Politifact Kills Its Credibility

If you take a government program, change everything about it, destroy its core purpose, but keep the same name, is it the same program? Politifact.com says yes, and even goes so far as to say it is “The Lie Of The Year” to say it isn’t — because it still has the same name.
Early this year Republicans voted to privatize Medicare, ending it as a government insurance program, instead giving limited vouchers to people to use to purchase private insurance. Everything about the program would change, and because of the loss of economy-of-scale that government provides the costs to seniors would be much higher while the coverage would be lower. This would effectively end the program.
Americans were outraged by this. People love Medicare, and depend on it. And the cost-shifting these changes would bring mean that the cost to the larger economy would greatly increase. But since government wasn’t paying those costs anymore, the pressure to raise taxes on the 1% would go down.
People took up arms that Republicans were trying to end Medicare. Newspaper editorials expressed shock and outrage. Bloggers were angry. Politicians pledged to run against Republicans who voted for this plan to end Medicare.

Enter Politifact.com

Politifact.com’s About page says, “PolitiFact is a project of the Tampa Bay Times and its partners to help you find the truth in politics.” The look at statements, research the facts, “then rate the accuracy on our Truth-O-Meter – True, Mostly True, Half True, Mostly False and False.”
Politifact examined the statements that Republicans voted to “end Medicare” and decided this was a “lie” – because the program would continue to have the same name. This week Politicat doubled down on this absurd conclusion, saying that claiming the program would end is the “Lie Of The Year.”
That’s right, they say it is “The Lie Of The Year” to say that a program ends, as long as there still exists a program with the same name.

The Kicker

HOW did Politifact decide that this is the lie of the year? Digby explains, in Paul Ryan Stuffed The PolitiFact Ballot Box, that Rep. Paul Ryan rigged this by sending people to vote at Politifact. She writes,

Unfortunately, the Villagers will be gleefully using this as proof that their dreamy young idol Paul Ryan is a good guy after all but it’s probably a good idea to demand another source for anyone who cites Politifact on the veracity of any claim going forward. This will make it easier on the Republicans in the beginning, since they actually make a profit at their lying, but in the long run it will be for good. Clearly Politifact can’t tell the difference between a lie and and a fact and is subject to obvious right wing manipulation.

Richard Eskow: PolitiFiction: A ‘Lie Of The Year’ Sends Alice Back To Wonderland, “If you thought that the “aspect of Medicare” that directly pays for hospital coverage was Medicare, then apparently you are a very silly person …”

Others Weigh In

Paul Krugman: Politifact, R.I.P.: “This is really awful. Politifact, which is supposed to police false claims in politics, has announced its Lie of the Year — and it’s a statement that happens to be true, the claim that Republicans have voted to end Medicare.”
Steve Benen: PolitiFact ought to be ashamed of itself: “This is simply indefensible. Claims that are factually true shouldn’t be eligible for a Lie of the Year designation.”
Jason Linkins at Huffington Post: Politifact Has Decided That A Totally True Thing Is The “Lie Of The Year,” For Some Reason
Ben Adler at The Nation: Politifact Peddles Falsehood About Ryan Plan to Privatize Medicare

But Politifact, an independent organization associated with the St. Petersburg Times, chose instead a claim that placed third in their poll, thanks to an effort by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) to stuff the ballots. The only problem? The big “lie” is true. “Republicans voted to end Medicare,” by the the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and other Democrats, is the winner, despite the fact that Republicans did indeed vote to end Medicare when they voted for Ryan’s budget.

John Aravosis at AmericaBlog: Politifact wins own “lie of the year” after letting Paul Ryan rig the results
Joshua Holland at AlterNet: PolitiFact, Fearing a Right-Wing Backlash, Calls Democrats’ 100% True Claim About the GOP Medicare Plan the “Lie of the Year”,

Conservatives have long excelled at working the refs — the corporate media. And this week they scored a resounding victory, as PolitiFact, the non-partisan fact-checker, dismissed the results of its readers’ poll to declare the entirely truthful statement that House Republicans voted to “end Medicare” as we know it the “lie of the year.”

