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Richard (RJ) Eskow

                 
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Host of 'The Breakdown,' Writer, and Senior Fellow, Campaign for America's Future

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014     

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A Stock-Market Milestone is Reached, But Who Cares?
(1 comments) What can be said about a political process that so faithfully executes the wishes of the wealthy and powerful at everyone else's expense? The ever-widening gulf between our two economies reflects a breakdown in our democracy -- or, rather, a corruption of it on behalf of special interests.

Monday, August 18, 2014     

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One Nation Under Siege: "Counterinsurgency Cops" in Ferguson -- and on TV
(1 comments) The transfer of used military equipment from the armed forces to police departments around the country has been accompanied, at least to a certain extent, by a shift in public thinking. The news media have played a critical part in that shift, both in its coverage and in what it chooses not to cover.

Saturday, August 16, 2014     

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JPMorgan Chase's $13 Billion Shadow
(2 comments) If the public really understood how badly this bank's employees acted, consumers and investors might stop doing business with them. Banks don't commit fraud; bankers do. The fraud which led to this $13 billion settlement was committed by people -- real people, people whose identities were often known to investigators.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014     

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"Running as Democrats While Sounding Republican" -- Hey, What Could Go Wrong?
(4 comments) If choosing to echo Republican messaging becomes a common pattern among Democrats, voters would lose an essential feature of democracy: the ability to choose between two competing visions. The nation would be deprived of a debate on critical economic issues, and the future would become darker for everyone.

Saturday, August 9, 2014     

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How Big Is a $16 Billion Bank Fraud Settlement, Really?
(4 comments) Settlements do not require banks to provide principal relief for these underwater homeowners. They don't ask banks to return homes that they wrongfully took from their owners. They don't ask banks to forfeit every penny of earnings received through forgery or perjury. They don't even ask them to restore the credit ratings of defrauded customers.

Monday, August 4, 2014     

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As Congress Adjourns, GOP Declares "Omission Accomplished"
(1 comments) The shameful record of Congress is not an example of "government failure." It is a demonstration of what happens when people who are opposed to government, for reasons of both ideology and self-interest, are given positions of power within it and do not face a sufficiently eloquent and well-organized opposition.

Saturday, July 26, 2014     

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Chiding CEOs, At Walgreens & Other Corporate Defectors
(3 comments) Call it the "Inversion Evasion." Walgreens would become a "Swiss company" for tax avoidance purposes only. The combined corporation would do a small percentage of its business there. In all other respects, however, it would remain fully American -- headquartered here, making most of its profits here, and continuing to use its lobbying dollars and campaign money to distort the political process HERE.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014     

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7 Reasons Consumers Won't Love the $7 Billion Citigroup Deal
Apparently the fraud settlement was anything but a mortal blow for the bank, an entity created by the actions of both Democrats and Republicans in Washington. Citigroup was subsequently saved from collapse with a $45 billion emergency loan from the government, after participating in the crime wave that helped precipitate a financial crisis.

Thursday, July 10, 2014     

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The President Sounds a Wall Street Warning. And Then " ?
It was good to hear President Obama say that reining in Wall Street's high-risk behavior is an "unfinished piece of business." Let's hope the president is doing more than simply stating his awareness of these problems for posterity. If he genuinely wants to shine a light on some much-needed solutions, he should employ the old movie-business maxim: Show, don't tell.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014     

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Barack Obama, Wall Street Warrior?
The preamble to the Dodd Frank bill specifically mentions the profound economic threat of "too big to fail" banks. Much more needs to be done to address this critical problem, including a reinstatement of Glass-Steagall and a wind-down of banks which pose systemic threats. Let's hope the President is doing more than simply stating his awareness of these problems for posterity.

Sunday, July 6, 2014     

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Warren Brings Populism Down South. Is Hillary Paying Attention?
(18 comments) What should Democrats in Washington take away from Warren's visit to Kentucky? In addition to demonstrating that populism sells everywhere, it's also a clear sign that the discredited "Third Way" agenda of corporate Democrats -- an agenda that has dominated the national party for more than two decades -- doesn't sell.

Thursday, July 3, 2014     

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10 Mind-Bending Questions About the "Hobby Lobby" Decision
(3 comments) It is the Court which has arguably transgressed here, by declaring that a bloodless corporation is capable of belief. It has suggested that an economic and legal entity is capable of sharing in the profound and uniquely human phenomenon that is the spiritual experience. That notion could be described as disrespectful toward humanity.

