Tapped

Dems Are Divided on Minimum Wage. But That's Not Bad News

Last week, Bernie Sanders and other leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus introduced legislation that would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020. The bill is not only the most ambitious wage hike legislation to come from the left, but it’s also indicative of the growing influence that the national Fight for $15 movement exerts over Washington’s political discourse.

Not all Democrats support such a big increase to the nation’s minimum wage. The $15 proposal notably abandons the mainstream party line that was established a couple of months ago when Senator Patty Murray and Representative Robert Scott introduced a bill to raise the federal minimum wage to $12 an hour. Democratic Senate leaders Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer, along with a number of other prominent Democrats, came out in strong support of the hike.

As late as last week, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi had also voiced support for the party line on minimum wage: “With this one act, we could give a raise to more than 25 million working people, lift up to 4.5 million Americans out of poverty and generate some $22 billion in increased economic activity.”

But just yesterday, The Hill reports, Pelosi announced that though it’s not politically possible now, she supports raising the minimum wage to $15. “Twelve dollars may be what can pass, but I’m for $15 per hour,” Pelosi told reporters. Her unexpected move signals the growing populist influence of both the progressive caucus in Congress and the rhetoric surrounding the Fight for $15.

According to The Hill, an economic adviser to Obama said that his current support for a $12 minimum wage is unaltered—though it’s worth noting that throughout his tenure, his minimum wage platform has ballooned from $9, to $10.10, and most recently to $12. As I wrote last week, progressive labor advocates are now pushing Obama to build on his 2014 executive order that raised the minimum wage to $10.10 for federal contract workers and sign a new order that pushes that up to $15.

Hillary Clinton has so far declined to endorse of a national $15 minimum wage, indicating that while she supports such a wage in cities with higher costs of living she doesn’t believe that it can work everywhere. “I support the local efforts that are going on that are making it possible for people working in certain localities to actually earn $15,” Clinton told Buzzfeed News a couple weeks ago.

As former White House economist Jared Bernstein told the New York Times, “There could be quite large shares of workers affected, and research doesn’t have a lot to say about that… [W]e have to be less certain about the outcome.”

Still, there’s a strong body of economic research that shows the economy can sustain modest wage increases—to $12 an hour for instance—spread out over multiple years would create little to no job loss. The thinking behind the $12 minimum wage proposal is that it fully restores the purchasing power of the wage floor back to its peak in the 1960s. The bill also indexes the wage, once raised, to cost-of-living increases, and it would phase out the minimum wage for tipped workers.

And many economists believe we could go further. Last week, a group of 200 economists came out in support of the $15 an hour minimum wage legislation, stating: “We recognize that raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour as of 2020 would entail an increase that is significantly above the typical pattern with federal minimum wage increases. Nevertheless, through a well-designed four-year phase-in process, businesses will be able to absorb the cost increases through modest increases in prices and productivity as well as enabling low-wage workers to receive a slightly larger share of businesses’ total revenues.”

Raising the minimum wage at least somewhat is a wildly popular idea for most Americans. According to a January 2014 Pew poll, 73 percent of Americans—including 53 percent of Republicans—supported raising the minimum wage from its current level of $7.25 to $10.10 an hour. 

While the political pathway for a $15 national minimum wage is blocked for now, the proposal gives the $12 minimum wage push greater momentum. “It’s certainly pushing the envelope but it also broadens the terrain of what’s possible. Pushing for $15 makes $12 easier to pass,” says Amy Traub, as senior policy analyst for Demos.

The Senate Wants to Eliminate One of the Most Successful Affordable Housing Programs

For more than 20 years, the HOME Investment Partnerships Program has helped rural, suburban, and urban communities provide housing for some of their most vulnerable citizens. HOME is the largest federal block grant for state and local governments that can be used to create affordable housing for low-income populations, including seniors, families with children, people with disabilities, veterans, and the homeless.

In FY 2010, Congress allocated $1.8 billion to the HOME program. One year later, thanks to the Budget Control Act of 2011—also known as the “sequester”—Congress sharply reduced HOME’s budget to $900 million. It hasn’t gone up since.

The lack of quality affordable housing is one of this nation’s most pressing economic problems. Despite this, the proposed FY 2016 House budget only provides $767 million for HOME—a 58 percent reduction from pre-sequester levels.

