President Obama and the Department of Labor just proposed giving millions of Americans a raise, increasing the overtime threshold from $23,600 a year to $50,440. From the fearful squawks coming from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business lobbyists you’d think the sky was falling.
But all this trickle-down scare-talk about job-killing regulations and unintended economic consequences is just that — trickle-down scare talk — without an ounce of empirical data to back it up.
Business lobbies are already hollering this will kill jobs. Baloney.We call it: Chicken Little Economics.
Far from the end of the world, middle-class Americans never did better than when the overtime threshold — the annual salary below which workers are automatically entitled to time-and-a-half overtime pay — was at its peak.
President Obama’s plan is a courageous step in the right direction. It’s like a minimum wage hike for the middle class. The Department of Labor has started the rule-making process to make the increase official. They’re taking public comment right now, and we need you to let them know you support it.
A half-century ago, more than 60 percent of salaried workers qualified for overtime pay. But after 40 years in which the threshold has been allowed to steadily erode, only about 8 percent do. If you feel like you’re working longer hours for less money than your parents did, it’s probably because you are.
The erosion of overtime and other labor protections is one of the main factors leading to worsening inequality. But a higher threshold would help reverse this trend.
Under the higher salary threshold, employers would have a choice: They could either pay you time-and-half for your extra hours worked, or they could hire more workers at the standard rate to fill your previously unpaid hours. Employers could put more money into your pockets, or put more leisure time at your disposal while directly adding more jobs. And either would be great for workers and great for boosting economic growth.
Here’s why the right-wing and the business lobbyists are wrong about overtime. Lower- and middle-income workers don’t stash their earnings in offshore accounts the way CEOs do . When workers have more money, they spend it. Businesses have more customers; and when businesses have more customers, they hire more workers.
A higher overtime threshold would increase total employment, tightening the labor market and driving up real wages for the first time since the late 1990s.
Conservative pundits and politicians will attempt to preserve the status quo by warning that a return to more reasonable overtime standards would somehow cripple our economy, hurting the exact same workers we intend to help.
But that’s what they always warn about every regulation – from the minimum wage, to Obamacare, to child labor laws. Yet it never turns out to be true. And trickle-down economics looks more like Chicken Little Economics with every passing day.
When I was out on calls as a firefighter, I saw our community’s needs were not being met – that’s why I ran for the state legislature and took on the tough fights. It’s why I was selected by my peers to serve as Speaker of the Assembly. Every single day I served, I was answering the call – working to make life better for families, seniors, and students.
Now as a husband and father to Jackson, Jillian and Jameson, I’m thinking about the future more than ever. Cresent Hardy isn’t getting the job done protecting that future. I’m a proud Democrat running for Congress, because I’m answering the call for Nevada families – just like I’ve always done.
I want to be clear with you about my priorities, and what my campaign will be talking about between now and November 2016.
Priority number one must be creating good-paying jobs that can support a family. I’ll work to create good-paying jobs by rebuilding the American manufacturing base, supporting the entrepreneurs and small businesses that power the engine of our economy, and fighting for investments in infrastructure that create jobs, strengthen our national security, and increase our competitiveness in the global economy for generations to come.
I’ll fight to give working families a fair chance. The playing field has been tilted against working families for too long – that’s why we need to put an end to unfair trade deals, raise the minimum wage, and provide tax relief for working families instead of tax breaks for the big guys.
We must invest in education and expand opportunity for all of Nevada’s children. I know what a difference education made in my life, and how important it is to the economic future of this state. We’ve got to make sure every school in every neighborhood has the resources needed to make sure every single child gets a good education from the start. We have to find a way to make college more affordable so young people can get the education they need, and aren’t crushed by a mountain of debt.
I fully support the Affordable Care Act. I’m glad the Supreme Court kept it intact, and I will defend it against those who continue to try to undo the law and jeopardize the health care coverage of thousands of Nevadans.
Our immigration system is badly broken and it’s holding us back. I’m going to defend President Obama’s executive actions on immigration and fight for comprehensive immigration reform until we get it done – it’s time to stop breaking apart families.
