Tag: free trade deal

The State of the American Worker

On this Labor Day, the 122nd Labor Day commemorated as a federal holiday, the state of the American worker is not good.

Over the past few decades, the American worker has had to deal with stagnant wages that haven’t kept up with inflation or increasing productivity, free trade policies that have cost America millions of jobs, union-busting efforts at all levels of government, a lack of true workplace equality, and increasingly rampant income inequality.

The wages of the American worker have been stagnant, while prices of goods and services have risen, and the productivity of the American worker has risen. Simply put, the amount that workers are paid in this country hasn’t kept up with the costs of providing for their families or their own productivity. I support raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour and indexing the minimum wage to productivity, in order to set a minimum wage that values work, instead of valuing a low-wage economy.

The “global trading regime”, as anti-worker U.S. Representative Ron Kind of Wisconsin once described free trade policies, has resulted in the loss of millions of American jobs to foreign countries over the past few decades. Free trade agreements like NAFTA and other free trade policies like Most Favored Nation status for China have resulted in American companies moving jobs to countries like Mexico and China, so that those companies can pay workers low wages. I support repealing free-trade policies and restoring the constitutional ability of the federal government, as outlined in Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution, to unilaterally set tariffs and other U.S. international trade policies.

Over the past few decades, politicians, most of them Republicans, have tried, both successfully and unsuccessfully, to bust unions and weaken the power of the American worker. Some of the more notable examples of this include the busting of the air traffic controllers’ union by then-President Ronald Reagan in the early 1980’s and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker stripping collective bargaining rights from Wisconsin public employees four and a half years ago. I strongly support the existence of labor unions and the right of unionized workers to collectively bargain for higher wages, better benefits, and safer working conditions. However, the right-wing wage theft agenda also includes other measures to weaken the power of the American worker, such as repealing prevailing wage laws. I strongly support prevailing wage laws and other laws designed to protect the American worker.

The American workplace is still far from equal. Working women are, on average, still paid considerably less than working men, and unemployment rates for black and Hispanic workers are still considerably higher than those for white workers. Even worse, many employers are still discriminating in their hiring practices based on race, gender, sexual orientation, and, believe it or not, military service. I strongly support strengthening equal pay for equal work laws and prohibiting all forms of workplace discrimination.

Over the past few decades, income inequality has become one of the most serious issues facing our country. The top 1% of income-earners in this country now control nearly half of the nation’s wealth, while the middle class is being destroyed, and more and more people are entering the ranks of the poor. Government policies like tax cuts for the wealthy and corporate welfare for large corporations and major sports teams are major reasons why income inequality has become a serious issues in this country. I support raising the federal income tax rate on those who make over one billion dollars per year to 70% and eliminating federal income taxes on those who make less than $25,000 per year.

Because of the weakening of labor unions, corporate greed, and government policies that bust unions and encourage corporate greed, the state of the American worker is not good. However, enacting more progressive policies when it comes to the minimum wage, workers’ rights, international trade, workplace equality, and wealth distribution, we can rebuild America’s middle class, lift millions of Americans out of poverty, and make the American worker better off!

ENDORSEMENT: Russ Feingold for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin

It’s official…the old Russ Feingold that Wisconsinites have known and remembered for decades is back and running for a seat in the United States Senate.

Initially, I was skeptical of whether or not the old Feingold, known for his crusades for progressive, pro-middle class, and pro-good government ideals, as well as creative campaign ads, would return. Well, HE’S BAAAAAAAAAAACK!!! Feingold is sharply criticizing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a proposed free trade agreement that is a key part of President Obama’s plan to destroy American sovereignty and kill the American economy. Oh, and Feingold is posting some cool web videos, which feature him meeting with ordinary Wisconsinites, to his Facebook page. You can view a couple of his web videos here and here.

While I would have zero problem with a competitive Democratic primary in the U.S. Senate race in Wisconsin, don’t hold your breath for one. In the unlikely event that one or more Democratic primary challenger(s) enter the race, I will consider pulling my endorsement of Feingold and endorsing a primary challenger to him, although it would require a near-perfect candidate for me to endorse a primary challenger to Feingold. I’m not a fan of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) endorsing Feingold despite the fact that it’s over a year until the congressional and state legislative primaries in Wisconsin.

