Posts from Bill Moyers

The Trump GOP Prescription for America: Don’t Get Sick

Bill Moyers Author, Television Documentary Journalist

Michael Winship

Michael Winship Senior Writer, Moyers & Company

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Donald Trump still insists he’s going to Make America Great Again! Mind you, it won’t be a healthy or vigorous America — in fact, it will be coughing and wheezing to the grave, but boy, will it be great!

If you ever needed further evidence that Trump doesn’t give a single good goddamn about the people who elected him, just look at his treacherous turnabout on health care. This Republican “repeal and replace” bill stinks on so many levels I’m tempted to say it should be taken far out to sea and dumped into the deepest depths of the Mariana Trench but I have too much regard for marine life, even the kind with the big googly eyes and the really scary teeth.

Remember that Trump was the carnival barker who declared during the campaign, “I am going to take care of everybody. I don’t care if it costs me votes or not. Everybody’s going to be taken care of much better than they’re taken care of now.” And right before his inauguration he told The Washington Post, “We’re going to have insurance for everybody. There was a philosophy in some circles that if you can’t pay for it, you don’t get it. That’s not going to happen with us.”

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We, the Plutocrats vs. We, the People: Saving the Soul of Democracy

Bill Moyers Author, Television Documentary Journalist

Sixty-six years ago this summer, on my 16th birthday, I went to work for the daily newspaper in the small East Texas town of Marshall where I grew up. It was a good place to be a cub reporter – small enough to navigate but big enough to keep me busy and learning something every day. I soon had a stroke of luck. Some of the paper’s old hands were on vacation or out sick and I was assigned to help cover what came to be known across the country as “the housewives’ rebellion.”

Fifteen women in my hometown decided not to pay the Social Security withholding tax for their domestic workers. Those housewives were white, their housekeepers black. Almost half of all employed black women in the country then were in domestic service. Because they tended to earn lower wages, accumulate less savings, and be stuck in those jobs all their lives, Social Security was their only insurance against poverty in old age. Yet their plight did not move their employers.

The housewives argued that Social Security was unconstitutional and imposing it was taxation without representation. They even equated it with slavery. They also claimed that “requiring us to collect [the tax] is no different from requiring us to collect the garbage.” So they hired a high-powered lawyer – a notorious former congressman from Texas who had once chaired the House Un-American Activities Committee – and took their case to court. They lost, and eventually wound up holding their noses and paying the tax, but not before their rebellion had become national news.

The stories I helped report for the local paper were picked up and carried across the country by the Associated Press. One day, the managing editor called me over and pointed to the AP Teletype machine beside his desk. Moving across the wire was a notice citing our paper and its reporters for our coverage of the housewives’ rebellion.

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Wasserman Schultz’s Change of Heart Is Too Little, Too Late

Bill Moyers Author, Television Documentary Journalist

Michael Winship

Michael Winship Senior Writer, Moyers & Company

Return with us now to the saga of Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the soul of the Democratic Party.

First, a quick recap: Rep. Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), chair of the Democratic National Committee, also has been an advocate for the payday loan industry. The website Think Progress even described her as the “top Democratic ally” of “predatory payday lenders.” You know — the bottom-feeding bloodsuckers of the working poor. Yes, them.

Low-income workers living from paycheck to paycheck, especially women and minorities, are the payday lenders’ prime targets — easy pickings because they’re often desperate. Twelve million Americans reportedly borrow nearly $50 billion a year through payday loans, at rates that can soar above 300 percent, sometimes even beyond 500 percent. Bethany McLean at The Atlantic recently reported that the government’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) studied millions of payday loans and found that “67 percent went to borrowers with seven or more transactions a year and that a majority of those borrowers paid more in fees than the amount of their initial loan.”

Yet when the CFPB was drawing up new rules to make it harder for payday predators to feast on the poor, Rep. Wasserman Schultz co-sponsored a bill to delay those new rules by two years. How, you ask, could the head of the party’s national committee embrace such an appalling exploitation of working people?

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The GOP Elites Have Themselves to Blame

Bill Moyers Author, Television Documentary Journalist

Michael Winship

Michael Winship Senior Writer, Moyers & Company

From their “Dark Money” bagman Karl Rove to their philosophical guru David Brooks, the GOP elites are in a tizzy over saving the Republican Party from Donald Trump and the other intruders, extremists and crackpots who have fallen in behind Trump as if he were the Pied Piper of Hamelin. But who will save the party from the elites?

Look around at just some of the other sheer lunacy their party perpetrates when it’s not trying to shut government down, redistribute wealth upward, and prevent the president of the United States (who, the last time we looked, has the constitutional right and mandate) from filling a vacancy on the Supreme Court.

The Republicans in southern California just got a 7-6 majority on the region’s air quality board and have set out to reverse all of its safeguards, “reaffirming new smog rules backed by oil refineries and other major polluters,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

Mary Lou Bruner, a Republican crank in Texas who claimed that a young Barack Obama had worked as a black male prostitute, is on track to become a key vote on the state’s board of education, the group that, as Matt Levin at the Houston Chronicle writes, is, “already drawing intense criticism for textbooks that, among other issues, downplayed slavery and racial segregation.”

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The Paradox of Paul Ryan: Why the Tea Party’s Right to be Wary

Bill Moyers Author, Television Documentary Journalist

Michael Winship

Michael Winship Senior Writer, Moyers & Company

Only in a world where Cosmopolitan magazine can declare the Kardashians “America’s First Family” and the multi-billionaire loose cannon Donald Trump is perceived by millions as the potential steward of our nuclear arsenal could about-to-be Speaker of the House Paul Ryan be savaged as insufficiently right-wing.