Being a champion for women and protecting their reproductive freedoms isn’t political for me – It’s personal. I’m Eileen’s son, Janie’s husband and most importantly, Jillian’s dad. I will demand women receive equal pay for equal work. I trust women to make their own healthcare decisions, and I’ll fight tooth and nail against attacks on women’s reproductive rights.
We must honor the sacrifices our men and women in uniform have made fighting for our country. In Congress, I will fight to make sure all veterans and their families have access to the best health care, including mental health services, and the job opportunities they deserve. No American veteran should ever sleep on the street.
I’ll fight to keep the promises we make to America’s seniors. I’ll stand up to the right-wing attacks on Social Security and Medicare and protect those benefits so Nevadans who have worked hard and sacrificed can have the retirement security they deserve.
Nevada isn’t a nuclear waste dump. As a first responder, I’m adamantly opposed to Yucca Mountain. I won’t jeopardize the public health and safety of our community.
Our democracy shouldn’t be for sale to the highest bidder. The Supreme Court went too far when it struck down our campaign finance laws and unleashed a flood of unregulated dark money into our elections. We need to rein in the corporations and billionaires who are trying to buy our elections by restoring reasonable limits on political spending. That’s why I’m supporting an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to overturn Citizens United and protect our democracy.
Congressman Cresent Hardy has the wrong priorities. I know I can do a better job for those of you in NV-CD4.I hope you’ll join me in this effort, and I look forward to talking more with you as the campaign unfolds.
— by Jon Queally, staff writer at Common Dreams New report exposes why fossil fuel companies didn’t need the warning from the public scientific community to start a decades-long campaign of denial. They already knew their business model was a threat.
A new report, The Climate Deception Dossiers, chronicles how Exxon and other major fossil fuel companies did not take action to disclose or reduce climate risks in the ensuing years, but instead actively misled the public and policymakers about them.
They knew. They lied. And the planet and its people are now paying the ultimate price.
It’s no secret that the fossil fuel industry—the set of companies and corporate interests which profit most from the burning of coal, oil, and gas—have been the largest purveyors and funders of climate change denialism in the world.
Now, a new set of documents and a report released by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) answers the age-old question always asked when it comes to crimes of corruption, cover-up, and moral defiance: What did they know and when did they know it?
As it turns out, “The Climate Deception Dossiers” shows that leading oil giants such as ExxonMobil, BP, and Shell—just like tobacco companies who buried and denied the threat of cancer for smokers—knew about the dangers of global warming and the role of carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions long before the public received warning from the broader scientific community. And what’s worse, of course, is not only that they knew—but how they have spent the last nearly thirty years actively denying the damage they were causing to the planet and its inhabitants.
The new report, explains UCS president Ken Kimmell, “is a sobering exposé of how major fossil fuel companies have … neither been honest about, nor taken responsibility for, the harms they have caused by extracting and putting into commerce the fossil fuels that now place our climate in grave danger. Instead, either directly or indirectly, through trade and industry groups, they have sown doubt about the science of climate change and repeatedly fought efforts to cut the emissions of dangerous heat-trapping gases.”
And as this video shows:
The new report reviews internal documents from some of the world’s largest fossil fuel companies—including BP, Chevron, Conoco, ExxonMobil, Peabody Energy, Phillips, and Shell—spanning the course of 27 years. UCS obtained and reviewed memos that have either been leaked to the public, come to light through lawsuits, or been disclosed through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
The documents show that:
Companies have directly or indirectly spread climate disinformation for decades;
Corporate leaders knew the realities of climate science—that their products were harmful to people and the planet—but still actively deceived the public and denied this harm;
The campaign of deception continues, with some of the documents having surfaced as recently as in 2014 and 2015.
UCS has made the complete collection of 85 internal memos—totaling more than 330 pages—available online.
As part of its research, UCS discovered that as early as 1981—nearly seven years before NASA scientist James Hansen made his famous testimony before Congress about the dangers of human-caused global warming—internal discussions about the reality of the threat were already occurring inside the corporate offices of ExxonMobil and others.
In the case of Exxon, an email by one of the companies key scientists explains that, “Exxon first got interested in climate change in 1981 because it was seeking to develop the Natuna gas field off Indonesia.” The email explains that the company knew the field was rich in carbon dioxide and that it could become the “largest point source of CO2 in the world,” accounting for 1 percent of projected global CO2 emissions.
