Economy

Businessmen Don't Understand Politics, Part 3,486

Flickr/Sam Graf
Yesterday, Barack Obama, who as we all know is on a mission to destroy capitalism, sat down with a group of capitalists from the Business Roundtable to hear their sage advice and answer their insightful questions about the economy and the state of the nation. During the session , Fred Smith, the CEO of Federal Express, mentioned a couple of bills floating around Congress to increase the gas tax, and asked the president, "Why not, before the Congress goes home for December, just pass a bill that takes the two bipartisan bills that I just mentioned, up, and solves the problem?" Yes, why not "just pass a bill"? Strange how nobody in Washington seems to have thought of that. It took a can-do business leader to cut through all the baloney and find the solution to the problem of crumbling infrastructure. I'm sure Smith is a smart guy in his way — I can't imagine an idiot could run a huge company like FedEx. But it's obvious that he knows nothing about politics. Yet I'm sure that like most...

A Modest Proposal: The Universal Christmas Bonus

Wikimedia Commons/Square87
L ast year, Paul Ryan passed along this made up story: This reminds me of a story I heard from Eloise Anderson. She serves in the cabinet of my buddy Governor Scott Walker. She once met a young boy from a poor family. And every day at school, he would get a free lunch from a government program. But he told Eloise he didn’t want a free lunch. He wanted his own lunch—one in a brown-paper bag just like the other kids’. He wanted one, he said, because he knew a kid with a brown-paper bag had someone who cared for him. Insofar as the point of this story is to push against free lunches in school, it's obviously a rather craven sentiment. The opponents and critics of free school lunch are an odd bunch. They seem to think it's basically alright to send over 90 percent of children to these big welfare programs called public schools, but that feeding them while they are at these welfare schools is over the line. It's not hard to see what's going on: public school is so commonplace and nearly...

Low Oil Prices Are History's Greatest Case of Market Failure

(AP Photo/Hasan Jamali, File)
(AP Photo/Hasan Jamali, File) R emember "Peak Oil?" The world was running out of oil , we were told: Prices would soon skyrocket, and we had better find other fuels. Well, that argument didn't work out so well for environmentalists, did it? As oil reserves and those of other carbon fuels became scarce and prices rose, the law of supply and demand kicked in. The industry invested the profits from those higher prices in new technologies, and the oil barons found even more destructive ways to extract oil and gas—by exploiting the muck from tar sands, inventing hydro-fracking, and despoiling sources in developing countries. So now, oil is cheaper than it's been in years, about $66 a barrel. Regular unleaded gasoline can be had for well under $3 a gallon. One of the few things sustaining U.S. consumer purchasing power in the face of dismal wages is close to $100 billion saved in energy costs. OPEC's pricing power has been broken , and the United States is about to surpass Saudi Arabia as...

Walmart Workers Stage Black Friday Protests at Stores Throughout the Country

Workers walked off the job in 10 states, employees in Los Angeles staged a fast, and workers in D.C. orchestrated a sit-in.

(AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
(AP Photo/Brennan Linsley) Colorado Walmart employees and supporters join nationwide protests, in front of a Walmart store in Lakewood, Colorado, Friday, November 29, 2013. This article was originally published by ThinkProgress . A s Americans rushed to take advantage of jaw dropping deals this Black Friday, thousands of Walmart employees and labor union members protested at 1,000 stores across the country for higher wages and consistent full-time work. At least 11 Walmart workers and supporters were arrested for blocking traffic outside a Walmart in Chicago. The strikes, organized for the third year in a row by the labor group OUR Walmart and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, come after a week of actions in which workers walked off the job in 10 states, employees in Los Angeles staged a fast, and workers in D.C. orchestrated a sit-in. The associates wore masking tape over their mouths to protest of Walmart “silencing of employees who complain about working...

Is Obama's Treasury Nominee a Wall Street Shill?

For most of his Wall Street career, the president's nominee to lead the domestic financial has epitomized everything that reeks about financial abuses.

Flickr/Alex E. Proimos
Flickr/Alex E. Proimos I f you want to understand what makes Elizabeth Warren so special in American politics, consider her nervy leadership of the campaign to block President Barack Obama's foolish nomination of one Antonio Weiss to be the top Treasury official in charge of the domestic financial system, including enforcement of the Dodd-Frank Act. For most of his Wall Street career, Weiss has epitomized everything that reeks about financial abuses. As chief of international mergers and acquisitions for Lazard, Weiss orchestrated what are delicately known as "corporate inversions," in which a domestic corporation moves its nominal headquarters offshore, to avoid its U.S. taxes. It's hard to improve on Senator Warren's description of this play, in her Huffington Post blog of last Wednesday: Basically, a bunch of companies have decided that all the regular tax loopholes they get to exploit aren't enough, so they have begun taking advantage of an even bigger loophole that allows them to...

