New Data, Good News: Health Care

Most news is bad news. And political campaigns are more likely to flag what is wrong with our country than what is right with it. So, it’s not surprising that in the heat of a presidential election, we are more focused on what is wrong with our country than what is right with it. But as the federal government updates its statistics on income, poverty, and health care this week, we can take a moment to appreciate the good news—government at the federal and state level has been increasingly successful at encouraging prosperity. We start today with health care. The Affordable Care Act remains controversial and even those of us who support it recognize that further reforms are needed to guarantee that quality health care remains affordable to everyone. There can be little doubt that the ACA is working in Pennsylvania and beyond. Between those who bought health insurance on … Continue reading

Campaign contributions and the gun control issue

Here is a good exercise for those of you who think campaign contributions are the most important barrier to progressive legislation. How many of you would not vote for a candidate who agreed with you about everything else if they were wrong about gun control? How many of you would not vote for a candidate who agreed with you about everything else if they were wrong about abortion? I know there are a lot fewer of you in the second category than you think at first because Bob Casey is our Senator. We can’t get gun control through Congress because there are a lot of voters who would not vote for a candidate, especially in a Republican primary but also in a general election, if they support gun control. What the NRA does is not buy members of Congress but mislead those intense supporters of “gun rights” about the implications … Continue reading

The Responsibility for Trump

Even today 20% of American believe Obama was born outside the US and 29% of them believe he is a Muslim. (43% of Republicans believe he is a Muslim.) And my Republican / conservative friends, most of whom are reasonable and moderate, if conservative, people, still want to insist that opposition to Obama is just to the policies he puts forward and not the result of bigotry. I’ve got one thing to say to you: If you would have stood up and beat this back when you had a chance, instead of taking advantage of it, you would not be dealing with Trump’s imminent takeover of your party and the electoral devastation that is going to follow in November. And I predicted all of this, by the way. I told you that you would regret being quiet or, even worse, putting up all those stupid memes that echoed talking points … Continue reading

The possibility of President Trump and the limits of Nate Silver’s thinking.

Google “Trump could win” and you will find out something I told you about two months ago, Trump has a real chance to win the Republican nomination. Nate Silver is still holding out. But as I’ll point out below, I think he is reasons are specious Why could Trump win? For all the reasons I’ve been saying. 1. His message resonate with a substantial part of the Republican electorate which is motivated by racial and anti-feminist resentment, and fear of a world that seems untethered, not economic issues. His tough guy act gives his angry, scared followers some faith that he will be leader who will protect them and stand up for them. Trump is making a classic fascist appeal and, given the circumstances of American life today, it is finding some resonance in about a third of the Republican electorate. 2. His lead in the polls-which he has sustained … Continue reading

Why I’m with Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz

Nate Kleinman, a former staffer for Josh Shapiro and activist with Occupy Philly, has decided to challenge Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz in the Democratic primary. I know Nate a little and he seems like a decent, smart guy. But I think he is making a terrible mistake. Normally I would just ignore his challenge, since I don’t think Nate will make much headway against Congresswoman Schwartz. But, as I will point out below, even the small distraction Nate may create is a problem for progressives and Democrats not just here but across the country. And as I will also point out, this is a revealing moment in our politics and a good opportunity for us to think through what progressive Democrats both in and outside of Congress should be doing and saying now. When primary challenges are a good idea I don’t oppose progressives running in primaries against Democrats who consistently … Continue reading

Why Occupy Philadelphia Needs to Continue

In the last few months, the Occupy Movement has had a dramatic impact on politics in America. At a time when even Democratic politicians and progressive newspapers have shied away from raising critical issues of inequality in income, wealth, and power, the Occupy Wall Street has moved them to the forefront of our public debates. Last week I joined a group from Occupy Philadelphia in a meeting at Senator Casey office in Washington. The Senator’s staff talked about the importance of the movement to their efforts on behalf of working people. Monday evening in Mt. Airy, Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz also praised the movement and pointed out that it has given new national prominence to the needs of cities. Now, after the city and its newspapers have been so supportive of Occupy Philadelphia, it is sad to see both Mayor Nutter and the Daily News turn against it. The arguments they … Continue reading

Occupy Philly goes to Washington (and why it is so important to keep going).

Last Thursday I led a group of people to Washington, DC to attend a National Nurses United rally in support of a financial transactions tax (FTT) and to meet with two of Senator Bob Casey’s legislative aides. Some of the people with us are heavily involved in Occupy Philadelphia. Others were HCAN, MoveOn or Neighborhood Networks supporters. They all are either sympathetic to or take part in Occupy Philly events. There were 1500-2000 spirited people at the rally. It was nice to meet some folks at the Occupy DC camp. And our meeting with Senator Casey’s staff members impressively showed me why the Occupy Movement is so incredibly importance to this country right now. Meeting with Senator Casey’s Staff Senator Casey is sympathetic to our goals. His staff said that he would look at the FTT and that it fits with his support of taxing the wealthy. His aide, Jennifer … Continue reading

Why you should go to DC in support of a Financial Transactions Tax

Heal America! Make Wall Street Pay! Event The National Nurses Union (NNU) is holding a rally and lobby day this Thursday, December 3, in Washington, DC in support of a financial transactions tax. The event is co-sponsored by the AFL-CIO and other progressive organizations. Here in Pennsylvania, Health Care For America Now (HCAN) is working with the local NNU affiliate PASNAP, to bring people to the rally by bus. The buses are FREE and will leave at 7:00 am from two locations, Temple University Hospital and 16th and JFK Boulevard. After a 11:30 rally, there will be a chance to do some lobbying on Capitol Hill and there may be a meeting with the staff of some of our members of Congress (or, if we can arrange it, the members themselves). The bus will leave Washington to return to Philly at 5:00 pm. Box meals will be provided in both … Continue reading

What Movement Building is About or Why We Don’t We Have a Laundry List of Demands

I’ve gotten pretty sick of hearing journalists and others say that the Occupy Wall Street movement has no “clear ideas or demands.” I keep wondering where political critics were when the Tea Party first arose as I don’t recall anyone calling the Tea Party out along these lines, other than to kill “Obamacare” and cut taxes. But since the mainstream media—that liberal media you read so much about—seems to have different expectations for left and right, I want to take a moment and explain why the OWS movement hasn’t been characterized by ten point plans or laundry lists of demands. Continue reading

Picking the right target for Occupy Philly

The Occupy Philly meeting last night was one of the best examples of direct democracy in action I’ve ever seen. We had some serious talk about where and when to being Occupy Philly. People listened to each other and changed their minds as the discussion proceeded. We made a decision. And we did it in less time than expected. Decisions to come There is a lot more to be decided and understood. We are just at the beginning of figuring out in detail what this movement is going to be and how it will impact the future of our country. But most of those decisions can come later. We all know what this movement is broadly about—the increasingly unequal distribution of power, wealth, and income in the United States. It’s a movement that aims to reverse the decline in American Democracy which we have all witnessed in the last 30 … Continue reading