RAISING AMERICA’S PAY…GREEN IS THE NEW COAL…ARRESTED FOR A SCIENCE PROJECT…Patriotic Millionaires Sponsor Warren and Piketty…Smart Capitalists on CNN’s Inside Man…

RAISING AMERICA’S PAY — Wal-Mart’s lowest paid workers could have an extra $5.13 an hour in their pockets if the company repurchased $6.6 billion of sold stock and invested it in raising wages, according to new findings by Demos. Meanwhile, taxpayers currently spend $7.8 billion a year subsidizing the retailer and the Walton family. Yesterday the Economic Policy Institute launched Raising America’s Pay, a three-year initiative to make wage growth an urgent national policy priority. FIND OUT what your wages would be if they had grown with productivity with EPI’s Potential Wage Calculator HERE.

McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson just came out in support of a minimum wage hike and Seattle made history by raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour.

MIN WAGE MUST READS — “Retail’s Choice: How Raising Wages and Improving Schedules for Women in the Retail Industry Would Benefit America” and “Raising America’s Pay: Why It’s Our Central Economic Challenge.”

GREEN IS THE NEW COAL – NRDC President and Top Wonk Frances Beinecke lauded the EPA’s proposal to set a national cap on carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants: “Strong carbon pollution standards will be good for our health, good for our economy and good for our children and all future generations.” The new standards could save Americans 37.4 billion on electric bills and create 274,000 jobs, according to new findings by the NRDC.

READ CAP’s “Fundamental Facts of the EPA’s Climate Protection Proposal” and “The GOP Is Freaking Out Over the EPA’s Carbon Rules. Why Aren’t Power Companies?” over at The Nation.

ARRESTED FOR A SCIENCE PROJECT — Advancement Project launched a new video detailing the experience of Kiera Wilmot, a 16 year-old honors student of color who fell victim to the school-to-prison pipeline when she was booked on felony charges and later expelled after her science experiment went awry. Advancement Project Co-Director Judith Browne Dianis summed it up: “Kiera’s experience is indicative of a larger school discipline crisis … All young people make mistakes; it’s part of growing up. We need disciplinary policies that help students learn from their mistakes, not pay for them for the rest of their lives.” WATCH HERE.

CORPORATE CONFESSIONS — Over 70 percent of Fortune 500 companies channeled profits into tax havens last year, according to new findings by Citizens for Tax Justice.  FIND OUT more HERE.

MITIGATING INEQUALITY — The Roosevelt Institute released a new report by economist and Top Wonk Joseph Stiglitz revealing the concrete ways that tax reform can be used to combat income inequality. The findings challenge the supposed tradeoff between growth and equity by detailing the tax reforms that can effectively achieve both. READ more HERE.

VOTING BLOCK – Advancement Project and Co-counsel Arnold and Porter challenged Wisconsin officials on Monday for their push to rush implementation of a new state law that would erect voting barriers for seniors and people of color. Despite the fact that a federal court recently struck down the state’s voter ID law as an unconstitutional violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, Governor Scott Walker and state officials took exception to the ruling. Advancement Project Co-Director and Top Wonk Penda D. Hair: “As the leading democracy in the world, it is our responsibility to ensure states do not put in place laws that hinder citizens’ inalienable right to vote. States across the nation have an obligation to ensure that citizens have equal access to the ballot.”

CITIZENS DIVIDED — The Brennan Center for Justice is hosting a book talk with Robert C. Post on his new book, Citizens Divided: Campaign Finance Reform and the Constitution. The book examines the two sides of the debate around the controversial Citizens United v. FEC decision and presents a constitutional theory that seeks to reconcile the two opposing camps. The event will take place on Wednesday, June 18th at NYU Law’s Lipton Hall. RSVP HERE.

FROM THE WONK WIRE

THE CIVIL RIGHTS STRUGGLE OF OUR TIME: Former Secretary of Labor and Top Wonk Robert Reich exposes the striking resemblance between the current plight of low-wage workers and the civil rights struggle of the 1960s.

THE DANGERS OF DOWNSIZING: CEPR Co-Director and Top Wonk Dean Baker warns that downsizing the presently efficient social security system would make it look a lot more like the Department of Veterans Affairs.

DENIAL IS NOT JUST A RIVER IN EGYPT: Demos Distinguished Senior Fellow and Top Wonk Robert Kuttner critiques Republicans’ present party platform of denial, exemplified by the Grand Old Party’s recent denial of both climate change and income inequality.

FRIGHTENING FRIENDSHIPS: Demos Senior Fellow and Top Wonk Nomi Prins explores the hidden alliances between Wall Street and the White House that drive American policymaking in her new book All the President’s Bankers.

Find out more at www.TopWonks.org.

ON OUR AGENDA

The Patriotic Millionaires sponsored a landmark discussion between Sen. Elizabeth Warren and economist Thomas Piketty last Saturday. WATCH the conversation in full HERE

The Smart Capitalists were featured on CNN’s Inside Man, hosted by famed Super Size Director Morgan Spurlock. The segment followed the Smart Capitalists throughout their February lobby day and to witness the President sign an executive order raising the minimum wage of federal contract workers to $10.10 an hour. WATCH HERE

… PP mourns the loss of poet, activist, and Presidential Medal of Honor recipient Maya Angelou … READ: “Maya Angelou: A Hymn to Human Endurance” …

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SAVE THE INTERNET…DO YOU WANT FAIR WAGES WITH THAT?…JUSTICE AGAINST GERRYMANDERING…BROWN V. BOARD TURNS 60…AP Action Releases Stop the Greedy Clown…Patriotic Millionaires and Huffington Post Host Piketty and Warren on May 31st…

SAVE THE INTERNET — Members from MoveOn, CREDO Action, and Free Press rallied outside of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Washington, D.C. headquarters and in 19 cities last Thursday to protest FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s proposal that would effectively create a two-tiered Internet and eradicate Net Neutrality by allowing Internet service providers to slow and/or block content. After a 3-2 vote to proceed with the proposal, the FCC has opened a 120 day comment period to hear arguments from the general public. COMMENT at the FCC, CALL your member of Congress, and SPREAD the word.

The ACLU, CREDO Action, Free Press, MoveOn, NOW, and nearly 100 other organizations sent a letter to Chairman Wheeler and the President urging against the proposal. A group of 50 noted musicians, actors, and other members of the creative community sent a similar letter.

READVerizon, the FCC and What You Need to Know About Net Neutrality” and “The Next Four Months Will Decide the Future of the Internet,” and SIGN a petition to the FCC demanding protection of net neutrality over at The Nation.

DO YOU WANT FAIR WAGES WITH THAT? — Last Thursday fast food workers in 150 cities and on six continents walked off the job to protest for fair wages and the right to unionize. The demonstrations, coordinated by Fast Food Forward, were the largest to date since the movement began at a New York City McDonald’s in 2012. 52 percent of front-line fast-food workers are enrolled in one of more public programs, compared to 25 percent of the US workforce as a whole. Meanwhile, fast food CEOs make 1,200 times more than their employees. SIGN Low Pay Is Not Ok petition, calling for $15 an hour wages and the ability to form a union without intimidation, HERE.

