An economy that seems to work for just a privileged few, 11 mln vanished jobs and a bailout for banks and Wall Street — but not working families — is fueling justified anger in workers, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told Harvard University’s Institute of Politics (4/7). He said working people are right to be angry about what has happened to our economy, but wrong to turn that anger into hatred of the President, members of Congress and fellow working people. “For a generation, our intellectual culture has suggested that in the new global age, work is something someone else does. Someone we never met far away in an export processing zone will make our clothes, immigrants with no rights in our political process or workplaces will cook our food and clean our clothes.

“And for the lucky top 10% of our society, that has been the reality of globalization — everything got cheaper and easier,” Trumka said.

“But for the rest of the country, economic reality has been something entirely different. It has meant trying to hold on to a good job in a grim game of musical chairs where every time the music stopped, there were fewer good jobs and more people trying to get and keep one. Over the past decade, we lost more than 5 mln manufacturing jobs — a mln of them professional and design jobs. We lost 20% of our aerospace manufacturing jobs. We’re losing high-tech jobs — the jobs we were supposed to keep ...

“The fact is that for a generation we have built our economy on a lie — that we can have a low-wage, high-consumption society and paper over the contradiction with cheap credit funded by our foreign trading partners and financial sector profits made by taking a cut of the flow of cheap credit.”

Trumka said the US democracy survived the Great Depression of the 1930s, “Because working people discovered it was possible to elect leaders who would fight for them and not for the financial barons who had brought on the catastrophe. ... This is a similar moment. Our politics have been dominated by greed and the forces of money for a generation. Now, amid the wreckage that came from that experiment, we hear the voices of hatred, of racism and homophobia ...

“And at this moment, the labor movement is working to give voice to the justified anger of the American people. We need help. We need public intellectuals who will help design the policies that will replace the bubble economy with a real, sustainable economy that works for all of us.

“Working people want an American economy that creates good jobs, where wealth is fairly shared, and where the economic life of our nation is about solving big problems like the threat of climate change rather than creating big problems like the foreclosure crisis. We know that growing inequality undermines our ability to grow as a nation by squandering the talents and the contributions of our people and consigning entire communities to stagnation and failure. But despite our best efforts, we have endured a generation of stagnant wages and collapsing benefits — a generation where the labor movement has been much more about defense than about offense.

“We in the labor movement have to challenge ourselves to make our institutions into a voice for all working people. And we need to begin with jobs. Eleven million missing jobs is not tolerable. That’s why we are fighting for the AFL-CIO’s five point jobs program — extending unemployment benefits, including COBRA health benefits for unemployed workers; expanding federal infrastructure and green jobs investments; dramatically increasing federal aid to state and local governments facing fiscal disaster; creating jobs directly, especially in distressed communities; and finally, lending TARP money to small and medium sized businesses that can’t get credit because of the financial crisis.

The AFL-CIO, which represents 11.5 million workers, and its 3-million-member community affiliate Working America are organizing support for Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.)’s Local Jobs for America Act that would target $100 bln in job creation dollars toward our country’s hardest hit communities — to keep teachers in the classroom and first responders on the job, and to create new jobs where Wall Street destroyed them, he noted. “We are organizing support for financial reform and accountability for Wall Street. We are working to counter the Glenn Beck effect and turn anger into action for real change.”

But Trumka also said Wall Street should pay to clean up the mess they made, with President Obama’s bank tax, a special tax on bank bonuses, closing the carried interest tax loophole for hedge funds and private equity, and most important, a financial speculation tax levied on all financial transactions — including derivatives — that would raise over $150 bln a year, according to the Congressional Budget Office. “The financial speculation tax would have negligible impact on long-term investors, but would discourage the short termism in the capital markets that led to so much destruction over the last decade,” he said.

He also called for passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, “so that workers can have the chance to turn bad jobs into good jobs, and so we can reduce the inequality which is undermining our country’s prospects for stable economic growth,” and an agenda for restoring American manufacturing — a combination of fair trade and currency policies, worker training, infrastructure investment and regional development policies targeted to help economically distressed areas. “We cannot be a prosperous middle class society in a dynamic global economy without a healthy manufacturing sector,” he noted, adding that workers need safe and healthy workplaces and family-friendly work rules.

