Richard Eskow

Military vs climate spending: A moral catastrophe in 3 pictures

The financial reconciliation agreement announced by the White House includes $555 billion for climate change, to be spent over the next ten years. The current level of federal spending on climate change is roughly $2.4 billion per year, making this an enormous boost in the government's commitment to climate change.

Unfortunately, it's also far less than what is needed to address the dawning catastrophe. Most of this expenditure comes in the form of tax breaks, rather than direct government spending. Our priorities still reflect a national blindness and madness.

Compare Biden's budget figure with what the US is projected to spend on the military over the same 10-year period:

Does that look like a reasonable balance to you?

Air pollution alone kills nearly 200,000 people in this country every year, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Climate change kills us in many other ways as well, from groundwater pollution to forest fires, floods, and other forces. Figures like this show that, despite what our leaders say, our government doesn't value life.

These priorities don't even make fiscal sense. Another study projects that climate change will cost the United States 1.8 percent of its Gross Domestic Product, or $1.9 trillion per year, by 2100. That sounds grim, and it is, but this projection is probably over-optimistic. It assumes that our political and social institutions will survive climate change, and that the costs will be manageable, if disastrous.

The next chart carries forward the president's proposed climate spending and the military budget to the year 2100 (in today's dollars) and puts it alongside the projected cost of climate change to the United States that year (also in today's dollars):

Then there's the human cost. If we don't act, nearly 16 million Americans will die from air pollution by 2100. That figure might be lower but would not be eliminated by a small-bore proposal like Biden's.

We're not just choosing to let millions die, we're also ruining the future economy. More climate spending today (raising the right-hand column) could significantly lower the future cost of climate change (the left-hand column), making it a smart investment as well as a moral one.

The final chart (below) is a look backward over the last 20 years. Roughly 4,000 Americans died from terrorism during that period, including on 9/11 itself. Meanwhile, an estimated 750,000 people died during the same period because they didn't have health insurance, and roughly 2 million died from air pollution.

That chart is below, but you'll have to scroll a long way to reach its end, so we'll conclude here. Our spending isn't just misguided; it's immoral. Our choices today are condemning millions of people—descendants—to death.

This system won't change itself. It's going to take action – lots of action. Join the Sunrise Movement, or Zero Hour (no connection to the radio show), or Extinction Rebellion (I'm a member, for what it's worth).

What student activist Mario Savio said in 1964, in a very different context, now must be applied to the machinery of human extinction:

"There's a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious—makes you so sick at heart—that you can't take part. You can't even passively take part. And you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop."

Estimated climate deaths from air pollution: 200,000/yr x 20 years

Health insurance deaths: 45,000 per year until Affordable Care Act, then 30,000 per year (more detail on calculations here)

Terrorism deaths: 9/11, attacks on US civilians abroad, etc.

Needless to say, this chart is in no way meant to minimize a single death. Judaism and Islam both say that killing one person is the moral equivalent of killing an entire universe. But our wars are costing us lives, not saving them, and we are condemning future generations with our choices today.

GOP Sen. Marsha Blackburn has a baffling attack on Biden's plan to help seniors

President Biden's infrastructure plan includes $400 billion in home care spending. Forbes Magazine describes Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) as "a champion of the GOP's semantic objections" to that proposal. She and her fellow Republicans claim that home health care doesn't fall under the definition of infrastructure the same way rails and highways do, and therefore shouldn't be included in an infrastructure plan. They're attacking it on semantic grounds, rather than substantive ones, because the proposal itself is extremely popular.

But they're not even right on semantic grounds. Home care is infrastructure, according to most standard definitions of the word.

We can look to our own daily lives for an analogy. Everybody has had a personal argument with someone over money. It might be an old debt, a restaurant bill, gas money, or utility expenses. Whatever the cause, there's often a point where someone says, "It's not the money, it's the principle of the thing."

Here's the thing: Whenever anyone says that, they're lying. It's the money. It's always the money. That's true of Blackburn and her fellow Republicans, too. They're not worried about semantic purity. It's the money.