Politifact.com has ended its credibility.
Full disclosure: Politifact fact-checked the claim in a post of mine that 400 people have as much wealth as half our population, which was picked up by Michael Moore for use in a speech in Wisconsin. In their article they misidentified me, misstated and just got wrong what I sent them, linked to the wrong post, but concluded that the claim is true.
This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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NLRB Fight Shows How Far We’ve Fallen

Here is how far we have fallen: Republicans and big corporations are going to extremes, even threatening to shut down entire agencies of the government, just to keep people from knowing what their rights are. They are “investigating” the NLRB for enforcing the laws that cover employees and employers. They are pledging to block any appointees in order to prevent the agency from operating.
How far have we fallen, if the fight is over just letting people know what their rights are? How much power do the big corporations have now, if these wealthy giants of the 1% feel they can even challenge our right to know what the rules are, and an entire political party exists to help them do this?
The Latest Fight
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is trying to require big corporations to put up a poster informing their employees of their rights under the law. The big corporate, anti-union organizations are fighting this as hard as they can. They are suing in court to block the rule, while Republicans in the House and Senate are using every trick in the book to stop the NLRB requirement, right down to holding Congressional investigations of the agency, and threatening to defund it, and to shut it down by crippling its Board.
What The Poster Says
Here are the things that the Republicans and the big corporations that fund them are fighting to keep working people from knowing:
Under the law you have the right to:

  • Organize a union to negotiate with your employer concerning your wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment.
  • Form, join or assist a union.
  • Bargain collectively through representatives of employees’ own choosing for a contract with your employer setting your wages, benefits, hours, and other working conditions.
  • Discuss your wages and benefits and other terms and conditions of employment or union organizing with your co-workers or a union.
  • Take action with one or more co-workers to improve your working conditions by, among other means, raising work-related complaints directly with your employer or with a government agency, and seeking help from a union.
  • Strike and picket, depending on the purpose or means of the strike or the picketing.
  • Choose not to do any of these activities, including joining or remaining a member of a union.

Under the law it is illegal for your employer to:

  • Prohibit you from talking about or soliciting for a union during non-work time, such as before or after work or during break times; or from distributing union literature during non-work time, in non-work areas, such as parking lots or break rooms.
  • Question you about your union support or activities in a manner that discourages you from engaging in that activity.
  • Fire, demote, or transfer you, or reduce your hours or change your shift, or otherwise take adverse action against you, or threaten to take any of these actions, because you join or support a union, or because you engage in concerted activity for mutual aid and protection, or because you choose not to engage in any such activity.
  • Threaten to close your workplace if workers choose a union to represent them.
  • Promise or grant promotions, pay raises, or other benefits to discourage or encourage union support.
  • Prohibit you from wearing union hats, buttons, t-shirts, and pins in the workplace except under special circumstances.
  • Spy on or videotape peaceful union activities and gatherings or pretend to do so.

Under the law, it is illegal for a union or for the union that represents you in bargaining with your employer to:

  • Threaten or coerce you in order to gain your support for the union.
  • Refuse to process a grievance because you have criticized union officials or because you are not a member of the union.
  • Use or maintain discriminatory standards or procedures in making job referrals from a hiring hall.
  • Cause or attempt to cause an employer to discriminate against you because of your union-related activity.
  • Take adverse action against you because you have not joined or do not support the union.

Click here to see the poster.
This latest fight is because the NLRB is trying to require companies to put up posters that tell workers what their rights are. That’s it. That’s what the poster does. Companies are trying to block this and are fighting with everything they have.
The Lawsuit
Big corporate groups have sued to block the poster requirement, saying the NLRB doesn;’t have “the authority” to require them mto put up this poster, and claiming that it violates the “free speech rights” of big corporations if employees learn what their own rights are. Seriously, that’s the claim.
How far have we fallen, when big corporations feel they can challenge government’s right to even inform citizens of what the laws say? They have good reason to believe that conservative-dominated courts will rule that this violates the “free speech” of non-sentient entities called corporations, over the rights of citizens!
The Hill: Business group challenges NLRB over union poster rule,

Business groups continue to press the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) over its proposed rule to have employers post notices informing workers of their organizing rights.
On Monday, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) will present oral arguments in federal court for their lawsuit against the proposed regulation.
[. . .] Trauger said NAM filed the lawsuit because it believes only Congress has the authority to authorize the notice rule. Further, they believe it impinges on employers’ free speech rights.
“We believe the NLRB does not have the authority to require all employers to post the notice in their workplace,” [NAM VP] Trauger said.
Other groups are suing the NLRB over the rule, including the National Federation of Independent Business and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Crippling The NLRB
At the end of this year the NLRB will not have enough board members to operate, effectively shutting down the agency. The Supreme Court, in another 5-4 decision (yes, the same 5 corporate-conservative-movement sponsored judges that always rule in favor of the big corporations), ruled in 2010 that the NLRB cannot operate without at least 3 members on the Board. This was part of an ongoing strategy to keep the Board from operating effectively, allowing illegal anti-union efforts to continue. Republicans in the Senate have since filibustered to block the Board from having enough members. Last year President Obama made two recess appointments to the Board to keep it operating, so Republicans have prevented the Senate from going into recess since then, vowing to to anything necessary to continue to block any new appointments that could keep the NLRB in operation and enforcing the law.
The Washington Post explains, in Obama nominates 2 for labor board, despite GOP threat to block any appointments to the agency,