On the eve of the protests, The Agenda Project Action Fund released “STOP THE GREEDY CLOWN,” a behind-the-scenes look at Ronald McDonald working Republican politicians, trading campaign contributions for bad policy. WATCH HERE and TWEET #StopTheGreedyClown.

JUSTICE AGAINST GERRYMANDERING – A two-week civil trial began in Tallahassee on Monday to investigate how the boundaries of Florida’s congressional map were redrawn in 2012 by Republican-led state lawmakers. This is a landmark court battle over the state’s once-a-decade redistricting task under the 2010 Fair Districts amendments, which prevent lawmakers from redrawing congressional maps to influence the outcome of elections. FairDistricts Florida Alliance Chairman Chris Findlater tells PP: “I would have never thought I’d be thrilled to be in court.”

BROWN V. BOARD TURNS 60 — Last week Advancement Project–on behalf of the Journey for Justice Alliance, a grassroots coalition of community and education justice organizations across 21 cities–filed three complaints under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination in the use of federal funds. The complaints allege racially discriminatory school closures in Newark, Chicago, and New Orleans. Advancement Project Co-Director Judith Browne Dianis: “In each of the cities where we filed Title VI complaints, African-American children are being uprooted, shuffled around and ultimately sent to schools that are no better than the one that closed. Districts are shirking their responsibility to educate our children and instead are giving multi-million dollar contracts to companies to do the job. In each city, African-American students’ hopes of equal educational opportunities are being dashed.”

The filings came on the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark decision that struck down the “separate but equal” doctrine from public schools. Journey for Justice Alliance released a new report in conjunction with the filings, revealing that public school closures and the growth of charter schools expand the school-to-prison pipeline, undermine educational quality, and compromise children’s health and safety. READ: “Death by a Thousand Cuts: Racism, School Closures, and Public School Sabotage.”

INEQUALITY FOR IMMIGRANTS — Center for American Project (CAP) released new findings that expose the high costs of the Department of Homeland Security’s detainee bed quotas. 30 percent of the 34,000 immigrants detained each day would be eligible for release if not for the quota set by Congress in 2009. The arbitrary quota also costs taxpayers more than $2 billion per year. READ: “Congress’ Costly Detention Quota.”

(NOT SO) GREAT EXPECTATIONS — The ACLU and Planned Parenthood are in court challenging legal restrictions in Alabama that would place unrealistic operational burdens on three of the five licensed health care centers that provide abortions. The law, signed in 2013, requires doctors to obtain admitting privileges at local hospitals, effectively forcing the health care centers to close. Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards: “We all want to protect women’s health and safety. This law won’t do that — in fact; it will do the opposite.”

THE REAL IMPACT OF PRIVATE EQUITY — Senior Economist at the Center for Economic Policy Research and Top Wonk Eileen Appelbaum published Private Equity at Work, a new book that examines private equity firms’ real impact on the companies that buy and sell. The book reveals how private equity firms’ business strategies disproportionately benefit the firm’s partners at the expense of other stakeholders and taxpayers. READ more HERE.

FROM THE WONK WIRE

PIKETTY SPLIT: Demos Senior Fellow and Top Wonk Richard Brodsky defends Thomas Piketty against naysayers, arguing that the book marks a paradigm shift that will definitively alter the national inequality debate.

NOT IN MY BACKYARD: Director of Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign and Top Wonk Mary Anne Hitt warns that power plants’ coal ash waste might be contaminating mass water supplies.

SUPREME GOLDFISH: Brennan Center Fellow and Top Wonk Ciara Torres-Spelliscy connects the dots between goldfish and the US Supreme Court when it comes to campaign finance laws.

Find out more at www.TopWonks.org.

ON OUR AGENDA ...

The Patriotic Millionaires and the Huffington Post will be co-hosting a conversation with French economist Thomas Piketty and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) at Boston’s Old South Meeting House on May 31st. The event is open to the public on a first-come, first-serve basis, but will also be aired on HuffPost Live. To submit a question for Warren and/or Piketty, E-MAIL ryan@huffingtonpost.com or TWEET @ryangrim. FIND OUT more HERE

… The Agenda Project has opened its new headquarters in Washington, DC! E-mail us for more information … Visit our twitter @PractProgress …

 

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FAST FOOD FAIL…AN EVENING WITH BERNIE SANDERS…DOLLAR AND RENTS…WEDDING CRASHERS…Wisconsin Voting Rights Victory…The Class of 2014…You Salt My Fry, I’ll Salt Yours…New Agenda Project Headquarters!…

FAST FOOD FAIL – Demos released findings last week that fast food CEOs make 1,200 times more than their employees, making it the industry with the greatest CEO-to-worker pay disparity in the United States. Next Thursday, May 15th, fast food workers will strike in 150 cities and stage protests in 33 countries to demand a $15 hourly wage. In wake of the failure of the Senate to vote for cloture on the Fair Minimum Wage Act, AP Action released “If You Salt My Fry, I’ll Salt Yours,” a new video skewering McDonald’s and GOP leaders for defeating a minimum wage increase and keeping millions of fast food workers in poverty. WATCH HERE.

One million U.S. veterans, 4.7 million mothers, and 3.6 million workers of color would all directly benefit from the Fair Minimum Wage Act. Hawaii became the third state this year to raise its minimum wage to $10.10, following Connecticut and Maryland. According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, states that raised their minimum wage in 2014 had stronger job growth than those who did not … Meanwhile, Seattle is set to raise its minimum wage to $15.

AN EVENING WITH BERNIE SANDERSThe Nation magazine will be hosting a conversation with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Nation Washington correspondent John Nichols TONIGHT in Northhampton, MA, as part of the magazine’s Project 45 initiative. Sen. Sanders will be discussing the state of U.S. politics and his possible 2016 presidential run. The event is co-sponsored by Progressive Democrats of America and WHMP AM/FM, and is free and open to the public. FIND OUT more and RSVP HERE, or CHECK OUT the live-stream at TheNation.com HERE.

DOLLAR AND RENTS – The Center for American Progress (CAP) published a new brief linking unbridled campaign contributions and lobbying with inefficient economic policy. Such an impediment is primarily due to rent-seeking–”the process of seeking income through government favors rather than through productive economic activity.” CAP notes that rent-seeking disrupts economic growth because it focuses on funneling income to wealthier individuals rather than promoting  overall economic development. These findings come in the wake of the Supreme Court’s recent McCutcheon v. FEC ruling that abolished individual spending caps on campaign contributions. READ the full report HERE.

SIGN Democracy for America’s petition urging Congress to pass the Government by the People Act–which would match small-dollar donations with public funds–HERE.

WEDDING CRASHERS — The ACLU and Orange is the New Black star Lea LeDaria will host the “My Big Gay (Il)legal Wedding” reception to celebrate the contest’s five winning couples in New York City on May 19th. “My Big Gay (Il)legal Wedding” was launched last December to promote marriage equality in the 33 states that have yet to legalize same-sex marriage. The five couples that came up with the most creative ways to travel across state lines to tie the knot are set to receive $5,000 towards their dream wedding. ENTER to win a free trip for two to New York City to “crash” the marquee wedding reception HERE.

