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Hassan Joins Progressive Senators In Introducing Legislation To Bring Down Prescription Drug Prices

Proposal Improves Upon the Affordable Care Act By
Addressing Skyrocketing Drug Prices

WASHINGTON – Yesterday, Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined Senator Al Franken (D-MN) and others in launching a major push to improve upon the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by bringing down the skyrocketing price of prescription drugs, one of the main reasons why health care costs for seniors and families are rising.

The Improving Access to Affordable Prescription Drugs Act would help ensure that drug companies put patients before profits and bring much-needed relief to families and seniors, including many who have had to make the impossible choice between paying for a life-saving drug and putting food on the table.

“It is long past time for Congress to put patients first by coming together and acting to lower the cost of prescription drugs,” said Senator Hassan. “This major piece of legislation helps ensure that seniors and families can afford the medication they need through common-sense steps including cracking down on bad actors who hike the cost of prescription drugs that have been on the market for years or who play games to prevent competition. I will continue working with anyone who’s serious about addressing the rising costs of prescription drugs and ensuring that all Americans can afford critical care.” 

The landmark proposal, which the Senators said they want to see included in upcoming legislative debates, seeks to tackle prescription drug costs by increasing transparency and accountability, boosting access and affordability of key drugs, spurring innovation, and increasing choice and competition.  

The Senators were joined in introducing this legislative package, which is supported by a wide range of organizations and patient advocacy groups, by Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Jeff Merkley (OR), Tom Udall (D-NM), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Cory Booker (D-NJ).

You can read more about the legislation by clicking here or reading below:

The Senators’ legislation is supported by:

  • The American Medical Student Association (AMSA)
  • AFSCME
  • Housing Works
  • MoveOn
  • National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare
  • National Physicians Alliance
  • Other98
  • PFAM: People of Faith for Access to Medicines
  • Public Citizen
  • Social Security Works
  • Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM)
  • AFT
  • Doctors for America
  • Center for Medicare Advocacy
  • Alliance for Retired Americans

Improving Access to Affordable Prescription Drugs Act

Title I: Transparency

Section 101: Drug manufacturer reporting.

To better understand how research and development costs, manufacturing and marketing costs, acquisitions, federal investments, revenues and sales, and other factors influence drug prices, this section requires drug manufacturers to disclose this information, by product, to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), who, in turn, will make it publicly available in a searchable format.

Section 102: Determining the public and private benefit of copayment coupons and other patient assistance programs.

To better understand how patient assistance programs affect drug prices and the extent to which drug makers are using independent charity assistance programs to drive up profits, this section requires independent charity assistance programs to disclose to the IRS the total amount of patient assistance provided to patients who are prescribed drugs manufactured by any contributor to the independent charity assistance program. It also requires a GAO study on the impact of patient assistance programs on prescription drug pricing and expenditures. 

Title II: Access and Affordability

Section 201: Negotiating fair prices for Medicare prescription drugs.

Medicare is one of the largest purchasers of prescription drugs in the country but, unlike Medicaid and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), it is not allowed to leverage its purchasing power to negotiate lower drug prices and bring down costs. This section would allow the Secretary of HHS to negotiate with drug companies to lower prescription drug prices, and directs the Secretary to prioritize negotiations on specialty and other high-priced drugs.

Section 202: Prescription drug price spikes.

Prescription drugs are priced in the United States according to whatever the market will bear and are sometimes subject to drastic and frequent price increases without apparent justification. This makes drugs increasingly unaffordable and creates significant uncertainty for patients’ and insurers’ budgets. This section requires the HHS Office of the Inspector General (HHS OIG) to monitor changes in drug prices and take steps to prevent drug manufacturers from engaging in price gouging. 

Section 203: Acceleration of the closing of the Medicare Part D coverage gap.

This section closes the Medicare Part D prescription coverage gap in 2018, two years earlier than under current law, providing faster financial relief to seniors, and requires drug manufacturers to pay a larger share of the costs during the coverage gap.  

Section 204: Importing affordable and safe drugs.

This section allows wholesalers, licensed U.S. pharmacies, and individuals to import qualifying prescription drugs manufactured at FDA-inspected facilities from licensed Canadian sellers and, after two years, from OECD countries that meet standards comparable to U.S. standards.

Section 205: Requiring drug manufacturers to provide drug rebates for drugs dispensed to low-income individuals.

This section restores prescription drug rebates for seniors who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid and extends these rebates to other Medicare patients in Medicare low-income-subsidy plans.

Section 206: Cap on prescription drug cost-sharing.

For plan years beginning in 2019 and later, this section caps prescription drug cost sharing at $250 per month for individuals and $500 a month for families enrolled in Qualified Health Plans and employer-based plans.