Sound cynical? First, let's see how dictionaries define "infrastructure." The Merriam-Webster dictionary was founded by Noah Webster in 1806, which makes it about as American as they come. Its first definition for "infrastructure" reads, "the system of public works of a country, state, or region; also, the resources (such as personnel, buildings, or equipment) required for an activity." (Emphasis mine.)

So, Biden's proposal fits Merriam-Webster's definition. What would they say on the other side of the Atlantic, where our language was allegedly born? The Oxford Languages Dictionary's first definition of "infrastructure" is, "the basic physical and organizational structures and facilities (e.g. buildings, roads, power supplies) needed for the operation of a society or enterprise." As an example of its use in context, this phrase is offered: "the social and economic infrastructure of a country." (Emphases mine.)

Oxford's example doesn't include any physical infrastructure at all.

Wikipedia offers a helpful distinction between "hard" and "soft" infrastructure:

"Hard infrastructure refers to the physical networks necessary for the functioning of a modern industry. This includes roads, bridges, railways, etc. Soft infrastructure refers to all the institutions that maintain the economic, health, social, environmental, and cultural standards of a country. This includes educational programs, official statistics, parks and recreational facilities, law enforcement agencies, and emergency services."

Soft infrastructure is still infrastructure, and that's what the home health plan provides.

The only definition of "infrastructure" I could find that did not include personnel or "soft" infrastructure, in fact, came from Investopedia. That site, as its name implies, caters to investors and other members of the financial class. Investopedia defines "infrastructure" as "the general term for the basic physical systems of a business, region, or nation. Examples of infrastructure include transportation systems, communication networks, sewage, water, and electric systems."

Investopedia adds, "These systems tend to be capital intensive and high-cost investments, and are vital to a country's economic development and prosperity… [They] may be funded publicly, privately, or through public-private partnerships."

This is infrastructure as seen by those who seek to turn public funds into private profit. There's money to be made in building, maintaining, and insuring physical construction. But funds to hire home health care workers and pay them a decent wage? It's hard for developers and investors to take a cut of that. Biden's plan might have received a warmer GOP welcome if it allocated $400 billion to build sterile cinderblock facilities to warehouse people in need of care. But human beings helping other human beings? There are no "capital intensive" opportunities there.

No wonder, then, that Sen. Blackburn has proposed her own infrastructure "plan," the "Paving the Way for Rural Communities Act of 2021." It proposes to eviscerate "the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), and the Endangered Species Act (ESA)," each of which it mentions by name. Blackburn and the bill's other co-sponsor, Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), describe it as a "tax-free" way to "remove burdensome regulations" and "level the playing field for rural America."

This should surprise precisely nobody. For Republican politicians and their backers, deregulation is holy writ. For others, it means the evisceration of vitally important protections. But there's one thing deregulation isn't. It's not infrastructure—by any definition of the word.

Blackburn's semantic song and dance isn't fooling the editors of the Johnson City Press, based in Johnson City in east Tennessee. Their editorial was headlined, simply enough, "Why does Blackburn oppose elder care?" That question should be asked of every Republican who tries this semantic dodge.

"In today's political climate," the Johnson City Press declares, "the senator believes she can cotton up to voters by playing games with people's lives." That includes word games, apparently, and nobody should fall for it. Infrastructure, like charity, begins at home.

Richard "RJ" Eskow is senior adviser for health and economic justice at Social Security Works. He is also the host of The Zero Hour, a syndicated progressive radio and television program.

This article was produced by Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

How a Rahm Emanuel appointment would hurt Biden and the Democrats

The skies above Washington D.C. are restricted airspace for low-flying aircraft, with one major exception. The inception of a new presidential administration fills the air with trial balloons, as job seekers and administration officials test the public reaction to possible appointments.

One trial balloon has progressives around the country reaching for balloon-popping pins: that of Rahm Emanuel, Barack Obama's White House Chief of Staff and the ex-mayor of Chicago. Axios increased the speculation this weekend when it reported that the president-elect is "strongly considering" Emanuel, who has long battled the left on policies that range from health care to policing, for Secretary of Transportation. But our analysis shows that an appointment for the notoriously abrasive Emanuel should be of even more concern to the new administration and the Democratic Party than it is to the left.

