Tag Archives: Middle class

The Reagan Legacy

7 Dec

Here is 30 years’ worth of Reaganomics / Trickle-Down Economics / Supply-Side Economics / Voodoo Economics in one chart: 

And another, for good measure: 

 

The wealth. It didn’t trickle down. Let’s revive the middle class. End the experiment. 

Clarence Revote Budget : Tip of the Iceberg

19 Jun

tumblr_mdsy9hESN61qg4knbClarence overwhelmingly passed its revote budget last night. So did most other revote budget districts – Bemus Point passed its original, above-cap budget, but Wilson will be finding out about austerity next year. 

In Clarence, 5,358 voted – less than May 21st’s record, but about double what the town usually sees for school vote turnout. On May 21st, 8,232 people voted, and the results were No: 4,801 Yes: 3,431

Last night, we had 3,541 yes votes and 1,817 voted no. That means we gained about 100 yes votes, and the no votes stayed home in droves. To the extent that the formerly warring factions came together last week to urge, in unison, a “yes” vote on this revote budget, we didn’t get a lot more “yes”, but at least the “no” weren’t energized enough to make the trip anymore. 

A quality education is something to which every child is entitled (yes, entitled). There is a concerted effort underway in this country to dismantle the very things that helped lurch us from a frontier backwater into the superpower we are today. There is an organized and well-funded movement to fight a war on the middle class, protecting and comforting the very rich while punishing the poor and destroying the middle class that built this country.

On June 6th, serial entrepreneur Nick Hanauer testified before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs. (Website here) I think that what he said is a fundamental truth that helps inform why providing equal opportunity for America’s middle class families to thrive, excel, and do better each day as compared to the last. 

For 30 years, Americans on the right and left have accepted a particular explanation for the origins of Prosperity in capitalist economies. It is that rich business people like me are “Job Creators.” That if taxes go up on us or our companies, we will create fewer jobs. And that the lower our taxes are, the more jobs we will create and the more general prosperity we’ ll have. Continue reading

We Are the Job Creators

17 May

A lot of what I learned as a political science major in the late 1980s is now obsolete – with a particular interest in Eastern European studies, all of my textbooks became woefully outdated between August and December 1989.  

But among my studies of why Weimar failed and analyses of Milovan Djilas’ New Class, I also recall that the American struggle for independence, the Civil War, and the European upheaval of 1848 were “bourgeois revolutions” and direct or indirect offspring of the Enlightenment.  A phrase that gets thrown about quite frequently in contemporary American politics is “class warfare”, but that’s absolute nonsense. The United States doesn’t have anywhere near the class conflict of, say, the UK. After all, we banned nobility and titles. 

The irony, of course, is that the notion of class struggle being a political struggle is an inherently Marxist concept. So, welcome to Marxism, Republicans!

These bourgeois revolutions generally replaced nobility and power-through-hereditary-entitlement with the rule of law and representative democracy. Some worked, others didn’t.  But in the United States, at least, the post-Civil-War 14th Amendment paved the way for the society we have today. But our national priorities and policies since the early 1980s have uniformly helped the very rich and harmed the middle class and working class. Unions are weaker, your purchasing power is stagnant, your earnings have stayed about the same.  Average Americans’ savings have declined, debt is up, trickle-down is a myth, and wealth has become ever-more concentrated, rather than spread around widely. 

So, as part of its “Ideas Worth Spreading”, the TED series of talks invited Seattle venture capitalist Nick Hanauer to speak on March 1 at the “TED University conference”.  Hanauer’s topic was income inequality, and he argued that it was the middle class, and not wealthy entrepreneurs who are the true “job creators”.  TED, however, won’t release video of the speech. Too political. Too controversial. So, here it is

It is astounding how significantly one idea can shape a society and its policies.  Consider this one.

If taxes on the rich go up, job creation will go down.  

This idea is an article of faith for republicans and seldom challenged by democrats and has shaped much of today’s economic landscape.

But sometimes the ideas that we know to be true are dead wrong. For thousands of years people were sure that earth was at the center of the universe.  It’s not, and an astronomer who still believed that it was, would do some lousy astronomy.  