WI VOTING RIGHTS VICTORY — Advancement Project Managing Director for Programs James Eichner lauded a Wisconsin federal court’s ruling that struck down the state’s voter ID law as unconstitutional: “Wisconsin has long been recognized as the Selma of the North, and this case illustrates just why the Midwestern state bears this harrowing distinction. Wisconsin’s discriminatory voter ID law is virtually indistinguishable from Jim Crow laws of earlier eras, which required poll taxes, property requirements, literacy tests and other contrived, racist measures designed to prevent African Americans from voting. We are encouraged the court concurred and took action to strike down Wisconsin’s voter ID law. For those who believe that in a democracy elections should be free, fair and accessible to all, this is a victory of monumental proportions.”

This ruling marks the first time a voter ID law has been defeated under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits voting practices on the basis of color, race, and/or language. Advancement Project and the pro bono law firm Arnold & Porter LLP challenged the discriminatory law on behalf of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) of Wisconsin; Cross Lutheran Church; Milwaukee Area Labor Council, AFL-CIO; and Wisconsin League of Young Voters Education Fund.

THE CLASS OF 2014 — College graduates who are entering the labor force this year will have reduced earnings for the next 10-15 years, according to new data released by the Economic Policy Institute. READ: “The Class of 2014: The Weak Economy Is Idling Too Many Young Graduates,” co-authored by EPI Economist and Top Wonk Heidi Shierholz.

FROM THE WONK WIRE

NAUSEATING NOSTALGIA: Demos Senior Fellow and Top Wonk Richard Brodsky shames the right for recent patterns of racism in conservative rhetoric.

DOWN TO EARTH: Defenders of Wildlife President and CEO and Top Wonk Jamie Rappaport Clark breaks down the strong history of American conservationism in honor of this year’s Earth Day.

PRICKLY PRIVATIZATION: CEPR Co-Director and Top Wonk Dean Baker interrogates the Senate Finance Committee members’ push to privatize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Find out more at www.TopWonks.org.

ON OUR AGENDA

… Last week the Agenda Project Action Fund released “You Salt My Fry, I’ll Salt Yours,” a McMocumentary featuring Ronald McDonald as a cigar-smoking, wheeler-dealer paying off politicians so he can keep workers in poverty and on public assistance. WATCH HERE

… The Agenda Project has opened its new headquarters in Washington, DC! E-mail us for more information … Check out and FOLLOW PP’s TWITTER ** @PractProgress **

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NATIONAL POPULAR VOTE VICTORY…CALL FOR A RAISE…SPEAKING OF EQUAL PAY…THE WORST THING SINCE CITIZENS UNITED…Align Against the Pipeline…Ryan Budget Hurts Poor, Surprises No One…The Nation Live-streams Thomas Piketty TONIGHT…

NATIONAL POPULAR VOTE VICTORY — Yesterday Gov. Cuomo (D-NY) signed legislation adding New York State to the National Popular Vote (NPV) Compact. The state joins California, Washington, D.C., Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington in an interstate agreement that commits their electoral college votes to the presidential candidate with the national popular vote. NPV currently has 165–or 61 percent–of 270 votes necessary to secure a majority stake in the Electoral College.

CALL FOR A RAISE – AFSCME created a patch-through hotline for people to call their Senators and urge them to support the upcoming floor vote on the Fair Minimum Wage Act. CALL 1-888-851-1916 and SHARE with people you know. Last week the Progressive States Network held a national week of action for “Real Prosperity Across America,” where 45 state legislators in 20 states participated in events highlighting the need to raise the minimum wage. NETWORK Executive Director Sister Simone Campbell: “Giving a just salary to those who work hard every day is good for our nation and good for our economy. Give America a raise so that all hardworking people can support their families.” AFL-CIO released their annual Executive Paywatch Report this Tuesday which found that on average CEOs make 774 times more minimum wage workers. Meanwhile, Maryland just voted to raise their minimum wage to $10.10 by 2018.

MIN WAGE MUST READS: “Food Stamps Don’t Keep Walmart’s Prices Low, They Keep Its Profits High,” “It’s Time to Raise the Minimum Wage,” “6 Surprising Facts About the Minimum Wage,” and “These Three Business Owners Have Happily Raised the Wage.”

SPEAKING OF EQUAL PAY …  Women’s participation in the labor market added $1.7 trillion to the GDP in the last decade, according to new findings by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) and the Center for American Progress (CAP). Despite this fact, in 2013 the average female worker made $3.01 an hour less than her male counterpart. CAP Senior Fellow, Co-Author of the report, and Top Wonk Heather Boushey: “The finding that the movement of women out of the home has a measurable impact on GDP and on the middle class make the need to restructure our employment standards for the reality of the 21st century work force even more urgent.” READ: “The Economic Importance of Women’s Rising Hours of Work” and “Fair Pay for Women Starts With a Fair Minimum Wage.”

LET’S GIVE THEM SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT — TheNation.com will be live-streaming a forum on French economist Thomas Piketty’s new book, Capitalism in the Twenty-First Century, today at 6pm EST. The event is hosted by the CUNY Graduate Center and will feature University of Wisconsin-Madison Economics Professor Steven Durlauf, Princeton University Professor Paul Krugman, and Nobel Prize Winner and Top Wonk Joseph Stiglitz. READ The Nation’s review of Piketty’s book and WATCH the discussion LIVE TODAY HERE.

THE WORST THING SINCE CITIZENS UNITED — Demos Vice President of Legal Strategies slammed the Supreme Court’s McCutcheon v. FEC ruling that abolished individual caps on political contributions: “[The] decision shows how fatally flawed the Court’s approach to money in politics has become. It will do incalculable harm to our democracy, allowing millions of new dollars to flow. This will lead to even further domination of our politics and public policy by the economic elite, pushing ordinary Americans further out of the political process. READ Demos’ new report, “McCutcheon Money: The Projected Impact of Striking Aggregate Contribution Limits” and WATCH Demos President and Top Wonk Heather McGhee‘s reaction to the Court’s ruling.

This is the sixth Roberts Court decision in the past seven years that has weakened campaign finance laws. The Brennan Center for Justice breaks down the previous pro-money cases HERE.

SIGN Democracy for America’s petition urging Congress to pass the Government by the People Act–which would match small-dollar donations with public funds–HERE. Bloomberg Businessweek, Salon, Politico, and The Daily Beast also covered the story.

ADVANCING JUSTICE — Advancement Project will be hosting a panel discussion in honor of the organization’s 15th anniversary on April 23 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Advancing Justice: Faces of the Modern Movement for Racial Justice will be moderated by MSNBC host Karen Finnery, and feature North Carolina NAACP State Conference President Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, Dream Defenders Executive Director Philip Agnew, and Advancement Project Co-Directors Penda D. Hair and Judith Browne Dianis. FIND OUT more HERE.