Sunday, June 29, 2014     

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On the Economy, It's Been One Snafu After Another
(1 comments) This was the worst quarter for the GDP since the peak of the Great Recession five years ago. At this point American people might be forgiven for doubting the experts and leaders who should be counted on to make responsible decisions. "SNAFU" is an old military term that means "situation normal, all 'effed' up." That's been the state of play in economic policy for some time now.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014     

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A Secret Plan to Close Social Security's Offices and Outsource Its Work
(15 comments) The fact that neither the SSA, the administration, nor the president himself are publicly fighting these brutal cuts is a betrayal of Social Security's promise. That betrayal is made even more acute by the fact that cuts to Social Security's administrative budgets do not help the deficit in any way, since the SSA is fully funded from Social Security's revenues.

Saturday, June 21, 2014     

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The "Double Irish With a Dutch Sandwich" Corporate Tax-Dodge Crisis
(1 comments) When these companies use American resources to become American success stories, and then refuse to pay American taxes, that's unfair. It may not be illegal -- at least, not after their highly-priced lobbyists game the system for them on the front end while equally high-priced lawyers cover their rear ends. But it's wrong just the same.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014     

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What Democrats Can Learn from Cantor's Loss
(1 comments) Brat's candidacy doesn't belong in the standard tea-party basket. Cantor more closely fit this mold, with his fiery tea party-like rhetoric belying the fact that he was very much part of the Beltway elite, a Republican apparatchik, and a friend of the corporate class. We need a real debate about how to break the corporate stranglehold on politics and the economy.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014     

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Unions 2.0? Trumka on Austerity, Elizabeth Warren, and Progressives
(1 comments) The labor movement must transform itself to meet the changing circumstances the 21st century. Its future will depend on the imagination and accessibility of its current leaders, as well as its ability to develop the leaders of the future. At a time when we face catastrophic and potentially irreversible changes in everything from wealth inequality to climate change, there will be many more questions to come.

Monday, June 9, 2014     

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The Koching of America -- and of PBS: Tia Lessin of "Citizen Koch"
After decades of seeing it attacked by the right wing, most Americans probably consider PBS a bastion of liberal thought -- that is, if they think about it at all. The truth is that years of funding cuts have led to an increasing reliance on billionaires and their foundations. The Public Broadcasting System isn't really public anymore -- at least, not to the extent it once was.

Monday, June 2, 2014     

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The Real Piketty Scandal (Is Right-Wing Deception)
To distort the facts or make false accusations is to poison that marketplace with tainted goods. When conservatives do it as a matter of routine -- on economics, climate change and so many other issues -- it also sends the subliminal message that they don't believe they can win an argument on its merits.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014     

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Making The "New Populism" A Reality: Lessons From The Conference
(2 comments) Profound social change -- whether in the agrarian economy of the 1900s, the growth of labor rights, civil rights, women's rights, or in other transformative historical moments -- has always begun with a popular movement. "Politicians see the light when they feel the heat," as Rep. Ellison said.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014     

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Did Washington Rescue the Wrong Economy?
Timothy Geithner's recent public statements got the bailout exactly backwards. Geithner has argued that rescuing homeowners who were left underwater after the 2008 financial crisis wasn't worth the effort, and that rescuing the banking system was our most urgent priority.

Saturday, May 17, 2014     

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What Does Hillary Believe? Populists Want to Know
(4 comments) It seems clear that President Clinton is characterizing populism -- and the majority's will -- as violent, irrational, and insatiable. It's reasonable to ask whether that viewpoint is shared by the Democratic Party's presumptive presidential nominee. These comments suggest that Bill Clinton perceives a state of war between two classes -- and that he's chosen his side.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014     

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Look Out, Wall Street, the New Populism Is Coming
(21 comments) The public's mood, despite years of attempts by most Republicans and many Democrats to placate them, is distinctly populist. And much of that populist sentiment is directed toward the financial institutions which have so badly damaged our economy.

Friday, May 9, 2014     

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Bill de Blasio Knows: Affordable Housing is a Civil Right
What happens if this plan isn't carried out? Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn will increasingly become white, wealthy enclaves. ederal officials should be working to replicate it in cities and towns all across the country. Without fair and affordable housing in the heart of our urban centers, we can never become the egalitarian and democratic society that should be our destiny and our legacy.

