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Cynthia Nixon on the Leadership New York City’s Subways Need



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With eight million rides a day, city subways and buses are the lifeblood of New York. Instead of meeting growing need, subway performance has declined, with delays almost quadrupling—from 20,000 per month in May 2012 to 76,000 in January 2018. On-time performance hovers at a failing 60 percent, much lower than any other transit system in the world. Trains now move slower than they did in 1950.

The governor of New York is in charge of the subways. And for eight years, straphangers have have been neglected and ignored by the current administration. And that alone should be enough to disqualify Andrew Cuomo for a third term.

The governor has kicked this can down the road for eight years because it doesn’t affect him or his wealthy donors. He has made the deliberate choice of cutting taxes on corporations and the ultra-rich, and cutting services for everyone else. There is no greater evidence of this approach than our dilapidated subways.

New Yorkers deserve better than to be stuck in a perpetual signal delay. We need to start moving forward.

We can’t fix the subway until we have a governor who knows it’s her job to fund the MTA. Governor Cuomo has no plan to bring relief to millions of subway riders. I do.

The plan to fix the subways presented last week by Andy Byford, president of the New York City Transit Authority, is a comprehensive diagnosis and remedy to our subway crisis. But as is typical with studies he has commissioned, the Governor is often unwilling to fund the recommendations of his own appointees.

When Byford’s “Fast Forward” plan was released over a week ago, the governor initially refused to support it. It was only after I and other transit activists put pressure on the governor for refusing to support his own MTA’s plan that, today, he finally caved and recommitted to congestion pricing. The problem is the Cuomo has said he’ll use comprehensive congestion pricing to fix the subways before, and then he abandoned it. Why should we believe that Cuomo will stick with it this time? Especially when there’s no chance of it getting through the legislature before they break in June? And why is he ruling out a millionaires’ tax as part of the funding solution?

While the MTA hasn’t put out a number on the cost to repair their subway, likely due to political pressure from the governor, the billions needed will require multiple revenue streams. To meet the need, my plan includes comprehensive congestion pricing, plus a portion of the funding generated from a polluter fee and a millionaires tax.

A congestion charge on private cars and trucks will raise more than $1 billion annually and will allow New York State to issue bonds which will go a long way towards funding a large scale, accelerated plan like Fast Forward.

Last fall, Governor Cuomo convened a panel called Fix NYC to recommend policies that would fund public transit investment and reduce traffic congestion. The Fix NYC proposals on congestion pricing are not only capable of raising billions needed to fix public transportation; they are also fair and just, with the heaviest burden for payment falling on wealthier households and the greatest benefits going to public transit riders. And yet, Governor Cuomo has failed to implement these recommendations.

Private car owners in New York City earn more than double the income of households that have no car and rely exclusively on public transit—and car owners who drive into the central business district regularly for work are wealthier still.

And a recent study from the Community Service Society found that only 2 percent of working poor New Yorkers would be subject to a congestion fee applied to cars that drive into the center of Manhattan and only 4 percent of outer-borough residents commute to jobs in Manhattan by vehicle. The study estimates that 118,000 outer-borough residents rely on vehicles for their commute to work compared to 2.1 million who rely on public transit.

Governor Cuomo also missed the mark to fully implement Fix NYC’s recommendations when he decided to impose a flat fee on yellow cabs, Ubers and Lyfts, without touching private cars and trucks. This move not only goes against the intent of the panel’s recommendations, but could be disastrous for yellow cab drivers facing desperate times. Experts say that solely hitting for-hire vehicles will neither significantly decrease congestion nor generate the revenue needed to fix the subways. We need a pricing system that is fair to all drivers and riders.

To help make this plan more equitable, some of the money raised could pay to reduce tolls elsewhere in the city, giving drivers a break, for example, on Staten Island and in eastern Queens, where the subways don’t run. Low-income drivers who need to commute into Manhattan by car would also be eligible for a partial toll rebate, so they wouldn’t have to pay any more than the cost of a subway ride.
Under Cuomo’s leadership, inequality has skyrocketed and the wealthy have not paid their fair share. Our plan would generate additional revenue through a millionaires tax and a polluter fee. A polluter fee will generate billions of dollars to be used to fund New York’s transition to green energy. As carbon emissions are greatly reduced by high-functioning public transit systems, a portion of the polluter fee can and should be dedicated towards fixing our subways.