ALIGN AGAINST THE PIPELINE – Over 100 leading scientists and economists signed a letter last week urging the President to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. The group joins 200 business owners, Silicon Valley venture capitalists, professors, and more than 2 million online signees. The proposed 1,179 mile Keystone XL Pipeline would pump tar sands oils from Alberta, Canada to Texas refineries. READ NRDC’s issue brief “Climate Impacts of the Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline” and SIGN the NoKXL Pledge of Resistance, organized by CREDO, Rainforest Action Network, and the Other 98%.

RYAN BUDGET HURTS POOR, SURPRISES NO ONE69 percent of cuts in Paul Ryan’s new budget proposal come from programs for people with low or moderate incomes, according to new findings by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Meanwhile, millionaires would receive average tax cut of at least $200,000. READHow the Ryan Budget Fails Our Economy by Failing Economics” over at CAP.

The New York Times, Huffington Post, MSNBC, USA Today, and Politico also covered the story.

TRAFFICK REPORT — At an event featuring Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), sponsor of the bi-partisan End Sex Trafficking Act, CAP released a new report highlighting the difficulties law enforcement officials face in combating sex trafficking. 293,000 American youth are at risk of becoming sex trafficking victims, according to recent data by the FBI. READ: “3 Key Challenges in Combating the Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States.”

FROM THE WONK WIRE

DON’T BLOW IT: Director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign and Top Wonk Mary Anne Hitt calls on Congress to vote in favor of extending the Production and Investment Tax Credits for renewable energy. The wind industry currently employees 80,000 Americans. SIGN Sierra Club’s letter to Congress HERE.

POST-RACE HICCUPS: Demos Distinguished Senior Fellow and Top Wonk Robert Kuttner explores how much the President’s race has factored into opposition against him in the past six years.

POPULARITY CONTEST: FairVote Executive Director and Top Wonk Rob Richie reports on the year’s snowball of bipartisan support for the National Popular Vote.

Find out more at www.TopWonks.org.

ON OUR AGENDA … Check out and FOLLOW PP’s TWITTER ** @PractProgress **

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BUSINESS LEADERS STORM THE HILL…MIN WAGE ROUNDUP & MUST READS…7.1 MILLION ENROLL IN OBAMACARE…BEWARE OF HOBBY LOBBY…The Black and White of Marijuana Arrests…”The Invisible War” Wins Peabody!…

BUSINESS LEADERS STORM THE HILL — Last week members from the Smart Capitalists, Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, the Main Street Alliance, and American Sustainable Business Council stormed the Hill to support the Harkin-Miller Fair Minimum Wage Act. The group met with senior White House officials and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer. Following the trip Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) visited Smart Capitalists Scott and Suzanne Nash‘s MOM’s Organic Market Alexandria outpost. MOM’s currently pays employees $10 per hour and will be raising their wages to $12 per hour by the end of the year. Card Marketing Services CEO and Smart Capitalist Stephen Prince tells PP: “[Congress] needs to stop spending our country’s valuable time and resources on a self-evident piece of legislation and move onto issues that have true gray areas. This one does not.” Intermedia Partners, LP Managing Partner and Smart Capitalist Leo Hindery, Jr.: “If I were CEO of McDonald’s I would be embarrassed. I would be so embarrassed I would try to rectify this inequality.” … Business for a Fair Minimum Wage Founder and Director Holly Sklar tells PP: “Businesses need customers who can afford their products. We can’t build a strong economy on falling wages.”

… MIN WAGE ROUNDUP: Connecticut became the first state to pass a $10.10 minimum wage last Thursday. The state was a recent stop on the “Give America a Raise” 10-state bus tour, which culminated today at the Capitol in DC. The tour, organized by Americans United for Change, kicked off in Maine on March 24th. AFSCME, SEIU, AFL-CIO, United Auto Workers, USAction, the National Employment Law Project, Jobs with Justice, and others co-sponsored or partnered with AUFC. Meanwhile … Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint still refuses to publicly debate AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on the minimum wage.

Republican Senators still on the fence: Ayotte (NH), Blunt (MO), Coats (IN), Collins (ME), Corker (TN), Flake (AZ), Heller (NV), Kirk (IL), McCain (AZ), Murkowski (AK), and Portman (OH).

MIN WAGE MUST READS: “Harry Reid Not Budging on Minimum Wage,” “8 Businesses That Pay More Than Minimum Wage and Are Doing Quite Well,” “Raising the Minimum Wage is Popular in Republican Swing Districts, Too,” and “Raising the Minimum Wage Does Not ‘Kill Jobs.’” SEE how many workers would benefit from a minimum wage raise in your state HERE.

OBAMACARE FOR ALL — 7.1 million Americans signed up for coverage though Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchanges before the deadline this past Tuesday. READ: Media Matter’s “From ‘Doomed’ to Boom: How the Press Missed the Obamacare Comeback Story.” The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The Huffington Post, and NPR also covered the story.

BEWARE OF HOBBY LOBBY — Center for American Progress (CAP) President Neera Tanden broke down what’s at stake when the Supreme Court rules on Sebelius v Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. this term: “A bad Hobby Lobby decision will have an immediate negative impact on the right of a woman to make personal health care decisions, but it could also become a blueprint for discrimination against people in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community; allow corporations to evade important federal laws; and change the corporate structure as we know it.” READ: “Discrimination? Corporate Loopholes? Law Avoidance? Hobby Lobby’s Potentially Slippery Slope.”

90 REASONS AND COUNTING — Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ) released a new report disclosing that 90 Fortune 500 companies–including Dupont International Paper, Boeing, and Tenet Healthcare–have gone at least one full year without paying state income taxes in the past five years. READ90 Reasons We Need State Tax Reform” and SEARCH CTJ’s “Corporate Tax Explorer database” to find out which companies in your state are shifting the tax burden onto small businesses and middle class families HERE.

MARIJUANA ARRESTS UNCOVERED — A black individual is 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than a white counterpart, according to “The Uncovery,” a new advocacy tool created by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Interband that highlights racial disparities in marijuana related arrests. CHECK OUTThe Uncovery” and READ the ACLU’s recent companion report “The War on Marijuana in Black and White.”

VIVA ARCTIC ICE CAPS — CAP published “Why a Melting Arctic Could Sink the Global Economy,” outlining the necessary steps that Secretary of State John Kerry needs to take to combat the consequences of climate change as he assumes the position of Chair of the Arctic Council in 2015. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Arctic Report Card author Howard Epstein outlines the stakes: “The Arctic is not like Vegas. What happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic.” READ the full report HERE.

CAPITAL IN THE 21st CENTURY — The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) and the Washington Center for Equitable Growth will be hosting a presentation by Paris School of Economics Economist Thomas Piketty on the findings from his new book Capital in the Twenty-First Century on Tuesday, April 15 at the EPI headquarters in Washington, D.C. Featured Panelists include EPI Research and Policy Director Josh Bivens, Nobel Laureate and MIT Professor Emeritus Robert M. Solow, and White House Council of Economic Advisers member Betsey Stevenson. The discussion will be moderated by CAP Senior Economist and Top Wonk Heather Boushey. FIND OUT more and RSVP HERE.

