Aisle 15 Now! New Walmart Ad Shows We’re Winning the Narrative on Wages

Aisle 15 Now! New Walmart Ad Shows We’re Winning the Narrative on Wages

If there is a comic book villain in the Fight for $15 it is Walmart, a company as famous for low wages as it is for low prices. The discount retailer’s 1.4 million mostly low-wage employees are icons of the working poor, costing US taxpayers an estimated $6.2 billion a year in Medicaid, food stamps, housing assistance and other public subsidies. And so when Walmart announced earlier this year that it was raising its starting wage to $9 an hour in April, and to $10 an hour in 2016, it was big news. Walmart had been plagued by high employee turnover, stagnant same-store sales, and a reputation for poor customer service. But in a recent blog post , Walmart CEO Doug McMillon says that his new wage strategy is already paying dividends: “We have seen associate engagement and customer satisfaction scores increase dramatically over the past eight months and comp sales are increasing,” writes McMillon. “Bottom line – it’s working.” But after learning the $1.5 billion cost of next year’s raise would temporarily lower 2017 profit-per-share forecasts, Wall Street handed Walmart’s stock its largest single-day price drop in 15 years. Corporate short-termism is hard for a CEO to resist, and in past years, McMillon might have caved in to the demands of disgruntled shareholders. But thanks in large part to the Fight for $15 and its dramatic victories in Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and elsewhere, the national narrative about wages has changed. And so rather than reversing its strategy, Walmart is responding to investor criticism by re-airing a TV ad touting its “Raise in Pay.” “Because a raise in pay raises us all,” the narrator concludes, just as the light over aisle 15 winks on. Get it? Aisle 15? It would be downright subliminal if it wasn’t so obvious. Of course, even at $10 an hour Walmart will still
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Daily Clips: November 6th, 2015

Daily Clips: November 6th, 2015

POTUS rejects Keystone pipeline: It’s been a long time coming, Mr. President! Obama explained his decision by saying, “America is now a global leader when it comes to taking serious action to fight climate change. Frankly, approving this project would have undercut that leadership.” Environmental activists across the country will be celebrating because of this news and rightfully so! On the flip side, Republicans are reacting like you’d expect them to: The Obama Admin's politically motivated rejection of the Keystone XL Pipeline is a self-inflicted attack on the U.S. economy and jobs. — Jeb Bush (@JebBush) November 6, 2015 We will not give up and the House will continue to fight for the priorities of the American people. #KeystoneXL https://t.co/7p2Egbhj7t — Rep. Steve Scalise (@SteveScalise) November 6, 2015 Economy adds over 270,000 jobs in October:  What a month for the US economy. According to Politico, “The size of the labor force grew, wages rose at a faster pace and a broader measure of joblessness that includes discouraged workers — which Republicans love to cite as an indicator — also fell to its lowest point since 2008.” Due to the strength of these numbers, it appears like a Fed rate hike will occur next month. Ben Carson admits to fabricating his West Point scholarship:  Dr. Carson, welcome to the media scrutiny which accompanies a front-runner. It appears that America’s favorite sleepy doctor lied about being given a “full scholarship” to America’s prestigious military academy. How presidential. Baby boomers are what’s wrong with America’s economy:  I usually do not like articles which assign blame to an entire generation, but Jim Tankersley produces a very convincing argument here. He contends that baby boomers “soaked up a lot of economic opportunity without bothering to preserve much for the generations to come” and have “left its children and grandchildren with some bones to pic through and a big bill to pay.” Thanks Mom and Dad!

The Economic Models Always Predict that a Minimum Wage Hike Will Cost Jobs, and the Models Are Always Wrong

The Economic Models Always Predict that a Minimum Wage Hike Will Cost Jobs, and the Models Are Always Wrong

