Biden's America #2

Reply Sat 1 Oct, 2022 06:17 pm
At the pandemic's beginning, Texas Attorney General, Dan Patrick, urged older people to deliberately expose themselves to Covid and to die for the economy. I am surprised nobody's made an issue of it.
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Reply Tue 4 Oct, 2022 09:14 am
The irony is strong with this one...
Quote Tweet
President Biden

United States government official
The United States stands with Iranian women and Iranian citizens who are inspiring the world with their bravery.

This week, we will impose further costs on perpetrators of violence against peaceful protestors. We'll continue to support the rights of Iranians to protest freely.
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Reply Thu 6 Oct, 2022 02:21 pm
Biden has made a small gesture that will help quite a few people by pardoning those federally charged with simple marijuana possession. As usual, he does a half measure by not decriminalizing it.
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Reply Tue 11 Oct, 2022 05:36 am
As someone who has a lifetime 100% pro-choice voting record, and is outraged by the supreme court’s horrific decision to overturn Roe v Wade, there is no question but that Democrats must continue to focus on the right of women to control their own bodies. This is a fight that most Americans want us to wage and, given the Republicans’ extremist position on the issue, makes them genuinely vulnerable.
But, as we enter the final weeks of the 2022 midterm elections, I am alarmed to hear the advice that many Democratic candidates are getting from establishment consultants and directors of well-funded Super Pacs that the closing argument of Democrats should focus only on abortion. Cut the 30-second abortion ads and coast to victory.
I disagree. In my view, while the abortion issue must remain on the front burner, it would be political malpractice for Democrats to ignore the state of the economy and allow Republican lies and distortions to go unanswered.
This country has, for decades, faced structural economic crises that have caused the decline of the American middle class. Now is the time for Democrats to take the fight to the reactionary Republican party and expose their anti-worker views on the most important issues facing ordinary Americans. That is both the right thing to do from a policy perspective and good politics.
We have more income and wealth inequality than at any time in the modern history of this country, with three people owning more wealth than the bottom half of our nation. Is there one Republican prepared to raise taxes on billionaires, or do they want to make a bad situation worse by extending Trump’s tax breaks for the rich and repealing the estate tax?
Today, 60% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, and millions work for starvation wages. Is there one Republican in Congress who is prepared to raise the federal minimum wage to at least $15 an hour?
The United States pays, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. Is there one Republican prepared to allow Medicare to immediately begin negotiating prescription drug prices with the pharmaceutical industry and cut the cost of medicine by half?
We have a dysfunctional health care system which, despite being the most expensive in the world, allows 85 million Americans to be uninsured or underinsured. Is there one Republican who believes that health care is a human right and supports universal coverage?
We remain the only major country on earth not to guarantee time off for moms who have babies or need to take care of sick children.
Is there one Republican who supports at least 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave?
The list goes on: childcare, housing, home health care, college affordability. On every one of these enormously important issues the Republican party has virtually nothing to say to address the desperate needs of low and moderate income Americans. And what they do propose will most often make a bad situation worse.
Nevertheless, in poll after poll Republicans are more trusted than Democrats to handle the economy – the issue of most importance to people. I believe that if Democrats do not fight back on economic issues and present a strong pro-worker agenda, they could well be in the minority in both the House and the Senate next year.
And it’s not only the long-term structural crises that Democrats must address. It is the outrageous level of corporate greed that we now see every day that is fueling the inflation hurting so many people.
While the price of gas has soared over the last year, the five big oil companies made $59 billion in profits during the 2nd quarter of this year alone, and are spending $88 billion on stock buybacks and dividends to benefit their wealthy shareholders.
While global food prices soared by over 33% last year and are expected to go up another 23% this year, billionaires in the global food and agri-business industry became $382 billion richer during the pandemic.
While we continue to pay, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs, 3 of the largest pharmaceutical companies in America – Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and AbbVie – increased their profits by 90% last year to $54 billion.
While 46% of Americans either skipped or delayed the health care they need because they could not afford it, the six largest health insurance companies in America last year made over $60 billion in profits.
What do Republicans have to say about corporations that are charging Americans outrageously high prices, while enjoying record breaking profits? They talk a lot about inflation. But what are they going to do about it? Does one of them have the courage to consider a windfall, profits tax? Absolutely not.
You can’t win elections unless you have the support of the working class of this country. But you’re not going to have that support unless you make it clear that you’re prepared to take on powerful special interests – and fight for the millions of Americans who are struggling economically. Whether it is extending the $300 a month child tax credit that expired in December that slashed the child poverty rate by over 40%, or increasing social security benefits, or expanding Medicare to cover dental, hearing and vision or making childcare affordable, the Democrats must stand with the working class of this country and expose the Republicans for the phonies that they are.
None of what I am suggesting here is “radical”. It is, in fact, extremely popular. It is what the American people want. If we close this critical midterm campaign with a clear, unified vision to meet the needs of working families, to take on corporate greed, and protect a woman’s right to choose, we will begin to rebuild the trust between Democrats in Washington and the working families of this country.
And we’ll win the election.