FROM THE WONK WIRE

BANK ON THIS: University of Baltimore Law Professor and Top Wonk Cassandra Jones Havard explains why the US Postal Service is the perfect vessel to bring banking to low-income consumers.

CAPITOL TENSION: Columbia University Professor and Top Wonk Andrew Gelman refutes Slate columnist Jamelle Bouie’s claim that a predominant amount of white Americans support the death penalty due to racism.

PASS THE MIC: Brennan Center for Justice Deputy Director and Top Wonk Lawrence Norden pleas for members of the New York state Senate and Governor Cuomo to support a reform package during upcoming budget negotiations that would eliminate pay-to-play politics in public finance.

Find out more at www.TopWonks.org.

ON OUR AGENDA

INVISIBLE WAR WINS PEABODY! … PP congratulates the team behind Academy Award nominated documentary “The Invisible War” for winning a 2013 Peabody this week! “The Invisible War” Producer Amy Ziering tells PP: “We are most grateful and honored to receive a Peabody Award for “The Invisible War,” as this recognition most importantly continues to give this issue a national platform and spotlight. We will accept it behalf of all of our courageous service members who dared speak up in hopes of making a difference. We will continue our fight alongside them for justice and our work with Senator Gillibrand’s bi-partisan coalition to ensure that the MJIA gets passed when it next comes up for vote. Only then will we be able to raise our glasses and most truly celebrate.” FIND OUT more about “The Invisible War” HERE

Check out and FOLLOW PP’s TWITTER ** @PractProgress ** …

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BUSY BUSY BUSY…PROGRESSIVE FEMALE LEADERS ON RAISING THE MINIMUM WAGE…MOMMA WANTS YOU TO ENROLL IN OBAMACARE…HIGHER ED, NOT DEBT….One Nation Under-Wood…The Presidents’ Bankers…Follow PP On Twitter!…

BUSY BUSY BUSY – As the female head of the Texas GOP PAC RedState Women tries to justify unequal pay for women, Progressives are making raising the minimum THE top women’s issue of 2014. Raising the minimum wage would instantly reduce the gender pay gap by nearly five percent, according to a White House Council of Economic Advisors report. PROGRESSIVE FEMALE LEADERS ON RAISING THE MINIMUM WAGENOW President Terry O’Neill: “[It is] absolutely essential to empowering women today” … Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards: “[It is] a defining issue of our time” … National Women’s Law Center Co-Founder and Co-President Nancy Duff Campbell: “[It is] more critical than ever in the fight for equal pay for women” … EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock: “[Raising the minimum wage] is one of the most important things we can do” … Agenda Project Founder and President Erica Payne: “Women … are at the center of a critical–and imminently winnable–fight that would instantly create a measurably more equal nation.”

These women all agree with EPI, Demos, the NAACP, over 600 economists, The Smart Capitalists, 57 percent of business owners, the Obama Administration, and even top conservatives that raising the minimum wage is the right thing to do … so why are top broadcast networks ABC, CBS, NBS, and PBS silent on this issue?

Over 15 million women, including one in five working mothers, would receive a raise if the federal minimum wage was increased to $10.10, according to new findings by the NWLC. Women make up two-thirds of all minimum wage workers. More than 70 percent of restaurant servers are women. A mother with two dependents working full time on a minimum wage salary still falls $4,000 short of the poverty line … Raising the federal minimum wage would also reduce government spending for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by $46 billion over the next 10 years. CAP President Neera Tanden sums it up: “Lawmakers calling themselves fiscal conservatives should wholly embrace a minimum wage increase…”

MIN WAGE MUST READS:Hey Sheryl: Lean on This” by Agenda Project President and Smart Capitalists Spokesperson Erica Payne; “The Great U-Turn” by Former Secretary of Labor and Top Wonk Robert Reich; and “Understanding CBO’s Minimum-Wage Report” by CAP Senior Fellow Scott Lilly. WATCH an animated history of the minimum wage and DOWNLOAD Half-in-Ten’s minimum wage action toolkit.

MOMMA CARES — With 13 days left before the March 31st enrollment deadline, Healthcare.gov launched #YourMomCares, a video campaign featuring Jonah Hill, Adam Levine, Jennifer Lopez, and Alicia Keys’ moms encouraging viewers to enroll in the ACA exchanges. Over 5 million individuals have already signed up, with 8 out of 10 insurees eligible for federal financial assistance to help pay for the insurance. Also CHECK OUT Obama on Funny or Die’s Between Two Ferns, which has already garnered 15 million views and a 40 percent increase in traffic to Healthcare.gov.

On March 6th CEPR Co-Director and Top Wonk Dean Baker gave testimony on the impact of the ACA on self-employment at the Obamacare and the Self-Employed: What About Us? hearing before the U.S. House Committee on Small Business Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce. READ his testimony HERE.

HIGHER ED, NOT DEBT — Demos, Generation Progress, CAP, Working Families, AFL-CIO, AFSCME, and many other organizations launched “Higher Ed, Not Debt,” a campaign focused on tackling the $1.2 trillion education debt currently affecting over 40 million Americans. Demos Vice President of Policy and Research and co-author of the new report “The Great Cost Shift Continues: State Higher Education Funding After the Recession“: “The diminishing affordability of higher education is eroding one of the last secure pathways into the middle class. The growth of our debt-for-diploma system has only intensified since the Great Recession.” WATCH an informational video about the campaign HERE.

MYTHBUSTERS, PROGRESSIVE STYLE — Media Matters created “Mythopedia,” a new app designed to quickly fact-check Conservative dissemblings. The site now has around 400 entries but will be updated regularly, and can be downloaded on smartphones. Simply enter a claim into the search engine and find out the real facts with links to research. TRY it HERE.

ONE NATION UNDER-WOOD – Taking a cue from House of Cards season 2, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) released a new report finding that combating currency manipulation would increase the annual GDP by between $288-$720 billion, create 2.3-5.8 million jobs, and reduce trade deficits. The report cites China and several other foreign countries involved in currency manipulation. READ: “Stop Currency Manipulation and Create Millions of Jobs.”

AT THE END OF THE RAINBOW – CAP published “Beyond Bullying,” a new study analyzing how hostile school climates exacerbate the school-to-prison pipeline for LGBT students of color. The report was released in conjunction with the President’s launch of the “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative. “Beyond Bullying” co-author Preston Mitchum: “LGBT youth, particularly those of color, are pushed out of schools and into juvenile and criminal justice systems at alarming rates. What’s more, the higher rates of punishment of these youth do not correlate to higher rates of misconduct. We must continue to examine the experiences of LGBT youth in schools, beyond bullying, to better understand why they are disproportionately caught in the school-to-prison pipeline.” CHECK OUT an infographic and READ the full report HERE.