The email in question was written in response to an inquiry on business ethics from the Institute for Applied and Professional Ethics at Ohio University.
Speaking with the Guardian newspaper, director of the Institute Alyssa Bernstein said the email makes it clear “that Exxon knew years earlier than James Hansen’s testimony to Congress that climate change was a reality; that it accepted the reality, instead of denying the reality as they have done publicly, and to such an extent that it took it into account in their decision making, in making their economic calculation.”
Though stating she did not want to appear “melodramatic,” Bernstein told the Guardian that Exxon’s behavior amounts to a supremely larger moral offense than even the tobacco industry’s obfuscations on smoking “because what is at stake is the fate of the planet, humanity, and the future of civilization.”
Given the scale of their crime, UCS says the “time is ripe to hold these companies accountable for their actions and responsible for the harm they have caused.”
Offering recommendations for what the industry should be doing, the group said companies must:
Stop disseminating misinformation about climate change. It is unacceptable for fossil fuel companies to deny established climate science. It is also unacceptable for companies to publicly accept the science while funding climate contrarian scientists or front groups that distort or deny the science.
Support fair and cost-effective policies to reduce global warming emissions. It is time for the industry to identify and publicly support policies that will lead to the reduction of emissions at a scale needed to reduce the worst effects of global warming.
Reduce emissions from current operations and update their business models to prepare for future global limits on emissions. Companies should take immediate action to cut emissions from their current operations, update their business models to reflect the risks of unabated burning of fossil fuels, and map out the pathway they plan to take in the next 20 years to ensure we achieve a low-carbon energy future.
Pay for their share of the costs of climate damages and preparedness. Communities around the world are already facing and paying for damages from rising seas, extreme heat, more frequent droughts, and other climate-related impacts. Today and in the future, fossil fuel companies should pay a fair share of the costs.
Fully disclose the financial and physical risks of climate change to their business operations. As is required by law, fossil fuel companies are required to discuss risks—including climate change—that might materially affect their business in their annual SEC filings. Today, compliance with this requirement is not consistent.
“These companies aren’t just trying to block new polices, they’re trying to roll back clean energy and climate laws that are working and are widely supported by the public,” said Nancy Cole, a report author and UCS’s campaign director for climate and energy. “Climate change is already underway – and many communities are struggling to protect their residents and prepare for future changes. The deception simply must stop. It’s time for major carbon companies to become part of the solution.”
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Emerge Nevada is our state’s only comprehensive training program that teaches Democratic women how to run for public office. The program lasts for six months. Applications for the Class of 2015 will open on July 20 and close July 31. Interested women may review and/or prepare an application on Emerge Nevada’s website at www.emergenv.org. A $35 application fee is required upon submission. The Class will begin September 12 and run through March, 2016.
Naomi Klein—activist, author, and self-described “secular Jewish feminist”—spoke at the Vatican on Wednesday where she championed the Pope’s message for global action on climate change and made the case for “the beautiful world” beyond fossil fuel addiction.
Klein, who was invited to speak by the Vatican, gave her speech ahead of a two-day conference to discuss the Pope’s recent encyclical, Laudato Si’, on the environment and the threat of the global economic system—subjects that the author of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate knows well.
The encyclical has garnered praise from environmental campaigners like Greenpeace International’s Kumi Naidoo, who called it a “clarion call for bold, urgent action.”
“Pope Francis writes early on that Laudato Si’ is not only a teaching for the Catholic world but for ‘every person living on this planet.’ And I can say that as a secular Jewish feminist who was rather surprised to be invited to the Vatican, it certainly spoke to me,” Klein told reporters ahead of the conference, which is called People and Planet First: the Imperative to Change Course.
She praised what she described as “the core message of interconnection at the heart of the encyclical.”
Klein also expanded on what may appear to be an unlikely alliance with the leader of the Catholic Church.
“Given the attacks that are coming from the Republican party around this and also the fossil fuel interests in the United States, it was a particularly courageous decision to invite me here,” she said, according to the Associated Press. “I think it indicates that the Holy See is not being intimidated, and knows that when you say powerful truths, you make some powerful enemies and that’s part of what this is about.”
