Tag Archives: Public Citizen

‘Outrageous’: 46 Million Americans Say They Would Not Be Able to Afford Healthcare If They Needed It

“The American model of health reform—throwing money at private insurers—cannot solve it.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-31-2021

Dr. Christina Bastin De Jong, a critical care physician at Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Medical Center in Duluth, shares a light moment with Jimmy Porter, who was on the mend following a serious bout with COVID-19, on Thursday, Dec. 10. (Photo by Derek Montgomery for Essentia Health)

A new study released Wednesday morning shows that nearly 50 million Americans would be unable to afford quality healthcare should the need for treatment suddenly arise, a finding seen as further evidence of the immorality of a for-profit insurance system that grants or denies coverage based on a person’s ability to pay.

“People can’t afford their goddamn healthcare,” Tim Faust, a proponent of single-payer healthcare, tweeted in response to the new report. “Families spend less on food so they can make insurance payments. This problem is felt by all, but concentrated among poor people and black people. The American model of health reform—throwing money at private insurers—can not solve it.” Continue reading

Share Button

Senate Dems Employ Obscure Law in Effort to Reverse Trump Rollback of Methane Emissions Standards

While lawmakers are also using the Congressional Review Act to challenge one other policy change, it could be used to target dozens of deregulatory actions from Trump’s presidency.

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-26-2021

Natural gas flares from a flare-head at the Orvis State well on the Evanson family farm in McKenzie County, North Dakota. Photo: Tim Evanson/flickr/CC

Four members of the Democrat-controlled Senate this week introduced a resolution that would use an “obscure but powerful” federal law to reverse the Trump administration’s weakening of Obama-era rules on fossil fuel companies’ emissions of the potent greenhouse gas methane.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) along with Sens. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), and Angus King (I-Maine)—who caucuses with the Democrats—led a larger group of lawmakers Thursday in introducing a resolution of disapproval, under the Congressional Review Act (CRA), to reinstate Obama-era methane rules. Continue reading

Share Button

America ‘Should Be Ashamed’: Texas Teen Forced to Use College Savings to Prevent Mom’s Eviction

“Americans owe $70 billion in back rent that they won’t be able to pay. If we don’t get them relief, there will be millions of stories like these.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-10-2021

“This is not a feel-good story,” said Public Citizen on Tuesday, February 9, 2021. “It’s a dystopian nightmare.” (Photo: Twitter screengrab from ABC7 News)

After Alondra Carmona, a high school senior in Houston, recently exhausted all of her college savings to prevent her unemployed mother from being evicted, one media outlet on Tuesday tried to portray it as an “act of kindness,” but progressives are emphasizing that the all-too-common story is an indictment of a deeply unequal society reliant on private charity as a result of policymakers’ failure to guarantee livable incomes, affordable housing and higher education, and more.

“In February of 2020, my mom broke her ankle and was not able to work,” Carmona explained in a GoFundMe ad she created to support her family. “Come March, the coronavirus started, which added to the financial problems we already had. Today, I found out that my mom has not had a job for 3 months and hid it from us. She owes two months of rent and will most likely get evicted in March.” Continue reading

Share Button

‘A Big Deal’: Lawmakers Reintroduce Constitutional Amendment to Overturn Citizens United

“We cannot allow the wealthiest individuals and corporations to flood our elections with cash through complex webs of super PACs and dark money groups that put special interests above the will of the American people.”

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-21-2021

Occupy Tampa displays signs at the 2012 Republican National Convention. Photo: Liz Mc/Wikimedia Commons/CC

n a bid to reverse the outsize influence of corporations and the wealthiest Americans over the nation’s electoral process, a bipartisan group of congressional lawmakers on Thursday reintroduced a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling.

The reintroduction of the Democracy for All Amendment in the 117th Congress—led by Reps. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), John Katko (D-N.Y.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), and Jamie Raskin (D-Md.)—occurred on the 11th anniversary of Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commissiona 5-4 ruling which affirmed that corporations are legal persons and that they, labor unions, and other outside groups could spend unlimited amounts of money to influence the outcome of U.S. elections. Continue reading

Share Button

‘A Fitting End’: Hours Before Leaving Office, Trump Quietly Revokes Order Restricting Lobbying by Former Federal Officials

“Great summary of Trump’s many farcical ‘drain the swamp’ betrayals.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-20-2021

Photo: Palácio do Planalto/flickr/CC

Making one final mockery of his 2016 campaign promise to “drain the swamp,” President Donald Trump early Wednesday quietly revoked his own executive order barring administration officials from lobbying the agencies for which they worked for five years after leaving government, freeing up a potential line of employment for outgoing White House staff.

