Wendy's employees in New York City demand fair wages so they won't have to rely on food stamps anymore. One of the many Fast Food Worker Strikes that are spreading across the nation.
On Thursday, employees of fast food chains demonstrated across the country for a $15-an-hour minimum wage. The protests were estimated to hit 100 cities in an ongoing movement to raise salaries for low-income, hourly earners. "As prices for food, clothing and gas is going up, we work so hard for just a little bit of money," a McDonald's worker said. "The least they could do is pay us something we can be proud of." Efforts were met with criticism by the National Council of Chain Restaurants, which argues that chain restaurants are "a collection of small businesses in local communities" and they face "stiff economic head winds resulting from laws like the Affordable Care Act and anti-competitive rules."
Critics say that $15-an-hour is too much money for unskilled workers. The critics should think again.
As it appears the weeks of stalemate are coming to a close, President Obama briefly addressed the press room on Wednesday night, lauding the Senate-approved bill which would end the shutdown and raise the debt ceiling but which is still waiting for a House vote. He pledged to sign the agreement and re-open the government "immediately" after the compromise passes, saying he's "convinced Democrats and Republicans can work together to make progress for America." Congress has "got to get out of the habit of governing by crisis," Obama said before leaving the podium. "Isn't this going to happen again in a few months?" a reporter called after him. "No!" he shouted back. The president will address the nation again at 10:35 a.m. on Thursday.
From the President's remarks:
"The Senate has now voted to approve this agreement, and Democrats and Republicans in the House still have an important vote to take, but I want to thank the leaders of both parties for getting us to this point. Once this agreement arrives on my desk, I will sign it immediately. We'll begin reopening our government immediately, and we can begin to lift this cloud of uncertainty and unease from our businesses and from the American people."
A full transcript of the President's remarks below the fold.
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Negative views of the tea party have nearly doubled over the past two years, making the conservative movement more unpopular than ever, according to a Pew Research survey released Wednesday. Forty-nine percent of Americans now view the tea party unfavorably, while just 30 percent view it favorably -- an 11-point drop since just this June.
The loss of esteem crosses party lines. A bare majority of Republicans still view the tea party favorably, while 30 percent of independents and 13 percent of Democrats do.
About a third of Republicans said the tea party is part of the Republican Party, rather than a separate movement, according to the poll.
The ideological split is evident on several questions; Republicans, regardless of tea party affiliation, said in the poll that they wanted to see smaller government and think it's important to protect gun rights. But more than 90 percent of tea partiers took these positions, compared to just under 70 percent among Republicans not affiliated with the movement. Just 23 percent of tea party Republicans said it's essential to raise the debt limit, compared with 43 percent of non-tea party Republicans.
The poll also found that Ted Cruz, one of the most prominent tea party faces in the recent government shutdown, has seen his favorability soar among tea party supporters -- from 47 percent in July to 74 percent today. However,among non-tea party Republicans, he's at just 25 percent. House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell saw their unfavorability ratings rise among tea party and non-tea party Republicans alike, according to the poll.
The Pew poll surveyed 1,504 Americans by phone between Oct. 9 and Oct. 13, 2013.
A Gallup poll released before the start of the shutdown found that support for the tea party was at 22 percent, nearly the lowest it has been since the movement's beginning.
Chuck Schumer is more than ready for 2016. The New York senator gave one of the first endorsements of the upcoming presidential election Saturday night in Iowa when he backed Hillary Clinton. With Clinton at the top of the ticket, Schumer said the Democrats can “vanquish Ted Cruz, Tea Party Republicans in 2016.” “It’s time for a woman to be president,” Schumer told the crowd of 750 Democratic supporters, who rose to their feet with enthusiastic applause. Clinton did not respond immediately to Schumer’s remarks, although she told New York magazine in September she will make a decision on running “soon,” but she’s “not in any hurry.”
"It's time for a woman to be president," Schumer said as people rose to their feet with enthusiastic applause. "And so tonight here in Iowa, and I won't get this opportunity again, I am urging Hillary Clinton to run for president and, when she does, she will have my full and unwavering support. You know her well: as first lady, senator, secretary and as a wife and mother. Hillary's experience is unrivaled and her vision is unparalleled."
Clinton aides did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the remarks.
Polls show that Clinton would be the leading contender for the Democratic nomination if she were to run. She told New York magazine in an article published in September that she was wrestling with whether to run again and offered no timeline for an announcement.
"I'm not in any hurry. I think it's a serious decision, not to be made lightly, but it's also not one that has to be made soon," Clinton told the magazine.
The Daily Show hosted by John Oliver -- himself an immigrant -- on Tuesday night mocked the Republicans Party's resistance to comprehensive immigration reform.