“And we need comprehensive reform of our immigration policy based on ending exploitation and securing fairness, working for an America where there are no second-class workers.

“Each of these initiatives should be rooted in a crucial alliance of the middle class and the poor — the majority of the American people. And those of us in the labor movement know that we can only achieve these great things if we work together with community partners who share our goals, and with government leaders who share our vision.

“Government that acted in the interests of the majority of Americans has produced our greatest achievements. The New Deal. The Great Society and the Civil Rights movement — Social Security, Medicare, the minimum wage and the forty-hour work week, and the Voting Rights Act. This is what made the United States a beacon of hope in a confused and divided world. In the end, I believe the health care bill signed into law last month is an achievement on this order, one we can continue to improve upon to secure health care for all.

“But too many thought leaders have become the servants of a different kind of politics — a politics that sees middle-class Americans as overpaid and underworked. That sees Social Security as a problem rather than the only piece of our retirement system that actually works. A mentality that feels sorry for homeless people, but fails to see the connections between downsizing, outsourcing, inequality and homelessness. A mentality that sees mass unemployment as something that will take care of itself, eventually.

“We need to return to a different vision.

President Obama said in his inaugural address, “The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act — not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth.” Now is the time to make good on these words – for Congress, for President Obama and for the American people, Trumka said

He called on the “public intellectuals” to “be a critic of power and privilege, not its servant.”

The labor movement must be a powerful voice against racism and hatred, he said. “But you cannot fight hatred with greed. Working people are angry — and we are right to be angry at the betrayal of our economic future. Help us turn that anger into the energy to win a better country and a better world.”

See the entire speech.

HEALTH CARE MAKES GOP SEE RED. Republican critics are continuing to react hysterically to the new health insurance reform law. The newest charge is that the elimination of a double-dipping corporate tax break for retiree benefits would cause companies to have to cut back on hiring, drop those retiree benefits and shift added costs onto their customers. Under the current law, for every $100 the company spends on retiree drug benefits, Medicare reimburses $28. That $28 not only is tax-free, but the company can deduct the entire $100 as a business expense. The new law eliminates the tax break, but the corporations don’t lose the deduction until 2013. And they still get the 28% subsidy.

Citizens for Tax Justice noted that many of the companies protesting the closing of the tax loophole are paying corporate taxes at less than a third of the 35% statutory corporate tax rate, and in some cases are actually getting tax rebates back from the federal government. Of 10 large corporations that wrote a letter to Congress last December protesting the move, CTJ noted that Xerox, Navistar, Verizon, Boeing, Con-Way and Deere all paid less than a third of the statutory rate on their profits in at least one of the years 2007-09, despite being profitable in all three years.

Three of these companies — Boeing, Verizon and Xerox — actually got federal tax rebates in at least one profitable year during this period, meaning that their corporate income taxes were less than zero. In fact, over the past three years, Xerox got $46 mln in net tax rebates, for an effective tax rate of negative 41%!

GOP FRIVOLITY. Florida Attorney Gen. Bill McCollum (R) filed a lawsuit in district court in Pensacola on behalf of Florida and 12 other states against the federal government. All but Louisiana Attorney Gen. Buddy Caldwell were Republicans; Caldwell said he was duty-bound to pursue the request of Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) for legal assistance, so long as it has “substantial legal merit.” (At least eight other Democratic attorneys general have refused to go along, saying the lawsuit is without merit and pursuing it would be a waste of taxpayer resources. Oregon Attorney Gen. John Kroger [D] has said he will defend the constitutionality of the law.)

The Eunice, La., News reported (4/2) that Caldwell told employees of his office the decision was made more out of the necessity of saving jobs in his agency than any real hope — or desire — of overturning the health care law. “One employee said Caldwell, in a candid admission, claimed that a deal was made with Jindal. Under terms of that agreement, the governor would not make additional cuts in the attorney general’s budget if Caldwell joined in the litigation. Caldwell agreed to be the ‘token Democrat,’ he said, so that he might save additional job cuts by an administration whose state goal is to reduce the number of state employees by as much as 5,000 per year over three years.”

