On February 11, 2011, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker introduced a bill that would limit the collective bargaining rights of public employees, require 100% voter participation in union recertification and end the state's practice of withholding and reimbursing union dues. The bill was perceived as a death blow to public employee unions and prompted massive, sustained and peaceful protests inside and outside the Wisconsin State Capitol in the winter of 2011.
Putting aside a laundry list of potential dates, calculations and concerns, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin announced last week that they will be joining with community groups to launch a campaign to recall the state's governor, Scott Walker. With a corruption scandal brewing behind the scenes, political activists decided there was no better time than now.
Hurdles for those wishing to recall Walker are high.
For years, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), has been itching to protect big corporations from high interest rates charged in cases where corporations have killed or injured Americans. Now, Wisconsin politicians serving on key ALEC task forces are pushing a bill embracing this idea as part of ALEC alumnus Scott Walker's latest effort to force the ALEC agenda into law based on claims that doing so will help "job creators."
In the name of "job creation," Wisconsin GOP legislators are taking another page from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) playbook and pushing a bill that gives global corporations that manufacture drugs and medical devices immunity from lawsuits when their products injure or kill.
British Conservative Party defense secretary Liam Fox is in the midst of scandal that has grown deeper as ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) are revealed. Pressure has been growing on Fox in recent weeks after having been caught in a lie about unethical dealings with his friend and former flatmate, and more ethical problems arising from the operation of a recently-dissolved, ALEC-connected "charity" Fox founded.
While the Occupy Wall Street movement is sweeping the country and peaceful arrests are mounting, Chicagoans took to the streets this week to hold the big banks accountable for crashing the economy and to demand city, state and federal policies that work for working families.
For many, the goal was stopping the foreclosure mill and telling the big banks it was time to Pay US Back! for the $4.7 trillion bailout. For others, the demands focused on the fallout from the financial crisis including contentious contract negotiations with the administration of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel.
For most, the range of issues were inextricably linked.
The lobbyists for U.S. health insurers surely have to be feeling a little uneasy knowing that thousands of Occupy Wall Street demonstrators who have been marching and protesting in Washington as well as New York and other cities might target them in the days ahead. After all, the headquarters of the insurers' biggest lobbying and PR group, America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), at 601 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., is just blocks away from Freedom Plaza, where the demonstrators have set up camp -- and problems with health insurers appear to be near the top of the list of protesters' concerns.
As the "Occupy" protests spread across the country with the slogan "we are the ninety-nine percent," two reports released this week demonstrate how the top one percent are playing an increasingly outsized role in American elections.
The New Yorkerreports on a conservative multimillionaire's successful efforts to buy North Carolina's elections, and a report from campaign finance reform groups describe how an elite group of donors have laundered unlimited contributions to presidential campaigns. Much of this influence was made possible by the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, and anger over corporate influence in politics is helping fuel the populist uprisings in Manhattan, D.C., and around the country.
Darrell Issa is going postal. In the name of "Saving the Post Office," the head of the House Government Oversight Committee is ready to knock off 200,000 jobs and put the U.S. Postal Service, founded in 1775, on the path to oblivion. President Obama's rescue plan is only slightly better -- 80,000 people might lose their jobs.
The bipartisan eagerness to sink the Postal Service has Ben Franklin, the first Postmaster General under the Continental Congress, rolling in his grave.
Consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren announced that she was running against Scott Brown for a U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts on the eve of the anniversary of the Lehman Brothers collapse. For many, Lehman's unthinkable bankruptcy September 15th, 2008 marks the day when the wheels came off the bus and the U.S. economy went over a cliff.
With 30 million Americans unemployed and underemployed, Social Security, Medicare and public workers under attack, Warren's video announcement got straight to the point.
"Middle-class families have been chipped at, hacked at, squeezed and hammered for a generation now, and I don't think Washington gets it. Washington is rigged for big corporations that hire armies of lobbyists," she continued. "A big company like GE pays nothing in taxes and we're asking college students to take on even more debt to get an education, we're telling seniors they may have to learn to live on less? It isn't right, and it's the reason I'm running for the U.S. Senate."