And require those already out there to be turned in. (Pay for them of course.)
And require those already out there to be turned in. (Pay for them of course.)
Puzder “Fails Every Test of a Labor Secretary”
In December, Ross Eisenbrey of the Economic Policy Institute wrote of Puzder’s nomination, Andrew Puzder fails every test for a Labor Secretary
He’s opposed to the new overtime rule that gave the right to time and a half pay to millions of salaried employees earning less than $47,476 a year. Wal-Mart has already raised its managers’ pay, as did about half of all big retailers, even before the rule was supposed to take effect on December 1. But Puzder wants to kill it so he can keep working low-paid employees without paying them a dime extra for their overtime hours.
by Ciro Carrillo
You don’t have to just be a boring-ass liberal. You can be a RADICAL!
Melissa Byrne explains one reason to go out and VOTE:
“College should be a right and not a gift from parents to children.”
“Payday loans” are a Wall Street/financial industry scheme/scam that preys on people with low incomes. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is working on rules to reign this in and protected Americans. They want to hear from you. Please join the fight by clicking here to send a comment to the CFPB in support of a strong rule.
A Last Week Tonight with John Oliver segment on auto lending, which is similar to payday lending.
Here is a real shocker. AARP (formerly the American Association of Retired Persons) has been a paying member of the notorious right-wing, Koch-tied lobbying organization American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) since at least 2014.
Yes, that AARP, once known for protecting the interests of senior citizens and fighting to protect Social Security and Medicare. Yes, that ALEC — an organization dedicated to, among so many other things, privatizing Social Security and Medicare, and getting rid of public-employee pensions. AARP apparently joined ALEC even as many corporations were fleeing thanks to exposure of ALEC’s reprehensible actions.
AARP, the non-profit seniors organization that exists to promote the financial security, pensions and healthcare of those over 50, is secretly funding the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an organization whose bills have acted against the interests of ordinary Americans, including retirees and their families.
The Center for Media and Democracy has learned that AARP has recently joined ALEC, and that it is a named sponsor of the ALEC annual meeting taking place in Indianapolis, Indiana from July 27-29, 2016.
Why does this matter?
Michael Hiltzik, Columnist at the LA Times, explains why this matters in “Why is AARP cozying up to the right-wing group ALEC while big corporations flee?”:
Among the policies that have been promoted by ALEC are several that arguably undermine the interests of seniors and retirees, AARP’s core constituency. ALEC has pushed for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which has saved Medicare enrollees millions of dollars by closing the Medicare drug benefit “donut hole.” It has opposed Medicaid expansion under Obamacare. It has targeted public pensions, pushing to cap benefits and shift workers toward defined contribution plans, which layer more market risk on individual workers’ shoulders.
ALEC’s right-wing, corporate agenda is all about privatizing Social Security, gutting pension plans, turning Medicare over to insurance companies and pushing laws that would make prescription drug prices even higher for seniors.
Talk about selling out your constituency. Just wow.
Many companies dropped ALEC after the organization’s right-wing ties were exposed by CMD. These companies include Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Kraft, Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft. (Click here for a list.) And then AARP apparently decided this all sounded good, and joined up.
Is This Even Legal?
Hiltzik’s column contains a revealing statement from AARP,
AARP’s statement acknowledged that it paid a fee to ALEC in 2016 to provide “an opportunity to engage with state legislators and advance our members’ priorities from a position of strength at ALEC’s annual meeting. AARP added, “given that Republicans control one or more chambers in 39 of the nation’s 50 state legislatures, we believe having a seat at the table at the ALEC annual meeting was necessary to our mission of representing the interests and needs of people 50-plus and their families.”
AARP says it paid a fee to “engage” with legislators and get “a seat at the table.” Paying the fee gives them a “position of strength.” This statement reveals how ALEC is set up as a “pay-to-play” corruption operation; the organization charges companies a fee for access to legislators, companies pay a fee so they can influence legislators, conservative legislators show up so they can be influenced. The public loses out on every side of that pay-to-play triangle of corruption.
Really? Paying a fee for an opportunity to engage with legislators? Or the other side of that equation, charging a fee? If this blatant corruption is legal at all, it is what is known as “lobbying.” But ALEC is a tax-exempt 501(c)3 charity that is prohibited from lobbying or engaging in politics at all. (Never mind a license for corruption.) Various complaints have been filed with the IRS, but nothing happens… Just wow.
CMD has a petition you can sign: Tell AARP to Dump ALEC!
For decades, ALEC has plied state legislators with disinformation about Social Security, climate change, and other issues along with bills and resolutions that undermine Americans’ financial security and our future.
