405 Comments

Please remind Mr. Thune that SSA is an insurance contract that we paid into. The GOP borrowed from the Fund rather than raise taxes to cover the costs of Operation Iraq Liberation. It is time for the people to call in that loan!

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Dec 1, 2022·edited Dec 1, 2022

https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2015/aug/03/facebook-posts/did-george-w-bush-borrow-social-security-fund-war-/

The GOP has, indeed, since Ronald Reagan, shown tremendous lack of responsibility around managing/increasing the Federal Deficit. In particular, the GOP has repeatedly lied that "cutting taxes on the rich would pay for itself" by growing the economy. Deficit reduction upon cutting taxes has never, ever happened. Never. Quite the opposite has occurred.

In fact, under every Republican from Ronald Reagan through Trump, the deficit has positively soared as Republicans cut taxes while simultaneously increasing spending (usually for military contractor buddies or even worse, to fund mercenaries like Blackwater when they were deployed in Iraq (Blackwater was renamed but I cannot find the name now)).

Bush definitely grew the deficit profoundly with his wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and his continuing tax cuts for the wealthy with the same lie about it paying for itself. Bush's lack of fiscal responsibility simply knew no bounds. None.

However, apparently, regarding the Social Security "Trust" fund, Bush pretty much was in line with all Presidents where those bonds are relevant. See the above top link.

Below is a Graph of the Federal Deficit showing how fiscally irresponsible our government has been, post Jimmy Carter, especially under Republicans. It also shows that Jimmy Carter, who was demonized as a big spender by Reagan, was extremely fiscally responsible continuing to pay down WW II and Vietnam war debt his entire Presidency.

Carter was the very last President to be fiscally responsible in the USA in my lifetime. Sadly, a blowhard, BS artist, from California, Reagan, managed to beat Carter because America, including me, had been inundated with right wing propaganda that was all lies.

https://zfacts.com/national-debt/

Note, the comments below the graph are all true, albeit, inflammatory.

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I read Robert Reich's letter daily. Today the conversation was about what the REAL issue is, regarding the railroad strike: inhumane treatment of workers by the railroads owners who are amassing tremendous amounts of money by halving the number of workers, who must then do the work of two people. They are "on call" much of the time, to come in at a moment's notice, and are never free to schedule in a doctor's appointment or a child's school event. They have NO paid sick leave. That is their "demand" in this strike. And yet it is they, not the gigantic railroad corporations, who will be causing "catastrophic financial costs to our nation" if they strike. How easy it is to pull the wool over a nation's eyes. One of the readers wrote, "It should be renamed 'trickle UP' economics." How right he is. Once Reagan got into office, the great decline of the middle class began. He was a terrible President.

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Thank you. This has been worker abuse for a long time. Now it's worse.

Why aren't reporters screaming this from the rooftops? Why does the profiteering of huge companies get no attention? When is the press going to do its job?

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The fact that no RR worker (that I know of) has been interviewed on MSM speaks volumes about where narratives originate, and where the lobbying, election donations, and other forms of bribery flow from. Let me say that the economy in this country is transported on the backs of the Working Class, who are consistently taken for granted. The mantra in this crisis has been higher pay to solve the problem, which is a deflection from the true needs of these RR workers. But profits, which are being bumped up by Precision Scheduled Railroading, (Google it) , minimally-sized crews, and the low water levels in the Mississippi River which is disrupting freight shipping, all these pressures to increase profits are put on the workers to absorb. I note that so far, BNSF is not participating in PSR, probably because it is privately owned. To any workers out there, I extend my sympathies, my prayers, and my hopes that you prevail. Your mental and physical health is more valuable to you and your families than a container of consumables. I am a former union officer.

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That is a brilliant observation: no RR worker has been interviewed on MSM to my knowledge. So it's no wonder we never hear the "other side" (i.e., the human side) of the story, only the side of the very few (i.e., the wealthy). I really appreciate your pointing this out. CRUCIAL to this story.

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Thanks kd, you get it! I want to amend my comment above:

'Your mental and physical health is more valuable to you and your families and to us as a society than a container of consumables. I am a retired union officer, but never gave up my union beliefs.

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NPR has interviewed a couple of rail workers who laid out the abuse. No paid sick leave, etc.

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It's interesting that it is a non-profit media source who did the interviews. That speaks volumes about the "MSM".

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The union leader for the track workers (Tony Cardwell?) was interviewed on PBS Newshour last night.

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Ed,

So, could not the Dems in Congress have done more to make the case for the unions?

Could not the WH have put pressure in other ways on the RR companies to change their tune?

Could not the President have intervened?

I am not saying the answers to any of those questions are necessarily yes or that you have the answer, but it strikes me that Congress has acted almost too quickly to 'salvage' the economy in spite of the genuine demands of the workers. A strike may be averted but nothing appears to have been done for the workers, once again.

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The problem is not simply the railroads carrying consumer goods that we can do without, but also essentials like chlorine to make water safe. This is a situation where the Ds are between a rock and a hard place.

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I think presidential/administrative actions are in the works. Senate is also proposing a bill to mandate sick time.

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Elsewhere I read a comparison of the scheduled train strikes in the UK, which we had to plan around last August. We had to chose our travel day and took the only train available. No trains running on strike days. These strikes continue, and they are having some effect getting concessions from management.

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Thank you Michael, here is tge best source I know of regarding your question: https://www.uschamber.com/security/supply-chain/fact-sheet-timeline-of-railroad-labor-negotiations - hope this helps with clarification.

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Dec 1, 2022·edited Dec 1, 2022

I have read articles in The New York Times that have interviewed rail-workers and leaders of the unions. Excerpts from a couple of its articles have been posted here. There may be other publications that have done so as well, which I have not researched.

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Yea, they are out there. And I agree that they shouldn’t be difficult to find!

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Dec 1, 2022·edited Dec 1, 2022

Bill,

I think the press has done an OK job at this point.

The problem is, right wing propaganda has seeped into almost all walks of American life and most Americans think the railroad workers are overpaid with too rich retirement programs and too easy jobs.

That Reagan drumbeat against unions has continued my whole life. We all have some thoughts along the lines of, hey, those guys are well paid, get plenty of paid time off already, so what if they have to work hard?

Right? Many, many Americans have been poisoned against worker fairness, good pay, good time off and fair treatment.

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It all ties in to good ol' "rugged individualism" -- a myth that plays so neatly into the hands of corporate interests that it's no surprise that they support it in every way they can. Republicans are the worst, of course, but it's always worth paying attention to where Democratic officeholders get their financial support -- and I'm not talking just about Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin. The ranting against the Democratic Party's "far left" often comes from those who are more or less in thrall to big money. (Not to mention -- calling anything on the U.S. political spectrum "far left" is ridiculous.)

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except basically NO time off... not even for family emergencies

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You are right! And how SICK is that?!

