Archives for category: Economy

Home is where the heart is, and for John Faso, his heart has certainly not been in the 19th Congressional District. For his entire 20+ year political career, his heart has been in the corporate headquarters of the fossil fuel industry, Wall Street, and the ultra-wealthy. In his short time in Washington, his voting record confirms this.

So while he rails against so-called carpetbaggers – claims of dubious credibility – he can most accurately be named one of the nation’s premier CORPORATEBAGGERS, a politician whose every move shows us where his heart really is, from a lifetime of unquestioning support and work for the fossil fuel industry, to his critical support for Trumpcare, to his votes to enable pollution of the nation’s waterways.

His biggest supporters are from outside the 19th District.

Because his continuing failure to represent us is so obvious, and his words so consistently belie his actions, the ultra-wealthy are already pouring millions into the district to shore up his re-election campaign. There is a real opportunity for the voters of the 19th district to show that big money can be defeated by a knowledgeable and active citizenry.

Another Faso vote to help Wall Street and the super-wealthy hide more information  from the public and investors.

Employee Stock Sales – Vote Passed (331-87, 11 Not Voting)

Passage of the bill that would direct the Securities and Exchange Commission to increase from $5 million to $10 million the annual amount of securities that privately-held companies can sell for employee compensation without needing to disclose certain information to investors.

Rep. John Faso voted YES

Is there some sort of competition among Republicans to see who can stray farther from the truth and bend over backwards to turn the entire nation over to Wall Street and big corporations? It’s hard to know which one is leading this charge to come in second to Trump.  John Faso is certainly in the running.

His latest obfuscation concerns the disastrous Republican (Destroy) Health Care Plan. He brags that they are preserving coverage for children under the age of 26, and mandating coverage for preexisting conditions.  Here is just some of what he conveniently misses: cancelling the mandate for individuals to secure coverage and employers to provide it; cancelling the tax subsidies for low-income Americans to help pay for coverage; cancelling the expansion of Medicaid; cancelling national coverage standards for health plans; cancelling the federal health insurance exchange; and forcing those with pre-existing conditions into special high cost pools.  Estimates are that insurance companies will reap a billion dollar windfall in the first year –and you can be sure that some of that will trickle down to the campaign coffers of John Faso.

No doubt he will change his public stand on some of these, but you can bet that in the end he will vote the way Paul Ryan tells him to.

WE WILL ALL BE HURT, TOGETHER WITH OUR ENTIRE ECONOMY, unless you are a billionaire or a member of Congress. Here is a link to the letter AARP sent to Congress opposing the bill.

One item that may be easy to overlook is how it will affect students over the age of 26, who do not make enough for the proposed tax breaks to help them.Higher education costs are already way too high and this is sure the drive students away, impacting those on whose future the nation’s technological future depends.

Here is a simple statistic that should convince you that a single payer system is the only way to go.  Overhead and profit take at least 20% of the health care dollars spent on private insurance; Medicare’s overhead is below 2% (This number rises to around 6% if it includes the overhead of private insurers participating in Medicare Parts c & D). So if you spend $500 per month on private health insurance, over $100 is immediately withdrawn from what can be spent on actual care.

Economic pressure works!

When 200,000 Uber customers canceled their accounts, CEO Travis Kalanick was forced to resign from Trump’s economic advisory council.

Disney CEO Bob Iger canceled a meeting with Trump

ESPN announced in a announced that it would be moving the ESPY Celebrity Golf Classic from Trump’s National Golf Club to Pelican Hill Golf Club in Los Angeles.

Jose Andres, the high-profile owner of ThinkFoodGroup and 18 restaurants who made Time’s list of 100 most influential people in 2012, announced his decision to back out of a deal with Trump International’s new hotel in Washington D.C., which is currently under construction. Andres’ company had planned to open the premier restaurant in Trump’s new hotel. Celebrity chef Geoffrey Zakarian also announced that he would not be opening a restaurant in Trump’s hotel.

Trump’s mattress line became another casualty of his racially-infused comments. As early as last July, Serta, the nation’s number one bedding producer, decided to begin “unwinding [its] relationship” with Trump.

Nordstrom has just cut its ties to the Trump brand (they say it is because the brand was not selling, but….)

Boycotts have also started against other Trump-supporting companies. Among them: Yuengling Beer, New Balance Shoes, Hardees/Carl’s Jr., Hobby Lobby, Amazon.

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos has taken a strong stand against Trump’s immigration ban, but Amazon is still selling Trump products, including pro-Trump hats and shirts. Although on-line buying from Amazon is easy and the prices are usually good, there are plenty of other sites that sell the same products.

Here is a link to companies that do business with Trump. Note that some of the companies listed may already have distanced themselves from Trump.

A rock-star economist says it’s much simpler than you think. Daron Acemoglu, M.I.T. Professor, and his collaborator have found that the wealth of a country is most closely correlated with the degree to which the average person shares in the overall growth of its economy. When the poorest and least educated citizens have some shot at improving their own lives—through property rights, a reliable judicial system or access to markets—these citizens do what it takes to make themselves and their country richer. A comparison of related countries bears this out, e.g. the Dominican Republic vs. Haiti (two halves of the same island!) or Thailand vs. Burma (now Myanmar). It has also been true historically that fairly open and prosperous societies can revert to closed and impoverished autocracies. (NY Times Magazine, 3/18/12)

Britain already has a tax on share trading. France has just proposed a new tax for every stock trade in their country, excepting bonds. It is time that the US set a miniscule tax on each Wall Street trade, raising tens of billion dollars annually with little impact on actual investment. Such a tax would reduce speculation and outrageous bankers’ bonuses. Only 1/20th of 1% on each Wall Street trade is proposed by the American Dream Movement. The resulting income could then be used toward Main Street job creation, i.e. benefiting the rest of us 99%.

