during the financial crisis.

Now, it’s Greece and its banks running short on cash, squeezed by the money lenders and, in particular, the European Central Bank. So, why not: the Federal Reserve Board should be directed by Congress to commit to providing liquidity to Greek banks so the people in Greece–millions of human beings–can pay their bills, get their pension payments and continue to have money to buy food–or cut off the ECB from its Fed-backed line of credit.

So, background to this. Bernie Sanders, one of the more aggressive leaders on the issue, pushed for an audit of the Fed by the General Accounting Office, which was finally published in July 2011. Part of the reason he did so is that then-Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke refused to reveal what banks had received taxpayer money, as you can see from this short clip:


To cut to the chase, the audit found that the Fed had made roughly $16 trillion in loans to a whole variety of financial institutions and corporations.

Included in the loans were credit lines totaling $8 trillion to the European Commission Bank–the very institution leading the attempt to bludgeon Greece. In addition, the Fed, through a whole set of programs, made cash available–at very low interest–to the usual suspects–Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo–but also to a whole list of foreign banks including Barclays, ANZ (Australia), Bank of Montreal and others.

As the Troika–the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission Bank and the European Union (with Germany leading the way)–applied pressure to Greece, Bernie Sanders wrote to the Fed Chair Janet Yellin back in February making it clear that the U.S. should not stand by while the Troika impoverished people:

The United States cannot stand idly by while the European Central Bank undermines the new democratically elected government of Greece, induces deflation and risks financial instability.  President Barack Obama was right when he recently noted, with regard to Greece: ‘You cannot keep on squeezing countries that are in the midst of a depression.  At some point, there has to be a growth strategy in order for them to pay off their debts to eliminate some of their deficits

And he added:

Currently the Federal Reserve has a standing credit arrangement with the ECB on which the ECB can draw at any time. These swap lines, as they stand, tend to make the United States implicitly supportive of the policies that have so destabilized and damaged Greece. But, they also give us a reason, indeed an obligation, to object when a partner Central Bank departs from its commitment to financial stability.[emphasis added]

Sanders wasn’t alone in Congress. A group, including Sanders, wrote to the head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, objecting to the IMF’s hard line:

Greece has already reduced its national public sector work force by 19 percent and carried out many of the reforms demanded by the IMF and its creditors. It has gone through an enormous fiscal adjustment, achieving the largest cyclically adjusted primary budget surplus in the euro area last year; and a very large current account adjustment (with a 36 percent reduction in imports). At the same time, as even the IMF has acknowledged in its own research, the austerity imposed by Greece’s creditors over the past five years turned out to be far more devastating to the economy than they had predicted.

So, this is simple. The next step should be a two-part demand from Congress:Number One: Congress should demand that the Fed explicitly back Greece’s banking system so that there is cash for the people of Greece.

Given this:

“All eyes will now be on the European Central Bank tomorrow. We expect the central bank to continue providing liquidity to Greece’s financial sector, although the small chance of the ECB increasing the cap on the emergency liquidity assistance this week has disappeared with the referendum result,” said Iscaro in a note this evening.”This significantly raises the probability of banks running out of cash over the coming days. We estimate it is very likely banks will not reopen on 7 July as currently expected. Moreover, the limit on bank withdrawals, currently at €60, may also need to be reduced.“[emphasis added]

Number Two: Congress should demand that the Fed inform the ECB that, unless the ECB negotiates a deal acceptable to Greece–that removes the cuts in pensions, cuts in minimum wage and promotes economic growth not austerity–then, the Fed will end the ECB’s access to OUR FUCKING MONEY.Please don’t buy into the myth of “Fed independence”. Congress has substantial power over the Fed, which is its creation and is subject, as the GAO investigation shows, to audits and oversight.

Of course, I know the two-part proposal would face a heavy slog–the Fed’s Board of Governors and its counterpart at the ECB, at heart, share the same philosophy that pain and austerity are a good thing to teach people how to stay in line, and too many members of Congress are committed to austerity/deficit-mongering here in the U.S. so there is unlikely to be much sentiment to take such action.

But, this is about politics and movement-building. It’s a teachable moment.

Globalization apparently is fine when it means so-called “free trade” deals that lower standards of living across the globe but somehow it’s not fine if the goal is raise, or protect, standards.

A place to make a stand, and to be bold.

