Tuesday, January 21, 2020

70% of Americans Say U.S. Economic System Rigged

The notion that the U.S. economy is “rigged” to benefit the wealthy and special interests was a major rallying cry in the 2016 presidential election and is already resurfacing in the 2020 race.

This message is likely to resonate with many Americans. Seven-in-ten U.S. adults say the economic system in their country unfairly favors powerful interests, compared with less than a third who say the system is generally fair to most Americans. Wide majorities of Americans also say politicians, large corporations and people who are wealthy have too much power and influence in today’s economy.

These findings are part of a larger Pew Research Center survey on economic inequality. The survey finds, among other things, that most Americans believe there is too much inequality in the United States, with a majority of those who hold this view saying that major changes to the economic system are needed in order to address inequality.

Across income groups, Americans tend to agree that the economic system unfairly favors powerful interests. Two-thirds of upper-income adults (66%) say this, as do 69% of middle- and 73% of lower-income adults. No more than about a third in each income group say the economic system is generally fair to most Americans.

There is a partisan gap on this question, however. Republicans and independents who lean to the Republican Party are evenly divided, with half saying the economic system is generally fair and half saying it favors powerful interests. Among Democrats and Democratic leaners, the vast majority (86%) say the system unfairly favors powerful interests, while only 12% say the system is fair.

Republicans’ views differ significantly by income tier. Lower-income Republicans are far less likely than their higher-income GOP counterparts to say the economic system is generally fair (37% vs. 63%).

Among Democrats, large majorities in all three income groups say the economic system unfairly favors powerful interests: 94% of upper-income Democrats and 90% of middle-income Democrats say this, as do 79% of lower-income Democrats.

Among Americans overall, there is widespread agreement around which groups have too much power in today’s economy. About eight-in-ten or more adults say politicians (84%), large corporations (82%) and wealthy people (82%) have too much power and influence. About three-quarters (74%) say health insurance companies have too much power, and majorities say the same about banks and other financial institutions (64%) and technology companies (61%).

Upper-, middle- and lower-income adults are largely in agreement about the degree of influence these groups have. For example, 81% of upper-income adults say politicians have too much power and influence, as do 86% of middle- and 82% of lower-income adults. And large majorities across the three income groups say large corporations and people who are wealthy have too much power and influence.

There is some common ground across parties on this question. For example, large majorities of Republicans (86%) and Democrats (82%) say politicians have too much power and influence in the economy.

On other groups, partisans differ somewhat. Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say that large corporations, wealthy people and financial institutions have too much power. Republicans, in turn, are much more likely than Democrats to say labor unions have too much power.

Some differences also exist within the party coalitions. Lower-income Republicans (79%) are more likely than middle-income (68%) and upper-income Republicans (58%) to say that people who are wealthy have too much power in today’s society. A similar pattern applies when it comes to views of large corporations.

Among Democrats, those with higher incomes are more likely than lower-income Democrats to say that banks and other financial institutions have too much power (82% vs. 64%).

When it comes to who has too little power and influence in today’s economy, three groups stand out for Americans: people who are poor (75% say this), small businesses (73%) and the middle class (72%). Democrats are much more likely than Republicans to say poor people have too little influence (89% vs. 56%) and to say the middle class has too little influence (76% vs. 67%). Democrats and Republicans are largely in agreement when it comes to small businesses.

Views on the influence of these three groups are fairly consistent across income tiers.

Monday, January 20, 2020

The Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a United States federal holiday marking the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around the time of King's birthday, January 15.

The campaign for a federal holiday in King's honor began soon after his assassination in 1968, and the idea was strongly supported by labor unions. After King's death, United States Representative John Conyers (a Democrat from Michigan) and United States Senator Edward Brooke (a Republican from Massachusetts) first introduced a bill in Congress to make King's birthday a national holiday. The bill first came to a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1979. However, it fell five votes short of the number needed for passage.

The bill was finally passed by Congress and Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law in 1983, and it was first observed on January 20, 1986. At first, some states resisted observing the holiday as such, giving it alternative names or combining it with other holidays. It was officially observed in all 50 states for the first time in 2000.

Dr. King was the chief spokesman for nonviolent activism in the civil rights movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

What A Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders Presidency Would Look Like

What an Elizabeth Warren Presidency Would Look Like

Elizabeth Warren’s ambitions for the presidency are not small. Warren proposes to rewrite the rules of the economy by reining in capital, empowering labor and significantly expanding the welfare state.

To understand how Warren would create big structural changes as president, it’s helpful to look at how she has made change in the past.