In the same way, a policy maker who believed that the rich and businesses are “job creators” and therefore should not be taxed, would make equally bad policy.  

I have started or helped start, dozens of businesses and initially hired lots of people. But if no one could have afforded to buy what we had to sell, my businesses would all have failed and all those jobs would have evaporated.

That’s why I can say with confidence that rich people don’t create jobs, nor do businesses, large or small. What does lead to more employment is a “circle of life” like feedback loop between customers and businesses. And only consumers can set in motion this virtuous cycle of increasing demand and hiring. In this sense, an ordinary middle-class consumer is far more of a job creator than a capitalist like me. 

Continue reading

Propaganda Minister Luntz

2 Dec

Republican Minister of Propaganda, Frank Luntz, is advising his underlings in the party, and its official organ, <<Fox News>> to modify the language they use in discussing the #Occupy movement. The reason? The Republicans’ unifying theme: fear.

“I’m so scared of this anti-Wall Street effort. I’m frightened to death,” said Frank Luntz, a Republican strategist and one of the nation’s foremost experts on crafting the perfect political message. “They’re having an impact on what the American people think of capitalism.”

Luntz, of course, is being too clever with that. #Occupy isn’t opposed to capitalism; it’s opposed to a crony capitalism that’s arisen in this country thanks to the ultra-rich, their Washington lobbyists, and compliant, greedy pols. From Luntz’s drecking points memo:

1. Don’t say ‘capitalism.’

“I’m trying to get that word removed and we’re replacing it with either ‘economic freedom’ or ‘free market,’ ” Luntz said. “The public . . . still prefers capitalism to socialism, but they think capitalism is immoral. And if we’re seen as defenders of quote, Wall Street, end quote, we’ve got a problem.”

Interesting that, for all of their loud attacks against Obama’s brand of Kenyan socialism, the Republican pollster’s focus groups thinks capitalism is “immoral”.

2. Don’t say that the government ‘taxes the rich.’ Instead, tell them that the government ‘takes from the rich.’

“If you talk about raising taxes on the rich,” the public responds favorably, Luntz cautioned. But  “if you talk about government taking the money from hardworking Americans, the public says no.Taxing, the public will say yes.”

Government takes money from everybody.  It’s the price we pay for a civilized, Western, First-World society.

3. Republicans should forget about winning the battle over the ‘middle class.’ Call them ‘hardworking taxpayers.’

“They cannot win if the fight is on hardworking taxpayers. We can say we defend the ‘middle class’ and the public will say, I’m not sure about that. But defending ‘hardworking taxpayers’ and Republicans have the advantage.”

And with that, the Republicans acknowledge that they have abandoned the middle class altogether. It’s as if the United States wasn’t the embodiment of the oldest and most established anti-feudal bourgeois revolution(s) in history. (Plural because I’m including the Civil War as the second American bourgeois revolution).

4. Don’t talk about ‘jobs.’ Talk about ‘careers.’

“Everyone in this room talks about ‘jobs,'” Luntz said. “Watch this.”

He then asked everyone to raise their hand if they want a “job.” Few hands went up. Then he asked who wants a “career.” Almost every hand was raised.

“So why are we talking about jobs?”

Because you can’t have a career if you don’t have a job, and right now we have a jobs crisis. Mass layoffs and slow hiring lead to an unemployment malaise and record corporate profits. When those companies start realizing that unemployed people can’t buy their tchotchkes, they’ll find themselves in quite a pickle. The economy trickles up, not down.

5. Don’t say ‘government spending.’ Call it ‘waste.’

“It’s not about ‘government spending.’ It’s about ‘waste.’ That’s what makes people angry.”

Is it waste when those “Me Generation” boomers start whining about the government keeping its grubby hands off their Medicare?

6. Don’t ever say you’re willing to ‘compromise.’

“If you talk about ‘compromise,’ they’ll say you’re selling out. Your side doesn’t want you to ‘compromise.’ What you use in that to replace it with is ‘cooperation.’ It means the same thing. But cooperation means you stick to your principles but still get the job done. Compromise says that you’re selling out those principles.”

