Category Archives: Workers’ Issues

‘How the Trump White House Sees You’: Top Economic Adviser Under Fire for Calling Workers ‘Human Capital Stock’

“They’ve always been indifferent to human life. And in the face of mass death, the masks are coming off.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-26-2020

White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett speaks to members of the press. Screenshot: C-SPAN

In a remark critics characterized as further evidence that the Trump administration views workers as nothing more than disposable tools of economic growth and corporate profit, White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett on Sunday nonchalantly referred to laid-off employees as “human capital stock” as he pushed people to return to their jobs amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Voicing optimism about the potential for a speedy economic recovery even as U.S. unemployment surges to levels not seen since the Great Depression, Hassett told CNN Sunday that “our capital stock hasn’t been destroyed, our human capital stock is ready to get back to work, and so that there are lots of reasons to believe that we can get going way faster than we have in previous crises.” Continue reading

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Senate Bill Would Guarantee Paychecks to Laid-Off Workers for Rest of 2020 ‘To Avoid Another Great Depression’

“We cannot continue to allow tens of millions of Americans to lose their jobs, income, and health insurance during this horrific pandemic,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders, one of the bill’s lead sponsors.

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-21-2020

Unemployed men queued outside a depression soup kitchen opened in Chicago by Al Capone. Photo: Public domain

Sens. Bernie Sanders, Mark Warner, Doug Jones, and Richard Blumenthal on Thursday unveiled legislation aimed at stemming coronavirus-induced mass layoffs in the United States by guaranteeing paychecks and healthcare benefits to laid-off and furloughed workers for the rest of 2020.

The Paycheck Security Act—introduced with support from senators across the ideological spectrum of the Democratic caucus, and with the notable backing of Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)—would massively expand the existing Employee Retention Tax Credit to cover wages, salaries, and benefits for laid-off or furloughed workers up to $90,000 per year. Continue reading

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‘National Day of Mourning’ Protests This Week to Condemn GOP Failures Amid Mass Suffering Caused by Covid-19

“This should be political suicide. Let’s make sure it is.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-18-2020

Photo: Sarah Sophie Flicker/Twitter

With Republicans in Congress stonewalling the possibility of any additional coronavirus relief even as tens of millions of people across the U.S are newly out of workuninsuredhungry, and unable to afford rent, a coalition of progressive advocacy groups is planning nationwide protests this week to condemn GOP obstruction and demand the urgent passage of desperately needed aid for people and families.

On Wednesday, funeral-style actions in more than 20 states across the country will mourn the nearly 90,000 people who have died of Covid-19 and denounce President Donald Trump and the GOP for failing to take sufficiently urgent and bold action against the pandemic. The “National Day of Mourning” was organized by MoveOn, Indivisible, the Center for Popular Democracy, and other groups. Continue reading

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‘The Next Crisis’: Up to 43 Million Americans Could Lose Health Insurance Due to Pandemic, Study Shows

“The American healthcare financing system was not built to withstand the combined impact of a pandemic and a recession.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-10-2020

Analysts project that 43 million Americans could lose their insurance when the unemployment rate hits 20%. According to the Department of Labor, the current unemployment rate is 14.7%. (Photo: Elvert Barnes/Flickr/cc)

Medicare for All advocates on Sunday pointed to the latest study on the looming health insurance crisis already becoming apparent amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to job losses for more than 33 million people in the past two months.

Because health insurance is tied to employment for about half the country—160 million people—as many as 43 million are expected to lose their health insurance due to the pandemic, according to a new report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the Urban Institute. Continue reading

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Pelosi Support for Corporate Lobbyist Bailout Denounced as ‘Dumbest Political Maneuver You Could Possibly Make Right Now’

“Pelosi has run the House of Representatives by fiat for close to two months, and there hasn’t been a single word of protest as she locks every other member of the Democratic caucus out of policymaking.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-7-2020

Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has thrown her support behind a proposal to allow corporate lobbying groups to receive bailout money from a Covid-19 relief program meant for small businesses, a move one critic bluntly described as the “dumbest political maneuver you could possibly make right now.”