Saturday, April 26, 2014     

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So You've Read (or Read About) Piketty. Now What?
(4 comments) "Capital" offers activists, analysts and lawmakers a new pair of glasses with which to view our economic landscape. If some of that landscape already looks familiar, that's to be expected. And even when we choose to plot a slightly different course than the one Piketty recommends, he has provided a valuable service. Where we go from here is up to us.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014     

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Invisible Social Security Cuts: Now You See Them, Now You Don't
(2 comments) Congress has cut 14 out of the last 16 SSA budget requests. There's only one rational explanation for that: a hostility toward government itself, combined with the determination to place more public resources in corporate hands through "privatization." It's a simple game. Slash funding for well-run government programs, then use the resulting chaos as "evidence" that "government isn't the solution, it's the problem."

Monday, April 7, 2014     

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Is Charles Koch "Un-American"? Let Thomas Jefferson Decide
(5 comments) What Koch calls "character assassination," others would describe as a simple recounting of the facts. Koch and his brother David are known for injecting massive amounts of their (partially inherited) wealth into the political process, academia, and propaganda in order to promote their right-wing (and self-serving) point of view.

Friday, April 4, 2014     

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McCutcheon, the Majority, and the Challenge of Our Time
One compelling way to look at the Supreme Court's McCutcheon ruling is by contrasting its immediate and long-term effects with the American people's aspirations for their government. They are at cross purposes. Even before this ruling, 64 percent of those polled believed that our country's economic rules unfairly favor the rich. This ruling will rig the game even further.

Saturday, March 29, 2014     

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Bill Clinton and Steny Hoyer: The "Wall Street Democrats" Fight Back
(2 comments) There's a struggle underway over the future of the Democratic Party. The populist movement has scored some significant recent wins, including the electoral victories of Sen. Elizabeth Warren and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. Its ideas resonate with the public. But the remarks from Clinton and Hoyer demonstrate that the party's Wall Street wing is still riding tall in the saddle despite its discredited ideas.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014     

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The Cost of Empire, in Ukraine and at Home
Long-term unemployment remains at crisis levels. Wage stagnation is strangling the middle class, and debate over minimum-wage legislation is also being sidelined for this imperial posturing. We urgently need a national debate about economic policy. Instead we're treated to endless empty tirades from the likes of Lindsay Graham and John McCain in the Senate, and from Sarah Palin and her ilk in the media circus.

Sunday, March 23, 2014     

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Bernie Madoff Sounds a Lot Like These Angry Billionaires
(1 comments) Some of the most powerful and wealthy people in America are feeling persecuted. The Langone/Perkins crowd is powerful, angry, afraid and unrepentant. That doesn't bode well -- for them or anyone else. Many of these angry billionaires have earned their wealth through intelligence and hard work. They've also been lucky, and have been aided by the society whose citizens they now castigate in the harshest terms.

Friday, February 28, 2014     

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Has the Left Surrendered? The Overdue Conversation We Need
(84 comments) For too long, the American left has identified so deeply with their rulers that they deny themselves the permission to work toward, or even to dream about, a better future for themselves. It needs to unleash its own imagination and courage. It must broaden its vision of what is possible so that it can break the bonds of impossibility.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014     

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The President Says the "Era of Austerity" Is Over -- Is It?
(1 comments) Obama declared inequality "the defining moral challenge of our time." Early reports about the White House budget show no signs of such broad moral sweep or scope. The language is bold. But, the proposals don't match up. It's one thing to proclaim the "end of the era of austerity." It's another to explain precisely what that era was, why it came into being, and what we've learned from its tragic failures.

Saturday, February 8, 2014     

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Reagan Remembered: The Failed Legacy of Our First Corporate Politician
(1 comments) Reagan, who would mock "special interests" in his first inaugural speech, then became a spokesperson for one of the most powerful of them -- doctors. He deployed scare tactics, hard-right imagery and merciless Red-baiting in a failed attempt to defeat Medicare. That program, along with Social Security, is one of the most successful and popular government programs in American history.

Thursday, January 30, 2014     

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On Wall Street, Sounds of Silence From the President
(1 comments) The president didn't mention the enormous fines and settlements banks have paid in the past year as the result of the fraudulent behavior. Leaving aside the issue of whether those payments were sufficient, one would think the president might have touted them -- if only as a modest first step. But they weren't mentioned. Even JPMorgan Chase's record payouts for fraud -- $20 billion in a single year -- went unremarked.

Sunday, January 26, 2014     

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Crime Doesn't Pay? JPMorgan Chase Begs to Differ
(7 comments) Stock prices are based on expectation. As Dimon made it clear he could negotiate cheaper settlements with the government than expected -- that is, settlements that were less fair toward the banks victims -- the stock market rewarded him for his ability to manipulate the political and regulatory system on behalf of his own fraudulent bank.

