Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

A Soulless Man Cannot Serve Justice

The senator’s question was simple and straightforward: What would you have done?

Judge Neil Gorsuch wouldn’t answer. He couldn’t say whether, on orders from an employer, he’d have driven a tractor trailer with locked brakes, endangering the lives of other motorists, or instead allowed himself to freeze to death in sub-zero cold in an unheated truck cab while awaiting a mechanic.

Gorsuch dithered and demurred. He talked around the query. Finally, he said, “I don’t know.”

The vaunted jurist nominated for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court couldn’t answer a basic question about a case on which he’d issued an infamous dissenting opinion. The fact that he had never considered the key question and the fact that Gorsuch, born and bred a 1 percenter, decided this case and others for moneyed interests without a thought for the people injured as a result, disqualifies him for a seat on the nation’s highest court. 

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Supply-side, trickle-down nonsense on the NYT oped page

Jared Bernstein

Jared Bernstein Senior Fellow, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

There’s a robust debate to be had as to why the NYT published this op-ed on the alleged economic benefits of trickle-down tax cuts, as virtually every paragraph touts an alternative fact. It is the opinion page, I guess, and the authors advise (or at least advised) the president, so I can see why it’s there. But it does require debunking, so thanks NYT, for some make work.

Here’s much of the article’s text, followed by my comments in italics:

In the aftermath of the health care blowup, President Trump and the Republicans need a legislative victory. Tax reform probably should have gone first, but now is the time to move it forward with urgency.

By tax reform, as they admit below, the authors mean tax cuts. This is no such urgency at all. If anything, based on simple demographics alone, we’re going to need more, not less, revenue. This is a typical ploy in this space: create an emergency that can only be solved by tax cuts on the wealthy. If you listen carefully, you hear their fear that their tactics aren’t working, and the tax debate has gotten gummed up. That’s music to my ears, but cacophony to theirs.

Unfortunately, the White House seems all over the map on the subject. One day there is a trial balloon for a value-added tax. The next, the idea of a carbon tax or a reciprocal tax. And now we are hearing the curve ball of a payroll tax cut. Steve Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, has thrown cold water on the idea of any tax bill meeting the August deadline.

One sure lesson from the health care setback is the old admonition “Keep it simple, stupid.” The Republicans tried to fix the trillion-dollar health insurance market instead of keeping the focus on repealing Obamacare.

I take their point re the lurching of the White House on taxes, which really is remarkable and reveals the lack of not just any planning or coalition building, but even a clear sense of what they want to do on taxes. The idea that “keeping the focus on repealing Obamacare” would work, however, makes no sense, and reveals that the authors’ magical thinking extends beyond tax cuts to health care. Republican voters don’t want Obamacare to be replaced with nothing. They want more health care at less cost, which was what Trump promised them.

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Why is George Orwell’s “1984” a bestseller again?

Jim Hightower

Jim Hightower Author, Commentator, America’s Number One Populist

Tromp-tromp-tromp – troops are marching to battles. Boom-boom-boom – bombs are blowing up communities. Whooooshhh – poisonous gas is being released.

Forget Syria, Isis, Iran, Afghanistan – this is Trump’s War.

Our bellicose Commander-in-Chief is at war in the homeland, deploying his troops to attack everything from our public schools to the EPA, dropping executive-order bombs on Muslim communities and the Mexican border, and spewing poisonous tweets of bigotry and right-wing bile at the media, scientists, inner-cities, “illegal voters,” Meryl Streep, diplomats, Democrats, people who use real facts, and… well, Trump is at war with the American majority, with all who do not agree with him.

And you thought Nixon had a long enemies list!

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Montana will spend $750,000 to avoid making it easier for Democrats to vote

Zack Ford Editor, Think Progress LGBT

Considering that Montana ranks 48th in the country for population density with only 6.5 people per square mile, it’s no surprise that allowing voters to simply cast ballots through the mail would save the state up to $750,000.

Nonetheless, this week, Montana House Speaker Austin Knudsen (R) put the final nail in the coffin of a bill that would have made the state’s upcoming special election all mail-in votes — seemingly to avoid the reality that when barriers to voting are removed, Democrats cast more ballots.

The special election on May 25 will determine who will succeed former Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT), whom President Trump tapped to serve as Secretary of the Interior. It was actually a Republican state senator, Steve Fitzpatrick, who introduced a bill that would have made it a mail-only election, calling it a “fiscally responsible thing to do.” The bill, however, turned into a partisan ping-pong match that ended with Knudsen’s kill-shot.

Fitzpatrick’s bill had actually passed the Republican-controlled Senate, but not before Montana Republican Chairman Rep. Jeff Essmann distributed an “emergency report” blatantly admitting his concern that the change would advantage Democrats. “All mail ballots give the Democrats an inherent advantage in close elections,” he wrote, “due to their ability to organize large numbers of unpaid college students and members of public employee unions to gather ballots by going door to door.” In other words, Republicans can only win if it’s harder for more people to vote.

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Federal Workers Condemn Trump Job Cut Plans

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

The two largest unions representing federal workers, the Government Employees (AFGE) and the Treasury Employees (NTEU) are hitting the latest Trump administration government job cut plans.

In so many words, the two unions add, the job cut plans actually would cost the government money both by reducing worker efficiency and by letting OMB shift more work to unaccountable, but more highly paid, outside “contractors.”

Trump’s Office of Management and Budget chief, Mick Mulvaney, unveiled the adminis-tration’s goal in an early-April memo to agency chiefs, telling them to submit their cut plans by the end of June. Implementation is scheduled for fiscal 2019, which starts Oct. 1, 2018.

He set no numerical goals for how many of the 2.2 million federal workers would be let go, and his memo implied that many of the cuts would occur as jobs go unfilled due to attrition.

But Mulvaney also wants agencies to “begin taking actions to achieve near-term workforce reductions and cost savings” even before submitting cut plans for fiscal 2019.

Mulvaney’s memo and his command to agencies to start formulating job cut plans replaces GOP President Donald Trump’s initial executive order, imposing a hiring freeze on all agencies except those handling national security.

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An Innovative Solution To Corporate Taxation: Stocks!

Dave Johnson

Dave Johnson Fellow, Campaign for America's Future

While we’re talking about taxes…

The Zero Hour with RJ Eskow recently spoke with economist Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, about “A New Way to Make Corporations Pay Their Fair Share.


The idea is, as Baker explains further in the LA Times, to make corporations give the government stock instead of taxes:

If the tax reformers are serious, and I hope they are, here’s one simple way to largely eliminate the gaming opportunities that have made these people rich.

Instead of traditional taxes, the government could require corporations to turn over a portion of their stock, say 25%, in the form of non-voting shares. The government would benefit from any dividends or share buybacks but would have no voice in running the company.

This system would eliminate almost all opportunities for gaming since a company would not be able to deny the government its share of profits unless it also withheld profits from its other shareholders. And we would not call that “tax avoidance” but outright theft – the sort of thing that gets people sent to jail.

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Union Matters

Is President Trump Keeping His #BuyAmerica Promise?

Leslie is joined by Scott N. Paul, President of the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM), a partnership established by some of America’s leading manufacturers and the United Steelworkers union.

The two discuss whether President Trump is keeping his ‘Buy America’ pledge as massive amounts of Russian and Chinese steel are being used for new projects in New Jersey and New York.

Listen to "Is President Trump Keeping His #BuyAmerica Promise?" on Spreaker.

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Trump's Checklist

Trump's Checklist