While riddled with loopholes and deficiencies, the executive order represented one of the few concrete actions Trump took during his four years in office to rein in the corruption that has long been a hallmark of the U.S. federal government. On the whole, Trump contributed massively to that corruption during his tenure, which one watchdog group argues was “marked by self-interest, profiteering at the highest levels, and more than 3,700 conflicts of interest.” Continue reading

Share Button

Biden Already Facing Pressure to Tackle Backlog of ‘Unfunded’ Toxic Waste Sites Threatened by Climate Crisis

More broadly, campaigners are calling on the incoming president to deliver on the environmental justice promises he made as a candidate.

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-28-2020

Formerly an open pit copper mine, the Berkeley Pit in Butte, Montana is now part of the largest Superfund site in the United States. Photo: Kolopres/Wikimedia Commons/CC

A joint report on Monday highlighted the pressure that President-elect Joe Biden is already facing to deliver on his environmental justice campaign promises—particularly when it comes to the 34 Superfund sites nationwide for which there is no reliable cleanup funding—the largest backlog of “unfunded” sites in 15 years.

The federal Superfund program began with the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), passed by Congress in 1980. While cleanup efforts were initially paid for by a trust fund created by taxing the chemical and petroleum industries, lawmakers let the tax expire 25 years ago. Continue reading

Share Button

Critics Smell ‘Economic Sabotage’ as McConnell Unveils Covid Plan With $0 for Unemployment Boost, Direct Payments

“McConnell is making it pretty clear that if Dems don’t win the Georgia Senate races, he will cripple the American economy, hoping it will let the GOP win the midterm.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-2-2020

Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/CC

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday began circulating a coronavirus relief proposal whose contents offer so little assistance to the tens of millions of jobless, hungry, and eviction-prone Americans that critics warned the Kentucky Republican is actively working to ensure the U.S. economy remains mired in deep recession as Biden administration takes charge next month.

Described as a “targeted” relief proposal, McConnell’s plan is heavily geared toward providing corporations with immunity from coronavirus-related lawsuits; the offer includes a liability shield that Public Citizen’s Remington Gregg described as “breathtakingly broad.” The Kentucky Republican’s plan also contains a 100% tax deduction for business meals. Continue reading

Share Button

Hailed as ‘Heroes’ During Pandemic, Retail Workers Stripped of Hazard Pay While Companies Rake in Massive Profits

“While business booms and the pandemic rages, the rich are getting richer—and workers are getting sicker.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-20-2020

Nearly all of the top 15 retailers in the U.S., which provided hazard pay to workers in the beginning of the pandemic, have halted the extra compensation and are spending lavishly on stock buybacks. (Photo: Public Citizen)

Frontline retail workers have been lauded by U.S. corporations as “heroes” this year for keeping operations running during the Covid-19 outbreak, but a new study shows how companies like Dollar General and Walmart—which have made massive profits over recent months—have treated their employees like “sacrificial workers” by stripping hazard pay even as the pandemic soared.

The report, released Thursday by Public Citizen, details how most of the top 15 U.S. retail companies have quietly taken away hazard pay from their frontline workers, even as the coronavirus has continued to spread across the country and is now surging in states including Wisconsin, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Minnesota. Continue reading

Share Button

Tens of Millions in PPP Loans Went to Corporate Polluters After Companies Were Fined $52 Million, Analysis Shows

“Our federal government should not be essentially giving back portions of the penalties they’ve paid, but that’s exactly what the Trump administration is doing through the PPP.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-4-2020

“These companies have a clear history of violating public trust and the law by contaminating the environment in pursuit of profits.” (Photo: isciencetimes.com)

As the American public awaits a new coronavirus aid package and at least one in five small businesses expect to close by the end of 2020 due to economic hardship, government watchdog Accountable.US and the HuffPost revealed Sunday that at least five companies which were previously fined for pollution violations received millions of dollars in loans via the Paycheck Protection Program which was introduced in March.

Fossil fuel companies, a diesel engine parts manufacturer, and a nuclear waste management company were among the corporations which received up to $32 million in loans, after they were forced to collectively pay more than $52 million in penalties, according to the analysis. Continue reading

Share Button

USDA and Meatpacking Industry Collaborated to Undermine Covid-19 Response, Documents Show

Hundreds of emails obtained by Public Citizen and American Oversight offer a rare inside look at the meat industry’s power and access to the highest levels of government.

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-15-2020

Some critics have called keeping meat processing plants open during the Covid-19 pandemic a “death sentence” for workers.. Screenshot: CBS

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the meatpacking industry worked together to downplay and disregard risks to worker health during the Covid-19 pandemic, as shown in documents published Monday by Public Citizen and American Oversight.

The documents (pdf), which the groups obtained through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, reveal that a week before President Donald Trump issued his controversial executive order in April to keep meatpacking plants open—overriding closure orders from local health officials—a leading meat industry lobby group drafted a proposed executive order that was strikingly similar to Trump’s directive. Continue reading

Share Button