Friday, January 24, 2014     

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They're Fast-Tracking the Future, TPP Style -- But We Can Stop Them
The "TPP," or Trans-Pacific Partnership, is our nation's newest proposed trade deal. It was negotiated without democratic input, and they're trying to ram it through Congress the same way. Like NAFTA before it, the TPP would kill jobs. It would also cause lasting harm to democracy, here in the United States and around the world.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014     

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How Wall Street Won the War (And What Happens Next)
(1 comments) The Republican Party is still a wholly owned subsidiary of Wall Street, the kind of place where a GOP Banking Committee chair feels free to say that "Washington and the regulators are there to serve the banks." Too many Democrats are also eager to play along, too. That's how "bipartisan" deregulation gets passed -- and how bankers escape indictment.

Saturday, January 18, 2014     

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For the GOP, an Abyss Instead of Ideas
(13 comments) The Republican Party may not have an ideology anymore, but it still has an agenda: the continued enrichment of the corporations and billionaires that finance it, at the expense of everyone else. Democrats would be wise to stop celebrating the deals they strike with these folks, at least until they explain the absurd things they were forced to do to get those deals.

Friday, January 10, 2014     

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Chris Christie Is the True Face of the Republican Party
(3 comments) The GOP's culture is shockingly insensitive to the human consequences of its actions. George W. Bush "joked" about not finding weapons of mass destruction after hundreds of thousands of people died under false pretenses in Iraq. Christie joked that he was no longer in the "traffic study" business. "I am not a bully" -- Pure Nixon. Grandiosity, paired with a refusal to accept responsibility -- Pure Cheney.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014     

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The War on Poverty is Our Moral Challenge Now
(1 comments) The War on Poverty isn't an isolated struggle. Even as we've made progress against poverty, we've fallen back on other fronts. Employment, especially long-term unemployment, is at record highs for the modern era. Higher education is increasingly expensive. We are living in an increasingly inequitable economy. Each of these developments makes it more difficult to fight our war against poverty.

Monday, January 6, 2014     

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The Generations Should Fight Their Retirement Battles Together
The generational war is a hoax. In this global economy the fight for retirement security should unite us, not divide us, across barriers of age and race. The generations share a common agenda: for job creation, stronger Social Security, and economic equality; and against job-killing and wage-suppressing trade deals, usurious debt, and runaway banks.

Saturday, January 4, 2014     

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"Jobs or Inequality"? That's No Choice at All
(6 comments) Inequality is the result of economic forces such as increased financial speculation, financialization of economic profits, deregulation, trade policy, tax breaks, and other government policies which favor the wealthy and corporate interests. These forces have also led to today's high levels of unemployment and poverty.

Monday, December 30, 2013     

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Social Security: The Social Contract's Comeback Year?
(3 comments) Why is Social Security such a target? A number of government programs embody our social contract. Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, food assistance -- each reflects the vision of a society which recognizes that its shared interests are reflected in the safety and well-being of each of its members. But perhaps no program in this country reflects the social contract more clearly than Social Security.

Thursday, December 26, 2013     

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What America Would Look Like If Libertarians Got Their Way
(51 comments) You've heard it from Sen. Rand Paul and other conservatives this winter: unemployment benefits increase unemployment. It's an enormously destructive idea, though absurd on its face. It's like the argument that hospitals create sick people; after all, there are so many of them there. We usually consider such thinking "primitive" in modern societies.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013     

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2014 Will Be The Year of "Economic Populism." Then What?
(8 comments) There will come a time when the American people demand, not just discussion and research, but solutions. What happens in today's debates could determine whether or not voters are able to vote for policies which represent their interests, in 2014 and the election years which follow.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013     

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Third Way's Anti-Populist, Anti-Warren and Deceptive "Dead End"
The predations of Wall Street banking firms -- many of whom provide funding for Third Way and sit on its board -- crashed the economy in 2008, throwing millions of people out of work and leaving millions more underemployed. Jobless people don't contribute to Social Security, and underemployed people contribute less than they normally would.

Monday, December 2, 2013     

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"Thinking Globally, Acting Locally" In the Minimum Wage Fight
(1 comments) The minimum wage struggle is occurring at the intersection of powerful forces. It's taking place at a time of growing economic inequality, the erosion of working people's rights, and the globalization of an economic oligarchy whose scope of power is unprecedented in modern times.