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Reply Wed 12 Oct, 2022 05:35 am

How The ACA Became The Unaffordable Care Act
BY THE LEVER – 12 OCT 2022 –
Twelve years ago, the Affordable Care Act was sold as a way to preserve privately financed health insurance and provide affordable coverage. But as The Lever reports today, new data show that major health insurers now get most of their money from the government, have jacked up prices by 24 percent in a single year — and have left nearly half of America underinsured or uninsured.


Health Insurers Get Government Cash, Then Jack Up Prices
Despite the Affordable Care Act’s promises, publicly subsidized insurers are jacking up prices while Americans lose coverage.

Back in 2010, Democrats sold the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to Americans as a way to both preserve a privately financed health insurance system and provide more affordable and expanded coverage.

Twelve years later, as health insurance companies report record profits, the opposite has happened: The nation’s major health insurance companies are receiving most of their money from the government, they just jacked up prices by double digits, and nearly half of the country is now underinsured or uninsured.

A new analysis from former health insurance executive Wendell Potter shows that six of the seven largest health insurers — Centene, CVS, Elevance, UnitedHealth, Humana, and Molina — now receive the majority of their health plan revenues from the federal government, while the seventh, Cigna, gets 42 percent of its revenue from the government. These revenues are fueled in large part by the growth of Medicare Advantage plans, the expensive privatized Medicare plans operated by private health insurers that often wrongfully deny care.

These figures do not even include the subsidies that insurers receive to help people buy individual insurance plans offered on state exchanges under the ACA. Under President Joe Biden, Democrats have twice expanded this ACA subsidy program, now until 2025. If Democrats move to authorize these subsidies yet again, the total ACA health insurance subsidy scheme would cost the public more than $800 million over the decade. Meanwhile, these plans deny nearly 20 percent of all in-network health claims.

All that government money, however, is not buying more affordable prices. According to new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, health insurers raised their prices by 24 percent in a single year. Earlier this year, the Biden administration announced an 8.5 percent spike in revenues paid to Medicare Advantage insurers after implementing the highest-ever increase to Medicare premiums, a decision Biden has partially walked back for next year.

The government largesse is inflating insurance industry profits, but it isn’t buying universal — or even very good — coverage: A new study from the Commonwealth Fund finds that 43 percent of Americans “are inadequately insured” — meaning they’ve had coverage gaps, they are insured but still cannot afford medical services, or they have no insurance at all.

Biden campaigned on a promise to create a public health insurance option, whose “premiums could be substantially lower than those of private plans,” according to the Congressional Budget Office. However, Biden hasn’t once mentioned a public option since becoming president.

Democrats have instead moved to expand health insurance coverage by providing more subsidies to insurance companies to put people on ACA plans.

Meanwhile, the insurance sector has poured more than $18 million into Democratic coffers in the last two years.

According to the New York Times, by next year, a majority of seniors will be enrolled in private Medicare Advantage plans instead of the traditional Medicare program. The Trump administration actively encouraged seniors to choose the private plans with advertisements touting their extra benefits, like gym memberships and dental coverage — without mentioning the plans’ threat of wrongful denials of care.

Amid that trend, the Trump and Biden administrations have also operated programs that allow companies to move seniors from traditional Medicare into private health care plans without their informed consent.

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Reply Fri 14 Oct, 2022 08:30 am

The flaws and fantasies of the new Biden doctrine
The US president’s new National Security Strategy is ambitious — and delusional about America’s role in the world.

Marwan Bishara
Marwan Bishara
Senior political analyst at Al Jazeera.
Published On 14 Oct 2022
14 Oct 2022
President Joe Biden speaks during the first U.S.-Pacific Island Country Summit at the State Department in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022. Biden is hosting Pacific Island leaders for a two-day summit as the U.S. looks to counter China's military and economic influence in the region. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
President Joe Biden speaks during the first US-Pacific Islands Country Summit at the State Department in Washington, on Thursday, September 29, 2022, held amid growing concerns in Washington over China's expanding influence in the region [Susan Walsh/AP Photo]
United States President Joe Biden’s newly released National Security Strategy is an amalgam of his predecessors’ doctrines.

It claims the role of an indispensable global leader like Bush Sr and embraces a Manichaean view of the world — democracy vs autocracy, good vs evil — like Ronald Reagan and George W Bush. It promotes the gospel of free democracy and open markets like Bill Clinton, and suggests that like, Barack Obama, Biden is ready to cooperate and negotiate with “rogue regimes”. It even underlines an America First approach that prioritises domestic spending and investment — borrowing from the man Biden dismissively refers to as the “former guy”.

No easy feat; no less after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has complicated the NSS final draft and delayed its publication by several months. To paraphrase Mike Tyson: “Everyone has a strategy until they are punched in the face.”

So, where this pompous exercise in grandeur falls short on coherence, it makes up with easy cliches about the indispensable nation’s role in the creation of a “prosperous” and “inclusive world”.

From the outset, Biden makes a number of fanciful — even delusional — assumptions about US world leadership. “Around the world, the need for American leadership is as great as it has ever been,” the document claims, because “no nation is better positioned to lead with strength and purpose than the United States of America.”

