The TPP-Free Trade USA push goes back even further, however, to at least 2010. That’s when Obama put Jeff Immelt, the CEO of the giant U.S. global corporation, General Electric, in charge of a special Presidential Committee tasked with coming up with recommending future USA trade initiatives. TPP was one of them. But before acting on Immelt’s 2010 recommendations, Obama had to first wrap up the loose ends of the several bilateral free trade agreements still on the table between the USA, South Korea, Colombia, Panama and other countries. Then there was the 2012 presidential elections. Obama and Democrats knew trying to push the TPP through before would risk their re-election chances. So they waited. Then came the November 2014 midterm Congressional elections.
More developers and investors are racing to build increasingly lavish homes on spec. Built on prime lots with master suites larger than most homes and spas and entertainment spaces comparable with those in hotels, many of these homes are also attempting to break new price records. Real-estate agents say the surge reflects an ultraluxury housing market that is at an all-time high, fed in part by overseas buyers and house hunters looking to invest in trophy properties. “These are people who are going to buy these homes to park money,” says Jeff Hyland, of Beverly Hills-based Hilton & Hyland. Mr. Hadid declines to say what he’s spending on the home, but says the listing price will likely be in the $200 million range when the house is completed next year.
In recent months, progressives have been voicing their opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. And they might try and make an example out of Sen. Ron Wyden over it, even though he’s been a reliable ally for years. The free trade agreement, which would involve 12 Asia-Pacific countries—including the U.S. along with countries like Mexico, Japan and Canada—could account for 40 percent of global GDP and one-third of all world trade. Progressive groups say that the deal is no good: it could ship more jobs overseas, undercut environmental and labor standards, and increase Internet censorship. The deal’s future may rest with Wyden, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, and his support for the partnership has some progressives thinking about going after one of their own in their fight against the deal.
The biggest “aha” for me after reading Edward E. Baptist’s The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism is the extent to which financial speculation is baked into the American economy. From Baptist I learned that 185 years ago, the acquisition of slaves, like any other property, could be financed by mortgages; that bonds were sold to investors based on the value of those mortgages; and, that securities based on enslaved human beings produced a “slave asset bubble” not unlike that produced by the rampant speculation in home mortgage derivatives that helped cause the financial crisis of 2008. In his elegant Atlantic magazine article, The Case for Reparations, Ta-Nehisi Coates works backwards from recent experiences in Chicago to the history that Baptist describes. I cannot recommend this article highly enough, because, as Coates and many others are deeply aware, it is impossible to make a case for reparations without bearing witness to our own shared history.
Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) on Thursday accused the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) of “baffling” Democrats “with bullshit” in an effort to advance President Obama’s trade agenda. Pocan’s remarks, which were triggered by a debate over whether the U.S. enjoys a trade surplus with free-trade partners, mark the latest escalation in a fight between liberals and the White House office over President Obama’s trade agenda. Obama is requesting that Congress approve “fast-track” legislation that would make it easier to negotiate trade deals, and his team is negotiating two new trade agreements. He’s getting some cooperation from an otherwise antagonistic GOP on Capitol Hill but is running into opposition from the left.
The trial of the century—a long-awaited determination of the damage perpetrated by Wall Street institutions in the financial crisis—began Monday in New York. But it’s only happening because one bank—unlike Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Citigroup, and Bank of America—refused to settle out of court. The Japanese firm Nomura stands accused of lying to mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac about the quality of mortgages pooled into securities during the housing bubble. The case will finally reveal hard data on just how much money Nomura, and the rest of the industry, made through fraud. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), conservator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, sued 18 of the biggest banks in the world in 2011.
While small rivers of rainwater gathered momentum along the curbs, engulfing sneakered feet, the enthusiasm of the protesters was not dampened. The bus loads of protesters traveled from New York City to voice anger over what they say is a rigged tax structure that has exacerbated income inequality and altered the political landscape in New York. “We’re here to call out the hedge fund billionaires who have taken over New York state politics, and they’ve exploded inequality around the country,” said Michael Kink, of Strong Economy for All Coalition, who was organizing the crowd as they prepared to march down Field Point Rd to Paul Tudor Jones home on Field Point Circle.
Frankfurt, Germany – Just few days left to the inauguration of the new building of the ECB. Great participation is expected from all over Europe: social movements, activists, migrants, precarious and industry workers, trade-unions and parties will come to Frankfurt to say no to austerity and contest the authority of ECB and the other EU institutions. A new phase of European politics is opening up, a phase of uncertainty and confusion brought about by the Greek government which is challenging the doctrine of “there is no alternative to austerity”. The Greek example is for us a signal of hope: there is still space in Europe for asserting the importance of solidarity, democracy and commons against competitiveness and neoliberal order. We will be in Frankfurt, bringing together many networks, workers, trade unions, to say that we are the alternative: we want another Europe, a Europe which is not subservient to the capital, a Europe which does not use monetary policies in order to establish precarity and to cut social rights, welfare benefits and democracy.