Please sign the following letter (and if you are a member of AARP, please also contact the organization directly and ask that they DUMP ALEC).
Also, Social Security Works is an organization that “leads the fight every day to expand and protect our Social Security system.” They want you to click this: No organization that claims to represent retirees should be anywhere near ALEC, let alone funding them. Join us in calling on AARP to immediately end its financial support of ALEC and repudiate the group.
FYI: About CMD
The Center for Media and Democracy investigates and exposes corruption. You might know CMD for ALEC Exposed, which brought ALEC to public attention. You might know them for PR Watch, which keeps an eye on how corporations use “spin.” They also operate the SourceWatch wiki.
However you know them, they do great work. Check them out.
And click through to read the entire piece exposing AARP’s membership in ALEC as well as Michael Hiltzik’s column the LA Times. They both contain so much more in-depth information than is included here.
The other day it was announced with great fanfare that Bernie Sanders has received more than 1 million contributions from around 650,000 people. (Some have contributed more than once.)
But wait a minute, that really is not a large number in a country of almost 320 million people.
Let’s Do Some Math
Sanders is polling at somewhere around 26% among Democrats nationally. Barack Obama received 65.9 million votes in 2012. 26% of this is around 17 million. So there should be around 17 million current Bernie supporters. 650,000 is only 3.8% of that 17 million. This means that only about 3.8% of (according to current polls) possible current Bernie supporters have donated to his campaign.
Repeat: only 3.8% of what the polls tell us are current Bernie Sanders supporters have donated to his campaign.
Since Hillary Clinton has fewer donors but polls show support from 43.5% of Democrats, obviously the percentage of supporters donating to her campaign is going to be astronomically lower than Bernie’s 3.8%. I don’t want to do the math.
Get With It, People
Get with it, people. How do you think Democrats are going to win against the corporate-billionaire conservative machine, if only a few of us are donating to candidates? Seriously, if our advantage in numbers is going to override the Republican corporate-billionaire-financed financial advantage, we all have to pitch in.
If you support Bernie, send $20 today. Or more.
If you support Hillary Clinton, send $20 today. Or more.
if you support Martin O’Malley, send $20 today. Or more.
You really do have a responsibility to do this.
Not Just Candidates
And it isn’t just candidates you should be donating to. Republicans have a huge infrastructure of conservative support organizations, largely funded by corporations and billionaires. These are the outfits that spew out right-wing propaganda 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 400 days a year. How MANY times have you had to listen to things like, “Taxes take money out of the economy,” “Corporations always do things better than government,” and the rest of their anti-government, anti-democracy crap? How often do you hear a response? Hardly ever — and the reason is that YOU are not donating money to progressive organizations.
(I’m a Sr. Fellow at Campaign for America’s Future. But really, there are a number of great progressive organizations you should be supporting and I am sure that people can name several in the commerts.)
Democracy doesn’t have an advertising budget — it’s up to you. Donate, donate, donate.
A “sneak law” attachment to a “must-pass” bill gives sacred Native American land to a foreign mining company. How did this happen?
Do you remember that “Citibank budget,” where a budget bill to avert an imminent government shutdown suddenly had in it a Citibank-written provision deregulating certain risky financial trades? If Congress voted against the budget, the government would shut down, so Citibank got its way? This is how “sneak laws” get through. Usually We the People don’t get a chance to learn about them in time to do something about it, and this was one example.
Another example of this happened in last year’s National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015. On page 1,103 of the 1,648-page bill is a provision giving more than 2400 acres of land in Arizona’s Tonto National Forest to Resolution Copper, which is part of London-based Rio Tinto and Melbourn-based BHP Billiton, giant mining companies. This was done by Arizona Republican Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake and Arizona Republican Rep. Paul Gosar.
The area is known as Oak Flat and is land that is sacred to the San Carlos Apache Tribe and Yavapai-Apache Nation. They compare it to the sacredness of Mt. Sinai in other religions. In 1886, the federal government removed the tribes and expropriated the land.
Sacred Land Given To A Foreign Corporation In A Sneak Law
America of course has a long and disgraceful history of stealing land from Native Americans – to say the least. But this is the first time that sacred Native American land has been stolen to give to a foreign corporation.
However, this land transfer is unusual even before you consider that the beneficiary is a foreign corporation. This land has been given special protection since at least 1955. Even President Richard Nixon protected it, which is saying something. Five times Arizona Republicans have tried and failed to give this land to this company. Only by sneaking it into this must-pass bill did they succeed.