Such assumptions may have been true in the post-Cold War period but can no longer be justified — not after three decades of failures and fiascos, overreaction and later overreach; and not after the country’s recent retreat and retrenchment from the global stage.

Yet, the NSS pronounces that “we must proactively shape the international order in line with our interests and values”. There’s no escape from American righteousness, even when those liberal values are backsliding at home and abroad.

Every time the United States leads by the example of its power, it compromises the power of its example, alas.

At the heart of the newly unveiled strategy lies a paradox in the form of a clearly stated dual challenge to American national security: a geopolitical threat from China and Russia, and global threats — climate change, terrorism, new pandemics and food insecurity, among others.

For the long term, the Biden administration is preoccupied mainly with a rising China. In the immediate, it is also focused on the Russian threat to European security. It believes these autocracies are “working overtime to undermine democracy and export a model of governance marked by repression at home and coercion abroad”. All of this, of course, hinders the indispensable multilateral cooperation needed to tackle common transnational dangers that know no borders or geography.

To resolve this paradox, the NSS proposes to “preserve and increase international cooperation in an age of competition … within the rules-based international order and while working to strengthen international institutions”. Hence, Biden claims not to seek “a new Cold War” with China, but rather reaffirms America’s One China policy, and makes clear that Washington does not support Taiwan’s independence.

But China and Russia view America’s “rules-based international system” as the incarnation of US imperialism. They pay attention mainly to what the US does — not to what Biden says. They regard US strategic containment, military buildup, and alliance formation and expansion with alarm and hostility that will certainly undermine the cooperation and coordination needed to meet global challenges.

Another problem lies with the NSS’s choice of resources and methods to achieve its objectives. It speaks of a desire to build a “free, open, prosperous, and secure international order” where people can “enjoy their basic, universal rights and freedoms”.

However, to achieve such a worthy, even noble objective, the US plans to grow its power, amplify its influence through international coalitions, and modernise and strengthen its military. This comes even as the US already spends more on its military than the next nine biggest spenders, all of which — with the exception of China and Russia — are its allies.

In other words, the Biden administration speaks as a healer but acts like a hammer, believing the US could and should act as the world’s policeman, despite a long and bloody history.

And then there are the contradictions between US nuclear modernisation and non-proliferation. The NSS commits to modernise the country’s nuclear Triad and related infrastructure, while at the same time, speaking of verifiable arms control and the global non-proliferation regime.

In other words, the US, like China and Russia, persists in its violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty that requires nuclear powers to pursue disarmament aimed at the ultimate elimination of their nuclear arsenals. The US insists that Iran must comply with its NPT obligations when it does not.

The same goes for values and interests that do not usually align with foreign policy, especially in the Middle East, where the Biden administration has been shoring up autocracies and rallying them against Russia, all in the name of democracy.

The NSS also commits the United States to proactively integrate Israel into the region, albeit at the expense of Palestinians and Arab rights. It mentions the two-state solution as the better option, but in practice — and unsurprisingly — it panders to Israel.

To his credit, Biden — unlike Trump — does not stereotype or even mention Islam or Muslims in association with al-Qaeda or ISIL (ISIS). And like Obama’s so-called “leading from behind” approach, Biden proposes cooperation and support to trusted partners, shifting from a strategy that is “US-led, partner-enabled” to one that is “partner-led, US-enabled”. And for what it is worth, he also does not mention Ukraine joining NATO, only the European Union.

This is an overly ambitious strategy with major faults and fantasies. It will give comfort to America’s friends looking for protection and support from the benevolent superpower, but will also provide ammunition to America’s detractors regarding its aggressive imperialist agenda.

If, as it has been said, a strategy is an art — the “political art of creating power”, of getting more out of a situation than the balance of power would suggest — this National Security Strategy is a masterpiece. But only in theory.