 

Title III: Innovation

Section 301: Prize fund for new and more effective treatments of bacterial infections.

This section creates a $2 billion prize fund at the National Institutes of Health to fund entities that develop superior antibiotics that treat serious and life-threatening bacterial infections and to fund research that advances such treatments and is made publicly available. In order to receive prize funds, recipients must commit to offering their products at a reasonable price, share clinical data, and take steps to promote antibiotic stewardship. 

Section 302: Public funding for clinical trials.

This section creates a Center for Clinical Research within the NIH to conduct all stages of clinical trials on drugs that may address an existing or emerging health need. 

Section 303: Rewarding innovative drug development.

This section amends various exclusivity periods awarded by the FDA to brand-name pharmaceutical companies in an effort to accelerate competition in the generic and biologics market. First, the bill modifies the New Chemical Entity (NCE) exclusivity period to allow FDA to accept a generic drug application for the branded product after three years rather than five. Second, this section would add in a requirement that products awarded the 3-year New Clinical Investigation Exclusivity must show significant clinical benefit over existing therapies manufactured by the applicant in the 5-year period preceding the submission of the application. Third, this section reduces the biological product exclusivity from 12 years to 7 years. 

Section 304: Improving program integrity.

This section would terminate any remaining market exclusivity periods on any product found to be in violation of criminal or civil law through a federal or state fraud conviction or settlement in which the company admits fault.

 

Title IV: Choice and Competition

Section 401: Preserving access to affordable generics.

This legislation would make it illegal for brand-name and generic drug manufacturers to enter into anti-competitive agreements in which the brand-name drug manufacturer pays the generic manufacturer to keep more affordable generic equivalents off the market. 

Section 402 and 403: 180-Day exclusivity period amendments regarding first applicant status and agreements to defer commercial marketing.

This section enables FDA to take away the 180-day generic drug exclusivity period from any generic company that enters into anti-competitive pay-for-delay settlements with brand-name drug manufacturers. 

Section 404: Increasing generic drug competition.

This section introduces new reporting requirements and financial incentives to promote and sustain competitive generic markets. 

Section 405: Disallowance of deduction for advertising for prescription drugs.

This section eliminates the tax breaks drug companies receive from the federal government for expenses related to direct-to-consumer advertising.

Section 406: Product hopping.

This section establishes a definition for the term “product hopping” and instructs the FTC to submit a report to Congress on the extent to which companies engage in these anti-competitive practices and their effects on company profits, consumer access, physician prescribing behavior, and broader economic impacts.

Trump Signs Executive Order To Withdraw From TPP, Wants To Renegotiate NAFTA

Today, President Trump signed an Executive Order to withdraw from the 12 nation Trans-Pacific Partnership.  As of right now, we are unsure of what the order says as it has yet to be released by the White House.

Senator Bernie Sanders, who made his opposition to the TPP a cornerstone in his campaign for President, was “glad” to see the TPP go down in flames.

“I am glad the Trans-Pacific Partnership is dead and gone. For the last 30 years, we have had a series of trade deals – including the North American Free Trade Agreement, permanent normal trade relations with China and others – which have cost us millions of decent-paying jobs and caused a ‘race to the bottom’ which has lowered wages for American workers. Now is the time to develop a new trade policy that helps working families, not just multi-national corporations. If President Trump is serious about a new policy to help American workers then I would be delighted to work with him.”

Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO called this an “important first step” in building a “fair and just global economy.”

“Last year, a powerful coalition of labor, environmental, consumer, public health and allied groups came together to stop the TPP. Today’s announcement that the US is withdrawing from TPP and seeking a reopening of NAFTA is an important first step toward a trade policy that works for working people. While these are necessary actions, they aren’t enough. They are just the first in a series of necessary policy changes required to build a fair and just global economy. We will continue our relentless campaign to create new trade and economic rules that end special privileges for foreign investors and Big Pharma, protect our planet’s precious natural resources and ensure fair pay, safe conditions and a voice in the workplace for all workers.” 

The Hill is also reporting that President Trump plans to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and has “dispatched his son-in-law and senior White House adviser, Jared Kushner to Calgary on Tuesday to begin talks with the cabinet of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.”

Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich was quick to point out on facebook that Trump’s feudal attempt to renegotiate NAFTA is only a distraction from the Republican attacks on working people.

“Trump stirs up symbolic controversies as diversions from what he and the Republicans are really up to.

Take NAFTA for example. He’s gearing up to “renegotiate” it, whatever that means. Expect lots of angry talk on both sides of our southern border.

But NAFTA’s a hill of beans relative Trump’s and the Republican’s pending repeal of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). That will directly hurt millions of working Americans. But Trump wants to distract attention.

Same with Obama’s overtime rule, now hung up in the courts, which Trump is going to axe. It have delivered $12 billion of wage gains over the next decade to American workers.

Ditto labor unions. Trump’s Republicans are busily killing off unions with so-called “right-to-work” laws. The result is less bargaining power for workers to get better wages. But Trump doesn’t want to talk about labor unions. He’d rather beat up on Mexico.

And keep a careful watch on Medicare and Social Security, which have been in Paul Ryan’s cross-hairs for years. We don’t even know what Trump and the Republicans are planning for them, but whatever it is, average working people will take the brunt.”

So the question now becomes will withdrawing and renegotiating the TPP and possibly renegotiating NAFTA really help working people or will it be another chance for Trump and his billionaire buddies to cash in on unbalanced trade agreements?  Only time will tell.

Sanders To Close 2016 Campaign With Coast-to-Coast Swing

Bernie Sanders ( Image by Phil Roeder FLIKR)

Bernie Sanders ( Image by Phil Roeder FLIKR)

BURLINGTON, Vt. – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont on Tuesday will kick off a coast-to-coast campaign swing that will take him to 12 states in the closing days of the 2016 presidential election contest.

“I am working as hard as I can to see that Donald Trump is defeated, that Hillary Clinton is elected president and that Democrats gain control of the U.S. House and U.S. Senate,” Sanders said. “The day after the election, I intend to do everything I can to see that the new president and Congress implement the Democratic platform, the most progressive party agenda of any major political party in the history of the United States,” he added.

Sanders will make stops in 12 states from Maine to California to discuss the Democratic agenda which includes overturning the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, pay equity for women, expanding Social Security, a new approach toward trade, breaking up “too-big-to-fail banks,” making public colleges and universities tuition free for the middle class, rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, aggressively combating climate change, raising taxes on the wealthy and large corporations, lowering prescription drug prices, a movement toward universal health care and major reforms in our criminal justice and immigration systems.

On Tuesday in New Hampshire, Sanders will campaign for Clinton and Gov. Maggie Hassan, the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate. The first of two get-out-the-vote rallies is at Plymouth State University. The event will be in the Courtroom in the Hartman Union, Building 117 High St. in Plymouth. The second stop is at 2:30 p.m. at Dartmouth College’s Alumni Hall, 4 E. Wheelock St., Hanover.

Capping the day will be a third rally in Portland, Maine, where Sanders will speak at a 6:30 p.m. gathering in the gym at Deering High School, 370 Stevens Ave, Portland.

On Wednesday, Sanders goes to Michigan and Wisconsin.

In Michigan, he’ll headline a noon rally at in the Miller Auditorium at Western Michigan University, 2200 Auditorium Drive, Kalamazoo, Mich. Then he speaks at a 3:15 p.m. rally at The Village at Grand Traverse Commons, 700 Cottageview Drive, Suite 200, Traverse City.

In Wisconsin, Sanders will campaign for Clinton and former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold at a 5:30 p.m. rally at Turner Hall, 1034 N 4th St., Milwaukee.

Leading up to Election Day next Tuesday, Sanders also plans campaign stops in Ohio, North Carolina, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada and California.

Bernie Sanders Calls For Unity In Endorsement Of Hillary Clinton For President #StrongerTogether

Today, Senator Bernie Sanders officially ended his campaign for President by endorsing Secretary Hillary Clinton.

“Secretary Clinton has won the Democratic nominating process, and I congratulate her for that. She will be the Democratic nominee for president and I intend to do everything I can to make certain she will be the next president of the United States,” said Sanders.

“It is no secret that Hillary Clinton and I disagree on a number of issues. That’s what this campaign has been about. That’s what democracy is about. But I am happy to tell you that at the Democratic Platform Committee which ended Sunday night in Orlando, there was a significant coming together between the two campaigns and we produced, by far, the most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party. Our job now is to see that platform implemented by a Democratic Senate, a Democratic House and a Hillary Clinton presidency – and I am going to do everything I can to make that happen,” added Sanders.

“Hillary Clinton will make an outstanding president and I am proud to stand with her here today,” concluded Sanders.

“Thank you Bernie – for your endorsement, but more than that, thank you for your  lifetime of fighting injustice. I am proud to be fighting alongside you because my friends, this is a time for all of us to stand together. These have been difficult times for America,” said Clinton. “This is a time for all of us to stand together – because these have been difficult days for our country.  

“We are joining forces to defeat Donald Trump!” Clinton declared. “I can’t help but say how much more enjoyable this election is going to be when we are on the same side. You know what? We are stronger together!”

“Sen. Sanders has brought people off the sidelines and into the political process. He has energized and inspired a generation of young people who care deeply about our country,” she said. “To everyone here and everyone cross the country who poured your heart and soul into Sen. Sanders’ campaign: Thank you,” added Clinton.