THE STANDARD ADVICE TO FRESHMEN SENATORS IS THIS: Keep a low profile and suck up to your senior colleagues. As a newly elected senator in 2013, Elizabeth Warren did neither.

Instead, Warren used her perch on the Senate Banking Committee to excoriate ineffectual regulators, duplicitous CEOs, profiteering student lenders and other financial industry ne’er-dowells (interrogations made famous in videos that went viral). She publicly clashed with establishment Democrats such as Sens. Max Baucus (Mont.) and Joe Manchin (W.V.). She even took on President Barack Obama, leading the fight against several administration priorities, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and a pharmaceutical bill she described as “a bunch of special giveaways” to Big Pharma. Warren succeeded in getting under Obama’s skin to such an extent that he took the rare step of criticizing her repeatedly by name.

Progressive strategist and Warren supporter Murshed Zaheed says Warren was able to buck the Democratic establishment because she “came to the Senate with a movement behind her.”

Read the full article at “In These Times.”



What a Bernie Sanders Presidency Would Look Like

Sanders’ proposals go beyond piecemeal liberal solutions by targeting the unjust economic system that fuels climate change and pushing an agenda that simultaneously empowers workers and saves the planet. This agenda would help millions of workers join unions, give workers an ownership stake in major corporations, provide universal healthcare and tuition-free higher education, build millions of affordable homes and protect (rather than target) immigrants.

Though President Sanders could execute parts of this agenda on his own, much of it would require Congress. How could it pass, given Republican extremism and likely pushback from even a Democrat-controlled House and Senate? The question poses a serious problem for any program that meets our challenge. And it is one Sanders is uniquely positioned to solve.

Sanders understands that change at this scale will require mass movements to pressure Congress and every level of government—and to change their composition. Americans isolated and atomized by cutthroat capitalism must engage in massive collective action. His political program isn’t just about policy, then, but about the capacity of ordinary people to participate in democracy.

Read the full article at “In These Times.”


Sunday, December 22, 2019

The Year of Texas Democrats — 2020 Primary


There aren’t 20 Senate Republicans with enough integrity to remove the most corrupt president in American history, so we’re going to have to get rid of Trump the old-fashioned way – by electing a Democrat next 3 November. Texas Democrats have the motivation to have Texas add the state’s 38 electoral votes to electing that Democratic president - and more.

Texas has been slowly but steadily trending Democratic for years. Democrats have moved the ball further down the court each election over the last few election cycles as the demographics of Texas’ population slowly but surely evolve to their advantage.

The case for Democrats winning Texas in 2020 begins with this: Texas hasn’t been a red state, so much as it’s been a non-voting state for left-leaning Texans. For more than a generation, left-leaning Texans lack motivation to go to their polling places to vote for Democrats. They believed Republicans had such a lock on Texas politics that Republicans would win, each election, no matter what. So they didn’t “waste their time” by dropping by their local polling place to vote for Democrats on the ballot, who, in there mind’s eye, could never win. But that has been changing with each passing election - and accelerating each passing day since since Donald Trump moved into the White House. Increasingly, left-leaning Texans are seeing in their mind’s eye that it is possible for Democrats to win Texas - and that’s Texas Democrats’ most powerful secret weapon in 2020.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Record Greenhouse Gases Accelerates Climate Change

The tell-tale signs and impacts of climate change – such as sea level rise, ice loss and extreme weather – increased during 2015-2019, which is set to be the warmest five-year period on record, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere have also increased to record levels, locking in the warming trend for generations to come.

The WMO report on The Global Climate in 2015-2019, released to inform the United Nations Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit, says that the global average temperature has increased by 1.1°C since the pre-industrial period, and by 0.2°C compared to 2011-2015.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Climate Activist Greta Thunberg At the United Nations


Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg
spoke at the United Nations on Monday
about climate change, accusing world
leaders of inaction and half-measures.
Text of Greta Thunberg’s full remarks:

This is all wrong. I shouldn't be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet, you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you!

You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words and yet I'm one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!

Friday, July 19, 2019

Understanding Donald Trump and The GOP


We originally published this article in December 2015. It seems the right time to again move this article front and center.

The GOP finds itself trapped in its southern strategy that has not only gone bad, but has left it exposed naked in full public view.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

It’s Time For Democrats To Drive A Stake Through The Heart Of Reaganomics

Donald Trump today awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Republican economist Art Laffer, the ‘godfather’ of supply-side trickle down Reaganomics. Laffer’s contributions have built a streak of unbroken Republican policy wrongness over a time and scale few policy entrepreneurs in history can match. Trump is giving Laffer the award because last year he coauthored a fawning tribute to President Trump and his agenda. Trump is known to habitually reward his most slavish supporters.