Research at Data for Progress, as well as survey data from other sources, places Emanuel on the wrong side of many critical issues that Democratic voters (and, in many cases, the electorate as a whole) care deeply about. It would be a deeply divisive and unpopular choice, with serious implications for the administration's political and policy future.

As a side note, Emanuel is well-known for his harsh language. As White House Chief of Staff, Emanuel told progressives that they were "f**king retards" for mounting primaries against conservative Democrats. That language insults the Democratic base, which holds strong progressive views. We condemn his choice of words. Oh, we don't mean the "f-bombs," although the abuse reflects a politically untenable attitude toward the progressives that make up the party's base. The ableist language reflects a harmful attitude toward the disability community—an attitude that would later be reflected in his actions as mayor of Chicago.

More broadly, our review shows that Emanuel's record stands in stark contrast to the values and opinions of the American electorate.

Policing and Justice

Let's start with the case that represents Emanuel's worst moment in public life: The murder of Lacquan McDonald, a 14-year-old Black child. That video proved that police lied about the killing. When forced to choose between a murdered Black child and the cop who killed him, Rahm directed city attorneys to suppress video evidence. The video was only released after Rahm was safely re-elected mayor. He went on to serve his second term. After its release, the police officer began serving a term, too—a prison term for second-degree murder.

Chicago Police tactics under Emanuel were like Trump's, and were arguably much worse. Under Emanuel, Chicago police also operated a secretive, so-called "black site" that foreshadowed the Trump Administration's tactics against Black Lives Matter demonstrators.

As journalist Spencer Ackerman reported in 2015, practices at a "nondescript warehouse on Chicago's west side" allegedly included beatings, shackling for prolonged periods, denying attorneys access to their clients, detaining arrestees without recording them in official databases. Ackerman reports that at least one man was found unresponsive in an "interview room" there and later died.

Emanuel's record on policing runs strongly against voter opinion. Our polling shows that 73 percent of likely voters, including two-thirds (67 percent) of Republicans, believe that "the public has a right to know which police officers in the community have records of excessive force, sexual assault, racism, or dishonesty."

More than two-thirds (69 percent) of likely voters, including 63 percent of Republicans, also support "allowing people to ... use public records requests to learn whether police officers in the community have records of excessive force, sexual assault, racism, or dishonesty." Emanuel's record on policing clashes sharply with this public consensus on police violence.

Public Schools

Voters support public schools and schoolteachers. A February 2020 poll by the National School Boards Action Center (NSBAC) found that 73 percent of voters were concerned about inadequate funding and resources for public education and 64 percent thought that funding for public schools should be increased. Only 6 percent thought their funding should be decreased.

Rahm Emanuel's record as mayor runs sharply against public opinion. Chicago shuttered 50 schools during his tenure. When Emanuel closed those schools, the lives of nearly 12,000 schoolchildren—most of whom were Black or Brown—were disrupted. The resulting "school deserts" deprived urban neighborhoods of public institutions that had been part of the community for generations.

Emanuel promised affected communities that they would have a voice in determining how the abandoned buildings would be used. But, as Kalyn Belsha reports,

… four years later, two-thirds of the buildings are still vacant. There are no common standards for community involvement in determining their reuse. And aldermen, who until recently oversaw the process, have not held public meetings to discuss the future of about half of the schools …

In 2017, 28 vacant schools were put on the market for sale. Despite the public's support for public education, some of the buildings were purchased by private schools. Jesse Sharkey, an official with the Chicago Teachers' Union, told the Chicago Reporter that this move undermines public institutions. "I think it's extremely problematic to close public schools and turn buildings over to essentially what are competitors to the public school system," said Sharkey.

Other buildings remained empty, as boarded-up reminders of the Emanuel Administration's indifference to the future of these communities. The question remains: Why were these particular schools targeted? Chicago activist Eve Ewing addresses that question in a Guardian op-ed entitled, "What led Chicago to shutter dozens of majority-black schools? Racism."