President Barack Obama on Wednesday announced plans to nominate two Democrats to the National Labor Relations Board, despite a Republican threat to block any appointments to the agency.

Once again: “A Republican threat to block any appointments to the agency.” The Republicans in the Senate are blocking any appointments, in order to force the agency that enforces the rules to stop doing its job.
Meanwhile, in the House, Republicans are engaged in a different tactic to fight the NLRB. The Center for American Progress Action Fund explains, in House Republican Attacks on the National Labor Relations Board Hurt All Workers,

House Republicans are using every tool available to them—including their budget, regulatory, and legislative-oversight powers—to wage a coordinated attack on workers’ rights by trying to eviscerate the National Labor Relations Board, or NLRB.
… Over the past year, Republicans in Congress voted to slash funding for the NLRB, attempted to block enforcement of existing worker-protection laws, and even threatened to shut down parts of the federal government in order to advance their goals.

The the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is “investigating” the NLRB, to see if the Board is helping employees who are in unions, demanding the Board turn over documents to the committee by Jan. 3.
The Stakes
A New York Times op-ed, Crippling the Right to Organize, explains the stakes,

UNLESS something changes in Washington, American workers will, on New Year’s Day, effectively lose their right to be represented by a union.
… Workers illegally fired for union organizing won’t be reinstated with back pay. Employers will be able to get away with interfering with union elections. Perhaps most important, employers won’t have to recognize unions despite a majority vote by workers. Without the board to enforce labor law, most companies will not voluntarily deal with unions.

What You Can Do
Download and print the NLRB poster, and out it up at your workplace.
Download and print this “Unions 101″ sheet, and leave copies at your workplace for people to find and read.
Send people to visit the AFL-CIO’s A Quick Study of How Unions Help Workers Win a Voice on the Job online.
This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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Media Consolidation In One Chart

When was the last time you saw someone from organized labor in the news explaining why unions benefit the middle class? This chart explains why our “new” is the way it is: Media Consolidation: The Illusion of Choice | The Big Picture
Want to know why Occupy is mocked as “dirty hippies?” See this chart.
Want to know why CEOs are presented as heroes, like sports stars? See this chart.
Want to know why the wealthiest are presented as “job creators?” See this chart.
Want to know why there still has been no explanation or demand for answers for why we went to war in Iraq? See this chart.

Who Protects Info You Give To Offshored Call Centers?

Companies are always looking for ways to reduce the number of people they employ, and for ways to reduce the pay and benefits for the ones they keep. One way they have been doing this is to send jobs out of the country to places where the people don’t have the protections of democracy. Then they come back here and threaten the rest of us with losing our jobs, too, if we don’t give in. We have to find ways to restore the protections of democracy.
We are all familiar with “offshoring.” This is the process of packing up a factory or office, and moving what it does outside of the US to places where people are paid less — usually because they don’t have any say in how their country is run (a.k.a. democracy). Then the company brings the same products or services back to the US and calls that “trade.” Allowing this to happen makes democracy a competitive disadvantage.
One (more) job that has been offshored is call centers. We call to place an order or to get customer service, etc., and the person we talk to is in another country and we can’t understand them. This is frustrating, but it is even more frustrating when you think that this is one more job that someone here used to do.
Earlier this week I wrote about a new bill called The U.S. Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act that would help bring call-center jobs back to the US. In Call-Center Bill Would Let Customers Ask To Talk To Americans, I explained,

Today many call-center jobs are being moved out of the country to India and the Philippines. This costs American jobs, and can be very frustrating to consumers who have to speak to people who they cannot understand because of language problems or cultural differences. The The U.S. Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act gives consumers the right to ask where the person they are speaking with is based, and ask for an American-based representative instead.

