congress

Note to Congress: Raise the Minimum Wage

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

The GOP has ruthlessly sold the outlandish myth to millions that a hike in the minimum wage is a huge job killer. It has been so effective in its hard sell that President Obama and Congressional Democrats have repeatedly been stymied and frustrated in every effort they’ve made to boost the minimum wage nationally. And almost certainly, Obama in his State of the Union Address later this month will again demand that Congress, meaning House and Senate Republicans, immediately raise the minimum wage. 

The GOP’s 'No Win' Strategy

Bob Neuman

Here is a bold and risky conclusion:  the Republican Party, as now constructed, knows it cannot win the White House.  It probably cannot get a majority in the Senate.  But it can continue its hold on the House of Representatives and thus continue its strategy of blocking legislation rather than acting on the needs of the nation. Looking at current polling numbers, the GOP is at a historic low in public opinion.  

The Continuous Failure of the Tea Party

Dave Helfert

Okay, everybody who thinks the Tea Party and the other rightwing nuts and bolts in Congress have learned a difficult but valuable lesson, take one step forward.  Not so fast. The far right’s immediate reaction to overwhelming rejection of Tea Party priorities by the American public has been to take a step back, shake their heads a little and get ready for the next fight in January.  And make no mistake: there will be another fight in January.

The Government Shutdown Ended. What Now?

Bob Neuman

The shutdown has ended…and now for the showdown. Recent polls show the great majority of Americans are unrepresented in the Congress. And it is time for them to exercise their muscle. The problem is that the hard right and the hard left have an advantage because of unfettered campaign funding in controlling the purchase of advocacy advertising and lavish funding given to candidates of their likemindedness, left and right, far extreme from the center.

Dueling Political Agendas and the Government Shutdown

Dave Helfert

The government shutdown serves no discernible purpose beyond setting a very dangerous stage for competing political interests to try to advance their agendas and, of course, giving the news media and political commentators an urgent issue to cover and interpret. Yet it’s a fascinating time to be a student of political communication.  During these epic battles, we get to analyze rhetorical weapons while they’re still being fired.  We get to take a close look at who’s saying what and how what they’re saying is evolving.  

How Tea-Party Republicans Are Destroying America

Dave Helfert

So now the Tea Party is saying, “Okay, we won’t threaten to shut down the U.S. Government and all its services.  Instead, we’ll put a gun to our head again to force Democrats to give us what we want or we’ll let the United States of America default on its debts.” What they’re talking about now is the federal debt ceiling.  Republican talking points try to argue that the debt ceiling is a matter of cutting out-of-control spending and decreasing the “debt burden.”  

Vietnamese-Americans and the Lingering, Deadly Shadow of Agent Orange

Ngoc Nguyen

Vietnam War veterans in the United States, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea receive Agent Orange disability benefits through their governments. Canada has compensated citizens who were exposed to herbicides during pre-war testing of the chemicals. The U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs has paid billions in disability benefits related to herbicide exposure to eligible American veterans. In contrast, Vietnamese Americans who were exposed and are now sick - a group that includes both veterans and civilians - haven’t received a dime. 

President Obama’s Syria Strike Poses Challenge to Backers

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

The even more long-range political peril is to further taint Democrats in the eyes of liberals and progressives as a party that is just as willing to wage war as the GOP. All three are important considerations for Obama. They take on even more significance given that polls show Americans overwhelmingly oppose any involvement in Syria, masses of demonstrators have already taken to the streets in protest of a strike, and some Tea Party-affiliated GOP congressional reps have screamed loudly against the war drums. And GOP Senate war hawks want nothing less than an all-out attack to remove the Assad regime.

How Congress Went Hog Wild Over a Chinese Bid to Purchase Smithfield

George Koo

When Shuanghui, China’s largest pork producer, made an offer to buy Smithfield, it should have been a straightforward business transaction. Smithfield is America’s largest pork producer. By acquiring Smithfield, Shuanghui would be positioned to fill China’s rising demand for more pork. What should have been a simple win-win deal is becoming a lot more complicated thanks to Congressional review. As presented at the hearing, the humble bacon has suddenly risen to become an ominous threat capable of imperiling the security of the United States. 

Supreme Court Ruling Strikes a Blow to the Voting Rights Act

Khalil Abdullah

On Tuesday, President Obama expressed “disappointment” in the Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling in Shelby County v. Holder, which all but eviscerated Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, and called upon Congress “to pass legislation to ensure every American has equal access to the polls.” Other critics of the ruling, however, were not so temperate in their characterization of what could prove to be a game changer for ongoing efforts to counter voter suppression.

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