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Remembering BP Deepwater Horizon

Since Monday, April 20th, will mark 10 years since the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, New Jersey Democrat Lisa McCormick participated in a conference call with a retired engineer who worked on the Deepwater Horizon for 5 years, Retired Army Lt. General Russel Honore’, two members of Congress and other leading environmental advocates.

The BP Deepwater Horizon disaster was the largest marine oil spill in U.S. history, lasting almost three months before the gushing well was finally capped.

"There are 15 rigs placed in deeper water today than the BP Deepwater Horizon was in ten years ago and there have been thousands of leaks, spills and ruptures on American pipelines, some killing people and many causing billions of dollars in damages," said McCormick. "On land or sea, fossil fuels are dangerous and burning them is killing our planet."

"Climate change is one of the most important issues of our time," said McCormick. "The debate is over: Climate change is real, it’s caused by human activity and is already causing devastating damage to the entire planet."

On the call with McCormick were:

  • Rep. Alan Lowenthal, who is currently serving California’s 47th district and is a member of the House of Natural Resources Committee
  • Rep. Darren Soto, who is currently serving Florida’s 9th district and is a member of the House of Natural Resources Committee
  • Leo Linder, retired rig worker on the Deepwater Horizon
  • Sam Sankar, Earthjustice Senior VP of Litigation and former deputy chief council of the Obama administration’s BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill commission
  • Cyn Sarthou, Executive Director at Healthy Gulf
  • Louis Skrmetta, Owner of Ship Island Excursions out of Gulfport, Mississippi
  • Lt. General Russel Honore’, Retired Army lieutenant general and Director of the Green Army

Linder recently pointed out that the Trump administration's new proposed rules would save oil companies $1.3 billion by putting offshore oil rigs, and the people who work on them, at greater risk.

Lowenthal and Soto each lamented the fact the Senate Republicans have refused to take up legislation approved by the House of Representatives. Sarthou and Skrmetta recounted personal examples about the devastating impact on businesses and the communities that the spill had.

"We need to rejuvenate our voice as we come up on the commemoration of this great disaster," said Honore’, who added: "They let BP off the hook... the fine was miniscule and it was written off as a tax deduction, so the America people are actually paying for it."

McCormick said that now, 10 years later, she hopes the discussion with members of Congress, community representatives, offshore experts, an engineer who worked on the Deepwater Horizon, and a small business owner will stimulate discussion about the fallout of the tragedy.

"If we do not reflect on the mistakes that led to the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, we will not be able to prevent another disaster like this from happening again," said McCormick. "In simple terms, we must stop corporations from racing to to make a profit without thinking about the human cost or the price extracted from the environment."

Lisa McCormick takes the "Patients Over Profits" pledge

Lisa McCormick has taken the "Patients Over Profits" pledge, which is supported by a broad coalition of organizations, including National Nurses United, the largest union of registered nurses in the country.

Members of the corporate front group known as Partnership for America’s Health Care Future, directly profit off of the pain, suffering, and, in the worst cases, death of patients, and they use those profits to buy political influence to defend a wasteful system that is failing tens of millions of people.

The so-called partnership is a corporate front group that was formed to block any attempts at repairing our broken health care system. This dirty money has no place in a democratic republic. It is time to outlaw bribery in all forms, starting with the voluntary refusal by candidates to accept those bribes.

If you have any questions about the pledge, visit PatientsOverProfits.org.

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McCormick says union should expel Trump supporter

Lisa McCormick and Patrick Delle CavaLisa McCormick, the progressive Democrat who challenged Senator Bob Menendez in the 2018 primary election, is calling on the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers to expel Local 102 Business Manager Patrick R. Delle Cava.

"Delle Cava is an advisory board member of 'Workers for Trump' but with anti-labor activities and action that threatens our democracy, there is no room for collaborators among the organized labor leadership," said McCormick. "Trump is a polarizing figure and the labor movement is about solidarity. Trump is leading a class war against workers and the labor movement is supposed to be on our side."

