Grow Up and Apologize, Ted Cruz

Richard Eskow

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

People whose lives have been destroyed by floods, hurricanes, and other natural disasters face a special kind of anguish. The things they trusted the most – the ground beneath their feet, and the sky above – have turned against them.

Their most personal spaces have turned to ruins, and their most precious belongings have been destroyed. Their private misery has become a public spectacle, as cameras in circling helicopters put them on display to the entire planet. Their world has betrayed them, and they feel they have nowhere left to turn.

That’s why millions of people have offered support and compassion to the people of Houston in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

It’s also why politicians from areas hit by Hurricane Sandy five years ago have been right to point out the hypocrisy of Senator Ted Cruz and the other Texas Republicans who turned their backs on victims in their states.

All but one member of Cruz’s Texas GOP delegation voted against aid for Sandy’s victims. Now that their constituents are in need, they’re singing a different tune.

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Open Letter to Louise Linton About Angels and Humanity

Richard Eskow

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

Dear Ms. Linton,

This has undoubtedly been a difficult couple of days for you, both as a person and as the wife of the United States Treasury Secretary.

Nobody enjoys the sudden onrush of hostile attention that comes when something they’ve said goes viral, and not in a good way. Your public record, and even your recent infamous post, suggests you want to be a good person – or, at the very least, that you’d like to be seen as one.

That’s not how people are seeing you at the moment, and that has to be rough.

Perhaps it would help if someone explained why you’ve received so much negative attention in the last 48 hours.

Bubble Life

Simply put: You live in a bubble. That’s not your fault. It’s just the way it is. According to the Internet – the same Internet that has turned on you with such ferocity – you were born into a wealthy Scottish family and educated at the prestigious St George’s School for Girls and Fettes College.

Your family owns a real-life, honest to God castle, for God’s sake.

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Uber Democrats: Workers Should Cooperate, Not ‘Compete’

Richard Eskow

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

If a picture’s worth a thousand words, what’s the value of a single word?

If you’re a Democratic Party leader and the word is “compete,” the answer may be: more than you can afford.

Much of the Democratic Party’s rhetoric has been ‘Uberized’ by a creeping free-market ideology that treats workers as lone competitors in a survival-of-the-toughest economy.

The time has come to reject this language as well as the thinking behind it. The notion that people must compete with each for low-paying jobs undermines worker solidarity and weakens our sense of national community.

Better Than What?

When the Democratic Party rolled out its “Better Deal” language in July, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi each wrote op-eds promoting an agenda whose subtitle is, “Better Jobs, Better Wages, Better Future.”

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Medicare For All Is Coming, No Matter What They Say

Richard Eskow

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

The idea of Medicare for All, or single-payer health care, has grown in popularity so quickly that it was recently an answer on the quiz show Jeopardy:

 

More than half of all Americans, 53 percent, now want a single-payer plan, up from 40 percent in 1998-2000.

But at the same time, Medicare for All suffers from the rise of a new growth industry: telling Americans what can’t be done to make their lives better. It seems like the nation that used to pride itself on its “can-do” spirit is constantly being told, “No, we can’t.” Why do critics oppose this idea, which could improve the lives of so many?

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Cuomo Wants to Privatize Penn Station; That’s a Bad Republican Idea

Richard Eskow

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

New Yorkers face a “summer of hell”  as Governors Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie seek to hand over the city’s historic Penn Station to private investors. This “hell” is the result of our leaders’ “bipartisan” reluctance to invest in needed government infrastructure.

Donald Trump is working with his fellow Republicans in Congress to enact a “privatization” program that could become the largest giveaway of public resources to private corporations in our nation’s history. (See Part 1 of this privatization series.)

Why wouldn’t they? Republicans claim to hate “big” government, and privatization – the dismantling of government and giveaway of publicly owned resources to corporate interests – has been a core part of the Republican agenda for years.  Unfortunately, a number of corporate-friendly Democrats have also embraced the idea.

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The Koch Brothers & Trump: The Men Who Sold the World

Richard Eskow

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

When he withdrew from the Paris climate agreement, Donald Trump gave a speech so filled with falsehoods that it triggered detailed rebuttals by publications ranging from Politifact to Scientific American.

The Washington Post‘s “Fact Checker” column, which hands out “Pinocchios” for false or misleading statements, was forced to note that “we do not award Pinocchios in roundups of speeches.” But by then Trump probably had more Pinocchios than the Disneyland gift shop.


Sign at Tompkins Square Park protest. Photo credit: Meshae Studios, Flickr

But Trump is not the only truth-denier in the Republican Party. In a front-page story by Coral Davenport and Eric Lipton, the New York Times documented the GOP’s transformation from a party with leaders like John McCain and Newt Gingrich, who accepted the scientific consensus on the climate, to one whose leader believes it is a hoax perpetrated by China.