On Monday, we attended the 130th Birthday Party of FDR at Hyde Park. The park even welcomed Occupy New Paltz, who were encouraged to participate in the ceremony and have birthday cake. We were reminded of how differently FDR looked at the problems of his day:

“I see one third of a nation ill housed, ill clad, ill nourished…. The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much, it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”

FDR’s Second Inaugural Address, January 20, 1937

We should remember his words, since the 33% has not changed.


A small neighborhood in San Francisco, California has come together to save neighbors’ homes from the foreclosures happening all over our country.  Bernal Heights neighbors have joined together in Occupy Bernal Heights.  88 houses in this neighborhood with a population of 25,000 have been indentified as being in danger of foreclosure.  Members of Occupy Bernal have been going door to door to these houses offering assistance for people who are faced with losing their homes.   There are counselors available through various HUD and other housing agencies in San Francisco.  Then there is the support from neighbors, which has proved invaluable.

Many of these houses have mortgages with Wells Fargo Bank.  Members of Occupy Bernal,  including  homeowners at risk of losing their homes, have been in negotiation with elected officials and Wells Fargo executives.  Up to this date, two housing auctions have been postponed due to community  pressure.  This will enable time for loans to be renegotiated and people to stay in their homes.

We are developing strategies to help our neighbors negotiate with the banks.  Elected officials contacted by neighbors have been helping people meet with bank executives to negotiate.  Banks are reporting record profits in this time of financial trouble, and there are ways to make them accountable to the people who have trusted them for their mortgages.

Here are some guidelines for helping neighbors facing default or foreclosure:

1. Identify neighbors either in foreclosure or in default, the step immediately preceding foreclosure.  Default means that people have fallen  behind on their mortgage payments,  their property taxes, or insurance.

2. Contact HUD certified Foreclosure counselors in your county.  These are found on HUD websites.  Find out their availability for people.

3. Contact the foreclosee/defaultee. Tell them you are neighbors concerned about the impact of the foreclosure on the community.  You are not experts on the issue, but know of some experts who would assist them if they want your help.  Emphasize that you want to work with them to help them keep their homes, and preserve your community.

4. Connect them with a HUD certified foreclosure counselor.  The counselor can assist them in negotiations with the lender at any point in the process if they sign a third party authorization” form, available from the counselor, permitting them to contact the lender on the borrower’s behalf.

5. Neighbors, with the permission of the homeowner, could help get local media coverage of the situation.

6. Neighbors can also contact a local lender official and request a meeting.

7. Local elected officials can be contacted on the behalf of the homeowner, if they agree to help support their fight to stay in their home.

Here’s a short explanation of the foreclosure process and some information about predatory loans.  The process of default or foreclosure begins  when a homeowner  is unable to pay his/her mortgage or taxes.

a. The lender can then call for them to pay all past charges, – including any balloon payments or deferred interest.
b. If they don’t pay, the lender can place them in foreclosure.
c. Foreclosure can lead to the lender selling their property at a public auction.
d. If someone buys the property, the new owner can move to evict them.

Why are so many people in foreclosure or default?  In our economy, with so many people out of work, people are falling behind on payments for their homes. Another reason is the predatory loans which some banks have been issuing to people.  Predatory loans are often marketed to the vulnerable, people with poor credit or the inability to refinance under more favorable terms.  Such loans often permit the borrower to pay only a portion of the interest on the loan for a period of time, – say only 1% on a 6% loan for 3 to 5 years.  Then, after that period, all of that deferred interest can be called in by the lender, often resulting in default followed by foreclosure, auction sale and eviction.  This is just a short statement about a larger problem.

More than 65,000 Rebuild the Dream members signed a petition to help save a community church from an unfair foreclosure and eviction by BB&T, one of the ten biggest banks in the country. The 99% stood up and the bank backed down!

After an intense, 3-hour negotiation, BB&T backed down and agreed to a fair deal with the Higher Ground Empowerment Center church that was about to lose its building to the bank. This victory was a complete turnaround, led by local activists at Occupy Atlanta and Rainbow PUSH Coalition. The sudden groundswell of media coverage, local community action, and MoveOn’s Rebuild the Dream national petition forced BB&T’s hand.

This outcome shows: when we’re united, we can stop big banks in their tracks and get them to treat people with dignity. The more banks that have public re-negotiations like this, the bigger the momentum will be for millions of other struggling homeowners who are in the same boat.

Bill Moyers, who has been a voice of truth and courage in the face of years of media pressure, has a new TV show – Moyers and Company – in which he discusses issues of interest to us all. The premiere episode of Moyers & Company explores how America’s gross inequality is no accident, but was in fact “politically engineered,” with insight from Winner-Take-All Politics authors Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson. Also: A Bill Moyers essay on how Occupy Wall Street is waking us up to economic inequality. It airs on PBS – WMHT locally – on Saturdays at 7:00PM.