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Bernie Praises Greece Vote http://www.workinglife.org/2015/07/05/bernie-praises-greece-vote/ http://www.workinglife.org/2015/07/05/bernie-praises-greece-vote/#comments Sun, 05 Jul 2015 22:54:31 +0000 http://www.workinglife.org/?p=10087 This is a short post. But, an important one that says a lot.

Bernie Sanders on the vote in Greece to reject austerity:

“I applaud the people of Greece for saying ‘no’ to more austerity for the the poor, the children, the sick and the elderly,” said Sanders in a statement. “In a world of massive wealth and income inequality Europe must support Greece’s efforts to build an economy which creates more jobs and income, not more unemployment and suffering.”[emphasis added]

The other candidates for the Democratic nomination, including the “presumed front runner”? Crickets.Sanders has been a long time critic of the politics of austerity, going back to his repeated criticism of the Catfood Commission led by austerity mongering hacks Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles; the latter served for two years as chief of staff of the Clinton Administration.

If you wonder who the Greek Prime Minister would like to have on the other end of the phone at 3 a.m. come January 2017…

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BREAKING Quinnipiac Poll: Bernie More Than DOUBLES Iowa Support http://www.workinglife.org/2015/07/02/breaking-quinnipiac-poll-bernie-more-than-doubles-iowa-support/ http://www.workinglife.org/2015/07/02/breaking-quinnipiac-poll-bernie-more-than-doubles-iowa-support/#comments Thu, 02 Jul 2015 12:06:29 +0000 http://www.workinglife.org/?p=10085 I’m skeptical of putting too much into polls so early out, largely because you can never predict events that actually happen in campaigns much closer to the election and shape the results. But, in an insurgent, grassroots campaign, this is worth paying attention to.

From Quinnipiac University poll just out this morning:

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is gaining ground on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Iowa Democratic Caucus and now trails the front-runner 52–33 percent among likely Democratic Caucus participants, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.  Vice President Joseph Biden has 7 percent. This compares to a 60–15 percent Clinton lead over Sanders in a May 7 survey of likely Democratic caucus-goers by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University. [emphasis added]

The horse race per se is not as interesting, in my view, as the more than doubling of support in such a short time as Sanders’ campaign has hit the ground.

More:

“Secretary Hillary Clinton should not be biting her fingernails over her situation in the Iowa caucus, but her lead is slipping and Sen. Bernie Sanders is making progress against her. Her 52 percent score among likely caucus-goers is still OK, but this is the first time she has been below 60 percent in Quinnipiac University’s Iowa survey,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.“But Sen. Sanders has more than doubled his showing and at 33 percent he certainly can’t be ignored, especially with seven months until the actual voting. Iowa Democratic caucus-goers are generally considered more liberal than primary voters in most other states, a demographic that helps his insurgency against Secretary Clinton who is the choice of virtually the entire Democratic establishment.[emphasis added]

So, I agree that the “presumed front-runner” still shows a strong lead. But, the momentum and enthusiasm is with Sanders, at least in Iowa, and certainly in other locations.

I’ve said in other places one cannot underestimate the challenge Bernie faces in putting together a national campaign and collecting enough delegates to win the nomination–it’s a slog.

I also think it’s telling, and accurate, that the analysis says the “presumed front-runner” is “the choice of virtually the entire Democratic establishment.”

Where would you rather be?

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Post-Euphoria: SCOTUS Gears Up To Destroy Unions http://www.workinglife.org/2015/06/30/post-euphoria-scotus-gears-up-to-destroy-unions/ http://www.workinglife.org/2015/06/30/post-euphoria-scotus-gears-up-to-destroy-unions/#comments Tue, 30 Jun 2015 15:12:40 +0000 http://www.workinglife.org/?p=10083

I’ve kind of laughed at the analysis percolating around that, oh, surprise, the Supreme Court is a liberal bastion…or not so conservative. Well, it was a great day when marriage equality became the law of the land. But, while everyone can now marry, the Supreme Court has a very clear five-vote conservative bloc when it comes to empowering business, enhancing class warfare and making it impossible to make a decent living…married or not.

And it is now gearing up to potentially destroy public sector unions.

The Court has now accepted for argument Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association. Essentially, the case is another one ginned up by right-wing, anti-union forces to eviscerate public sector unions by challenging the right of unions to collect dues and use them for the whole range of activities unions perform, particularly political lobbying.