He begins by pointing out that some Republicans are in favor of immigration reform because, as Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) explained, "We’re in a demographic death spiral as a party and the only way we can get back in good graces with the Hispanic community in my view is pass comprehensive immigration reform."
Or, as Oliver put it, “We choose to help you not because we want to, but because mathematically we feel we have to.”
Mapping out various obstacles the legislation will have to overcome to make it out of the Senate, Oliver laments that the final obstacle to reaching President Obama's desk might prove too high: The House GOP's "1,000-foot high border fence built out of ignorance and spite."
According to an analysis from the Los Angeles Times, the states with the greatest need to expand Medicaid also, unfortunately, have Republican leaders who are refusing to participate. This opposition could leave millions of the nation's poorest residents without insurance coverage, and will likely widen the divide between the nation's healthiest and sickest states.
Colon cancer deaths in states opposing Medicaid expansion, for example, are an average of 16% higher than in pro-expansion states, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis of state health data.
Deaths from breast cancer are 8% higher on average in anti-expansion states. And adults under 65 are 40% more likely on average to have lost six or more teeth from decay, infection or gum disease.
Medicaid by itself may not close those gaps, which also reflect income and education disparities. And the program's conservative critics, who contend it could ultimately sap state budgets, say poor Americans would be better helped by alternative strategies, including limits on government medical aid to encourage people to take responsibility for their own healthcare.
"Government assistance should not be an entitlement. Government assistance should not be a lifestyle," said Michigan House Speaker Jase Bolger, a Republican who has called for a complete overhaul of the state's Medicaid program, including a four-year limit on benefits for nondisabled adults. "Government assistance should be a temporary hand up. It should be a way to improve people's lives, not trap them in dependency."
Yet most state leaders who are fighting the Medicaid expansion have advanced few alternative plans to tackle their states' health shortfalls. That means that, at least in the short term, America's unhealthiest states could fall even further behind as the Affordable Care Act is implemented.
"Many states may be missing a real opportunity to reduce some of the big differences we see across the country in health," said Cathy Schoen, a health economist at the nonprofit Commonwealth Fund who has studied variations between states.
Residents of many of those states, those in the Deep South, would really love to see Medicaid expansion, a new survey suggests. Families USA polled in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina -- places where the Medicaid expansion would cover millions of uninsured people -- and found that 62 percent of respondents support Medicaid expansion.
Not all Republican led states will be left behind; several high-profile conservative Republican governors, including John Kasich (Ohio), Rick Scott (Fla.), Jan Brewer (Ariz.) and Chris Christie (N.J.) have supported the expansion.
It's been over five years since the beginning of the Great Recession, and unemployment is still a major economic hurdle in the United States, with long-term unemployment extremely problematic as over 4.6 million Americans have been jobless for at least 27 weeks, according to the latest job figures.
But when a hearing Thursday on long-term unemployment held before the 19-member Joint Economic Committee began, it was with just a single lawmaker in attendance. Panelists testifying on the problem and discussing its potential solutions spoke only to Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), the committee's vice-chair, for the beginning of the nearly 90-minute session.
Three more Democrats arrived later to join in the meeting, Senator Christopher Murphy (D-CT) arrived eight minutes into the hearing. Then when the hearing had been under way for 35 minutes, Representative John Delaney (D-MD) arrived, and eventually Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD) joined in bringing the crowd to four.
"When a hearing to explore how to get the long-term unemployed back to work kicked off on Wednesday morning, only one lawmaker was in attendance. That was Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who was holding the hearing in her role as the vice chair of the Joint Economic Committee. The Joint Economic Commitee is one of a handful of committees whose members come from both parties and both houses of Congress. Klobuchar was eventually joined by three colleagues (in order of their appearance): Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, Maryland Rep. John Delaney and Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings. All four are Democrats."
Here at ProPublica, we're great believers in the idea that public revelation of scandal leads to reforms. Over the years, we've seen plenty of evidence that sunshine is a disinfectant, from the New Orleans police department to California's nursing board.
But I have to admit that there may be one pestilent corner of the body politic where such cause and effect physics don't yet seem to apply, a black hole within which the forces of greed have to date overwhelmed all good sense and every call for redemption.
You've already guessed, of course, that we're talking about Albany, New York.
Like many of the notorious outposts on America's map of graft, Albany has a storied history of dishonest behavior. When Abraham Lincoln wanted to push the 13th Amendment through a recalcitrant Congress, his Secretary of State, William Seward, told the president he'd need to make some ethically dicey promises, work best left to an operative skilled in the darkest arts of politics.
"I'll fetch a friend from Albany," Seward, a former New York governor, is quoted as saying in the movie "Lincoln." "Spare you the exposure and liability."