Not JUST Jobs Lost — Data Privacy Is Lost, Too
A new study by the Communication Workers of America backs up the need for that bill. The report is called, Why Shipping Call Center Jobs Overseas Hurts Us Back Home. The study found that offshoring call-centers undoes protection of Americans’ private information. Personal data can be available to people who could use it for criminal purposes. Also, once information is sent across borders governments do not need warrants to collect this info.
From the press release, CWA Study Exposes Overseas Call Center Issues That Threaten American Consumers’ Personal Information,

The Communications Workers of America today released a sobering report detailing the linkage between the off-shoring of call center jobs and a range of serious negative effects on U.S. consumers and job seekers, including placing consumers’ personal information at risk.
… Key findings of the report include:

  • When a U.S. customer’s financial information is sent overseas, it loses the protections of the 4th Amendment to the Constitution. As long as an individual’s data is not specifically “targeted,” the data can be collected and analyzed by U.S. federal agencies without a warrant.
  • The documented security hazards are in addition to the damage caused to individuals and communities in the United States by the movement of local call center jobs overseas, off-shoring that often comes after taxpayer-funded dollars and other incentives are heaped upon the corporation.
  • As of this year, the Philippines surpassed India as the top destination for U.S. companies off-shoring call center jobs. American companies also have opened call centers in countries including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, China and Mexico.
  • Americans’ personal data also is at risk in foreign call centers in the relative difficulty in providing background checks on employees. Many foreign nations do not maintain central criminal databases and do not have standard identifiers such as the U.S. Social Security number. As a result, proper background checks are expensive, with one estimate putting the cost at up to $1,000 per employee.
  • This is one more way that offshoring is hurting us. By sending call-center jobs out of the country we are sending the data we give to those call centers out of the country and outside of the protection of our laws. So this call-center bill, named The U.S. Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act (H.R.3596) is important to us. It is bipartisan, introduced by Rep. Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.) and Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.). Call your own member of Congress and let them know that you support this.
    This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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    Voting Machines

    I haven’t written about voting machines for some time. Here is an article about evidence of remote tampering: Forensic Analysis Finds Venango County, PA, E-Voting System "Remotely Accessed" on "Multiple Occasions" by Unknown Computer | Truthout

    …perhaps most troubling, evidence that the system was repeatedly accessed by an unidentified remote computer, for lengthy periods of time, on “multiple occasions.”

    Remember, if they do not have a “paper trail” that the voter looks at before finalizing the vote, there is NO WAY to know what the actual vote count was.
    And if there is no procedure for checking those paper trails against the reported vote. that is just as bad.
    There is just too much at stake to hand democracy over to machines and the companies that make them. PLEASE get involved in your own county and demand that they have paper backup and that they check the paper against the reported totals.

    Republican Hostage-Taking Threat Again! Guess Who Benefits?

    Once again, Republicans are holding government hostage, trying to force through unpopular cuts to the things We, the People — “the 99%” — do for each other and our economy, while giving handouts to the 1% who pay for their campaign ads and smears. Once again they are threatening to just shut down the whole government if they don’t get their way This time the hostage is unemployment benefits for 2 million people and the payroll tax cut that is the only stimulus left to keep the economy going. Here’s the thing, they say they want “cuts” but what they are really doing is shifting costs from the 1% on to the rest of us.
    The current 112th Congress is the first Congress elected under the Citizens United Supreme Court decision that opened the floodgates of corporate money in elections. Remember the flood of ads accusing Democrats of “half a trillion in cuts from Medicare” that got them elected — paid for with corporate money? Those ads swung the electorate toward Republican candidates, and now we are seeing the results — including cuts in Medicare and even plans to privatize it entirely.
    How Many Times?
    To get their way Republicans have already nearly shut down our government or just shut down parts of it several times. Shutdown. Hostage. Shutdown. Hostage. Shutdown. Shutdown and hostage. Shutdown. Shutdown. Shutdown. Hostage. Shutdown. Shutdown. Hostage. Hostage. And on and on…
    This Time
    Here are just some of the Republican demands this time if we want the hostage released:

    • Approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline project.
    • Block rules reducing air pollution from industrial burners.
    • Drug tests for people receiving unemployment benefits.
    • Reduce the duration of jobless aid from 99 to 59 weeks.
    • Allow states to cut benefits even more.

