Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

Morning in America Delivered by Democrats

Nine years after the Great Recession began during the tax- and regulation-slashing Bush administration, some startlingly good economic news arrived from Washington, D.C., last week.

The incomes of typical Americans rose in 2015 by 5.2 percent, the first significant boost to middle-class pay since the end of the Great Recession, and the largest, in percentage terms, ever recorded by the Census Bureau. In addition, the poverty rate fell 1.2 percentage points, the steepest decline since 1968.  Also smaller were the numbers of Americans without health insurance and suffering food insecurity.

That sounds good, right? Especially after all it took to pull out of the Bush recession. During the month Bush left office, 818,000 Americans lost their jobs. Unemployment increased to 10 percent before President Obama’s stimulus programs started ratcheting it down to the current 4.9 percent. Now, wages are beginning to rise again. It seems like an event that Ronald Reagan might call morning in America. But not the current Republican nominee. Trump says, “This country is a hellhole, and we’re going down fast.”

 

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Trump’s New Tax Plan Screws the Middle Class

Bryce Covert

Bryce Covert Economic Policy Editor, Think Progress

For months, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump had distanced himself from his own tax plan, released during the primary campaign, and promised to put out a new version. He finally followed through on that promise last week, releasing details as part of what he called an “economic policy package.”

But while Trump had originally disavowed his own proposal because he wanted to give the middle class a bigger benefit, his new plan ends up doing the opposite.

In May, he was asked about analyses that found most of the tax cuts went to the richest 1 percent of Americans. “I will say this, and I’m not necessarily a huge fan of that,” he responded. “I’m so much more into the middle class who have just been absolutely forgotten in our country.”

Later he said of the new plan that the wealthy would end up paying more, while under his new plan, “Everybody’s getting a tax cut, especially the middle class.”

But the new plan is out, as is a new analysis from the Tax Foundation. And it does not find this to be the case.

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Sandbagging Customers for Fun and Profit

Sam Pizzigati

Sam Pizzigati Editor, Too Much online magazine

John Stumpf, the CEO of America’s most profitable megabank, sent me an email earlier this week. Imagine that.

The bank Stumpf runs, Wells Fargo, has 268,000 employees. Stumpf must be a very busy man. Especially these days.

Wells Fargo has been operating in crisis mode ever since the federal Consumer Finance Protection Bureau hit the bank earlier this month with a $185-million fine, the largest penalty the new agency has ever assessed.

What prompted this sizeable ding? Wells Fargo employees, CFPB investigators found, have over the past five years opened more than 2 million accounts that customers, as one press account puts it, “did not authorize, did not know they had, did not need, and clearly did not understand.”

Some customers even ended up paying late fees on these bogus accounts.

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Organizers: Millions Contact Congress in TPP Protest; Concert Tour vs. Pact Kicks Off

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

Organizers reported that some 13 million workers and their allies, marshaled by the Communications Workers, other unions and almost 90 other organizations, contacted Congress on-line and off-line on Sept. 14 in a mass protest against the anti-worker, pro-corporate jobs-losing Trans-Pacific Partnership so-called “free trade” pact.

And organizers of the anti-TPP crusade are following that crowd estimate by rocking their protest continent-wide: The “Rock Against The TPP” concert tour kicked off in Toronto on Sept. 16 and heads next for Boston on Oct. 7, with other cities to follow.

“The TPP is a corporate Trojan Horse packed with devastation for all of our goals and the policies we all care about,” the Machinists said in urging workers and their allies to bombard Congress with calls.

Unionists and their allies are protesting Democratic President Barack Obama’s plan to send legislation implementing the TPP – but not the pact itself – to Congress this month.

That would start a time clock ticking: Solons would have to vote on it, up or down, with no changes and little debate, in the post-election lame-duck session of the GOP-run Congress.

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Wells Fargo Had a Bad Day. That’s a Start.

Richard Eskow

Richard Eskow Writer, Host, "The Breakdown;" Senior Fellow, Campaign for America's Future

People who came looking for drama in Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf’s Senate testimony on Tuesday did not come away disappointed. Stumpf was called before the Senate Banking Committee after his bank was fined $185 million for opening more than two million accounts in customers’ names, without their knowledge or consent, over a five-year period.

We now know that these two million phony accounts, and the 5,300 employees held responsible, may not reflect the full extent of the wrongdoing. Stumpf announced that the bank had agreed to extend its review of its misconduct to 2009 and 2010, and said he would consider reviewing earlier years as well.

Witness for the Prosecution

Stumpf squirmed, shifted and shuffled under the relentless questioning of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who asked, “Since this massive year’s long scam came to light you have said ‘I am accountable.’ What have you done to hold yourself accountable? Have you returned one nickel of the money you earned while this scandal was going on?”

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Union Matters

Election 2016: Members Speak Out

Chris Kujawski
Local 131


Chris Kujawski, 32, of Rome Wis., works for WestRock packaging. He serves as Rapid Response coordinator and treasurer for USW Local 131, where he’s been a member for five years.

“My wife and I, we don’t have any children. It is a hard decision to have children in the current political environment because you don’t know where the economy and the future is going. If we saw candidates get it and felt a bright future were coming we might, but right now, it is not an option for us. I feel like my life is on hold.

“Gov. Scott Walker came into office in Wisconsin in 2010 and said he was for working families and then passed right to work. And now we have Donald Trump running on that same platform, but it is even more extremist. He is attacking working families and minority families and veteran families.

“I am a steelworker and proud Marine Corps veteran also. Many veterans are looking for another family. And the Steelworkers union is that family. And when Trump is supporting right to work, he is trying to destroy that family.

“And when he criticized Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the parents of Army Capt. Humayun Khan Khan, who was killed in Iraq in 2004, he criticized a family that gave the ultimate sacrifice for the their country. As a veteran, I was deeply offended by that.”

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The Taste of Trumped-Up Fear

The Taste of Trumped-Up Fear