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Background Briefing: June 5, 2019


Ending Usury and an “Agenda for Economic Patriotism”

Hello and welcome to Background Briefing, available 24/7 at backgroundbriefing.org, I’m Ian Masters and today we will look into a number of stories and issues in the news.  We will begin with Bernie Sanders addressing the annual meeting of Walmart shareholders today at which he shamed the company’s executives and the Walton family owners who are among the richest families in the world, pointing out that “Walmart workers are sick and tired of being paid starvation wages”. Later Sanders joined Representative Ocasio Cortez and economist Robert Hockett for a town hall on Twitter to discuss their bill the Loan Shark Prevention Act which puts a 15% cap on all consumer loans. Robert Hockett, a Professor of Law at Cornell Law School who helped Elizabeth Warren write the Accountable Capitalism Act and is currently a public finance adviser to Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and helped write the Green New Deal and the Loan Shark Prevention Act, joins us. We will discuss how since usury laws were overturned by the banking lobby, banks and credit card companies in states like South Dakota and Delaware are able to charge as much as 23% on money they borrow from the Federal Reserve at 2.5%. Starting in the 1980’s with Ronald Reagan, this has turned America from an income-based economy to a credit-driven consumer economy with most of the gains of increased productivity going to the 1% while most Americans haven’t had a raise since the late 1970’s. We also discuss Elizabeth Warren’s latest plan which she calls an “Agenda for Economic Patriotism”.


Senators Push Back Against Trump’s Transfers of Nuclear Technology and Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia

Then we speak with Shireen Al-Adeimi, a professor of education at Michigan State University who has lived through two civil wars in her native Yemen and is now playing an active role in raising awareness of the humanitarian atrocities underway in the U.S.-supported Saudi-led war in Yemen. She joins us to discuss her article at In These Times “Why Nancy Pelosi Needs to Sue the Trump Administration Over the Yemen War” and how U.S. Senators led by Lindsey Graham are pushing back against the Trump administration’s transfer of nuclear technology and arms sales to Saudi Arabia.


Crippling Mexico with Tariffs to Stop Central American Refugees

Then finally we examine the escalation of Trump’s trade war with Mexico in which he has tied the border and immigration issues to ramping up tariffs unless Mexico stops migrant flows into the United States which the much richer United States with far more resources has not been able to accomplish. Katheryn Russ, a Professor of Economics at the University of California, Davis who worked on the Obama administration’s Council of Economic Advisers as a Senior Economist for International Trade and Finance, joins us to discuss today’s White House talks between Vice President Pence and Mexico’s Foreign Minister that went nowhere and how retaliatory tariffs by Mexico could hurt Trump’s reelection chances in important swing states.