Reaganomics is President Ronald Reagan's conservative economic policy that promised to subsantially shrink the federal government and government spending, and reduce the government's influence on the economy.

Reagan’s legislative agenda implemented an era of laissez-faire economic policy that promoted unregulated “free markets” and untaxed “capitalism” where corporate tax rates and capital gains rates for individuals were effectively diminished, as near as possible, to zero.

Dubbed supply-side, or trickle-down, economics, President Reagan’s economic policy was to reduce, and where possible, elminate taxes on businesses and the wealthy in society as a means to stimulate business investment. Reagan’s theory of trickle-down economics held that corporations and the wealthy would directly invest the money they don’t pay to the government in taxes into business development, which creates jobs, and supports social institutions, which benefits society at large. The theory says that as companies get more cash from tax cuts, they will hire new workers and expand their businesses. It also says that income tax cuts to workers give them more incentive to work, increasing the supply of labor.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

No Centrist Middle Ground for Democrats

Who said: “Socialism is a scare word (the corporate special-interest lobbies) have hurled at every advance the people have made in the last 20 years. Socialism is what they called public power. Socialism is what they called social security. Socialism is what they called farm price supports. Socialism is what they called bank deposit insurance. Socialism is what they called the growth of free and independent labor organizations. Socialism is their name for anything that helps all the people…”? It wasn’t Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

Who said: “We are rightly proud of the high standards of medical care we know how to provide in the US. The fact is, however, that most of our people cannot afford to pay for the care they need. I have often and strongly urged that this condition demands a national health program. The heart of the program must be a national system of payment for medical care based on well-tried insurance principles. This great nation cannot afford to allow its citizens to suffer needlessly from the lack of proper medical care”? It wasn’t Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Elizabeth Warren Is Not Afraid of Democrats

The 2020 presidential candidate has a long track record of opposing lobbyists, billionaires, the Republicans—and her own party’s centrists. When Senator Elizabeth Warren declared that she was running for president in February, she described Donald Trump’s administration as “the most corrupt in living memory.” But she didn’t stop there: “Even after Trump is gone, it won’t be enough to do a better job of running a broken system,” she said. Warren’s speech was centered around the notion that political corruption is not a uniquely Republican problem. “To protect their economic advantages, the rich and powerful have rigged our political system as well,” she continued. “They’ve bought off or bullied politicians in both parties to make sure Washington is always on their side.”

Anyone who’s followed Warren’s career knows she’s been making statements like this for years. These are all implicit criticisms of the Democratic Party’s centrist policies charted by President Bill Clinton and adopted as party orthadoxy over the last quarter century. But her position is suddenly mainstream.

Read the rest of the story at: The Nation: Elizabeth Warren Is Not Afraid of the Democrats

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Green New Deal

In very broad strokes, the Green New Deal resolution offered by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass. asks members of Congress to recognize the duty of the Federal Government to set goals to slow and stop global warming. In that vein, the resolution stresses that it aims to meet its ambitious goals while paying special attention to groups like the poor, disabled and minority communities that might be disproportionately affected by massive economic transitions like those the Green New Deal calls for.

Importantly, the resolution is nonbinding, meaning that even if it were to pass, it wouldn't itself create any new programs. Instead, it would affirm the sense of Congress that carbon output should be cut in the coming years to slow global warming and the ravages of climate change.

The resolution is simply a statement of intent, explaining the justification and goals of an infrastructure program to transition to a sustainable low carbon output future. This is at once incredibly ambitious and politically practical, in that resolution co-authors seem to have in their minds a long-term plan to get it accomplished.

(Lawmakers pass nonbinding resolutions for things as simple as congratulating Super Bowl winners, as well as to send political messages — for example, telling the president they disapprove of his trade policies, as the Senate did in summer 2018.)

The Green New Deal resolution outlines a framework of big climate-change-related ideas combined with a list of progressive public policy proposals that, taken together, would touch nearly every American and overhaul the economy.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

State Driver’s License Becomes National Real I.D. Card


Texas residents are receiving letters from the department of public safety warning that their driver’s licenses are about to expire, even though their licenses are still valid for more than a year or two. But, there is an explanation.

Texas DPS is in the process of implementing the Federal REAL ID ACT, which will require many Texas to get an updated driver’s license or ID card to board air planes for domestic travel, and go into federal buildings to ask in person for help at their local Social Security office, or any other federal services office.  While the REAL ID Act deadline is October 2020, Texas DPS officials do not want Texans to wait until the last minute to be in compliance with the federal law.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Something’s Happening in Texas - Final 2018 Midterm Results


Congratulations Democrats and Progressives — You Won. Do not accept any narrative other than one of a big win from hard-fought campaigns.