After the event, Raymond Buckley, Chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party released the following statement:

“Hearing Senator Sanders say today that he intends to do everything he can to make certain Secretary Clinton will be the next president of the United States was an inspiring and powerful reminder that Democrats are stronger together.

“Senator Sanders ran a tremendous campaign here in New Hampshire and across the country. His extraordinary passion and dedication brought millions of Americans together to fight for progressive ideals, to stand against unacceptable levels of inequality and to create an economy that works for everyone, not just for those at the top. As Senator Sanders said, he and Secretary Clinton share those values—values that will make her an outstanding president.

“Today’s rally presented a stark contrast with the disarray and dysfunction spewing from Donald Trump and the Republican Party. As Republicans are more divided than ever, Democrats are united, strong and energized as we move toward Election Day,” concluded Buckley.

It is important that we continue to move forward and that means that Sanders supporters and Clinton supporters will have to unite together to ensure that Donald Trump never gets elected.

We must continue to build strong alliances to further our progressive goals of expanding healthcare to all Americans, raising the minimum wage, opposing trade deals that hurt working families, reign in Wall Street, and work to end the corruptive influence of money in politics.

Only together can we defeat Donald Trump and all of the right wing extremists running for office. We must work together to elect real progressives, who share our values and our vision of a better society to Congress and State Capitols throughout the country. Only together can we make this happen.

Dear Platform Committee: Stock Buybacks Should Be Illegal

Bernie Sanders Hillary ClintonThis weekend, the Democratic Party Platform Committee will put the finishing touches on the party’s official policy positions.

What’s not in there, yet?  A clear stand against corporate stock buybacks.

Hillary Clinton made buybacks part of her presidential platform almost a year ago.  Bernie Sanders has been talking about buybacks even longer than that.

But while the presidential candidates were talking about the issue, corporations spent $600 billion buying back their own stock. (And that’s just counting what the big corporations spent.)

If that money had been spent on new hires, rather than just on concentrating corporate ownership, it could have created almost 8.5 million jobs.  (That’s at the average US wage, including benefits.)

Image by Rose Lincoln, 1199SEIU

Image by Rose Lincoln, 1199SEIU

Imagine what the US economy could look like, if 8.5 million more of us were working right now.  Instead… well, you can read “US companies have spent $2 trillion doing something that has absolutely no impact on their business” for yourself here.  (That’s what the past five years of buyback spending adds up to: $2 trillion.  Yes, “trillion” with a “T.”)

Buyback spending drives up stock prices, which enriches corporate executives and investors who sell their stock.  But it’s not an investment in the corporation’s future – just the opposite, in many cases.  A lot of recent buybacks have been financed by new corporate debt, in a practice that one Wall Street insider described to me as “monetization of future revenues.”  They’re borrowing against future corporate revenues to pay stockholders now.  They’re mortgaging the future, rather than investing toward it.

This used to be illegal, back when the economy worked for the middle class.  This weekend, the Democratic Party Platform Committee should take a clear stand: it ought to be illegal, now.

Read more NH Labor News coverage about stock buybacks here.

Sanders Supporters Attempt To Change Super Delegates Votes Through NH Democratic Convention

NH Convention 2016

Democrats line the street leading up to Bedford High School where the NH Democratic Party held their convention today.

An attempt by Bernie Sanders supporters, to change the New Hampshire Democratic Party platform regarding super delegates, failed at today’s NH Democratic Party Convention.

As the Democratic National Committee rules allow, super delegates freely choose whom they will support, regardless of whom the voters of their state voted for in the primary.

Secretary Clinton collected hundreds of super delegates before many of the primary votes were cast. Most of NH’s super delegates became outspoken surrogates Hillary throughout the primary.

After Sanders beat Clinton, 60%-38% in the NH Primary, voters began to call for the super delegates to change their position and support the candidate that the voters overwhelmingly supported.

At today’s convention, delegates were given the final copy of the party platform that included a resolution to pursue changes to super delegates in the 2020 primary. To many of the delegates this was not enough, but the convention rules, once adopted, would not allow for any amendments to the state party platform from the delegates on the floor.

Prior to the adoption of the convention rules, NH State Representative Peter Bixby offered up his own rule changes. The change was pretty basic, allow delegates to amend the resolutions, or the party platform, from the floor.

If this rule change would have passed, the New Hampshire Democratic Party could have passed a resolution similar to the one passed in Maine, which would have forced more super delegates to cast their vote for Bernie Sanders at the Democratic National Convention next month.

Both rules changes failed to get the required votes (140-293, 175-297). Unlike the convention in Nevada where a similar resolution was defeated by a voice vote, NH delegates cast their votes in a standing count.

