‘DREAMers’ coming out of the shadows

Chris Hayes continues the conversation on immigration as panelist Lorella Praeli talks about life as an undocumented student who recently graduated from college in the US, and how Sen. Marco Rubio's proposed legislation could affect her life.

Student debt passes $1 trillion mark

Up host Chris Hayes summarizes the news of the week, including reports that surfaced showing that student debt passed the $1 trillion mark and is growing at double the rate of the with mortgage debt during the height of crisis. 

Sarah Palin Claims Child Labor Laws Are Causing America To Fail


Sarah Palin Claims Child Labor Laws Are Causing America To FailBefore the establishment of child labor laws in America, children were exploited by industries. Industries took advantage of them by having them do jobs that were dangerous while paying them very little. A corporation could easily pay a child less to do the job of a higher paid adult. During the Great Depression, Democrats enacted child labor laws so that businesses would have no choice to hire unemployed adults and pay them fair wages. This helped lower the unemployment rate and gave children the opportunity to be kids and go to school to prepare for future employment as adults. But child labor laws are under attack today by conservatives who want to hand big business a cheap labor force, destroy the minimum wage, eliminate labor unions, and weaken public education.
Newt Gingrich suggested eliminating child labor laws during his failed run to capture the Republican nomination for the Presidency. Now, his biggest supporter, Sarah Palin, is claiming that child labor laws are making America fail.
In a Facebook post titled “If I Wanted America to Fail, I’d Ban Kids From Farm Work,” Palin wrote,
“The Obama Administration is working on regulations that would prevent children from working on our own family farms. This is more overreach of the federal government with many negative consequences. And if you think the government’s new regs will stop at family farms, think again.”
Her post is in response to US Department of Labor’s plan to update the Fair Labor Standards Act to include the farming industry. For the first time, children would be protected on non-family owned farms. Working with pesticides, lumber mills, animals, manure pits, storage bins, and many other jobs that children are often employed to perform would be regulated. But Sarah Palin doesn’t think America needs to protect kids. She thinks child labor laws make America fail. The problem with Palin’s position is that it’s dangerous and threatens the lives of our kids. Industry has taken advantage of child workers before.
According to Eastern Illinois University, before child labor laws, children, some as young as three years old, “endured some of the harshest conditions. Workdays would often be 10 to 14 hours with minimal breaks during the shift. Factories employing children were often very dangerous places leading to injuries and even deaths. Machinery often ran so quickly that little fingers, arms and legs could easily get caught. Beyond the equipment, the environment was a threat to children as well as factories put out fumes and toxins. When inhaled by children these most certainly could result in illness, chronic conditions or disease. Beyond the topic of safety, children working lengthy hours had limited access to education. Many families relied on income earned by each family member and did not allow children to attend school at all. Those fortunate enough to be enrolled often attended only portions of a school day or only a few weeks at a time.”
Even children working on farms faced dangerous conditions, much like they do today. “Children working in rural areas were not faring much better. Harvesting crops in extreme temperatures for long hours was considered normal for these children. Work in agriculture was typically less regulated than factory duties. Farm work was often not considered dangerous or extraneous for children, even though they carried their weight and more in loads of produce and handled dangerous tools.”
Sarah Palin is accusing the government of wanting to regulate child labor on family farms but that’s not the case. The newregulations would be specifically for non-family owned farms and lumber mills. But her claim that child labor laws harm America is flat wrong. Child labor laws protect children from being exploited by profit driven businesses. If child labor laws didn’t exist, industry could undermine the minimum wage by paying children less than regular workers. Industry could also strangle labor unions. Children would have less time for school which means future generations of Americans will be significantly less prepared to compete for jobs in the global economy. Poor children would be especially at risk for exploitation. It would make us no better than the third world nations that make American products with child slave labor. This is the future Sarah Palin wants for America. And her agenda would definitely guarantee the failure of this country.

ALEC's Race to the Bottom in Wages for American Workers

Focus on jobs, you say? The Center for Media and Democracy's archive of over 800 ALEC "model bills" has exposed a jobs agenda that is nothing less than a ruthless race to the bottom in wages and working conditions.