“In a world where profit is consistently put before both people and the planet, climate economics has everything to do with ethics and morality.” — Naomi Klein
“I have noticed a common theme among the critiques. Pope Francis may be right on the science, we hear, and even on the morality, but he should leave the economics and policy to the experts,” Klein said in her speech. “They are the ones who know about carbon trading and water privatization, we are told, and how effectively markets can solve any problem. I forcefully disagree.
“The truth is that we have arrived at this dangerous place partly because many of those economic experts have failed us badly, wielding their powerful technocratic skills without wisdom,” she said. “In a world where profit is consistently put before both people and the planet, climate economics has everything to do with ethics and morality. Because if we agree that endangering life on earth is a moral crisis, then it is incumbent on us to act like it.”
Echoing the Pope’s message to address inequities, Klein said that “our current system is also fueling ever widening inequality.”
But Klein stressed that her appearance at the Vatican did not mean that any one world view was “being subsumed by anyone else’s.”
“This is an alliance on a specific issue. It’s not a merger,” Klein said. “But when you are faced with a crisis of this magnitude, people have to get out of their comfort zones.”
Despite the magnitude of the crisis, Klein stressed: “We can save ourselves.”
“Around the world, the climate justice movement is saying: See the beautiful world that lies on the other side of courageous policy, the seeds of which are already bearing ample fruit for any who care to look.
“Then, stop making the difficult the enemy of the possible.
“And join us in making the possible real,” she said.
The two-day conference, which comes in the lead-up to the COP21 international climate talks in Paris later this year, is being coordinated by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the International Cooperation for Development and Solidarity (CIDSE), an alliance of Catholic development agencies. Alongside Klein, other speakers include Ottmar Edenhofer, co-chair of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, pontifical council president H.E. Cardinal Peter Turkson, and CIDSE secretary general Bernard Nils.
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Thanks to the courage of thousands of youth activists in the immigration reform movement, last fall President Obama finally took executive actions that protected five million immigrants and their families from the pain of deportation. CREDO members were proud to support these actions with their activism and contributions to United We Dream.
But this victory is now at risk. Right-wing extremists have pressured Republicans in 26 states, including Attorney General Adam Laxalt, into pursuing politically motivated, anti-immigrant lawsuits to block the Obama administration from implementing executive actions meant to provide relief for millions of immigrants and their families.
Once again, families of millions of immigrants are facing the risk of being pulled apart. And it’s all because a group of right-wing Republican state officials led by Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton are pursuing a craven, politically-motivated legal strategy just to pander to their racist and anti-immigrant conservative base. We have to fight back now.
President Obama’s executive actions, commonly known as expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA), could provide widespread relief to nearly 5 million children, young adults, and their parents under constant fear of deportation (More Info). DAPA would defer deportation and grant temporary work permits for millions of undocumented immigrants while changes to DACA would expand exemptions from deportation to 330,000 more children and young adults (More Info).
Even though the president’s executive order on immigration was not all that we asked for, it was a historic move that would protect families of millions of aspiring Americans from being ripped apart due to our broken immigration system.
We know the right-wing majority in the House has never had any intention of passing meaningful immigration reform. And since the Republicans are now in charge of the Senate, there’s no chance that Congress will fix our broken immigration system any time soon.
Without a permanent solution in place, these actions by the Obama administration will provide the immediate relief that so many immigrant families need to keep their families together.
But extreme right-wing ideologues are pursuing a politically craven and heartless strategy – arguably amounting to an abuse of our legal system – that will potentially result in undocumented parents being ripped away from their children and deported (More Info).
Today, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a key provision of the Affordable Care Act. This ruling means that the ACA will remain the law of the land, and millions of people will keep their health insurance. This is an extraordinary victory for all of us who fought so hard to make the ACA a reality!
Unfortunately, the GOP have made it clear that this latest legal attack on the ACA will not be the final attempt to undermine the law or other essential public health programs and services. In the coming months, you can anticipate that the GOP-led Congress will consider drastic funding cuts to Medicaid and community health centers. Congress will also likely try to undermine the ACA in other ways, such as by changing the definition of “full-time worker” from 30 to 40 hours and by repealing a tax on medical devices that provides essential funding for the law.