Emanuel said the schools were underperforming. But, as Ewing writes, "if the schools were so terrible, why did people (in the Black community) fight for them so adamantly? Why do people care so much about schools that the world has deemed to be 'failing'"?

Racial Justice in Education

Emanuel's school closures are closely linked to the issue of racial injustice in education. Voters understand that the US educational system is plagued by institutional racism. As might be expected, Black voters are especially aware of this problem. The Lowell Center for Public Opinion at the University of Massachusetts conducted a national poll in September 2020 which found that only one-third (34 percent) of Americans said they believe the educational playing field is equal. 81 percent of Black respondents said they see education as unequal.

Black voters are an essential part of the Democratic voting bloc, without whom most Democratic electoral victories would become impossible. Only one Black voter in ten (10 percent) percent said their children have the same opportunity as white children.

Emanuel's educational record will not sit well with voters. As Kalyn Belsha also reports:

A new study released by the Great Cities Institute at the University of Illinois at Chicago that looked at school closures and turnarounds between 2000 and 2013 found that race, not simply enrollment or academic performance, was a recurring factor. Schools that were predominantly black and located within six miles of the city's center, where there is more redevelopment potential, were more likely to be turned around or closed … Although the school district chose "race-neutral" metrics to justify the restructurings, the report argues that they interacted with "institutionalized racial inequities" and had outcomes that disproportionately affected black students.

The report concluded:

Legacies of racism—from the broader interactive effects between de jure and de facto residential segregation and labor market discrimination to prior CPS plans and practices like the fact that the district often built new schools rather than redraw boundaries that would put black and white students in the same schools—shape contemporary capital investment policies in Chicago.

You don't have to be racist to perpetuate a legacy of segregation. All you need to do is pretend it doesn't exist.

Corporations, Banks, and Real Estate Interests

As the report cited above suggests, Emanuel has frequently given preference to corporate, financial, and real estate interests.

Data for Progress research shows that voters believe the economic order is rigged against them. A majority of those we polled agreed with statements that included:

  • The economic system favors the wealthy and powerful
  • The wealthy take advantage of workers
  • People are poor because the economic system is unfair
  • Business executives use their power to keep wages low

Emanuel's record is closely tied to corporate and financial interests in real estate, banking, and other bulwarks of the current financial system. He was highly successful raising money from these sectors, transforming the Democratic Party in the process.

After serving in the Clinton Administration, Emanuel himself became Managing Director of a Chicago investment bank, Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, a banking corporation that specializes in commercial real estate, despite having no previous banking experience. That gig netted him more than $18 million in just two and a half years.

His mayoralty was closely linked to these interests as well. When Emanuel assumed office, he expanded an finalized a pre-existing deal to privatize the city's parking meters. That contract transferred hundreds of millions of dollars in income from the city to private corporations. It also robbed Chicago voters of the ability to control parking law—so much so that the corporations overruled the city and said it could not suspend alternate side of the street parking for a religious holiday.

Rahm claimed the city was "stuck with the contract" when he took office. That wasn't true. His actions locked the deal in place for more than 70 years. He also claimed he "reformed" the parking meter deal—but, again, it wasn't true. He expanded it, giving the corporate world even more of a chance to earn back billions on its $1.2 billion investment—funds that would otherwise have gone to the city and its people.

Money in Politics

These trends reflect a key characteristic of Rahm Emanuel's career: his first and foremost claim to fame has been fundraising. He is an expert at extracting large amounts of money from wealthy and powerful interests—money that has shifted the Democratic Party sharply to the right.

This, too, runs directly against public opinion. As Data for Progress reports,

… recent studies found that more than 75% of Americans want to limit campaign spending, and a majority of Americans of all political stripes support a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. That number included 66% of Republican voters.

Climate Change and the Environment

Our polling shows that voters support spending trillions of dollars to address climate change, believe as move to 100 percent clean energy is worth the cost, and support federal aid for communities – such as poor, Black, and Brown communities – that have been disproportionately affected by climate change, pollution, and the coronavirus.