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Dec 1, 2022·edited Dec 1, 2022

Gee Bill remember when Covid was the enemy? Way back when my daughter and son in law were still married? Oh by the way he managed to hang on to his job with the railroad while his marriage crashed as he went to work because he was afraid of being fired. Yes he felt that staying employed was more important than the fact that they both suffered through Covid infections, never admitting to family and friends they were infected. We all suffered through the subsequent nervous breakdowns and divorce which ensued. Especially my two young granddaughters. They were unable to keep the house, or to even afford the escalating cost of rentals. Currently my daughter lives in a camper in one of America’s instant new camper cities. Yes welcome to the new prosperity engendered by corporations seeking profits. It is the newest Republican business acronym CSP. From employee of the year to the biggest train wreck of their lives overnight. The girls are bearing the cost bravely. You know stiff upper lip and all even for grade schoolers. Go railroad. Fortunately former son in law was able to land a rich white woman who rescued him and keeps him for a pet. At least one American success story emerges from the wreckage. Thank god he is a Republican.

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So very sorry to read this, Pat! Sending strength and good wishes to your daughter and grandchildren! I hope the ex is at least sharing some of his good fortune with his children!!

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What an awful situation.

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Heartbreaking. I’m so sorry.

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Sooo very sorry, Pat. the true cost of corporatocracy is born by needless suffering of real people and their families. Certainly there are lots of true horror stories like this. And of course, your daughter and those precious children bear the brunt. Sooo sorry, Pat.

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Dec 1, 2022·edited Dec 1, 2022

Yes Suz-an. It is not any of our first rodeos. While someone goes to Tahiti, someone else pays the bill. Those who don’t understand that it will come home to them …. and that is why we stand.

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Independent press DOES do its job. MSM is part of ruling corporatocracy... so what else do we expect?

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I also thoroughly disliked him as our CA governor—his admin policies hollowed out mental health support and state-sponsored support of what used to be CA’s jewel in the crown—our higher ed system (community colleges, State Colleges/Universities & the UC system). I was gobsmacked when he was elected POTUS & knew no good could come of it. I’m tired of celebrity politicians—tho there are some (Zelensky!) who have the chops (maybe the US does too, I just don’t know who). I voted for Carter twice & thought him a really good and decent man (still do)—a true public servant (a high calling IMHO).

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Yes, Jimmy Carter was, and is, a truly fine man. President Carter spent two years of his term negotiating for the release of the 60 American diplomats being held as hostages in Iran. They were released on the day of Reagan's inauguration -- and he was given -- and took -- all of the credit for that. Made me sick.

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It's possible that Republicans on the negotiation team were holding up the process to make it look bad for President Carter then allowed the negotiations to "magically" solved by Reagan. (I don't have any proof-just a theory.)

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I have absolutely no question about it. Papa Bush, from what I know, was a major player in that scam.

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Carter kept working for the hostages’ release until Inauguration Day, going without sleep. Afterwards he visited the freed hostages in the hospital where they were being checked out. Most of them loved him.

Yes, Reagan took credit. Stunning propaganda coup.

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Check Wiki. I think your suspicion is right. Like Nixon screwing over Johnson by having an agreement in place, should he win the US election, we’d sign a peace accord. Reagan pulled the same BS with Iran. “We’ll work a deal after I’m elected”type thing and “Presto!”, hostages on a plane coming home.

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Here's your proof, Barbara

https://consortiumnews.com/2014/04/09/reagan-bush-ties-to-iran-hostage-crisis/ Robert Parry (2014)

"U.S. government officials are in high dudgeon again this time over Iran’s audacity in naming an ambassador to the United Nations who allegedly played a minor role in the 1979-81 crisis in which 52 Americans were held hostage for 444 days in Iran. But the same U.S. officials ignore the NOW OVERWHELMING EVIDENCE [caps mine]that Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush helped extend the hostages’ suffering to gain an edge in the 1980 election."

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Sadly. I bought it that Reagan had made it happen.

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Mike, there is, ultimately, a freedom in tearing the veil from your eyes and gazing “on the real”. We all get snookered sometimes in our lives….what is the saying?….”once you know better, you do better”. I think your experience could be of help to others wandering in the wilderness.

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I agree Barbara. I also disliked him as our CA governor for all the things you stated and more. He should have stuck to pitching Boraxo on Death Valley Days!

I also voted for Carter twice and he is truly one of my heroes. That Reagan took credit for the hostage release in Iran was a low point for me.

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Agree with everything you said, Barbara! Carter was a mensch who literally got railroaded. He will go down as one of the most important historical figures in America.

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Barbara. Completely agree

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kdsherpa,

Yes, but, it is all good right? Because, Railroad Corporation's profits are at an all time high and the single largest stockholder of those Railroad's, Warren Buffet, is getting richer by the minute. Correct?

Plus, don't forget those huge management bonuses that are paid out because RailRoads are running "lean". Great stuff, right?

So what if we have too few employees doing too much on tight schedules that don't even allow calling in sick with the Coronavirus?

It's all good in Amurca.

Capi_DUH_lizm is the bomb, yes?

Just make sure there are enough prisoners in Angola to work the cotton fields this Spring and we are all good. Right? Because, in Louisiana it is LEGAL to run a slavery operation on that old Plantation as long as you have been arrested for 2 oz of Marijuana and tossed in Angola for 3 years.

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We might also remember, that many of our retirement funds have railroad stock as well.

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And, Warren Buffett took a significant position.

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Indeed, Berkshire Hathaway owns BNSF, one of the largest rail carriers.

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So sad, and so true...

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This is why some of these companies should be nationalized, so that the workers become federal employees with all the benefits that go with it.

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Yes please. Along with internet providers, health care...my list is long. The complaint will be that they will become clumsy bureaucracies. But what do we have now? Money grubbing bureaucracies.

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Actually, Medicare has a much lower overhead than private insurance companies. Although there might be "clumsiness", this would take the profit motive out of the equation, while providing good jobs with benefits. Most European and some Asian countries function quite well with either fully nationally owned, or at least subsidized service industries, like transportation, healthcare, etc.

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J. Nol - you are quite right. And look at the UK for the dysfunction that ensues when almost everything in sight is sold off to the highest bidder. Thanks to the Thatcher policies, railways, water, electricity and other vital utilities were sold off, bought by companies who promised to invest in infrastructure and so on. The result, 35-40 years on? Sewage being pumped out in rivers and on beaches, electricity prices up and up (not just due to war, oil and so on), the railways are in a mess, the Tories are doing much to downgrade the health service so they have a pretext to privatize to their buddies, and...and.... the list goes on.

Sorry for the rant! Over my career I worked in both large private and public sector organizations and they share the same bureaucratic clumsiness, while the greed in the former took more from the public good than the corruption in the latter ever did.

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Like the lowest minimum wage in the country? There are enough bureaucracies now.

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I feel sick to my stomach. I drank the kool-aide that averting the strike was the right thing to do because of all the harm it would cause to so many ordinary people. Now my left-over hippie self is crying out - this treatment of the workers is evil. Let the strike happen so that there will be pressure to fix this. And the rest of me is so confused.