Jindal’s Press Secretary, Kyle Plotkin, called the Eunice News story “completely false,” telling ThinkProgress.org, “The attorney general joined a lawsuit, and we supported it.” Caldwell also told the New Orleans Times Picayune that “no deal of any kind or description whatsoever was made between the governor and myself, or our respective offices regarding my budget and the health care lawsuit.”

Virginia Attorney Gen. Ken Cuccinelli (R) filed his own suit. He claimed the lawsuit would cost Virginia taxpayers only the $350 filing fee. Georgia Attorney Gen. Thurbert Baker (D), who risked impeachment by the Republican-dominated House for refusing to waste the taxpayer’s money on a suit that he believes has no legal merit, said there was no way the lawsuit would only cost the filing fee. “Lawyers don’t work for free, not even lawyers who work in house,” he told Rachel Maddow on her MSNBC show (3/31). “So I’m not aware of any way that a lawsuit can be filed, even if we do it in house, where it doesn’t cost the taxpayer some money.”

MIDDLE CLASS PAYS LESS TAX. President Obama used his weekly address (4/10) to remind the public that, criticisms of Republicans and Teabaggers notwithstanding, he has cut taxes for most Americans. “So far, Americans who have filed their taxes have discovered that the average refund is up nearly 10% this year — to an all-time high of about $3,000. This is due in large part to the Recovery Act. In fact, one-third of the Recovery Act was made up of tax cuts — tax cuts that have already provided more than $160 bln in relief for families and businesses, and nearly $100 bln of that directly into the pockets of working Americans.” He kept his promise to cut taxes for 95% of working Americans. But Steve Benen noted at WashingtonMonthly.com that a recent New York Times/CBS Poll found only 12% correctly noted that taxes have gone down, while 24% said they increased and 53% said it was kept the same.

FEDERAL DEFICIT SHRINKS. Even as taxes for the middle class are down, the federal deficit is running significantly lower than it did last year, with the budget gap for the first half of fiscal 2010 down 8% over the same period a year ago, the Washington Post reported (4/13). Senior Obama officials attributed the results to higher tax revenue and lower spending than projected on bailing out the financial system. If the trend continues for the rest of the year, it would mean the annual deficit would be $1.3 tln — about $300 bln less than the administration’s projection two months ago for 2010.

LIMBAUGH BLAMES UNION FOR NON-UNION MINE DISASTER. Rush Limbaugh asked (4/9) why a coal miner union didn’t protect the 29 miners who were killed when Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch Mine in Montcoal, W.V., exploded under unsafe conditions: “Where was the union? The union is generally holding these companies up demanding all kinds of safety. Why were these miners continuing to work in what apparently was an unsafe atmosphere?,” he said on his radio show.

There’s a simple reason the union didn’t protect the miners, ThinkProgress.org noted (4/13): The Upper Big Branch Mine, like nearly all of the mines under Massey CEO Don Blankenship’s control, is non-union. In fact, the United Mine Workers of America (UMW) tried three times to organize the Upper Big Branch mine, but even with getting nearly 70% of workers to sign cards saying they wanted to vote for a union, Blankenship personally met with workers to threaten them with closing down the mine and losing their jobs if they voted for a union.

Blankenship rose in Massey’s ranks by breaking its union mines in the 1980s. Blankenship said then that busting unions is “invaluable” to profits, as non-union companies can “sell coal cheaper and drive union coal out of business.”

Union mines have a significantly better safety record than non-union mines especially for major disasters, as union miners can refuse unsafe work and report dangerous conditions without fear of retaliation. In addition to preventing Blankenship-style intimidation, the proposed Employee Free Choice Act would increase whistleblower protections for non-union and union workers alike. Under Blankenship’s direction, the US Chamber of Commerce and the National Mining Association have spent millions to oppose passage of such legislation for worker rights, comparing it to a “firestorm bordering on Armageddon.”

Immediately following the tragedy, the UMW sent trained support personnel to the disaster site. “We are all brothers and sisters in the coalfields at times like this,” UMW President Cecil Roberts said in a statement offering the assistance, which was refused by Massey company officials.

WHAT MAKES TEABAGGERS MAD? (An open letter from an anonymous Internet writer): You didn’t get mad when the Supreme Court stopped a legal recount and appointed a President.