Of course not! The Republicans have shown us over the last 2 years that compromise is anathema to them. Why would we have two two-party deliberative legislatures if the Founding Fathers expected there to be “compromise”? That’s un-American treason, for God’s sake!

7. The three most important words you can say to an Occupier: ‘I get it.’

“First off, here are three words for you all: ‘I get it.’ . . . ‘I get that you’re angry. I get that you’ve seen inequality. I get that you want to fix the system.”

Then, he instructed, offer Republican solutions to the problem.

That’s what my tween girl says to me when she gets mouthy after getting in trouble. It sounds condescending and rude. Sort of like the contemporary Republican Party.

8. Out: ‘Entrepreneur.’ In: ‘Job creator.’

Use the phrases “small business owners” and “job creators” instead of “entrepreneurs” and “innovators.”

Entrepreneur is a French word. France is communist and permissive.

9. Don’t ever ask anyone to ‘sacrifice.’

“There isn’t an American today in November of 2011 who doesn’t think they’ve already sacrificed. If you tell them you want them to ‘sacrifice,’ they’re going to be be pretty angry at you. You talk about how ‘we’re all in this together.’ We either succeed together or we fail together.”

I don’t know how this jibes with the Republicans going out of their way to screw the middle class, “hardworking Americans of less means than Trump” but I’m sure they have it figured out.

10. Always blame Washington.

Tell them, “You shouldn’t be occupying Wall Street, you should be occupying Washington. You should occupy the White House because it’s the policies over the past few years that have created this problem.”

Actually, no. It’s the policies that have been bought off through lobbying by the wealthy that have created this problem. If Washington had balls, a moral compass, discipline, and a true desire to fix problems rather than just win elections, this would be moot. The solution isn’t to occupy the White House; the solution is to get money out of politics. Want to blame Washington? Blame the Supreme Court.

BONUS:

Don’t say ‘bonus!’

Luntz advised that if they give their employees an income boost during the holiday season, they should never refer to it as a “bonus.” 

“If you give out a bonus at a time of financial hardship, you’re going to make people angry. It’s ‘pay for performance.'”

Semantic newspeak. “Orwellian” doesn’t begin to describe the Luntz-Fox axis.

Class Warfare

2 Dec

Here’s a Presidential follow-up to this post from earlier this week. Sure, there’s class warfare going on, but it’s being waged by the Republican Party against the American wage-earning middle class.

Statement by the President

Tonight, Senate Republicans chose to raise taxes on nearly 160 million hardworking Americans because they refused to ask a few hundred thousand millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share.  They voted against a bill that would have not only extended the $1,000 tax cut for a typical family, but expanded that tax cut to put an extra $1,500 in their pockets next year, and given nearly six million small business owners new incentives to expand and hire.  That is unacceptable.  It makes absolutely no sense to raise taxes on the middle class at a time when so many are still trying to get back on their feet.

Now is not the time to put the economy and the security of the middle class at risk. Now is the time to rebuild an economy where hard work and responsibility pay off, and everybody has a chance to succeed.  Now is the time to put country before party and work together on behalf of the American people.  And I will continue to urge Congress to stop playing politics with the security of millions of American families and small business owners and get this done.

The Plutarchy

9 Aug

Note: This was published last Friday, and I think you should read it. It doesn’t matter what you think of Michael Moore or unions or Ronald Reagan – you should read it anyway, because it sets forth an argument that the Reaganist Republican war on the poor and middle class has succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest imagination. Whether you call it trickle-down, voodoo, or Reaganomics, the obliteration of America’s middle class to further enrich and empower the wealthiest Americans, being embroiled in military action throughout the Middle East, and Supreme Court jurisprudence that has all but banned restrictions on money in politics, is doing tremendous – but not irreperable – harm to America. 

The middle class is under siege, and those who dare to defend it are labeled as fringe leftists. 

I don’t know what the answer is to this. I don’t know how you begin to undo 30 years of what has become almost an economic religion, based more on faith than empirical fact. But Obama apparently isn’t the guy to fix it – how can he? If he does anything to the left of Reagan, he is accused of Marxism. 