A New York Times op-ed calls the Oak Flat Apache land grab “an impressive new low in congressional corruption” and points out that:
It belongs to the public, under the multiple-use mandate of the Forest Service, and has had special protections since 1955, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower decreed the area closed to mining — which, like cattle grazing, is otherwise common in national forests — because of its cultural and natural value. President Richard M. Nixon’s Interior Department in 1971 renewed this ban.
Yes, this is “an impressive new low in congressional corruption.”
This Doesn’t Just Grab The Sacred Land, It Destroys It
The method of mining “block cave mining” that is proposed is going to, by design, completely devastate the land. In Truthout’s “The Apache Way: The March to Oak Flat,” Roger Hill explains:
This process involves a series of deep underground detonations, essentially collapsing the mountainous terrain in on itself and extracting the ore and materials from a series of tunnels dug in the earth. This process creates more toxic material than traditional surface mining and produces greater contaminants affecting the groundwater with acid runoff.
Of course neighboring towns are dependent on that groundwater.
This method will leave behind a “7,000-acre, 500-foot-high waste dump of toxic tailings.” Later the cave will collapse, leaving behind destruction the size of five Empire State Buildings.
Leading the fight to stop this are Native Americans themselves. The Apaches are not asking that the land be returned to them, only that it not be mined.
Apaches have begun an occupation of the disputed land. (After a special ceremony in August that is only open to Apaches, you can come and help occupy Oak Flat. Do not bring weapons; Apaches are not deadbeat Tea Party ranchers.)
In June Apaches marched on Washington. Lee Allen at Indian Country News has the story, “Oak Flat Protesters Plan March on Washington to Protest Apache Land Grab“:
“Today we are announcing the next step in our battle for repeal, and that’s a march on Washington,” Nosie said. “Alliances with other tribes, universities, religious groups and outraged citizens continue to grow in groundswell proportion—our support numbers have just gone crazy. The month of June will be a month of protest in the streets and in congressional offices. There comes a time when we need to say enough is enough, and that time has come. We need to hold those in Washington responsible, so the fight’s on, and from this point going forward, wherever it takes us, that’s where we will be.”
… Attendees at the gathering represented a diverse mix of tribal and non-Native supporters. Daniel Jose is an Apache from Peridot who has camped at Oak Flat since the first spiritual gathering in February. “We’re going to fight for our land, and I’ll stay here forever if I have to,” he said.
Starting at Red Rocks earlier this month, and in venues across the country since, the Apache have been linking up with Young on the road, sharing their stories and singing prayer songs to thousands of audience members.
The activists are trying to preserve a stretch of canyon land in Tonto National Forest called Oak Flat, an hour east of Phoenix, where young Apache women like Pike have celebrated coming-of-age ceremonies for generations. “I became a woman at Oak Flat, I had my sunrise dance there, so it’s like my heart is there,” she says.
They are getting some news. The Guardian, “Apache tribe brings battle for Oak Flat to New York’s Times Square“:
Members of the Apache tribe stood chanting in a circle with drums and posters in the center of New York’s Times Square on Friday, to protest against a bill that will hand over land they hold sacred to a foreign mining corporation.
Times Square was the latest stop for activists from the Apache tribe who are travelling across the United States to battle for Oak Flat and to draw attention to a bill introduced by Arizona representative Raúl M Grijalva to repeal the decision to hand the land over to Resolution Copper.
They are also beginning to get some results. Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva has introduced a bill to fight this. From Indian Country Today, “Grijalva’s Save Oak Flat Bill Boosted by Historic Preservation Listing“:
Legislation to save an Apache sacred site from destruction by an international mining company got a helping hand recently when the National Trust for Historic Preservation included the land on its 2015 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. Almost all of the places that make it onto the list are preserved.
Rep. Raúl Grijalva(D-AZ) introduced the bipartisan Save Oak Flat Act,H.R. 2811, on June 17. Grijalva’s bill would repeal a section of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015 (NDAA) that authorizes approximately 2,422 acres of land known as Oak Flat in the Tonto National Forest in Southeastern Arizona to be transferred to Resolution Copper, a subsidiary of the giant international mining company Rio Tinto.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation recently included the land on its 2015 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.
What You Can Do
● Write and call your representative in Congress in support of Grijalva’s bill, H.R. 2811.
● Contact people running for office and let them know about this issue. (So far only Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has spoken out against this.)
● Visit the Apache Stronghold website for a number of things you can do. Send them money for gas and food.
● Sign the CREDO Action petition, Don’t mine sacred Native American land in Arizona.
● Sign the MoveOn petition, Congress: Don’t give sacred Apache land to a mining company
The Grand Alliance to Save Our Public Postal Service is calling for support of two House resolutions that urge restoration of overnight mail service standards and a continuation of six-day delivery.