At present, New York also has one of the least accessible mass transit systems in the entire world. A small percentage of stations have elevators and even those elevators break down too frequently. A modern subway should be open to all—riders in wheelchairs, with walkers, with strollers, with suitcases, and with bad knees and bad backs. Moving toward a transit system that is 100 percent accessible is essential to enabling all New Yorkers to access everything the city has to offer.

Our dilapidated subways have become a symbol of Cuomo’s disastrous austerity budgets that were balanced on the backs of millions of working New Yorkers in order to pay for enormous tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy. His negligence and reluctance to make the wealthy pay their fair share has created a crisis that could take decades to fix.

New Yorkers can’t afford to wait that long. The subway is the lifeblood of our city. If the subway dies, so does the city of New York. We need bold leadership and immediate action from our next governor.

Cynthia Nixon is a Democratic candidate for governor and the gubernatorial nominee of the Working Families Party.



Rep. Zoe Lofgren asks Google CEO why she got Trump pictures when she searched for ‘idiot’




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Rep. Zoe Lofgren wants to know why so many pictures of President Donald Trump appear when she does a Google search for “idiot.”

“Right now, if you Google the word ‘idiot’ under images, a picture of Donald Trump comes up. I just did that,” the California Democrat told Google CEO Sundar Pichai during a House Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday in Washington.

“How would that happen? How does search work so that would occur?” Lofgren asked Pichai. The Google CEO – who was at the hearing to address allegations of political bias in his company’s widely used search engine – said the results are based on billions of keywords ranked according to more than 200 factors such as relevance and popularity.

“So it’s not some little man sitting behind the curtain figuring out what we’re going to show the user?” Lofgren asked rhetorically. “It’s basically a compilation of what users are generating.”
A Google image search for the word “idiot” by USA TODAY found that Trump was not the top result. That honor went to a copy of Evert Larock’s painting, “The Idiot,” which is linked to by Wikipedia. But Trump appeared in 13 of the top 17 results. A combination photo of Trump’s sons Donald and Eric came in at No. 6.

Republicans have long accused Google of political bias, which the company has strongly denied.

In August, Trump said in a tweet that a Google search for “Trump News” showed only reports from “Fake News Media.” He concluded it was “RIGGED” against him so “almost all stories & news is BAD.”

“Illegal?” he wondered.


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Fox’s Pete Hegseth Promoted Senate Candidate on Show After Being Paid By Michigan GOP




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We don’t really need more evidence to know that Fox & Friends Weekend co-host Pete Hegseth is a Republican shill. After all, this is the guy who responded to the March for Our Lives by mocking teenage victims of gun violence and stating on-air that he had donated to the National Rifle Association in the wake of Parkland school massacre.

Now, Media Matters for America is reporting that last May, the Livingston County Republican Committee in Michigan paid him over $10,000 to be a keynote speaker at a Lincoln Day Dinner featuring GOP Senate candidate John James. Those payments were issued to Premiere Speakers Bureau, which represents Hegseth, over a period of five months this year, Media Matters for America said.

James, who was backed by President Donald Trump, lost to three-term Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow in last month’s midterm elections. Before that election, Hegseth, who admits he’s not a journalist, hosted James on Fox & Friends Weekend four times in the lead-up to the campaign. And as the report points out, Hegseth did not disclose to his viewers that he had been paid by the GOP committee.

Per Media Matters for America:

-On September 9, Hegseth told James that his race is “one to watch, for sure, largely because of a strong candidacy you’re running.”

-On October 14, Hegseth told James that “whatever you’re doing is working, according to the polls, and I don’t always believe [polling].” Echoing the candidate’s own talking point, Hegseth later asked James: “What is the most important fresh perspective that is resonating with people in your state?”

-On October 28, Hegseth suggested that James was “closing the gap against his Democratic opponent,” telling him that his message “seems to be resonating in your race” based on “recent poll numbers in the Michigan Senate race” which showed James “trailing by, you know, seven points, which is a lot less than where you were, and if you consider the margin of error, it could even be closer than that.”

