Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders on Sunday reminded Americans that “not a single Republican voted” for President Joe Biden‘s American Rescue Plan, which provided $1,400 stimulus checks.
In March, the Democratic-controlled House passed the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill in a 220-211 vote, with all Republicans and one Democrat opposing it. The final House vote on the amended legislation came after SenateDemocrats used a budget process called reconciliation to pass the legislation in the upper chamber without Republican support.
“Here’s a radical idea: majority rule. Not a single Republican voted to provide a $1,400 direct payment to the working class or a $3,000 Child Tax Credit. The Senate passed this important legislation with 51 votes. We must do the same with the American Jobs and Family plans,” tweeted Sanders, an independent.
Apart from the direct payments, the landmark stimulus measure also included $350 billion in aid to state and local governments, an extension of the federal unemployment benefits, $130 billion to assist school re-openings and $160 billion for the development and distribution of coronavirus vaccines.
Democrats decided to use reconciliation after weeks of negotiations with party moderates and Republicans. At the time, progressives condemned the concessions made to appease moderate Democrats, including as lowering the federal unemployment benefit boost from $400 to $300 and applying stricter income thresholds to the checks.
The $15 federal minimum wage measure was also removed after Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough determined that it violated the rules of the chamber.
Sanders has previously called for Democrats to pass Biden’s $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan, which would boost infrastructure, create high-paying jobs to facilitate innovation, and strengthen manufacturing, and the $1.8 trillion American Families Plan, which would allocate funds for education and tax cuts for families, without Republican support.
In an interview with Axios last month, the progressive senator said he doesn’t “agree” with Biden’s effort to reach across the aisle to strike a deal. “The bottom line is the American people want results,” he said. “Frankly, when people got a, you know, $1,400 check or $5,600 check for their family, they didn’t say, ‘Oh, I can’t cash this check because it was done without any Republican votes.'”
On Saturday, U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm told CNN that Democrats will begin preparing the infrastructure bill on Wednesday for a House vote, after Biden rejected the latest offer presented by Republicans.
“The president still has hope, Joe Manchin still has hope” a bipartisan deal can be reached, she added.
Newsweek reached out to the White House for comment. This story will be updated with any response.
New Economic Thinking “We don’t look after each other at all,” says Jeffrey Sachs on America today Jeffrey Sachs sits down with Rob Johnson to discuss his new book, A New Foreign Policy: Beyond American Exceptionalism (Columbia University Press, 2018).
Decades after Bernie Sanders first ran bus trips to Canada, President Biden has a bipartisan opportunity to end drugmakers’ scam locking Americans out of lower-priced medicine.
More than 20 years ago when I was the press secretary for then-Congressman Bernie Sanders, I rode a bus with him and a group of seniors seeking lower-priced prescription drugs at Canadian pharmacies. The trips were part of our attempt to spotlight the pharmaceutical industry charging American consumers the world’s highest prices for medicine — and soon after, another candidate I worked for, Brian Schweitzer, started running similar bus trips. It became a national headline-grabbing crusade.
Sanders’ effort was wildly successful against the odds — until it was short circuited by Bill Clinton. Despite well-funded opposition from the pharmaceutical lobby, the Vermont lawmaker’s campaign helped pass legislation through the Republican Congress that would have allowed Americans to import lower-priced prescription drugs from other industrialized countries — just as Europe has safely done to help reduce prices there.
However, Clinton’s Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala — with the support of the president — ended up doing a huge favor to drug companies by effectively vetoing the importation program, choosing not to implement it, in the final weeks of the Clinton presidency. Shalala did so by parroting drug companies’ brazenly dishonest safety argument, which alleges that even as drug companies themselves regularly import medicine — and even though other countries have constructed safe parallel importation programs — importation would somehow endanger American consumers. She also claimed it wouldn’t save money.
This episode has been a cautionary tale about the power of the pharmaceutical lobby and drugmakers to use massive campaign contributions and armies of lobbyists to rig laws and rip off consumers.