Though Sanders supporters did not get the result they wanted, they process was done professionally. Rep. Bixby even commended Michael Rollo, the rules committee chair, for the way he handled the proposed amendment and the voting process.

After this amendment to the rules failed, the proposed resolutions and party platform were adopted by the convention body without any discussion.

The only question left is what are Sanders and his supporters going to do now?

Will Sanders go to the National Convention and endorse Hillary Clinton? Will he succeed in changing the National Party Platform to remove super delegates from future primary contests? Will those Democrats who supported Sanders in his campaign come together with Clinton supporters to ensure that Donald Trump does not become president?

Lastly, what will happen to all of the Sanders supporters who supported his strong progressive democratic policy ideas but do not call themselves Democrats? What will they do in the general election between Trump and Clinton? Will they keep pushing the Clinton campaign to take a stronger position on Wall Street reform and money in politics? Or will they end up supporting Donald Trump, the man who epitomizes everything that Sanders stood against?

The Sanders campaign scooped up nearly 40% of the overall Democratic voters in his run for the President. Without their support, Hillary Clinton will not be elected, and we will forced to endure four years of Donald Trump.

Clinton Receives Two Major Union Endorsements

Ibew logoLate last night Secretary Hillary Clinton received two major union endorsements. Clinton said she was “honored to receive the endorsement” from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the United Steelworkers. The Steelworkers endorsement came in conjunction with the Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) and the Glass Molders, Pottery, Plastics & Allied Workers International Union (GMP).

“The choice America faces this November is now clear. As a senator, Hillary Clinton has stood with us, and the labor movement more than 90 percent of time, from opposing right-to-work laws to supporting federal project labor agreements. Secretary Clinton has vowed to invest in our industrial and energy infrastructure and push for stronger enforcement of labor law, including cracking down on wage theft that is all too common in the construction industry,” said International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers President Lonnie R. Stephenson.

“As a president of the largest union in the electrical industry, I want someone in the White House who will make it easier, not harder, for working families to come together and speak up for themselves. A president who is committed to raising wages, boosting retirement security and making it easier for working parents to raise their families – and has the legislative record to back it up. And I want a president who is committed to appointing justices who will not overturn our hard-fought for rights on the job,” added Stephenson.

Steelworkers logo USW“Given her vast experience both with foreign and domestic policy, Hillary Clinton is a supremely qualified candidate, one of the most qualified candidates ever to seek the presidency,” said USW International President Leo W. Gerard. “These unique qualifications give her the vision and commitment necessary to continue to lead this country forward.”

“Secretary Clinton has promised to fight for fair, not just free trade, and has vowed to oppose the job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP),” added Gerard. “She will fight for collective bargaining rights and labor protections, as well as high standards for domestic sourcing and ‘Buy American’ laws.

“On virtually every issue, Secretary Clinton stands with working Americans and their families,” said UWUA President Mike Langford. “Specifically, she has a plan to harness public and private capital to upgrade and repair our nation’s roads, bridges, energy and water infrastructure, expand public transportation, and bring our schools and our communications networks fully into the 21st century. These critical investments will grow our economy by creating and maintaining good jobs, raising wages and rebuilding struggling communities.”

“Secretary Clinton believes in raising the minimum wage, which will not only improve the lives of millions of low-wage workers, but in fact lift the standard for all working Americans. She supports tax relief to help struggling families. She is committed to closing tax loopholes for corporations and the wealthy to make sure every American pays their fair share,” added the Steelworkers.

After receiving the endorsement, Secretary Clinton praised the work done by the hard working men and women of the USW and IBEW.

“For more than 100 years, the IBEW has kept the lights on in America’s homes and businesses and enabled Americans to communicate with each other from coast to coast. They have powered the American economy, and along the way they have helped build the American middle class.”

“Steel is crucial to our economy, our manufacturing base, and our national security. As President, I will stand with the USW in the fight to protect workers’ fundamental rights to organize, to bargain collectively, to stay safe on the job and retire with dignity. As a Senator from New York, I stood with steelworkers against efforts to undermine the competitiveness of American steel. And as President, I will throw the book at China and stop their illegal efforts to dump cheap steel in U.S. markets,” Clinton stated.

“And together, we will fight to make the kinds of investments that make America’s economy grow for workers everywhere,” continued Clinton. “We’ll make the biggest investment in infrastructure since Dwight Eisenhower built the Interstate Highway System, and make sure that we’re buying American materials to build America’s infrastructure. We’ll invest in manufacturing, because we can and we will make things in America.”

“Above all, we will make sure American workers have a seat at the table and a champion in the White House. Because when workers are strong, families are strong—and when families are strong, America is strong,” concluded Clinton.