The Senate goes even further, proposing a mere $66 million for HOME—a 93 percent reduction from 2010. (HUD breaks down those cuts by state here.) Experts agree this would effectively kill the program.

On July 27, more than 1,500 organizations sent Congress a letter in support of HOME and urged legislators to lift sequester spending caps:

These constraints, and the severe HOME cut specifically, would have a drastic, negative impact on our nation’s ability to provide decent, safe, and sanitary affordable housing for those most in need at a time when housing markets and the broader economy continue to struggle and the need for affordable housing continues to grow. Therefore, we call on you and your colleagues in Congress to lift these caps and restore HOME funding to no less than $1.06 billion, as requested by the Administration for Fiscal Year (FY) 2016.

According to Enterprise Community Partners, a real estate investment company that focuses on affordable housing and community development, HOME has helped to build and preserve more than one million affordable homes and has provided direct rental assistance to hundreds of thousands of families. The White House Office of Management and Budget says the proposed Senate cuts would lead to a loss of roughly 39,000 affordable housing units for low-income families.

HOME’s flexible block grant dollars have also been used to help fill financing gaps within other federal housing programs like the Low Income Housing Tax Credit and the U.S. Department of Rural Housing. That means HOME cuts could negatively impact those initiatives too.

Moving forward with these cuts would be disastrous. According to the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard, in 2013 only 26 percent of very-low-income households that were eligible for rental assistance received any assistance. And researchers say that nearly 2.2 million housing units could disappear from the nation’s affordable stock over the next decade. We need greater federal investments, and fast. 

Defunding Planned Parenthood Would Be the Real Betrayal of Women

In the past two weeks, three secretly recorded (and misleadingly edited) videos of Planned Parenthood officials discussing fetal tissues were leaked by anti-choice activists in an attempt to make the organization appear to be participating in the illegal harvesting of body parts for profit. Pro-choice activists have dissected the videos and proved that Planned Parenthood has done nothing illegal. Despite the facts, Republican men, like Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell, have been calling for Congress to defund and investigate the organization.  

On Tuesday, the Students for Life of America and Pro-Life Future held rallies dubbed #WomenBetrayed across the country, which also advocated for defunding and investigation. But the real betrayal would be in defunding an organization that not only provides abortions, a constitutionally protected right, but also offers reproductive and women’s health services as 97 percent of its work.

Just ask Texas.

In 2011, the Texas legislature made deep cuts to the Department of State Health Services Family Planning Program, which resulted in the closing of at least 53 women’s health-care clinics and left 147,000 low-income women without access to preventative care like breast and cervical cancer screenings, or contraception.

Already facing a women’s health crisis, former Governor Rick Perry and the Texas legislature followed the devastating budget cuts with a law that would keep Planned Parenthood from participating in the federally funded Medicaid Women’s Healthcare Program. Because it is against federal law to exclude qualified providers from Medicaid care, the Obama administration decided to end the program.

Prior to the administration’s decision, Planned Parenthood accounted for 40 percent of family-planning services in Texas and was the state’s biggest women’s health-care provider. The end of federal funding for the Women’s Health Program meant that 130,000 more women would join the nearly 150,000 women already affected by the 2011 budget cuts.

As an alternative to the federal program, the Texas legislature created a similar, but state-funded program called the Texas Women’s Healthcare Program. A 2015 report by Texas Monthly highlighted the fact that after kicking Planned Parenthood out of Texas (and even with this new program) fewer women in the state now have access to health care. The Republican goal of stripping away Planned Parenthood’s federal funding doesn’t arise from true concern for women—just ask the women in Texas. 

The Foul-Mouthed Far-Right Can Win. Just Ask Maine.

If you want to know what a Donald Trump presidency might be like, take a look at Maine. The state, known for its mild moderates (like Senator Susan Collins and former Senator Olympia Snowe), has acquired a new reputation for Tea Party impetuousness thanks to Republican Governor Paul LePage. Like Trump, when it comes to offensive and bellicose remarks, LePage is a gold mine. After he came under criticism from the NAACP for not attending their 2011 Martin Luther King Day celebrations in Portland and Bangor, LePage replied by telling them “to kiss my butt.” He reportedly remarked that state legislators from the city of Lewiston, all Democrats, ought to be “rounded up and executed in the public square.” And recently, during a question-and-answer with high school students in Waterville, the governor told the teenage son of a prominent political cartoonist that he would “like to shoot” his father.