During a webinar with small business representatives on Tuesday, Pelosi said the next coronavirus relief package will include a change to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that would permit 501(c)(6) organizations to receive forgivable taxpayer loans. Continue reading

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‘A Travesty’: Trump Restricting Covid-19 Relief Funds From Hospitals Serving Nation’s Poorest

“Trump is using hospital bailout fund money to disproportionately help high revenue hospitals, and leave safety-net systems in the lurch.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-4-2020

Service members assigned to the Javits New York Medical Station perform an X-ray scan on a COVID-19 patient in the facility’s intensive care unit, April 18, 2020.. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Deonte Rowell)

Public health experts, state officials, and frontline medical workers are sounding the alarm and demanding an urgent change of course as the Trump administration disproportionately allocates Covid-19 relief funds to higher-revenue hospitals while restricting the flow of aid to providers that primarily serve low-income people.

The Los Angeles Times reported late last week that the Trump administration’s “program to aid hospitals and doctors on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis is leaving behind the nation’s Medicaid safety net—the pediatricians, mental health providers, and hospitals that serve the poorest patients. Continue reading

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‘A New Low’: Betsy DeVos Sued for Garnishing Wages of Nearly 300,000 Student Loan Borrowers During Pandemic

“The Trump administration is taking money from borrowers who are living on the edge of poverty, in the middle of a pandemic, and in violation of the law.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-1-2020

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos spoke at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr/cc)

A home health aide who earns just under $13 per hour is the lead plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit filed Thursday against Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, whose department has continued garnishing the wages of hundreds of thousands of student loan borrowers in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

The CARES Act, which was signed into law in late March, prohibits the Education Department from seizing the wages and tax refunds of student loan borrowers who have defaulted on their loans. Continue reading

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Workers Gear Up for Major May Day Strike in Pushback Against Unsafe Conditions Amid Pandemic

One organizer explained that the goal is to “push back with large numbers against the right-wing groups that want to risk our lives by reopening the economy.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-29-2020

Amazon workers started calling in sick last week. Screenshot: WXYZ

Workers at some of the nation’s biggest companies including Amazon and Target are preparing to symbolically lock arms Friday for a May 1 strike and demand better protections on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic.

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‘Lining Up at the Trough’: Federal Reserve to Offer Corporations $500 Billion No-Strings-Attached Bailout Loophole

“Big corporations have shown time and again that they will put their shareholders and executives ahead of their workers if given the choice.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-28-2020

Through the Primary Market Corporate Credit Facility, the Fed will provide $500 billion to companies by buying bonds, but the companies will not be required to retain employees or limit executive pay. (Photo: Public Domain)

A Federal Reserve program approved by Congress and aimed at providing emergency relief to large companies contains a “catch” which will permit the corporations to lay off employees and spend the money on executive pay, according to a Washington Post report.

Through the Primary Market Corporate Credit Facility, the Fed will provide $500 billion to companies by buying bonds. The corporations will be required to pay the Fed back with interest. Continue reading

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Millions of People Face Stimulus Check Delays for a Strange Reason: They Are Poor

The IRS has had trouble getting money to people quickly because millions of Americans pay for their tax preparation through a baroque system of middlemen.

By Paul KielJustin Elliott and Will Young. Published 4-24-2020 by ProPublica

Image: Jernej Furman/flickr/CC

Last week, a group of angry and desperate Citi Tax Financial customers gathered outside the company’s storefront in Augusta, Georgia. Millions of Americans had received a big deposit from the IRS in their bank accounts, but they had not. The IRS website told them their coronavirus stimulus checks were deposited in an account they didn’t recognize.

With an officer from the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office beside him and another officer shouting for people to be quiet, the tax preparation company’s owner told the crowd of about 60, only a few of whom wore masks, that he didn’t have their money. Continue reading

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