Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

Not So Fast, Congress

Not So Fast, Congress

Instead of the plodding turtle he's normally satirized as, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is all cat-on-a-hot-tin-roof about Trade Promotion Authority, better known as Fast Track.

He said as Congress convened this month that he wants to fast track Fast Track. He intends to ’git ’er done so fast no one notices that with it, Republicans will provide, as McConnell put it, “an enormous grant of power. . .to a Democratic President.”

Fast Track is nothing more than Congress pulling a fast one on the American people. It’s a plan for lawmakers to abdicate their Constitutional responsibility to regulate international trade. With Fast Track, Congress shirks its duty to subject trade deals to lengthy line-by-line scrutiny, fulsome public hearings and amendment.

While gratifying Wall Street and multinational corporations, past Fast-Tracked trade deals have battered American workers as factories fled off shore, wages stagnated and layoffs multiplied. Fast Track is an outmoded strategy for indolent politicians. Workers in the 21st Century deserve in-depth deliberation over trade proposals to ensure jobs, the environment, food safety and national sovereignty are protected. Mitch needs to back track on Fast Track. 

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The New Compassionate Conservatism and Trickle-Down Economics

Robert Reich

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

The New Compassionate Conservatism and Trickle-Down Economics

Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney are zeroing in on inequality as America's fundamental economic problem.

Bush's new Political Action Committee, called "The Right to Rise," declares "the income gap is real" but that "only conservative principles can solve it."

Mitt Romney likewise promised last week that if he runs for president he'll change the strategy that led to his 2012 loss to President Obama (remember the "makers" versus the "takers?") and focus instead on income inequality, poverty, and "opportunity for all people."

The Republican establishment's leading presidential hopefuls know the current upbeat economy isn't trickling down to most Americans.

But they've got a whopping credibility problem, starting with trickle-down economics.

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Democrats Take on Wall Street With Financial Transactions Tax

Dean Baker

Dean Baker Co-Director, Author, Center for Economic and Policy Research

Democrats Take on Wall Street With Financial Transactions Tax

The House Democratic Party leadership made a remarkable step forward last week in putting out a proposal for a financial transactions tax (FTT). The proposal is part of a larger package which includes a substantial tax credit for workers, and also a limit on the tax deductibility of high CEO pay, but the FTT portion is the most remarkable.

There has long been interest in financial transactions taxes among progressive Democrats. The list of people who have proposed financial transactions taxes over the years includes Representatives Peter DeFazio and Keith Ellison, along with Senators Tom Harkin and Bernie Sanders.

But the proposal last week came from Representative Chris Van Hollen, who is part of the party's leadership. And Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi indicated that she also supports the proposal. This means that financial transactions taxes are now part of the national debate on tax and financial policy.

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New York Governor Calls For Major Minimum Wage Hike

Kiley Kroh

Kiley Kroh

On Sunday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) unveiled several new proposals, including a call to raise the minimum wage to $11.50 an hour in the city and $10.50 an hour for workers in the rest of the state.

“It’s too easy to say, ‘Get a job,’ ” Cuomo said during a press conference in Manhattan. “You need to get a job, which means you need to have the training and the skills to get the job, which means the job has to exist, and when you get the job, it means the job has to pay enough so you can pay for rent and you can pay for food and it is a sustainable wage.”

The minimum wage in New York is currently $8.75 an hour, boosted from $7.25 in 2013, and is set to reach $9 an hour by 2016. Cuomo, noting that “the wage gap has continued to increase,” proposed that the $10.50 and $11.50 minimum wages go into effect at the end of 2016.

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The Truth Spoken by a Comedian

The Truth Spoken by a Comedian

Union Matters

ALEC, Meet SiX

After the recent midterm elections, Politico reported on what it dubbed an ALEC-killer.

According to Nick Rathod, a Democratic operative, Progressives are looking around to figure out where to go to push back, and there has not been a vehicle to do that at the state level…. 

For that reason, Rathod started, and has been tapped to run, SiX, the State Innovation Exchange.  SiX is intended to be a competitor with ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council.  ALEC is an organization that has for years promoted and even written pro-business, anti-regulation legislation in a plethora of states.

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