In practice, it confirms what we’ve known for a millennium: When a rising power challenges a dominant power, it is time to put on the seat belts.
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Reply Sun 16 Oct, 2022 08:33 am
Stuff The Lever Reported This Week:
Health Insurers Get Government Cash, Then Jack Up Prices — “The nation’s major health insurance companies are receiving most of their money from the government, they just jacked up prices by double digits, and nearly half of the country is now underinsured or uninsured.”
Capitalizing On The Refugee Crisis — “[Big] companies are bankrolling GOP politicians who are raising campaign money off of their public abuse of immigrants — while mistreating their workers and expressly tying the worth of refugees to their labor productivity.”
GOP Govs Reject Cannabis Pardons After Getting Private Prison Cash — “Those three governors have raked in more than $263,000 from donors linked to the private prison industry, which profits off tough-on-crime policies and incarceration. In all, the private prison industry has funneled more than $1 million into state elections in the last 4 years, mostly to Republicans.”
A $21 Million Anti-Abortion Ad Blitz In Michigan — “Anti-abortion forces have recently flooded the airwaves with more than $13 million worth of negative ads — outspending pro-choice groups in the state by nearly two to one.”
Intel’s Multi-Billion Bait And Switch — “Just a couple of months after Intel’s multi-million dollar lobbying effort succeeded in winning microchip companies billions of dollars in no-strings-attached corporate subsidies, Intel is reportedly planning to lay off thousands of workers.”
Will Louisiana Finally Get Its First Black Senator? — “When every policy decision is made in this state about resources that are allocated to solve problems, Black people are disadvantaged in that conversation. And taxation without representation is about as un-American as you can be, right?”
YOU LOVE TO SEE IT: Gig Workers Get A Leg Up — “Also, an anti-abortion case with national ramifications was stopped in its tracks, unionized nurses in the Midwest are holding hospitals accountable, wind farms are proving to be a great return on investment, and Delaware is breaking cycles of debt with a bold new policy.”
🎧LEVER TIME: Biden's Marijuana Plan: The Good, The Bad, And The Corporate Interests — “Joel and Shaleen break down every aspect of Biden’s plan, as well as the corporate interests hoping to turn a profit from marijuana legalization.”
🎧THE AUDIT: We’re Auditing George W. Bush’s MasterClass — “Dave, Josh, and Kate pick apart Bush’s whitewashing of his own legacy, offer a retrospective on his charmed life in Texas, and mull the disastrous consequences of his presidency.”
🎧LEVER LIVE: Billionaires’ Doomsday Prep (w/ Douglas Rushkoff) — “David Sirota is joined by media theorist Douglas Rushkoff to discuss the very real machinations of the ultra-wealthy as they prepare for a ‘world-ending’ event. Unfortunately for us — they’re only planning on saving themselves.”
🎧 LEVER TIME PREMIUM: How To "Ruggedize" Your Life (w/ Alex Steffen) — “David Sirota chats with acclaimed climate futurist Alex Steffen about the practicalities of building sustainable infrastructure, and how to “ruggedize” your life in the face of climate change.”
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Reply Sun 16 Oct, 2022 11:38 pm
Warren Gunnels
No. The problem is not that the working-class got a $1,400 direct payment 19 months ago and the dude at Arby's got a 50 cent raise a year ago. The problem is that corporations are making record profits by jacking up the price of everything. The problem is corporate greed, boss.
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Reply Mon 17 Oct, 2022 05:45 am

Why Are Dems Ignoring The Economy?

The economy is bad and inflation is getting worse, so it's no surprise that voters' top concern right now is the economy. However, Democrats have gone nearly silent on the issue in the final stretch of the election, according to a Lever analysis of TV ad data. Andrew Perez dissects this state of affairs in today's featured article, in full

Dems Barely Messaging On Economic Issues
Republicans are spending Democrats into the ground on economic issues and inflation.

By Andrew Perez & David Sirota

Even as polling shows Americans’ top concern in the upcoming midterm is the economy, Democrats have barely amplified any message on the issue in their midterm House and Senate election advertising campaigns, according to new data reviewed by The Lever.

Republican candidates and political groups have spent $44 million on TV ads focused on the economy and inflation since Labor Day, according to a tally from AdImpact, which tracks campaign spending throughout the country. In the same period, Democrats have spotlighted these issues in just $12 million worth of ads, less than 7 percent of the party’s total ad spending during that time. The party has put another $18 million into ads mentioning jobs and infrastructure — but overall, Republicans are significantly outspending them on messaging around economic issues.
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Reply Mon 17 Oct, 2022 06:31 pm
edgarblythe wrote:

I am making a deal with the devil. This year and in 2024 I will vote for the Democratic nominees. If Democrats gain in the Senate and hold the House and Presidency and still don't accomplish things I hold as important I will never vote Democratic again.

Part one accomplished. I voted early and for only Democrats, despite the fact there are some deserving Greens on the ballot - particularly for governor. Wednesday when I go to town I will mail the ballot.
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Reply Tue 18 Oct, 2022 07:20 am
Deferring To Donors, Dems Ignore Their Cautionary Tale
In 2014, the party learned pro-choice messaging can’t replace economic populism. That lesson is being ignored in deference to big money.
Deferring To Donors, Dems Ignore Their Cautionary Tale
U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., greets supporters at a campaign rally for his re-election bid in Denver on Oct. 15, 2014. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
In 2014, Colorado hosted a U.S. Senate race that for a time became a Democratic cautionary tale — but now seems like a foreboding preview of Democrats’ 2022 national election campaign.

Amid the smoldering wreckage of the financial crisis, Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) based his campaign message almost exclusively on his defense of abortion rights in a race against anti-choice Republican Cory Gardner. Udall was unfairly vilified by the national and local press for his laser focus. Ultimately, the Denver Post editorial board endorsed Gardner, insisting the right-winger’s “election would pose no threat to abortion rights” and declaring that Udall’s “obnoxious one-issue campaign is an insult to those he seeks to convince.”

Two things ended up being true at the same time. It was true that despite the advantages of both incumbency and a respected surname, Udall lost the race because he was perceived to be a “one-issue” candidate who had ignored the 1992 Clinton campaign’s mantra: “It’s the economy, stupid.”