The Court’s conservatives have been pining away for a case to destroy public sector unions.
In June 2012, The Court essentially invited a huge challenge, in a ruling in Knox v. Service Employees International Union. As the incomparable Linda Greenhouse wrote:

But Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., writing for a five-member majority that included Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy, and Clarence Thomas, went beyond the confines of the case to suggest strongly that the decades-old accommodation between union members and non-members in public workplaces violates the First Amendment rights of the non-members.To avoid the problem of “free riders,” agency-shop provisions require that those who object to joining the union nonetheless pay a fee that represents the portion of union dues that goes to the collective bargaining activities from which all employees benefit. The non-members, at their request, are entitled to be excused from contributing to the union’s political activities. Since the non-members must affirmatively exercise this “opt-out” option, this system tends to favor the union; as students of default rules well understand, inertia inevitably keeps some people from bothering to assert their rights.

The opt-out system “represents a remarkable boon for unions,” Justice Alito wrote in his majority opinion characterizing the arrangement as one the court had endorsed haphazardly and without adequate thought. He went on to challenge the basic agency-shop structure, calling it “an anomaly.” Compelling nonmembers to pay any portion of their dues to a union with which they don’t care to be associated is a substantial impingement on the First Amendment right to be free from compelled speech and association, Justice Alito said, adding: “Our cases to date have tolerated this impingement and we do not revisit today whether the court’s former cases have given adequate recognition to the critical First Amendment rights at stake.”

In case he hadn’t made it sufficiently clear that 60 years of Supreme Court precedents are now hanging by a thread, Justice Alito continued: “Our prior decisions approach, if they do not cross, the limit of what the First Amendment can tolerate.” As for the special dues assessment at issue in the case, he concluded, the opt-out system was constitutionally insufficient, and the objecting employees were free of any obligation unless they chose to opt in.[emphasis added]

Then, came Harris v. Quinn–and an almost fatal blow to public unions. It was bad:

The petitioners in Harris were several home-care workers who did not want to join a union, though a majority of their co-workers had voted in favor of joining one. Under Illinois law, they were still required to contribute their “fair share” to the costs of representation — a provision, known as an “agency fee,” that is prohibited in “right to work” states.The ability of unions to collect an agency fee reflects a constitutional balance that has governed American labor for some 40 years: Workers can’t be forced to join a union or contribute to its political and ideological activities, but they can be required to pay for the cost of the union’s collective bargaining and contract-administration activities.

The majority in Harris saw things differently. Making workers pay anything to a union they oppose is in tension with their First Amendment rights — “something of an anomaly,” in the words of the majority. But the real anomaly lies in according dissenters a right to refuse to pay for the union’s services — services that cost money to deliver, and that put money in the pockets of all employees.

And:

While a majority declined to strike down agency-fee arrangements for “full-fledged” public employees, as the petitioners had requested, and as unions had feared, the majority makes clear that such fees now rest on shaky constitutional ground, at least in the public sector, and are vulnerable to broader attack in the future.

What the Court did not do was strike down a 1977 case, Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, which really is the basis for the framework for public sector unions being able to charge fees to pay for the costs of operations–particularly, the costs that go into collective bargaining. The only reason the conservatives did not destroy Abood in the Harris decision was because Justice Alito said that home healthcare workers were not actually “full-fledged” public employees, so putting a stake into Abood was not necessary.

That, however, is what the Court will attempt to do with this new case, which will be heard in the coming term, and likely be decided in 2016. The issue is clear:

Whether Abood v. Detroit Board of Education should be overruled and public-sector “agency shop” arrangements invalidated under the First Amendment; and (2) whether it violates the First Amendment to require that public employees affirmatively object to subsidizing nonchargeable speech by public-sector unions, rather than requiring that employees affirmatively consent to subsidizing such speech.

I am not optimistic.

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They Want Greece To Bleed http://www.workinglife.org/2015/06/29/they-want-greece-to-bleed/ http://www.workinglife.org/2015/06/29/they-want-greece-to-bleed/#comments Mon, 29 Jun 2015 20:25:55 +0000 http://www.workinglife.org/?p=10081 The underlying issue in Greece is simple: the oligarchs wants the people of Greece to bleed, pure and simple. There are easy ways to resolve the crisis without exacting more pounds of flesh from already desperate people. But, that’s the way of the Troika.

