“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.
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New York Times Editorial Board: Women Still Earn a Lot Less Than Men
Tuesday is Equal Pay Day, the day selected each year by the National Committee on Pay Equity, a coalition of women’s, civil rights and labor groups, to draw attention to how much longer women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year. In 1963, when President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act, a woman working full time year-round typically made 59 cents for every dollar paid to her male counterpart. By 2013, the latest year of available census data, it was 78 cents on the dollar. Another measure of the wage gap, computed by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, shows that, in 2014, the ratio of female-to-male weekly earnings was 82.5 percent.
While that seems like steady if painfully slow progress, closer inspection shows that progress in closing the gender pay gap has basically stalled over the past decade. The longer the gap persists, the less it can be explained away by factors other than discrimination. [..]
In 2010, 2012 and 2014, congressional Republicans blocked consideration of the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill supported by President Obama that would have extended pay-equity rules that apply to federal contractors to the entire American work force, in addition to making needed updates to the Equal Pay Act. Obstructionism has only made the problem worse, and an even more pressing one for the presidential candidates to address.
Trans-Pacific Partnership would create mechanisms for trade disputes beyond US law and democratic control
One of the most important Supreme Court cases this year is King v. Burwell. The suit questions the legality of the subsidies to low- and middle-income families in the health-insurance exchanges run by the federal government. If the Court rules for the plaintiff, millions of people in the 36 states that did not set up exchanges could lose their subsidies. With insurance now unaffordable for much of the population in these states, their exchanges will no longer be operational, leading to the collapse of the Affordable Care Act in much of the country. [..]
In short, King v. Burwell should be a joke case. But in a context where at least four members of the Supreme Court are prepared to rule in whatever way they feel advances the interests of the Republican Party, it is very possible that it will be the basis for undermining a law that provides health insurance to millions of people and access to insurance to tens of millions more.
This predicament should be a warning to members of Congress as they debate the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and more immediately, the fast-track authority that will facilitate its passage. (A bill to establish such authority will reportedly be introduced in the Senate this week.) Under fast track, President Barack Obama would be able to get TPP an up-or-down vote in Congress without the possibility of amendments or filibuster.
TPP, as well as its sister agreement the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Pact, would establish an investor-state dispute settlement mechanism, which will operate outside the U.S. judicial system. This system will consist of a panel of three judges, who will each be appointed to hear a single case. They are not bound by the laws of the United States, nor are their decisions subject to appeal within the U.S. judicial process. They are to determine solely whether a law or action in question violates the rules of the TPP. Furthermore, the reasoning behind their rulings will be kept secret for several years after the ruling.
Ashley Diamond, a transgender inmate who was denied medically necessary hormones by the Georgia correctional system, was raped seven times, called a “he-she thing”, and thrown into solitary confinement for “pretending” to be a woman.
Last week, the United States Justice Department weighed in on her lawsuit and found that Georgia’s “freeze-frame” policy – which denied trans inmates the chance to begin or expand hormone treatment in prison – constituted “cruel and unusual punishment” and violated the United States Constitution.
This horrific treatment illustrates the broader policy changes we desperately need to ensure that no one in a correction setting – or any setting, for that matter – is denied their human or civil rights because of their gender identity or sexual orientation.
Today, transgender women in male prisons are 13 times more likely than the general prison population to be sexually assaulted while incarcerated. Nearly two-thirds of trans inmates report sexual assault. And more often than not, assaults go unreported in part because the perpetrators are prison guards, wardens and staff.
This is a disgrace.
Steven W. Thrasher: The inhumanity of ‘Fuck your breath’ should stop all of us cold
It’s hard for black Americans to catch our breath these days: from Michael Brown to Eric Garner to John Crawford to Tamir Rice to Walter Scott and now Eric Harris, we just keep getting the wind knocked out of us as we bear witness to death after unnecessary death of black men at the hands of the police.
Those who police us, however, can breathe quite easily. [..]
This weekend, Black Lives Matter activist Cherrell Brown asked audience members of a conference on policing that I attended to close our eyes and imagine a place where we felt safe. No one imagined a place with cops, cameras, guns, or attack dogs. And yet, as Brown noted, we’re asked to believe that, to feel safe, we need more cops in New York City, more racially diverse cops, more cops wearing cameras – more law enforcement, not more safety.
More cops, more guns and more cameras might make many white people feel more safe, but just the thought makes it hard for black people to breathe, because we know that they’ll all be trained on us. Fuck your false sense of security; I just want to be able to catch my breath.
It’s a paradox.
Almost all the economic gains are still going to the top, leaving America’s vast middle class with stagnant wages and little or no job security. Two-thirds of Americans are working paycheck to paycheck.
Meanwhile, big money is taking over our democracy.
If there were ever a time for a bold Democratic voice on behalf of hardworking Americans, it is now.
Yet I don’t recall a time when the Democratic Party’s most prominent office holders sounded as meek. With the exception of Elizabeth Warren, they’re pussycats. If Paul Wellstone, Teddy Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, or Ann Richards were still with us, they’d be hollering.
The fire now is on the right, stoked by the Koch brothers, Rupert Murdoch, and a pocketful of hedge-fund billionaires.
Today’s Republican firebrands, beginning with Ted Cruz, blame the poor, blacks, Latinos, and immigrants for what’s been happening. They avoid any mention of wealth and power.
Which brings me to Hillary Rodham Clinton.