The Next Cool Thing: Great Writing From the Middle of America

Marking its first year in publication, Belt Magazine, with its focus on the industrial Midwest, is the nation's new literary darling.

(AP Photo/Mark Duncan, File)
(AP Photo/Mark Duncan, File) This Tuesday, September 11, 2012, file photo shows the Cleveland skyline taken from the city's Edgewater Park. W hen news outlets and websites write about the industrial Midwest, the coverage can vacillate between boosterism and “ ruin porn ,” often at the expense of telling compelling stories about the people and complexities of cities like Detroit, Cleveland, and Buffalo. Belt Magazine , an online publication based in Cleveland, just celebrated its first anniversary with the release of Dispatches from the Rust Belt , a collection of the magazine’s best content. The American Prospect spoke with Belt ’s editor-in-chief Anne Trubek about the magazine’s first year and its mission to elevate longform writing and first-person essays alongside original reporting and stories from—and for—the Rust Belt. TAP: Where did you grow up and what brought you to Cleveland? And what made you stay for nearly two decades? Anne Trubek: I grew up in Madison, Wisconsin—so not...

Whither Wheeler? FCC Mulls the Fate of Net Neutrality

Whatever choice the FCC chairman makes will need the support of the other two Democrats on the commission to make it stick. Most believe he’ll have that backing.

(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh) Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler, left, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013, before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. This post first appeared on BillMoyers.com. A week has passed since President Obama surprised everyone with a strong statement in support of net neutrality, declaring that the Internet should be available to everyone—reclassified under Title II of the Telecommunications Act as a common carrier — a public utility like telephone service or electricity without special privileges to companies willing to pay a premium for faster, more exclusive access. In those seven days, opposition from the telecom and cable companies and their supporters in Congress has countered the initial, intense burst of enthusiasm from the media reform community. And the big question remains: When push comes to shove, where will Federal Communications Commission Chair Tom Wheeler — an Obama loyalist but former lobbyist...

How Democrats Can Win Back the White Working Class and Increase Turnout Among Blacks and Latinos

(Photo: Fibonacci Blue via Flickr/Creative Commons License)
(Photo: CNV Sioux Falls, SD Action via Flickr) Demonstrators in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, urge fellow citizens to vote for the November 4 ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage. The demonstration took place on Saturday, September 27. T he voting turnout in this year's congressional and gubernatorial elections was the lowest since 1942. Much of the story was in young people, poor people, black and Hispanic citizens, who tend to support Democrats, voting in far lower numbers than in 2008 or 2012. The Democrats just weren't offering them very much. But the other part of the Election Day story was older voters and the white working class, especially men, deserting the Democrats in droves—again, because Democrats didn't seem to be offering much. Republicans, at least, were promising lower taxes. Turnout on average dropped from 2012 by a staggering 42 percent. But as Sam Wang reported in a post-election piece for The American Prospect , the drop-off was evidently worse for Democrats...

How Badly Do Republicans Want Tax Reform? (Maybe Not That Badly)

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Representative Dave Camp, Republican of Michigan, speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 9, 2014. I f there's one major issue on which everyone in Washington seems to believe the White House and congressional Republicans might be able to agree to do something ambitious in the next two years, it's tax reform. A significant overhaul of the tax code hasn't happened in many years, and there are some areas of agreement between the two sides. Republicans supposedly want to show they can govern as the party in control of Congress, and President Barack Obama would like to obtain at least one significant legislative achievement in his second term. Big business, which has the ear of both parties, is eager for it. So is it going to happen? The answer depends, it would seem, on the tender emotions of Republicans, who are already complaining that tax reform might have to be scrapped if Obama is mean...

What Will Obama's Trade Deal Do for You? Maybe Cost You Your Job

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
This post originally appeared on the website of the Economic Policy Institute . P resident Obama is currently negotiating two massive new free trade agreements that, if enacted, are likely to result in increased outsourcing and growing job losses, especially in the manufacturing sector. He has asked Congress for “Fast Track” authority , which would allow him to submit trade agreements to Congress without giving members of Congress the opportunity to amend the deal. Experience has shown that these trade deals have resulted in massive job losses for American workers, as shown in the infographic below. Fast track trade legislation will speed the ratification of more job-destroying trade deals. </p><p> </p><p> As the infographic shows, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) resulted in growing U.S.-Mexico trade deficits that caused nearly 700,000 lost U.S. jobs between 1993...

