Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

Oil Corporations Scheme to Export America’s Security

Oil Corporations Scheme to Export America’s Security
Cars wait in long lines during the gas shortage caused by the 1973 OPEC oil embargo. (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, U.S. News & World Report Magazine Photograph Collection, Warren K. Leffler)

Oil honchos and their legion of lobbyists petitioned Congress last week to pad corporate profits at the expense of American energy independence and national security.

And Republicans on a Senate committee voted to comply.

On the demand of oilmen, the committee agreed to end America’s 40-year ban on exporting crude. They did it because oil corporations think they can make a couple more bucks on each barrel by selling American crude on the international market.

Never mind that America doesn’t produce sufficient crude to meet its needs and still imports 44 percent of what is refined in the United States.  Never mind that exporting American crude makes the United States more dependent on belligerent Russia and hostile Arab nations. Never mind that complying with oil corporations’ demands for potentially higher profits hands oil-rich Middle Eastern countries additional power to crush the U.S. economy with another oil embargo. Instead, what was important to the GOP majority on this Senate committee was bowing and scraping before multinational oil corporations that pledge allegiance to no country.

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Workers In The Sharing Economy Need Shared Security

Isaiah J. Poole

Isaiah J. Poole Executive editor, OurFuture.org

I have a love-hate relationship with ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft.

I love the convenience and level of service that traditional taxis don’t offer. But I hate what they portend for the future of work with their rapidly expanding business model that pretends regular workers are franchisees.

For one thing, casting employees as entrepreneurs offloads risks, along with the security and benefits that a traditional job used to offer.

Workers toiling in the so-called sharing or “gig” economy get no paid vacation or sick leave, no company match for a 401(k) retirement plan, and no employer-paid health insurance. They may benefit from greater flexibility that they need for family obligations or even some fun, but these folks are missing out on big swaths of the safety net.

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How Big Corporations Cheat Public Education

Paul Buchheit

Paul Buchheit Author, editor, expert on income inequality

Corporations have reaped trillion-dollar benefits from 60 years of public education in the U.S., but they're skipping out on the taxes meant to sustain the educational system. Children suffer from repeated school cutbacks. And parents subsidize the deadbeat corporations through increases in property taxes and sales taxes.

Big Companies Pay about a Third of their Required State Taxes

An earlier report noted that 25 of our nation's largest corporations paid combined 2013 state taxes at a rate of 2.4%, a little over a third of the average required tax. Many of these companies play one state against another, holding their home states hostage for tax breaks under the threat of bolting to other states.

Without Corporate Taxes, K-12 Public Education Keeps Getting Cut

Overall spending on K-12 public school students fell in 2011 for the first time since the Census Bureau began keeping records over three decades ago. The cuts have continued to the present day, with the majority of states spending less per student than before the 2008 recession.

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Tobacco “Carve-Out” Dispute Tells Us What We Need To Know About TPP

Dave Johnson

Dave Johnson Fellow, Campaign for America's Future

Administration officials are desperately trying to wrap-up Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations in the next few days or so. If they can get it done right now, it enables a timeline for pushing it through Congress by the end of the year — before the public can rally opposition, and before the Presidential campaign season could bring heightened attention to the deal.

One key sticking point in the negotiations is a proposed “carve-out” to prevent tobacco companies from being able to sue governments and block anti-smoking regulations. The tobacco companies are trying to block this carve-out because it “sets a bad precedent” of allowing governments to protect their citizens.

This sounds astonishing, but it’s for real. Read on.

Corporate Courts Let Corporations Sue Governments And Block Laws And Regulations That Protect Citizens

“NAFTA-style” “trade” agreements contain Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions that allow corporations to sue governments for passing laws and making regulations that might limit their expected profits. This includes environmental, health, consumer and other laws and regulations.

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How Goldman Sachs Profited from the Greek Debt Crisis

Robert Reich

Robert Reich Former U.S. Secretary of Labor, Professor at Berkeley

How Goldman Sachs Profited from the Greek Debt Crisis

The Greek debt crisis offers another illustration of Wall Street’s powers of persuasion and predation, although the Street is missing from most accounts.

The crisis was exacerbated years ago by a deal with Goldman Sachs, engineered by Goldman’s current CEO, Lloyd Blankfein.

Blankfein and his Goldman team helped Greece hide the true extent of its debt, and in the process almost doubled it. And just as with the American subprime crisis, and the current plight of many American cities, Wall Street’s predatory lending played an important although little-recognized role.

In 2001, Greece was looking for ways to disguise its mounting financial troubles. The Maastricht Treaty required all eurozone member states to show improvement in their public finances, but Greece was heading in the wrong direction.

Then Goldman Sachs came to the rescue, arranging a secret loan of 2.8 billion euros for Greece, disguised as an off-the-books “cross-currency swap”—a complicated transaction in which Greece’s foreign-currency debt was converted into a domestic-currency obligation using a fictitious market exchange rate.

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Don’t Be Part of the Problem

Don’t Be Part of the Problem

Union Matters

Addressing the Elephant, or Pig, in the Room

Piggyback rides may be a positive nugget of nostalgia from childhood recalled upon fondly, or perhaps a form of transportation one utilizes on a drunken walk home from a trip to the bar with friends. In the current political climate, however, they represent a completely different, yet equally childish, act.

Piggyback legislation, or “riders,” take the form of an amendment or group of amendments attached to must-pass legislation. The piggyback greases passage of unpopular measures – measures that would not pass if they were forced to stand on their own.

 

For example, Republicans tried, once again, to piggyback the repeal of Obamacare onto a highway infrastructure bill last week. Since the health care law was passed in 2010, the Senate has voted about three dozen times to completely repeal it or at least defund parts of it, all by attaching those measures  to other bills.

This is an entirely legal act Congress uses while saying it is the only way to get things done.  In reality, they’re using it as a weapon.

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