This is after all a man who made his bones in Congress and the Republican Party as an Ayn Rand-spouting, body building budget-buster slashing away at the body politic like a mad vivisectionist, as well as an anti-choice, pro-gun zealot who never met a government program he liked (except the military, whose swollen budget he would increase until we are all left naked living in a national security state).

But the former vice presidential candidate is widely cited among many of his colleagues as a likable enough chap who is polite to his elders in the hierarchy of Congress, and this makes the more rabid bomb throwers seethe. To them, that chummy, self-enlightened pragmatism as well as his past embrace of immigration reform qualify him as a so-called RINO, a Republican in Name Only, a “squish.” Time makes ancient good uncouth, as the poem goes, and in the words of Ed Kilgore at Washington Monthly’s “Political Animal” blog, “Nowadays if you are guilty of having ever supported ‘amnesty’ your other heresies will be uncovered, however old they are. The other way to look at it, of course, is that the GOP continues to drift to the Right, making yesterday’s ideological heroes suspect.”

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Turn Left on Main Street

Bill Moyers Author, Television Documentary Journalist

Turn Left on Main Street

Congressman John K. Delaney, what the hell are you talking about?

In a recent Washington Post op-ed piece, headlined, “The last thing America needs? A left-wing version of the Tea Party,” the Democratic congressman from Maryland scolds progressives and expresses his worry “about where some of the loudest voices in the room could take the Democratic Party.”

He writes, “Rejecting a trade agreement with Asia, expanding entitlement programs that crowd out other priorities and a desire to relitigate the financial crisis are becoming dominant positions among Democrats. Although these subjects may make for good partisan talking points, they do not provide the building blocks for a positive and bold agenda to create jobs and improve the lives of Americans.”

Rep. Delaney even implies that a freewheeling, open discussion of “these subjects” could lead to the election of a Republican president.

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Watch: Democrats Bow Down to Wall Street

Bill Moyers Author, Television Documentary Journalist

Negotiators from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are in Washington this week for a new round of talks which they hope will lead them closer to agreement on the trade deal. President Obama has called passage of TPP a "high priority."

This week, I speak with outspoken veteran journalist John R. MacArthur, president and publisher of Harper's Magazine, about the problems with TPP, which is being negotiated in secret, behind closed doors. MacArthur says that the "free trade" agreement will take jobs away from Americans: "I guarantee you, this is a way to send more jobs [abroad], particularly to Vietnam and Malaysia."

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The Bare Knuckle Fight Against Money in Politics

Bill Moyers Author, Television Documentary Journalist

In this turbulent midterm election year, two academics decided to practice what they preached. They left the classroom, confronted the reality of down-and-dirty politics, and tried to replace moneyed interests with the public interest.

Neither was successful -- this year, at least -- but on this week's show, Bill talks with them about their experiences and the hard-fought lessons learned about the state of American democracy.

Lawrence Lessig, who teaches law at Harvard, is a well-known Internet activist and campaign finance reform advocate. This election cycle, he started a crowd-funded SuperPAC aimed at reducing the influence of money in politics. Lessig tells Bill: "Our democracy is flat lined. Because when you can show clearly there's no relationship between what the average voter cares about, only if it happens to coincide with what the economic elite care about, you've shown that we don't have a democracy anymore."

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Politicians Show Their Gratitude Where It Count$

Bill Moyers Author, Television Documentary Journalist

Politicians Show Their Gratitude Where It Count$

Co-authored by Michael Winship

There shall be eternal summer in the grateful heart, a poet wrote, and as this year’s summer winds toward its end and elections approach, gratitude is indeed what our politicians have flowing from that space where their hearts should be.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is grateful to his friend Rick Anderson, the CEO of Delta Airlines. In late July, a week after McConnell treated him to breakfast in the Senate Dining Room, checks for McConnell’s super PAC came winging their way from Anderson and his wife, as well as Delta’s political action committee.

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Saving Our Democracy From Plutocracy Got Harder – But There’s Hope

Bill Moyers Author, Television Documentary Journalist

Saving Our Democracy From Plutocracy Got Harder – But There’s Hope

Fortunately for any of us who believe this country should be about fair play and justice, Saru Jayaraman [co-director of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, which has helped organize fast-food-worker protests for higher wages] and those waiters, busboys, and cooks reinforce our faith that organized people can counter organized money. But they are going to need all the hope and heart they can muster.

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Union Matters

The Big Drip

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities. 

A rash of water main breaks in West Berkeley, Calif., and neighboring cities last month flooded streets and left at least 300 residents without water. Routine pressure adjustments in response to water demand likely caused more than a dozen pipes, some made of clay and more than 100 years old, to rupture.

West Berkeley’s brittle mains are not unique. Decades of neglect left aging pipes susceptible to breaks in communities across the U.S., wasting two trillion gallons of treated water each year as these systems near collapse.

Comprehensive upgrades to the nation’s crumbling water systems would stanch the flow and ensure all Americans have reliable access to clean water.

Nationwide, water main breaks increased 27 percent between 2012 and 2018, according to a Utah State University study.  

These breaks not only lead to service disruptions  but also flood out roads, topple trees and cause illness when drinking water becomes contaminated with bacteria.

The American Water Works Association estimated it will cost at least $1 trillion over the next 25 years to upgrade and expand water infrastructure.

Some local water utilities raised their rates to pay for system improvements, but that just hurts poor consumers who can’t pay the higher bills.

And while Congress allocates money for loans that utilities can use to fix portions of their deteriorating systems, that’s merely a drop in the bucket—a fraction of what agencies need for lasting improvements.

America can no longer afford a piecemeal approach to a systemic nationwide crisis. A major, sustained federal commitment to fixing aging pipes and treatment plants would create millions of construction-related jobs while ensuring all Americans have safe, affordable drinking water.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work