Meanwhile, Canada has genuine universal health care, minimal foreign entanglements, a functioning parliamentary democracy, a functioning and regulated banking industry, a middle class that has certain rights and guarantees of benefits, family time, and vacation, and 7.6% unemployment. 

August 5th, 2011 3:00 PM

30 Years Ago Today: The Day the Middle Class Died

By Michael Moore

From time to time, someone under 30 will ask me, “When did this all begin, America’s downward slide?” They say they’ve heard of a time when working people could raise a family and send the kids to college on just one parent’s income (and that college in states like California and New York was almost free). That anyone who wanted a decent paying job could get one. That people only worked five days a week, eight hours a day, got the whole weekend off and had a paid vacation every summer. That many jobs were union jobs, from baggers at the grocery store to the guy painting your house, and this meant that no matter how “lowly” your job was you had guarantees of a pension, occasional raises, health insurance and someone to stick up for you if you were unfairly treated.

Young people have heard of this mythical time — but it was no myth, it was real. And when they ask, “When did this all end?”, I say, “It ended on this day: August 5th, 1981.”

Beginning on this date, 30 years ago, Big Business and the Right Wing decided to “go for it” — to see if they could actually destroy the middle class so that they could become richer themselves.

And they’ve succeeded.

On August 5, 1981, President Ronald Reagan fired every member of the air traffic controllers union (PATCO) who’d defied his order to return to work and declared their union illegal. They had been on strike for just two days.

It was a bold and brash move. No one had ever tried it. What made it even bolder was that PATCO was one of only three unions that had endorsed Reagan for president! It sent a shock wave through workers across the country. If he would do this to the people who were with him, what would he do to us?

Reagan had been backed by Wall Street in his run for the White House and they, along with right-wing Christians, wanted to restructure America and turn back the tide that President Franklin D. Roosevelt started — a tide that was intended to make life better for the average working person. The rich hated paying better wages and providing benefits. They hated paying taxes even more. And they despised unions. The right-wing Christians hated anything that sounded like socialism or holding out a helping hand to minorities or women.

Reagan promised to end all that. So when the air traffic controllers went on strike, he seized the moment. In getting rid of every single last one of them and outlawing their union, he sent a clear and strong message: The days of everyone having a comfortable middle class life were over. America, from now on, would be run this way:

* The super-rich will make more, much much more, and the rest of you will scramble for the crumbs that are left.

* Everyone must work! Mom, Dad, the teenagers in the house! Dad, you work a second job! Kids, here’s your latch-key! Your parents might be home in time to put you to bed.

* 50 million of you must go without health insurance! And health insurance companies: you go ahead and decide who you want to help — or not.

* Unions are evil! You will not belong to a union! You do not need an advocate! Shut up and get back to work! No, you can’t leave now, we’re not done. Your kids can make their own dinner.

* You want to go to college? No problem — just sign here and be in hock to a bank for the next 20 years!

* What’s “a raise”? Get back to work and shut up!

And so it went. But Reagan could not have pulled this off by himself in 1981. He had some big help:

The AFL-CIO.

The biggest organization of unions in America told its members to cross the picket lines of the air traffic controllers and go to work. And that’s just what these union members did. Union pilots, flight attendants, delivery truck drivers, baggage handlers — they all crossed the line and helped to break the strike. And union members of all stripes crossed the picket lines and continued to fly.

Reagan and Wall Street could not believe their eyes! Hundreds of thousands of working people and union members endorsing the firing of fellow union members. It was Christmas in August for Corporate America.

And that was the beginning of the end. Reagan and the Republicans knew they could get away with anything — and they did. They slashed taxes on the rich. They made it harder for you to start a union at your workplace. They eliminated safety regulations on the job. They ignored the monopoly laws and allowed thousands of companies to merge or be bought out and closed down. Corporations froze wages and threatened to move overseas if the workers didn’t accept lower pay and less benefits. And when the workers agreed to work for less, they moved the jobs overseas anyway.

And at every step along the way, the majority of Americans went along with this. There was little opposition or fight-back. The “masses” did not rise up and protect their jobs, their homes, their schools (which used to be the best in the world). They just accepted their fate and took the beating.