It was also true that Udall was right that his loss would threaten reproductive rights — indeed, despite the Denver Post’s assurances to the contrary, Gardner went on to cast pivotal Senate votes to appoint three of the right-wing Supreme Court justices who overturned Roe v. Wade.

At the time, the moral of the story seemed clear: Democrats may lose winnable elections in tough economic times if they are not willing to break with their big donors and offer a populist economic message promising to fix the problems those donors are creating. Without that kind of economic message, they may lose even if they’re right about conservatives’ social-issue extremism.

But eight years later, that lesson has been memory-holed as America faces the same scenario — at a much bigger scale. As The Lever recently reported, Democrats confronting a pivotal election in another economic crisis are spending tens of millions of dollars on ads about abortion, while spending far less on ads addressing inflation or the economy — the two issues that a bevy of recent polls show voters are most worried about.

Other data tell the same story: The Wesleyan Media Project found that inflation has been mentioned in nearly 40 percent of television ads pushing GOP House candidates, but hasn’t even ranked among the top issues being mentioned in ads pushing Democratic House candidates. And it is not as if Democrats are making up the gap online: Democratic groups are bankrolling lots of abortion-related ads on Facebook, but barely spending anything on economy-focused messages.

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Reply Wed 19 Oct, 2022 11:21 am
Tweet author avatar
hermela aregawi
The US took out our President in 2004 and sent him to the Central African Republican… imagine my shock when I am in Haiti and see military from.. all over the world policing the country. - @grosmorne29 #NoMore #HandsOffHaiti
24h ago
Tweet author avatar
Ben Norton
The US wants to send troops to occupy Haiti to protect the unelected puppet regime of Ariel Henry, a longtime US asset involved in the coup against Aristide Henry was installed after the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse by US intelligence assets
16h ago
Tweet author avatar
hermela aregawi
The US is considering a “Non-UN international security assistance mission” in Haiti that “reflects what the UN Sec General asked the UNSC to consider?” ARE WE TALKING ABOUT NATO
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Reply Fri 21 Oct, 2022 07:00 pm
Senator Edward J. Markey
Ghost guns are untraceable and deadly, yet President Joe Biden
still hasn't undone the Trump-era rule making 3D-printing instructions widely available online. He must fulfill his campaign promise and help keep us safe by reversing this rule.
Reply Fri 21 Oct, 2022 07:19 pm
I own several handguns, but that's something even I can support.
Reply Fri 21 Oct, 2022 08:06 pm
No problem. I've owned three or four guns. I just feel there should be rules about them, same as everything else we do.
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Reply Sat 29 Oct, 2022 09:16 pm
We're so screwed. The fed raises interest rates, Americans lose jobs. They think it's the way to fight inflation: cut jobs and wages. Make the poorest Americans shoulder the burden. This may be the fatal crack in the Democratic election hopes.
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Reply Tue 1 Nov, 2022 09:40 pm
Warren, Sanders Slam Federal Reserve’s “Disregard” for Working Families


A group of Democratic lawmakers led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) is pressuring the Federal Reserve to explain why it’s continuing to raise interest rates at such a rapid pace when economists across the political spectrum say that rate hikes will only hurt the working class with little upside for the economy at large.

In a letter sent to Fed Chair Jerome Powell on Monday, 11 members of Congress lay out a wide swath of evidence from both Powell himself and from economists that American families will be in for “pain” in the coming months, as Powell has said, as the Fed plans to raise interest rates by 75 basis points, or 0.75 percent, for the third consecutive time this year.

The letter, signed by progressive lawmakers like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and Representatives Jamaal Bowman (D-New York) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan), expresses “concern” about the Fed’s “alarming” plans and “disturbing warning” to American families about what to expect in coming months.

As the lawmakers point out, the Fed has predicted that as it continues raising rates through next year, unemployment will rise from its current rate of about 3.5 percent to 4.4 percent in 2023 and 2024. This means that about 2 million people will lose their jobs as economic growth slows and the labor market grows weaker, Powell has said.

“I wish there were a painless way to do that. There isn’t,” Powell said in a press conference in September, contrary to what progressive economists have said about the way that the Fed could wrangle inflation with minimal impact to the labor market.

Other experts’ estimates of the impact on the economy are more dire. Bank of America estimates that unemployment could jump as high as 5.6 percent, which could mean the loss of over 3 million jobs. Meanwhile, according to a survey released last month by The Wall Street Journal, economists predict that there is a 63 percent chance that the U.S. will enter a recession in the next 12 months, in large part due to the Fed’s relentless rate hikes.

Economists, who have been raising warnings about the damage that the rate hikes could cause for months, have been puzzled about Powell’s decisions, the letter points out. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development has said that whether or not there will be a global recession comes down to “policy choices and political will,” economists are unclear on what the Fed’s goals are.

“The Fed clearly wants the labor market to weaken quite sharply. What’s not clear to us is why,” one economist wrote in a report earlier this year, as the letter writers pointed out. Economists have also questioned whether or not the rate hikes could have as much impact on inflation as they’re supposedly meant to have, saying that the impacts on the working class could outweigh any supposed benefits.