"I may not understand it, but I respect Pat Delle Cava's right to support President Trump, however one cannot be for workers while supporting the Trump Republican brand of corporate corruption, anti-worker policies and fundamental dishonesty," said McCormick.

"Donald Trump inherited a job situation that was vastly rehabilitated from devastating lows just a decade ago, which were brought on by calamitous Republican policies," said McCormick. "However, while Trump continues to ride momentum started under President Obama, nothing has been to to repair changes that have scarred many American workers, several moves threaten to trigger another recession and anti-worker policies have been advanced."

McCormick said Trump denied overtime pay to 8.2 million workers.

"The Trump administration derailed an Obama-era plan to extend overtime protections to more Americans and instead lowered the salary threshold," said McCormick. "This decision harmed millions of workers who would have been eligible for overtime pay under the previous rule. Workers are being denied an estimated $1.2 billion in earnings annually due to Trump’s overtime protection rollback."

McCormick said Trump undermined wage theft enforcement.

"Employer wage theft is rampant in low-wage industries and costs American workers more than $50 billion every year, but the Trump administration made it more difficult for businesses to be held liable for wage violations against contract and franchise workers," said McCormick. "Under President Trump, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has even allowed employers who commit wage violations to avoid penalties by volunteering to police themselves. usinesses are expected to self-report violations, determine the amount of back pay owed, and then compensate workers—without covering interest or damages."

McCormick said Trump awarded billions in federal contracts to companies that violate wage laws.

"President Trump ended a requirement that contractors meet federal labor standards to keep the government’s business," said McCormick. "This decision came as two-thirds of the government’s largest contractors were found to have violated wage laws, including by withholding hundreds of millions of dollars in pay. Instead of protecting the 26 million workers who are employed by federal contractors, the Trump administration chose to ignore this egregious behavior."

McCormick said Trump undermined the mission of the DOL.

"President Trump’s nominee to lead U.S. labor policy, Eugene Scalia, has a long record of opposing workers’ rights and fighting unions on behalf of large corporations," said McCormick. "The Trump administration has only filled 43 percent of the department’s senior officials, while previous administrations filled nearly 80 percent."

McCormick said Trump blocked workers’ access to the courts.

"The Trump administration sided with corporate interests to let companies force workers into mandatory arbitration agreements," said McCormick. "This has left 60 million workers without real access to the courts and unable to bring class action lawsuits to seek justice in workplace disputes."

McCormick said Trump made it more difficult for workers to unionize.

"President Trump’s National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) appointees empowered companies to classify workers as independent contractors rather than as employees, which would exclude those workers from federal labor law protections," said McCormick. "His NLRB is also working to roll back joint employer protections, which would make it easier for businesses that influence and rely on subcontractors and franchises for their labor to avoid unionization."

McCormick said Trump made it easier for employers to get rid of unions.

"President Trump’s appointees to the NLRB ruled that employers can suspend negotiations and withdraw recognition of a union even if the majority of workers technically supports the union at the time of withdrawal," said McCormick.

McCormick said Trump advanced an erratic trade agenda that harms working-class Americans

"President Trump claimed that other countries would bear the cost of his trade war, but in reality, American workers and families have paid the price," said McCormick. "President Trump’s tariffs could cost the average U.S. household $1,000 each year, and recent estimates indicate that the tariffs will shave billions from U.S. GDP. Like the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which includes strong protections for Big Pharma, President Trump’s trade war with China is primarily designed to favor corporations."

"If Patrick R. Delle Cava wants to support Donald Trump, then he needs to admit that he is opposed to the interests of working people and has betrayed the brotherhood of electrical workers," said McCormick. "It seems sad and unjust that someone making $186,352 as a union employee would betray his brothers and sisters by advocating the success of someone who wants to destroy the labor movement."

Impeachment is necessary

Robert Reich endorses Lisa McCormick’s ‘Social Security rescue plan’

An economist who served under four presidents has endorsed a plan advocated by New Jersey progressive Democrat Lisa McCormick, who is collecting signatures in support of her concept to put Social Security on a solid financial foundation permanently, even if benefits are increased or the retirement age is lowered.