This industry — which so often touts the virtues of free trade — has used its political influence to embed a contradiction in our trade laws. Today, drug companies are permitted to manufacture drugs abroad and then import them for sale at inflated prices in the United States — all while those trade laws prohibit American consumers, wholesalers and pharmacists from engaging in the same cross-border importation that might reduce prices.
But two decades later — as wildly profitable drugmakers continue to mercilessly hike medicine prices — there may finally be some good news: After Sanders reprised the bus trips during his 2020 presidential campaign, Big Pharma is once again on the precipice of losing this same battle. And now, the Biden administration is in the position to deliver a big win to begin saving consumers billions of dollars.
Here’s the kicker: This particular victory would satiate President Biden’s obsession with bipartisanship because a reactionary Trump-allied Republican just so happens to be leading the latest iteration of the importation crusade.
The Changing Politics Of Drug Prices
That’s right, Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis — a prospective 2024 presidential candidate — signed a 2019 law making his state one of six moving to create a program to facilitate the importation of medicines from Canada, where prescription drugs are available on average at roughly half the American price. The legislation requires the federal government to effectively invalidate Shalala’s 2001 veto and approve state importation plans — and so now DeSantis is pressuring the Biden administration “to act immediately to approve Florida’s plan that will ultimately help drive down costs for taxpayers.”
The move by DeSantis illustrates how the politics of prescription drugs have scrambled in recent years.
Sanders’ original coalition was mostly Democrats with a handful of free-trade Republicans. Barack Obama was one of those Democratic supporters — he voted for it as a senator, and promised to allow importation as president. But then his administration echoed pharmaceutical lobbyists’ safety talking points to justify leaving it out of the Affordable Care Act to the outrage of the Democrats pushing it, and the administration never approved Brian Schweitzer’s request to launch an importation program in Montana when he was elected governor.
In the Trump era, a handful of Democrats started the GOP president’s term by helping his party vote down a drug importation measure. Later, President Trump upended the dynamic by endorsing a proposed rule to facilitate drug imports from Canada. The Republican president created an ideological up-is-down funhouse mirror effect in which conservatives who constantly profess their fealty to free markets began making a free trade argument to demand that Americans get access to Canada’s pharmaceutical price controls.
Now Biden has a chance to take at least part of the issue back for Democrats. Under existing federal rules, his administration has the authority to approve or deny state importation plans.
Biden following through on his campaign promise to support importation would be an easy way to satiate his bipartisan fetish — something he can do without passing new legislation. Polls have long shown that the idea of drug importation is wildly popular among voters across the political spectrum, and it has support from both Democratic and Republican elected officials.
Then again, drugmakers have funneled more than $30 million to Democrats since 2016, and the last election cycle saw them deliver more cash to Democrats than Republicans, according to data compiled by OpenSecrets. Biden’s campaign raked in more than $13 million from donors in the pharmaceutical and health products sector — and while his HHS secretary Xavier Becerra voted for importation during his time in Congress, Biden has also stocked his administration with officials linked to the drug industry, which is frantically trying to block the administration from permitting importation.
That obstruction campaign is now in the courts, where drugmakers’ top Washington lobbying group, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), has filed a lawsuit to try to preemptively block the federal government from allowing importation. Their case is predicated on the recycled assertion that letting Americans import FDA-approved medicines from places like Canada would “present significant safety risks” — an argument originally destroyed by former Republican Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who said his response to drugmakers’ safety canard is “where are the dead Canadians?”
Torn between the Democratic Party’s pharmaceutical donors and a popular bipartisan importation initiative, Biden’s administration has so far sent mixed signals. On the one hand, the White House took the side of patients by asking the court to dismiss the case, but on the other hand Biden’s HHS admitted last week that it has not even set a timetable on whether to approve state initiatives to import lower-priced medicines.
To be sure, state importation programs that are limited only to Canada are not singular gamechangers in the fight to lower drug prices — such limitations could allow drugmakers to ratchet down supplies in Canada, and the Canadian government could restrict exports. Similarly, a fully expanded importation program that includes all industrialized countries with FDA-inspected facilities would not alone solve the drug price problem. Achieving that requires everything from patent reform to letting Medicare marshal its bulk purchasing power to negotiate discounts.