Even the Fed itself admits that the rate hikes may have little impact on inflation, considering the vast amount of other factors at play, like corporate price gouging and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the letter reads. The lawmakers list a variety of times that Powell has admitted that the Fed’s power over commodity prices is limited.

“As one economist noted, the Fed can’t ‘click its heels three times, raise rates and have inflation drop. There’s a myriad of factors going on now, and it’s a mistake to think the Fed controls any more than a handful of those,’” the letter says. “Nevertheless, you continue to double down on your commitment to ‘act aggressively’ with interest rate hikes and ‘keep at it until it’s done,’ even if ‘[n]o one knows whether this process will lead to a recession or if so, how significant that recession would be.’”

“These statements reflect an apparent disregard for the livelihoods of millions of working Americans,” the lawmakers wrote, “and we are deeply concerned that your interest rate hikes risk slowing the economy to a crawl while failing to slow rising prices that continue to harm families.”

While progressives warn that the Fed’s rate hikes would be at best a band aid on the problem, they say that raising interest rates to suppress demand is a neoliberal policy that passes economic pain onto the consumer at any cost — even a recession. Progressive advocates say, instead, that providing relief to the public while targeting corporations who are using inflation to raise prices would be a good start.

President Joe Biden appears to agree that corporate price gouging is an important underlying cause for inflation, at least in part. On Monday, he warned oil and gas companies that, if they don’t take action to lower gas prices at the pump, they could face a corporate windfall tax that would capture excess profits. Indeed, the oil and gas industry — and corporations as a whole — have been enjoying huge profits as inflation has soared, while Americans are increasingly having to take out predatory loans for basic expenses.
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Reply Fri 11 Nov, 2022 06:14 am
I post the truth as I see it. Some here are dimwitted enough to think I am simply out to "get" the Democrats. That's their problem and I won't spend much time arguing the point. This article I am about to post gives Biden some good marks and some of it was news to me.

The REAL Reason For Dems’ Rust Belt Revival

By Krystal Ball

Michigan Representative Elissa Slotkin was supposed to be one of the House’s most embattled incumbents. A Democrat representing a district that Biden narrowly won, Republicans flooded her district with millions, making it the most expensive house race in the country, thinking Slotkin would be low-hanging fruit in their expected red wave. Instead, when election day came, Slotkin won, and she won fairly easily — besting her opponent by a comfortable five points.

It wasn’t just Slotkin, though: Across the industrial Midwest, Democrats turned in some of their most impressive performances, swamping Republicans, flipping legislatures, and knocking out supposedly safe Republican incumbents. John Fetterman and Josh Shapiro romped in Pennsylvania, while Democrat Marcy Kaptur held on and Republican Steve Chabot was bounced in Ohio. Michigan Democrats won a governing trifecta, and Pennsylvania Democrats believe they won the state House for the first time in more than a decade. Democratic governors in Minnesota and Wisconsin sailed to reelection.

Some of their success is no doubt attributable to backlash against the GOP for overturning Roe v. Wade and the slate of election-denying wackos Republicans put up across the country. But no theory of the midterms can really hold up without accounting for why Dems were so unusually strong in the Midwests — in states with large blue-collar populations that seemed at risk of drifting away in the Trump era.

The answer to this puzzle actually seems kind of obvious: After decades of corporatists in both major parties kicking these voters in the face, the Biden administration actually did a few decent things for the region. And it turns out, when you do decent things for people, they tend to vote for you.

President Joe Biden’s economic policy has been a genuine break from the market fundamentalism of the Clinton and Obama White Houses. Instead of pushing terrible new trade deals that ship jobs overseas, the Biden administration has challenged China with an export ban on semiconductors and signed executive orders to encourage American manufacturing. In fact, companies are on track to reshore 350,000 jobs this year alone. This is a huge reversal of what happened under the Trump administration when offshoring actually increased to the tune of hundreds of thousands of jobs.

What’s more, instead of tax cuts for the rich à la Bill Clinton, or bailouts for Wall Street like Obama, Biden hiked taxes on corporations with a 15 percent minimum tax rate passed through the Inflation Reduction Act. This is, of course, a giant break from the tax-cuts-for-the-rich giveaway, which was the main accomplishment of Trump.

Biden’s union policy also deserves credit. Rather than abandon unions or actively union bust like plenty of Clinton-era Democrats and every Republican, Biden appointed a genuinely pro-worker National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and a fantastic General Counsel who has set about trying to reinterpret the horrible labor law that has let so many workers down over decades. The recent organizing wave at Starbucks, REI, Amazon, Apple and more could have been stopped dead in its tracks without this pro-worker NLRB.

Biden’s infrastructure package and his Inflation Reduction Act both contain significant investments in the region and are especially vital for automakers trying to compete in the new electric car era. Like the entire nation, the Industrial Midwest will also benefit from the new antitrust direction of the Biden Administration led by Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan.

