Monday, May 16, 2016 What's Killing the American Middle Class?
Many families are "middle class" and still don't make enough to get by. And these numbers don't take into account the decline in quality of life that many families have experienced. Americans work more hours than citizens of any Western European country, a burden that keeps them away from their families, friends, and personal activities. A robust middle class is the ladder that leads out of poverty.
Tuesday, May 10, 2016(3 comments)
Derailed in D.C.: "Bomb Trains," Poison Tracks and My Chemical Exposure
It's strange that we don't seem to worry very much about this ever-present threat of poison clouds and massive explosions. If these incidents had been caused by terrorists, rather than trains, our entire way of life would have changed. Instead very little has. The nation's lack of interest in this subject is striking.
Tuesday, April 26, 2016(1 comments)
Too Big to Fail, Too Dangerous to Ignore
Not one senior banking executive was indicted by President Obama's Justice Department, even though banks have paid out some $200 billion to settle fraud charges. Those frauds didn't commit themselves -- but nobody's gone to jail, or even paid back their ill-gotten bonuses. There's only one way to protect the global economy from the dangers of too-big-to-fail banks: Break them up.
Thursday, April 14, 2016 Wall Street's Fraud of the Week Club
How many settlements, how many billions, will it take to convince some fact-resistant pundits and politicians that there is an epidemic of fraud on Wall Street? No matter how hard some politicians and press try to persuade us otherwise, the evidence shows that the banking community is rife with unpunished fraudsters. Its political influence, however, apparently remains undiminished.
Thursday, April 7, 2016(3 comments)
Barney vs. Bernie: Sanders Is the Real "Progressive Who Gets Things Done"
As he has so many times in recent months, Barney Frank had some harsh things to say about Bernie Sanders, and has written several nasty, petty, and personal attacks on Bernie Sanders in his capacity as a Clinton surrogate. He and Clinton both argue that Bernie Sanders got little done on Capitol Hill. However, Bernie Sanders amassed an impressive record of accomplishments in both the House and Senate.
Tuesday, March 29, 2016(1 comments)
Bernie's Right. Wall Street's Business Model Really Is Fraud.
The major offenses committed by our largest banks include "price fixing, bid rigging, market manipulation, money laundering, document forgery, lying to investors, sanctions-evading, and tax dodging." For bankers, Rule #1 is "win at any cost." As long as they can commit fraud without suffering personal consequences, fraud will be the business model for Wall Street.
Thursday, March 10, 2016(1 comments)
The Penalty for Poverty Should Not Be Death
Over three decades, the life expectancy gap between the richest and poorest among us has more than doubled for both men and women. Every year that is taken from these Americans is a loss, not just for them, but for the people who care about them. It is one more year of grief and emptiness -- for husbands and wives, children and grandchildren, neighborhoods and communities.
Tuesday, March 1, 2016(1 comments)
New Study Confirms: Private "Trade" Courts Serve the Ultra-Wealthy
The "investor-state dispute settlement" process, or ISDS, is built into treaties like NAFTA and the upcoming Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). It allows foreign investors to sue participating governments if they do anything that harms their investment in that nation. Corporations can sue governments through this process, but governments can't sue corporations.
Tuesday, February 2, 2016(1 comments)
Inequality Against Democracy: 10 Facts About the 0.01 Percent
We are living through the greatest "wealth grab" in history. But inequality is not produced by immutable forces. It's the result of a legislative agenda promoted by the rich and executed by their political allies. The struggle to change this agenda and end inequality is inseparable from the other critical struggles of our time.
Tuesday, November 17, 2015(1 comments)
Five Reasons Glass-Steagall Matters
The nation's six largest banks issue more than two-thirds of all credit cards and more than a third of all mortgages. They control 95 percent of all derivatives and hold more than 40 percent of all U.S. bank deposits. These banks continue to pose a grave risk to the economy. They have continued to engage in sanctions violations and money laundering -- behavior that suggests they are still out of control.
Thursday, November 12, 2015(1 comments)
The "New Democrats" Confront a New Reality
The corporate-friendly policies of the Democratic party's more conservative wing have fared poorly, both as policy and as politics, and as a result the party has moved to the left. The insurgent candidacy of Bernie Sanders is the most conspicuous sign of this shift. It's a major setback for the so-called "New Democrats" who have dominated the party since the election of Bill Clinton in 1992.