ALEC's Race to the Bottom in Wages for American Workers

The "Living Wage Mandate Preemption Act" would repeal and then ban local "living wage" ordinances like the ones in some 140 cities that provide a higher minimum for city workers/contractors -- enough to maintain a safe, decent standard of living in a community. Similarly, the ALEC "Starting (Minimum) Wage Repeal Act" would preempt the ability of localities to pay a minimum wage higher than the federal level. Some 22 states allow starting wages, but ALEC objects to the policy as an "unfunded mandate."
The ALEC "Prevailing Wage Repeal Act" would get rid of all state prevailing wage laws that give workers engaged in public works contracts a regional, average salary in an attempt to prevent contractors from entering into a race to the bottom in worker wages to win contract bids.
Not satisfied by pulling down workers' wages in every imaginable domestic scenario, ALEC also supports a radical free trade agenda that pits U.S. workers against foreign workers making a fraction of their wage and facilitates the off-shoring of U.S. jobs. From China Free Trade in 2000 to Korea Free Trade today, ALEC has supported shipping jobs overseas.
Where is the bottom in ALEC's race to the bottom? Why, prison labor of course. ALEC promotes theprivatization of prisons and prison industries that do not have to abide by minimum wage rules.
Perhaps in an oversight, the ALEC archive does not contain bills rolling back child labor laws.

Benefits and Working Conditions

There's more. ALEC wants to deter injured employees from making worker's compensation claims by, for example, giving employers wider access to workers' medical records. ALEC wants to privatize public pension plans by transferring the management of pension funds to for-profit Wall Street firms. What could go wrong?
And where to begin on the health care agenda? When Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed a law preempting a modest ordinance granting Milwaukee's restaurant workers a few paid sick days a year, a largely female work force earning poverty wages, ALEC eagerly took up the issue in its "Labor and Business Regulation Subcommittee" at the ALEC 2011 meeting in New Orleans. The committee has been co-chaired by YUM! Brands, owners of KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and other fast food chains.
Yum, who wants flu with their burger or taco? Today, YUM Brands was the 12th company to announce that it was pulling out of ALEC.

Crushing Unions

ALEC has a sweeping anti-union agenda that would cripple labor's ability to serve as an effective counterweight to corporate CEOs. Let's start with decades of support for "Right to Work" and "Paycheck Protection" legislation, and other measures to disempower and defund unions.
On collective bargaining, ALEC's "Public Employee Freedom Act" declares that "an employee should be able to contract on their own terms" and "mandatory collective bargaining laws violate this freedom." This ALEC bill and the "Public Employer Payroll Deduction Policy Act" prohibit automatic payroll deductions for union dues, a key aspect of Walker's collective bargaining bill struck down by a federal court judge.
These bills are designed to financially cripple the most significant organized voice for working families. Theco-chair of ALEC's "Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force" currently is State Farm Insurance. Other committee members include Macquarie Capital and Cintra USA. These foreign firms have rushed to purchase bridges, toll roads, and other public assets of financially stressed state and local governments so they can provide formerly public services on a for-profit basis. They have a lot to gain fromALEC's expansive agenda to privatize public services.
Apparently, ALEC and the corporations funding ALEC's operations like State Farm, Johnson and Johnson, and AT&T would like to turn back the clock to those good old days when there were no unions and no minimum wage. They must not be allowed to succeed.

Koch Brothers Exposed

Coming Soon..........

ALEC asks right wing bloggers for help

Shortly after issuing a press release announcing that it was disbanding its "Public Safety and Elections Task Force" after 30 years, the American Legislative Exchange Council(ALEC) held a training for the right-wing blogosphere.
ALEC Director of External Relations Caitlyn Korb spoke yesterday at a Heritage Foundation "Bloggers Briefing," begging conservative bloggers for help while prepping "a very aggressive campaign to really spread the word about what we actually do." Korb appears to be a new ALEC employee who recently worked for the Cato Institute. Both ALEC and Cato have received fundingfrom Koch family foundations. The Heritage Foundation is an ALEC member.
The "Bloggers Briefing," which was started by Heritage'sRob Bluey and "a dozen conservative online entrepreneurs" six years ago, was broadcast online on "Breitbart TV," a project of the late Andrew BreitbartBreitbart's team of bloggers and apparatchiks most recently gained notoriety for getting U.S. Department of Agriculture official Shirley Sherrod fired. Breitbart released a clip of a speech given by Sherrod deliberately edited to create the false impression that she was prejudiced against white farmers. Her actual speech was a personal tale rejecting prejudice. Sherrod was later offered resinstatement by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, with apologies.