This is right:

Thousands of Greeks rallied on Monday behind a ‘No’ vote in a referendum called for July 5 on the terms of an aid deal offered by Greece’s international creditors, a result that risks pushing Athens out of Europe’s currency union.

Many banners declared simply “No!” Others said, “Our lives do not belong to the lenders” and “Don’t back down”.

 

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Bernie Sanders ACA-ruling statement: We Need Single Payer, Medicare For All http://www.workinglife.org/2015/06/25/bernie-sanders-aca-ruling-statement-we-need-single-payer-medicare-for-all/ http://www.workinglife.org/2015/06/25/bernie-sanders-aca-ruling-statement-we-need-single-payer-medicare-for-all/#comments Thu, 25 Jun 2015 15:27:02 +0000 http://www.workinglife.org/?p=10079

Look, the Supreme Court ruling is a good thing, not the least of which is that it makes the heads of three wingers on the Court and across the land explode. But, it’s important to pause for a moment and realize that the Affordable Care Act is woefully inadequate, and is the dream for insurance companies and drug companies who want to leech on people.

Bernie Sanders understands that.

Here is his statement in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling:

The Supreme Court recognized the common-sense reading of the Affordable Care Act that Congress intended to help all eligible Americans obtain health insurance whether they get it through state or national exchanges. Access to affordable health care should not depend on where you live.“At a time when the United States in the only major country on earth that doesn’t guarantee health care to all Americans – and 35 million of our citizens today still lack insurance – it would have been an outrage to throw 6.4 million more people off health insurance.

What the United States should do is join every other major nation and recognize that health care is a right of citizenship. A Medicare-for-all, single-payer system would provide better care at less cost for more Americans.”[emphasis added]

Like many Americans, I found a plan through the ACA–and that plan, beginning next year, will have increased almost 20 percent. That’s not health care. That’s legalized insurance robbery.Of course, it’s better to be covered than not.

But, people shelling out thousands of dollars a year to an immoral industry is not acceptable as a wise national policy.

And it’s stupid economics. The ACA guaranteed billions of dollars in profits for the insurance and drug industries–two of the most immoral industries in the country, and that’s saying a lot. We still waste hundreds of billions of dollars–the sweat and brow and productivity of the very workers who, then, have to shell out money to cover themselves and their families–better used for more productive economic uses.

I’m guessing Sanders is the only presidential candidate whose post-SCOTUS ruling statement calls for a single-payer system. And I’d be surprised if any other elected member of Congress thought to call for single payer (perhaps the Progressive Caucus? John Conyers?). Please correct me if I’m wrong.

Sanders has been for single-payer for years. He didn’t just discover it by driving around in a van and stopping for a quick bite at a Chipotle, and poll-testing whether the idea was sound.

He actually believes it’s the right course.

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Pigs At The Trough http://www.workinglife.org/2015/06/24/pigs-at-the-trough/ http://www.workinglife.org/2015/06/24/pigs-at-the-trough/#comments Wed, 24 Jun 2015 19:43:17 +0000 http://www.workinglife.org/?p=10075 This won’t shock anyone. CEO pay is still a gold mine.

They rake it in no matter what:

Only one of the 10 highest paid CEOs ranked among the top 10% by investor performance in the survey, conducted by the consultancy Hay Group. That was Brent Saunders, chief of Actavis PLC, which has since renamed itself Allergan PLC.

Meanwhile two of the 10 best paid CEOs— Viacom Inc.’s Philippe Dauman and General Electric Co.’s Jeff Immelt—got higher compensation even though the value of their shareholders’ investments in the company fell.

And:

Overall, total compensation for the CEOs in the Journal’s survey climbed by a median of 13.5% to about $13.6 million, nearly two-thirds of which was linked to performance. That’s well above the 2.2% average rise in wages and salaries for U.S. private-sector employees overall last year, according to the Labor Department. But shareholders did even better, with a median return including share-price appreciation and dividends for companies in the survey of 16.6%.[emphasis added]

Here is the funniest thing–funny in a horrific way:

Compensation for executives at the top of the investor-return rankings generally rose. One exception was John Hammergren, head of medical-products company McKesson Corp., whose pay slumped 49.9% to $25.9 million, while investors reaped a return of 64.6%.

The decline mainly reflected a drop in the value of Mr. Hammergren’s pension. Heeding complaints from investors, the CEO agreed last year to cut his record-setting $159 million pension benefit by $45 million, and McKesson revamped its incentive compensation program for top executives.