The alliance consists of more than 70 national organizations. The coalition is asking people to contact members of Congress in support of House Resolutions 54 and 12. H. Res. 54, from Reps. David McKinley (R-W.Va) and Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), expresses the sense of the House of Representatives that the U.S. Postal Service “should take all appropriate measures to restore service standards in effect as of July 1, 2012.” H. Res. 12, from Reps. Sam Graves (R-MO) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA), says that the USPS “should take all appropriate measures to ensure the continuation of its six-day mail delivery service.”
These resolutions are in response to a new attempt to manufacture a crisis in postal delivery.
How To Manufacture An Anti-Government “Crisis”
If you can manufacture the idea that there is a crisis going on, it makes it easier to get people to go along with the “solutions” you want to push. (See: Doctrine, Shock, disaster capitalism.)
The final fight to stop fast track begins this week. The new trade promotion authority (“fast track”) bill could be released in the Senate at any moment. (It might be out by the time you read this.)
Hatch and Wyden Poised to Introduce Bill
With literally zero reporting from the national TV networks and a virtual news blackout at most newspapers around the country, at least Politico sets the stage for insiders in their report, “Trade fight looms as Congress returns“:
Senate Finance Committee leaders Orrin Hatch and Ron Wyden appear poised to introduce a “fast track” trade promotion authority bill along with House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan. But months of closed-door negotiations were continuing on Friday, congressional aides said.
The power, largely embraced by Republicans, pits many congressional Democrats, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren and potentially Senate Democratic leader-in-waiting Charles Schumer, against the White House.
The measure would allow President Barack Obama to submit free trade agreements to Congress for straight up or down votes without any amendments. It’s seen as key to completing his signature 12-country trade deal known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership pact.
Fast track is, in essence, congressional pre-approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement. With fast track Congress agrees to give up its much of constitutional duty to define negotiating objectives, carefully deliberate and debate, and fix problems that might turn up. With fast track rendering Congress unable to fix flaws, even if any problems do turn up that might seriously hurt the country or our economy, a vote on the trade agreement will occur under the enormous pressure of the media blasting, “surely they won’t just kill the whole thing over a few problems.”
The idea is that allowing Congress (democratic government) to “meddle” will get in the way and keep other (non-democratic) countries from “making their best offers.” Congress is considering this pre-approval of TPP and future trade agreements even though the national news media is not reporting on fast track or TPP, and Congress and the public haven’t yet even seen the agreement (never mind had time to analyze it and consider its ramifications).
Week Of Action
The AFL-CIO is organizing a “Week of Action Against Fast Tracking Trade Deals.”
On Wednesday at 11 am in Washington D.C.’s Upper Senate Park, more than 600 union members will rally at an event organized by the United Steelworkers (USW) on Capitol Hill. The rally will feature Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Al Franken (D-Minn.), Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), USW President Leo Gerard, AFL-CIO Executive VP Tefere Gebre, AFGE President J. David Cox, National Association of Letter Carriers President Fred Rolando, American Federation of Teachers Secretary-Treasurer Loretta Johnson, and Sierra Club National Campaign Director Debbie Sease.
On Saturday, the AFL-CIO and its member unions are organizing over 50 events throughout the country in conjunction with hundreds of events planned as part of the global day of action in over a dozen countries.
A Monday story in The Hill, “Labor unions ramp up opposition to Obama trade agenda,” has more on the Week of Action:
Lawmakers, labor union leaders and their members will hold a rally Wednesday on Capitol Hill and follow that up with 50 grassroots events around the country and in more than a dozen countries on Saturday as part of the weeklong effort. …
The efforts include letter-writing campaigns, phone calls, petitions and door-knocks.
Meanwhile CREDO and other organizations are petitioning to ask presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to lead the opposition to fast track and TPP.
Don’t Trade Our Future Demonstration April 20
There will also be a “Don’t Trade Our Future” demonstration on April 20, the final day of the Populism2015 Conference in Washington, which is sponsored by the Campaign for America’s Future (CAF), National People’s Action (NPA), USAction and the Alliance for a Just Society. People will assemble at 11:30 a.m. at AFL-CIO headquarters at 815 16th Street NW, and will march first to the headquarters of the Chamber of Commerce and then to the U.S. Trade Representative’s office. They are urging Congress to vote down fast track.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), columnist Jim Hightower and Communication Workers of America (CWA) President Larry Cohen will address the demonstration.