LePage prefers to think of himself not as “America’s Craziest Governor,” but as an apolitical businessman. “I don’t play the political game pretty well,” LePage said. “Never have, never will.”

He wasn’t kidding. In July, LePage declared his intention to veto most, if not all, of the 71 bills passed by the state’s legislature. He had ten days to do so. He didn’t. Now he’s going to court, arguing that the legislature’s decision to take a temporary recess means he had more time to veto the bills than the legislature claims, and that as a result, 65 are not yet law. Most observers, including many state Republicans (like Senate President Michael Thibodeau), beg to differ. It’s hardly the first time Republicans have turned their back on the governor. The state passed its budget over LePage’s veto, and a bipartisan committee is investigating allegations that he threatened to withhold state funding from a charter school organization unless it fired its incoming Democratic president.

This intraparty fighting brings to mind not only Trump, but the many other Republicans whose reckless disregard for the legislative process has turned them into pariahs within their own party. Senator and presidential candidate Ted Cruz, for example, earned quite the scolding from his fellow conservatives for orchestrating a government shutdown in his futile attempt to defund Obamacare and for using a procedural tactic to try to again force a government shutdown over the president's executive orders on immigration.

As Trump has surged to first place in the polls with his own cocktail of disparaging remarks, pundits and analysts have rushed to remind us that Trump and most of the other far-right firebrands (Scott Walker excepted) stand little to no chance of winning the nomination, let alone a general election. And to be clear, I do not think that Trump, Cruz, Huckabee, or Santorum will make it to the nominating convention. Yet the fact that LePage, a man who once told reporters that a Democratic state senator wants “to give it to the people without providing Vaseline,” was elected and then reelected chief executive in a state that hasn’t voted for a Republican president since 1988, should at least give us pause before we dismiss them as mere entertainment. Donald Trump’s campaign may be Jon Stewart’s dream, but the success of his and similar rhetoric across the nation proves that ill mannered and foul-mouthed populists have significant electoral appeal.

Thankfully, that doesn’t translate into governing capability. If LePage’s experience is any indication, should we elect a president without a filter or a hinge, they may quickly find themselves isolated and debased—even by their allies.

Ohio Charter Teachers Fired for Organizing Will Be Reinstated

Teachers at the Ohio-based I CAN charter network decided to organize a union during the 2013-2014 school year. Yet when the school year ended, the administration did not renew contracts for seven teachers leading the union drive—resulting in a cancellation of the scheduled union vote. While about 40 charter schools in Ohio are already unionized, those are mostly conversion schools, meaning teachers had already worked for the district before going to work for a school-district sponsored charter. These I CAN schools would have represented the first start-up charters to go union in the state.

After the firing, I CAN educators and the Ohio Federation of Teachers filed a federal complaint, which accused I CAN of making teachers feel like they were under surveillance and for pressuring employees to reveal the identities of union leaders. The complaint also alleged that I CAN increased staff salary and benefits just before the scheduled vote in order to dissuade teachers from joining a union.

One of the fired teachers, Kathryn Brown, told The Plain Dealer that she wants a union because teachers don’t feel valued. "The I CAN network believes that administration and a teaching template are all you need for education,” said Brown. “That's the big flaw and why I got involved in unionization. A school is not just administration."

This past October, the NLRB regional director sided with the teachers and accused I CAN of “interfering with, restraining and coercing employees.” The founders of the charter network, Marshall Emerson and Jason Stragand, denied the allegations, insisting that nobody was fired specifically for union organizing. (They pointed out that most involved in the union effort did have their contract renewed.) But Emerson and Stragand also made it clear they want to keep their schools union-free. "It would really cripple our principals and administrative staff. It could dramatically change the model. It could drastically change what we do," said Emerson.

While the I CAN schools would have been the first Ohio start-up charters to organize, other charters in the Buckeye State have since moved ahead with their own successful campaigns. This past March teachers at the Columbus-based Franklinton Preparatory Academy voted to join a union. Since then three more charter schools in Youngstown have also voted to unionize.