    Even Worse Than That
    The National Women’s Law Center writes, in, House Bill Cuts Unemployment and Health Benefits, Domestic Programs, Child Tax Credit and More that there are many other reasons to be concerned:

    • Slashes federal emergency unemployment benefits for long-term jobless workers by more than half—and hits the states with the highest unemployment rates the hardest.
    • Makes permanent, mean-spirited changes to the basic unemployment program, such as requiring claimants to have a high school diploma or GED and making unemployed workers pay for re-employment services offered by the government.
    • Reduces health benefits by reducing financial protections for low- and moderate-income families purchasing health insurance, cutting funds to providers serving low-income populations, and slashing prevention and public health funds.
    • Denies the refundable Child Tax Credit to low-income immigrant families by requiring a Social Security number to claim the credit.
    • Cuts funding for non-security discretionary programs by over $26 billion—on top of the cuts already imposed by the Budget Control Act.

    The European Lesson
    Republicans claim that cutting back government is good for the economy and creates jobs. (Note — they always claim that anything for the 1% is good for the economy and creates jobs, whether or not it really is good for the economy and creates jobs or not.)
    But is it really good for the economy to cut back on the things government does for the people and the economy? Let’s look to Europe, where they have been cutting back on government in a grand experiment to see if that helps the economy. (Hint: it has really, really, really hurt the economy.) Reuters: Analysis: Europe’s austerity zeal risks killing the patient,

    Europe’s “no pain no gain” attitude to solving its sovereign crisis risks exacerbating the bloc’s problems, choking off the very growth needed to raise the money to pay down the debt.
    … The austerity zeal risks tipping the continent back into recession and a downward spiral of austerity as pitiful growth prospects undermine budgetary targets and ramp up debt burdens, meaning further austerity is required.
    “The expansionary fiscal contraction story says that you cut, you show you are serious about cutting and then the confidence fairy will come along and she will start pulling in private investment,” said Stephen Kinsella, professor of economics at the University of Limerick.
    “The expansionary fiscal contraction story is a lie. You don’t cut your way to growth.”

    Shifting Not Cutting
    Do cuts in government spending actually cut spending? Consider what happens when you cut health care spending. The need for the health care certainly doesn’t go away, but the cost of it is shifted away from government and on to individuals. Since iIndividuals do not have the economy-of-scale bargaining power and ability to protect themselves from scams and schemes that government does, their own individual cost is often much higher. So when these costs are shifted from government the cost to the larger economy is actually increased dramatically.
    The things government does are done because they need to be done. So if government doesn’t pay for them, does the need go away? No, when you cut government the need is still there. The costs are still there. But the power to bargain and to protect is gone. By cutting the 99%’s ability to protect themselves from scams and schemes, the 1% are better able to prey on them.
    So, no, cutting government does not cut the costs of the things government does, it just shifts those costs from government onto the larger economy — the 99% — and even increases them, to the benefit of the 1%.
    Who They Are Protecting And Who They Are Hurting
    Why else do the 1% push so hard for government budget cuts, even though they really just shift the same costs onto the larger economy? Because this cost-shifting takes the tax pressure off of the 1%. Government collects taxes to cover the things regular people need, the cost of maintaining and modernizing infrastructure, etc. Of course, these are all good for the economy, the country, and the people. But since the 1% make most of the money and hold almost all of the wealth these prime beneficiaries of the economy are the obvious people to collect taxes from. So by cutting back on government they cut back on government’s need for taxes — from them.
    And they get the added benefit of cutting back on government interference in their schemes and control.
    In the long game of cuts and consequences, a society cannot win. In the 1980s we cut taxes and started cutting government. As a result we now have crumbling infrastructure, bad schools, unaffordable universities, etc. This is because government cuts do not cut the need out of the larger economy, they shift the costs of needed things away from causing tax pressure on the wealthy.
    They don’t care if the larger economy suffers as a result, they’re already the 1%.
    What To Do
    Tell Republican leaders to stop sabotaging the economy. Renew the payroll tax cut and long-term aid for the jobless.
    Sign the petition.
    This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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    Call-Center Bill Would Let Customers Ask To Talk To Americans

    Last week Rep. Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.) and Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.) introduced The U.S. Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act, a bipartisan bill to both help fight the offshoring of call-center jobs and protect consumers. This proposed legislation would let the public know which companies are engaging in sending jobs out of the country, let customers ask to use an American call center instead, and ban federal grants or guaranteed loans to American companies that move call center jobs out of the US. The bill should also give us the right to get a person on the phone at all, within a few minutes, and not requiring a long phone tree of choices first, but I guess that’s for another day…
    Today many call-center jobs are being moved out of the country to India and the Philippines. This costs American jobs, and can be very frustrating to consumers who have to speak to people who they cannot understand because of language problems or cultural differences. The The U.S. Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act gives consumers the right to ask where the person they are speaking with is based, and ask for an American-based representative instead. Among the things this bill would accomplish:

    • Require the Department of Labor to publicly list firms that move call center jobs overseas.
    • Make these firms ineligible for any direct or indirect federal loans or loan guarantees for five years.
    • Require 120 day advance notification of a proposed move off-shore.
    • Require call center employees to tell U.S. consumers where they are located, if asked.
    • Require that call centers transfer calls to a U.S. call center if asked.