It doesn't appear much has changed. This week alone, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York went before the cameras twice to announce indictments of state legislators. Thursday's announcement – Bronx Assemblyman Eric Stevenson was arraigned on bribery charges – came with a twist: a legislator had been wearing a wire for the Feds for months, maybe years.
The collective shiver in the Capitol scored pretty well on the Richter scale.
Robert Reich, former U.S. labor secretary and professor at U.C. Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy, tells Current TV’s John Fugelsang why Democrats and Republicans need to cooperate in order to avert the looming sequester.
“What Democrats ought to be proposing, and even Republicans ought to be proposing, is to say, ‘Let’s just repeal the sequester,’” Reich says. “The problem right now is not the budget deficit — the budget deficit is actually shrinking — the problem right now is jobs. The problem right now is the economy and economic growth. Wages. That’s what we ought to get back to – the fundamentals.”
“Trickle-down economics is just a bald-faced lie,” Reich adds. “It means that you’re protecting the rich, protecting the powerful. It’s what Republicans have been doing for years, and you know, you tell a lie over and over and over again … and eventually people start to believe it.”
Franklin Sain, a 42-year-old Colorado Springs man, was arrested last Friday for threatening Colorado lawmaker Rep. Rhonda Fields (D-Aurora) over gun control legislation that she is currently sponsoring and that recently passed in the state House.
Franklin Sain is accused of threatening Fields and her daughter using racial and sexual slurs.
Fields told KOA Radio that she does not know Sain, and said "All I know is the kinds of things that he said were very inappropriate, and they're alarming, and they were very intimidating."
"It started last week around the 13th or the 14th," Fields told KOA. "And then the emails got worse; it started to escalate until it got to a letter that was sent to the Capitol. At first, I was really taken aback by the tone and the language in it, especially the racial overtones - I've just never seen something like that before. No one has ever said those things or written those things towards me in the last two-and-a-half years that I've been serving the state. So, I was like 'Wow, this is unbelievable.' And then they kept coming."
9News has obtained the arrest affidavit, and now the full scope of threats allegedly left by Sain over a nine day period are viewable. The threat of violence and use of racist language is prevalent throughout the messages, and they messages appear to escalate in tone by the ninth day. Caution: The language used is explicit and extremely offensive.
There are many misspelled words and incorrect grammar usage in the messages, and they appear as written in the affidavit, along with censoring of offensive words.
According to an affidavit, one of the letters alleged to have been written by the Colorado Springs man reads, "Rhonda Fields, mother of [Field's daughter]. Death to both." The letter goes on to say "There will be blood! I'm coming for you, N----- B----."
In one of the emails, Sain allegedly wrote, "hopefully somebody Gifords [sic] your asses with a gun."
The following is one of seven emails police say Sain sent to Fields:
"THANKS N----- C---! You really think passing nay more laws will stop gun violence? You and that other N----- OBAMA are living in fantasy land. Chicago and DC have the most strict gun laws in the nation and more people die from gun violence than anywhere. You f---ing c---s are pathetic excuse for civil servants. Hell, n-----s love shooting themselves with GATS, isn't that what your people call it. What you have done here is creater [sic] criminals out of law abiding citizens, and put yourself out of a job. You politicians have no idea what you are even doing anyway, do you know how long it takes some to change a magazine, less than a second, so what if some with experience decides to flip out and bring their gun in with 5 or so 10 round magazines, they can do the same amount of damage. Limiting magazine sizes is stupididty, [sic] and will not work..."
Then the most unhinged of Sain's messages also refers to Field's daughter:
Rhonda Fields, N----- C---, Mother of -----, Death to Both, All N----- Back to Africa, F--- you, F--- Your Laws, I Keep my 30 Round Magazines, There Will Be Blood!, I'm Coming For You, N----- B----
Sain told police that he didn't mean to threaten Fields, and regrets the language he used. He has no prior record, and is the chief operating officer at SofTec Solutions in Englewood, Colorado, where he does consulting work for the government and private organizations
House Speaker Mark Ferrandino and two other Democratic Reps also received similar threatening messages.
Tuesday afternoon, SofTec announced the suspension of Sain via Facebook:
"SofTec Solutions, Inc. has been informed of allegations against our employee, Mr. Frank Sain. We are shocked to learn of these allegations and are taking this matter very seriously. If true, these actions are highly inappropriate and will not be tolerated. Pending SofTec’s investigation into this matter, Mr. Sain has been suspended immediately from further duties at SofTec. SofTec Solutions is a minority-owned, small business and we employ a large diverse workforce. We will absolutely not tolerate any racial, sexual, gender-based slurs or threats of violence by employees."
The full arrest affidavit is available online here, but caution, as the language is explicit and offensive. Sain is scheduled to appear in court on March 8, 2013.