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But then I read Robert Hubbell's take on the decision. He raised the question, " whether a strike now that would impose $2 billion in daily losses to the economy and cause the loss of 700,000 jobs is an appropriate way to secure a benefit for 115,000 rail workers." Also the House passed the second bill for 7 sick days for the workers (they had asked for four). So now it's the GOP in the Senate who could pass this. I can't believe it but I think I'm more moderate than I was in the 60's.

https://open.substack.com/pub/roberthubbell/p/unfinished-business?r=eznl2&utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=web

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I read the link you sent. The bottom line is whether the richest of the rich can get by with inhumane working conditions for their workers, by blackmailing the rest of us with "this is what WILL happen to our nation, UNLESS you make the strikers go back to work!" As my history teacher in high school used to put it, it appears that the Democrats are "between the devil and the deep blue sea" on this one.

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except it's not. the RRs are holding ALL of us hostage for their profits... pretty simple when you get down to it.

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it's pretty hard to choose what you believe is the truest, most honorable path when you don't get the whole story... don't blame yourself, Chaplain Terry. find the sources who are truly here to give us accurate and complete info... and make a living doing that. different from profits only FIRST-LAST-ALWAYS...

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I too, have taken a few steps towards being a moderate but not quite there yet, thankfully. I loved the 60’s and early 70’s, my hippie years. I see the struggle of the strikes as good vs. evil. It’s always the little guy who gets shat upon. Always!

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Kool-aide, indeed. BTW, I thought as you did until I read Reich's article. Really shameful that we can't get that very basic information from the major -- commercial -- news sources.

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I agree about the news sources. I posted my next thoughts on the decision in a reply to my own post after I read Robert Hubbell's take on this. Sure are no easy answers!!!

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No easy answers in the short term, that's for sure -- unfortunately...

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Wait and Watch - might soon see new laws and regulations requiring corporations to provide sick time.

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Do you think so, given that the House is in repugnicant hands?

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God, (Universe, Source, Non-physical, Yaweh, Allah et al) willing, that's only going to be for two years. I'm learning a bit about taking the longer view of what it means to protect and defend a democracy "in order to form a more-perfect union" and guarantee "certain unalienable rights." It's a life-long responsibility for each generation. We just need to learn how to get that lesson across. It only took me 77 years!

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Yes, HCR readers, please read Robert Reich’s substack letter today for another point of view on the wisdom, or lack there of, of Biden’s intention to avert the strike. https://open.substack.com/pub/robertreich/p/the-one-thing-you-need-to-know-about?r=f159s&utm_medium=ios&utm_campaign=post

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Thanks for the link. My grandfather was a railroad union organizer. He's probably spinning in his grave. I'd like to see his ghost haunting Buffet and company, screaming through their dreams.

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Dec 1, 2022·edited Dec 1, 2022

Yes, Robert Reich’s insights can be a useful antidote to HCR’s rosy outlook on the economy.

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No one gets into the details as much or as well as Robert Reich. I agree with him 100%.

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You nailed it. This is being discussed in the "fringe" (i.e., critical of capitalism) media, but most of the mainstream (i.e., economically clueless) media seem to have missed that the railroad owners held the workers and the country hostage and the administration caved because the consequences could have crashed the economy. Intervention should have happened long before it got this bad -- and as at least a few observers have said, If the railroads are this crucial to the national economy, they should be nationalized.

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When Bob Reich ran for governor of Massachusetts he spoke often of bubble-up economics.

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I didn't know that Reich had run for governor of Massachusetts! I do recall his use of that term. (I think the word "bubble" has good connotations, however. And "trickle" up is inaccurate; it's more like an explosion. We need to think of a better phrase. Any ideas?)

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Or maybe “suck up economics.”

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Now THAT, I like!

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What the railroad companies are doing is the usual corporate greed. It is unfortunate that we depend so much on what the railroads bring us. I understand both the workers and what the Ds are doing at this moment. It's clear to me that Ds would rather not do this as well. Pressure should be brought on railroad companies to change, but I am not sure how to do that.

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It is not unfortunate that we depend so much on the railroads. I would argue that we need to move more goods over the rails to (try to) address climate change. Get more long-haul trucks off the roads.

To get the railroads to change, nationalize them. This is not unprecedented. They were nationalized for a short time in WW I because the railroads were not up to the task of meeting the nation's needs.

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This might be a solution....but I can hear the s word already.

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yes, imagine that ... for the benefit of everyone. (oh noooo.... we certainly can't have that!)

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*Threatening them* with nationalization might achieve something, but basically I agree. When negotiations fail (usually because the owners have the upper hand), the strike, or at least the threat of a strike, is the workers' best weapon. If national interests (economy and/or security) put a strike out of the question, then government must intervene to level the playing field at least somewhat. Oversight or regulation might do it, but nationalization should absolutely be considered.

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Warren Buffett may be an astute investor, but you do not want to work for him, not for BNSF, not for Berkshire Hathaway Energy, no way. I got the lowdown from a guy from MidAmerican Energy who lived through the acquisition by Buffett and Co.

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Mike, the GOP has always called the Democrats tax and spend Democrats. The truth is that it has been necessary to raise taxes to fix what the Republicans broke during their times in the majority. The morbidly wealthy don't want to pay their fair share, while a two income family of four has to work hard to cover their expenses. Stuart Stevens says Republicans' talking points were always lies. Since he helped write those talking points, he should know. Thank you for your excellent comment.

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"morbidly wealthy", what an interesting description. The ones they are killing, of course, are the rest of us.

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Agree!!

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Thanks, Mike S.

BTW: "Blackwater was an American private military company founded on December 26, 1996[2] by former Navy SEAL officer Erik Prince.[3][4] It was renamed Xe Services in 2009 and known as Academi since 2011 after it was acquired by a group of private investors.[5] In 2014, Academi merged with Triple Canopy, a subsidiary of Constellis Group.[6][7] Later Academi was fully integrated into parent company and therefore now operates under the name Constellis."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackwater_(company)

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I have questioned why dems do not use the chart which contradicts their line of Republican economic prowess.

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Good links, thanks for posting them.

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Excellent information. Thank You.

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How easy it seems to be for these members of the House--who are making a six-figure yearly income--to call for cuts and changes to the pitifully small fixed stipend which is the only income many seniors receive. Cruelty really is the point.

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Wouldn't it be wonderful (and fair) if our federal politicians were required to pay into Social Security while in office so that THAT would be their retirement fund when they retired - just like the rest of us. Maybe they'd be a little more protective of THEIR investment fund. (And it would save our country lots of money, as well, on their benefits package.)

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Regardless of how you or I may feel about how the Republicans are threatening Social Security, the majority of current civilian federal employees pay into Social Security and will be entitled to Social Security retirement benefits. Any member of Congress who began employment on or after January 1, 1984 is part of the FERS pension plan and is subject to the same rules as non-federal workers with regard to Social Security withholdings and retirement benefits. Only those members of Congress who were part of the previous pension plan (CSRS) are not eligible for Social Security. (https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/retirement/planner/fedgovees.html)

I haven't really thought through why the Republicans chose to characterize Social Security benefits as an entitlement and why those of us who receive Social Security benefits allow this misrepresentation. We paid into the system from every paycheck for many years, so how can that be defined as some kind of unearned entitlement?