Unfortunately, as Curtis Black explains in The Intercept, Emanuel shut down Chicago's Department of the Environment as an austerity measure. He said every department would prioritize the environment, but the results showed he lied. Writes Black:

Chicago's recycling rate has remained abysmally low. In February, an analysis by the Better Government Association and the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University revealed that the city now has half the number of environmental inspectors that it had eight years ago, and the number of annual inspections, not surprisingly, also fell by more than half.

Black quotes researchers BGA and Medill as saying, "Hazardous material inspections fell by more than 90 percent between 2010 and 2018; air quality inspections plunged almost 70 percent; and solid waste inspections dropped by more than 60 percent."

The rate of environmental citations issued during Emanuel's administration fell to less than one-third of what it had been during the previous seven years.

Public Health Care

A recent Reuters poll found that 64% of Americans support Medicare-for-All, with only with only one in four voters (26 percent) opposing. While other polls have resulted in slightly different numbers, voters consistently support an expanded role for government in health care.

Emanuel himself confessed, however, that he "begged" President Obama not to pursue the Affordable Care Act—which, for all its flaws, has aided millions. As mayor, he moved to close mental health clinics in Chicago. Although the City Council headed off many of his planned closings, he was able to push many others through.

This move harmed many members of Chicago's disabled community. The Collaborative for Community Wellness, a local group, later found that Chicago's Southwest Side had 0.17 licensed mental health clinicians per 1,000 residents—a tiny fraction of the 4.45 per 1,000 available in the upper-class Near North Side.


Voters support unions. In September, Gallup reported that public support for organized labor remained at its highest point in nearly two decades, with two-thirds of voters (65 percent) saying they "approved" of unions.

Rahm Emanuel is not one of those voters. During negotiations over the auto bailout, Rahm had this to say: "F**k the UAW!" He was talking about the United Auto Workers. As mayor of Chicago, Emanuel unilaterally cancelled a negotiated raise for the city's teachers, triggering its first strike in 25 years. He didn't even pick up the phone and call the union president before making his move.

The result was Chicago's first teachers' strike in a quarter century.

Deficit Spending

Data for Progress studied the electorate's views on deficit spending. In that research, likely voters were given pro- and anti-deficit messaging. The anti-deficit-spending message compared the government's finances to a household's need to balance its books. This was the pro-deficit-spending message:

To put our financial house in order, we need to invest money in the American people. In the short term, this may mean increasing the debt but in the long term these investments will pay for themselves by growing the economy and creating jobs.

We found that, among all likely voters, 54 percent were persuaded by the pro-deficit messaging (only 35 percent agreed with the anti-deficit austerity message saying the government should balance its books). Two-thirds of self-identified Democrats preferred the pro-deficit message. A plurality (49 percent) of likely voters that self-identify as Republicans also preferred the pro-deficit message, while only 45 percent of self-identified Republicans supported the austerity message).

Emanuel's record as an austerity-minded "budget hawk" isn't limited to his tenure as mayor. His federal record also shows a predictable chumminess toward the wholesale budget-slashing advocated by billionaires like the late Peter G. Peterson. One example: In 2010, at the height of an economic crisis that was harming tens of millions of Americans, people urgently needed the federal government's help to survive the recession—a recession caused by Wall Street.

Instead of stepping up services to beleaguered working people—or providing the kinds of bailouts his Wall Street allies received—Emanuel ordered federal agencies to enact 5 percent budget cuts across the board. Voters will not be happy with that record, either.


This, then, is the career of Rahm Emanuel. His life and work stand against the values most voters embrace. He must not serve in the new administration. We say that, not as members of the left (although we are), but as analysts who see a record that is likely to do serious political harm to the Biden administration. More importantly, the policies he's likely to promote would also do serious harm to the nation itself.

Richard (RJ) Eskow is Senior Advisor for Health and Economic Justice at Social Security Works and the host of The Zero Hour with RJ Eskow on Free Speech TV. Follow him on Twitter: @rjeskow

Sean McElwee is a co-founder of Data for Progress. Follow him on Twitter: @SeanMcElwee

There's a 3-pronged lie about Social Security that undermines the whole point of the program

The "three-legged stool": That phrase may not be familiar to everyone, but most people who work in public policy or private-sector insurance have heard it used to describe the U.S. retirement system. It suggests that our system for retirement security was designed to stand on three "legs": Social Security, employer pensions, and individual savings.