THE PRESIDENTS’ BANKERS — Demos Senior Fellow and Top Wonk Nomi Prins will be discussing her new book All the Presidents’ Bankers at The Strand in New York on Tuesday, April 8. Fellow Top Wonk Tom Ferguson: “All the Presidents’ Bankers is gracefully written, carefully researched, and accessible. It is a must read for anyone concerned with politics and economics–in other words, just about everybody.” FIND OUT more and RSVP HERE.

TRANSPARENCYCAMP – Sunlight Foundation will be hosting the fifth annual TransparencyCamp open.gov “unconference” May 30 and 31 at the George Mason University Arlington campus. Events will focus on topics like government transparency and opening up public data. Everyone is welcome. LEARN MORE and REGISTER HERE.

FROM THE WONK WIRE

THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT: NRDC Executive Director and Top Wonk Peter Lehner explains the decimation of the Monarch butterfly due to the rise of glyphosate herbicides.

UNCHAINED MELODY: Social Security Works Co-Director and Top Wonk Nancy Altman and Social Security Works Founding Co-Director and Top Wonk Eric Kingson reveal how Progressives defeated the chained CPI.

SO LONG, FAREWELL: Defenders of Wildlife President and CEO and Top Wonk Jamie Rappaport Clark bids a thankful farewell to retiring Congressmen Miller (D-CA) and Moran (D-VA).

Find out more at www.TopWonks.org.

ON OUR AGENDA …  Check out and FOLLOW PP’s Twitter ** @PractProgress ** 

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CALLING FOR A RAISE…INVISIBLE WAR NO MORE…MILLENIALS AGAINST GUN VIOLENCE…RIGHTING VOTING RIGHTS…Ask and Tell…Mortgage Forgiveness…What About Us?…Sustainable Spring…WhatsApp With That?…

CALLING FOR A RAISE – The National Employment Law Project created a hotline for people to call their Representatives and urge them to sign the Fair Minimum Wage Act discharge petition, which House Democrats filed last Wednesday. The petition must get 218 signatures in order to force an immediate vote. CALL 1-888-851-1916 and SHARE with people you know. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a minimum wage worker must work at least 67 hours a week to afford rent. FIND OUT if you could live on the minimum wage in your state HERE.

Meanwhile, Smart Capitalist Ron Unz‘s ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage to 12 dollars an hour in California just got an endorsement from PayPal Co-Founder and GOP donor Peter Thiel, who recently agreed that a higher minimum wage was something to “seriously consider.” CHECK OUT the Smart Capitalists in the news HERE.

MIN WAGE MUST READ: Behind the Kitchen Door, a book exposing how restaurant workers live on some of the lowest wages in the country, authored by Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC United) Co-Founder Saru Jayaraman. FIND out about ROC United’s Living Off Tips campaign to raise the minimum wage for tipped workers HERE.

INVISIBLE WAR NO MORE – Producer of Academy Award nominated documentary “The Invisible War” Amy Ziering tells PP about the need to pass Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)’s Military Justice Improvement Act (MJIA), which if legalized would remove the chain of command from the oversight of sex crimes: “We need everyone to call their Senators and tell them to vote in favor of MJIA to ensure that our service members have access to an impartial system of justice — which is the very thing they pledge to defend for us with their lives. It’s the least we can do for them.” The vote is expected in the next few days. Protect our Defenders, CAP, The National Women’s Law Center, 19 out of the 20 female members of the U.S. Senate, conservatives Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rand Paul (R-KY) and countless others have all come out in support of MJIA. JOIN them by SIGNING a petition HERE and CALLING your Senator at 1-888-907-6886. Undecideds include Marco Rubio (R-FL), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Mike Lee (R-UT).

READ: “The Time Is Now for Military Justice for Assault Victims” by National Organization for Women President Terry O’Neill.

FIND OUT more about “The Invisible War” and the #NotInvisible campaign HERE.

MILLENIALS AGAINST GUN VIOLENCEEvery 70 minutes a 15-24 year old American dies due to gunfire, according to new findings by Generation Progress and the Center for American Progress (CAP). Just two weekends ago the groups hosted the first National Summit on Gun Violence and America’s Youth, featuring NAACP, Million Hoodies, Dream Defenders, reformed gang members, and individuals directly impacted by gun violence. READYoung Guns: How Gun Violence is Devastating the Millennial Generation” and FIND out more about the summit HERE.

RIGHTING VOTING RIGHTS4,000 MoveOn.Org members delivered a 200,000+ signature petition supporting the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014 (VRAA) to congressional offices on February 21st, in junction with their new “Defend the Vote” campaign. The VRAA is the first bipartisan attempt in Congress to restore some of the protections the Shelby County v. Holder ruling took away last year, which has been evident in disastrous discriminatory voting laws in states like Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, and Virginia.

Demos recently published “Millions to the Polls: Practical Policies to Fulfill the Freedom to Vote for All Americans,” outlining multiple strategies advocating for effective voting reform. ACLU Action drafted a petition urging Congress to pass the VRAA. SIGN HERE.

ASK AND TELL — CAP released a new study detailing why LGBT servicemen and women need civilian workplace protections, including the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). A large portion of LGBT service members are not active-duty, meaning they must also have civilian jobs; veterans currently experience a 3.3 percent higher rate of unemployment than their civilian counterparts. CAP Executive Vice President for External Affairs Winnie Stachelberg: “It’s unacceptable that we send men and women overseas to defend our values, such as equality, only to deny them these basic freedoms as soon as they return home.” READ: “The Freedom to Serve and the Freedom to Work.”

MORTGAGE FORGIVENESS — Americans for Financial Reform joined the National Housing Law Project, National Urban League, Home Defenders League, Consumer Action, CAP, and over 215 other organizations in signing a letter to Congress insisting that they extend the Mortgage Forgiveness Tax Relief Act. READ the letter HERE.

WHAT ABOUT US? — CEPR Co-Director and Top Wonk Dean Baker will be testifying on Thursday to the Committee on Small Business Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce about the effect of the Affordable Care Act on the self-employed. WATCH the livestream HERE.

SUSTAINABLE SPRING — Sierra Club is hosting a talk on toxins in schools on Wednesday, March 19th at the Seafarers & International House in New York. “Toxins in Schools and All Around Us” is the latest installment of their Sustainability Series. FIND out more HERE.

FROM THE WONK WIRE

INCONVENIENT TRUTHS: Wilson Center Public Policy Scholar and Top Wonk Ruth Greenspan Bell questions if the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is the best route to controlling greenhouse gases.

UNTANGLING FREE SPEECH: University of Chicago Law School Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Top Wonk Geoffrey Stone connects the dots between the noose, Ole Miss, and free speech.

WHATSAPP WITH THAT?: Former Secretary of Labor and Top Wonk Robert Reich spells out why WhatsApp is everything wrong with the U.S. economy.

Find out more at www.TopWonks.org.

ON OUR AGENDA … PP congratulates current CAP Chief of Staff and Senior Vice President Jessica O’Connell on her upcoming role as EMILY’s List Executive Director. CAP President Neera Tanden: “Jess has always had a deep commitment to ensuring that women are equally represented at all levels of government, and her management and leadership will be invaluable at EMILY’s List as she continues to fight for more opportunities for women.”