You didn’t get mad when Cheney allowed Energy company officials to dictate  energy policy.

You didn’t get mad when a covert CIA operative got outed.

You didn’t get mad when the Patriot Act got passed.

You didn’t get mad when we illegally invaded a country that posed no threat to us.

You didn’t get mad when we spent over $600 billion (and counting) on said illegal war.

You didn’t get mad when over $10 billion just disappeared in  Iraq.

You didn’t get mad when you found out we were torturing people.

You didn’t get mad when the government was illegally wiretapping Americans.

You didn’t get mad when we didn’t catch Osama Bin Laden.

You didn’t get mad when you saw the horrible conditions at Walter Reed (Army Medical Center).

You didn’t get mad when we let a major US city, New Orleans, drown.

You didn’t get mad when we gave a $900 billion tax break to the rich.

You didn’t get mad when the deficit hit the $1 trillion mark.

You finally got mad when the government decided that people in America deserved the right to see a doctor if they are sick. Yes, illegal wars, lies, corruption, torture, stealing your tax dollars to make the rich richer, are all okay with you, but helping other Americans ... oh, hell no!

AGE MATTERS FOR COURT PICKS. Perhaps the biggest obstacle facing President Obama in replacing retiring Justice John Paul Stevens is the thin bench left by eight years of Republican rule. Mark Greenbaum notes at Salon.com (4/13) that of the 161 active circuit court judges today, just 65 were appointed by Democratic presidents, and their average age is 65. Excluding seven judges nominated by Obama and confirmed in the last year, there are no Democratic-appointed circuit judges under age 55. “To put it bluntly, too many of the Democrats’ best-credentialed jurists would be too old to carve out a meaningful legacy if picked to succeed Stevens,” Greenbaum wrote. Part of the blame goes to Bill Clinton, whose circuit judges were an average of 53 when they were confirmed.

George W. Bush, like his father and Ronald Reagan, routinely nominated judges in their 30s and early 40s. There are today 13 circuit judges appointed by Reagan and Bush I who are 65 years or younger — despite the fact that many joined the bench more than 20 years ago.

“This helps explain the small candidate pool for the Stevens vacancy. Plenty of names are being tossed around, but the two main contenders seem to be Solicitor General Elena Kagan, who will turn 50 in two weeks, and D.C. Circuit Judge Merrick Garland, who is 57. If Obama gives heavy consideration to his nominee’s age and subsequent ability to serve, his course is clear: Kagan is considerably younger than both Garland (and the third name supposedly on the White House’s short-list, Seventh Circuit Judge Diane Wood, who is 60).

“And if you consider the current composition of the Supreme Court, the age of Obama’s nominee becomes a critical factor. The members of the conservative bloc — Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Alito — were appointed when they were all 55 or younger ... (Thomas was only 43!) The most liberal justices — Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, both Clinton appointees, and Sonia Sotomayor — were 55 or older when appointed.

“That conservatives have a durable core on the court today is no accident. Republican presidents have, over decades, created a potent farm system. Democrats haven’t.” (Although, it should be noted that Clinton did attempt to appoint Kagan to the D.C. Circuit in 1999, and that her nomination was scotched by Orrin Hatch, then Senate Judiciary chairman.)

The Alliance for Justice (afj.org) noted in its State of the Judiciary report (4/7) that Republicans obstructed nearly every nominee with anonymous holds or threatened filibusters. Only three appeals court nominees and nine district court nominees were confirmed in 2009, leaving 101 vacancies unfilled.

OBAMA LEGAL COUNSEL NOMINEE WITHDRAWS. After waiting 14 months for a confirmation vote that never came, Dawn Johnsen withdrew (4/9) as President Obama’s nominee to head the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice. The Senate Judiciary recommended Johnsen’s confirmation on party-line votes but Republicans objected to her criticisms of interrogation policies under George W. Bush and at least two Democrats, Sens. Ben Nelson (Neb.) and Arlen Specter (Pa.), opposed her because of her past work for NARAL, according to reports.