Subliminally, the image evokes efficiency. A stool is a chair for people and a table for small things, but at a much smaller size and with 25 percent fewer legs.

Our current economic order idealizes efficiency, but leaves the human factor out of its equations. It economizes on the insignificant at the expense of the invaluable.

The "three-legged stool" is image is misleading. A stool isn't stable unless the legs are of equal length, and there's nothing efficient about our patchwork retirement system.

The Three-Legged Lie

Writing in the New York University Review of Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Nancy Altman documented the history of the phrase and debunked the thinking behind it. Altman, who is the president of Social Security Works (where I am a senior adviser), reports that the phrase was first used in a 1949 speech by an employee of Metropolitan Life Insurance. As Altman notes, "The metaphor was a useful image for Metropolitan Life and others promoting private pensions and seeking to sell private sector annuities that supplemented Social Security."

The "stool" idea is pernicious for at least three reasons:

The Social Security lie.

It deceives people about today's Social Security, which was designed as a full pension program—and as the foundation for a much broader system. When people believe this, they're willing to accept lowering Social Security's benefits below what's needed for a decent life.

The employer pension lie.

For the "stool" to work, employers have to offer pensions that are fair and adequate. Private-sector actors are notoriously bad at providing social benefits, for obvious reasons: it's contrary to their financial interests. The history of recent decades bears this out. Many full-time workers have seen their pension plans reduced, while many millions of workers have no pension plan at all. The result is an imminent retirement crisis, made worse by the 2008 recession and the pandemic.

The savings lie.

Worst of all, the "three-legged stool" provides the opening for policymakers, politicians, and pundits to blame people for their own suffering. The working public has been routinely castigated for decades for levels of savings their leaders deem morally bankrupt.

Our national culture has prized the belief in thrift as a virtue. That's fine—provided that people are being paid, not only a living wage, but a more than adequate living wage. Otherwise, they won't have any excess income to set aside. That's the reality for a large number of working people today. The "three-legged stool" allows politicians and pundits to wag a disapproving finger at workers without savings, without taking responsibility for their inability to save.

Jes' Folks

Altman dismantles the "three-legged stool," and the assumptions behind it, with lawyerly precision. Nevertheless, the phrase took on a life of its own. It's not the first time, or the only time, this has happened. Take, for example, the description of Medicare and Social Security as "entitlements." That word was originally used to indicate that people were legally entitled to receive these programs as soon as they qualified for them (most commonly through age or disability).

But in the 1980s and beyond, as "entitlement" or "entitled" were increasingly used to describe selfish people, this phrase was embraced by opponents of these programs. It fit well with another folksy-sounded attack on these programs—the notion that people who received their benefits were "greedy geezers."

The phrase matched with the political mood of the 1990s, the Clinton era. That was when so many similar phrases entered the Democratic/centrist policy lexicon—phrases like "skin in the game" and "shared responsibility," which imply that people in government programs are freeloaders.

Then there is the broader rhetorical attack on not just "entitlements," but government programs in general: the idea that the federal government has to "balance its budget and make the hard choices like a family sittin' around the kitchen table." (Politicians, especially Ivy League-educated ones, tend to do some serious g-dropping whenever they discuss cutting social programs. This inflectional exsanguination, this suffixal suffocation, is designed to be… well, folksy.)

Whether you're an MMT advocate, a Keynesian, or a Friedmanite, the comparison won't wash. It's absurd to compare federal lawmakers to a family sitting around the kitchen table (on three-legged stools, presumably). What family allows Grandma to starve and Junior to die of untreated sickness so that big brother can buy another jet and Dad can hoard his millions overseas?

A Real Vision of Security

I don't blame people, even experts, if they accepted the term at face value. Like all good rhetorical devices, it's seductive. And, like all good rhetorical devices, it reshapes our thinking without engaging our critical faculties.

