Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

Sorely Needed: New Trade Vision

Sorely Needed: New Trade Vision
Kori Sherwood lost her good, family-supporting job at U.S. Steel because of illegally-subsidized imports.

In a close vote last week, a majority in the U.S. House chose to continue glomming onto the same tired old broken-down trade tactics that have closed American factories, cost American jobs and caused massive trade deficits.

The majority voted to sustain for the next six years trade policies that failed American workers for the past 20. The majority abdicated Congress’ constitutional responsibility to supervise international trade. Instead, they agreed to allow presidential administrations to once again negotiate trade deals in secret, then whip those corporate-appeasing, clandestine schemes through the Congressional approval process with absolutely no amendments, no changes, no improvements.

That’s the “Fast Track” process under which Congress has averted its eyes and approved one job-killing, deficit-ballooning trade deal after another, starting with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994. The result of that indolent, duty-shirking process since then has been 57,000 shuttered American factories and 5 million lost jobs. Now, instead of conceding failure and forging a new path on trade, the House cleared the way to destroy more American manufacturing and family-supporting jobs.

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State Employees Are Having A Hard Time Explaining Scott Walker’s New Voting Restrictions

Alice Ollstein Political Reporter, Think Progress

State Employees Are Having A Hard Time Explaining Scott Walker’s New Voting Restrictions

When Hillary Clinton issued a sweeping call for expanding and protecting voting rights, and called out Wisconsin and other states for passing discriminatory laws, Governor Scott Walker responded by blasting her views as “extreme” and “far outside the mainstream.” He defended his own record of cutting early voting days and implementing a strict voter ID law, saying these changes “make it easier to vote and harder to cheat.”

But at a workshop held in Milwaukee in early June, state government employees struggled to explain the byzantine voting restrictions to a crowd of poll workers and community activists.

Under Wisconsin’s voter ID law, which was blocked by courts until this March, you can vote with an expired military ID, but naturalization papers and student IDs must be current. Students must bring additional proof of enrollment, such as a class schedule. All Wisconsin residents can obtain a free state ID from any DMV, but only if they have no drivers license from any state. For 18-year-olds registering to vote for the first time, a public high school ID counts, but a private one doesn’t. A bank statement can serve as proof of residence, but not a credit card statement.

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Santorum: I’m More Qualified Than Pope Francis To Talk About Climate Change Because I’m A Politician

Natasha Geiling

Natasha Geiling

Santorum: I’m More Qualified Than Pope Francis To Talk About Climate Change Because I’m A Politician

In an interview with Fox News Sunday, former Pennsylvania senator and current GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum tried to explain why he is more qualified than the Pope to discuss climate change. Santorum caused a stir earlier this week when he told a Philadelphia radio station that Pope Francis should “leave science to the scientists” and focus on things like “theology and morality” instead of climate change.

“If he’s not a scientist — and in fact, he does have a degree in chemistry — neither are you?” host Chris Wallace asked Santorum Sunday. “So, I guess the question would be, if he shouldn’t talk about it, should you?”

Santorum defended his discussions about climate change by distinguishing politicians from church leaders. “Politicians, whether we like it or not, people in government have to make decision with regard to public policy that affect American workers,” Santorum said, adding that while “the pope can talk about whatever he wants to talk about,” he questions the Pope’s use of his moral authority to combat the issue of climate change.

“I’m saying, what should the pope use his moral authority for?” Santorum asked. “I think there are more pressing problems confronting the earth than climate change.”

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With Obamacare Ruling, It’s Time For GOP Governors to Expand Medicaid

Terrance Heath

Terrance Heath Online Producer, Campaign for America’s Future

Now that the Supreme Court has one again upheld the Affordable Care Act, it’s time for Republican governors to stop denying coverage to millions and expand their Medicaid programs.

The Supreme Court’s 6–3 decision upholding federal subsidies in the Affordable Care Act doesn’t change anything. It just means that 6.4 million people who depend on federal and state health insurance exchanges for coverage won’t lose their benefits. All of the other provisions of the ACA remain in effect. The ruling represents an unqualified victory for health care reform, and peace of mind for nearly two-thirds of the more than 10 million beneficiaries of health care reform.

What has changed is that, as President Obama said in his reaction to the ruling, “the Affordable Care Act is here to stay. … This is not an abstract thing anymore. This is not a set of political talking points,” Obama said. “This is reality.”

It’s also reality that the Supreme Court’s decision doesn’t change anything for the 4.3 million Americans who are currently prohibited from gaining coverage under the ACA. According to a White House infographic, the 22 states refusing to expand Medicaid will leave 4.3 million Americans uninsured.

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The Supreme Court and Obamacare: Somehow, Common Sense Prevailed

Jared Bernstein

Jared Bernstein Senior Fellow, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

At one level, today’s Supreme Court decision to preserve the tax subsidies that allow low- and middle-income people to afford health insurance is a marvelous, miraculous win. I’m sure that the millions who depend on those subsidies (in states where the federal government runs the exchange) are hugely relieved that they can continue to receive affordable coverage. I can tell you for a fact, listening to the hallways here at CBPP (and interviewing myself), that those who helped craft and have advocated for the Affordable Care Act are hugely elated.

And having just caught snippets of the President on TV, I can confirm for you that he’s pretty happy too.

But at another level, and this comes out surprisingly clearly from Chief Justice Roberts’ majority (6-3!) decision, the suit made little sense in the first place. His opinion—highly readable, btw—shows that a common sense reading of the issues points clearly in the direction of Congressional intent: the subsidies are an integral part of the law’s structure, and Congress intended them to do what they’re doing, regardless of whether the state or the feds set up a particular state’s exchange.

Ian Millhiser pulls out a key section from Roberts’ opinion (my brackets):

As discussed above, Congress based the Affordable Care Act on three major reforms: first, the guaranteed issue and community rating requirements [can’t deny coverage and can’t vary premium costs within areas based on age, gender, health status]; second, a requirement that individuals maintain health insurance coverage or make a payment to the IRS; and third, the tax credits for individuals with household incomes between 100 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty line. In a State that establishes its own Exchange, these three reforms work together to expand insurance coverage. The guaranteed issue and community rating requirements ensure that anyone can buy insurance; the coverage requirement creates an incentive for people to do so before they get sick; and the tax credits—it is hoped—make insurance more affordable. Together, those reforms “minimize . . . adverse selection and broaden the health insurance risk pool to include healthy individuals, which will lower health insurance premiums.”

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Supreme Court Burns ACA Haters

Supreme Court Burns ACA Haters

Union Matters

IMF Repudiates Republican Poster-Child of Economics: Trickle Down

Angela Colaizzi Intern, USW Communications

 

Trickle-down policies not only fail to promote national economic growth, they actually hurt it, according to a new study by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

When incomes rise for the bottom 20 percent of earners, GDP improves, but when incomes rise for the top 20 percent of earners, GDP actually declines, five IMF economists conclude in their June report, “Causes and Consequences of Income Inequality : A Global Perspective.”

The researchers compared data from 159 advanced, emerging and developing economies, analyzing the relationships between GDP growth rates, wealth gaps, and other markers of economic stability, including poverty rates, worker productivity, economic mobility, and access to financial services.

Economies that relied on trickle down policies experienced higher levels of income inequality and lower GDPs, the IMF study found.  Citizens in these countries had fewer opportunities for economic advancement and productivity suffered.

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