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Social Security pays out money to people who are no longer able to sell labor or goods on the market: mostly seniors and disabled people.

Free marketeers don't care that we paid into it. The fact that money is being paid to anyone who is "not working"--according to the extremely narrow definition of work that satisfies market conditions--chaps their hide.

Nevermind that most of the ultrarich do far less productive work than anyone else, including many disabled and/or retired people I know! Our current iteration of the Calvinist/protestant work ethic knows only one indicator of moral worth: wealth. If you do not already have it, you obviously don't deserve it.

Of course this is ridden with contradictions. But critical thinking. the barest modicum of which would reveal most of them in about thirty seconds' worth of reckoning, is also immoral because it threatens (patriarchal) authority.

I am so done with all this and have been since even before Reagan was elected.

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Yes, yes, and YES!

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As amazing as it is to me being cruel to a lot of Republicans does seem to be their point. I guess they equate that with the rush of power over people.

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They seem to still believe in the boot strap theory, and the idea that if you don't "make it" then something must be wrong with you. They believe that the individual is at fault. Many of them being White, and male, thus born with privilege, and then if they were middle class or at least not impoverished in their early years, seem to be without empathy or understanding that the system was skewed in their favor from the beginning.

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The larger issue is the Republicans' dogma of smaller Federal Government and larger States's rights. This expands to any and all Federal Programs such as Social Security and Medicare. It was Reagan who promoted the welfare queen stigma, levied a tax on Social Security and preached small Government. The Republicans favor the wealthy corporations over the average American. They are addicted to their theory of trickledown economics.

Intertwined in all of this is the cultural aspect of racism, misogyny and nationalism. A new addition to this mix is the rise of fascism. Fascism has always percolated in the background, but we are witnessing an ascendance at this time.

I don't get too attached to the white male privilege narrative. It reduces things to too small an equation. White male privilege could be a result of the aforementioned mindset of the Republicans not the cause.

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I disagree with the concept that privilege is "too small an equation". I think that it is the foundation for our culture. It is what allows things like the "cultural aspect of racism, misogyny, and nationalism" (with a healthy attraction to fascism) to flourish.

My right to vote was only granted via amendment to the Constitution in the 20th century. Please do not discount the very foundational aspects of white male privilege, especially with its additional trappings of Christian, heterosexual, and cisgendered adding to that privilege.

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This. We are a nation founded on white male supremacy. Until extremely recently, women have not been considered fit for political, philosophical, or any other type of public discourse, and this reaches back more than 2000 years. Which means the idea is prior, in many ways, to the Western tradition as we know it, but that tradition derives in part from ancient Greece and earlier Mediterranean civilizations whose histories get more obscure the further back one tries to look. In Athens women were considered more like children than fully developed adults.

Not particularly ironically, Freud thought much the same, although he did allow some surprisingly talented women to become psychoanalysts later in his career. The more things change..

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Dogma is exactly the right word.

There is plenty of fact based evidence to show that the expansion of the Federal gov from 1930 to 1970 coincided with the rise of the (mostly white) middle class.

FHA, GI Bill, and a whole host of other welfare giveaways to ( mostly white men) occurred during the expansion of the federal gov.

Since Republican policy has taken hold the (mostly white) middle class has shrunk dramatically.

But. Republicans cling to their dogma. Great word.

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Pulling one's self up by the bootstraps is physically impossible. That is what the adage was intended to mean. Bootstraps are on the heel end of footwear and are useless for anything but putting on one's shoes. Another lie used to demean struggling people.

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I love this. Thanks for posting this.

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J. Nol, you've hit the nail on the head. And you cannot ever refer to white male privilege without being called an "angry racist and sexist" person.

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Yes, and the irony is that they too will be eligible for SS.

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As an aside TL I notice the fly that was in the room yesterday has disappeared.

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Way past time

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An Annuity that we HAVE TO PAY INTO! Thune needs to move North of the Border ...

AND, We the People need to eliminate the FICA Tax Cap that gives High Earners a Free Pass on Paying in all that their Income level should pay. Currently, those earning $147,000 (ironically, a Congressional Salary) do NOT have to pay FICA Taxes on any Income over that amount.

Think of how much a Pro Athlete or Bank President are getting as a Freebiew!!

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That question was always on my mind when I used to run payroll!! This REpub idea (do they really know better) regarding SS & Medicare that its some kind of "payroll tax" is asinine & untrue, of course. At the time I did payroll, FICA was .765% of gross pay - OUR pay NOT a tax we owed! And that same percentage was paid by our employer TOWARDS OUR SOCIAL SECURITY/MEDICARE! I'm guessing MSM maybe doesnt understand that & as I said, these politicians either/or dont understand it or dont give a S___t. Which is more likely,. And if noone calls them on it???????????????????

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Spot on. Not only wages should be taxed, but "income" from investments and some of the other trappings that I (as a lowly hourly wage worker) have no concept of.

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Right on, for sure. We, your Washington neighbors, are dumb enough to think a state income tax is a terrible burden. Of course, a 10.1% sales tax is "just the thing" - to shaft the poor.

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I'd support an income tax if there was a credible countermeasure to eliminate the sales tax and never bring it back.

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I'm with you on that, but it would require a Washington Constitutional Amendment, or a Supreme Court of Wa. Ruling that income is not really income ...

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Yeah, not likely to happen.

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I bet that ‘regulation” passed swiftly!

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More and more, Republicans rely on magical thinking. And as with Wile E. Coyote when he runs off a cliff and suddenly looks down, reality is soon to dawn.

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Although that may be true, many of us will get back way more than we paid in because of increased longevity.

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Youre right BUT that just makes it more important that the cap is raised to include the people who likely wont NEED SS but still will be entitled (love that word) to it.

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Bravo for pointing out that important fact. Reminding Republicans who they are is an important function. They are the party of Citizens United. They have only to look at the successes of Scandanavian economies to recognize that central planning can be both democratic and take care of people instead of corporations.

When a politician says “privatization” i hear “I am getting funds from a corporation that would like to take over public funds for profit and I can help.”

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I love when I learn something here that I didn't know...and should! Thank you Paul!!

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Mr. Thune is another rat from South Dakota who is totally tone-deaf. It must be something in the air there among Rs.

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“For decades, it has been a stereotype that Democrats are in disarray, but after two years in which Democrats have managed with just a small House majority to pass an extraordinary slate of major laws…”

Thank you, Speaker Pelosi. I’m confident her legacy of hard-nosed, productive leadership will be continued with the new team.

And, I’m looking forward to watching as the GOP forms their own circular firing squad, with TFG in the middle.

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"And, I’m looking forward to watching as the GOP forms their own circular firing squad, with TFG in the middle."

Yes Ralph, all the Democrats have to do is step back and watch an empty, wobbly, meaningless GOP self-implode....

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Popcorn is ready.