From the White House:
On March 23, 2010, I sat down at a table in the East Room of the White House and signed my name on a law that said, once and for all, that health care would no longer be a privilege for a few. It would be a right for everyone.
Five years later, after more than 50 votes in Congress to repeal or weaken this law and multiple challenges before the Supreme Court, here is what we know today:
This law worked. It’s still working. It has changed and saved American lives. It has set this country on a smarter, stronger course.
And it’s here to stay.
This morning, the Supreme Court upheld one of the most critical parts of health reform — the part that has made it easier for Americans to afford health insurance, no matter where you live.
If the challenges to this law had succeeded, millions would have had thousands of dollars in tax credits taken away. Insurance would have once again become unaffordable for many Americans. Many would have even become uninsured again. Ultimately, everyone’s premiums could have gone up.
Because of this law, and because of today’s decision, millions of Americans will continue to receive the tax credits that have given about 8 in 10 people who buy insurance on the new Health Insurance Marketplaces the choice of a health care plan that costs less than $100 a month.
If you’re a parent, you can keep your kids on your plan until they turn 26 — something that has covered millions of young people so far. That’s because of this law. If you’re a senior, or have a disability, this law gives you discounts on your prescriptions — something that has saved 9 million Americans an average of $1,600 so far. If you’re a woman, you can’t be charged more than anybody else — even if you’ve had cancer, or your husband had heart disease, or just because you’re a woman. Your insurer has to offer free preventive services like mammograms. They can’t place annual or lifetime caps on your care.
And when it comes to preexisting conditions — someday, our grandkids will ask us if there was really a time when America discriminated against people who got sick. Because that’s something this law has ended for good.
Five years in and more than 16 million insured Americans later, this is no longer just about a law. This isn’t just about the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.
Today is a victory for every American whose life will continue to become more secure because of this law. And 20, 30, 50 years from now, most Americans may not know what “Obamacare” is. And that’s okay. That’s the point.
Because today, this reform remains what it always has been — a set of fairer rules and tougher protections that have made health care in America more affordable, more attainable, and more about you.
That’s who we are as Americans. We look out for one another. We take care of each other. We root for one another’s success. We strive to do better, to be better, than the generation before us, and we try to build something better for the generation that comes behind us.
And today, with this behind us, let’s come together and keep building something better. That starts right now.
President Barack Obama
And what did all the 2016 Candidates have to say about today’s ruling? Read their “repeal” themed responses over at the Huffington Post.
— by Catherine Cortez Masto, 2016 Candidate for US Senate
As attorney general, I made sure everyday Nevadans knew that my door was open for them, that they could count on me to be working for them when they had a problem.
And that’s precisely why Citizens United gets me so riled up: It shuts the door on average Americans and throws it wide open for corporations and billionaires to influence elections. That’s not how our democracy is supposed to work.
We need to stand up now – all of us – and demand an end to Citizens United. It’s the only way to put our elections back where they belong: in the hands of voters. Please, join me now in calling on Congress to end Citizens United.
The Citizens United decision has been a disaster for our democracy, tearing apart our campaign finance laws and bringing on a flood of anonymous “dark money.” Outside groups spent $500 million in 2014 alone – and 2016 spending is expected to easily pass $1 billion.
We can’t continue to let the voices of everyday Americans be lost in a sea of special interest spending. I’m running for Senate because I’m committed to fighting back against runaway spending that erodes our democracy, but I need you on my side.
Sign the petition today: Tell Congress to overturn Citizens United!
Nearly everyday, commercials air on TV and radio touting the great low prices available to consumers shopping at Walmart. Other ads discuss how the company prides itself on the upward mobility of its employees within the corporate structure from hourly associates up through the ranks to store management positions. Deeper analysis of Walmart’s policies and practices with regard to its employees show it to be far from the paragon of employer virtue that the advertisements would leave one to believe.
Walmart provides many of its store employees with a compensation package that leaves many of them dependent upon government assistance to feed, house and provide medical care for themselves and their families. In a very real sense, American taxpayers,through such programs as Food Stamps, Medicaid, school lunch programs, federal housing assistance and other programs are subsidizing Walmart. Taxpayer money enables them to maintain their low prices while keeping their labor…