I have often wondered what would have happened had we all just stopped flying, period, back in 1981. What if all the unions had said to Reagan, “Give those controllers their jobs back or we’re shutting the country down!”? You know what would have happened. The corporate elite and their boy Reagan would have buckled.

But we didn’t do it. And so, bit by bit, piece by piece, in the ensuing 30 years, those in power have destroyed the middle class of our country and, in turn, have wrecked the future for our young people. Wages have remained stagnant for 30 years. Take a look at the statistics and you can see that every decline we’re now suffering with had its beginning in 1981 (here’s a little scene to illustrate that from my last movie).

It all began on this day, 30 years ago. One of the darkest days in American history. And we let it happen to us. Yes, they had the money, and the media and the cops. But we had 200 million of us. Ever wonder what it would look like if 200 million got truly upset and wanted their country, their life, their job, their weekend, their time with their kids back?

Have we all just given up? What are we waiting for? Forget about the 20% who support the Tea Party — we are the other 80%! This decline will only end when we demand it. And not through an online petition or a tweet. We are going to have to turn the TV and the computer and the video games off and get out in the streets (like they’ve done in Wisconsin). Some of you need to run for local office next year. We need to demand that the Democrats either get a spine and stop taking corporate money — or step aside.

When is enough, enough? The middle class dream will not just magically reappear. Wall Street’s plan is clear: America is to be a nation of Haves and Have Nothings. Is that OK for you?

Why not use today to pause and think about the little steps you can take to turn this around in your neighborhood, at your workplace, in your school? Is there any better day to start than today?

P.S. Here are a few places you can connect with to get the ball rolling:

Main Street Contract for America
Showdown in America
Democracy Convention
Occupy Wall Street
October 2011
How to Join a Union by the AFL-CIO (they’ve learned their lesson and have a good president now) or UE
Change to Win
MoveOn
High School Newspaper (Just because you’re under 18 doesn’t mean you can’t do anything!)

Facts About Why the Economy Sucks

17 Jun

In the late 18th century, we fought our bourgeois revolution against nobility and kingdom. I don’t know why we can’t reclaim that proud heritage, instead it’s like we’re going backwards.

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Unions Make The Middle Class

20 Apr

Why should anyone—especially those who are not union members—care that union membership is at record lows and likely to fall even further? Because if you care about the middle class, you need to care about unions.

 

Unions give workers a greater voice not only by promoting political participation among all Americans—ensuring that more of the middle class vote and get involved in politics—but also by being an advocate on behalf of the middle class in the daily, inner-workings of government and politics.

 

 

(This article was originally posted at the Center For American Progress Action Fund Website)

Critics of unions claim they are unimportant today or even harmful to the economy, but unions are essential for building a strong middle class. And rebuilding the middle class after decades of decline and stagnation is essential for restoring our economy.

Unions make the middle class strong by ensuring workers have a strong voice in both the market and in our democracy. When unions are strong they are able to ensure that workers are paid fair wages, receive the training they need to advance to the middle class, and are considered in corporate decision-making processes. Unions also promote political participation among all Americans, and help workers secure government policies that support the middle class, such as Social Security, family leave, and the minimum wage.

But as unions became weaker over the past four decades, they are less and less able to perform these functions—and the middle class withered. The percentage of workers in unions steadily declined largely because the legal and political environment prevents private-sector workers from freely exercising their right to join or not to join a union. Membership in private-sector unions stands at less than 7 percent today, from around 30 percent in the late 1960s. Public-sector unionization remained stable for decades—it was 37 percent in 1979 and is 36 percent today—but is now under significant threat from conservative political opposition and could start declining as well. All told, less than 12 percent of the total workforce is unionized, and this percentage is likely to continue falling.

Without the counterbalance of workers united together in unions, the middle class withers because the economy and politics tend to be dominated by the rich and powerful, which in turn leads to an even greater flow of money in our economy to the top of income scale. As can be seen in Figure 1, the percentage of unionized workers tracks very closely with the share of the nation’s income going to the middle class—those in the middle three-fifths of income earners.