Other Fox employees also have used their high-visibility platform to shamelessly promote Trump and other Republicans. The most notorious recent example was an appearance by Sean Hannity and Jeanine Pirro alongside Trump at a campaign rally in Missouri in early November. Following that event, Fox issued a disingenuous statement claiming it “does not condone any talent participating in campaign events.” The network added that, “This was an unfortunate distraction and has been addressed.”

Has it?

Media Matters for America also reported that Pirro has received over $200,000 in speaking fees from over a dozen GOP organizations in the past two years.

Fox did not respond to a request for comment by Media Matters for America. My guess is that they don’t have much to say.


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Why Trump turned back to tough tariff talk





Auto tariffs were the big takeaway from this weekend’s meeting between President Trump and Chinese leaders. The aim was to de-escalate the trade war, but the real threat to American auto jobs isn’t Chinese tariffs on US-made cars. It’s Beijing’s plan to flood the US with cut-rate cars made with low-paid labor.

After the trade powwow, Trump advisers reported that China will drop or remove its punitive 40 percent tariff on autos imported from the US. Don’t pop the champagne corks: Removing Chinese tariffs on US autos will do almost nothing for our autoworkers.

The big three US automakers will tell you “we build where we sell.” They’ve moved operations to China, because the Asian giant is where the US was in 1925 in terms of car ownership, with plenty of first-time buyers. Ford reports, for example, that only 2 percent of its vehicles sold in China are made here.

Likewise, GM makes more cars in China than it does here, and the company sells more in China. The truth is that GM is more Chinese than it is American.

Back in the United States, the problem ahead is the coming wave of cheap Chinese-made cars. It’s a rerun of what Japan and South Korea did in the 1970s and ’80s. Their low-priced cars killed thousands of jobs in auto-producing states like Michigan, Indiana and Ohio.

Now five Chinese auto companies plan to sell in America within two years. Chinese auto workers make on average $11,000 a year, per Auto Express magazine.

No wonder Chinese negotiators say they want both sides to scrap all tariffs. It’s a trick. Fortunately, Trump doesn’t seem to be falling for it. “I’m a Tariff Man,” the president tweeted on Tuesday. He’s appointed a hard-line, pro-tariff US trade rep, Robert Lighthizer, to spearhead the Chinese negotiations.

It’s a sign Trump appreciates that tariffs are vital to staving off more disasters like the GM plant closings announced last month.

On Nov. 26, GM CEO Mary Barra blindsided the nation, announcing that the company is shuttering four US factories — including the Lordstown, Ohio, plant that makes the Chevy Cruze, and the iconic Detroit-Ham­tramck plant that produces the Chevy Volt and other sedans.

The closings will lay off 3,300 production workers and 15 percent of GM’s white-collar workforce. Barra’s justification is that its sedans aren’t selling, and the closings are needed to “stay in front of a fast-changing market.” Investors agreed. GM stock soared.

Though longtime employees can move to other GM plants, many workers will end up in low-paying jobs or unemployed. In towns like Hamtramck, stores will be boarded up and rows of houses will be for sale.

In 2016, candidate Trump pledged to prevent such outcomes. Trumbull County, home of the Lordstown plant, went for Trump after giving President Barack Obama a 22-point margin in 2012.

Hearing GM’s grim announcement last week, Trump immediately called for tariffs. He pointed to the 25 percent tariff imposed on light trucks since 1964, which has guaranteed US dominance of the pickup and SUV markets ever since. “If we did that with cars coming in, many more cars would be built here,” the president tweeted, “and GM would not be closing their plants in Ohio, Michigan [and] Maryland.”

Trump also improved protections for US auto jobs when he renegotiated the trade pact with Mexico and Canada, announced last week. Pending congressional approval, the pact requires that at least 75 percent of a car’s value — meaning parts and labor — originate in North America for the car to be duty-free. That’s up from 62.5 percent under NAFTA.

The move will force companies that assemble in Mexico, like Nissan and Volkswagen, to use North American-made parts. To protect US wages, nearly half of all the parts will have to be made by workers earning at least $16 an hour — a jab at Mexico, which has some of the lowest auto wages in the world.

GM’s Barra is coming to Washington this week with mea culpas. But GM’s future as a company is largely in China and other new, foreign markets. Fortunately, Trump has American auto workers’ backs.


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