When Trump pulled the U.S. from the Paris agreement, “the Senate majority leader, the speaker of the House and every member of the elected Republican leadership were united in their praise.”

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Trump’s Budget Director Declares War on the American People

Richard Eskow

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

White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney has issued a declaration of class war against the American people. His words may have sounded wonkish or technical, but underneath the coded language, Mulvaney was expressing Republicans’ extreme ideas with unusual directness.

The Interview

In an interview with CNBC’s John Harwood, Mulvaney was asked about Trump’s stated intention to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure spending. (Trump won’t. He will almost certainly propose far less, offer tax breaks to corporations and billionaires, sell off public resources, and then claim the total adds up to $1 trillion.)

“Will Republicans be comfortable with adding to the deficit to pay for a trillion dollars in infrastructure?” Harwood asked.

Mulvaney’s response began this way: “Bad spending to me in terms of its economic benefit would be wealth transfer payments. It’s a misallocation of resources.”

The term “transfer payment” is commonly applied to health and welfare programs, and other forms of public assistance, since the people who receive the payments don’t provide any goods or services in return. Mulvaney is essentially saying that he opposes taxing the rich and using any of that money to help those who are in need.

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The CFPB Protects Us From Bad Banks; Republicans Want To Kill It

Richard Eskow

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

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, created in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, has been remarkably effective at reining in lawless banks. How effective? So much so, that Republicans now target the agency for destruction. And some Democrats may be willing to help them.

Wells Fargo, Repeat Offender

The CFPB was created as part of the Dodd-Frank financial reform to defend ordinary citizens from bad actors in the financial sector. For instance, the agency imposed a $100 million fine on Wells Fargo Bank last year after it came to light the bank pressured its employees to open at least two million false accounts in the names of current customers. The bank was also forced to settle a customer lawsuit for $110 million and was downgraded by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, a key regulator, for these predatory practices.

As law and economics professor William K. Black, Jr. told us last year, those actions amount to “two million felonies.”

According to reports, the practices that led to these offenses were deeply embedded in the bank’s organizational culture.  $110 million may sound like a lot of money. But it’s “small change,” in the words of Bloomberg columnist Gillian Tan, compared to the enormity of its offenses. So are its settlements for past frauds – and there have been many.

Last August it was fined $3.6 million for misleading student loan borrowers and fraudulently dunning them for extra fees.

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Nixon, Reagan Paved Way for GOP’s Race-Charged Health Agenda

Richard Eskow

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

After a presidential campaign filled with racist rhetoric, the Republicans have proposed a healthcare agenda that will harm many black, brown, and poor Americans while helping the white and wealthy. It’s the same cynical strategy Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan pioneered decades ago.

Southern Strategy

To be sure, the Democratic Party has its own legacy of racism. They couldn’t have prevailed for so long in the Jim Crow South without it. Richard Nixon, who was openly racist in private, sought to undermine Democrats with his 1968 campaign’s “Southern strategy,” which welcomed segregationists into the Republican party.

It worked. Urban riots in 1967 had already provoked fear among many white voters, who didn’t understand their underlying causes. Mass demonstrations for peace and civil rights confused and disturbed them. Nixon’s “law and order” rhetoric, which foreshadowed Donald Trump’s, sent a thinly-disguised message to white voters that he would protect them from blacks and hippies.

Nixon’s “war on drugs” was another racially-based stratagem, as top White House aide John Ehrlichman later admitted:

You want to know what this was really all about? (We) had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people … We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or blacks, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news.

Ehrlichman added: “Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

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The GOP Health Bill Is an Assault on People of Color

Richard Eskow

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

The American Health Care Act is a rich person’s bonanza. Under the plan proposed by House Republicans, each of the nation’s 400 richest families will save $7 million per year, as part of a tax giveaway. The plan offers no benefits at all to those who earn $200,000 or less a year. The burden from this cynical wealth grab falls disproportionately on the nation’s black, brown and poor households.

To be clear, people of color cannot be stereotyped.  Most black Americans are not poor, and most live in the suburbs. Donald Trump made repeated assertions on the campaign trail that African-Americans live in a “hell” of poverty and violence. Those remarks were rightly condemned as implicitly racist. Wherever they reside, people of color don’t live in “hell.” They live in humanity.

Nevertheless, our economy is divided along racial lines. While more than half of all Americans experience poverty at some point in their lifetimes, people of color are far more likely to be poor than whites.  The poverty rate is nearly 25 percent for black Americans and more than 21 percent for Hispanic Americans. By contrast, the white poverty rate is 9.1 percent. Any rate above zero is unacceptable, but the level of racial disparity is striking.

Black and Hispanic households are far more likely to experience food insecurity than white households. Black children are three times as likely to live in poverty as white children. And, while many Americans will experience at least one year of poverty in their lifetime, black poverty is more persistent than white poverty.

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