Mike Elk is a third-generation union organizer and labor journalist based in Washington, D.C. He writes frequently for the Huffington Post and In These Times and has appeared as a commentator on CNN, Fox News, and NPR. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/mikeelk.
When news of AT&T's acquisition of T-Mobile USA broke on Sunday, the immediate reaction among progressives was one of dismay.
"Don't believe the hype: There is nothing about having less competition that will benefit wireless consumers," said S. Derek Turner, research director of the open communications advocacy group Free Press, in a statement. Other progressive consumer groups, including the Consumer Federation of America and the Center for Digital Democracy, were also quick to issue statements denouncing the deal, which, if approved, would create the country's largest cellular carrier.
However, one progressive group cheered the merger: the Communication Workers of America, a labor union whose more than 500,000 members include 150,000 AT&T employees.
Students sleep outside the state Capitol this week after Wisconsin Department of Administration officials shut the building's doors. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)
After weeks of pitched battle that has clogged the state Capitol with protests and gummed up legislative works, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker hinted in an interview yesterday with the Wisconsin State Journal that he might be willing to make a deal with the public-sector unions.
The problem of money in politics is simple -- those with more resources too often have a stronger voice in the democratic process, regardless of the merits of their position. Watchdog organizations exist to uncover those who would use wealth to improperly influence politics. One such organization, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, has an admirable record of exposing corrupt members of Congress, but in recent months, CREW has for a second time sided with corporate interests and intervened in policy questions where no evidence of corruption can be found.
High-stakes Washington lobbyists have multiple tactics to win policy fights on behalf of their clients. A classic move is to line up unusual allies, especially progressive supporters for special-interest causes. Sometimes this is done through shell groups, but it's far more effective to get established progressive leaders and organizations to lend their credibility to your cause.