I don’t want to oversell Biden’s populist wins. He’s still no FDR and his policies fall far short of what’s actually required to revitalize the Industrial Midwest and deliver for the working class, The CHIPS Act, which was heralded as the beginning of a new era of industrial policy, may just end up being a corporate giveaway, because it contained no labor standards or job-creation requirements. Having a strong NLRB is great, but workers are still severely hampered by labor laws rigged to benefit corporations. The Inflation Reduction Act was better than nothing, but came nowhere close to the transformational change of Democrats’ original Build Back Better proposal. In fact, what’s astonishing is the size of the political response to the Biden administration accomplishing the bare minimum.

Tim Ryan and John Fetterman both outperformed Biden in rural counties almost across the board. Shows you having a working class econ message can help Dems eat into gop margins in rural America.

The two Democratic Senate candidates who arguably embraced populist economic messaging the most were Fetterman in Pennsylvania and Tim Ryan in Ohio. Fetterman was the furthest left of any of the competitive Senate candidates, and not only did he win a tough state by a large margin after suffering a stroke, but he also shifted nearly every rural county in the state back towards the Democrats.

Ryan came up short in his race against J.D. Vance in a state that Democrats have effectively abandoned as unwinnable. But he, too, outperformed Biden’s 2020 performance in nearly every rural county in the state. What’s more, he did so against a fake populist in Vance who tried to translate culture war grievances into a working-class coalition but lost ground to Democrats basically everywhere.

In fact, that’s the other factor that may have helped Democrats reclaim ground in the industrial Midwest. While the Biden administration has embraced some decent policies, Republicans who postured as pro-working class under Trump have been exposed as total plutocrat-humping frauds.

At a time when union support has never been higher, and workers screwed over during the COVID-19 pandemic were reclaiming their rights to strike, bargain, and organize, the Republican party sat silent at best, and smeared those courageous workers at worst. They sat out or tried to undermine a wave of worker militancy that any real friend of the working class would cheer.

Right-wing populist Sohrab Ahmari recently wrote a scathing indictment of this fakery for the New York Times, excoriating these fraudsters for trying to co-opt populist language while pushing the same old program of cuts to Social Security and Medicare.

He wrote: “Fake G.O.P. populism challenged ‘woke capital’ — companies that it believed had become overly politically correct — but didn’t dare touch the power of corporate America to coerce workers and consumers, or the power of private equity and hedge funds to hollow out the real economy, which employs workers for useful products and services — or used to, anyway. The Republican Party remained as hostile as ever to collective bargaining as a new wave of labor militancy swept the private economy.”

The Republicans went full mask off on their plutocratic contempt for workers, and in comparison, the Biden administration’s small positive steps looked phenomenal. I think this is one of the things I really got wrong coming into Election Day. I underestimated just how low the bar had been set for people after years and years of disastrous anti-worker politics.

As American workers in the Midwest were stranded in the desert dying of thirst, the Biden administration offered them a thimble of water. It was enough for some real electoral gains. And just think, if this is the electoral result that you get from the thimble of water, imagine what would happen with a truly transformational policy that really challenged corporate power and met the needs of the American people.

Instead of treating it like a miracle that Democrats (probably) held the Senate while treating the (probable) loss of the House as a foregone conclusion, Democrats could secure durable governing majorities of the type that Franklin Roosevelt enjoyed during the New Deal Era. It’s all within reach.

The only price is actually serving the needs of the 99 percent over the 1 percent. Because while a sip of water may have been enough to hang on this time, the future of the nation, the planet, and our democracy depends on the American working class being fully revived and cut in on the prosperity of the country.

Democrats will rebuild their blue wall in the Midwest, and far more, if they tell Larry Summers and the deficit hawks to piss off, and go all in on populist economics.

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Real Music
Reply Fri 11 Nov, 2022 09:00 am
November 10, 2022

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Reply Fri 11 Nov, 2022 10:30 pm
Second rail maintenance worker dies in four days; rail workers respond to BMWE strike deadline extension, engineers’ contract
Our reporters
a day ago
Do you work on the railroads? Tell us what you think about the BMWED’s decision to extend its strike deadline. If you’re an engineer or conductor, tell us how you and you coworkers are voting on the contracts. Contact us by filling out the form below. All submissions will be kept anonymous.

A railroad track worker for BNSF died in southwestern Kansas on Wednesday, Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Local 2405 confirmed on social media. The worker’s name was Michael Poushyk, a trackman headquartered in Dodge City. Michael was a 49-year-old husband and father of three, who had only hired on in August, according to the railroad.

Michael was the second maintenance of way worker to die in the US railroad industry in the space of four days. On Saturday, a worker died north of Houston, Texas in a fuel explosion.

The death in Kansas came the same day as the BMWED announced an extension of a strike deadline for 20,000 members to early December, at the request of the Biden administration. The original deadline, pegged to “five days after Congress reconvenes” or November 19, took effect after workers rejected a national contract last month, per a secret deal with the carriers to extend the “status quo” if the vote failed.