So, in other words, Hammergren found it in his great generous self to *only* have a pension benefit of $114 million. How will he manage in his golden years?

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Fast Track Senate Vote LIVE BLOG http://www.workinglife.org/2015/06/23/fast-track-senate-vote-live-blog/ http://www.workinglife.org/2015/06/23/fast-track-senate-vote-live-blog/#comments Tue, 23 Jun 2015 14:23:49 +0000 http://www.workinglife.org/?p=10066 Fast Track is now coming up for a cloture vote in the Senate. A recap follows. And I’ll try to give a paraphrased tracking of the position and votes, and ultimately which Democrats continued to abandon workers on behalf of big corporations.

FINAL VOTE UPDATED HERE. 60-37 approved. (McConnell says Corker would have voted YES but was detained)

DEMOCRATS WHO VOTED WITH BIG CORPORATIONS TO ABANDON WORKERS:

Michael Bennet (CO)
Maria Cantwell (WA)
Tom Carper (DE)
Chris Coons (DE)
Dianne Feinstein (CA)
Heidi Heitkamp (ND)
Bill Nelson (FL)
Tim Kaine (VA)
Claire McCaskill (MO)
Patty Murray (WA)
Jeanne Shaheen (NH)
Mark Warner (VA)
Ron Wyden (OR)

This means that tomorrow fast track will pass the Senate. We will see whether the TAA gets added.

Also want to add up top comments by Sherrod Brown and Bernie Sanders at the end of the debate:

Sherrod Brown: this is a celebration in corporate suites.

Bernie!!! This trade agreement was supported by virtually every big corporation, Wall Street, by the pharmaceutical industry. This agreement was opposed by every union. This will continue the policy of NAFTA,CAFTA. We need a policy that represents working people. It’s a great day for the Big Money interests.

Recap:

In May, 13 Democratic Senators voted for cloture on the original fast track bill. Had four of these 13 Democratic Senators voted with the majority of the Democrats who voted against cloture, fast track would have failed in the Senate and it most likely would have died right there.

On the final passage of the Senate bill, Ben Cardin (MD) voted for passage, though he had voted no on the cloture vote.Then, the bill went to the House. And, as we know, essentially, it initially stopped there because the House voted overwhelmingly against the Trade Assistance Adjustment (which I call “burial insurance”).

The House, then, passed fast track as a separate piece of legislation, stripped of the TAA.

That requires that the bill go back to the Senate for a vote on fast track. The gamesmenship on this is simple. The president and the party he has united behind him–THE REPUBLICAN PARTY–want the Senate Democrats to vote first on fast track and, then vote on the TAA and, then, believe that the House–which rejected the TAA 126-302–will, then, pass the TAA bill.

McConnell is now bringing it up for a second reading and placing it on the calendar. Procedural stuff–reading in the House fast track bill passed.

McConnell: renewed momentum for America’s workers blah blah…barriers preventing American workers blah blah…[all poll-tested crap]. Oh, China the menace…1.4 million jobs would be created [nonsense–JT]. Final passagefor TPA tomorrow, along with TAA. Boehner said today that he would take up TAA tomorrow as well. Trust, trust, work together…[gag]

The only thing noting is the timeline. McConnell says if cloture is invoked, fast track will come up for final vote tomorrow. And obviously if cloture is invoked, then, fast track will pass. C-SPAN note below screen is showing 11 a.m. vote on cloture (those times often slip depending on length of debate, particularly Leader comments)

Harry Reid: begins with Charleston murders. Confederate flag should be removed from public places, applauds Nikki Haley. Recounts other slaughters, Fort Hood, Newton, Tucson, Aurora, Navy Yard in D.C. [Harry seems a bit irritated, asks for order in the Senate twice in a few minutes–guessing there might be some last-minute arm-twisting on cloture? Or maybe McConnell is trying to get Ted Cruz to take off his Confederate flag T-Shirt].

