Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

Forced Trade

Forced Trade
Photo by author Chad Broughton of Dave Bevard, former Machinists local union president at the Maytag factory in Galesburg, Ill., standing beside the last refrigerator produced there in 2004 before the corporation moved production to Mexico. The refrigerator is autographed by some of the 1,600 workers who lost their jobs.

Senators who voted last week to Fast Track ratification of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) call it a free trade deal, but really, it’s forced trade imposed on protesting American workers who have endured its damaging effects for decades.   

Under the free trade regime, rich and powerful corporate interests have hauled in ever-higher profits as they shipped manufacturing overseas to low-wage, no-environmental-regulation countries. Meanwhile, American workers lost jobs, health benefits, income and all sense of stability.

For the past 50 years, the government provided compensation to some American workers who suffered because of trade deals. They got Trade Adjustment Assistance, a little bit of money to help them subsist and retrain after losing their jobs. Now, the wealthy beneficiaries of free trade, and the Republicans they fund, contend that senior citizens should pay the cost of Trade Adjustment Assistance. That Republicans feel it’s appropriate to cut Medicare to cover the cost of Trade Adjustment Assistance illustrates how deeply flawed American trade policy is. It is based on the philosophy that workers and the retired should suffer to facilitate the rich getting richer.

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Populists Are Driving the Ideas Primary

Robert Borosage

Robert Borosage Co-Director, Campaign for America's Future

In the run-up to 2016 presidential race, press attention is sensibly focused on the money primary – the candidates strutting their stuff before deep-pocket donors who will decide which candidates get a real shot to compete with the already established leaders, Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton.

Overshadowed is the ideas primary – the competition to formulate a compelling message and agenda that appeals to voters. Hillary and Jeb have even postponed unveiling their ideas in order to focus on the money. But under the radar, in sharp contrast to the money primary, economic populism has become the coin of the realm in both parties. And on the Democratic side, populism is driving the ideas primary.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, the only formally announced challenger to Clinton, is an unvarnished populist, seeking to rouse working Americans across lines of race and region against what he calls the “billionaire class.” But Sanders isn’t alone. Former senator Jim Webb of Virginia has a proud populist record – opposing corporate trade deals, warning of rising inequality, challenging the national security elite’s efforts to police the world. Former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley is remaking himself into an economic populist, joining the opposition to President Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. Clinton, the establishment champion, has put off the unveiling of her agenda, but has proclaimed herself the “champion” of “everyday people.” She has criticized soaring CEO pay, and has delivered forceful addresses for comprehensive immigration reform and against mass incarceration and the systematic racial bias of our criminal justice system.

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Ten Outrageous Ideas Rick Santorum Actually Believes

Scott Keyes

Scott Keyes Senior Reporter, Think Progress

Ten Outrageous Ideas Rick Santorum Actually Believes

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum will announce Wednesday that he will launch another bid for the Republican presidential nomination. He will make his formal entry into the race at an event at a manufacturing company in his hometown, Butler, PA.

Now that he’s running for president again, many analysts and voters may recall Santorum’s controversial assertions during his 2011 campaign. His frequent comparisons of same-sex relationships to inanimate objects like trees, basketballs and paper towels became a major punchline of the campaign cycle.

But here are ten equally outrageous comments he’s made that you may not remember:

Putting women in combat is a bad idea because of “emotions that are involved.” Women’s “emotions” may render them unworthy soldiers and thus not fit for the battlefield, according to the former Pennsylvania senator. “People naturally may do things that may not be in the interests of the mission because of other types of emotions that are involved,” Santorum said after the Pentagon eased restrictions on women in combat in 2012. He has also made dire warnings about what would happen to the military after Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was repealed and gays were allowed to openly serve.

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Stop Calling the TPP a Trade Agreement – It Isn’t

Dave Johnson

Dave Johnson Fellow, Campaign for America's Future

Stop Calling the TPP a Trade Agreement – It Isn’t

This is a message to activists trying to fight the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Stop calling the TPP a “trade” agreement. TPP is a corporate/investor rights agreement, not a “trade” agreement. “Trade” is a good thing; TPP is not. Every time you use the word “trade” in association with the TPP, you are helping the other side.

“Trade” is a propaganda word. It short-circuits thinking. People hear “trade” and the brain stops working. People think, “Of course, trade is good.” And that ends the discussion.

Calling TPP a “trade” agreement lets the pro-TPP people argue that TPP is about trade instead of what it is really about. It diverts attention from the real problem. It enables advocates to say things like, “95 percent of the world lives outside the U.S.” as if that has anything to do with TPP. It lets them say, “We know that exports support American jobs” to sell a corporate rights agreement. It enables them to say nonsense like this about a corporate rights agreement designed to send American jobs to Vietnam so a few “investors” can pocket the wage difference: “Exports of U.S. goods and services supported an estimated 9.8 million American jobs, including 25 percent of all manufacturing jobs … and those export-supported jobs pay 13 to 18 percent higher than the national average wage.”

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Making the Economy Work for the Many, Not the Few -- Step 2: Make Work Family Friendly

Robert Reich

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

Making the Economy Work for the Many, Not the Few -- Step 2: Make Work Family Friendly

No one should have to choose between providing for your family and being a good parent. Yet "family-friendly" work is still a pipe dream.

Today most parents are also wage earners, whether in a two-parent or single-parent household. Politicians talk a lot about the importance of family, but must do a better job delivering.

Specifically:

- Require that women receive equal pay for equal work.

- Require employers provide predictable hours so workers can plan to be home when their family needs them.

- Provide universal childcare -- pre-school and after-school -- financed by employers and taxpayers.

- Require that employers offer paid family and medical leave.

The richest nation in the world should enable its workers to be good parents. Family-friendly work isn't a luxury. People who work hard deserve to make more than a decent living. They and their families deserve a decent life.

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This has been reposted from The Huffington Post.

Tame Wall Street So Workers Aren’t Ravaged

Tame Wall Street So Workers Aren’t Ravaged

Union Matters

Fantasy Politics

Bashing liberals is a time-honored sport on the far right.  Bashing the Clintons can therefore legitimately be compared to fantasy baseball.  In each of these, one can construct one’s own reality, related to facts no more than one wishes.

A major-league example of Clinton bashing is the book Clinton Cash, by Peter Schweizer, founder of the Government Accountability Institute.  Mr. Schweizer is a conservative with a history of getting it wrong.  According to Media Matters, his most recent work continues that tradition.

Right-wing snark of recent years, like the purple-heart Band-Aids that mocked John Kerry’s Presidential candidacy in 2004, has often been funded by uber-wealthy conservatives.  In the case of Clinton Cash, the folks behind the screen are, apparently, the Koch Brothers.

These siblings are no slouches when it comes to keeping conservative causes afloat; their efforts have included bankrolling the campaign to prevent the recall of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.  Operating as they do so far under the radar, the Koch Brothers’ efforts to distort the information that underlies our electoral process might seem almost impossible to overcome.  But they’re mot.

Not even the Koch Brothers have enough money to outstrip the votes of millions of motivated Americans.

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