"We Haven't Been the Subject of Many Headlines"

The blogger briefing was in response to an effective campaign by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) and allies to convince ALEC corporate funders to drop the organization due to its extreme agenda, an agenda made apparent when CMD published over 800 ALEC cookie cutter "model" bills in the summer of 2011.
Panic in the ALEC camp was evidenced in recent days by a series of increasingly defensive press releases, which included whoppers like ALEC supports "transparent, accountable government." (The ALEC origin of bills moving in state legislatures is rarely disclosed.)
Korb briefed the friendly audience by handing out a new ALEC "Frequently Asked Questions" giving bloggers the ALEC party line. She noted that they might not have heard of ALEC because "we haven't been the subject of many headlines in the last 35 years."
It is not surprising that ALEC has not gotten much ink. ALEC operates behind closed doors and keeps many members of the press and the public from attending its meetings.
ALEC's new FAQ is riddled with errors, including:
  • "The potential solutions discussed at ALEC focus on free markets, limited government and constitutional division of powers between the federal and state governments." It is hard to discern what voter suppression bills, tax breaks for big tobacco, bans on unionization, protections for companies whose products injure or kill, and "Stand Your Ground/Kill at Will" laws have to do with free markets.
  • "The organization respects diversity of thought; it is a non-partisan resource for its members, which include more than 2,000 Republican and Democratic state legislators." Diversity of thought apparently refers to Republicans talking to Republicans. Although touted as "nonpartisan," when CMD launched ALEC Exposed, out of 104 legislators in leadership positions in ALEC, only one was a Democrat. It's hard to believe that ALEC phone briefs on redistricting are totally nonpartisan.
  • "Unlike in many private sector groups that offer model legislation, elected state legislators fully control ALEC's model legislation process." As ALEC's public "Task Force Operating Procedures" (PDF, p. 8) and other documents reveal, corporate members vote alongside legislators in ALEC task forces.
  • "Each state legislator and their constituents then decide which solutions are best for them and their states." For the most part, constituents have no way of knowing that corporations wrote or approved ALEC legislation behind closed doors.

ALEC's PR Counter-Offensive

SOS in SandKorb outlined ALEC's PR counter-offensive. She told bloggers that ALEC will launch a website called "I Stand with ALEC" in the next few days. The phrase is familiar to Wisconsinites, as it tracks the Americans for Prosperity (AFP) campaign on behalf of the embattled governor, whose slogan is "Stand with Walker." AFP is also an ALEC member.
Korb referenced the coalition-building and outreach being spearheaded by Americans for Tax Reform (ATR, another ALEC member) and asked the bloggers for "any and all institutional support."
Korb pleaded for help on social media: "We're getting absolutely killed in social media venues -- Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest (I didn't even know Pinterest was a forum for a lot of political opposition, but now it is) -- so any and all new media support you guys can provide would be so helpful, not just to us but to average people who don't know much about this fight but are seeing us get really heavily attacked with very little opposition."
The use of such Twitter hashtags as #ALECexposed and, more recently, #dumpALEC, has multiplied exponentially in the last few weeks.
ALEC has a Facebook page where it posts its news releases and what little favorable press it receives. There is also a new Pinterest board called "Anti-ALEC Comments" that documents many of the negative comments ALEC staffers delete from its Facebook page. The Facebook pages of corporate members are being swarmed with comments about ALEC.

Corporate Funders on the Run

ALEC is playing defense due to the fact that, almost every day, another ALEC member corporation and funder decides to quit. With Blue Cross Blue Shield's announcement yesterday that it was pulling out of ALEC, the number of companies that have decided to cut ties with ALEC grows to 11. The list also includes Mars Inc., Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Kraft Foods, Intuit, McDonald's, Wendy's, American Traffic Solutions, Reed Elsevier and Arizona Public Service. CMD and other groups are now urging State Farm, Johnson & Johnson and AT&T to reconsider their membership with ALEC.

The "SOS" image above is courtesy of Shutterstock Images.

Obama To Congress, Stop the Oil Speculators, Now!

President Obama,  challenged Congress Tuesday to pass legislation to ensure speculators aren’t manipulating energy markets.
“We can't afford a situation where speculators artificially manipulate markets by buying up oil, creating the perception of a shortage, and driving prices higher, only to flip the oil for a quick profit,” Obama said during a Rose Garden speech Tuesday.
“We can't afford a situation where some speculators can reap millions, while millions of American families get the short end of the stick.”
Republicans who have battered the president over gas prices said Obama already had the tools to prevent manipulation and was merely playing politics with his plan.
Read the story here.