UNION LAUNCHES THIRD PARTY IN N.C. The Service Employees International Union is starting its own political party in North Carolina and it hopes to field its own slate of candidates this fall, Greg Sargent reported at The Plum Line (4/8). The union reportedly has 100 canvassers on the ground collecting 85,000 signatures to put candidates on the ballot. “[P]resuming the party qualifies at all, it remains to be seen how much clout it will wield,” Sargent wrote. “For instance, it’s unclear which districts the party might field a candidate in, and what the criteria for picking those districts will be. A lot of these things will be determined by availability of candidates and other local political concerns.”

Union officials have threatened to take on Democrats who voted against health care reform in the past, but the usual tactic has been to endorse a Democratic primary challenger. But in North Carolina — home to several Democratic reps who voted against the bill — the SEIU says it will field candidates in the general election as part of what the what the group is calling the North Carolina First Party, Evan McMorris-Santoro reported at TalkingPointsMemo.com (4/9).

PUSH FOR ‘FAIR ELECTIONS.’ The Fair Elections Now Act (HR 1826) sponsored by Rep. John B. Larson (D-Conn.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, has gained 141 co-sponsors, more than half the Democratic Caucus. The bill would create a voluntary system that blends limited public funds with a 4-to-1 match on donations of $100 or less. Candidates would be freed from the chase for big campaign checks, able to spend their time talking with voters and addressing our country’s challenges. With Fair Elections, candidates could rely solely on their grassroots base of support and not Wall Street lobbyists or PACs. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) is the sponsor of companion legislation in the Senate. See fairelectionsnow.org.

HEALTH CARE REPEAL TOP GOP PRIORITY. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said repealing the healthcare legislation would be the GOP’s top priority if it wins back control of Congress this fall. “They got everything else in the entire bureaucracy that they need to control our healthcare system ... with the signing of this bill,” Boehner said in a radio interview (4/12), TheHill.com reported. “That’s why repealing this bill has to be our No. 1 priority.”

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (R-Md.)Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman shot back at Boehner: “It is stunning that House Republicans will make their number one priority repealing benefits and rights for Americans, raising taxes, and turning our health care system back over to insurance companies. Not only does this legislation improve our health care system, it will also reduce the deficit by more than $1 tln over 20 years, create millions of jobs, and provide small business owners with important tax credits.  The House Republican leadership should start saying no to the special interests of the health insurance industry, and starting saying yes to American families by working with us to create jobs and get the economy back on track.”

Steve Benen of WashingtonMonthly.com noted (4/12) that the new law includes lots of tax breaks to small businesses and individuals. “I’m curious — if Republicans are vowing to repeal the ACA in its entirety, doesn’t that mean they’re promising to raise taxes? And for those GOP candidates who’ve signed that Norquist pledge, isn’t this likely to be problematic?”

PROGS HOPE IN KY. A poll in Kentucky shows Republicans are likely to nominate Teabagger favorite Rand Paul while, on the Democratic side, progressive Atty. Gen. Jack Conway is catching up with conservative Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo. The poll, conducted by SurveyUSA (4/9-11) for the Louisville Courier-Journal and WHAS-TV, shows Paul — son of Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) — beating Secy. of State Trey Grayson, the establishment GOP candidate, by 15 points, 45-30. Conway, meanwhile, closed what had been an 18-point lead a month ago, and now trails only 35-32, which is within the poll’s margin of error as the 5/18 primaries approach. Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) is not seeking re-election.

COAL MINERS’ SLAUGHTER. Christopher Cook, our correspondent at progressivepopulist.blogspot.com, looked at the board of directors of Massey Energy Company and found that it includes Bobby Inman, a former director of the US National Security Agency and deputy director of the CIA; Gen. Robert H. “Doc” Foglesong, US Air Force (retired), most recently Commander, US Air Forces in Europe, and former Vice Chief of Staff, Headquarters US Air Force, Washington, D.C.; Lady Judge, chair of the board of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, who as Barbara S. Thomas was a commissioner of the US Securities and Exchange Commission and is now a member of the Trilateral Commission as well as the board of Rupert Murdoch’s News International media empire; “and surprise surprise, here’s Stanley C. Suboleski, a former Commissioner of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission. Wonder why he’s there.”