In recent years, the middle class accounted for the smallest share of the nation’s income ever since the end of World War II, when this data was first collected. The middle three income quintiles, representing 60 percent of all Americans, received only 46 percent of the nation’s income in 2009, the most recent year data is available, down from highs of around 53 percent in 1969.

The middle class weakened over the past several decades because the rich secured the lion’s share of the economy’s gains. The share of pretax income earned by the richest 1 percent of Americans more than doubled between 1974 and 2007, climbing to 18 percent from 8 percent. And for the richest of the rich—the top 0.1 percent—the gains have been even more astronomical—quadrupling over this period, rising to 12.3 percent of all income from 2.7 percent.

In contrast, incomes for most Americans have been nearly flat over this same time period, and median income after accounting for inflation actually fell for working-age households during the supposedly good economy in the recovery between 2001 and 2007. The importance of unions to the middle class is not just a historical phenomenon, but is relevant to our lives today. To be sure, not everything unions do benefits the broad middle class, but unions are critical to defending the middle class, and their resurgence is key to rebuilding the middle class.

Indeed, it is hard to imagine a middle-class society without a strong union movement.

Across the globe, the countries with the strongest middle classes all have strong union movements. And in America today, states with higher concentrations of union members have a much stronger middle class. The 10 states with the lowest percentage of workers in unions all have a relatively weak middle class, with the share of total state income going to households in the middle three-fifths of income earners in these states below the average for all states.

Our analysis, more fully described in the body and appendix of this report, indicates that each percentage point increase in union membership puts about $153 more per year into the pockets of the middle class—meaning that if unionization rates increased by 10 percentage points (about the level they were in 1980)—then the typical middle class household would earn $1,532 more this year. This figure indicates how much better off all members of the middle class would be—not just those who are union members— if unions regained some strength. And these gains would continue year after year. To put these results in context, our analysis indicates that increasing union membership is as important to rebuilding the middle class as boosting college graduation rates, results that while shocking to some, are consistent with previous research.

In our democracy, when workers are joined together in unions they are able to more forcefully and effectively speak for their interests. Unions give workers a greater voice not only by promoting political participation among all Americans—ensuring that more of the middle class vote and get involved in politics—but also by being an advocate on behalf of the middle class in the daily, inner-workings of government and politics.

This provides a check on other powerful political interests, such as corporations and the very wealthy, and ensures that our system of government has the balance of interests that James Madison, a chief framer of our constitution, thought necessary to properly function. This counterbalancing role is essential for democracy to function properly and respond to the interests of all Americans.

In the workplace, workers who join together in unions are able to negotiate on more equal footing with their employers, providing a check on the inherently unequal relationship between employer and employee. As George Shultz, secretary of labor during the Nixon administration and secretary of state during the Reagan administration argued in support of trade unions, in “a healthy workplace, it is very important that there be some system of checks and balances.”

Indeed, the ability of workers united together to provide a check on corporate power was the very reason Congress guaranteed private-sector workers the right to join a union, writing in the findings section of the National Labor Relations Act of 1935:

The inequality of bargaining power between employees who do not possess full freedom of association or actual liberty of contract and employers who are organized in the corporate or other forms of ownership association substantially burdens and affects the flow of commerce, and tends to aggravate recurrent business depressions, by depressing wage rates and the purchasing power of wage earners in industry and by preventing the stabilization of competitive wage rates and working conditions within and between industries.

And government employers, like corporations, sometimes need to be reminded by organized workers to treat their employees fairly. That’s why Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. traveled to Memphis in 1968 to help city sanitation workers gain recognition for their union as they faced low pay, terrible working conditions, and racist supervisors. Even the conservative icon Ronald Reagan recognized that publicsector workers should be able to join unions and collectively bargain. Reagan signed a bill to grant municipal and county employees the right to do so when he was governor of California.

Critically, the benefits of workers having a voice in the economy and in democracy spill over to all of society. In these ways, unions make the middle class. The challenge of rebuilding the middle class will take a long time, but would be impossible without a clear understanding of what makes the middle class strong. This paper will explore in detail why we need to do this and how we need to go about it. To rebuild America’s middle class, we need to rebuild the labor movement. It’s that simple—and that challenging.