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The morning after the election, when I found out that trump had won (I still can't digest it) I fervently prayed to God that the GOP self-implodes and have been hoarding popcorn ever since without any worries (my prayers are powerful). I have already broken into my cache and have been enjoying it...with wine....

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I couldn't get the "like" to add my response. Thanks for the laugh.

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The "like" button is so fickle. If you refresh your browser it comes back.

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It actually has worked even if you don't see it turn red. Often, scrolling back up, I see it red even if it didn't turn when I clicked it.

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🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿......

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Being a mom of 5, at one time all under six years old, trained her to marshal adults.

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The irony is that the media machine that is harping on this is the entity in disarray not the Democrats. Meanwhile the Biden Administration keeps producing an amazing amount of serious help aimed at helping the American people, balancing international relations, all while battling the media and the Republicans.

I'll take Democrats in disarray any day.

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Republicans have already started edging back gingerly toward directing toward TFG the revulsion we have all felt for him since 2016 or before. McConnell and McCarthy both managed to squeek out irate denunciations of Dumpster’s dinner with antisemite Ye and white supremacist Fuentes, even if neither had the courage to explicitly name Trump. They are both testing the waters to see how Guns Over People voters respond, before they actually name Trump as the offender. All either of them learned from initially, briefly denouncing Trump by name for the Jan6 insurrection was “Oh crap—I really pissed off a lot lunatic MAGA supporters by openly criticizing the vile monster they adore—if I want to keep this cushy job, I better not do THAT again!”

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Guns Over People ... perfecto!! And YES... to all of this, Elizabeth!!

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Thanks, Suz-an. I wish I could take credit for that appellation for Republicans, but the credit goes to some anonymous person.

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well, i heard it first from you... so THANK YOU!! :D

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Glad to pass it on :—)

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Sadly, we could have had a blue wave.

The reality  is that the democratic establishment in New York State, focused on getting rid of progressives, who were  elected primary winners.  By not supporting progressives, we got quite trounced in NYS. 

The fact that Zeldin got so close to winning the governor's race, was a disturbing reflection on both Cuomo's undermining of progressives, as well as the older establishment democrats, who poured money into not so popular. democrats.  Case in point; the primary winner in Buffalo, a democrat , India Walton, who was also a socialist, elected against an unpopular bought mayor. She won!  Then defeated by the democratic establishment  in a write in vote. 

A real sad yet longstanding commentary. 

We could have taken the house, if we did not have such fool hardy Democrats, like Jay Jacobs, leader of  the democratic party in New York State eating their own.

He needs to go. 

Hopefully, we will recover from this blunder.

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As a resident of Central New York. You are 100% correct on all points.

This mid term was like watching a train wreck happen and not being able to do a god damn thing to stop it. It was a disaster in how close these races were. Had Zelden won...... I don't even want to think about the implications.

Yes. Please someone show Jay Jacob's the door. Now.

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We also failed to run candidates against several Republican incumbents. Is doing so a losing proposition? Maybe. But the notion that we didnt even try against people like Pauk Gosar really rankkes.

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I read a poli-sci analysis that noted that in states where abortion access was at risk and MAGA candidates were threatening democracy, the GOP was trounced. In states like New York, where abortion rights seem secure and the GOP candidates not quite so insane, Democrats got trounced. This was taken as evidence that while abortion and democratic government are potent issues, the Republican-claimed issues of the economy and security resonated strongly with even Democratic voters. I think Biden has taken note with many of his initiatives and orders, and I hope that Democratic candidates will take that message to heart.

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But the price will be high. It already is. Thank you for naming names.

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The Wisconsin Democratic Party (WDP) has been doing that exact same thing for years. This year they lost the Senate race to a very weak Republican - Ron "RoJo the Clown" Johnson because they forced stronger Dems who were running in the primary to drop out so the "party's leadership could pick their candidate. Barnes was not the strongest candidate. They also lost the 3rd CD to a Trumpster in a gerrymandered that was established for a Democrat to win. Wisconsin has no hope of going blue again until we get rid of the current leadership in the WDP. -saw-

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That is so depressing to learn. I was astonished that RoJo the Clown was reelected. He was the one Senator that I was certain would not be.

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I was able to access it for some reason. It echoes a piece I read last night, by Jeff Sharlett, in The Hive (Vanity Fair). Here's a clip from Jeff's piece -from Marinette, WI.

"When Rob thought about abortion, he started with guns. The question for him was not whether abortion is right or wrong. The question was: When will China invade? The question was: Can we afford to spare potential infantry? “If you make the top 10 of things that keep your country running, abortion is not in the top 500. But 10 years down the road, if I have a war and I’m a leader, and you and the Black population have aborted 40% of their babies for the past 30 years, I’m running out of foot soldiers. Abortions are bodies that never make it to my front line.” (It’s true that a higher percentage of Black pregnancies end in abortion than white ones. Rob’s even right about the number 40. But not the percent: It’s 40 out of 1,000, according to the American Journal of Public Health. That is 4%.)

Rob called himself “pro-choice,” but that term means something different in his vernacular. He meant the choice of whether or not to murder a baby is up to you. “If you choose to do something that’s medically possible, I’m going to leave it between you and God, until it affects me in the state of readiness of my defense.” Readiness. It requires panopticon paranoia, looking for threats down every sight line. Rob looked at falling birth rates. He looked at what he considered Mexico’s invasion. He looked at what he suspected would be civil war according to a rural/urban divide—in which, even though he lived in town, he would side with the land he held outside of it. He looked at China, he noted they ended their population control program in 2021, he contemplated 1.4 billion Red Chinese divided by half and then by some factor again to account for age and thinks of hundreds of millions of Chinese wombs churning out multiple Chinese babies (in fact, the Chinese birth rate is falling) and he thought, “they’re getting ready.” For the future war. “You start prepping several generations ahead to have bodies when you lose so many bodies that you need a level of fresh bodies you never dreamed you’d have to dig into.”

Sharlett drove around Wisconsin, apparently his home state, taking photos of the flags, banners and other - to him - weirdness he saw on display (like a coffin propped up against a guy's house!) He seemed to be thoroughly shaken by the experience.

Some may recognize his name as author of "The Family" during the Bush 2 years, about the secretive fundamentalist group.

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Not being able to see it b/o no subscription.

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I was able to "listen" to the Leader Telegram article & expand the photo of the Wisconsinite & his vigilant Cat on their Sofa. Update: I was able to "send " the article to So Cal Dem Leadership for political comparative politics. No Subscription.

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Dec 1, 2022·edited Dec 1, 2022

Yes,

New York corruption knows no bounds and is an example of why some people vote Republican (not me). However, it is easy to see why Zeldin nearly overtook Hochul.

1. Hochul gave $600 million of NY Tax money (my money) to the billionaire Pegula family to build a new football stadium in her hometown of Buffalo. The Pegula family are huge donors to Hochul. Compare this corrupt approach to how Oakland treated the Oakland Raiders when they threatened to move.