Monday, November 2, 2015(3 comments)
How Unions Fight Inequality and Strengthen Democracy
Tax policy clearly needs to be changed so that millionaires, billionaires, and corporations once again pay their fair share of taxes. Actual tax rates for all three groups have fallen dramatically in the last 50 years. And campaign financing needs to be reformed so that the wealthy can no longer "buy" candidates or single-handedly sponsor presidential campaigns. We need a stronger union movement, too.
Friday, October 2, 2015(4 comments)
Sanders vs. Clinton: Who Has the Best Plan for College Students?
Middle-class families are struggling to make ends meet -- a situation that already forced many to take on debt. The difference between the Sanders and Clinton plans isn't just financial. It also reflects different views of ourselves as a nation, and different attitudes toward the middle class and the young.
Tuesday, September 22, 2015(2 comments)
"Sowers of Change": The Pope Arrives At a Critical Moment
This pope is an optimist. He said of his social vision: "Such an economy is not only desirable and necessary, but also possible. It is no utopia or chimera. It is an extremely realistic prospect. We can achieve it." He has called for "the globalization of hope" to replace "the globalization of exclusion and indifference,"
Wednesday, September 16, 2015 Waiting for the Fed's Answer: There Shouldn't Even Be a Question
Many observers believe the Fed will not raise rates this week. But many of them feel it will do so in the coming months, perhaps in March. Public statements from Fed officials have certainly left the impression that a rate increase could be imminent.
Wednesday, September 2, 2015(1 comments)
The "Cadillac" Tax is Coming, And Could Hit Your Midsize Health Plan
When the Affordable Care Act was being debated, an amendment was offered -- by Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Al Franken (D-Minn.) -- that would have removed the health excise tax and replaced the revenue through a surtax on the extremely wealthy. That was a sensible approach, but it was rejected.
Tuesday, August 25, 2015(2 comments)
In Troubled Times, the Federal Reserve Must Work for Everyone
We are still paying the price for allowing big-money interests to dominate both lawmaking on Capitol Hill and monetary policy at the Federal Reserve. That must change. Congress and the Fed, acting together, should ensure that our nation's policies benefit the many who are in need of help, not the few who already have more than they need.
Friday, August 14, 2015 80 Years Later, Republicans Are Still Fighting Social Security
Polls have consistently shown that Americans are extremely pleased with Social Security, which provides benefits are costs far below those in the private sector. To campaign against Social Security is to court political suicide. It therefore becomes imperative to convince voters instead that the program is unreliable. That's the Republican strategy.
Saturday, August 8, 2015 The GOP Debate: It's What Oligarchy Looks Like
Interests of big-money donors were reflected in Thursday's debate -- in what we heard, and even more so in what we didn't hear. There was no mention of the great income transfer to the wealthiest among us, perils of climate change, economic threat posed by big banks, or the struggle of a declining middle class. Candidates never offered specific proposals to help working Americans, even when asked to do so by the moderators.
Thursday, August 6, 2015(2 comments)
"Open Borders": A Gimmick, Not a Solution
Open borders resembles NAFTA-style corporate trade: both give corporations the ability to apply their economic power across national boundaries in pursuit of maximal profits at minimal cost, either by outsourcing jobs to workers overseas or paying minimal wages to workers at home. We need a systemic solution to global wealth inequality, rather than intellectual gimmicks designed to promote exploitation and sow confusion.
Saturday, May 30, 2015(3 comments)
In Search of the Democratic Soul
Thirteen Democrats voted for fast-track last week. Democrats risk being tarred with this lousy deal for a generation. And more battles are coming. Where will these Dems stand on the investment needed to repair our crumbling infrastructure -- and the taxes on the wealthy to pay for it?
Friday, May 22, 2015(6 comments)
The Big Banks Are Corrupt -- And Getting Worse
In "deferred prosecution" agreements the Justice Department agrees not to prosecute a bank for crimes it has committed if it keeps a promise not to commit those crimes again. It was not clear whether this would lead to any real-world consequences for the bank, however.
Thursday, May 21, 2015 The Left Matters -- Now, More Than Ever
The independent left may not be an important voting bloc. But it holds the key to energizing disaffected voters across the political spectrum. They're the voters who believe that neither political party is speaking to their most deeply-felt needs: for a living wage, a secure retirement, a chance to put their kids to college and keep their family healthy.
