Barack Obama, Wall Street Warrior?

Richard Eskow

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

Barack Obama, Wall Street Warrior?

It was good to hear President Obama say that reining in Wall Street's high-risk behavior is an "unfinished piece of business." It would be even better if this observation were quickly followed by action -- the kind of concrete action he can take immediately, with or without Congress's cooperation.

The president made his remarks in an interview with host Kai Ryssdal on public broadcasting's "Marketplace" program. Ryssdal was surprisingly (and effectively) confrontational at several points, as when he asked the president this question:

The Dow today sits plus or minus 17,000, right? Record highs. Banks' profits are up; the big banks are bigger than they were during the financial crisis; their appetite for risk is growing, as we've seen; and all of this is happening after Dodd-Frank -- the financial reform bill that we were told was going to prevent all these things from happening. It was going to rein in the banking system.

So how do you look at the American people and say, "You know what? 'Too big to fail' has been taken care of. What happened in 2008 is not going to happen to you again."

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Why Collective Bargaining Is a Fundamental Human Right

Robert Creamer Political organizer, strategist and author

The ability for ordinary working people to organize and collectively bargain over their wages and working conditions is a fundamental human right. It is a right just as critical to a democratic society as the right to free speech and the right to vote.

Over the last 30 years many in corporate America and the big Wall Street banks have conducted a sustained attack on that human right. Unionization dropped from 20.1 percent of the workforce in 1983 to 11. 3 percent in 2013 -- and the results are there for everyone to see.

During that period productivity and Gross Domestic Product per capita both increased by roughly 80 percent in America. But the wages of ordinary Americans have remained stagnant. Virtually all of the fruits of that increased productivity have gone to the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans.

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Bending the Arc of History

Stan Sorscher

Stan Sorscher Labor Representative, Society for Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace

Bending the Arc of History

Many economists and policy-makers struggle to explain growing inequality and the erosion of the middle class.

Nobel laureate economist Paul Krugman has a simple explanation, “…corporations use their growing monopoly power to raise prices without passing the gains on to their employees.”

The top 1% take 93% of all new gains created in our economy.

They divide gains that way – because they can!

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Corporate America’s Mysterious Affinity for the Number 700,000

Ben Beachy

Ben Beachy Research Director, Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch

Corporate America’s Mysterious Affinity for the Number 700,000

The Chamber is at it again.  As negotiations drag and support flags for the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has come up with a new number to sell the controversial deal to a skeptical Congress and U.S. public: 700,000. 

That’s the number of U.S. jobs that the corporate alliance claims could be created by the sweeping pact opposed by a diverse array of members of Congress, small businesses, and labor organizations for its threats to, well, U.S. jobs. 

How did the Chamber get this number?  They don’t say.

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The Audacious New Proposal To Save The Labor Movement

Josh Israel

Josh Israel Reporter, Think Progress

As president of the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW), Dave Regan is well aware that over the past several decades, the number of American workers who are part of a labor union has declined fairly steadily — and the scales of power have continued to tip from workers to corporations.

“For most Americans we’re looked at as, at best, a mystery,” he acknowledges, “and, at worst, a problem and completely irrelevant.” To change that, he is calling for a major shift in the labor movement.

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Hollywood Boycott Threatens TransPacific Partnership

Curtis Ellis

Curtis Ellis Communications Director, American Jobs Alliance

A Hollywood boycott is threatening the Obama administration's TransPacific Partnership agreement (TPP).

The southeast Asian nation of Brunei, a would-be member of the TPP, is under fire from Hollywood and human right activists for adopting a brutal penal code based on Sharia law with punishments including flogging, dismemberment and death by stoning for crimes such as adultery and sodomy.

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Taxpayers Subsidize Both Wealthy Fast-Food CEOs and Their Underpaid Employees

Michael Winship

Michael Winship Senior Writer, Moyers & Company

Bad enough that the empty calories of many a fast-food meal have all the nutritional value of a fingernail paring. Even worse, the vast profits this industry pulls in are lining the pockets of its CEOs while many of those who work in the kitchens and behind the counters are struggling to eke out a living and can’t afford a decent meal, much less a fast one.

Yes, you have heard this before. Over the last year or so, you’ve probably seen news coverage of the strikes and other job actions fast-food workers have taken against their employers. Maybe you’ve even read about the wage theft lawsuits that have been filed against McDonald’s and Taco Bell, or the recent settlements in New York State against McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and Domino’s Pizza that have led to payments to employees of more than $2 million.

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Who Are the Koch Brothers and What Do They Want?

Sen. Bernie Sanders

Sen. Bernie Sanders U.S. Senator, Vermont

Who Are the Koch Brothers and What Do They Want?

As a result of the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision, billionaires and large corporations can now spend an unlimited amount of money to influence the political process. The results of that decision are clear. In the coming months and years the Koch brothers and other extraordinarily wealthy families will spend billions of dollars to elect right-wing candidates to the Senate, the House, governors' mansions and the presidency of the United States. These billionaires already own much of our economy. That, apparently, is not enough. Now, they want to own the United States government as well.

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Overwhelming Evidence that Half of America is In or Near Poverty

Paul Buchheit

Paul Buchheit Author, editor, expert on income inequality

Overwhelming Evidence that Half of America is In or Near Poverty

The Charles Koch Foundation recently released a commercial that ranked a near-poverty-level $34,000 family among the Top 1% of poor people in the world. Bud Konheim, CEO and co-founder of fashion company Nicole Miller, concurred: "The guy that's making, oh my God, he's making $35,000 a year, why don't we try that out in India or some countries we can't even name. China, anyplace, the guy is wealthy."

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Common Sense Takes Courage: The CPC Budget

Robert Borosage

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

Today, the Congressional Progressive Caucus released its annual budget proposal -- the "Better Off Budget" (link not yet available). Budgets are numbing, grist for geeks, not citizens. This budget is no exception, detailing row after row of numeric projections. Produced in conjunction with the Economic Policy Institute, it is a technician's document, based on a sound economic model.

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