2. Hochul managed to spend $637 million dollars on 200,000 Covid tests that were acquired by a NY middle man from a Covid test manufacturer in Delware. California managed to spend $300 million on the same exact number of the same tests. The difference was: The middle man was a Hochul campaign donor. $337 million dollars missing. Somebody became fantastically wealthy on that deal which is one of the most corrupt deals in NY history and possibly American history.

Democrats in NY will make even a die hard Democrat want to vote Republican.

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This is disturbing to say the least.

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How can those numbers related to the Covid tests be correct? You’re saying they spent over $3000 per test in NY and $1500 per test in CA? Is my math off or am I missing something?

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Be sure to read MisTBlu's comment. I am very curious to learn the truth.

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Mike - your stats about the tests come from the Washington Free Beacon, a questionable source. According to The Gothamist, the $600 million paid for 52 million tests, not 200,000. https://gothamist.com/news/what-to-know-about-ny-gov-hochuls-637m-covid-test-controversy

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🤯🤯🤯

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Laurie, this is the pattern for the Dem machine across the country. It tanked a viable senate candidate in Missouri in order to push forward a completely inept and unprepared candidate--and then refused to give her a dime or to support her campaign. So now we have two total morons as senators, since Blunt retires in January and is only now--after decades in office--behaving like a responsible human. I am hoping that the regime change in House leadership will start to push at the hidebound stupidity of the Dem machine.

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Replace the national chairman with?????? Val Demmings? Tim Ryan???

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Oooooo 👏

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I've been a resident of NYC since 1975, and I couldn't agree more! When the Dems here have a great candidate who is progressuve, they don't support him/her. They seem so fearful of progressives that they habd us over to repugnant Repubs! SMH!

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Laurie, your comment was an impressive first of the month analysis of NYS "blunders". I will have to go to my search engine and enter "Laurie Kash New York State ..." and check out the suggested search options. Savy political calculus, thank you!

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Dec 1, 2022·edited Dec 1, 2022

NY was a disappointment for sure. But it doesn't explain how MJT won easily over a very competent (and black) candidate. It doesn't explain how Lauren Boebert squeaked out a win - perhaps the most hapless member of Congress (or at least tied with MJT). It doesn't explain how all or nearly all the bad guys in the House and Senate - those who, if not actually colluding with the 1/6 insurrection, at least sat idly by refusing to speak out against it - were re-elected. I saw a great number of fine candidates go down against far inferior candidates, all over the country. You can blame NY if you want - but in a close ball game, any fumble or missed foul shot or two-out walk can be blamed for the loss, when many things during the game led to the closeness in the first place. We still have a raging cancer in the nation that has to be carved out, if decency and logic are to become the norm again in our politics.

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Thank you Jay but no one is blaming NY or NYS. Truthful after-battle reports are required in a divided nation, split states with some complex regional issues down to districts even towns. What persons make canidate decisions? Situational awarenes is a must in a fast moving body politic. 3 dimensional Chess is a fun exercise.

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Dec 1, 2022·edited Dec 1, 2022

Yes, same in northern Michigan.

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If I had not had HCR to read for the past years who has an amazing ability to put current events in context of our history, I would be totally overwhelmed with fear of the demise of our Democracy. Under Trump We have been living in on the edge of demise. Thank God for the brave Democrats who have worked hard to save our Democracy. We the people who read Heather have been able to direct our energy toward working toward preserving Democracy. I personally have been proud of many Democrats who have worked hard on the Jan 6 committee to inform and educate us on how close we were of losing our Democracy. There are many public servants who deserve our votes and thanks for their dedication to saving this country.

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Much credit goes to GenZ as well; far fewer debilitating hangups.

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To continue, we need to encourage young people in their activism and to run for something.

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Maxwell Frost Age 25 enters the House on January 3. I want to see Max standing behind behind the new Top 3 Dems & assigned to powerful Committees and/or standing in front of the Cameras.

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This! Can’t wait for Gen Z’ers to start schooling everyone about how to be inclusive and treat all equally under the law. Long past time...

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Gen Zers are easy to talk to candidly; my ice breaker is to thank them for saving the Country.

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Gerrymandering kept the Democrats from keeping the house. Based on the reading, I did prior to the election House Democrats got best result possible. It is a no brainer that Democrats need to gain control in more seats in State Houses. This Michigander is beyond grateful that the State House and Senate are now “Blue”. Hopefully more “Red” states will follow suit, so Democrats have a level playing field.

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Go UP and LP. Lead Gretchen Whitmer and Mallory McMorrow.

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See statesproject.org to make it happen. A Giving Circle founded by some of us from this forum is called Tending To Democracy. https://www.grapevine.org/giving-circle/1XQhnyD/Tending-to-Democracy

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I live in Minnesota, one of the states the statesproject.org focused their funding towards. In our case, it meant we had additional resources to work on regaining control of the state senate, along with retaining control of the house and governorship. It worked. Like Michigan, Democrats are now in charge of all three. Whoop!!!!

That means many things; increasing climate protections, protecting abortion rights, sustainable agriculture, affordable housing and healthcare, and keeping the economy chugging if the pandemic resurfaces in a big way. (And Minnesota’s economy is booming!) There is just no way for me to describe how grateful I feel for such results. And down ballot results for everything from county commissioners to directors for the board of my local electric coop were equally positive.

We worked REALLY hard to get out the vote here - and will continue. So grateful for those who contributed to Tending to Democracy via The States Project. We appreciate the help!!

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Dec 1, 2022·edited Dec 1, 2022

And here in Michigan, Sharon, we benefitted from our UN-gerrymandering via the Voters not Politicians ballot initiative. Here's the link for other states to folliw suit!!

https://votersnotpoliticians.com/

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Can someone explain how Republicans think tying the debt ceiling increase to cuts in Social Security is a winning strategy? What am I missing?

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Seems to me that a blue wave would have crushed the repubs if Dems had focused more on R threats to SS and Medicare. The threat to democracy brought in the young. The other threat would have increased the participation of the old, maybe even MAGAts, many who are as old as me. If they do try to cut safety nets, they may self-destruct with no help from Dems.

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Agreed that the Dems did not run the threats to the social safety net issues at all well in the midterm campaigns. They affect more than just the senior citizens--tfor example he temporary pandemic aid for children made a huge difference in eliminating child poverty but that is gone.

Apparently the thinking was that two major issues was the limit for voters to understand: threats to democracy and abortion rights. Admittedly they are biggies, but most voters have a much longer list of issues and concerns.

Every senior citizen should be worried about the Republican agenda. I rely on SS, my NJ teacher's pension and a pension from the AT&T/Lucent/Alcatel/Nokia fiasco. Nokia looks like it is going belly up, Republicans gutted the NJ teacher's pension plan so it is severely underfunded and now the Republicans want to try to gut SS. I paid in to all of those plans for almost 50 years.

My NJ House seat flipped to Republican. The new Rep. Tom Kean Jr, was known for never having a town hall style meeting with constituents when he was in the state legislature. Don't think I am going to be very well represented over the next two years.

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"Apparently the thinking was that two major issues was the limit for voters to understand: threats to democracy and abortion rights."