Judging by what I’ve seen on social media, Republican U.S. Senator Ron Johnson and the Wisconsin GOP apparently think they’re running against failed gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke for some odd reason. Johnson and his far-right Republican allies have tried to paint Feingold as a political insider, a label that easily stuck to Burke, but doesn’t fit Feingold at all. Of course, the only reason the Republicans are trying to paint Feingold as a political insider is because Johnson has a track record of voting against the interests of Wisconsinites, making political attacks against college students, protecting sex abusers, and just plain being dumb.

For Bernie Sanders to be President of the United States and Russ Feingold to be back in the Senate would be a delight, to put it mildly.

Supporter of Martha Laning campaign for Wisconsin Democratic chairperson attacks supporters of American sovereignty

While it’s 100% clear to me that Democratic National Committee (DNC) member Jason Rae would continue the failed, out-of-touch, insider-oriented, consultant-driven leadership of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW) that Mike Tate has become infamous for, at least Rae opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). However, Rae refused to publicly criticize President Barack Obama and Wisconsin’s own U.S. Representative Ron Kind (D-La Crosse) for waging a war on american sovereignty by supporting the TPP. The TPP, if fully implemented, would cost America thousands of jobs and allow unconstitutional courts to dictate what economic policy our country can implement.

For merely opposing the TPP, Rae has alienated some of his would-be corporate allies, who are supporting the candidacy of former Wisconsin State Senate candidate Martha Laning for DPW Chair instead. Paul Geenen, a Laning supporter who was identified as an organizer for the Laning campaign by Blogging Blue’s Zach Wisniewski, went onto the page of a Facebook group associated with the DemTEAM candidate recruitment/support organization that is associated with Wisconsin State Senator Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) and publicly attacked Rae and other opponents of the TPP for criticizing the proposed free trade deal. Geenen stated that Laning intends to run a “big-tent” approach to running the DPW, focusing on issues that have near-universal support among Democrats, such as raising the minimum wage, implementing universal background checks on gun sales, and addressing the growing climate change problem. While I agree with Laning on those three issues, Geenen’s description of her strategy reminds me a lot of the failed Mary Burke strategy from the last year’s gubernatorial election in Wisconsin, which proved itself to be an unmitigated disaster that resulted in Republican right-wing extremist Scott Walker winning re-election in the Wisconsin gubernatorial race.

While Laning’s supporters are accusing progressives of being divisive, there’s two people among the five who are running for DPW chair who are either acting in a divisive manner themselves or have Wisconsin-based supporters who are acting in a divisive manner. One of those candidates is Jason Rae, who blocked me on Twitter after I questioned him over fundraising for a campaign for state party chairperson, which is not regulated by state election authorities in Wisconsin. The other candidate is…you’ve guessed it…Martha Laning, who has a very vocal supporter, Paul Geenen, who is publicly attacking those who oppose the president’s efforts to destroy much of what little American sovereignty remains and ship thousands of American jobs to foreign countries. In fact, Laning is trying to somewhat distance herself from Geenen’s divisive, unpatriotic remarks by…get this…praising both prominent supporters and prominent opponents of the TPP while opposing the fast-track authority for the TPP at the same time:

I am supportive of Senator Elizabeth Warren and our own Senator Tammy Baldwin’s stance to stop the fast track of TPP and I have signed that petition. I did this because the pieces that have leaked, if true, are deeply concerning. I like most Americans, want to be sure that thoughtful consideration is being given to each and every part of the agreement and I feel we should have more transparency. I have heard concerns about the lack of financial oversight by our government on big corporate deals that could result in another financial crisis like we had in 2008, which is unacceptable. I have heard this bill would hurt jobs here in the US like NAFTA did, and that too is unacceptable. On the other hand, I respect President Obama and understand his desire to help shape the rules for world trade to prevent China from shaping them without us. Bottom line is that for me to have an opinion on TPP, I need the details of the bill. TPP has not been completed and submitted for a vote yet and therefore, most legislators and the public do not have access to the details of the bill, only leaks, and we don’t know the credibility of the leaks. Many legislators that I respect, like Senator Tammy Baldwin and Senator Elizabeth Warren, have expressed their deep concerns, but stop short of saying they would vote no, likely because the details are not available. Out of respect for the President of the United States, I express deep concerns about what I am hearing about TPP, but will reserve final judgment for when the document is made public and we clearly understand what is included.

Wisconsin Democrats and progressives cannot afford the continuation of Mike Tate’s Chicago-style machine politics, which is what would happen if Jason Rae is elected DPW chair, nor can they afford the corporate, Mary Burke-style “leadership” that Martha Laning would bring to the DPW if elected chair.