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by Michael Winship
The US Senate on Wednesday held its first hearing on the proposed Comcast-Time Warner deal — a $45 billion transaction that will affect millions of consumers and further pad some already well-lined pockets — so now seems a good time to look at how our elected officials have benefitted from the largesse of the two companies with an urge to merge.
Although the ultimate decision will be made by the Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department, according to the Sunlight Foundation, a reliable, nonpartisan watchdog, “The number one and number two cable providers in the country are also big-time on the influence circuit, giving upwards of a combined $42.4 million to various politicians and groups since 1989.
The Sunlight Foundation’s Influence Explorer tool also shows that the two companies have spent a combined $143.5 million lobbying Congress since 1989 on issues including telecommunications, technology, taxes and copyright.
by Robert Reich
Momentum is building to raise the minimum wage. Several states have already taken action — Connecticut has boosted it to $10.10 by 2017, the Maryland legislature just approved a similar measure, Minnesota lawmakers just reached a deal to hike it to $9.50. A few cities have been more ambitious — Washington, D.C. and its surrounding counties raised it to $11.50, Seattle is considering $15.00
Senate Democrats will soon introduce legislation raising it nationally to $10.10, from the current $7.25 an hour.
All this is fine as far as it goes. But we need to be more ambitious. We should be raising the federal minimum to $15 an hour.
Here are seven reasons why:
by John Nichols
Many thoughtful media reports on the remarkable address that Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren gave at the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party’s Humphrey-Mondale Dinner have focused on the fact that she took apart Paul Ryan.
There is no question that the senator from Massachusetts shamed the congressman from Wisconsin.
One report was headlined: “Elizabeth Warren schools Paul Ryan on poverty in 80 seconds.”
Another announced: “Elizabeth Warren Picks A Fight With Paul Ryan.”
Still another reported: “Elizabeth Warren Slams Paul Ryan On Inner City Culture Comment.”
All true. All accurate.
by Paul Buchheit
The following are all relevant, fact-based issues, the "hard news" stories that the media has a responsibility to report. But the business-oriented press generally avoids them.
by Medea Benjamin and Cayman Kai
by Marijuana Policy Project
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A poll released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center showed that for the second year in a row a majority of Americans (54%) support making marijuana legal. This represents a two percent increase in support from last year.
Only 42% support keeping marijuana illegal. Three-quarters of those polled think that the sale and use of marijuana will eventually be legal nationwide.
The poll also revealed that 69% of respondents see alcohol as more harmful to individual health than marijuana, and 63% think alcohol is more dangerous to society.
Pew’s nationwide survey of 1,821 adults was conducted February 14-23. Detailed survey results are available at here.
by John Nichols
Any doubts about the determination of an activist United States Supreme Court to rewrite election rules so that the dollar matters more than the vote were removed Wednesday, when McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission was decided in favor of the dollar.
The court that in 2010, with its Citizens United v. FEC decision, cleared the way for corporations to spend as freely as they choose to buy elections has now effectively eliminated the ability of the American people and their elected representatives to establish meaningful limits on direct donations by millionaires and billionaires to campaigns.
by Alexandra Bradbury and Jane Slaughter
We troublemakers keep hoping for the spark that will set a wildfire of workers in motion. The worse our situation gets—economically, politically, ecologically—the more we yearn for a vast movement to erupt and transform the landscape.
by John Nichols
President Obama used his European tour to make another pitch for sweeping new free-trade agreements such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Recognizing that there is mass opposition to these sorts of deals in the U.S. and abroad — based on the profound concerns about job security, wages, the circumstance of working farmers, environmental protection and democracy raised by the North American Free Trade Agreement, the permanent normalization of trade relations with China, and more recent trade arrangements — Obama urged critics of race-to-the-bottom trade policies to trust that he would negotiate better deals.
"(There’s) no point in getting excited about potential provisions in trade agreements that haven't been drafted yet,” the president said. "There will be plenty of time to criticize trade agreements when they are actually put before the public.”