The BMWED absurdly presented this as providing the framework for unity with other rail unions, whose own self-imposed strike deadlines were already set for December. It also claimed that would give the union time to “educate” Congress, where both parties in fact have already drawn up anti-strike legislation. The delay gives Washington more time to prepare itself for a showdown with the railroaders, after a tight midterm election whose final outcome is not yet clear but which appears to have set the stage for significant political dysfunction and crisis. The union statement falsely insinuated that workers could not strike until Congress passed legislation to explicitly allow it.

The BMWED also claimed that the extension would give 60,000 engineers and conductors, whose contract vote lasts until November 20, the “opportunity to finish their ratification procedures for any tentative national agreements without disruption.” But in reality, the contract is just as unpopular among rail crews as among maintenance workers. The real reason for the delay is that impending strike action by maintenance workers would have emboldened rail crews to reject the deal as well.

Ian Jefferies, President and CEO of the Association of American Railroads, hailed the extension in almost identical terms as the BMWED, when he said, “This agreement to extend the cooling-off period affords all unionized employees the opportunity to vote on their agreements free of a looming strike threat.”

Other industry groups were more explicit. Jay Timmons, the CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, told CNBC that the extension “provides some temporary breathing room for operational and logistical planning for manufacturers and delays any rail service interruptions.” He concluded, “in line with [Labor Secretary Marty Walsh’s] comments yesterday, we continue urging congressional leaders to be prepared to act should a work stoppage appear imminent.”

In an interview with CNBC, Union Pacific CEO Lance Fritz laughed when he was asked about the possibility of a national strike. “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We’ve got some negotiating to do with that union and we’ve agreed to status quo, we’re in status quo while we’re doing that. I am confident we will find a way to craft an agreement that can be taken back out for ratification.”

However, any deal reached under conditions where the carriers have refused to give up anything, and the union bureaucracy is trying to deprive workers of the strike weapon, can only be a company-dictated sellout.

Railroaders across the country reacted furiously to the extension. One engineer on the West Coast said: “At the end of the day there really isn’t much to discuss. The unions are selling us out in order to go along with and not cause issues for the system. We all know it. People are pissed off about it. But this is just one more step in a long line of steps to that aim. They don’t want to rock the boat, and what they’re unwilling to admit is that they’re just one more cog in the machine—a machine that they depend upon and therefore they cannot threaten.”

A machinist from the Midwest said: “Many of us have had deep feelings of betrayal and mistrust from our union leadership. These feelings are cemented as a matter of fact when they mislead and misinform their own membership by lying about strike legality, implying we would need congressional approval to use our own voices.”

A worker at the BNSF yard in Barstow, California said, “I think it’s BS. But as we saw in this contract for us, they are playing politics with our lives. These people don’t care about us. It’s about their political party, not its members.”

CSX yard in Louisville, Kentucky [Photo: WSWS]
“If we can't strike, we have ZERO power!”: Engineers explain why they’re voting no
Engineers and conductors around the country have given statements to the WSWS to explain why they are voting “no” on the national contract.

One engineer explained, “It doesn’t address the glaring issue of the current attendance policies, and it would likely create a worse quality of life. The pay increase is below the current inflation rate and doesn’t even match federal programs. The big issue is quality of life.”

A CSX engineer said: “My decision to reject the proposed contract from CSX and the PEB [Presidential Emergency Board] was based on multiple issues. I think most people have rejected it based on only pay and health care cost. Those are two issues for me as well, but the attendance policy, personal/daily vacation days, call times, COLA, shift-differential, etc, are also issues of concern.

“The bottom line is that what they offered monetarily is what we were due decades ago. The raises don’t even equal inflation. So, if you look at the proposed percentage raise for each year of the contract, it equals the amount for the bonus per each year, based on what we made four years ago. After the last contract, they needed far stronger than that!”

Another engineer in the Pacific Northwest said: “First, pay needs to reflect closer to what the job requirements and responsibilities are. Second, we need paid sick days. ALL other large corporations have earned sick time off, and for us to be denied that was a SOLID NO vote.

“We work around the clock in all-weather conditions, no matter how we feel, because we can’t afford to take days off unpaid. We shouldn’t have to burn up our vacation that we’ve earned to relax for all the on-call work we’ve done the rest of the year just to sit at home miserable.

“Third, healthcare premiums need to remain where they are—ESPECIALLY if the pay doesn’t increase to the full amount that the union was asking for in the beginning [of negotiations]. Otherwise, it negates the pay increase and we’re worse off than where we are now.

“There are plenty of other reasons as well, I also want to see the [Railway Labor Act] revamped to be fair to the laborers as much as it is to the carriers. … It has been taken advantage of for far too long by the greedy corporations, and that needs to come to a stop.

“If we can’t strike, we have ZERO power! We’ve jumped through the hoops, climbed up all the steps required by the RLA and yet we still can’t seem to strike to get them to take us seriously. Politics have gotten so embedded into the union that the members that I’ve talked with have all lost hope in the union. Unfortunately, I’ve never had any anyways. This is my first union job and will probably be the only one I’ll ever have whether I stay working here or not.”

Rail workers: What are your working conditions like, and what do you think is necessary in order to win this struggle? We will protect your anonymity.
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