Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

A Challenge to the Freshmen – and Freshwomen – Democrats

In his victory speech on election night, U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb said he would always remember the union members who helped him defeat two Republican incumbents in one year.

“Side by side with us at each step of the way were men and women of organized labor. . .  I will never forget that. I will never forget that. Thank you,” he told a cheering crowd overflowing a ballroom at the Hilton DoubleTree, 20 miles north of Pittsburgh.

In his first contest last spring, in a district that went for President Donald Trump by nearly 20 points and that had elected a Republican to the House for 15 years, Lamb received massive support in the form of door knocking and phone banking from members of the labor union I lead, the United Steelworkers, and from several others, including the Service Employees International Union.

Lamb recalled that help when he listed his priorities on his website. They include, he wrote, “protecting Social Security and Medicare as well as fighting for good jobs and strong unions.” And he spoke with pride of his connection to labor at his victory party, “These unions have fought for decades for wages, benefits, working conditions, basic dignity and social justice. . . . You have brought me into your ranks to fight with you. . . I am proud to be right there with you.”

Unfortunately, he’s an exception. Far too many so-called representatives of the people forget the working men and women who volunteered their valuable time to canvass and call and convince for them. They respond only to the demands of CEOs and Wall Street fat cats. Captured by big money, they neglect their roots, renege on their promises, obstruct organized labor.

That’s how workers get crushed with crappy trade deals like NAFTA. That’s how anti-union legislation gets passed. That’s how OSHA is underfunded and the minimum wage is emaciated.

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Should you have to pay to protest?

Jim Hightower

Jim Hightower Author, Commentator, America’s Number One Populist

Ideally, elections are about ideas, but these days policy discussions are being shoved aside by raw partisanship and vitriol. Not only are good ideas ignored, but very bad idea can become public policy without the public knowing it.

For example, the Trump Team wants to snuff out your Constitutional right to free speech and assembly by putting an exorbitant fee on public protests in our nation’s Capitol City. In other words, you’d still be “free” to rally for or against any issue or policy – but not for free! Apparently meant to deter any more of the mass demonstrations against their policies on women, immigrant children, climate change, etc., they want each protesting group to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to the government for policing and other necessary costs of guaranteeing the public’s right to protest.

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Billionaire Bonanza 2018: Inherited Wealth Dynasties in the 21st-Century U.S.

Chuck Collins Senior Scholar, Institute for Policy Studies

Wealth in the United States is concentrating into fewer and fewer hands, a trend we tracked in two previous Billionaire Bonanza reports in 2015 and 2017. This year’s edition, Billionaire Bonanza 2018: Inherited Wealth Dynasties in the 21st-Century U.S.,  focuses primarily on “dynastic” wealth that has passed from one generation to another within families. Our analysis is based on the Forbes magazine list of the 400 wealthiest individuals in the United States and the Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances.
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What a Democratic House will mean for Medicare for All

Amanda Michelle Gomez

Amanda Michelle Gomez Health Reporter, Think Progress

Thousands of people dialed into a call Tuesday evening to strategize how Democrats can make unprecedented progress on Medicare for All. A week after the midterm elections handed House Democrats the majority, organizers with National Nurses United hosted a conference call with lawmakers, activists, and just about any #M4A enthusiast, outlining how single-payer legislation passes at least one chamber of Congress. By the end of the one-hour call, most unmuted to say “I believe that we will win” — which started off sounding like static noise given the volume of calls but ended on laughs.

“When we have that majority, we need to make sure that we put it to use,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA). 

Jayapal is calling for a committee hearing and vote on H.R. 676, or the Expanded & Improved Medicare For All Act, when Democrats take back the House. She’s asking every one of the 123 co-sponsors — really, every member of the Democratic caucus — to push for debate, as it’s not enough to say they just support legislation anymore. The Seattle representative and co-founder of the Medicare for All caucus is the new legislative lead on the House bill after former Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) left to become the Minnesota attorney general and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) resigned after multiple sexual misconduct accusations.

“This is going to be an inside, outside strategy,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). “We are going to do our best on Capitol Hill but we need grassroots support.” 

Sanders emphasized the need for loud public support to counter the health sector’s influence, who’s bankrolling anti-M4A efforts. Already, a coalition of insurers, hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies have created the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future to lobby against Medicare for All legislation. Physicians for a National Health Program’s Adam Gaffney, who also joined the call, also warned of competing proposals on the Hill.

“It’s time to talk about where we are going and how we are going to get there,” said Bonnie Castillo, executive director of National Nurses United, an active get-out-the-vote group. “We cannot simply rely on the electoral process.”

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Trade Deal Procurement Rules Level the Playing Field

Brian Lombardozzi Vice President for State Governmental Affairs , AAM

According to a recent PoliticoPro article, "New NAFTA deal partly channels Trump’s ‘Buy American’ pledge", the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) “would put a patchwork of different systems in place, making it harder for some businesses to sort out how to fulfill the work they will do for the government.”

The deal includes procurement rules only for trade between the United States and Mexico, reporter Doug Palmer notes. World Trade Organization (WTO) procurement rules will cover such trade between the U.S. and Canada, and Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) rules will cover such trade between Mexico and Canada. 

A little convoluted? Maybe, I guess, but only out of context; trade agreements are always textbook-thick, and similarly complicated. Confusing or not, the fact remains: The U.S. economy and its government procurement market are among the most open in the world. Some insist that “Buy America” preferences in taxpayer-financed government spending are “protectionist” policies that lead the United States to the precipice of an international trade war. But the opposite is true: Buy America preferences are an important (and legitimate) lever to open foreign procurement markets for U.S. products.

Buy America is a longstanding practice by the federal government, as well as many state governments, and it is well-understood by contracting officers and bidders on public projects. Dozens of states have similar laws that create a procurement preference for American-made goods when they are available in a sufficient quality and quantity and are competitively priced in the global marketplace. For example, New York and Texas just passed bills requiring American-made iron and steel for certain projects including transportation and water infrastructure. If goods are unavailable from domestic sources or the cost of the goods from domestic sources is unreasonable, the preference may be waived. And yet the sky hasn’t fallen.

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Union Matters

3.4 Million American Jobs Wiped Out by U.S.-China Trade

Scott Paul and Robert E. Scott join Leslie Marshall to discuss a new EPI report entitled, "The China toll deepens: Growth in the bilateral trade deficit between 2001 and 2017 cost 3.4 million U.S. jobs, with losses in every state and congressional district."

Scott Paul is President of the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM), a partnership established by some of America’s leading manufacturers and the United Steelworkers union.

Robert E. Scott is Senior Economist and Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy Research at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).
EPI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank created in 1986 to include the needs of low- and middle-income workers in economic policy discussions.


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Who Really Pays for Tax Cuts?

Who Really Pays for Tax Cuts?