    At the Huffington Post, David Jamieson writes more about this bill, in, Overseas Call Centers Target Of Anti-Outsourcing Bill,

    Although some call-center jobs have trickled back into the U.S. in recent years, the long-term trend has shown thousands of American-based customer service positions being outsourced to India and the Philippines, where workers come considerably cheaper. The Philippines’ call-center industry recently surpassed India’s as the largest in the world, according to a report in USA Today.
    … In addition to scuttling any grants or guaranteed loans for a period of five years, the U.S. Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act would require that companies that are about to offshore call-center jobs notify the Labor Department 120 days before they do so. The companies would then be put on a public list. Bishop said the law would apply to businesses in all industries.
    Such a bill is unlikely to garner strong support from anti-protectionist, free-trade GOP members of Congress, but the inclusion of the call-center rules adds an interesting wrinkle. Given the widespread frustration of customers who end up on long calls with agents overseas, plenty of constituents, Republican and Democrat alike, would probably appreciate the option of dealing more regularly with customer service reps based in America.

    In a press release, the Communications Workers of America, the union that represents call-center employees, writes,

    The Communications Workers of America is strongly backing new, bi-partisan legislation introduced in the House of Representatives today that would ban federal grants and loans to corporations who move U.S. call center jobs overseas. CWA represents 700,000 workers in telecommunications and other sectors; more than 150,000 are customer service professionals.
    .. “Americans are fed up with good-paying family supporting call center jobs here in the United States being shipped overseas so the one percent can make a little extra money,” said CWA Chief of Staff Ron Collins. This legislation does not prevent them from moving if they want, but it prevents them from gaining access to our tax dollars while they do so.”
    Collins, who began his career in a U.S.-based Verizon call center, said CWA members across the country will be mobilizing support for the legislation in individual states and Congressional Districts.
    “We will go door to door to reinforce to members of Congress that this is a bill their constituents want and need,” Collins said. “We appreciate Representatives Bishop, McKinley and all the members of Congress who are supporting this important legislation.”

    The full text of the bill is available here:

    H.R.3596 – To require a publicly available a list of all employers that relocate a call center overseas and to make such companies ineligible for Federal grants or guaranteed loans and to require disclosure of the physical location of business agents engaging in customer service communications.

    This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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    Take Back The Capitol — Right Message, Right Time

    Last week’s Take Back the Capitol action brought two or three thousand unemployed people to the capitol. These representatives of the 99% went to the offices of 99 Senators and Representatives who now represent the 1%, where they were ignored and doors were closed on them. Some members were filmed fleeing down stairwells or hiding in copy rooms. So the next day the representatives of the 99% went to the people who really make the decisions. They marched on K Street, the symbolic center of the lobbying industry. They went to political fundraisers, and even to the Chamber of Commerce.
    Here is a collection of videos of legislators fleeing their constituents who were there to represent the 99%, asking for JOBS and for extensions of unemployment benefits:

    Just The Right Time
    Take Back the Capitol seemed to happen at just the right time. “Occupy” camps across the country are being cleared, and newspapers were starting to talk about the movement as if it was over. Then this mass action descended in the nation’s capitol making noise and drawing attention.
    The powers-that-be might have thought they had suppressed this movement, but the movement seems to be stronger than ever. As Lee Camp said, “Pepper spraying #occupiers is like throwing water on gremlins, you just get 10 times as many.”

    Human Red Carpet
    One of the best creative actions was a protest at the Chamber of Commerce, where the Take Back the Capitol people formed a “human red carpet” so the 1% could literally walk on the 99% as they entered the Chamber’s holiday party.

    Several dozen Occupy DC protesters rolled out the human red carpet for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s holiday party at their Washington, DC headquarters this evening. The Chamber is the nation’s largest corporate lobby group. As guests entered, protesters shouted, “You walk on our rights, now walk on us!” encouraging attendees to trample on the activists laying underneath the red carpet painted with “99%.” No one did, sadly, at least while ThinkProgress was in attendance.

