This week, a 3 week-long protest against economic injustice and inequality in the Financial District in New York City gathered momentum as approximately 20,000 people joined a march in solidarity and similar protests against the excesses of Wall Street spread to almost every other state, fueled by a rising sense of urgency on the economy. The “Occupy Wall Street” protest in New York was bolstered by a huge rally on Wednesday organized by labor unions and community groups loudly proclaiming their support for the core group of protesters who have been occupying a plaza a few blocks away from the New York Stock Exchange. As progressive leaders and many elected officials — including state legislators — begin to lend their support to the still-fledgling protest, many are repeating one core message emerging out of the diffuse and leaderless movement: underscoring the increasingly deep economic divide in this country separating the super-wealthy from the 99% of Americans who have borne nearly the entire brunt of the Great Recession and its aftermath.
The conservative wing of the U.S. Supreme Court has again preempted state laws designed to protect American consumers. In yet another ruling that favors large corporations at the expense of working-class families, the Supreme Court held last week that state laws cannot override “unfair” arbitration provisions. The decision, AT&T v. Concepcion, will have devastating implications for millions of consumers because it unilaterally favors clauses imposed by corporations where consumers do not have a say. Described as the “biggest ever” ruling on class action suits, is another blow to people who want to collectively address a problem, and to states who want to find a fruitful way of addressing issues that are potentially unfair to the average consumer.
A trend is slowly but surely creeping throughout the country: eliminating oversight over phone services. Under the guise of reforming or modernizing regulations, telecommunications companies’ efforts may mean an end to the only access that many have to the outside world. Specifically, some telecommunications providers are seeking to preclude their states’ public utility commissions (PUCs) from exercising their authority to ensure that basic services reach all Americans.
This November, Californians will vote on Prop. 23, an effort funded by polluters to repeal California’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 – Assembly Bill 32 - a landmark bipartisan achievement that is already creating jobs and reducing pollution in the state. If passed, the initiative would damage California’s clean-energy economy and lower unemployment levels by crippling the emerging clean energy industries.
In a blow to states’ leadership over clean energy, the U.S. Department of Justice has filed a brief before the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that states cannot sue power plant operators that generate pollution. The Justice Department alleges that: (1) the Environmental Protection Agency has already started to regulate greenhouse emissions; and (2) states lack standing to assert a federal nuisance claim.
Intuit, a private firm that manufactures TurboTax, has pushed California lawmakers to eliminate the popular, successful, and cost-effective public tax filing services, ReadyReturn and CalFile. These two programs offer millions of low- and middle-income Californians a free and reliable method to calculate and file taxes.
State governments are finally taking action to address the catastrophic damage caused by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The Office of the Attorney General of Alabama has filed before a U.S. District Court a complaint against British Petroleum for what it described as the largest marine oil disaster in the history of the United States.