The endorsements came just days after Clinton won the majority of the delegates in the Democratic primary. Both the Steelworkers and the IBEW praised Senator Bernie Sanders for his dedication to labor and his “contribution to the campaign.”

“I want to thank Sen. Bernie Sanders for his numerous contributions to the campaign. He raised issues of major importance to working families and stood with our members when times were tough. I look forward to working with him in the years to come in the fight for fairness for the middle class,” said Stephenson.

“Like Secretary Clinton, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has also been a lifelong supporter of working Americans, and he has run a strong, principled campaign that has raised awareness of critical issues and energized millions of Americans,” said Gerard. “He clearly sees how corporate-fed Republican economics fatten the coffers of Wall Street, while denying young people and families the opportunities they deserve.

“The USW salutes Sen. Sanders’ lifelong commitment to social and economic justice. He and his supporters must play a vital role in pushing the issues he raised and that his supporters are so passionately fighting for. They must continue to be front and center in this campaign, and we need them to continue to push Sanders’ agenda and have their voices heard on Election Day and beyond. We must work together to defeat Trump,” Gerard added.

The Steelworkers also took this opportunity blast the Republican nominee Donald Trump.

“By contrast, Secretary Clinton’s Republican opponent has seemingly worked at every turn to divide Americans along lines of race, ethnicity and gender with his racist, sexist and xenophobic statements.”

“Besides just his dangerous and un-American rhetoric, Trump has consistently proven to be on the side of the wealthy and powerful, rather than on the side of working people. Trump believes workers’ wages are too high and supports union-busting legislation. His tax plan would benefit millionaires and billionaires at the expense of the middle class. He supports efforts to repeal the ACA but has no concrete plan to replace it.”

“Nothing better exemplifies Trump’s say-one-thing-do-another approach to the plight of workers than his treatment of the 500 hotel workers at the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas who voted last December to join the Culinary Workers Union. Trump refuses to bargain with them, even after more than a dozen objections filed with the NLRB were either withdrawn or dismissed, and the union was certified as a bargaining agent.”

“On the one issue on which workers might agree with Trump, trade, he has proven himself a hypocrite. He criticizes companies for moving production overseas while his own signature line of clothing is produced in low-wage countries like China, Mexico, Honduras and Bangladesh. He just can’t be trusted,” the Steelworkers concluded.


Read the full endorsement from the USW, here.

Read the full endorsement from the IBEW, here.


 

As A Sanders Supporter, It Is Time To Come Together And Unite The Party Behind Clinton

In the beginning of 2016 I said I was leaning towards Bernie Sanders in the Democratic Primary. As New Hampshire’s First in the Nation primary grew closer, I knew that Bernie was my choice. He is a true progressive and was willing to take on the political establishment as well as the corporate establishment that continually buys our elections.

When Bernie first hinted at running, he was meeting with people here in New Hampshire. His message was broad but easy to understand: Stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership and reverse the offshoring of American jobs by our previous failed trade agreements. Institute a national healthcare system that took for-profit corporations out of the process. Invest in our future by rebuilding our infrastructure, putting millions of Americans to work. Raising the minimum wage to “15 bucks and hour.” Addressing the growing problem of income inequality. And reigning in the Wall Street gamblers who wrecked our economy and made trillions in profits from the taxpayer funded bailouts.

These were the same issues Senator Sanders has been fighting for with other progressives in the U.S. Senate. His honesty and integrity is one of the reasons people began to “Feel the Bern.”

As I said before, I did not think that Bernie would win the Democratic Primary against Secretary Clinton but it was vitally important for him to try.

As a candidate he took his progressive message all across the country, holding some of the largest campaign rallies in history. His message resonated with millions of working families and slowly the polls began to show it.

Democrats, including Secretary Hillary Clinton began to adopt Bernie’s powerful messaging. Hillary began to shift to the left on issues like the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the fight for $15. She talked about taking on Wall Street and overturning Citizens United to rid our political system of the corrupting influence of money in politics.

This is why it was so important for Bernie to run. He moved the very centrist Hillary Clinton to a place where us liberal progressives want our Democratic candidate to be.

I still support Bernie and I think he may even take the California primary but we all know that unless Bernie wins California by 30 points he will not have enough delegates to win the nomination. Yes, I know all about the Super-Delegates and they are not pledged until they vote in the convention. Let’s be honest, these surrogates for Hillary are not going to change their mind and suddenly vote for Bernie.

Before Bernie makes his final curtain call in the primary he has one more thing left to do.

He must announce his support for Hillary as the nominee and encourage all of his devoted followers to join him in supporting her.

I know there are serious differences between them and you know what, in every Presidential primary there are significant differences between the candidates. There are always wedge issues that create competition between the candidates. The important thing to remember is that when the primary is over that we open our hearts & minds and come together to ensure a Democrat wins the election.