    Press Reports
    Here is a sampling of the press reports:
    Washington Post: As Occupy faces setbacks around the country, focus shifts to D.C.,

    In Washington, hundreds of people, either from Occupy D.C. or bused in from around the country, participated in a “Day of Action: Occupiers Unite” to target K Street NW, where many of the capital’s lobbyists are based.
    The protesters succeeded in crippling downtown traffic for much of the afternoon, blocking intersections as they chanted and formed human chains. More than 70 people were arrested, but many Occupiers will tell you that can be a good thing, because it means the world will keep watching.
    … The K Street action came on the heels of a similar protest called “Take Back the Capitol,” during which hundreds of demonstrators from around the country parked themselves on the Mall. The group is backed by the powerful Service Employees International Union and the progressive activist group MoveOn.org.

    AP: ’99 percent’ drop in on DC power players,

    It wasn’t the slick suits, pricey heels and sense of purpose of the congressional staffers that Susan Wilkinson saw this week on Capitol Hill. What stung about crossing paths with them, she said, was this: “They wouldn’t make eye contact with us,” the unemployed Seattle activist recalled Thursday. “When did I get invisible?”
    Wilkinson was among hundreds of angry Americans who streamed through Washington and its corridors of power this week to command attention for the 99 percent of Americans that protesters claim are struggling to survive the recession. They were hard to miss.

    CNN: Occupiers take K street — photos,

    Occupiers from all over the country marked the 3rd day of the ‘Take Back the Capitol week’, in Washington DC, with an event called ‘Make Wall Street Pay’ in which hundreds blocked several intersections on K street. Ultimately the protesters focused on 2 intersections: K street & 13th and 14th st nw, in which they decided to block the traffic flow by staging a sit-down and lying on the ground until arrested.

    LA Times: Protesters occupy Newt Gingrich’s fundraiser,

    Newt Gingrich witnessed the Occupy movement up close and personal Wednesday night.
    Protesters crashed his presidential fundraiser at a restaurant next to the storied Willard InterContinental Hotel in downtown D.C., about a baseball’s throw from the White House.
    . . . Gingrich held the $1,000-a-plate fundraiser as his campaign is trying to become a national organization–and pay off all its debts.

    Our Reports From Last Week
    99% March On K Street To Take Back The Capitol From The 1%
    As Unemployed Seize K Street, Time To Amplify Pressure On Congress
    Unemployed Confront Congress At Take Back The Capitol
    It Keeps Going
    People have had enough and are finally realizing they can speak out against the abuses and insults that the 1% are heaping on the rest of us. Last week it was blocking unemployment benefit extensions, so 2 million more of us will lose all income at the end of the year. It was blocking the appointee to head the new consumer financial protection agency, so backs and credit cards and predatory lenders can keep running their scams. What will it be next week?
    It was predicted that the cold weather would stop the occupiers. It was predicted that clearing out the camps and using the intimidation that comes from masses of policy in military hardware using pepper spray and batons would suppress the movement. It didn’t. Instead the movement moved on DC and into the offices of the legislators and then down to K Street and the Chamber from where the legislators get their orders and the fundraisers from which they get their corporate cash for use smearing the good people who try to fight them. Where next?

    This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
    Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

    Continue reading

    Verizon Fires 40 Workers From Strike

    Verizon has fired 40 workers who took part in the strike this summer, saying they engaged in misconduct. Union leaders say this is a “heavy-handed” negotiating tactic to push for concessions at the bargaining table.
    At the AFL-CIO Blog, Unions Fight Verizon’s Firings of Striking Workers,

    IBEW Local 2222 Legislative Director Paul Feeney told the Boston Globe:

    We think this is a heavy-handed technique that Verizon is using to pressure us at the negotiating table. The union is going to fight this through the court. The company couldn’t prove to us that they did anything wrong.

    Investment blog Seeking Alpha describes this as part of Verizon’s revenue strategy, saying this is one example of phone companies that “act like monsters,” and “Verizon is playing hardball with its workers, firing strike leaders in an attempt to weaken workers’ positions in future negotiations” and “squeeze more from workers.”
    Visit the CWA Stop Verizon Green page to learn how to help Verizon workers in their struggle to remain in the middle class.
    This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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    m4s0n501