Congressman From Goldman Sachs Vying to Lead Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee

(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak) U.S. Representative Jim Himes, Democrat of Connecticut, shown here at a hearing of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence regarding NSA surveillance in Washington, Tuesday, June 18, 2013. Himes, who is close to Wall Street financiers, is vying to lead the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. This article originally appeared at The Huffington Post . A fter the Democrats' drubbing in the 2014 midterm elections, there have been fervent debates about whether the party should embrace an economic populism to tap pocketbook frustrations—or move further to the center in the hopes of capturing more independents. One thing the Democrats did throughout Obama's nearly six years was move closer to Wall Street—from the economic team Obama appointed, to the administration's premature embrace of deficit reduction promoted by financial moguls, to a bailout plan that shored up the biggest banks rather than breaking them up. It was this coziness with big...

Detroit Moves to the Next Phase

(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)
The largest municipal bankruptcy in history has come to a close in Detroit after a year of proceedings, ending in a flurry of compromise. Yet there was plenty of conflict in the last year, far more than could have been predicted. In November 2013, Detroit became the largest city in the country to file for bankruptcy. When the proceedings started, the negotiation of the settlement—and that is really what the bankruptcy became—was a discussion between an emergency manager, from a law firm dedicated to the financial sector, and the financial sector. The people tried to get a seat at the table, but the emergency manager had a monopoly on the information and for the first four months of the process his was the only story available. The people were long on outrage and short on evidence. That all changed when the public became empowered to express its views based on data and analysis. Raw emotion and outrage was the most important factor, but engaging on the issues was essential as a way...

In Blue State Turned Red, Former Candidate Says Low Turnout Reflects Dems' Failures

The fundamental lesson for Maryland Democrats is that a candidate must stand for something, and that something better be what the citizens of the state want. 

(AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
(AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana) Larry Hogan, left, governor-elect of Maryland, is shown a campaign rally at Patapsco Arena in Baltimore on Sunday, November 2, 2014. He is accompanied by New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie, chairman of the Republican Governors Association. An earlier version of this essay appeared at The Huffington Post . T he national political red tide swept up the Chesapeake Bay, over the jetties of Spa Creek and up Annapolis's Main Street to the statehouse this week. After eight years of the Democratic administration of Governor Martin O'Malley and Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown—characterized by substantial progress on social issues—the Lieutenant Governor Hex landed squarely on Brown. A lieutenant governor has never succeeded his governor here; this year was no different. In a day when fatigue with and anger at the Obama administration was evident across the country, one of the biggest surprises was here in Maryland. In a state where registered Democrats...

Progressive Midterm Victories You Didn't Hear About -- And Some That Could Still Happen

Across the nation, voters passed measures against fracking and abortion restrictions, and for the minimum wage, paid sick leave, public safety and gun reform. 

(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez) Topher Jones, from left, of Denton, Texas, Edward Hartmann, of Dallas and Angie Holliday of Denton, Texas, hold a campaign sign supporting a ban outside city hall, Tuesday, July 15, 2014, in Denton, Texas. A North Texas city became the first in the state to ban hydraulic fracturing when voters passed a ballot measure on November 4, 2014. T uesday’s Republican wave of election victories did not reflect public opinion or the public mood. Instead it was the result of the GOP’s triumph in changing the rules of democracy to favor big business and conservative interest groups, including the triumphs of corporate money and voter suppression. But while Democrat candidates were going down to defeat, liberals and progressive won some impressive but little-publicized victories on important issues—including minimum wage hikes—especially in red and purple states, suggesting that voters are not as conservative as the pundits are pontificating. One of the most significant...

Minimum Wage Measures Pass Easily in Four Red States

In the 2014 midterms, the Democrats' economic agenda fared better than Democrats.

(AP Photo/Carson Walker)
(AP Photo/Carson Walker) South Dakotans decided on November 4, 2014 whether to raise the minimum wage in the state from $7.25 an hour to $8.50. Mark Anderson, president of the South Dakota AFL-CIO, led union members in gathering enough petitions to force a public vote on a minimum wage ballot measure. A s devastating as Tuesday night’s election was for Democrats—Republicans took control of the Senate and won a number of key governor races — it was actually an encouraging night for the progressive economic agenda. In four red states—Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota—minimum wage ballot initiatives all passed easily . In San Francisco, voters overwhelmingly passed a $15 minimum wage— with notably little opposition from the business community . And in Illinois, voters sent a clear message through a non-binding advisory initiative that they want lawmakers to raise the minimum wage, and fast. Increasing the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 has been a major economic...

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