By Michell K. McIntyre
In the last year of the Obama administration many important worker protections are finally emerging – a stronger health standard for exposure to silica dust that will prevent more than 600 deaths from an agonizing disease, a fiduciary rule that makes financial advisors act in the best interest of their clients (shouldn’t they already be doing this?) and a soon-to-be released updated overtime pay safeguard that means millions of hardworking Americans will get a raise.
Worker advocates, economists, and unions have been working with the administration and U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) for years to make this change a reality. The expected rule will modernize and restore the protections of overtime pay that will result in millions of salaried employees being paid for the work they do beyond the standard 40 hours per week.
The middle class is working longer and harder than ever while corporate profits are skyrocketing, yet incomes remain stagnant. It’s not just political rhetoric that over the last 40 years the rules of the game have become rigged in favor of big business and the 1 percent.
Calling a constitutional convention to pass a balanced budget amendment is a catastrophic idea that is gaining an alarming amount of momentum.
A balanced budget amendment would force the government to prioritize an arbitrary bottom line over investing in public priorities and protecting civil liberties.
Instead of supporting the economy and strengthening social welfare, this shortsighted, austerity-on-steroids policy would prioritize federal debts over the American people. Such an apathetic policy would resemble the local government’s flawed priorization of paying off bank debts over providing safe drinking water for families in Flint, Michigan – but on a far larger, national scale.
Funding for vital public programs is already under constant attack in the annual budgeting process – as conservatives are constantly fighting to de-fund the programs and agencies advocating for consumers, working families, and the environment. By adding in the potential for massive yearly fluctuations in funding based on GDP, essential public programs would be even more at risk of losing funding in the pursuit of austerity measures.
Yet a constitutional convention on a balanced budget is scarily possible.
On March 23, the D.C. Public Service Commission (PSC) approved Exelon’s takeover of Pepco in a contentious 2-1 vote. Within hours, Exelon dissolved Pepco by suspending the trading of Pepco stock. This move resulted in $1.6 billion windfall for shareholders – a nice chunk of which went to Pepco executives – and allowed Exelon to claim that the deal was done.
Pepco’s CEO Joe Rigby, cashed out nearly $25 million in Pepco stock before retiring and turning the Pepco (a company of Exelon) reigns over to David Velazquez (who made $5 million on the sale).
But in Exelon’s haste to make it rain for Pepco shareholders, it cast aside one important detail:
Exelon’s takeover of Pepco still has two hurdles to clear.
Opponents of the takeover have 30 days to ask the PSC for reconsideration, meaning they can appeal to the commission to change its mind and undo the merger. If reconsideration fails, opponents can then appeal to the D.C. Court of Appeals.
Exelon’s move to consummate the takeover just hours after the PSC vote to approve is a deliberate move to abridge the rights of opponents of the deal. It runs afoul of Exelon’s own argument that an order is not final until the commission has ruled on a parties’ request for reconsideration and it reveals a core component of Exelon’s strategy to handicap legal challenges to the takeover.
It’s a great week for democracy.
Public Citizen is preparing for Democracy Awakening this weekend – three days of workshops, trainings, rallies, music, advocacy and direct action to kick big money out of the political process, end limitations on voting rights, and to demand the Senate vote on a Supreme Court nominee.
This week we saw the DC community, and the nation at large, stand behind Democracy Spring. Organizers of that movement marched from Philadelphia to Washington, DC before holding daily rallies and sit-ins at the Capitol to demand the end to corporate corruption of government. Over 400 people were arrested in one day, filling the nearby jail to capacity – and arrests of peaceful protesters continued throughout the week.
CAP Action also gathered a group of fierce advocates for the public interest earlier this week. They discussed the challenges to voting rights and transparency that are currently convoluting our political process and disenfranchising millions.
By: Michell K McIntyre
Early this month, some West Virginia state lawmakers and staff had a very bad weekend after celebrating the passage of a bill that loosens restrictions on raw milk. As a way of toasting their supposed accomplishment, Delegate Scott Cadle, R-Mason, invited fellow lawmakers and others to “live dangerously” and sample the raw milk he procured from a Mason County dairy.
Unfortunately for some of the lawmakers and staff who drank the milk, they soon came down with flu-like symptoms – fever, vomiting and diarrhea.
In the 1912 Journal of Infectious Diseases, biology Professor and Curator of Public Health at the American Museum of Natural History, New York, C.E.A. Winslow recognized raw milk as a source of severe infection after an outbreak killed 48 people in the Boston area. Marveled as one of the public health triumphs of the 20th century, pasteurization of milk kills disease-causing bacteria. “Raw” milk is milk that has not undergone the pasteurization process.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) , raw milk can carry harmful bacteria including campylobacter, listeria, e. coli, salmonella and other germs that can make people sick and are even deadly. The CDC further explains “getting sick from raw milk can mean days of diarrhea, stomach cramping and vomiting.”
Cadle, who was among those who experienced the symptoms, denied that the raw milk was to blame and insisted that it was a mere coincidence. “It ain’t because of the raw milk,” explained Cadle.