Democrats elected an unprecedented number of women, including two Muslim women, turned at least 6 state legislatures bluedemanded the Medicaid Expansion to Obamacare in three red states, and passed referendums in favor of recreational and medical marijuana and an increased minimum wage in several states.

More than half of eligible voters in the U.S. turned out to cast a ballot in the 2018 midterm elections, a record-high in modern history. Michael McDonald, an associate professor of political science at the University of Florida, estimates that 118 million people voted in the midterms, about 50.1 percent of eligible voters. That turnout is about 11 points higher than the average for midterm turnout of 39.4 percent in at least the past three decades, since 18- to 20-year-olds became eligible to vote. In 2014, 83 million people turned out to vote. That’s the highest recorded rate for the midterms since 1914 when turnout was 50.4% and women didn’t have the vote.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Unprecedented Midterm Election Early Turnout - Is It Enough?


Americans cast in-person and absentee ballots during early voting this year at rates unprecedented for midterm elections since early voting was instituted. With the conclusion of early voting, almost 35 million ballots have already cast nationwide, with Election Day still to go.

In 22 states, including Texas, and Washington, D.C., with an early voting period more people voted early than did so in the last midterm election, reports the New York Times. That means more people have cast a ballot over 12 days of early voting in those counties than turned out for the entire 2014 midterm election. And early voter turnout has surpassed that from the 2012 presidential election.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Texas Early Turnout Day 8 - Blue Wave Yet?

Going into the second week of early voting, it has become increasingly clear Texas is in the midst of an unprecedented turnout midterm election. Texans in some Texas counties have waited in lines for hours to cast their votes. The result has been record-breaking midterm vote totals across the state.

As of Monday, day eight of early voting, 3,354,029 Texans have cast in-person and by-mail in ballots in the 30 counties where most registered voters in the state — 78 percent — live. That preliminary turnout has surpassed the total votes cast in those counties during the entire two-week early voting period in the last midterm election in 2014. So far this year, 27.4 percent of the 12.26 million registered voters in those 30 counties have voted.


We still have too little data to predict the specific election outcomes or the long-term effect of this unprecedented outpouring of voter interest, but we know for certain that Texans are fired up and ready to vote. This state generally sees fewer than 39 percent of registered voters regularly participating in midterm elections.

Voter participation in this year is nearly three times that of the 2014 midterm and is near the pace set during the 2016 presidential election. assuming turnout will continue at the pace set during early voting, total turnout for this election will likely top 60 percent of record high number of registered voters

Historically, midterms have been viewed as a referendum on the party occupying the White House. This political axiom seems magnified this year as Donald Trump has made every effort to nationalize this midterm. Trump’s name is not on the ballot, but the president clearly is casting a big shadow on this election.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Texas Early Turnout Day 4 - Blue Wave Yet?


Early voting in 2018 midterm general election turnout and enthusiasm are unusually strong among both Republicans and Democrats across the U.S., including Texas.

As of day three of early voting, 1,344,741 Texans have cast in-person ballots and 240,601 cast mail-in ballots in the 30 counties where most registered voters in the state — 78 percent — live. That turnout equals 79 percent of the total votes cast in those counties during the entire two-week early voting period in the last midterm election in 2014.

So far this year, 12.9 percent of the 12.3 million registered voters in those 30 counties have voted. If turnout rates remain at these levels, we could see presidential election year turnout levels across Texas and the U.S., which would be virtually unprecedented.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

What A Texas Blue Wave Might Look Like


Texas Democrats have been losing midterm elections by more or less a two-to-one turnout margin since Ann Richards lost her 1994 Gubernatorial re-election to George Bush. Democrats can chalk up their long losing streak to one thing: Only about one in three Texans registered to vote have cast ballots in midterm elections over the last quarter century, and it's Democrats who haven’t been turning out at the polls.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Trump Distracts While Appointees Sledgehammer Government

With nearly every utterance, Donald Trump affirms the conclusion we reached two years ago that he is temperamentally and intellectually unfit to serve as president of the United States. But there he is, a year after his inauguration, waging a war of words with the world from behind the Resolute desk in the Oval Office. He has denigrated fellow citizens and international allies; threatened nuclear war; undermined public faith in the judiciary, Congress, and the media; found some “very fine people” at a gathering of neo-Nazis; and dispensed utterly with the idea of presidential gravitas.

In fact, there’s been so much public attention paid to his tweets, to his character and temperament, to the ongoing investigations into how he came to power, that close scrutiny has sometimes lagged into what this administration has actually done.

Click here to read the rest of the story at the LA Times: