Uncovered: Corporate Lobbying Funded by Your Tax Dollars

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Brendan Fischer of the Center for Media and Democracy tells us about CMD and Common Cause’s latest submission to the IRS showing that the American Legislative Exchange Council functions as a corporate lobbying group, in violation of the tax code for 501(c)3 charities. I talk to Common Cause legal associate Yael Bromberg about the tax man’s response…

The Undercurrent: Uncovered is a video collaboration with the Center for Media Democracy. Subscribe to the The Undercurrent on YouTube for more independent investigative reporting…


Donald Trump Will End Outsourcing If President

Trump ThumbAt the South Carolina Freedom Summit, Donald Trump said that he would impose a hefty 35% tariff on American multinational corporations like Ford Motor Company, in order to stop outsourcing to China and elsewhere. According to the Economic Policy Institute, between 2001 and 2013 the U.S. trade deficit with China cost 3.2 million jobs, with the majority of the losses coming from the manufacturing sector.

Flirting with a 2016 presidential bid, Trump is striking a populist chord with his stance on trade, and it’s a departure from that of the Republican establishment and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Both have been working with the Obama administration to push through a massive trade deal with Asia, the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Trump’s stance is surprising, not only because of his background in business, but because it would reverse 30+ years of U.S. trade policy. Instituting such a policy reversal would be a Herculean if not impossible task, requiring the eradication of the neoliberal economic orthodoxy ingrained in the DNA of Washington.

Touching on the TPP, Trump said:

China is ripping us off and abusing us because we have leaders that don’t know what they’re doing, and the new trade pact is a disaster because they don’t talk about currency manipulation.

In a further break from the GOP, Trump decried the outsize influence of money in politics. With a personal fortune estimated at $4.1 billion, he said that he would “do the right thing” because he doesn’t need money from lobbyists or donors.

Watch the exchange in the video below, and subscribe to The Undercurrent on YouTube for more independent, on-the-ground political reporting…

GOP Hopeful on Budget: Cut Porno-Watching Gov’t Employees

I asked GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina what specific agencies and/or programs she would cut in order to streamline the federal government, at the South Carolina Freedom Summit. Rather than name specific agencies or programs, the former Hewlett Packard CEO named the following actions she would take:

1.  institute Zero Base Budgeting,

2.  “get after the hundreds upon hundreds of billions of dollars of fraud, waste, and abuse that has been documented year after year after year, and which no one has ever done anything about,” (One would think with all the documentation Fiorina would be able to cite specific examples.)

3.  and move to a pay-for-performance system for public employees. (This is where the porno-watching comes in.)

Watch the clip below for my exchange with Fiorina, and subscribe to The Undercurrent on YouTube for more independent, on-the-ground political reporting…

GOP Presidential Hopeful: Bruce Jenner Welcome to Campaign with Me

Carson JennerIn a recent and widely seen interview with Diane Sawyer about his transition to womanhood, Bruce Jenner surprised many people with the admission that he is also a Republican. At the South Carolina Freedom Summit, 2016 GOP hopeful Ben Carson was asked if he would campaign with Jenner if he expressed support for Carson’s presidential bid. The former pediatric neurosurgeon replied that all Americans are welcome.

The Republican Party has not been particularly accepting of the LGBT community – Carson himself opposes gay marriage, for example — so his answer raises some questions.

From the look on his face, perhaps Carson did not realize who Bruce Jenner is? If that’s the case, how does Carson not know? Beyond his fame as the Kardashian patriarch and the white-hot media speculation over his gender transition, Jenner is an American Olympic hero, having won the gold medal for the decathlon in the 1976 Montreal games… Has Carson been living under a rock?

On the other hand, if Carson does know who Jenner is, then welcoming him is an opportunity to differentiate himself from the crowded 2016 field as a social conservative who is also open-minded. Will other GOP hopefuls like Ted Cruz, Scott Walker, and Jeb Bush follow Carson’s lead?

Republicans like to talk about being a “big-tent” party. Jenner is their chance to prove it.

(Jenner prefers masculine pronouns and to be called by Bruce.)

Watch the video below to see Carson’s response:

Scott Walker Lied, GOP Prosecutor Says

Walker Witch Hunt

Introducing Naked News, a segment collaboration between Lauren Windsor of The Undercurrent and Brendan Fischer of the Center for Media and Democracy

Brendan reports on the pushback from the GOP prosecutor investigating Scott Walker, who recently said that the John Doe probe is a partisan witch hunt. At the South Carolina Freedom Summit, Lauren followed up, asking Walker how he could call the investigation a partisan witch hunt when it’s being led by a Republican prosecutor who voted for him.

Watch the report and subsequent exchange with Walker below…

GOP Rep Says Christians Are Persecuted in the US, Can’t Give Examples

At the South Carolina Freedom Summit, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN 7) advocated State Department intervention when asked what role the United States should play in protecting Christians around the world:

One of the things that we should be doing here is being very strong in our stance with religious freedom in our country… Our allies around the globe want to see us stay strong on our rights and not erode those rights… With the human rights violations and religious persecutions around the globe, we need a State Department that is going to step in and say, “This is not acceptable.”

Blackburn thought that Christians are being persecuted in the U.S., but could not give any examples when asked by this reporter. Watch her remarks below:

GOP Crowd Applauds Calling Immigrants Rats and Roaches

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During a focus group led by GOP pollster Frank Luntz at the South Carolina Freedom Summit, the mother-in-law of Citizens United president David Bossie compared immigrants to rats and roaches, to the delight of the audience. Bossie is the organizer of the summit, one in a series of cattle calls for GOP presidential hopefuls.

Asked by Luntz to give advice to the these candidates, she said:

One man, one vote. People are comin’ in this country across the borders like rats and roaches in the wood pile. We’ve got a state like Minnesota that says it’s not our business to check ’em out, we just register ’em. We’ve got to get control. That’s what they need to know.

Her comments drew laughter, whistling, and applause. Afterwards, Luntz asked the audience if they would vote for Bossie’s mother-in-law for president, which drew louder cheers and applause.

These sentiments were not outliers. No stranger to making controversial anti-immigration remarks himself, Congressman Steve King told the crowd that he would make a concession on the issue:  “every time we let an immigrant in, we’ll deport a Leftist.” King was also a co-host at the Iowa event of this series.

Immigration has become a thorny issue for the Republican Party ahead of a 2016 race that could hinge on the Latino vote. For that reason, many regard Marco Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants, as the GOP’s best chance to win the presidency. Rubio also spoke at the South Carolina Freedom Summit, but he did not address the issue… Wonder why?

Watch video of the rats and roaches remarks here:


Progressive Leaders: It’s Time to Put Families First in Job Policy

On April 29, Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Keith Ellison (D-MN 5), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) joined the Center for Community Change in its launch of the “Putting Families First: Good Jobs for All” program. Highlights from the conference include the above legislators, CCC’s executive director Deepak Bhargava, Dem pollster Celinda Lake, and activist Reina Acosta.

Washington, DC: April 29, 2015