The Republicans have already chosen their candidate; A lying con-man who has filed for bankruptcy multiple times, wants to register and ban Muslims, and evict 11 million aspiring Americans. These are just a few items from his extreme agenda.

We cannot let Donald Trump become the President of the United States. We must come together to ensure that President Trump never becomes a reality.

We need to come together now and push back against Trump. A party united that will stand strong against the Republicans. A party untied that will fight to elect more progressive Democrats all the way down the ticket.

If we stay divided, like some are suggesting, we will lose the Presidency and with Republicans in control of Congress we could lose everything we have worked so hard for over the last ten years.

The time is now for Senator Sanders to make a strong statement of support for Secretary Clinton and begin the process of bringing the party back together.

More Nader Narcissism: The Debate Over How Unions Endorse Candidates

Bernie Sanders Hillary Clinton: By BERRY CRAIG

Ralph Nader’s recent Huffington Post column reminded me of the old saying, “With friends like you, who needs enemies.”

Nader’s narcissistic presidential bid in 2000 helped put George W. Bush in the White House.

Now Nader is providing grist for the union-haters’ propaganda mill by writing that “long-entrenched, affluent big union leaders” who support Hillary Clinton for president are trying to lord it over small unions who Feel the Bern.

Sixteen years ago, Nader, now a Bernie Sanders fan, ran for president because he said there was little or no difference between Vice President Al Gore, the AFL-CIO-endorsed Democratic hopeful, and Republican candidate George W. Bush, the union-busting governor of “right to work” Texas.

In his HP column, Nader trotted a claim often heard from union-busters: that union leaders don’t represent the rank-and file.

“These large unions came out for Clinton in late 2015 and early 2016 before they sensed the growing rank and file workers’ preference for the lifetime advocate for workers and union backer, Bernie Sanders,” Nader charged.

He based a big part of his column on an AFL-CIO executive council meeting at AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington in late February.

“According to insiders, tempers flared when smaller unions challenged the Hillary-endorsing big unions such as AFSCME (public employees), the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, the Service Employees (SEIU) and the Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW),” he wrote.

Nader added, “Listening to the nurses union head speak out for Sanders’ strong pro-labor history, Lee Saunders, president of AFSCME, interrupted her, exclaiming: ‘I will not allow you to do a commercial for Sanders.’ She retorted, ‘You mean for the only candidate who has a 100% labor record?’

“A union leader of postal workers charged the unions backing Hillary as being ‘completely out of touch with their workers.’ AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka then cut off their microphones.”

Admittedly, the rules of straight news reporting—notably giving both sides of a story—don’t apply to an opinion column. But this old reporter wonders why the supposedly pro-union Nader, at least out of a basic sense of fairness, didn’t let the parties involved in the alleged dustup give their side of the story.

If he did contact any of them, he didn’t say so in his column. As it is, Nader’s presentation of hearsay as fact amounts to the kind of union-bashing common to Fox News and right-wing talk radio.

“Few union leaders allow [italics mine] a worker referendum to make the endorsement decisions,” Nader also scolded.

It’s the other way around. Members allow union officials to do what they do. Every official in a union from a shop steward to an international president is elected. So if members of a union want a referendum, they can vote one in through their elected representatives.

Since Nader cited my union, here’s how the AFT arrived at endorsing Clinton:

“The AFT sent all candidates (both Democratic and Republican) a candidate questionnaire and invited those who completed the questionnaire to speak before the AFT’s executive council. No Republican candidate completed a candidate questionnaire.

“The AFT executive council, comprised of elected [italics mine] vice presidents and the AFT officers, met with and interviewed Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders and analyzed their position on the key issues.

“Most important, the AFT asked its members directly about the issues that matter to them and their opinions of the candidates through two polls, including a survey that reached out to more than 1 million AFT households; the ‘You Decide 2016’ online forum; emailing e-activists to get member responses on the issues of importance to them; conducting multiple telephone town hall meetings; and having rank-and-file members ask questions directly of the presidential candidates during the June [2015] executive council meeting.

“Additionally, the AFT commissioned a scientific survey of members by Hart Research Associates. The results of the survey provide a clear picture of where AFT members stand.

“First, by an approximately 3-to-1 margin, AFT members prefer that a Democratic candidate win the presidential election over a Republican.

“79 percent of Democratic voters support the AFT making a recommendation in the primary.

“Among those voters, Hillary Clinton is preferred by members by a margin of more than 3-to-1 over her nearest Democratic competitor.

“Furthermore, Hillary Clinton holds a better than 11-to-1 advantage as the ‘Democrat with the best chance to defeat the Republican candidate.’”

I prefer Sanders to Clinton, as do more than a few of my AFT brothers and sisters. But majority rules.

