Tag: global trading regime

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!

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P.G. Sittenfeld rails against destructive free trade policies in announcement of U.S. Senate candidacy in Ohio

P.G. Sittenfeld, a 30-year-old member of the Cincinnati City Council, has announced in a telephone interview that he intends to run for the U.S. Senate seat in Ohio that is currently held by Republican incumbent Rob Portman in next year’s elections:

P.G. Sittenfeld, a Democratic city councilman from Cincinnati, is the first high-profile entrant in the race against GOP Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio.

Sittenfeld, 30, said in a phone interview that he plans to contrast his youth with Portman’s long tenure in Washington and urge Ohioans to support a “new generation of leadership.” His age, he notes, is “roughly the time that Rob Portman has become a creature of Washington.”

The Princeton grad, who emphasized his work to improve local public schools in his announcement, ticked off a list of policies he said would land Portman in hot water with his constituents — from his opposition to raising the minimum wage to his advocacy for trade deals he said put residents out of work.

“Rob Portman is Mr. Trade,” he said.

For decades, Rob Portman has supported so-called “free trade” policies that have destroyed the American economy (especially the manufacturing sector) and have left the American economy at the mercy of China and other foreign countries. Ohioans are tired of the Obama-Portman Global Trading Regime taking away their jobs and shipping them to China and other foreign countries. I’m glad to see a Democrat publicly call out one of the biggest free trade supporters in the Republican Party for supporting destructive free trade policies that have put millions of Americans out of work.

Tell Congressman Ron Kind to denounce attacks on progressives by his fellow corporate Democrats

Several members of the New Democratic Coalition, a group of pro-greed and anti-middle class Democrats led by U.S. Representative Ron Kind of Wisconsin, are attacking progressive members of Congress for opposing efforts by Republicans and corporate Democrats to repeal financial regulations, enacted by the Dodd-Frank bill, that are designed to protect American consumers from predatory banking institutions.

According to a report by POLITICO, at least three members of the New Democratic Coalition, U.S. Representatives Gerry Connolly of Virginia, John Carney of Delaware, and Jim Himes of Connecticut, openly attacked progressives for standing up against Wall Street greed:

Tension reached a boiling point during a closed-door caucus meeting Wednesday over the party’s stance toward Wall Street banks, according to multiple sources at the meeting.

Liberal Massachusetts Rep. Mike Capuano incensed the moderates when he said if Democrats support rolling back Dodd-Frank regulations, “you might as well be a Republican.”

[…]

At the New Democrat meeting, (House Minority Whip Steny) Hoyer was on the receiving end of impassioned concerns by his moderate colleagues. Reps. Gerry Connolly (Va.), John Carney (Del.) and Jim Himes (Conn.) all voiced strong opinions, according to sources in the room.

The 40-member group expressed anger at the liberal faction for name calling and for dismissing their point of view outright. The lawmakers told Hoyer that any future Democratic majority would look more like them than the liberal faction of the caucus.

You can read more about the New Democratic Coalition’s War on Progressives from DailyKos’s own Kerry Eleveld here.

The New Democratic Coalition is not new (they’ve been in existence for nearly two decades as a Congressional Member Organization), and they’re certainly not progressive. They are a group of corporate Democrats who support a pro-Wall Street, pro-special interests, anti-worker, anti-consumer, and anti-middle class agenda that is nearly as bad as the Republicans’ far-right economic agenda. Most notably, they’re known for supporting deregulation of the banking industry to make it easier for the American economy to crash because of greed and speculation on Wall Street and put American consumers even more at the mercy of predatory banks than they currently are now. Furthermore, New Democratic Coalition members support free trade agreements, such as the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), that drive down wages, move American jobs overseas, and destroy what little of our country’s economic sovereignty remains.

Regarding the New Democratic Coalition’s claim that regaining Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress is only possible by supporting giveaways to Wall Street and other Big Business special interests, that claim is absolutely absurd. Future Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress would, more than likely, be built mostly, if not entirely, by progressive Democrats who champion lifting Americans out of poverty, ending corrupt special interest giveaways, restoring the American middle class, protecting and expanding the social safety net, restoring protections of the American economy, and protecting American consumers, and other progressive, pro-middle class ideals. The only thing that the New Democratic Coalition is doing by openly antagonizing progressives is dividing the party and making it virtually impossible for Democrats to win congressional majorities in its current state.

As I stated above, the Chairman of the New Democratic Coalition is Congressman Ron Kind of Wisconsin. While it’s not known if Kind himself was part of the attacks on progressives (although Kind did brag on tape about being a key part of the “global trading regime”, as he called it, to enact free trade agreements and ship American jobs overseas), I believe that it is Congressman Kind’s responsibility to denounce the divisive attacks on pro-consumer and pro-middle class progressives by members of the organization that he leads. You can sign an online petition to call for Congressman Kind to publicly denounce the New Democratic Coalition’s attacks on progressives here.