Economist Robert Reich has endorsed Lisa McCormick’s plan to save Social Security

Robert Reich, secretary of labor in the Clinton administration and one of the most outspoken critics of the Trump administration and its policies and actions, recently spoke to McCormick about her plan to save Social Security and issued an endorsement of her idea.

“As a former U.S. Secretary of Labor, I know that the American standard of living depends on the strength of our social safety nets,” said Reich. “This is why I’m impressed by Lisa McCormick’s proposal to save Social Security and insure long term solvency of the nation’s pension system.”

“While 94 percent of U.S. workers pay Social Security tax on every dollar in their paycheck, the very richest Americans avoid Social Security taxes on most of their money due to the program’s cap on taxable earnings,” said Reich. “To correct this, she recommends that we ‘scrap the cap’ so very wealthy Americans contribute to Social Security at the same tax rate as the rest of us. I completely agree.”

Reich is currently the Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley. He’s written 15 books and created two acclaimed documentaries: Inequality for All, and Saving Capitalism.

“I talked to Robert Reich about my plan to fix Social Security because there are a lot of misconceptions out there,” said McCormick. “While Republicans have been saying Social Security is ‘broke’ or ‘bankrupt’ the simple truth is, there are reserves of nearly $3 trillion sustaining Social Security and if all the money flowing into the system stopped, retirees could still collect full benefits for years to come. Social Security is not out of funding.”

“However, the system does need to be fixed in order to keep it solvent in perpetuity,” said McCormick. “Americans should never fear that this government will be unable to meet its obligations when they are depending on Social Security payments.”

“Americans work hard and pay in to Social Security, so we are counting on it to be there but if our leaders do not act, future retirees could lose up to $10,000 a year,” said McCormick.

“Social Security is funded through deductions to everyone’s paychecks. We pay in while we’re working, and then collect benefits when we retire or become disabled. But not everyone pays equally into the system,” said McCormick. “While 94% of American workers pay Social Security tax on every dollar in their paycheck, most of the earnings of the top 1 percent – and especially the top 0.1 percent – escape most Social Security taxes due to the program’s cap on taxable earnings, which is $132,900 in 2019.”

“In other words, the very richest Americans stop contributing but it does not have to be that way,” said McCormick. “By simply requiring upper-income Americans to pay the same tax rate as middle-class families, Social Security’s benefits could be expanded, and its funding would remain in balance for decades beyond the longest projections.”

“Americans are facing an unprecedented retirement security crisis. Retirement wealth has not grown fast enough to keep pace with an aging population and the growth in inequality has exacerbated existing economic, racial, ethnic and educational disparities,” said McCormick. “Single people and women face particular challenges. All these problems can be fixed by making the very richest members of society pay the same tax rate that ordinary working people pay now.”

McCormick urged citizens who agree that Americans must fix Social Security without cutting benefits or jeopardizing retirees to sign the petition at her website: http://lisamccormicknj.nationbuilder.com/fix_social_security

McCormick supports Working Families Tax Relief Act

New Jersey Democrat Lisa McCormick said she supports the Working Families Tax Relief Act of 2019, which was recently introduced by Senators Sherrod Brown and at least 45 cosponsors.

"The Working Families Tax Relief Act would boost the incomes of 45 million households and 114 million people, including 43 million children," said McCormick. "As more and more people are recognizing President Trump’s Republican tax scam as a handout to millionaires and billionaires at the expense of working families, it is time to put money in the pockets of workers and families."

Building upon the proven success of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC), this game-changing legislation would give a bigger EITC to hardworking parents and ensure that all low- and moderate-income families fully benefit from the CTC.

"The proposed law would also expand the CTC for very young children and provide much-needed tax relief for families in the shrinking American middle class who are losing ground as a direct result of tax laws, government spending decisions and policies that favor the very rich," said McCormick. "It would also help low-wage workers without children who are paying too much in taxes in order to subsidize the super wealthy." 

McCormick said she is proud to join more than 80 national organizations that have thrown their support behind the Working Families Tax Relief Act. 