But the phrase has been debunked, thoroughly and effectively. That confers responsibility on anyone in a position of influence—the responsibility to understand that it's wrong, and act accordingly. Words shape thinking, and thinking shapes policy.

The history of Social Security shows that it was conceived as a complete, cradle-to-grave plan to ensure financial security for everyone. The retirement program that now bears that name was originally seen as the first step in a much broader plan that included national health care and a jobs guarantee.

Social Security carries a vision of the nation as a mutually supportive community, where no one should live in want, or in fear for their future. That benefits all of us. The idea of the "three-legged stool" suggests that Social Security was never meant to be secure. It leaves people to fend for themselves when times get tough. And it desecrates the vision of a mutually supportive society.

A clear understanding of Social Security compels us to increase its now-inadequate benefits and extend its companion programs—including an improved Medicare for All—to everyone.

Richard "RJ" Eskow is senior adviser for health and economic justice at Social Security Works. He is also the host of The Zero Hour, a syndicated progressive radio and television program.

This article was produced by Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

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Beyond Resistance: The Story of 2016

This is the time of year when people try to make sense of the preceding twelve months. It’s a fool’s errand, in one sense. A year is an arbitrary division of time. We decide what it means in retrospect, and we never get it exactly right. But the meaning we give it will guide our actions in the future, in thousands of conscious and unconscious ways.

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How Trump's Great Con Gave Away the Government to the 0.01 Percent

Our country’s privileged few used to exert their control through political surrogates. Now, thanks to Trump, they’re taking a more hands-on approach.

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Warning: This Trump Hire Is Hazardous to Your Health (And Not Just Your Medicare)

Donald Trump’s latest cabinet pick endangers the health and well-being of millions of Americans. From tax cuts to surgeons’ income, Rep. Tom Price of Georgia — Trump’s choice to run the Department of Health and Human Services — has repeatedly fought for the wealthy and privileged at the expense of ordinary Americans.

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Who Will Lead the Anti-Trump Resistance?

The Donald Trump Administration hasn’t even started, and the President-elect is already unpopular. Only 42 percent of those polled in this “honeymoon” period approve of Trump. Voters were split (46-45 percent) on their approval or disapproval of his transition process.

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Welcome to Swamp Trump - Please Don't Feed the Gators

It’s already a Washington truism that Donald Trump, who promised to “drain the swamp” of lobbyists and others who exploit government for personal gain, has turned to it instead for his key appointments.

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The Biggest Problem with Obamacare (It's Probably Not What You Think)

It’s true: the Affordable Care Act is having problems. But Republicans who say those problems are caused by “big government” have it exactly backward. Obamacare’s current difficulties are grounded in our country’s political fetishization of the private sector—a fad that began in the Republican Party, but has unfortunately spread to much of the Democratic establishment.

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The Last Debate: How Low Will It Go?

What’s worse than a political debate that fails to give voters the information they need? One that misinforms them, while at the same time demeaning the democratic process. The final 2016 presidential debate takes place Wednesday night, and expectations are low.

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The Incredible Shrinking Populist: Trump's Tiny Economic Vision

On Monday, Donald Trump talked about the economy on television for an hour. That may have exceeded the graduate-level curriculum at Trump University. But the biggest lesson I learned is that Trump contradicts himself more, and becomes more typically Republican, with every passing day.

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American Greed: Trump's Economic Team Is a Who's Who of What's Wrong

“I hear America singing,” Walt Whitman wrote, “the varied carols I hear.” Donald Trump hears America singing too. But where Whitman heard men and women, masons and carpenters, Trump hears only the unvarying monotone of rich white males like himself.

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Can Clinton Convince Skeptical Voters She’ll Fix the Economy?

Hillary Clinton offered a strong economic platform at last week’s Democratic National Convention. She promised to boost employment and wages with large-scale investments in infrastructure and green jobs. She declared her opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), said she would expand Social Security, and proposed tuition-free education for the middle class.

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Three Shadows That Are Haunting the Republican Party

As Donald Trump’s Republican Party convenes in Cleveland, three shadows will haunt the arena. They won’t talk about these shadows on television, but if you look closely you’re sure to see them.

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