As for I CAN, this week the NLRB finally reached a settlement with the charter network and imposed penalties for interference. I CAN will have to re-hire four of the fired teachers and give all seven teachers back pay. School officials will also have to post a statement in their school buildings that says they cannot interfere with union organizing efforts. However, the NLRB settlement did not include any finding of wrongdoing and I CAN only needs to pay $69,000 to be split among the seven teachers.

David Quolke, the president of the Cleveland Teachers Union told The Plain Dealer that he and other Ohio Federation of Teacher leaders feel vindicated by the NLRB settlement, calling it “one of the strongest we’ve seen in our years of helping to organize our fellow teachers at charter schools.”

I CAN teachers are reportedly planning to schedule a union vote this coming fall. They will join a growing number of charter teachers around the country who are also organizing their own union drives.

Black Lives Matter Convenes in Cleveland for First National Meeting

Today, hundreds of organizers, activists, and people involved in the Black Lives Matter movement arrived in Cleveland for the first national Movement for Black Lives convening.

The timing is striking: two weeks after Sandra Bland was stopped by an authority-abusing Texas state trooper and was later found dead in her jail cell, and one week after Black Lives Matter protesters disrupted a presidential town hall at Netroots Nation. These events have forced top Democratic candidates to rethink how they approach the movement for racial justice. In the case of Martin O’Malley, whose dismissive comments on Black Lives Matter at Netroots ignited a fierce response from progressives, this has meant apologizing for his ill-chosen response to the protesters. In the case of Bernie Sanders, it meant reaching out to activists for damage-repairing meetings and issuing a strong statement in Houston against police killings of black people. And, in the case of Hillary Clinton who avoided the protest by not attending Netroots, it meant issuing a strong statement in support of the movement on Facebook.

The fallout from the Netroots presidential candidates’ forum has even reached the Republican Party candidates, with Jeb Bush defending O’Malley, saying the Democrat should not have had to apologize for his comment that “all lives matter.” “We're so uptight and so politically correct now that you apologize for saying lives matter?” he said in New Hampshire.

What Bush doesn’t acknowledge, though, is that the statement “Black Lives Matter” has many layers of meaning. It is not simply a banal statement about respecting life, but rather a response to a systematic dehumanization experienced by people of color in countless, ongoing ways. It is a response to a situation that so many of Bush’s followers, and even white progressives, do not have to live with on a daily basis.

But despite BLM’s piercing challenge to the logic of marginalization, and despite the fact the movement’s actions are often organized around and centered around traumatic events, the convening that begins today is a way for the activists to look forward. It includes healing workshops and strategizing sessions, with the goal of confronting the challenges of their work and developing a plan for their mission. The mood in the registration hall this morning was one of shared excitement and camaraderie, with groups of attendees shouting chants and hugging new arrivals.

“[The movement] is organic and spontaneous, and it’s arisen out of conditions on the ground,” Nellie Bailey of New York City says of the Black Lives Matter movement. “I’m cautiously optimistic about whatever draws people together—because of the potential.”

This Prosecutor is Wrong About the Death Penalty, But He’s Also Right

A few months ago, Dale Cox, the acting district attorney in Caddo Parish, Louisiana, told a reporter from the Shreveport Times the country needs to “kill more people.” The dramatic increase in capital convictions in Cox’s parish, which now accounts for almost 50 percent of those in all of Louisiana, was also the subject of a recent New York Times story.

While both Cox’s comments and his prosecutorial record are horrifying, he is right about something. As he told the Shreveport Times, the death penalty is really only about revenge.

There’s no evidence for the age-old defense, and in some ways raison d’etre, of capital punishment—that it deters crime. But even if there was, in our current system of endless appeals where an inmate waits on average almost 16 years between sentencing and execution dates, even the theoretical argument for deterrence is moot. We have, as a federal judge put it, while ruling California’s death penalty unconstitutional, a sentence of “life in prison, with the remote possibility of death.”

Even Cox admits this reality, saying, “It's a deterrent if it goes fast, but we can't get it done fast enough.” (Of course, I would argue with his inevitable conclusion—that we need to “get it done” faster.)