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SMART CAPITALISTS STORM THE HILL…STOP THE COMCAST MONOPOLY…GOVERNMENT FOR THE PEOPLE…OUR FUTURE, TOGETHER…JUSTICE FOR JORDAN?…Dragnet Nation…Olympic Economics…American Hustled…

SMART CAPITALISTS STORM THE HILL — Last Wednesday members of the Smart Capitalists for American Prosperity–a bipartisan group that includes dozens of the country’s top business leaders and investors–met in DC to announce their campaign to increase the federal minimum wage to at least $10.10 and index it to inflation. The group RELEASED a letter to the President and Congress, garnered media attention at a press conference, attended the President’s executive order signing to raise the minimum wage for federal contract employees, and met with senior White House officials. They were joined by NETWORK Executive Director Sister Simone Campbell and fellow “Nun on the Bus” Sister Richelle Friedman. Just last night GAP announced that they would raise their minimum wage to $10 by next year amidst reports that Wal-Mart is considering a hike.

Agenda Project President and Smart Capitalist Spokesperson Erica Payne: “Increase income, build demand for American products, raise the standard of living for millions of working citizens without costing Americans a cent in new taxes. This is a non-partisan no-brainer.”

Co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream and Smart Capitalist Ben Cohen: “There is only so much Chunky Monkey one rich guy can eat. For Ben & Jerry’s to succeed, we need more than one ice cream buying rich guy. Raise the minimum wage and everyone can have a scoop.”

READ: “Raising the Minimum Wage Would be Good for Wal-Mart and America” by former publisher of The American Conservative and Smart Capitalist Ron Unz.

STOP THE MONOPOLY — Free Press created a petition urging the Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department to reject the $42.5 billion merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable. If the merger is approved, Comcast would have unprecedented control over the country’s TV and Internet-access markets and over half of “triple-play” customers in the country. READComcast-Time Warner Doesn’t Pass the Smell Test” by Katrina vanden Heuvel and SIGN the petition HERE.

USA Today, The Washington Post, CNN, The New Yorker, and The Nation also covered the story.

FOR THE PEOPLE — Incoming Demos President and Top Wonk Heather McGhee lauded the introduction of H.R. 20–The Government by the People Act–that would encourage small dollar contributions to congressional races and act as a countermeasure to Citizens United: “Everyone should have an equal say in our democracy through the principle of one person, one vote–not one dollar, one vote.” READ Demos’ explainer on The Government by the People Act HERE.

OUR FUTURE, TOGETHER – The Center for American Progress (CAP) released a new video with interactive tools that details the critical role immigrants play in the U.S. workforce and economy. The data is based on their 2013 report “Our Future, Together.” WATCH HERE.

JUSTICE FOR JORDAN? — Advancement Project Co-Director Judith Browne Dianis reacted to the attempted murder verdict Michael Dunn received on Tuesday for the November 2012 murder of 17-year-old Jordan Davis: “[The] decision is the beginning of the dispensation of justice, but the fact that jurors could not convict Dunn of first degree murder–when his killing of Davis was not a matter of debate–it is a travesty that must be rectified in a second trial. It is also further evidence that laws such as ‘Stand Your Ground’ muddy the boundaries of self-defense so much, that the imagination of the shooter is given the same weight as the reality of his victim’s intractable death.” 

READ more commentary from the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, ColorOfChange, and others HERE.

DRAGNET NATION — The Brennan Center for Justice is hosting a conversation with Pulitzer Prize winning author and journalist Julia Angwin this Monday, February 24th in New York. Topics will include her new book Dragnet Nation and the sweeping surveillance state. FIND out more and RSVP HERE.

FROM THE WONK WIRE

OLYMPIC ECONOMICS: Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and Top Wonk Jeffrey Sachs explores the economic state of Russia from the 1980 Moscow Winter Olympics to the 2014 Sochi games.

AMERICAN HUSTLED: Brennan Center Fellow and Top Wonk Ciara Torres-Spelliscy analyzes the plot of American Hustle to show the lunacy of Super PACs and big money in politics today.

POLITICS OF LANGUAGE: Former Secretary of Labor and Top Wonk Robert Reich breaks down why “we” and “they” are the most important words in politics.

Find out more at www.TopWonks.org.

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HUGE DEMAND FOR A HIGHER WAGE…MORAL MARCH ON RALEIGH…NO TO THE BIG OIL STATUS QUO…MEET THE (ALL MALE) PRESS…Family Act Turns 21…The Voting Rights Playbook…Attack of the Robots…Civil Rights Through Living Wages…Pay To Play…

HUGE DEMAND FOR A HIGHER WAGE Over 21 million Americans would be directly affected by a federal wage increase to $10.10 per hour, according to a new state-specific infographic by Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC). PCCC also created a petition calling on congressional republicans to publicly support a federal raise in the minimum wage. SIGN HERE. Just last week, female Democratic senators came together to demand an increased minimum wage, joining ranks with PCCC, EPI, Demos, the NAACP, over 600 economists, and 62 percent of Americans.

Former publisher of The American Conservative Ron Unz: “I advocate for business but also believe businesses should pay their way and not burden taxpayers. They will reap benefits in the long run from raising workers out of poverty.” READ: “6 Reasons Conservative Ron Unz Wants to Raise the Minimum Wage to $12 an Hour” over at AlterNet.

MORAL MARCH ON RALEIGH — The Forward Together Moral Movement is organizing a march of thousands this Saturday in Raleigh to protest the notoriously oppressive and regressive agenda of Gov. Pat McCrory and the General Assembly. The coalition, which consists of over 160 civil rights, women’s rights, faith-based, labor, LGBT, immigrant justice, student and environmental communities and is led by the North Carolina NAACP, will march to the State Capitol. Last year they held over 30 Moral Monday rallies. North Carolina NAACP and Forward Together President Rev. William J. Barber, II: “Last year they had their time to vote and abuse power. This year we will vote with our voices to show power of the people.”

TWEET @ncnaacp and FIND out more event info HERE. WATCHCan Moral Mondays Save North Carolina?” over at The Nation.

NO TO THE BIG OIL STATUS QUO — Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and Top Wonk Jeffrey Sachs sums up the recent findings from the State Department Environmental Impact Statement for the Keystone Pipeline: “According to the State Department Report, we are trapped in the Big Oil Status Quo We Can Believe In.” Since 1990, pipelines in the U.S. have spilled more than 110 million gallons of crude oil and petroleum, including oil from tar sands that is 15 to 20 percent dirtier than conventional petroleum. The proposed 1,179 mile Keystone XL Pipeline would pump tar sands oils from Alberta, Canada to Texan refineries.

READ NRDC’s recent report on the climate impacts of the KXL and SIGN the NoKXL Pledge of Resistance, organized by CREDO, Rainforest Action Network, and the Other 98%.

MEET THE (ALL MALE) PRESS — 24 women leaders and organizations–including WAM! Executive Director Jaclyn Friedman, NARAL President Ilyse Hogue, and MomsRising Executive Director and CEO Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner–penned an open letter to the six network and cable news heads urging them to increase the diversity on their Sunday morning political talk shows. The effort came in response to a recent Media Matters report that found that the vast majority of hosts and guests were men. READ their full report HERE.