Sanders has made it clear he’ll back Clinton if wins the nomination. (So will I.)

“We cannot afford an America to have Donald Trump or Cruz or any of them be our next president,” Tad Devine, a senior Sanders campaign advisor, recently told MSBC’s Andrea Mitchell.

He explained of his candidate, “The reason he ran as a Democrat was he understood being outside this process could be like what Ralph Nader did in 2000, elect a Republican president, and he’s not going to be a part of that.”

Hillary Clinton’s Connections To Wall Street Show Her True Agenda On Free Trade

hillary clinton (WisPolitics.com FLIKR)Hillary Clinton is acting in a desperate and short sighted manner by constantly attacking Bernie Sanders.  She seems completely unaware of the current political atmosphere. She clings to endorsements by the elite while turning a deaf ear to ordinary Americans. The times for endorsements by the political establishment having any meaning are long gone.

The NH political elite lined up en masse behind Hillary and she lost NH by 22.4%.  I think that tells the story. The Clinton’s Wall Street connections and being proponents of disastrous trade deals are issues they don’t want to expound on. Instead they try to change the subject and criticize Bernie.

A vibrant Democratic Party must include the younger voters currently joining the party because of Senator Sanders. By her relentless attacks on Sanders she risks having these voters sitting out or opposing her if she wins the Democratic nomination.

The leader of the corporate democrats is President Bill Clinton and he also has no problem attacking Bernie Sanders.  “When you’re making a revolution you can’t be too careful with the facts,” Bill  Clinton said, deriding Bernie Sanders’s oft-mentioned call for a political revolution. Well the fact is Mr. Clinton’s most lasting legacy is pushing through NAFTA with Hillary’s support.

“I think NAFTA itself will be remembered for as long as this generation draws a warm breath,” Richard Trumka said in an interview. “When I talk to people about it, they don’t remember that it was a Republican majority that passed NAFTA. They remember that it was President Clinton.”

Lopsided trade deals that both entrenched the political elite and screwed over working people is the pivotal political issue that has defined these times. The Clinton’s have firmly lined up with the corporate America. While Bernie has steadfastly been opposed these disastrous deals.

In 2003 Hillary Clinton wrote in her memoir “Creating a free trade zone in North America — the largest free trade zone in the world — would expand U.S. exports, create jobs and ensure that our economy was reaping the benefits, not the burdens, of globalization. Although unpopular with labor unions, expanding trade opportunities was an important administration goal.”

So why would NAFTA be an administration goal?  Then in 2004 she added “I think on balance NAFTA has been good for New York and America” Do we need any more proof that the Clinton’s are completely out of touch with ordinary Americans?

Fast forward 10 years and now Hillary is selling us all the virtues of the TPP (before she recently changed her position) a trade deal that will most certainly continue the race to the bottom for American workers.

This quote is from a November 15, 2012 speech promoting and selling the TPP. “So it’s fair to say that our economies are entwined, and we need to keep upping our game both bilaterally and with partners across the region through agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP.  Australia is a critical partner. This TPP sets the gold standard in trade agreements to open free, transparent, fair trade, the kind of environment that has the rule of law and a level playing field. When negotiated, this agreement will cover 40 percent of the world’s total trade and build in strong protections for workers and the environment”…..

A few weeks ago Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donahue noted that if elected Hillary Clinton will again support the TPP. Reporting on that interview Inside US Trade concluded: “The Chamber president said he expected Hillary Clinton would ultimately support the TPP if she becomes the Democratic nominee for president and is elected.” He argued that she has publicly opposed the deal chiefly because her main challenger, Sen. Bernie Sanders, has also done so. “If she were to get nominated, if she were to be elected, I have a hunch that what runs in the family is you get a little practical if you ever get the job,” he said.

We all know who benefits from these trade deals and Hillary will not release the transcripts of her highly paid Wall Street speeches. This is more money than almost all of us will make in a lifetime but she has no problem dismissing these talks as not an important issue.

“It was pretty glowing about us,” one attendee told Politico. “It’s so far from what she sounds like as a candidate now. It was like a rah-rah speech. She sounded more like a Goldman Sachs managing director.”

Nobody will dispute that Bernie Sanders was an outspoken opponent of NAFTA and has been quite vocal in speaking out against the TPP. Basically the fact is Bernie represents the interests of ordinary Americans while Hillary constantly reminds us she is a proud member of the Democratic Party elite.

Hillary has not yet realized the walls are starting to crumble and she will surely need an energized Democratic party if she is to defeat any Republican opponent in November. That is IF she can withstand the rebellion in her own party. The authentic energy that is thriving in the Democratic Party belongs to Bernie Sanders and she would be wise not to alienate them.

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