The death penalty is also not about justice for victims’ families, as newly baptized GOP presidential primary bottom feeder (and Governor of Ohio) John Kasich claims. “Every time there’s an appeal, all those details are in the media again, the case is reported again, and all that pain comes back,” says Mary Sloan, the executive director of the Kansas Coalition Against the Death Penalty. For this reason, among others, groups like Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights and Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation have organized to oppose capital punishment.

So it’s not about deterrence, and it’s not about justice. It’s about revenge—and we need to recognize that.

Last year, Alex Kozinski, then Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, got a lot of attention for suggesting, in a dissent, that we bring back the firing squad. But what much of the sensational coverage of his opinion missed was his core message: we shouldn’t be executing people in a way that makes it easier for us stomach (i.e. lethal injection). He wrote:

Using drugs meant for individuals with medical needs to carry out executions is a misguided effort to mask the brutality of executions by making them look serene and peaceful—like something any one of us might experience in our final moments. But executions are, in fact, nothing like that. They are brutal, savage events, and nothing the state tries to do can mask that reality. Nor should it. If we as a society want to carry out executions, we should be willing to face the fact that the state is committing a horrendous brutality on our behalf.

The same goes for why we execute people. If we’re comfortable with the death penalty, we need to be comfortable with the fact that we do it, not for deterrence or justice, but to exact government-sponsored revenge. We have to stop lying to ourselves. And if we can’t do that, we should be asking ourselves why we even have the death penalty at all. 

From L.A. to New York (and in Between), $15 Moves Forward

From the West Coast to the East Coast, this has been a good week for the burgeoning Fight for $15 campaign.

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to raise its minimum wage to $15 by 2020 for those who work in the unincorporated areas of the county. This comes on the heels of the same wage hike for workers in the City of Los Angeles passed by the city council back in May.

As the Los Angeles Times reports, the move will likely spur a few of the 86 smaller cities in the county to pass their own minimum wage hikes as well as increase pressure to put municipal wage initiatives onto the 2016 ballot.

Also in California, the University of California system (headed by former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano) announced that it will increase the minimum wage to $15 over the next three years. The move will give a raise to 3,200 direct UC employees in addition to several thousand contracted workers.

On the opposite side of the country, a much-anticipated announcement came down on Wednesday in New York state. The wage board charged with recommending a wage policy for the state’s fast food workers sent their decision to Governor Andrew Cuomo: raise their wages to $15

"Today, hundreds of thousands of working men and women across New York State will celebrate as their call for 15 and a union has been heard," said SEIU 32BJ President Hector Figueroa.

There was another wage victory last week in Kansas City, which is considered a case study in whether or not such a substantial minimum wage increase is feasible in a smaller city. While not quite $15, the city council overwhelmingly voted to raise its minimum wage to $13 an hour (though there’s an exemption for teenage entry-level workers).

In the nation’s capital, council members gave the go-ahead for a 2016 ballot initiative on a $15 minimum wage.

In national news, legislation was introduced on Wednesday by Senator Bernie Sanders and a cadre of progressive House members that would raise the national minimum wage to $15 an hour. Though it’s incredibly infeasible politically, it’s noteworthy that the Fight For $15 campaign has officially crossed the threshold into the U.S. Capitol. It’s also an ambitious departure from more modest Democratic minimum wage proposals in the past.

All in all, it has been a highly successful week for minimum wage campaigns around the country. 

Why Is Greece Cutting Pensions Instead of Its Massive Military Budget?

The Greek Parliament is set to vote today on reforms required for opening negotiations on a badly needed 86 billion euro bailout. Those reforms mostly include tax increases and budget cuts—conditions now painfully familiar to millions of Greeks who have already suffered through more than five years of crushing austerity.

But one part of the Greek budget that’s unlikely to be seriously cut back is defense. Which is a shame, because unlike pensions or fuel subsidies, it’s one area the government could easily afford to trim. Since the mid-1970s, in fact, and right through the last five years of fiscal crisis, Greek military spending as a percentage of GDP has been the highest among EU or NATO countries (aside from the U.S.).

That’s right: The nation at the heart of the Eurozone’s existential crisis, an economy that’s contracted by a full 25 percent since 2009 and has suffered Great Depression-level unemployment for the past five years, also has the continent’s biggest military budget. And it’s not just the budget itself. Despite participating in little more than peacekeeping operations in recent decades, Greece has the highest ratio of military personnel to population in Europe. And to this day, Greece’s 1,300-strong inventory of tanks is twice the number of the United Kingdom.