David Madland is the Director of the American Worker Project, Karla Walter is a Senior Policy Analyst, and Nick Bunker is a Special Assistant with the Economic Policy team at the Center for American Progress.

See also: Interactive Map: Stronger Unions Create a Stronger Middle Class by Nick Bunker and David Madland

Read the full report (pdf)

Download the introduction and summary (pdf)


Republicans v. Women, Immigrants, Middle Class, et al.

21 Feb

Over the past two years, the Democratic Party attempted, often fecklessly, to implement changes that would largely help strengthen and rebuild the middle class, while simultaneously inheriting an epic recession that came within a hair of becoming a full-fledged depression.  Even now, the economic recovery is limp; (i.e., we haven’t yet discovered which bubble comes next).

Over the last month or so, the Republican Party has instituted an all-out assault on abortion rights, contraception, health care, health insurance coverage, and is intent on rolling back even the modest achievements of the 111th Congress to ensure that their superrich benefactors are protected from any attempt to make the lives of the middle and lower classes better. The assault on reproductive rights is just the vicious icing on the malicious cake.

In Wisconsin, the Republican governor has decided that “teachers” and “nurses” are replaceable commodities, and that they ought not have the right to collectively fight for their rights as employees of the state. (No such attempt has been made to dilute the collective bargaining rules for police or fire employees).

Add some xenophobia to the mixture, and it’s almost intolerably toxic.

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I think the country has lost its mind, and it’s for this reason that even small victories – like winning NY-26 – are critically important to ensure that America works not just for millionaires and billionaires, but also for average working people.

A century ago, the world’s left was influenced by a long-winded, dull, wrongheaded, hypocritical Russian philosopher.  Now, it’s the American right.

(You may have noticed that comments are off. Feel free to email me your thoughts.)

Tax Cut Bill Brings Out The Best In Some Democrats

18 Dec

The Obama Tax Cut compromise-a-palooza bill was signed into law yesterday.  However, the weeks leading up to the passage of the bill were filled with passionate, full-throated defenses of the middle class from some very prominent Democrats on the floor of the house.  Most notably, the eight and a half hour floor speech given by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

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From his website:

At 10:24 a.m. on Friday, Sen. Bernie Sanders walked onto the floor of the U.S. Senate and asked to speak. More than eight and a half hours later, after speaking almost non-stop and never once leaving the floor or even sitting, the senator concluded his remarks in which he laid out why exactly he opposes the tax cut agreement between the White House and congressional Republicans.

“In my view, the agreement they reached is a bad deal for the American people. I think we can do better,” Sanders said. The senator discussed the greatness of the nation: “I know my father came to this country at the age of 17 without a penny in his pocket. He became the proudest American one could ever see. He didn’t have much of an education, but he knew this country gave him a great opportunity. That is the American story. That is what it is all about.”

“I think the American people are saying, with a $13.8 trillion national debt, let’s not give tax breaks to billionaires and drive up that national debt, forcing our kids to pay more in taxes, and at the same time have Republicans coming forward to start slashing Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security because of this large debt that we are making larger.”

About a week previous, Sanders had taken to the floor of the Senate to give another rousing speech about the middle cllass and the war between the haves and have-nots in America.  It was the most honest speech given on the floor of the United States Senate in years.  It is absolutely must-see internet TV.

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Sanders wasn’t the only Senator or Representative to take to the floor to defend the middle class and argue against benefits for billionaires, Rep. Louise Slaughter (D, NY-28) also took to the microphone to explain why she was voting “no” on the Obama tax bill.

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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) also voted “no” on the Obama tax cut bill.

“I’m opposing this deal in its current form because right now we need to focus on the middle class, who are always left behind, not the people at the very top, who are doing just fine in this economy.

“Although this deal includes important measures I have fiercely advocated for, extending Bush tax cuts for the very wealthy will saddle our children with billions of dollars of debt. With unemployment near 10 percent and a growing budget deficit, every dollar in this deal should be spent in a way that creates jobs and gets our economy growing, and tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires do not create jobs and will not help our economy grow. This kind of fiscal recklessness is bad for our economy and bad for future generations.”

There are still some liberal champions in the Congress.