John Cavanagh

The Top 10 Resistance Victories in Trump's First 100 Days

President Donald Trump’s first 100 days will be remembered for the horror of his reckless bombings overseas, his attacks on immigrants, the environment, the Standing Rock Sioux, women, and people of color, and his penchant for choosing billionaires and Wall Street bankers as top officials. But this period will also go down in history for the remarkable popular resistance that has undermined many of Trump’s stated goals for the start of his term.

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Remembering the Man Who Got Obama to Talk Openly About America’s Most Violent Secret War

When President Obama announced this week in Laos that the United States was giving $90 million to clear away unexploded bombs that U.S. planes dropped on Laos a half century ago and that still kill and maim farmers today, he failed to credit the man who first told us the story: Fred Branfman.

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Celebrating John Conyers, the Longest-Serving African-American Congressman

As Republicans take control of Congress this week, it’s a good time for progressives to reflect on the long arc of social change. And I can think of no better way to do this than to celebrate the half century of service of Rep. John Conyers. 

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6 of the Top 10 U.S. Billionaires Are Kochs and Waltons

For the first time ever, according to Forbes magazine, the 400 richest Americanshave more than $2 trillion in combined wealth. And, a fifth of that amount is held by just 10 individuals. Of those top 10 richest Americans, six hail from two families—the Kochs and the Waltons—who are destroying our economy and corrupting our politics. We all should be outraged.

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The Number of Billionaires Is Growing Across the Planet, as Global Inequality Spreads

With the help of Forbes magazine, we and colleagues at the Institute for Policy Studies have been tracking the world’s billionaires and rising inequality the world over for several decades. Just as a drop of water gives us a clue into the chemical composition of the sea, these billionaires offer fascinating clues into the changing face of global power and inequality.

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A World Bank President We Can Get Behind?

Over the past week, there has been a small revolution in a part of the universe of the elite, and the collective actions of citizen groups deserve some credit for it.

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Towards an Economic System That Works for People and the Planet

On November 15, the leaders of 20 nations and the major multilateral financial institutions will gather behind closed doors in Washington to discuss the future of the global economy. Led by outgoing U.S. President George W. Bush, this group includes many of the people, governments, and institutions whose policies are responsible for the current financial meltdown. As such, we believe they are the wrong group to be charged with reworking global economic rules and institutions. The world needs a process that is much more inclusive of other nations and the peoples of those nations.

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Bailouts Dwarf Spending on Climate and Poverty Crises

The financial crisis is only one of multiple crises that will affect every country, rich and poor alike.

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Top 10 Reasons Why Paul Wolfowitz Was a Great World Bank President

When Paul Wolfowitz's name was put forward to become president of the World Bank in 2005, I wrote a piece entitled: "Top 10 Reasons Why Paul Wolfowitz Would Make a Good World Bank President". As he gracefully steps down from that job, I believe that history has proven me right. Consider the following:

1. He personally helped address the nagging problem of unequal pay for women by giving his "female companion" a $47,000 raise.
2. This past week, he diverted Bush cabinet officials from fighting the Iraq War, spinning Alberto Gonzales, and figuring out a way to invade Iran by keeping them on the phone to foreign governments to defend his proud record.
3. He weakened the Bush administration's Iraq War brain trust by bringing other key neo-conservative bureaucrats from the Pentagon with him to run the Bank and badger its staff.
4. He buttressed the "Coalition of the Willing" (the brave countries that backed Bush's invasion of Iraq) by promoting unqualified people from those countries into numerous top positions at the Bank.
5. He managed to convince governments of the world's eight most powerful countries to give the Bank key global leadership role in the fight against climate change while the Bank continued to be the world's largest subsidizer of fossil fuels.
6. He made the difficult concept of corruption real to ordinary people.
7. He unified the World Bank staff against a common enemy.
8. He took up so much of The Washington Post the day after tendering his "resignation" that Paris Hilton's sentencing got pushed to page three of the "Style" section.
9. His scandal drew attention to three decades of terrific work by World Bank critics on everything from the environment to worker rights to family planning to the irony of someone who makes nearly $400,000 offering advice to those who make less than a dollar a day.
10. By resigning before he had to be forklifted out the door, he may have preserved the time-honored tradition of the U.S. government naming the World Bank president, possibly offering the Bush administration an exit strategy for Alberto Gonzales.

Turning the CAFTA Loss to a Win

Just after midnight this morning, the Bush administration pulled off a major hijack of democracy by purchasing the final votes of House Republicans to pass the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), 217-215.

This free trade deal consists of breaks for large corporations at the expense of working people and the environment in Central America, the Dominican Republic and the United States. As a result the accord has encountered broad opposition in all the countries involved the accord, as illustrated by the dozens of demonstrations summarized in a report earlier this year [PDF link] by the Alliance for Responsible Trade.

Until last night's last-minute deal making, as many as three dozen Republicans planned to vote against CAFTA as they stood to lose textile and sugar jobs in their districts. In the end, 27 Republicans broke ranks, siding with the vast majority of House Democrats and lone Independent Bernie Sanders. Unfortunately, 15 Democrats sided with the Republican majority, handing the Bush administration its narrow victory.

The administration had plenty of pork to purchase members who might well have voted differently, with huge transportation and energy bills on the verge of completion.

Indeed, had voting closed as initially scheduled, the pact would have been defeated 180-175. But Majority Whip Tom DeLay kept the vote open another 47 minutes, buying time to squeeze out enough Republican votes. (The final roll call is available online.)

By finishing the vote after midnight, the administration had hoped that this mockery of democracy would miss the news cycle.

It is the job of citizen groups to make sure the story is told.

Twelve years ago, the Clinton administration purchased Democratic votes in the final minutes of debate in order to pass the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), despite public opposition in all three countries. Then, as this time, citizen groups had carried out widespread public education about the pitfalls of this approach to corporate globalization. Then, as this time, millions of people were outraged at the purchase of democracy for corporate interests.

Twelve years ago, citizen groups came back together after the vote and turned defeat into victory. Organizing and education spread on the dangers of corporate-led globalization. Opposition to such deals grew, in good part because NAFTA turned out to be a disaster for working people and the environment in all three countries. This opposition led to the defeat of "fast track" trade legislation in 1997 and 1998, the defeat of a global investment pact in 1998, and the infamous "Battle of Seattle" in 1999 during a World Trade Organization meeting that failed to launch a long-planned new round of international trade negotiations.

We face the same challenge today. The American people don't like to see their democracy bought and sold to the highest bidder. Details of the last-minute vote purchases are just emerging and need to be widely publicized. There are huge battles looming over the expansion of NAFTA and CAFTA into a trade deal for the entire hemisphere, and another bruising fight over the World Trade Organization meeting in Hong Kong in December.

The agreement has yet to be approved in the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua or Costa Rica, where opposition runs deepest.

As with the NAFTA fight, the blatant subversion of democracy can be turned into the outrage that fuels the movements that reverse corporate globalization to build the healthy economies that we all need to flourish.

Mourn. But organize.

BRAND NEW STORIES

Happy Holidays!