Hey thanks, New York Post, for printing this how-to guide to classic trickle-down bullshit: “ A $15 wage could cost half a million NY jobs .” Enacting a statewide, all-industry $15 minimum would cost New York at least 200,000 jobs — including 95,600 in New York City, with proportionately larger employment decreases in upstate regions. That’s the key finding of a research paper to be released today by my organization, the Empire Center for Public Policy, and the Washington, DC-based American Action Forum. Co-authors Douglas Holtz-Eakin and Ben Gitis drew from three different research models to estimate the impact of Cuomo’s proposal. The projected 200,000-job loss is actually their lowball estimate, based on the methodology used in a recent study by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), of which Holtz-Eakin is a former director. The two other minimum-wage impact models cited in the research paper say the employment impact could be even larger — resulting in somewhere between 432,200 and 588,000 fewer jobs. Okay, sure. I don’t doubt that your “research models” predict that a $15 minimum wage would cost as many as 588,000 jobs. That sounds about right. Because that’s what the models always predict. Except the thing is, it never happens! Because the models are always wrong. According to  a letter signed by more than 600 economists , including 7 Nobel Prize winners, the weight of the evidence now shows that “increases in the minimum wage have had little or no negative effect on the employment of minimum-wage workers, even during times of weakness in the labor market.” In fact, the economists concur, studies of the effect of actual minimum wage increases (rather than models of theoretical ones) suggest that minimum wage hikes have a “stimulative effect.” So line up all the economists you want to insist that your economic models are right, but 75 years of minimum wage hikes tells us otherwise.

Marco Rubio’s Tax Plan Is Even Worse Than I Thought

Marco Rubio’s Tax Plan Is Even Worse Than I Thought

I’ve written about Marco Rubio’s tax plan before. I called it the same old trickle down story. But the more I learn about Rubio’s tax plan, the less I like it—in fact, Rubio’s plan is more like trickle down economics on steroids. He’s got one of the most extreme plans we’ve ever seen from a mainstream Republican presidential candidate. As Jonathan Chait reported for New York Magazine , Rubio’s plan “would eliminate all taxes on capital gains, dividends, interest, and inherited estates.” Basically, he would eliminate taxes on capital. Jared Bernstein explains in the Washington Post that Rubio’s plan is the answer to the question, “what tax change could I implement that would be most helpful to the wealthiest households?” He adds, “taxation on these forms of income, currently taxed at a top rate of 23.8 percent, is highly concentrated: according to the Tax Policy Center, 79 percent of the tax take from this asset-based income comes from the top 1 percent, 5 percent from the bottom 90 percent.” It gets worse: 12 percent of all taxable capital gains in America belongs to the richest 400 American taxpayers. Among just those 400 richest Americans, this amounts to 92 billion dollars that Rubio wants to take off the table. What you have here is a candidate who believes the wealthiest Americans—the top 1 percent, yeah, but more importantly the top 0.0003 percent, according to Bernstein—pay too much in taxes. And so naturally Rubio’s tax plan would result in significantly less revenue for the government. Wait, did I say “significantly?” I mean “disastrously.” Ramesh Ponnuru, senior editor for the conservative National Review, noted in Bloomberg : “The Tax Foundation estimated that over the first 10 years that revenue reduction would amount to $6 trillion, unless the reform boosted economic growth.” Six trillion dollars in revenue gone. Think about that. What would an America with six trillion dollars less in revenue even look like? This is more than
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Trickle-down economics is as old as Plato

Trickle-down economics is as old as Plato

For over three decades, Americans have been fed a lie. Through reinforcement and repetition, from stump speeches to cable news, Americans have become convinced that economic prosperity originates from the vaunted “job creators.” We have been warned that any attempt to regulate or tax these individuals would lead to economic ruin. As a result, we have seen everyone around us accept trickle-down theory as the best way to ensure economic growth. The theory is simple. It’s persuasive. But it’s also not true. Rest assured, this isn’t the first time the powerful have lied in order to justify their authority. Over a millennia ago, Plato came up with a very similar concoction in his Republic. Plato needed a clever way to justify the inevitable class differences in his ideal society, so he came up with “the noble lie.” This lie was also designed to be simple and persuasive. It would lead people to believe that the rulers of the land had literal gold within them, while the lower classes merely possessed iron and bronze. Plato suspected that this noble lie would become so embedded into the collective narrative of the society that even the rulers themselves would come to believe it. While Plato’s noble lie sought to legitimize the political rulers in his society, trickle-down proponents have tried to legitimize the economic rulers in American society. In essence, trickle-down economics has made us believe that the proverbial “gold” of our economy resides within the rich. And although lies can be well-motivated, the falsehoods of trickle-down economics and the misguided policies which have followed it have established a deeply exclusive type of capitalism.  These lies are neither imagined nor are they irrelevant to how our politicians have shaped economic policies since the late 1970s. As Nick Hanauer wrote in Democracy Journal in 2013, “ [t]he picture you have in your head about how the world works absolutely determines what you think is possible or beneficial. ” Consequently, a
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Daily Clips: November 5th, 2015