Why the massive military? Since the end of Greece’s military junta in the mid-’70s successive governments in Athens have justified the large defense budget as a safeguard against neighboring Turkey, with which Greece has fought numerous wars throughout its history. But more recently that argument has come to make less and less sense. After all, since 1952, both countries have been members of NATO, and thus bound by treaty to come to the other’s defense. And in the late 1990s when Turkey unsuccessfully attempted to join the EU, Greece’s then-Foreign Minister George Papandreou offered critical support.

But even stranger is the fact Germany has been one of Greece’s leading suppliers of arms right through the last five years. As Helena Smith reports for The Guardian, German-made weapons account for more than a quarter of Greek arms imports. Despite Germany’s critical role in demanding round after round of harsh austerity, Greece has long been its largest market for weaponry.   

To be fair, Greece’s defense budget hasn’t totally escaped cuts during the crisis. Since 2009, Greece has reduced its military spending by a full 54 percent, and while that’s significant, defense still accounts for 2.4 percent of Greece’s GDP—higher than Britain, Germany, or France, all nations that, unlike Greece, have seen major combat within the last two decades. In other words, the cuts since 2009 have moved the share of Greece’s defense spending from more than 3 percent of its economy to around 2.4 percent (higher than all Eurozone nations, but just below the Pentagon).

What’s more, it seems unlikely that defense cuts will be allowed to go much further. A few weeks ago, as Greece faced enormous pressure to once again cut its pension program, the European Commission came up with a compromise. If Greece slashed its military budget by 400 million euros, it could defer the pension cut. But the International Monetary Fund reportedly balked at the proposal, and the deal didn’t go through. Greeks braced themselves for another round of deep pension cuts and Greece’s military budget—enormous for the size of the country—remained unscathed. In fact, NATO recently estimated that instead of shrinking, Greece’s defense budget may actually increase over the next year.

For the past five years, ordinary Greeks have overwhelmingly paid the price for their government’s financial misdeeds. It’s time Greece’s defense budget shares some of that pain. 

There’s Still No Money In Sight for New Rail Tunnels Under the Hudson River. Blame Chris Christie.

In 2010, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie cancelled a tremendously important rail tunnel project under the Hudson River that had been in the works for nearly 20 years; billions of dollars had already been saved up for it. The only tunnels that currently exist there were built more than 100 years ago, are incapable of handling projected ridership growth, and have suffered serious deterioration—especially after Hurricane Sandy. The new tunnels would have helped not only New Jersey commuters but also all passengers who travel along the Northeast Corridor between Boston and Washington, D.C.

Christie’s decision to cancel the tunnel project, motivated by a fear of raising his state’s extremely low gas tax and thereby risk jeopardizing his national political ambitions, was one of the most irresponsible and reckless of his career. He not only cancelled the project, but he also spent the money that had been saved up for it on other things—leaving riders with no tunnel, and no solid prospects for one in the future. (For more details, see my cover story on Christie’s cancellation.)

Though my report was published in January, five months later there had been, according to the New York Times, little progress made towards securing funding for Amtrak’s proposed alternative rail project, which has an estimated price tag of $16 billion. Peter M. Rogoff, the under secretary in the federal Transportation Department, had reportedly “pleaded with transportation officials from throughout the metropolitan area to pull together on a plan.”

Well, it looks like those pleas didn’t go very far. Just yesterday Politico reported that Obama’s transportation secretary, Anthony Foxx, expressed great frustration at the lack of regional leadership in taking steps towards building the new tunnels. He said the region’s failure to act is “almost criminal” and that building these tunnels is “perhaps one of the—if not the—most important project in the country right now that’s not happening.”

Amtrak has estimated that their two-tube rail tunnel project under the Hudson River could be built by 2025 if funds were appropriated immediately. Yet after months of urgent begging, still nobody’s coughing up the money. To make matters worse, Amtrak officials aren’t even sure if the existing tunnels can hold up for another decade due to their age and the damage they’ve sustained from Hurricane Sandy.

This is a serious, serious mess. And as this presidential campaign season drags on, don’t forget that it was Chris Christie who orchestrated the disaster.

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