Occupy South Bay San Diego

NOBODY IN AMERICAN PUBLIC LIFE is more focused than the labor movement on offering solutions to the most serious challenges facing America: wage stagnation, economic inequality, full employment, economic insecurity, the transition to a 21st century economy and restoring our democracy. Solving these problems also would stabilize the national debt over the long term.

We need to address the real causes of our long-term budget imbalance—wasteful tax cuts for the wealthy and rising costs throughout our health care system—and not use the deficit as a pretext to pursue unrelated agendas.

What Congress Should Do

  • The first thing we have to do is stop lowering tax rates for the wealthiest Americans and Wall Street. When the Bush tax cuts expire at the end of this year, the top individual tax rate will rise to 39.6%, where it was under President Clinton. We simply cannot afford to lower the top individual rate below 39.6%, or reduce the corporate income tax rate, or eliminate taxes on overseas corporate income. It makes no sense to balloon the deficit by lowering tax rates for Wall Street and the wealthiest Americans and then turn around and demand more sacrifice from the middle class because the deficit is ballooning.
  • The second thing we have to do is rein in health care cost growth, which is the main driver of projected long-term deficits. But shifting costs to workers and retirees is not the solution. The key to reining in cost growth throughout our private and public health care system is to get providers (pharmaceutical companies, hospitals and physicians) to deliver care in more cost-effective ways.
  • We can start making our entire health care system more cost-effective, without shifting costs to individuals or cutting their benefits, by (1) allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices with drug companies; (2) creating a robust public option that offers lower premiums to the non-Medicare population, reduces the deficit and partners with Medicare to implement cost-saving reforms; (3) requiring Medicare to “bundle” payments to hospitals for post-acute care so Medicare will pay for results rather than the volume of services provided; (4) ending pay-for-delay agreements between brand name and generic drug manufacturers; and (5) expanding Medicare competitive bidding to all durable medical equipment and supplies throughout the country.
  • There is no urgent debt crisis that requires us to make bad decisions. Markets around the world are signaling more confidence in the U.S. dollar than in any other currency, and U.S. interest rates have seldom been lower. And there is absolutely no need to reduce the deficit by $4 trillion over the next 10 years in order to stabilize the national debt. Since this target was established two years ago, the projected national debt in 2022 has fallen by $3.2 trillion.
  • However, for those who seek to “go big,” we have identified five additional ways to raise significant new revenues without demanding any more sacrifice from the middle class: (1) eliminate all tax incentives for exporting jobs overseas ($583 billion over 10 years); (2) impose a 0.03% tax on Wall Street speculation ($353 billion over nine years); (3) let estate and gift tax cuts expire at the end of this year ($253 billion over 10 years); (4) increase income tax rates for millionaires and billionaires ($800 billion over 10 years); and (5) end special low tax rates on income from stocks and bonds ($533 billion over 10 years).
  • Social Security has never added a penny to the deficit and should not be part of any deficit reduction negotiations. However, the labor movement does support “scrapping the cap” ($110,100 in 2012) so that all earnings are subject to the Social Security payroll tax. High earners should contribute the same percentage of their income to Social Security as everyone else.
  • Whatever else we do, we still have to fix what is wrong with our economy. Deficits are the result—not the cause—of our economic crisis. The real problem is weak middle class buying power, which is caused by high unemployment, lingering household debt, stagnant wages and a towering trade deficit. These are our most urgent problems, and budget cuts can make them worse.
  • The AFL-CIO’s approach to fixing the economy is to replace the failed low-wage economic strategy of the past 30 years with a high-wage strategy for shared prosperity. The four pillars of a high wage strategy are (1) achieving full employment; (2) restoring workers’ ability to bargain collectively so we can raise wages, reduce economic inequality, fuel consumer demand and help rebuild the middle class; (3) making things in America again; and (4) shrinking our bloated financial sector and making it serve the real economy again.
  • The AFL-CIO has also endorsed “Prosperity Economics,” a long-term economic blueprint written by Jacob Hacker and Nate Loewentheil of Yale University. Among other things, “Prosperity Economics” calls for stronger investment in infrastructure to grow the economy; enhanced economic security for working families to make markets work better; and reforms to reinvigorate our democracy.
Learning about social injustice before the age of 10.(via Wall Photos)

Learning about social injustice before the age of 10.


(via Wall Photos)
Ironic.
Until Teach for America becomes committed to training lifetime educators and raises the length of service to five years rather than two, I will not allow TFA to recruit in my classes. The idea of sending talented students into schools in impoverished areas, and then after two years encouraging them to pursue careers in finance, law, and business in the hope that they will then advocate for educational equity really rubs me the wrong way.

Walmart’s explosive growth has gutted two key pillars of the American middle class: small businesses and well-paying manufacturing jobs.

Between 2001 and 2007, some 40,000 U.S. factories closed, eliminating millions of jobs. While Walmart’s ceaseless search for lower costs wasn’t the only factor that drove production overseas, it was a major one. During these six years, Walmart’s imports from China tripled in value from $9 billion to $27 billion.