Hatch: Senate has considered this once, House voted twice. The U.S. is negotiating trade agreements–if Senate fails to approve this vote, Congress and the people won’t have a strong voice in the negotiations [that’s bullshit, Orrin, but whatever…]. America leads the world, yeehaw, we rock, no? And especially better than the UK. Woohoo! Bi-partisan love-fest…oh, yeah American workers will love this. I don’t like TAA but I realize that it’s not always about me [he literally said that it isn’t about him…gee, Orrin, that’s nice of you]

Wyden: [why is that as soon as he opens his mouth I think of the annoying guy in college who was a suck-up frat boy?]. End of NAFTA model, We will be left behind. China!!! Stop race to bottom on labor and environmental rights [of course that’s bullshit]. Free and open Internet preserved. We have to pass TAA [boy, this guy hits all the opposition points with heaps of dung].

10:35 a.m. Quorum call…presumably as the opposition organizes itself to speak.

According to some The Hill reporter–interviewed previously on CSPAN–there have been no announced vote changes among the Democratic Senators who previously voted for cloture.

Sherrod Brown:  Opposes cloture. [he’s a hero]. I’m incredulous at this trade non-debate. The speed at which majority leader shuts down debate. The secretness of this whole process. Fast track has been a rule book on how trade is presented, we’ve got the worse of both worlds. Member are casting their votes now when we have maximum leverage over negotiations on TPP, while we are still in the dark. Example: if small country wants to protect children from marketing of tobacco, big tobacco companies can go to court and no one will have resources to challenge. No matter which side you are on, it’s clear our trade policy creates winners and losers. People will lose jobs–we are about to pass fast track, we are about to do that, but not protect workers. How shameful is that!

Note: I sense Sherrod might believe the battle is lost.

7:52 AM PT: More Sherrod: what a betrayal of workers if we make this decision today to cut off debate and not protect workers. Even if you believe if these trade deals are net job gainers, I don’t believe that, but people lose their jobs.

7:54 AM PT: More Sherrod: [he’s focusing a lot on the need to support the trade adjustment assistance]. Today, Leader McConnell is going to cut off debate even though it will cost people jobs, moral obligation to include TAA. And we can’t send this to the president without TAA [IMHO, Sherrod’s last gasp is to seed doubt that TAA will end up being approved]

7:57 AM PT: Sherrod: people know that NAFTA, CAFTA etc lost them jobs. They told us we would create jobs. Nope. We lost jobs. [He criticizes both parties presidents, Clinton and the Bushes]

8:00 AM PT: THE VOTE HAS BEGUN

8:12 AM PT: Shaheen just votes YES and then went over at patted Hatch on the back.

8:12 AM PT: Boxer voted NO

8:13 AM PT: Most of the Senators have not voted. Because this is the first vote of the day it’s likely they are making their way to the floor.

8:16 AM PT: I’m guessing the vote will probably be very close to the previous vote on cloture in which 13 Democrats voted with Republicans. But, let’ s see.

8:19 AM PT: So far, the following Democrats have voted YES:

Michael Bennet (CO)

Chris Coons (DE)

Bill Nelson (FL)

Claire McCaskill (MO)

Patty Murray (WA)

Jeanne Shaheen (NH)

Mark Warner (VA)

Ron Wyden (OR)

8:20 AM PT: Add Cantwell to the YESes

8:20 AM PT: And now Heitkamp

8:21 AM PT: Ted Cruz voted NO…

8:21 AM PT: Kaine is a YES, as before

8:23 AM PT: Essentially, assuming previous voting patterns, the president and big corporations only need one more Democrat to vote yes and they will get the 60 votes.

8:24 AM PT: Carper is a YES, as before (what the fuck is wrong with the water in Delaware???)

8:25 AM PT: I believe this is a done deal. Cloture vote will pass

8:25 AM PT: Difi votes YES (primary please!!!!)

8:26 AM PT: That’s basically it. The vote is still continuing but cloture will be invoked and fast track will proceed and pass tomorrow.

8:33 AM PT: Cardin voted NO

8:33 AM PT: But it’s over

8:36 AM PT: Sherrod Brown: this is a celebration in corporate suites

8:38 AM PT: Bernie!!! This trade agreement was supported by virtually every big corporations, Wall Street, by the pharmaceutical industry. This agreement was opposed by every union. This will continue the policy of NAFTA,CAFTA. We need a policy that represents working people. It’s a great day for the Big Money interest.