NO ACCORD ON WHERE TO CUT DEFICIT. Americans favor cutting spending over raising taxes when it comes to decreasing the deficit, by a margin of 62% to 5%, an Economist/YouGov poll found (4/7). There is little agreement on what to cut, other than foreign aid, which 71% said could be cut. But as the Economist noted, foreign aid makes up less than 1% of America’s spending. “Beyond that, there were only four areas that even a quarter of the population is willing to cut: mass transit, agriculture, housing and the environment,” Kevin Drum noted at MotherJones.com (4/7). “At a rough guess, these areas account for about 3% of the federal budget. You could slash their budgets by a third and still barely make a dent in federal spending.

“I suppose one of these days everyone’s going to have to figure this out. Apparently no time soon, though.”

OKLA. JURY HITS TYSON WITH $7.3M DAMAGES. A state district court jury returned a $7.3 million verdict against Tyson Foods Inc., finding the multinational corporation defrauded 10 McCurtain County chicken growers through a series of deceptive and coercive business practices, the Oklahoma City *Oklahoman* reported (4/3).

The trial, which took three weeks, is the first of several targeting Tyson scheduled for McCurtain County in southeastern Oklahoma.

More than 50 chicken growers filed a lawsuit in May 2008 against Tyson, which is based in Springdale, Ark. The case was split into several smaller groups to keep court proceedings from becoming unwieldy, the Oklahoman reported.

In the lawsuit, chicken growers alleged Tyson used its economic clout to coerce them into growing chickens at less than break-even costs, “driving hundreds of families into bankruptcy and foreclosure.” The growers claimed Tyson used verbal and financial pressure to persuade growers to borrow hundreds of thousands of dollars to construct newer-styled chicken houses.

They claimed Tyson punished growers who refused to upgrade by providing them with inferior quality feed and chicks, as well as paying them less for their mature birds.

Growers also alleged Tyson used a secretive system to calculate how much various growers should be paid and refused to allow growers to verify feed delivery weights or the weights of the mature birds they produced for the company.

The jury awarded the chicken growers about $4.79 mln in actual damages and about half that much in punitive damages, Tony Benson, an attorney for the growers, told the Oklahoman. The damages included $125,000 to each of the 10 growers for mental anguish, Benson said

Facing more McCurtain County lawsuits, Tyson officials used a portion of their prepared statement to remind local residents of their company’s large economic investment in the county, as it employs 1,100 people in the county and is in the process of investing $29 mln in improvements to its Broken Bow plan. They warned that could change, the Oklahoman noted.

DOC CLAIMS HE LAID OFF OBAMA VOTER, LATER RECANTS. A physician who apparently is a Texas A&M alumni boasted that he “laid off my first Obama voting employee ... because I can.” In the post on a message board for A&M students and alumni, the user whose screen name is “dermdoc” wrote (4/2), “Our reimbursement rates are spiraling downward, taxes are projected to go up with Obamacare, so I did it.” He added, “If that makes me an ahole, so be it.”

CBS News.com’s Brian Montopoli reported (4/8) that he tried to contact “the person we believe to have been responsible for the posting, but our requests for comment went unanswered.” Later, dermdoc posted (4/9) that there was no layoff of anyone at his office, that he was just “trolling” in “frustration with decreased reimbursements and future increased taxes.”

ThinkProgress.org noted (4/12) that the law actually increases Medicaid payment rates, which is one of the reasons the American Medical Association endorsed the Affordable Care Act and the American College of Physicians called it “an extraordinary achievement.” And taxes will increase on people earning more than $200,000 a year.

SALES TAX COST STATE TAXPAYERS TWICE. States that rely heavily on sales taxes instead of levying a personal income tax are imposing billions of dollars in extra federal income taxes annually on their residents, according to a new report, “Leaving Money on the Table,” from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ctj.org/itep) and United for a Fair Economy’s Tax Fairness Organizing Collaborative (faireconomy.org). In the seven states that do not levy an income tax but rely substantially on state sales taxes (Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wyoming), state residents pay considerably more federal income taxes as a result. If these seven states enacted even a minimal, flat-rate income tax and used the revenues to reduce sales taxes dollar for dollar, the report found, the federal taxes paid by residents of these seven states would drop by a combined $1.7 bln a year. If these states enacted a progressive personal income tax similar to what many other states now levy, federal taxes paid by residents of these states would drop by up to a combined $5.5 bln a year.