Public Against More Job-Killing Trade Agreements
As the fast track fight enters the Congress, polls show that politicians will take a great risk by voting for fast track or TPP legislation. For example, one recent poll shows one senator’s vote for fast track could bring a primary opponent. The Huffington Post reported in February in, “Secretive Trade Deal Could Pose Problems At Home For Ron Wyden,”
“Half of the Oregon voters polled said they would be less likely to vote for Wyden in 2016 if he joins Republicans to approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a massive trade deal between the United States and countries in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as fast-track authority, which Obama is seeking in order to get TPP and other trade deals through Congress without amendments or filibusters.”
Other polling shows that public sentiment against trade deals and fast track is strong. One poll in January 2014 shows the breadth of public opposition,
By more than two to one, voters say they oppose (62%) rather than favor passage of fast-track negotiating authority for the TPP deal. Among those with a strong opinion, the ratio climbs to more than three to one (43% strongly opposed, just 12% strongly favorable). Demographically, opposition is very broad, with no more than one-third of voters in any region of the country or in any age cohort favoring fast track. Sixty percent (60%) of voters with household incomes under $50,000 oppose fast track, as do 65% of those with incomes over $100,000.
… Republicans overwhelmingly oppose giving fast-track authority to the president (8% in favor, 87% opposed), as do independents (20%-66%), while a narrow majority (52%) of Democrats are in favor (35% opposed).
People believe our trade agreements destroy jobs and lower wages. In a September 2014 Pew Poll, Americans say “trade” generally is good, but only 20 percent say it creates jobs while 50 percent say it destroys jobs, and 17 percent say it raises wages while 45 percent say it lowers wages.
This can have election consequences. In an April 2014 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll a plurality of Americans said they would support “a candidate who says that free trade with other countries will mainly be negative for America because it will cause the loss of U.S. jobs to other countries, which will hurt wages and jobs here.”
So it appears that the battle will be in the Senate this week. Here are some resources to visit.
Real Progressive Coalition for American Jobs. (“Every U.S. labor union and almost 600 environmental, consumer, faith, family farm, civil rights, seniors, LGBT and other civil society organizations opposed Fast Track. This is the REAL Progressive Coalition for American Jobs.”)
Fast track trade promotion legislation is likely to be introduced soon and will be used to push through the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement – but the public knows very little about what this would mean to them.
To help get the word out, there will be a series of rallies across the United States this week and next week to oppose fast track legislation.
A list of February #FightFastTrack rallies around the country can be found here.
On Thursday, between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. Eastern time, you can join the #FightFastTrack Twitter storm, using the hashtag #FightFastTrack.
Here are some sample tweets you can use:
Don’t let Congress rubber stamp the #TPP and send jobs overseas. Join a rally near you to #FightFastTrack http://bit.ly/1ykSu0k
Tell Congress: Don’t rubber stamp #TPP with Brunei and Vietnam, serial violators of human rights. #FightFastTrack
Rallies to #FightFastTrack are being held all over the US this week and next. Find one near you to stop the TPP.http://bit.ly/1ykSu0k
What’s At Stake
“Fast Track” is a weird process in which Congress voluntarily gives up its power to define, consider and amend trade deals. With Fast Track Congress is not allowed to amend (a.k.a. “fix”) trade agreements, is only allowed very limited debate on the House and Senate floor, and must pass the agreement within 90 days of the public seeing the text of the agreement for the first time. The Senate is not allowed to filibuster the deal.
Why would Congress give up their duty and power like this? Fast Track gets passed because the multinational corporate sponsors of these trade agreement put on well-funded PR campaigns that put massive pressure on legislators. The PR campaigns tell the public that legislators will “hurt jobs” or are “anti-business” if they vote against Fast Track and these trade deals. In fact, the record is that these trade deals are great for the owners of giant multinational corporations, but have hurt jobs and “Main Street” businesses.
The basic argument the corporations make for Fast Track is that the trade deals could never be completed if the negotiators thought Congress could “meddle” with the results. In other words, these deals can’t stand the test of being acceptable to a democracy so they have to rig the process in advance. The trade deals are negotiated in a rigged process that excludes representatives of different parts of society who might object to rules that favor the giant multinational corporations that will benefit from these deals. Representatives of labor, environmental, health, LGBT, democracy, consumer and other interest groups are not “at the table” as part of the negotiating process – so of course the end result does not reflect the interests of these “stakeholders.”
Or, to put it another way, look at what has happened to the world’s economy and environment since the corporate “free trade” and deregulation ideology came to dominate elite thinking in the late 1970s-early 1980s. The interests of the giant multinational corporations and the 1 percent behind them have done very, very well. The rest of us? Not so much.
You can follow the week’s events on Twitter at @PCGTW.