ALEC announced the elimination of its Public Safety and Elections Task Force

 ALEC announced the elimination of its Public Safety and Elections Task Force, which it had used to advance unneeded voter identification laws, "Stand Your Ground" gun laws and other noxious legislation. The move followed the departure of 10 major corporations from ALEC's orbit last week. One of our targets, Pfizer, literally shut down their public phone line amid a flood of calls from supporters like you. 
This is a huge victory for citizen action. But more than 100 companies still are funding ALEC's extremist agenda. We can’t afford to sit back, simply hoping they follow suit.   

Anger over initial failure of Florida police and prosecutors to address Martin’s shooting led to an intense focus on the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law, and on the role of ALEC and the National Rifle Association in passing similar laws in states across the country.
That expanded interest in ALEC, a conservative “bill mill” that has been under scrutiny since the Center for Media and Democracy and The Nation launched the “ALEC Exposed” project last summer.
Pressure by CMD, civil rights groups such as the NAACP, the Urban League and ColorOfChange and good government organizations such as Common Cause and People for the American Way—which have expressed concern with ALEC’s meddling in public safety and democracy debates at the state level—has in recent weeks led to decisions by Coca-Cola, Pepsi, McDonald’s and other corporations to drop their affiliations with ALEC.
In many cases, the corporations that have quit ALEC have suggested that—while they were comfortable working with the right-wing group in order to advocate on behalf of tax and regulatory policies that are favorable to their business interests—they are ill at ease being drawn into debates about issues such as voting rights and gun control.

That's why we've identified more than a dozen of the most influential ALEC corporations to target with widespread public pressure. It's time to turn this snowballing ALEC exodus into an avalanche.

Over the past 10 years, ALEC has poured nearly $400 million into state elections. The results are appalling -- Florida-style "Stand Your Ground" laws … voter suppression laws … anti-worker legislation … attacks on teachers' jobs ... the list doesn't stop.

But neither will we -- not until ALEC stops its assault on the public interest.

Stopping the biggest and richest companies in the world from twisting our state legislatures into corporate puppets will require an aggressive, sustained grassroots effort -- and your help.

Common Cause supporters like you enabled us to lead the charge in exposing and spotlighting ALEC. We've published studies, tracked model bills from state to state, and urged the IRS to investigate ALEC's tax exemption. Will you help us keep up that pressure?

Make a gift today and help fuel the fight to end ALEC's influence in our laws and lives.The past few weeks have proven the enormous citizen power we wield when we join together, stand up and speak out. Let's keep it up and reclaim our democracy once and for all!

Thanks for all you do,    

Bob Edgar  
and the rest of the team at Common Cause  

Video: If Romney really respected mothers...

Connie Schultz, Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist for "Creators Syndicate," talks with Chris Hayes about the "work" wordplay the Romney campaign is employing for cheap political points, and the real policies Mitt Romney would support if he really respected working mothers. (The Rachel Maddow Show

Democrats Gaining in Battleground

 The latest House battleground survey by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner for  Democracy Corps and Women's Voices. Women Vote Action Fund confirms that  Democrats are gaining in the most competitive districts, driven primarily by a surge among unmarried women. Republicans have not increased their vote share since last fall and the newest Ryan budget and latest battle in the war on women are unlikely to improve their fortunes.

The first Democracy Corps Congressional battleground survey of 2012-which included the 56 most competitive Republican districts and 23 most competitive Democratic seats-comes at an important time and could be the first indicator in what is already turning out to be a hotly contested election year.

Stanley Greenberg, co-founder, along with James Carville, of Democracy Corps and CEO of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and Page Gardner, Founder and President of the Voter Participation Center and Women's Voices. Women Vote Action Fund will discuss the results of the new Battleground survey this Wednesday.

Greenberg and Gardner will be available for questions after the presentation.

Wednesday, April 18 at 10am Eastern
Due to anticipated high call volume, please call in 10-15 minutes before the start time to ensure you are placed on the call promptly

Go to https://gqrr.webex.com/gqrr/j.php?ED=153677747&UID=1107450212&PW=NZmNkYjRjMDcx&RT=MiMxMQ%3D%3D
Enter your name and email address.
Enter the meeting password: gqrr.
Follow the instructions that appear on your screen

For more information, please contact Matthew Groch, Greenberg Quinlan Rosner at mgroch@gqrr.com / 202 478 8300.

# # #
About Greenberg Quinlan Rosner
Greenberg Quinlan Rosner is the world's premium research and strategic consulting firm, working with corporations, issue groups, and political campaigns throughout the United States and around the world. Find out more about us, along with the latest research and commentary from our principals and analysts, atwww.greenbergresearch.com.

