In the dead of night November 14, the movement to hold big banks accountable for their crimes took two major hits. Occupy Wall Street activists were swept from Zuccotti Park as radical members of Congress moved to gut funding for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and advance a series of shocking proposals to roll back financial reform.
The special interests seeking to gut those portions of the health reform law that would be of greatest benefit to consumers clearly believe there is no such thing as historical memory in Washington.
Why else would they bring one of their old front groups out of the storage locker, with just a single new word added to its name? A front group designed to persuade Americans that what they might have thought was in their best interests really isn't after all.
A new film from the Brave New Foundation outlines the role of the Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council in new voter suppression tactics; the Center for Media and Democracy is one of the voices featured in the film.
Through the corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), global corporations and state politicians vote behind closed doors to try to rewrite state and federal laws that govern your rights. The so-called "model bills" of this corporate bill mill -- which has been funded by Koch profits and other corporations -- reach into almost every area of American life, including the right to vote.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has promised to create 250,000 new jobs. In advance of a planned gubernatorial recall election, Walker announced last month that the State Legislature would focus "like a laser" on job creation. With his "special session" on jobs now concluded, it is clear that the legislative package had little to do with jobs and much to do with spin, special interests and the illusion of momentum.
November 5th is "Bank Transfer Day," a hopping Facebook campaign urging Americans to move their money out of big national banks and into local banks or credit unions.
Day Inspired by Bank Of America Fee
Kristen Christian, a 27-year-old Los Angeles art gallery owner, organized the effort after Bank of America (BofA) issued a new $5 monthly fee to debit card users that would be implemented in early 2012. The fee targets those who have less than $20,000 in Bank of America accounts. The "Bank Transfer Day" movement cites this as a direct attack on the impoverished and working class. BofA is also a notorious foreclosure mill, doing little or nothing to help their clients facing foreclosure. The Bank Transfer Day Facebook page has 35,000 likes and support for the movement is growing by the second.
If you have no idea what you're paying good money for when you enroll in a health insurance plan, there's a good reason for that: insurers profit from your ignorance. And they're waging an intense, behind-the-scenes campaign to keep you in the dark.
In my first appearance before Congress after leaving the insurance industry, I told members of the Senate Commerce Committee that insurers intentionally make it all but impossible for consumers to find out in advance of buying a policy exactly what is covered and what isn't, and how much they'll be on the hook for if they get sick or injured. Insurers are quite willing to provide you with slick marketing materials about their policies, but those materials are notoriously skimpy when it comes to useful information. And the documents they provide after you enroll are so dense that few of us can understand them.
After two tours of duty in Iraq, 24-year-old Wisconsin native Scott Olsen managed to escape unscathed and with seven medals for valor. But Olsen was critically injured in an Occupy Oakland march last week by a police projectile. According to eyewitnesses, Olsen was acting as a human barrier between unarmed civilians and Oakland police in riot gear who were charged with keeping a public park cleared for sanitation purposes.
Whether this was a case of an inexperienced Mayor (check) or a historically aggressive police department (check), the incident underscored the potential for catastrophe as cops increasingly confront peaceful protesters with riot control weapons.
Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain's new internet ad features a tight head shot of his campaign's "chief of staff," Mark Block, telling viewers how great Cain will be for the country and how much confidence he has in Cain. In the ad, Block looks directly at the camera, says, "We've run a campaign like nobody's ever seen." Then, at the 40-second mark in the 56-second political spot, Block unexplicably takes a long, prominent drag from a lit cigarette and then exhales, blowing the smoke directly at the viewer. The ad highlights Cain's connections to the tobacco industry, and Block's position in the campaign belies Cain's connections to David Koch. Until earlier this year, Block was the long-time leader of the Wisconsin arm of the David Koch-funded astroturf group, Americans for Prosperity (AFP), following a scandal that barred him from electoral politics for a time. A number of Cain's other aides have also worked for AFP, and Cain's old work and email addresses used to be with the Koch group. But what's the cigarette connection?
Members of Congress and the Obama administration have assured us that on January 1, 2014, junk health insurance plans -- which offer only the illusion of adequate coverage to the millions of Americans enrolled in them -- will become a thing of the past.
Among those who clearly don't believe those plans are headed for extinction are the insurance companies that market these highly profitable plans, and the employers that buy them -- primarily restaurant chains and retailers with high employee turnover.
If I were President Obama, I would send one of my aides to the Chicago suburbs later this week to see first-hand just how determined these companies are to continue selling these plans -- which are euphemistically called "mini-med" and "limited-benefit policies" -- long past 2014.