Daily Clips: November 5th, 2015

DEA chief: medical marijuana is a “a joke.” Science: No, it’s not:  By now, you should know that the US government classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, right up there with heroin. Our government is f***** up like that. The current DEA chief believes pot has no medical value, yet as Ezra Klein highlights, positions “like his increasingly fly in the face of science – and may actually put people’s lives at risk when adopted as the government policy.” Red states get redder, blue states get bluer:  EJ Dionne takes a big picture look at the 2015 elections, noting the good and bad takeaways for Democrats. He reminds progressives that, “Democrats swept to victory in three open seats on Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court” while also winning mayoral contests in Indiana and North Carolina. According to Dionne, the “one large lesson from Tuesday is that the red parts of the country are getting even redder while the blue and some of the purple parts get bluer. We are still two Americas.” US jobless claims rise; third-quarter productivity posts surprise gain:  The US Labor Department said that productivity increased only at 1.6 percent this last quarter, while manufacturing productivity grew at its quickest pace in over four years. Reuters claims that “economists blame softer productivity on a lack of investment, which they say has led to an unprecedented fall in capital intensity .” Swing states are swinging left:  Bloomberg provides a nice set of graphics which show that six battleground states are trending liberal and Democratic. The future appears bright(er) for progressives.

Daily Clips: November 4th, 2015

Daily Clips: November 4th, 2015

Voters say yes to Seattle’s big ask for transportation:  At this point in time, 56.5 percent of Seattle voters approved of Proposition 1, which would spend $930 million over nine years “on streets, safety, transit and pedestrian and bicycling routes.” Mayor Ed Murray campaigned hard for this plan and told campaign supporters that because of Prop 1’s passage “Seattle will get moving again.” Seattle’s campaign finance reform wins; first in country:  It appears the voters of Seattle read our endorsement of Initiative I-122 ! According to the Seattle Times, I-122 “took a 20 percentage-point lead in first-day returns, which makes Seattle the nation’s first jurisdiction to try taxpayer-funded “democracy vouchers.” Woman called 911 on  man carrying rifle. Dispatch told her open carry allowed it. He then killed 3 people:  Infuriating. A top comment on Reddit reads: “If she wanted the police to respond then she should have said “a black man carrying a rifle.” The cops would be there in 2 secs.” Which leads me to the next headline… Half of black millennials know victim of police violence:  And these results were brought together over the past decade, well before the “Black Lives Matter” movement started. In a 2009 survey, 54.4 percent of black millennials answered yes to “Have you or anyone you know experience harassment or violence at the hands of police?” In comparison, only one-third of white millennials said yes.  

Daily Clips: November 3rd, 2015

Daily Clips: November 3rd, 2015

TODAY IS ELECTION DAY. IF YOU HAVEN’T VOTED YET, DO SO NOW! Obama rips into 2016 GOP field:  Here’s the antagonistic President Obama we know and love! Ever since he won in 2012, it’s been fantastic to see Obama take the gloves off. For those of us who remember the timidness of his first four years, rhetoric like this shows he isn’t afraid to point out the lunacy of his rival party. At a fundraising event in New York, the president did just that: Have you noticed that everyone of these candidates say, ‘Obama’s weak. Putin’s kicking sand in his face. When I talk to Putin, he’s going to straighten out.’ Then it turns out they can’t handle a bunch of CNBC moderators at the debate. Let me tell you, if you can’t handle those guys, then I don’t think the Chinese and the Russians are going to be too worried about you. Republicans trust Trump on economy and nukes. No, we’re not joking:  This is a really, really scary headline. Consider these findings for a second: Donald Trump is the Republican candidate most trusted to manage the economy, deal with foreign leaders and serve as commander in chief…On the question of whether voters trust the candidates to manage the economy, 59 percent said “yes” to Trump. How can these voters be so stupid? The Tax Foundation found that Trump’s tax plan “would end up reducing tax revenues by $10.14 trillion over the next decade” and would help out the super-rich more than middle-class Americans. David Brooks writes a sanctimonious article, again: I fear that David Brooks is no longer a political columnist. Every column of his seems to be a self-help lecture on the failings of modern society and how David Brooks can get you out of this decay. Just read this: People who do that may instinctively be seeking higher forms of pruning: being impeccable with your words, parsimonious but strong with your commitments, disciplined about your time, selective about
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Voting is power: A conversation with Ari Berman about the struggle for voting rights in America