Monday, May 18, 2015(5 comments)
Obama's Trade War Against Warren Wounds His Party -- and His Legacy
The war for the TPP and fast-track -- and against Warren -- is not the only one the president is currently waging. Obama is also in the process of shaping his presidential legacy. That may be why he's "unusually irritated" with Warren and other progressives. He may recognize that he is at risk of being remembered as a president who, when the nation stood at an economic crossroads, cast his lot with the corporations.
Thursday, May 14, 2015 Opportunity or Inequality? That's No Choice At All
We need to create jobs, rebuild our infrastructure, strengthen wages, and increase education funding. These are "opportunity" items. But if they are to succeed, they will require some redistributive policies, including higher taxes on the wealthy and greater sharing of productivity gains with workers (using mechanisms like minimum wage increases and increased collective bargaining).
Tuesday, May 12, 2015(1 comments)
Social Security 10 Years From Now: A Choice of Two Futures
The past 10 years have shown us that, when it comes to the politics of Social Security, we can make major progress as a nation. The future of this vital and popular program is in our hands. It can be strengthened if we fight for it. It can also be taken from us, piece by piece, if we don't. The responsibility for Social Security's future, as always, lies with us.
Monday, May 4, 2015 After Baltimore: Soul Searching in Another America
Violence, like the nation itself, takes different forms. The events in Baltimore were manifestations of personal violence, amplified by crowd behavior. They were triggered by state violence, represented by the unrestrained excesses of police officers. That form of violence seems to have been especially severe in Baltimore.
Wednesday, April 22, 2015(3 comments)
The Surprise Issue of the 2016 Election?
In recent years Democrats have had a knack for giving away the advantages Social Security brings to their party. That's what happened in 2010, after two years of equivocation and deficit-reduction obsession from President Obama squandered their good will on this issue.
Friday, April 10, 2015(2 comments)
Social Security: The Anti-Populist Empire Strikes Back
The anti-Social Security crowd has been playing by the same rules for decades: Ignore the needs and wishes of the majority, mislead the public about the fiscal facts and your opponents' arguments, and stigmatize the elderly (a cohort which most of us will eventually join) as a morally flawed "special interest."
Thursday, April 9, 2015(4 comments)
In Rahm Emanuel's "Embarrassing" Victory, a Warning for Democrats
Emanuel has been rebranded -- some might say "unmasked" -- as a tool of corporate interests. The agenda he reflects would have a hard time succeeding outside Chicago's unique environment. His "huge national embarrassment" is an object lesson for Democrats everywhere: There is no cheap grace to be purchased if you ally yourselves with moneyed interests.
Saturday, April 4, 2015 Four Charts With What Everyone Should Know About the Student Debt Crisis
The total amount of student debt in this country is currently estimated at $1.3 trillion. There are many reasons for this surge in debt, including soaring college tuitions and an increase in the number of people attending college. The growing number of for-profit corporations in the education business is another major factor in the rise of this debt.
Monday, March 30, 2015(1 comments)
Big-Bank Bad Guys Bully Democracy -- And Blow It
Readers may well wonder whether these banks are even permitted to band together for the purpose of blackmailing a political party. They are -- campaign cash is "speech," remember? But then, bankers collude with one another even when it's not legal. Why wouldn't bankers engage in unlawful conspiracy and fraud? It's not like any of them have gone to prison for it.
Tuesday, March 24, 2015(2 comments)
Hillary's Challengers -- and the Anti-Wall Street Wave
Hillary Clinton might prefer to see the challenge against Wall Street go away, but that's not likely to happen. That means she has a choice: she can offer her own strategy for reining in Wall Street, or run the risk of allowing others to define her position on this issue -- in ways that could harm both her prospects and her party's.
Saturday, March 21, 2015(1 comments)
Social Security Reversal in Md. Senate Race: Six Lessons For Democrats
When the political mood shifts, the public doesn't necessarily forget. That's why it was wise for Rep. Van Hollen to support Social Security expansion. But it's also why he needs to do more: The public has grown used to seeing politicians express support for a program at election time, only to offer it up for sacrifice later.
Thursday, March 19, 2015(1 comments)
A "Moral Document": GOP Again Targets Social Security, Medicare
For all the deception and evasion which permeates these documents, one thing comes through clearly: the Republicans have no interest in the well-being of seniors or the disabled. Theirs is an anti-tax agenda for the wealthy, and an anti-social contract agenda for everyone else.