About Democracy Corps
Democracy Corps is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to making the government of the United States more responsive to the American people. It was founded in 1999 by James Carville and Stanley Greenberg. Democracy Corps provides free public opinion research and strategic advice to those dedicated to a more responsive Congress and Presidency.www.democracycorps.com

About Women's Voices. Women Vote Action Fund
Women's Voices. Women Vote Action Fund (WVWVAF) is committed to increasing the number of unmarried women, people of color and young people in the Rising American Electorate who speak out, turnout, and participate in our democracy and government.www.wvwvaf.org

Mitt Romney Tax and Spending Cuts Revealed to Rich Only

President Obama  wants Mitt Romney to come clean on everything from his tax returns to his plans for the U.S. economy.
They say - or at least want to create the impression - that Romney is hiding something, and Team Obama got a big gift last night when a few intrepid reporters overheard Romney's remarks to a well-heeled crowd of south Floridians at a private fundraiser in Palm Beach.
There, as the Wall Street Journal's Sara Murray reports, the presumptive Republican nominee, "offered the first details of deductions he would eliminate or limit in order to offset the income tax cut he has proposed for all taxpayers." http://on.wsj.com/JmBs8B
Those details included cutting the budget of the Department of Education and the Department of Housing and Urban Development as well as eliminating or lowering tax deductions for Americans who own second homes.
A spokesman for the Obama re-election effort, Ben LaBolt, sent news clips of the fundraiser around with the message:  "Apparently Gov. Romney believes only high dollar donors have a right to know what programs he will cut."
And, as many Americans spent the weekend putting the finishing touches on their tax returns, two Democratic-allied super PACS, American Bridge 21st Century, and Priorities USA Action, have jointly released a new website: http://releaseyourreturns.com/
The site, with a headline that reads, "What's Mitt Hiding?" invites users to sign a petition demanding that Romney release his returns. Last week his campaign announced the Romneys had filed an extension on their taxes, allowing them to file anytime over the next six months.
So far, the Romney campaign's response has been to announce a conference call on what they are calling "President Obama's tax and spend culture" with former senator Jim Talent, a senior economic adviser to Romney.

UP w/ Chris Hayes April 8, 2012

Up host Chris Hayes and his panelists wrap up the news stories viewers should know for the upcoming week, including statistics showing that the number of registered Latino voters dropped since 2008, and the influence those potential voters could have for President Obama's re-election campaign. 

Fox News Viewers On Global Warming

Global Warming
At least two studies have documented that Fox News viewers are more misinformed about this subject.
In a late 2010 survey, Stanford University political scientist Jon Krosnick and visiting scholar Bo MacInnis found that “more exposure to Fox News was associated with more rejection of many mainstream scientists’ claims about global warming, with less trust in scientists, and with more belief that ameliorating global warming would hurt the U.S. economy.” Frequent Fox viewers were less likely to say the Earth’s temperature has been rising and less likely to attribute this temperature increase to human activities. In fact, there was a 25 percentage point gap between the most frequent Fox News watchers (60%) and those who watch no Fox News (85%) in whether they think global warming is “caused mostly by things people do or about equally by things people do and natural causes.”
In a much more comprehensive study released in late 2011 , American University communications scholar Lauren Feldman and her colleagues reported on their analysis of a 2008 national survey, which found that “Fox News viewing manifests a significant, negative association with global warming acceptance.” Viewers of the station were less likely to agree that “most scientists think global warming is happening” and less likely to think global warming is mostly caused by human activities, among other measures.

UP w/ Chris Hayes April 7, 2012

President Obama's media criticism and Mitt Romney's reaction to his statements. Plus, we discussed civil disobedience with climate change activist Tim DeChristopher's attorney Patrick Shea, Chris's Story of the Week, and the Occupy movement's 99% Spring Training. And we took a closer look at food politics and the controversy over lean finely textured beef, aka "pink slime", with New York Times food writer Mark Bittman.
Joining Chris on the panel were:
Van Jones (@vanjones68), author of Rebuild the Dream and former green-jobs advisor for the Obama administration.
Joan Walsh (@joanwalsh), MSNBC Political Analyst and Salon Editor-at-Large.
Ann Friedman (@annfriedman), executive editor of GOOD magazine.
Josh Barro (@jbarro), Forbes.com contributor.
-Brett Brownell (@brettbrownell) is video and web producer for Up w/ Chris Hayes.