Justin Miller

 Justin Miller is a writing fellow for The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

Kentucky’s Attack on Unions Provides a Glimpse into the GOP’s Impending War on Workers

Governor Matt Bevin’s anti-union crusade, coming soon to a jurisdiction near you.  

(Photo: AP/Timothy D. Easley) Union members look over the balcony as protesters fill the Kentucky Capitol rotunda to protest right-to-work legislation, Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017, in Frankfort, Ky. W hile Donald Trump supporters celebrated their candidate’s massive upset on Election Day, Kentucky Republicans were joyous for an additional reason: They had just seized control of what had been the last majority Democratic legislative chamber in the South. For 95 years—all the way back to 1921, when Warren G. Harding was president—Kentucky Democrats had maintained control of the state House of Representatives. When Tea Party darling Matt Bevin, who ran as the “right-to-work” candidate, rode the national GOP wave and succeeded Democratic Governor Steve Beshear in 2014, the Kentucky House became the sole bulwark blocking the implementation of his anti-union agenda. Naturally, heading into the 2016 elections, the right wing turned all its firepower against the Democrats’ six-seat house majority...

Jeff Sessions Is Public Enemy Number One for Voting-Rights Groups

(Flickr/Gage Skidmore) 

Common Cause, a nonpartisan political advocacy and watchdog group, rarely wades into political nomination battles. In its nearly half-century of existence, the group has come out in staunch opposition to just a handful of nominees it found extraordinarily hostile to its core mission. Now it will oppose the confirmation of Trump’s expected nominee for attorney general, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, citing his troublesome record on voting rights.  

“We do not believe and do not have confidence, because of his past history and actions, that he will enforce critical voting-rights laws,” Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn said during a meeting with reporters on Tuesday morning. “He has for decades been an outspoken critic of the Voting Rights Act, one of the country’s most critical pieces of civil and voting rights legislation.”

The group pointed to Sessions’s past statements calling the VRA a “piece of intrusive legislation,” to his approval of the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision to gut the law’s crucial Section 5, and to his failed legal crusade against three civil rights activists who were registering voters while he was a U.S. attorney in Alabama in the 1980s as evidence that the senator would be hostile toward robust voter protections.

“We believe that if he becomes attorney general, the Voting Rights Act is on the chopping block and many of the recent victories in the courts that we’ve seen that have struck down laws designed to suppress minority voting will be threatened under a Sessions-led Justice Department,” Hobart Flynn added. 

Since 2010, 20 states have passed restrictive voting laws. The Obama DOJ’s Civil Rights Division has successfully challenged the legality of several of those voter-suppression laws that required photo identification or used racial gerrymandering to create redistricting maps. But Common Cause is concerned that a Sessions Justice Department would be far less vigilant in its enforcement of voting rights. 

The group’s announcement that it will attempt to block Sessions’s nomination could hold some sway. It boasts a membership base of some 700,000 members with chapters in 35 states. Its grassroots strength was on full display earlier this week when it helped lead a constituent call-in campaign to Republican House members who wanted to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics.

Whether it can use that grassroots firepower to convince Sessions’s Republican Senate colleagues to vote against him will be a taller order. But Common Cause won’t be going it alone. On Monday, NAACP leaders staged a sit-in and were ultimately arrested in the senator’s Mobile office, calling on him to withdraw his name from consideration due to his voting-rights record and numerous allegations of racism.

Recent confirmations opposed by Common Cause include Reagan Supreme Court justice nominee Robert Bork in 1987 and George H.W. Bush defense secretary nominee John Tower in 1989, both of whom failed to get confirmed. It also opposed Reagan’s nomination of Attorney General Edwin Meese and George W. Bush’s Federal Election Commission member Hans von Spakovsky, both of whom succeeded in their confirmations.   

As We Enter Age of Trumponomics, Five Charts That Highlight Persistent Worker Woes

­Decades of trickle-down trends hurting working people will worsen under the next administration. 

(Photo: AP/Mark Lennihan) A FedEx driver loads Dell computers for delivery, Friday, Oct. 23, 2015 in New York. I t is now apparent to anyone paying attention that the trends driving the working and middle classes’ woes—from decades of expanding corporate power to the silencing of workers’ voices—will be exacerbated by the incoming Trump administration. Here are six charts from the Economic Policy Institute that underscore the systemic inequities for workers that will persist—and almost certainly worsen—under the right-wing doctrine of Trumponomics. The gap between productivity and worker pay continues to widen. During the postwar economic boom (in tandem with a strong organized labor movement), worker pay levels increased at the same pace as productivity. However, beginning around 1973, hourly compensation stagnated while productivity levels kept increasing. As the chart shows, productivity has increased more than 73 percent since 1973 while the average worker pay has increased just...

Is Minnesota the Next Target for GOP Wage Suppression Laws?

A conservative ALEC legislator threatens to block local minimum-wage hikes.

AP Photo/Jim Mone
AP Photo/Jim Mone Representative Pat Garofalo speaking on the floor of the Minnesota House of Representatives. T he state of Minnesota—long a liberal bastion of the upper Midwest—could be the next target for the right’s nationwide effort to block any minimum wage increases by cities like Minneapolis that are higher than the state’s minimum of $9.50 an hour. In the months before the November election, progressive advocacy groups and a majority of the Minneapolis city council were pushing for a $15 minimum wage. Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges opposed it, however, saying she would prefer it if Democratic state legislators passed a bill mandating a higher regional minimum wage for the Twin Cities metro area instead. However, Election Day changed that political calculation when the Minnesota GOP expanded its majority in the state House ( with help from the Koch brothers ) and, in a huge upset, wrested control of the senate from the Democratic Farmer-Labor Party (the state Democratic party...

Larry Kudlow: Trickle Downer of the Week

Trump may tap cable news’ most diehard devotee of supply-side policy as his top economic adviser, cementing his administration’s adherence to a malicious scheme. 

(Photo: AP/Seth Wenig) Kudlow speaks at the New York State Republican Convention in 2014 I f we needed a clearer signal that Donald Trump’s administration will go all in for amped-up trickle-down economics—that is, tax cuts for the rich, deregulation for the corporations, and wage suppression for everyone else—consider that the president-elect is likely to tap Larry Kudlow to chair his White House Council of Economic Advisers. For those who aren’t familiar with him, Kudlow is a prolific cable news commentator who has a stellar reputation for being wrong—a lot. Like, a lot a lot . Given that he has no formal education in economics, Kudlow also neatly fits Trump’s preference for putting “unconventional” people (i.e., he sees them frequently on cable news) to top White House posts. As David Dayen aptly puts it in The Nation , “Kudlow isn’t an economist, but he plays one on TV.” To put a sharper point on it, he plays a trickle-down economist on TV. As a ubiquitous talking head, Kudlow is...

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