Wednesday, March 11, 2015 Will Social Security Decide Maryland's Senate Race?
A few years ago pundits were assuring politicians that voters would reward them for supporting the Simpson-Bowles plan. Now we know better. Chris Van Hollen -- and other Democratic candidates -- would be well advised to take MoveOn.org's advice and offer their unequivocal support for Social Security instead.
Tuesday, February 24, 2015 A New Rule, and a Brave Official, Gain Allies Against Wall Street
The fiduciary rule's new allies are perhaps even more interesting than its opponents. While it was not originally one of her core causes, the White House has been able to bring Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on board as an advocate. The fact that the White House sought her support is a sign of her growing influence and visibility.
Monday, February 23, 2015(3 comments)
"His Own Man's" Man: Jeb Bush and the Return of Wolfowitz
This war has been the greatest failure in American history. The American people will be paying the price for it for generations to come, in more ways than one. But Jeb Bush has reminded us that there is no price to be paid for failure, or for ethical lapses, among the elites who govern us.
Wednesday, February 18, 2015(2 comments)
Fifty Shades of Austerity: The Germans, The Greeks, and the GOP
Germany's leaders have shown that they can be as hypocritical as American bankers, especially when it comes to extending the kind of helping hand to others which they've already enjoyed themselves. Germany benefited from a generous program of debt forgiveness in a 1953 write-off that was proportionally larger than anything being requested for Greece.
Thursday, February 12, 2015(1 comments)
New Front In #RepublicanClassWar: Social Security for the Disabled
Social Security expansion would help offset the effects of lost middle-class wealth. That's an important point. Inequality is our era's gravest economic challenge. When it comes to meeting that challenge, Social Security isn't a problem; it's part of the solution. The Republicans won't tell you that, of course. They're too busy waging class war.
Monday, February 9, 2015(2 comments)
More Evidence "Centrist" Solutions Can't Save Us
The entire "envy" and "vilification" framing is counterproductive. It's a rhetorical ploy that, whether intentionally or not, characterizes a genuine national crisis -- and the hardship of millions -- as a transitory and less than admirable emotional state. We are dealing with a problem that threatens to tear our social fabric apart, and it must be discussed that way.
Friday, February 6, 2015(2 comments)
13 Questions: About Greece, Europe, Austerity -- and Us
Leaders like Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Sherrod Brown are likely to keep resisting Wall Street's unwholesome influence on our democracy. With every day that passes, however, it's less likely that any major banker will be prosecuted for the major acts of fraud committed in their institutions. There's a lot of moral hazard going around these days.
Wednesday, February 4, 2015(1 comments)
Needed: A Bold Left to Challenge Government Downsizing
We need an active, independent left willing to challenge the push for smaller government. A well-managed government can revitalize the economy, even as it makes our world a better place to live. Many Americans seem to understand that instinctively. Where, then, is the movement that will make that argument?
Tuesday, February 3, 2015 Budget Wars: Europe Has the Germans; We Have the GOP
The struggle for the soul of the Democratic Party isn't over. But the president's dismissal of "mindless austerity" draws a useful parallel between Germany's harmful policies and those of the GOP, while the Democratic populists offer a clear alternative to the greed-driven magical thinking of our financial elites.
Wednesday, January 28, 2015(1 comments)
Anti-Koch: The Fight For Green Energy is a Fight for the 99 Percent
It's getting harder to defend our economic and environmental interests against the corrupting influence of campaign cash. The struggle for a fairer economy is inseparable from the struggle to protect the planet -- and both will be more successful once we've removed big money from our political process.
Tuesday, January 27, 2015 Liberate 41 Million Americans From Student Loan Debt
The statistics paint a clear picture: Student debt has soared, and continues to rise. The total amount owed is now $1.3 trillion. Approximately 41 million Americans now carry student debt, a figure which rose 40 percent between 2004 and 2012. Student debt is a dark betrayal at the heart of the American promise, and it must come to an end.
Thursday, January 22, 2015(2 comments)
Yes, Obama "Won Twice" -- as a Progressive. Deal With It, Everybody
Democrats must provide bolder and stronger alternatives to the "bipartisan" consensus that has led this country rightward and has accelerated wealth inequality for decades.
The president and his party should own their victories, along with the ideas -- and the movement -- that made them possible. If they do, they're likely to see more victories in the years to come. And Republicans will just have to deal with it.