According to the plan, low- and middle-income families would pay much less in health care costs if Green Mountain Care was implemented. A family with an income of $50,000 per year, for example, would pay 40% less for health care costs on average under Green Mountain Care. The plan proposes taxing wealthier people’s unearned investment income in order to give a bigger break to low- and middle-income families. It also proposes implementing a graduated payroll tax that requires large employers and businesses with highly unequal salary structures to pay more than smaller and more wage-equitable businesses. The payroll tax takes into account the difference between the top 1% of wages and the bottom half of wages in each company, and lowers the tax rate for companies with more equitable wage structures.
The negotiations clarified what the Greek government (and any other who defies the Troika) is facing. it is only because we have now had the experience of an anti-austerity government go to the wall in an attempt to reverse austerity within the eurozone that we can now contemplate the emergence of a significant anti-euro constituency within Greece. Further, there will be opportunities to build this: every time the troika rejects a needed reform, this can and should be held up as an object lesson in what Europe means. So, Syriza helped more than the re-election of New Democracy would have to understand the true situation. This will result in a debate within Syriza: . . . there will now be a huge argument within Syriza over the acceptance of this deal, and the old slogan of ‘not one sacrifice for the euro’ will make a come back. Manolis Glezos, an iconic figure from the antifascist resistance and prominent within Syriza, is the first to have gone public with his dissent. He is calling for a campaign up and down the party not to accept this deal, and will vote against it. He will not be the last. Next week, there will be a rally in Syntagma Square, with the slogan ‘We’re not afraid of Grexit’. He concludes describing this moment as “a nodal point and not the end point in the process of Greek workers finding a solution to their dilemma.”
Many students graduating from universities face a mountain of student loans so large, escaping its shadow seems almost impossible. But a group of former students today is taking matters into their own hands. With the help of Rolling Jubilee, a campaign that purchases student loan debt and then forgives it, 15 graduates of Corinthian College are starting a student debt strike by refusing to pay their loans. The united former students, calling themselves the Corinthian 15, are fed up with colleges, especially for-profit colleges, that take advantage of students who are simply seeking an education. The strike is the first time a group has come together to collectively refuse to pay federal student loans.
Over half (57 percent) of basic research is paid for by our tax dollars. Corporations don’t want to pay for this. It’s easier for them to allow public money to do the startup work, and then, when profit potential is evident, to take over with applied R&D, often with patents that take the rights away from the rest of us. All the technology in our phones and computers started this way, and continues to the present day. Pharmaceutical companies have depended on the National Institutes of Health. The quadrillion-dollar trading capacity of the financial industry was made possible by government-funded Internet technology, and the big banks survived because of a $7 trillion public bailout. A particularly outrageous example of a company turning public research into a patent-protected private monopoly is the sordid tale (here) of the drug company Gilead Sciences.
In the earnings conference call, Guy Jarvis, Enbridge’s president of liquids and pipelines said that with the current opposition to pipelines, it’s easier to make incremental changes to the existing network to get oil flowing to U.S. ports. “All of these involve relatively small, low cost, bolt-on projects that can be staged in increments as required to meet shipper needs,” said Jarvis. The company also said in the call that it expects Keystone XL to be in operation in 2019 and for one of the West Coast pipelines to be operating in 2020. That would be either Northern Gateway or Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. It’s notable that it didn’t express any confidence Gateway would be the pipeline in operation, even though it is further ahead in the regulatory process and Kinder Morgan is facing a lot of opposition of its own.
President Obama will carry several legacies into his final two years in office: a long-sought health care reform, a fiscal stimulus that limited the impact of the Great Recession, a rapid civil rights advance for gay and lesbian Americans. But if Obama owns those triumphs, he must also own this tragedy: the dispossession of at least 5.2 million US homeowner families, the explosion of inequality, and the largest ruination of middle-class wealth in nearly a century. Though some policy failures can be blamed on Republican obstruction, it was within Obama’s power to remedy this one — to ensure that a foreclosure crisis now in its eighth year would actually end, with relief for homeowners to rebuild wealth, and to preserve Americans’ faith that their government will aid them in times of economic struggle.
The Guardian’s evidence of a pattern of misconduct at HSBC in Switzerland is supported by the outcome of recent court cases in the US and Europe. The bank was named in the US as a co-conspirator for handing over “bricks” of $100,000 a time to American surgeon Andrew Silva in Geneva, so that he could illegally post cash back to the US. Another US client, Sanjay Sethi, pleaded guilty in 2013 to cheating the US tax authorities. He was one of a group of convicted HSBC clients. The prosecution said an HSBC banker promised “the undeclared account would allow [his] assets to grow tax-free, and bank secrecy laws in Switzerland would allow Sethi to conceal the existence of the account”.