Yes. I don't understand why Dems seem to disdain their voters this way! They say they can walk and chew gum at the same time, well we can walk, chew gum and juggke our lives at the same time! In fact, we HAVE to!

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Dec 1, 2022·edited Dec 1, 2022

It must have been in the 90’s, I participated in a discussion at a university involving students and those in our baby boomer age group. The student’s anger about SS was shocking to me at the time.

They felt the SS being deducted from their pay was going to support the baby boomers and that there were so many of us, that by the time they reached their pension years, there would be nothing left and the $ deducted would be a total loss for them.

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Runrugged, I remember buying that argument in my young adult years in the 80s and 90s. It was a narrative that got a lot of young people voting for Reagan. Although I never went as far to vote for Reagan. My Grandparents were horrified that I “temporarily” had that view. I knew a number of people who lost their parents when they were young and were able to go to college. Unfortunately, one of the compromises when “reforming” Social Security was the suspension of Social Security benefits for dependents in college. My brother lost his wife in 2007. Coverage for dependents in college would have been a “Game Changer” for him. That said I very much appreciate my Social Security check.

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Paul Ryan, former speaker, himself and family were aided by SS after his father died. But he wants to see it reduced too. Talk about pulling the ladder up …

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"rr": As I suspect you know, as Boomers` incomes began steadily increasing in the 1980's, 'The yearly SSA taxable income CAP also increased yielding program sustaining TOTAL dollar$. I will edit this comment after I search SSA rules for the 2022 SSA taxable limit. UPDATE: Per SSA "Maximum" yearly income CAP in 2019 was $127,900 and this year in 2022 it is now $147,000. Next year 2023, the 'contribution curve' will continue to escalate.

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thank you for providing these facts for us

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Certainly. Folks with escalating incomes do not "notice" the Tax bite ... as much as others.

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Hence, their lazy fare attitude on "reform" for the rest of us. 👿

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I mirror your bewilderment. Obviously not all Republicans are rich, but are they that ignorant? Are they waiting for the day they find out that there SS check they depend on was cut to have their heads pulled out of the sand? So what if the Democrats called their bluff and agreed not to raise the debt ceiling? Would the Republicans actually allow themselves to go down with the boat? Beyond me....

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It seems like lately the Repubs in general have been tossing word salads. I can only hope that the Dems can keep their forward momentum going. In the meantime, no rest for the weary (nor for the wicked) and so we must continue to call, write, postcard, and stay hopeful over the next two years.

I am thankful for you, Dr. Heather, and for the other writers I follow including Jess Craven, Tim Snyder, Judd Legum, Robert Hubbell, Gabe Fleisher, Dan Rather and Elliot Kirschner, and Tomas Pueyo, who keep us informed, inspired, and mostly sane. I am also thankful for the communities that have sprung up following these writers.

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McCarthy:“If my position held out, we’d actually have it done by the private sector a long time ago and we’d have efficiency. We wouldn’t have inflation, we’d have a secure border.” Second guessing, criticizing and lying are more his style than working for the people. Private sector like Twitter, FB, oil companies, corporations that are upside down in profits for CEOs? Private prisons? Dismantling Social Security and Medicare? Tax breaks for corporations. Democrats must continue to inform the public that their policies are for the people. Billboards and megaphones!

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Irinie - Some of us are old enough to remember the Burma Shave signposts along the roadside, where anticipation led you to look for the next signpost. Is it too late for the DEMS to revive that concept (with smart DEM messages)?

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Aaah.....the road trips and learning to read.

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I was just speaking in metaphors and serious too. But yes, Burma Shave! We need to find a way to inform the public about the good news. Many people take social security and Medicare for granted. And younger voters? Universal healthcare would make sense. Maybe someday. I’ve heard candidates during the election compare the Dem and Repub policies. But that’s not enough time.

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I agree with your seriousness! Information blurbs posted where people are every day. Bus stops, e.g. Subway cars - how many times did I re-read the posters on my daily travels. Drive-thrus at McDonalds, Starbucks, etc. I hesitate to mention roadways because drivers tend to be distracted enough, although it gives passengers something to read. But, indeed, snippets of info that add up to a complete thought.

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Yes, yes, yes, and the same messaging over and over makes a difference.

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McCarthy is full of shit!

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Dec 1, 2022·edited Dec 1, 2022

How are rail worker’s responding to President Biden’s interference with negotiations between the unions and the major rail carriers?

'The request for Congress to impose contract terms that several unions had rejected rankled rank-and-file members who had rallied behind the president.' The following are excerpts from an article in the New York Tiimes.

- Gabe Christenson, legislative representative for his local union, a longtime freight railroad conductor, worked hard to help elect Joe Biden president in 2020. “I knocked on doors for him for weeks and weeks.” Since President Biden urged Congress to impose a labor agreement that his union had voted down, Mr. Christenson has been besieged by texts from furious co-workers whom he had encouraged to support the president.

- more than 100,000 freight rail workers whose unions have been negotiating a new labor contract since 2020, however, Mr. Biden’s intervention amounted to putting a thumb on the scale in favor of the industry.

- They say the rail carriers have enormous market power to set wages and working conditions, power that is enhanced by a federal law that greatly restricts the workers’ right to strike compared with most private-sector employees. They complain that after waiting patiently through multiple procedural steps, including a presidential emergency board, they had a narrow window to improve their contract through a labor stoppage and that Mr. Biden has effectively closed that window.

A narrower House vote on Wednesday, 221 to 207, authorized seven paid sick days for the workers, addressing a key demand. But it is unclear whether that provision can win Senate approval.

“Members of Congress have an opportunity to fight for their constituents by making sure rail workers get paid sick days,” Mr. O’Brien wrote Tuesday on Twitter. “Any politicians who don’t side with workers need to go on the record that they voted against workers.”

'The same day, a group over 100 labor scholars circulated an open letter to Mr. Biden expressing alarm at his call for Congress to impose the agreement that some unions have voted down, and suggesting that the intervention could affect the labor movement for decades.

“History shows us that the special legal treatment of rail and other transportation strikes offers the federal government — and the executive branch in particular — a rare opportunity to directly shape the outcome of collective bargaining, for good or for ill,” the letter said. It added: “These dramatic interventions can set the tone for entire eras of subsequent history.”

'While some rail workers have weighed in on social media with calls for illegal wildcat strikes should Congress impose the agreement, local union officials said that such strikes are unlikely, and they were not aware of any meaningful effort to organize them.'

'Much more likely, they said, is an accelerated flow of workers out of an industry that, according to federal regulators, has lost nearly 30 percent of its employees over the past six years.

They said that with the freight rail work force already lean, additional losses could compound the supply chain problems that Mr. Biden has sought to defuse.'

'Mr. Kindlon, the electrician in New York, said he had already accepted a job in another industry after more than 17 years of railroad work.'

“I’m telling you now, as soon as Congress decides to jam this contract down the BMWED and BLET and SMART guys’ throats, you will see a mass exodus like no mass exodus from any industry ever,” he said, alluding to some of the unions involved.