Voting is power: A conversation with Ari Berman about the struggle for voting rights in America

The Nation contributing writer Ari Berman ’s excellent new book Give Us the Ballot tracks the history of voting rights in America from the 1950s to today. No less a civil rights giant than Congressman John Lewis calls Berman’s history a “must-read” that “should become a primer for every American” on the topic of voting equality. (Lewis, of course, figures heavily into Ballot’s narrative.) This Friday, Berman appears in conversation with Supreme Court Justice Steven Gonzalez at Town Hall  to talk about the state of voting rights nationally and in Washington State. Berman freely admits he’s not an expert in Washington state voting law, but his research into the history of voting in America provides him with a unique perspective into what works and what doesn’t work. Washington’s vote-by-mail system was pitched as a way to increase voter turnout, but we’re still looking at some remarkably bad voting attendance here. As of yesterday, just 15.2 percent of King County voters had turned in their ballots , and turnout might stall at an astonishingly bad 40 percent when all the ballots are in. Is there any way to improve those numbers?“I think turnout is always low for municipal elections, and I’m not sure that’s the best barometer” for a healthy democracy, he explains over the phone. Colorado’s vote-by-mail system is more successful, he says, because it provides many locations around the state where voters can drop off ballots, as opposed to Washington’s limited ballot drop locations. But he promotes one particular type of voting reform more than any other: “States that have same-day voter registration tend to have higher voter turnout. I think that, more than any other single reform, same-day registration has boosted voter turnout in a lot of places.” (Automatic voter registration has been discussed in Washington , but it doesn’t appear to be moving forward.) One of the main talking points that politicians use to discriminate against minorities at the polls is the idea of voter fraud. “I think that there’s a right-wing echo chamber that has sustained
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Daily Clips: November 3rd, 2015

Daily Clips: November 3rd, 2015

TODAY IS ELECTION DAY. IF YOU HAVEN’T VOTED YET, DO SO NOW! Obama rips into 2016 GOP field:  Here’s the antagonistic President Obama we know and love! Ever since he won in 2012, it’s been fantastic to see Obama take the gloves off. For those of us who remember the timidness of his first four years, rhetoric like this shows he isn’t afraid to point out the lunacy of his rival party. At a fundraising event in New York, the president did just that: Have you noticed that everyone of these candidates say, ‘Obama’s weak. Putin’s kicking sand in his face. When I talk to Putin, he’s going to straighten out.’ Then it turns out they can’t handle a bunch of CNBC moderators at the debate. Let me tell you, if you can’t handle those guys, then I don’t think the Chinese and the Russians are going to be too worried about you. Republicans trust Trump on economy and nukes. No, we’re not joking:  This is a really, really scary headline. Consider these findings for a second: Donald Trump is the Republican candidate most trusted to manage the economy, deal with foreign leaders and serve as commander in chief…On the question of whether voters trust the candidates to manage the economy, 59 percent said “yes” to Trump. How can these voters be so stupid? The Tax Foundation found that Trump’s tax plan “would end up reducing tax revenues by $10.14 trillion over the next decade” and would help out the super-rich more than middle-class Americans. David Brooks writes a sanctimonious article, again: I fear that David Brooks is no longer a political columnist. Every column of his seems to be a self-help lecture on the failings of modern society and how David Brooks can get you out of this decay. Just read this: People who do that may instinctively be seeking higher forms of pruning: being impeccable with your words, parsimonious but strong with your commitments, disciplined about your time, selective about
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