"The Working Families Tax Relief Act is a step towards putting the American dream back in reach for more families," said Chris Hughes, Co-Chair of the Economic Security Project Action. "At a time when so many are facing the rising costs of living and childcare with stagnant wages, refunds like the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit can provide a safeguard for at-risk families across the country. Expanding these programs would be progress toward ensuring these benefits reach even more hard-working Americans."

"Despite headlines touting America’s booming economy, the reality is that millions in the US are living in financial uncertainty," said McCormick. "Millions of families are either struggling to make ends meet. Forty percent of American households lack a basic level of savings, leaving them just one emergency away from a financial disaster." 

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Corporate criminals belong in prison

After General Electric (GE) agreed to pay a civil penalty of $1.5 billion under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989 (FIRREA) without making an admission of liability, Lisa McCormick, a progressive Democrat in New Jersey, has objected to letting corporate criminals elude justice by paying fines without admitting guilt, because ordinary people would be sentenced to prison for decades while businesses continue collecting tax breaks, subsidies and government contracts.

"Corporate criminal prosecutions are in decline," said McCormick. "The Department of Justice's policy on prosecuting corporate criminals does not serve the public interest. A GE subsidiary originated more than $65 billion in mortgages between 2005 and 2007, most of which contained elements of fraud, then passed the buck to unwitting investors, but nobody is going to jail for these crimes." 

"I strongly support legislation that Sen. Elizabeth Warren introduced to make it easier to jail the chief executives of big corporations who allow fraud or other forms of corporate crime," said McCormick. "Corporations don’t make decisions, people do, and we cannot allow the rich to buy limits on criminal liability if we are going to have justice for all."

"With total assets over $309 billion and revenue in excess of $121 billion in 2018 alone, GE is not going to learn anything with a $1.5 billion paltry fine," said McCormick. "Last week 44-year-old Stephan Byrd, of Vineland, New Jersey, was convicted on three counts of bank robbery worth less than $25,000 but he faces a combined mandatory minimum sentence of 24 years in prison and a potential maximum sentence of life in prison."

“If top executives knew they would be hauled out in handcuffs for failing to reasonably oversee the companies they run, they would have a real incentive to better monitor their operations and snuff out any wrongdoing before it got out of hand,” Warren said. “Decision-making at the biggest corporations won’t change until executives have real skin in the game — not just the threat of fines that they can pass off onto shareholders while still collecting their multi-million-dollar bonuses.”

Investors, including federally insured financial institutions, suffered billions of dollars in losses as a result of WMC’s fraudulent origination and sale of loans for inclusion in residential mortgage-backed securities. 

GE got into the subprime lending business at the height of the boom in 2004, buying WMC, which originated more than $65 billion in mortgages between 2005 and 2007. GE got out of the subprime business in 2007, selling off WMC after the bubble burst and it misrepresented the quality of its loans, which were sold to investors as part of residential mortgage-backed securities.

In March 2006, WMC reviewed a representative sample of the 1,276 loans it had repurchased in 2005, and concluded that 78 percent of the loan files reviewed contained at least one piece of false information.

"Someone needs to explain why a bank robber who gets less than $25,000 faces 24 years to life in prison, while an industrial conglomerate that originated more than $65 billion in bad mortgages gets to pawn off its problems, pay a settlement worth one percent of last year's sales revenue and keep getting government contracts worth more than the fine," said McCormick."That sounds like justice for some, but not others."

 

   

McCormick supports legislation to combat workplace harassment

Lisa McCormick said she supports legislation that takes critical steps to ensure businesses have more resources to prevent harassment and workers have more support when they seek accountability and justice, known as the Bringing an End to Harassment by Enhancing Accountability and Rejecting Discrimination (Be HEARD) in the Workplace Act.

"The Be HEARD in the Workplace Act sends a clear message to those who think they can get away with assault or harassment on the job," said McCormick. "Your time is up."

The measure was introduced last week by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) plus Reps. Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Katherine Clark (MA-05), Elissa Slotkin (MI-08), and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26).