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Fast Track 24 Hrs To Go, Clinton’s Moment Of Truth (A Hard Concept) & Numbers For YOU To Call http://www.workinglife.org/2015/06/22/fast-track-24-hrs-to-go-clintons-moment-of-truth-a-hard-concept-numbers-for-you-to-call/ http://www.workinglife.org/2015/06/22/fast-track-24-hrs-to-go-clintons-moment-of-truth-a-hard-concept-numbers-for-you-to-call/#comments Mon, 22 Jun 2015 14:05:52 +0000 http://www.workinglife.org/?p=10064

Tomorrow, the Senate will take a new vote on fast track. It will be a cloture vote on whether to proceed to consider a “clean” fast track bill, given the (positive-result) clusterfuck that took place in the House. Though one can imagine scenarios under which fast track can be defeated even if the cloture vote wins, it’s a lot harder.

So, this is a moment of truth. I’ll break it down into three parts.

Background-State of Play

Some of this I wrote a couple of days ago. This comes down to 14 Senate Democrats who voted, in the last fast track vote, with Republicans, to destroy middle class jobs.

In May, 13 Democratic Senators voted for cloture on the original fast track bill. Had four of these 13 Democratic Senators voted with the majority of the Democrats who voted against cloture, fast track would have failed in the Senate and it most likely would have died right there:

Pro-Fast Track Senate Democrats

attribution: AFL-CIO

On the final passage of the Senate bill, Ben Cardin (MD) voted for passage, though he had voted no on the cloture vote.Then, the bill went to the House. And, as we know, essentially, it initially stopped there because the House voted overwhelmingly against the Trade Assistance Adjustment (which I call “burial insurance”).

The House, then, passed fast track as a separate piece of legislation, stripped of the TAA.

That requires that the bill go back to the Senate for a vote on fast track. The gamesmenship on this is simple. The president and the party he has united behind him–THE REPUBLICAN PARTY–want the Senate Democrats to vote first on fast track and, then vote on the TAA and, then, believe that the House–which rejected the TAA 126-302–will, then, pass the TAA bill.

Trust me, the president and his Republican allies say. This will happen–because John Boehner and Mitch McConnell are trustworthy and control their caucuses. Now, I have large tracts of Florida swampland for any of the Democrats who, in fact, proceed under the belief that they can trust these two gents (and I use “gents” quite loosely), or, on this matter, the president.

And, indeed, some Democrats are quite leery of this approach.

Which brings me to:

Hillary Clinton

For all those people who buy the new, improved, “progressive” Clinton, this is a simple vote: are you with big corporations or are you with workers/labor/environmentalists?

Candidate Clinton said just recently:

 

  On Thursday night, in an interview with Jon Ralston, Hillary Clinton declared that she would “probably” vote against giving Obama fast-track trade authority if she were still in the Senate, depending on the status of a companion measure assisting workers who lose jobs because of trade deals. But the pressure is still on Clinton to make it more clear where she stands.

She isn’t in the Senate. But, she has more leverage than Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley to influence the 14 Democrats. She has it in her power to shift enough votes to kill fast track.She served with the 14.

Of the 14, ten have explicitly endorsed her candidacy as of April: Cardin, Cantwell, Feinstein, Heitkamp, Nelson, Kaine, McCaskill, Murray, Shaheen and Warner.

This is simple: today, she needs to call on those 10, who support her candidacy for president, to vote against cloture as a clear sign of what she “probably” would have done in the Senate.

It’s a clear vote.

It’s a clear choice.

WHO SHOULD YOU CALL?

Whether you are just so deeply distrustful that you don’t believe a word Clinton says, or perhaps you are a tad less cynical and believe she’s purposely made a twisted, poll-tested statement that allows her to take essentially no meaningful position, it’s probably best to rely on what you can do to pressure the 14 Democrats.

Here are their numbers below; I’ve included the D.C. office and at least one state office number.

Even if you don’t hail from one of the states represented by one of the 14, pick one or more and call; you can still make the point that, as a Democrat who donates money and volunteers, this vote will determine what you will do in 2016 in terms of contributing and assisting Democrats.