    99% March On K Street To Take Back The Capitol From The 1%

    I am in DC covering the Take Back the Capitol “99 in DC” events. On Tuesday I wrote about the efforts of unemployed people and others to get in to talk to their senators and representatives. (Watch some of them tell their stories.) On Wednesday they marched to “K Street” – the symbolic ground zero of the corporate takeover of our democracy. But first…
    When I was waiting to get on the plane to come here the jetway was backed up. Now that the airlines are charging $25 just to check a bag, everyone brings their bags on and tries to cram them into the limited on-plane carry-on space. But of course, the airlines aren’t paying the flight attendants more because of the extra work this causes. So this guy come pushing his way down the left side, shouting, “First class, out of the way, first class, let me through,” because he missed boarding first, and he was entitled to already be on the airplane and not have to wait in the line like the rest of us.
    The rest of us are supposed to walk past the already-seated, first class passengers, eyeing their large, comfortable seats, while they sip their champagne mimosas, and look important and … rich. We’re supposed to envy them, and hope to eventually be among them. But until then we are supposed to be grateful that they “create jobs” and allow us to serve them. This is America today.

    Why Occupy?

    Outrages like this been getting worse and worse, and have reached a breaking point, with many of us unemployed — because actually, the rich don’t “create jobs, WE do! So the rest of us – the 99% — have been getting mad about things like this for a long time, and are finally starting to show it, now that things have gotten so bad. Across the country people are “occupying” places and ideas that have been taken over by the 1%. They are letting themselves get angry about the things that have been happening, the change from democracy to plutocracy, the way the big corporations and Wall Street now make the rules while they don’t themselves have to follow the rules.
    Not only has our Congress come under the control of the 1%, they have done very little to help the 99% through this crisis that was caused by the 1%. This Congress — the first since the Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court — has done nothing to create jobs while doing a lot to kill jobs, and worse, at the end of this year extended unemployment benefits run out and 2 million people will lose their entire income.

    Take Back The Capitol

    So this week Take Back the Capitol brought unemployed people and others to Washington to confront their members of Congress and the lobbyists on “K Street” that they work for, to demand a change. Today they marched on K Street, the center of lobbying activity. CAF intern Sean McMartin was observing and writes,

    On December 7, 2011, a date 70 years after Pearl Harbor, another piece of history was made. Supporters of the American Dream Movement and several other organizations from all over the country marched from the National Mall up to K Street in Washington. They came to protest their outrage with the rich, corporations, and the special interests, many of which have lobbyists with offices on “K Street.” They shouted they were the 99% of the country, who have not fared well over past few years with high unemployment and stagnated wages.
    Just before noon the people from the Take Back the Capitol came to the intersection of 16th and K Street, which became the epicenter of the protest. Occupy DC, which happened to be camped only a block away, saw what was happening and came out of their tents to join the protest. Then a group came marching from the west, too, as Occupy DC came from the east. The coordination was something to see in real time and represented several groups coming together from all over the place.
    The police had to use their cars to block off a perimeter for the protest that involved 14th Street to 17th Street and I Street to L Street. Even policemen on horses,not seen often in Washington, were used as a show of force. There was no violence from what I could see, but a good old protest where people come together to show their outrage with the status quo.
    Pedestrians going to lunch stepped out of their offices to witness history in the making. They took out their cameras and smartphones to record history as it happened and some even shouted their support for the movement.
    After 1 pm city workers and police ordered the protestors onto the sidewalks and of the streets. The protestors slowly but surely followed and cleared the streets as were told.

    Politico reported:

    Wednesday morning, protesters organized by the ADM swarmed the headquarters of major corporations and financial institutions including Verizon, General Electric, Capitol Tax Partners, the American Bankers Association and the financial lobbying firm Clark Lytle Geduldig & Cranford.
    A labor organizer said the protesters targeted corporations and lobbying groups representing companies that have paid more in executive compensation and lobbying in recent years than they’ve paid in taxes, citing a recent study by Public Campaign.
    Hundreds of protesters from around the country converged on Verizon’s headquarters, chanting slogans like, “whose street — our street” and “shame on Verizon, pay your fair share.” Verizon employees and building staff looked on from the building lobby as protesters swarmed by.
    Protesters also marched around the front of the American Bankers Association, where extra security had been put in place to prevent outsiders from getting into the building.
    About 20 protesters were in the lobby of the Capitol Tax Partners’ building for a brief time, according to a source in the building.
    Also on Wednesday, activists aligned with the Occupy D.C. movement based in McPherson Square marched to protest the Podesta Group, one of the city’s most powerful lobby shops, which has close ties to the Obama administration.

    Here is a collection of photos and videos from the action at K Street (click through for videos)::

    Click here to tell House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell: Stop sabotaging the economy. Quit obstructing extensions of the payroll tax cut and long-term unemployment insurance.
    This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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