FAMILY ACT TURNS 21 — An expansion in the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) would increase access to leave for up to 8.3 million more employees, according to new findings from The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) in honor of FMLA’s 21st anniversary. READ: “Expanding Federal Family and Medical Leave Coverage: Who Benefits from Changes in Eligibility Requirements?

THE VOTING RIGHTS PLAYBOOK – The Center for American Progress (CAP) published a new report detailing the need for federal voting protections post Shelby County vs. Holder. The controversial ruling struck down Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act, which had enabled Section 5 to regulate discriminatory voting laws. READ: “The Voting Rights Playbook: Why Courts Matter Post-Shelby County v. Holder.”

FROM THE WONK WIRE

ATTACK OF THE ROBOTS: CEPR Co-Director and Top Wonk Dean Baker reveals why economists are not very good at economics through the lens of patent laws.

CIVIL RIGHTS THROUGH LIVING WAGES: NAACP President and CEO and Top Wonk Benjamin Todd Jealous argues that the State of the Union takeaway is tangible progress on civil rights.

PAY TO PLAY: Director of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics at Harvard University and Top Wonk Lawrence Lessig recounts his 185-mile walk across New Hampshire that focused on grassroots efforts to remove big money corrupting politics.

Find out more at www.TopWonks.org.

PP will be back after President’s Day!

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CAF CREATES BEST TOOL EVER…GIVE AMERICA A RAISE…A NOT SO HAPPY ANNIVERSARY…ADVANCEMENT PROJECT APPLAUDS PA VOTING RIGHTS VICTORY…New CAP Report Lays Out Quick and Clear Citizenship Plan…PP Congratulates Top Wonk and Future President of Demos Heather McGhee!…

CAF CREATES BEST TOOL EVER – Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) created a new tool that directly connects constituents with their Senators by simply entering a zip code. CHECK IT OUT HERE. This tool will be critical to put pressure on Congress as efforts ramp up to  … “GIVE AMERICA A RAISE” — Economic Policy Institute’s (EPI) letter in support of the Harkin-Miller Bill which would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 has now garnered over 600 signatures from leading economists, including over 20 Top Wonks. National Employment Law Project Policy Analyst Jack Temple TELLS PP: “Low-wage jobs are defining the core of the US economy today–which is why raising the minimum wage is not only a top-tier political issue today, but also an urgent economic priority that cannot wait another year.” Despite the fact that low-wage workers are more educated than ever, the minimum wage is 23 percent less than its peak inflation-adjusted value in 1968, according to EPI President and Top Wonk Lawrence Mishel. After months of protests and pressure the President announced on Tuesday an executive order to increase government contract workers’ salaries to $10.10 an hour. The vote for a federal hike is expected in the coming months.

… Democratic Senators who have yet to sign onto Harkin-Miller: Baucus (MT), Bennet (CO), Carper (DE), Coons (DE), Donnelly (IN), Feinstein (CA), Hagan (NC), Johnson (SD), Kaine (VA), King (ME), Landrieu (LA), Manchin (WV), McCaskill (MO), Menendez (NJ), Nelson (FL), Pryor (AR), Shaheen (NH), Tester (MT), Udall (CO), Udall (NM), and Warner (VA).

… Republicans that are on the fence include: Alexander (TN), Ayotte (NH), Chambliss (GA), Collins (ME), Corker (TN), Flake (AZ), Graham (SC), Heller (NV), Isaakson (GA), Johnson (WI), Kirk (IL), McCain (AZ), McConnell (KY), Murkowski (AK), Portman (OH), and Toomey (PA).

A NOT SO HAPPY ANNIVERSARY — Planned Parenthood Action Fund launched a petition urging the Senate not to join the House in passing the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” (H.R.7). The controversial bill–which the White House said on Monday that the President would veto if it made it to his desk–would significantly reduce the amount of ACA subsidized health insurance plans that could cover abortion procedures. SIGN Planned Parenthood’s petition HERE.

Last week marked the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade. READ: NARAL’s recent study “Who Decides?: The Status of Women’s Reproductive Rights in the United States” and “No, Ross Douthat, Restricting Abortion Won’t Shore Up Marriage” over at The Nation.

PA VOTING RIGHTS VICTORY — Advancement Project Co-Director and Top Wonk Penda D. Hair lauded a Pennsylvania state judge’s ruling that struck down the state’s voter ID law as unconstitutional: “Hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvania citizens who lack one of the limited forms of acceptable photo ID can now cast their ballots without burdensome obstacles. By protecting voting as a fundamental right, [the] decision affirms that all Pennsylvania voters should have the opportunity to participate equally in the democratic process.”

The highly restrictive voter ID law was signed into effect in March 2012 despite no evidence of even a single case of voter fraud in Pennsylvania. Plaintiffs included the NAACP Pennsylvania State Conference, the Homeless Advocacy Project, the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania and individual voters.

QUICK AND CLEAR CITIZENSHIP? — The Center for American Progress (CAP) released a new report examining the economic benefits of granting full citizenship. The report compares countries in North America and Europe, concluding that the optimal waiting period for citizenship is roughly 5 years. READ: “The Economic Case for a Clear, Quick Pathway to Citizenship.”

38 LEGISLATURES IN SESSION NOWPublic Leadership Institute–a sister organization of Progressive Majority–and ALICE have collaborated to publish Progressive Agenda, an outline of current issues and legislative models to advance Progressive policies at the state and local levels. 48 legislators in 27 states are currently using the Agenda as a tool to organize inside chambers. FIND out more and DOWNLOAD the Agenda HERE.

SIZING UP THE SURVEILLANCE STATE — Next Wednesday, February 5, the Brennan Center for Justice will be hosting a special phone briefing to discuss the recent major developments in NSA Surveillance. Brennan Center’s Liberty and National Security Program Co-Directors Faiza Patel and Elizabeth Goitein will be joined by Brennan Center Fellow Mike German on the panel. RSVP to John Donahue at john.donahue@nyu.edu or (646) 292-8333.

FROM THE WONK WIRE

CUTTING THE LINE: Brennan Center for Justice Democracy Program Director and Top Wonk Wendy R. Weiser boils down the bipartisan efforts to bring efficiency and equality back to the electoral process.

TICK TOCK TO REVOLUTION?: Former Secretary of Labor and Top Wonk Robert Reich spells out three reasons why the middle-class isn’t fuming at the shocking state of income inequality.

THE REAL INEQUALITY AGENDA: CEPR Co-Director and Top Wonk Dean Baker distinguishes between an increase in the federal minimum wage and a greater inequality agenda.

Find out more at www.TopWonks.org.

ON OUR AGENDA … PP congratulates current Demos Vice President of Policy and Outreach and Top Wonk Heather McGhee on her upcoming role as the President of Demos. Current Demos President Miles Rapoport: “She is really one of the most extraordinary leaders I have ever met.” Her term will begin on March 10.

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