Small, family-owned retail businesses likewise closed in droves as Walmart grew. Between 1992 and 2007, the number of independent retailers fell by over 60,000, according to the U.S. Census.

Their demise triggered a cascade of losses elsewhere. As communities lost their local retailers, there was less demand for services like accounting and graphic design, less advertising revenue for local media outlets, and fewer accounts for local banks. As Walmart moved into communities, the volume of money circulating from business to business declined. More dollars flowed into Walmart’s tills and out of the local economy.

In exchange for the many middle-income jobs Walmart eliminated, all we got in return were low-wage jobs for the workers who now toil in its stores. To get by, many Walmart employees have no choice but to rely on food stamps and other public assistance.

Walmart’s history is the story of what has gone wrong in the American economy. Wages have stagnated. The middle class has shrunk. The ranks of the working poor have swelled. Whatever we may have saved shopping at Walmart, we’ve more than paid for it in diminished opportunities and declining income.

And work continues on this expansion without any protest. If you want to change that, drop a line.

An Iraqi refugee, who lost 3 sisters and every piece of the life she knew in the criminal U.S. invasion and lived under the brutality of the occupation; she’s joining the Our Lives, Our Rights campaign to tell service members that if they have a conscience, they have the right to refuse to be party to crimes against humanity.
Service members can all make the connection that we have far more in common with the people we’re sent to fight & occupy than the millionaire politicians who lie and tell us we must fight.
(Also important about this photo—if you think U.S. troops have a problem with PTSD, imagine what it’s like for the people of Iraq & Afghanistan, who have lived the war for 10 years straight).

An Iraqi refugee, who lost 3 sisters and every piece of the life she knew in the criminal U.S. invasion and lived under the brutality of the occupation; she’s joining the Our Lives, Our Rights campaign to tell service members that if they have a conscience, they have the right to refuse to be party to crimes against humanity.

Service members can all make the connection that we have far more in common with the people we’re sent to fight & occupy than the millionaire politicians who lie and tell us we must fight.

(Also important about this photo—if you think U.S. troops have a problem with PTSD, imagine what it’s like for the people of Iraq & Afghanistan, who have lived the war for 10 years straight).

anticapitalist:

“So-called undocumented immigrants have a legal right to subsidized healthcare,” Christian Democrat head and social affairs minister Göran Hägglund said at a Thursday morning press conference unveiling the migration policy agreement.

The healthcare agreement will give undocumented immigrants who entered Sweden illegally the same rights currently offered to legal asylum seekers.

Children up to 18 years of age will have the right to health coverage. Adults will also receive subsidized care for conditions that require urgent medical attention.

Maria Ferm of the Greens thanked the government for the cooperation on the issue, which her party says was key to a previous pledge to work with the centre-right Alliance parties on a common immigration policy.

“Children and adults are getting an extended right to healthcare and I want to say thank you that we are able to ensure an important step in human rights. The right to healthcare is a human right,” she said.

The original goal of the Green party was to provide the same healthcare rights for undocumented immigrants as those with permanent residence permits in Sweden.

Although this goal won’t be achieved, Green Party spokesperson Åsa Romsonsees the proposal as a step in the right direction. 

“This has been a really important reform for the undocumented immigrants to have confidence in Swedish healthcare and to be able to get care when they need it, and to be able to turn to the hospital and health clinics,” she said.

The biggest success, according to her, is that children under 18 will have the same rights as Swedish children.

This means that they will not only have the right to emergency care, but also to dentistry and preventive care.

THIS is healthcare reform.

Imagine if the United States were this humane.

Although APSCU refused to allow Republic Report to cover its Las Vegas conference, we were able to obtain an audio recording of Michelle Rhee’s remarks today. You can listen for yourself, but we didn’t hear the kind of frank criticism she had promised. (The first 25 minutes are mostly about her experiences with public K-12 schools, but after that she addresses the for-profits.) Instead, in her prepared remarks, and in a Q&A with APSCU chair Art Keiser, CEO of Keiser University, and incoming chair David Pauldine, president of DeVry University, Rhee soft-pedaled any concerns she might have had.

Rhee said that there were for-profit colleges in the room “doing incredible work.” She said that such schools should seek to ensure that lower-performing schools do better. She asked the schools who ”aren’t where they need to be” in terms of performance to “work harder, knowing what’s at stake.” Rhee did say that “we all lose when we allow people who are not doing right by our students to continue to operate.” But she said that colleges should set high goals for graduation rates but seek “apples to apples” comparisons for accountability — which echoed APSCU’s own talking point that the low graduation rate of many of its members is acceptable given the many low-income students who enroll. Although she claimed in her article to support the Obama Administration’s gainful employment rule, Rhee did not urge APSCU to drop its opposition to that rule — or its pending lawsuit against it. Nor did she ask APSCU to drop its objections to President Obama’s new executive order aimed at protecting U.S. troops and veterans from predatory recruiting practices by for-profit schools. Nor did she tell them that some for-profits are engaged in “downright malicious behavior.”
owsposters:

Are Your Non-Union Wages Being Kept By The Rich?
Download the poster pack

owsposters:

Are Your Non-Union Wages Being Kept By The Rich?

Download the poster pack