Saturday, January 17, 2015(20 comments)
Today's GOP: Too Much "Rand" and Not Enough "Paul"
Ayn Rand's face seems to hover, pale and sepulchral, over everything the modern Republican Party does. Her contempt for those in need, and her deep hatred for those who try to help them, seem to have seized possession of today's GOP like a demon in a B movie.
Monday, January 12, 2015(4 comments)
Populism Rises -- And The "Center" Strikes Back
It's no surprise that "centrist" Democrats are troubled by the challenge posed by senators like Warren, Ohio's Sherrod Brown, and Vermont's Bernie Sanders. These senators' positions aren't just good policy; they're good politics, too. While the well-funded "centrists" have too much money and media influence to be counted out, this movement poses a real threat to their dominance over the Democratic Party.
Thursday, January 8, 2015(3 comments)
The Human Cost of the GOP's Social Security Assault
This GOP move doesn't just hurt an abstract entity called "Social Security." It hurts people -- living, breathing human beings. This particular move targeted the disabled. Here's how: The overall Social Security fund is well-funded for the next two decades or so (and easily remedied beyond that point), but the disability insurance trust fund needs a short-term cash infusion from the larger retirement account.
Thursday, December 25, 2014 Wall Street Had a Merry Christmas. The New Year's Still Up For Grabs.
Some in Congress will make positive and even brave proposals -- to break up the big banks, increase Social Security benefits, raise wages, and take other much-needed steps to repair our damaged economy. But, overall, our elected officials will only have as much courage as the public demands of them.
Saturday, December 20, 2014(3 comments)
Hillary's Choice: "Anti-Gridlock" or "Anti-Wall Street"?
A candidate who "supports Wall Street within reason" -- offering only unsupportable tactical promises while most Americans fret about the economy -- is a candidate in danger of losing, no matter what the polls may say today.
Thursday, December 18, 2014(1 comments)
Sanders Speaks: Bernie Wants to Break Up the Big Banks
Sanders' bill, which he says he will introduce at the start of the next session, is given very little chance of passage. Sanders deserves praise for introducing a measure that is designed to put members of the United States Senate on record before the voters: Are they willing to break up the big banks or not?
Monday, December 15, 2014(4 comments)
We Lost the "CRomnibus" Fight, But at Least Someone's Fighting
Democrats should see every lost vote -- especially those votes lost to low turnout -- as an opportunity. What's more, not every battle will be lost. Progressives nearly defeated this deal in the House. Next time, perhaps they will. Either way, they are hopefully now a force to be reckoned with.
Thursday, December 11, 2014 This is Not a Drill -- The Budget Deal Must Be Stopped
The budget deal hammered out this week between Republican and Democratic negotiators literally imperils the economy. If it becomes law, our nation's biggest banks will once again have a green light to gamble on the derivatives that helped create the 2008 financial crisis. Congress is doing Wall Street's bidding with this budget, and it needs to be stopped.
Saturday, December 6, 2014(5 comments)
Why Demographics Can't Save the Democrats -- But Populism Can
Personality alone isn't likely to win the day. Nor will fragmented appeals to disparate population groups. Yes, Democrats should support issues like humane immigration, marriage equality, and justice for African-American communities. But they should do so for moral reasons, not because they think it will lead to some imagined electoral panacea.
Friday, December 5, 2014(1 comments)
The Unseen Heart of the Violence: Eric Garner at the Terminal Point
Our moral leaders have told us time and time again that violence against any one of us wounds us all. Until we recognize and address both forms of violence -- the seen and the unseen, the overt and the structural -- our society cannot be made whole. Until the hidden heart of violence is made visible, none of us will be able to breathe.
Friday, November 28, 2014(3 comments)
Prosecute Now: The Justice Department Can Still Act Against Bad Bankers
Banks have paid many billions of dollars in recent years to settle charges of widespread fraud. JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup ... each of the nation's biggest banks has paid tens of billions to settle a wide variety of charges.
Wednesday, November 26, 2014(3 comments)
An Emotional, Poorly-Argued Attack on Elizabeth Warren from Times' Sorkin
Andrew Ross Sorkin of the New York Times has attacked Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Her offense? Criticizing the appointment of yet another Wall Street banker to a top economic post. But Sen. Warren's fundamental point remains unrefuted: Wall Street dominates our government's decision-making apparatus to the detriment of our economy and our society, and that must change.