Thursday, November 28, 2013     

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A Walmart Thanksgiving, by Charles Dickens
"A pretty high energy day" for employees. That's how a Walmart executive described Thanksgiving after the corporation announced that this year's "Black Friday" would begin on Thursday evening, leaving many of its workers unable to spend the holiday with family or friends.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013     

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10 Things We Learned (or Re-Learned) In Chase's Latest Fraud Deal
(1 comments) If you steal something and don't have to give it back when you're caught, you'll keep right on stealing. It's called "deterrence" in professional circles. Speaking of deterrence: Until a senior bank executive goes to prison, as more than 800 did after the much smaller savings and loan scandal, things aren't likely to change very much -- at JPMorgan Chase or any other big bank.

Monday, November 18, 2013     

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For Democrats, a Tax-the-Rich Road to Victory
(4 comments) The conclusion is inescapable: if Democrats make this budget battle a fight over who has the smartest spending cuts, they're fighting on the Republicans' turf. That will weaken them as they enter the 2014 campaigns. But if they make this a fight over taxes and jobs, that's a fight they can win.

Friday, November 15, 2013     

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The Hearing: Reality, Delusion, and the Federal Reserve
The Federal Reserve was created by the American people. It should serve their interests, not those of the bankers it regulates. Yellen, a mainstream economist, isn't likely to transform it into the central bank our nation needs. Janet Yellen will be a good Chair for today's Federal Reserve. But the Federal Reserve needs to change.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013     

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Something's Happening Here: The Minimum-Wage Wave
(1 comments) Fast food corporations are increasing their profits by refusing to pay their workers a living wage. And taxpayers are subsidizing their profits, along with the misery of their workers, to the tune of billions of dollars a year nationwide. Voters understand this. Where is the political party organizing around this issue? If none can be found, isn't it time to support the workers' movement which is organizing around it?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013     

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The Shamelessness of Bankers
(1 comments) How can legal safeguards be maintained when the money these institutions spend taints the political process from beginning to end? How can bank executives learn "respect for law, regulation and the public trust" when they are subject to the flattery of journalists, rather than the scrutiny of journalists?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013     

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Beware: Huge Media Companies Are Selling Corporate Ideology as the "New American Center"
(8 comments) The Esquire/NBC News poll shows that 42% of respondents said they agreed with the statement that "financial reform should only be used to curb abuses, and shouldn't interfere with banks' and investors' ability to make profits." Esquire's editors say that journalists and advisers "better be substantive" and "leave their hobbyhorses at home." This study fails on both counts. If a "bleeding heart" won't tell you, who will?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013     

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Debunking the Spin: Voters Want Change, Not "Centrism"
(1 comments) The Republican Party is, not to put too fine a point on it, going insane. That's an opportunity for Democrats. Will their party run with an uninspiring and unpopular "centrist" agenda, and pray that their opponents will always be as incompetent as Cuccinelli? Or will they build an agenda for the future, based on the world -- and the electorate?

Friday, November 1, 2013     

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Confirm Mel Watt Now
The Senate's role in presidential nominations is usually described as "advise and consent," not "obstruct and prevent." Republicans are afraid that Rep. Watt might "take more aggressive steps to help the housing market, such as reducing principal on mortgages." That would cut into Wall Street's profits. As the old saying goes: Follow the money.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013     

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A Four-Point "Scorecard" for the Budget Talks
The House-Senate budget negotiations, scheduled to begin on Wednesday, are an opportunity for our leaders to finally have a meaningful discussion about healing our damaged economy. That's the discussion Washington should have been having all along, but which it hasn't had yet.

Sunday, October 27, 2013     

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7 Reasons to Take 7 Seconds to Save Social Security and Medicare
The president's latest budget does include cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security: the chained CPI benefit cuts; $57 billion in increased out-of-pocket contributions from Medicare enrollees; $306 billion in reduced Medicare provider reimbursements; and $19 billion in Medicaid cuts. No wonder Republicans see entitlement cuts as the "smarter spending cuts" to help forge common ground with Democratic negotiating partners.

Saturday, October 26, 2013     

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If the ACA Rollout Seems Rough, Wait Until the Right "Reforms" Medicare
(1 comments) Be careful, Republicans! Every critique you offer against the ACA rollout is a damning indictment of your own vision for privatizing Social Security and Medicare. Whether you want to call the customer service line at your private health insurer, or are eager to slam the healthcare.gov website, our advice to you is the same: Don't go there.

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