“Our bill will put us one step closer to making toxic workplace harassment and discrimination a dark memory of the past,” said Pressley, a freshman congresswoman from Boston. “This is for the brave women of the Boston Fire Department, for the hotel workers I worked alongside when I was scrapping money together to help my family, for the transgender men and women who face discrimination for living their truth. This is for those workers who shared their stories and instead of justice, faced retaliation. Now is the time to push the conversations and the policies so that those who have been suffering in silence feel seen and represented in our democracy.”

“No matter who you are or where you work—whether you are the only woman on the board, or a janitor, or farm worker, you should be treated fairly, respectfully, and with dignity. This should be true no matter your gender or race, your religion or sexual orientation or age—and regardless of whether you have a disability or are a veteran.” said Murray, the senior United States Senator from Washington, who was first elected to in 1992. “For far too long and for far too many people in our country this hasn’t been true. So today, I’m proud to be standing up to fight for change and make clear that time is up.”

“This legislation is one way of saying 'time’s up: no more silence, no more compliance, no more injustice' to those who prey on women at work," said McCormick. "For too long victims of the wealthy, the well-connected and the powerful have been denied protection, but when this becomes law, it will restore accountability and remove barriers to justice."

Democrats announced the introduction at a press conference with survivors and advocates who shared their personal stories about workplace assault and harassment, and leaders from the National Women's Law Center (NWLC), The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

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McCormick responds to Booker's CNN town hall

Progressive New Jersey Democrat Lisa McCormick responded to Senator Cory Booker's staged performance in a town hall forum televised on CNN.
Booker-McCormick"Senator Cory Booker always sounds good but my concern with Cory is his relationship with the truth," said McCormick. "Frank Bruni, the New York Times columnist commenting on the show claimed Booker has a 'near perfect resume' after calling him 'extremely charismatic' but fawning over politicians allows them to escape responsibility for the lies, deceits and betrayals we all feel when the show is over." 
"Asked how he would fix Social Security so that millennials can retire, Booker said, 'Having changes to that cap on Social Security would more fully fund Social Security' but a more genuine progressive would have asserted that we must scrap the cap," said McCormick. "I agree with Senator Booker's statement that, 'Fixing Social Security is not as complicated as some would make it' but the wiggle room he left makes me doubt his commitment to eliminating the tax cap that lets people making millions or billions of dollars pay no more than someone earning $132,000 a year."
"The way to fix Social Security is to scrap the cap, entirely and unequivocally," said McCormick. "I was disappointed to hear the eradication of a bad thing termed 'having changes to that cap' because it does not need 'changes' -- it just needs to be scrapped."
"Booker also said he turned Newark around but life for ordinary people has not improved," said McCormick. "People in Newark had to fight against Booker when he wanted to privatize the public schools, or sell off municipal water assets or illegally appoint a political ally to a vacant City Council seat. He was an absentee mayor who collected post-resignation paychecks from a law firm that he rewarded with city contracts, earned millions in out of town speaking fees and exploited residents while co-starring in YouTube videos with Republican Chris Christie, billionaires Mike Bloomberg and Mark Zuckerberg, or crooked political bosses like 'slave-catcher Joe' Divincenzo."
"Senator Cory Booker is a fraud, but once again Americans have been treated to entertainment instead of hard news," said McCormick. "Senator Booker and almost every other opportunistic neoliberal pursuing the Democratic nomination for president is merely hindering the likelihood that Senator Bernie Sanders, the presumptive Democratic nominee and commanding front runner, will have of defeating Republican President Donald Trump."
"Senator Booker and the other neoliberals have sought to rob Senator Bernie Sanders' progressive agenda, but they should clear the Bernie's path to the nomination so we can have a united Democratic effort focused on the president," said McCormick. "In 2012, Senator Cory Booker said he would not indict private equity, which is like saying he approves of greed. In 2018, Senator Cory Booker endorsed a Democratic Senator who was indicted by the Obama administration instead of a progressive alternative. Now, Senator Cory Booker is a champion of greed who is running against a champion of the people."
"I may be the only one saying it, but Senator Cory Booker is a fraud," said McCormick.
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