SANDERS SEEKS CREDIT CARD HORROR STORIES. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is planning to offer an amendment to the financial reform bill to stop usury by limiting credit card interest rates that now run 35% or more. He is collecting credit card horror stories so that he can relate some of them during the Senate floor debate. Contact him via his website, sanders.senate.gov, fax 202-228-0776 or write Sen. Bernie Sanders, 332 Dirksen Bldg, US Senate, Washington, DC 20510.

STILL SOME HARD FEELINGS. After Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell (R) shrugged off complaints that his proclamation of Confederate History Month celebrated the state’s “four-year struggle for independence and sovereign rights” without noting the struggle was also to preserve slavery, Charles Pierce wrote at the “Altercation” blog at TheNation.com (4/9): “It’s time for African-American athletes to stop playing for public universities in the Commonwealth of Virginia. It’s time for the parents of African-American high-school athletes to tell recruiters that their children will not be playing for public universities in the Commonwealth of Virginia. It’s time for African-American students generally to pass on the public universities of the Commonwealth of Virginia. And that’s just the start. It’s a time for a general, no-bulls**t, vintage anti-apartheid boycott of the Commonwealth of Virginia until such time as the state’s officials rescind this ahistorical celebration of treason, white supremacy, and anti-American bloodshed. This act was done solely, a) to appeal to the undying racist energy of the state’s conservative voters, and b) to piss off the people whom the black-hearted reactionary governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia believes it is politically advantageous to piss off. It’s also time for the incumbent president of the United States to decline to appear in the Commonwealth Of Virginia until further notice. It’s time to make the Virginia’s economy scream.”

Ed Kilgore of The New Republic wrote (4/8), “as a white southerner old enough to remember the final years of Jim Crow, when every month was Confederate History Month, I have a better idea for McDonnell: Let’s have a Neo-Confederate History Month that draws attention to the endless commemorations of the Lost Cause that have wrought nearly as much damage as the Confederacy itself.

“It would be immensely useful for Virginians and southerners generally to spend some time reflecting on the century or so of grinding poverty and cultural isolation that fidelity to the Romance in Gray earned for the entire region, regardless of race. Few Americans from any region know much about the actual history of Reconstruction, capped by the shameful consignment of African Americans to the tender mercies of their former masters, or about the systematic disenfranchisement of black citizens (and in some places, particularly McDonnell’s Virginia, of poor whites) that immediately followed ...”

GOP STILL JUDGES OBAMA BY HIS FIRST JOB OUT OF COLLEGE. When Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) proclaimed at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, “I’ll take a TV personality over a community organizer any day,” Paul Waldman noted at Prospect.org (4/12), presumably, he meant that he likes Sarah Palin more than Barack Obama. But as Steve Benen points out at WashingtonMonthly.com (4/11), he won’t be taking a TV personality over a community organizer, he’ll be taking a TV personality over a sitting president, who happened to work as a community organizer — working with churches to create opportunities in economically depressed areas — when he was in his 20s. Waldman noted, “I know conservatives will call me unfair for saying this, but the racial subtext is pretty clear. When they say ‘community organizer,’ they mean ‘guy who works to help black people get more power and influence, probably at the expense of white people.’ Otherwise, it just doesn’t sound like something sinister and worthy of ridicule.”

OTHER COSTS OF COAL POWER. A report issued by the US National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine in October 2009 estimated that the national cost of power plant emissions in 2005 was $62 bln while the damage from automotive emissions was $56 bln. The reports imply that about 10,000 people die each year from exposure to coal power plant emissions and about 10,000 from vehicular emissions, Bill Sweet noted at the Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers’ Energywise blog at spectrum.ieee.org (10/22/09). Previous estimates put coal-pollution fatalities at close to 30,000, Sweet noted.

From The Progressive Populist, May 1, 2010


News | Current Issue | Back Issues | Essays | Links

About the Progressive Populist | How to Subscribe | How to Contact Us

Copyright © 2010 The Progressive Populist
PO Box 819, Manchaca TX 78652