Michael Bennet (CO)
202-224-5852
303-455-7600

Ben Cardin (MD)
(202) 224-4524
(410) 962-4436

Maria Cantwell (WA)
(202) 224-3441
(206) 220-6400

Tom Carper (DE)
(202) 224-2441
(302) 573-6291

Chris Coons (DE)
(202) 224-5042
(302) 573-6345

Dianne Feinstein (CA)
(202) 224-3841
(415) 393-0707

Heidi Heitkamp (ND)
(202) 224-2043
(701) 232-8030

Bill Nelson (FL)
202-224-5274
305-536-5999

Tim Kaine (VA)
(202) 224-4024
(804) 771-2221

Claire McCaskill (MO)
(202) 224-6154
(314) 367-1364

Patty Murray (WA)
(202) 224-2621
(206) 553-5545

Jeanne Shaheen (NH)
(202) 224-2841
(603) 647-7500

Mark Warner (VA)
202-224-2023
804-775-2314

Ron Wyden (OR)
(202) 224-5244
(503) 326-7525

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Fast Track Games: Workers Lives Depend on 14 Senate Dems & Clinton Needs To Urge A No Vote http://www.workinglife.org/2015/06/19/fast-track-games-workers-lives-depend-on-14-senate-dems-clinton-needs-to-urge-a-no-vote/ http://www.workinglife.org/2015/06/19/fast-track-games-workers-lives-depend-on-14-senate-dems-clinton-needs-to-urge-a-no-vote/#comments Fri, 19 Jun 2015 16:36:41 +0000 http://www.workinglife.org/?p=10062

This is a bad state of affairs, if you are a regular worker (meaning, not someone worth millions of dollars who complains that her family is dead broke). Whether fast track becomes law may depend on the votes of 14 Senate Democrats–the very Democrats who abandoned workers just last month when the Senate passed fast track with the Trade Adjustment Assistance program attached.

Now, it’s game on again. Workers lives depend on 14 Senate Democrats who voted, in the last fast track vote,with Republicans to destroy middle class jobs.

That vote is coming again next week on a cloture vote.

And now this an easy question: Will Hillary Clinton call for the defeat of the cloture motion next week? That question needs to be asked every single day next week.

She is the one who can make a difference with a huge number of those 14 Senate Democrats.

If she stays silent, that will be a clear answer of what she believes.

Here is where we stand.

In May, 13 Democratic Senators voted against clotureon the original fast track bill. To be clear, had four of these Senators voted with the majority of the Democrats, fast track would have failed in the Senate:

Pro-Fast Track Senate Democrats

On the final passage of the Senate bill, Ben Cardin (MD) voted for passage, though he had voted no on the cloture vote.Then, the bill went to the House. And, as we know, essentially, it initially stopped there because the House voted overwhelmingly against the Trade Assistance Adjustment (which I call “burial insurance”).

The House, then, passed fast track on its own.

That requires that the bill go back to the Senate for a vote on fast track. The gamesmenship on this is simple. The president and the party he has united behind him–THE REPUBLICAN PARTY–want the Democrats to vote first on fast track and, then vote on the TAA and, then, believe that the House–which rejected the TAA 126-302–will, then, pass the TAA bill.

Trust me, they say. This will happen.

For this to be believed, Democrats are going to have to trust John Boehner and Mitch McConnell. Now, I have large tracts of Florida swampland for any of the Democrats who, in fact, proceed under the belief that they can trust these two gents (and I use “gents” quite loosely). But, Democrats have shown a willingness to be fooled in the past and have no clue how to play hardball.

But, you can put aside all the chess moves and speculation about how that might proceed because, today, there is a very simple question that needs to be asked:

Will Hillary Clinton call for a “NO” vote on cloture next week?

For all those people who buy the new, improved, “progressive” Clinton, this is a simple vote: are you with big corporations or are you with workers/labor/environmentalists?

Candidate Clinton said just yesterday:

On Thursday night, in an interview with Jon Ralston, Hillary Clinton declared that she would “probably” vote against giving Obama fast-track trade authority if she were still in the Senate, depending on the status of a companion measure assisting workers who lose jobs because of trade deals. But the pressure is still on Clinton to make it more clear where she stands.

She isn’t in the Senate. But, what is her position on the vote next week?Bernie Sanders has already spoke out clearly against fast track. So, has Martin O’Malley. But, in truth, Clinton has more leverage than the other two as it relates to those 14 votes. She has it in her power to shift enough votes to kill fast track.

She served with the 14.

Of the 14, ten have explicitly endorsed her candidacy as of April: Cardin, Cantwell, Feinstein, Heitkamp, Nelson, Kaine, McCaskill, Murray, Shaheen and Warner.

This is simple: call on those 10 to vote against cloture as a clear sign of what she “probably” would have done in the Senate.

It’s a clear vote.

It’s a clear choice.

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