“It’s going to be like having a strike without having a strike.”

How will the Senate vote?

Latest wrinkles _ 'The House voted to force rail companies and workers to accept a pending agreement and to add seven days of paid leave, a key demand of the employees. But it met with a rocky reception in the Senate.' (NYTimes) See two gifted articles linked below. (yesterday's and today's.)

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/30/business/freight-rail-labor-union.html?unlocked_article_code=o5_gaphPOmAbaE-PejMILYzezVO8IfPo0dDlgwu4ttYnK4a-QQyvzX4bmQjOUZISB-9vDIyQZuDppQUILvyFleK2GfAmWHJnGak0D5D5DaigTr0HE5QJrEqSwMj2YWFbnDYEpPpZgXhcwbk0VXwd6xnG9Uf6r-

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/30/us/politics/rail-workers-strike-house.html?unlocked_article_code=vWmiu763DuMnTj1JkGosxIABKU4kabvMrdilnSNtBPAi6tJ7M-den7VaB0vdnfUMdOr0Xy13l3xeuVtJMYLrF8Pw6wDstthqv_P-qBp_iskeBN1bWRWoIGFeWFiI2vefhwY33hKxCQx0ReVBfD_CCbq40b83ZsH96jqZJ443cSFQpOGxdVIG2pmFH9GSvmopSPncpvr8eunDFm-gGyvpsnh_YLujAxgiqeTxXFYSe4k-ICtqCLABgps5Q0fCuFQyFxH26SybdUXCbdVD04_8E43qRDxHqhBy5Y_MwH0t8U93vbLGzTCuYRPBs3pW9vH78WFaeB26O_FUlcimR8ekY2TrDhNquYs&smid=share-url

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The people who really need to be brought to task here are the railway executives who authorized their negotiating teams to make such inhumane, one sided contracts in the first place. Also, what simpering union negotiators agreed to the current contract? The real problem is not lack of rail workers willing to do the work, it is the lack of good railroad jobs that can be done sustainably. Of course there is going to be a mass exodus of rail workers from their jobs (this has already been happening for several years now)- unemployment is at a 50 year low. The same thing is happening in healthcare. Railroad and hospital executives make millions, then authorize rotating shifts, 'efficiency' measures, and crappy benefits for their workers. This is what brought us here to this no-good-options situation. That the government has to step in now is a symptom of corporate over-reach and unions being asleep at the switch, not 'big-brother' imposing its will. To function well, most industries need strong unions and smart executives looking out for workers and company interests. When we have stupid, greedy executives and weak unions, whole industries can fail.

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Blaming unions at this juncture sounds really strange to me. Yes, unions need to be stronger. But they have been demonized by politicians for decades. It might be better for you to ask: What protections has the government provided to support workers? Why aren't there Federal laws guaranteeing sick time and reasonable scheduling. A union can only do so much. And if they try to do more they are accused of trying to shut down the economy.

The real solution for a lot of this is a Federal law that requires union and/or employee representation on every board of directors - with the mandate that they be equal stake holders with management and stockholders. After all, the purpose of any company is to deliver goods and services to the public. Along the way, a reasonable profit can be made. But we have put profits over people for too long. Time for some Norma Rae!

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“After all, the purpose of any company is to deliver goods and services to the public. Along the way, a reasonable profit can be made. But we have put profits over people for too long.”

When the curtain is pulled back, as any business school textbook will tell you, the purpose of any (for profit) company is to make profit. The first sentence in the mission statement of any company should state unequivocally that the purpose of the company is to make a profit. All of the flowery language that follows is second-tier aspiration. There is nothing wrong, given the premise of capitalism, with this economic fact; however, societal/governmental oversight is essential where a company’s mission to amass profits undermines how goods and services are available to actual people and where that mission undermines equal opportunity for individual fulfillment.

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Dec 1, 2022·edited Dec 1, 2022

Steve, beg to differ with you on this one. Several of the unions are stepping up! Why don't you address Biden? Why not a cooling off period for more negotiation? A few more sick days will not not solve the work scheduling formula or healthcare costs to the workers! I pray in my secular way for Americans to listen to their fellow citizens - the workers. Happy to see you Steve Abbott. Don't sell the unions short on this one!

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As I said in my post - there are no good options. I was on a state workers union negotiating team for a couple of contract cycles, and saw what happens when a union becomes weak and cowed. But again, I led by vilifying the railroad executives. Stupidity and greed is killing their industry, and they can't see past the next quarter. Unions became weak because some of the larger ones became corrupt, and the rest lost control of the labor/boss narrative, allowing all of them to be depicted as corrupt and unreasonable. This shifted the balance of power inexorably to management, who stupidly abused their workers with it - essentially trading long term stability (and profits) for short term gain. Railroads are hemorrhaging workers - there is no substitute for experienced workers.

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Dec 1, 2022·edited Dec 1, 2022

Steve, my point to you was specific and concerned the unions that did not settle with the rail carriers for good reason. They have not been 'weak'.

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And my point was not about the contract under negotiation, but the existing contract that is so onerous. The current contract was negotiated and adopted by both unions and management. Such a contract is the product of several cycles of management squeezing their employees and unions accepting this. How do you think we got to now?

Some of the unions may be stepping up now, bur where were they when a contract that allowed ONE sick day per year was adopted? Where were the sane managers who saw their companies (indeed their whole industry) being driven into the ground by destructive, myopic policies such as just in time scheduling and short shifting? This 'crisis' is the product of at least 10 contract negotiation cycles, each a little worse than the last for the railroad workers. Management bears the most culpability for this place of no good options we have gotten ourselves into, but unions, simply by allowing themselves to become weak over time, have to answer as well.

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Steve, without the important history you just shared, I didn't understand your point about the unions. Thank you for sharing it. Wish subscribers had read it. Good for us all to think about how much context to provide in terms of educating the reader. To learn the depth of the workers lack of support in the this country, which I knew was close to zilch. I was wrong; it has been below zilch.

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Thank you FERN for your diligent work. Data Point: 7 Days of Sick leave out of 261 work days, costs about $300: Million. The RR Corps made Billions last year about 98 percent MORE than the cost of 7 Live Days.

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Thanks, Bryan. The scheduling of the workers and their healthcare costs also need to be addressed.

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I have done over 30 years of pro bono work on health care costs & billing battles with Med Providers & Medical insurance carriers which must address catastrophic loss well over "limits" & family crushing medical billing bills from oncology, end-of-life disease and many other illnesses. Employers & others can pay for supplemental coverage in excess of primary "limits". It is a real Battle.

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This is time for Buttigieg to prove his Presidential skills. The Department of Transportation can mandate human working conditions by ordering safe working conditions. Two workers manning a 3 mile long train - what could go wrong. Stressed, sick and exhausted workers. More disasters and injuries waiting to happen. The FAA mandates work hours for crews. Truck drivers are mandated rest time. Do the same for the railroads. It is time for thes hugely rich companies and stockholders to treat their workers for what they are- the most valuable component of their companies.

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