That said, any state importation program — even a limited pilot version — would kick the door open to a wider importation system, and that would be a significant step in the right direction. The Congressional Budget Office recently reported that if implemented nationally, importation could save the federal government almost $7 billion over a decade, and that does not include how much more it might save consumers.
The pharmaceutical industry recognizes how much is at stake here, as evidenced by its ferocious opposition. Indeed, for two decades, drug companies have refused to compromise or negotiate on this issue. They have aggressively fought importation at every step because they recognize how lucrative their current scam is.
Right now, they enjoy vast riches generated by one of the biggest contradictions in American public policy: They get free-trade rights to import medicines from manufacturing facilities across the world, while denying those same free-trade rights to consumers.
In other words, they get special protectionism for their own outsized profits — unless the Biden administration acts.
Most changes to San Francisco over the last century have undoubtedly bettered the city for its residents.
But while huge improvements — like the removal of the neighborhood-desecrating Central and Embarcadero freeways — made the city better, other changes created a more sorry street evolution. Corners of the city that thrived with life, culture and neon lights are gone to urban development. Jazz clubs, ornate movie palaces and bustling sidewalks leveled to make way for high-rises, Starbucks and lots of concrete.
We found seven spots in San Francisco (and one in Oakland) almost unidentifiable from their former selves. Though if you look closely, some vestiges of the old city still stand proud.
Neon on Market
One of the saddest street changes is seen here: San Francisco’s gorgeous neon theater district near Civic Center now faded into history. Among some of the flashy signs visible in this 1959 postcard are marquees for the Embassy Theatre, the United Artists Theatre (later the Loew’s Theater, where the world premiere of “Dirty Harry” was screened in 1971), the Paramount and the Warfield.
Long gone are the Embassy and Paramount, once some of San Francisco’s most popular entertainment venues. The Embassy survived (barely) both the 1906 and 1989 earthquakes, although it sustained major damage in ’89. It was demolished in the mid-1990s. The same fate befell the Paramount in the ’60s. Theaters that rented office space in the upper floors, like the Warfield, had better odds of survival.
One of the only consistent signposts of this stretch of Market is the stalwart Odd Fellows Temple. Surprisingly for a fraternal organization, the lodge has a lit-up sign, making it look more like the movie houses on the block than a hangout for club members. The building is still fun to see today; it’s decorated in Odd Fellows symbols like stars, all-seeing eyes and three-link chains.
The Fabulous Fox
There’s a lifeless, windy corner a few blocks up Market Street from the old theater district that maybe reveals the greatest contrast in a San Francisco streetscape from the old city to today.
For 34 years, William Fox’s “greatest theatre in the world” at 1350 Market St. was a thriving entertainment cathedral. The giant, 4,600-seat movie palace was built to cater to patrons flocking to the expanding reach of Hollywood in the ’20s. The ornate lobby featured a gold-leaf ceiling, rich tapestries and numerous antiques.
But by the ’60s, attendance had dwindled, and the Fox Theatre’s glory days were numbered. The building was slated for demolition despite a passionate “Save the Fox” campaign.
At the close of the theater’s two-night sold-out farewell shows in February 1963, as a searchlight swooped above the crowds outside, organist George Wright played “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” for the final time as his Wurlitzer sank into the orchestra pit.
The relics were sold off and the building was razed, eventually replaced with the uninspired 29-story office building that stands next to a Starbucks, a few scattered pedestrians and some moribund trees today.
This archival shot looking north on Fillmore in 1908 across O’Farrell Street shows a teeming neighborhood returning to city life after the devastation of the earthquake and fire only two years prior. The 1906 blaze was finally halted by a firebreak on Van Ness, seven blocks east, allowing the Fillmore to spearhead the city’s comeback as it became one of the major commercial and cultural centers of San Francisco.
The old scene reveals a doctor’s office in a Victorian corner building looking over the intersection and San Franciscans huddled on street cars as a horse and wagon passes. The northern corner of O’Farrell houses Van Vroom’s “painless” dentistry and a cigar store below.
Years later, after becoming one of the most vibrant Black jazz strips west of the Mississippi, every Victorian structure in sight here would be leveled in one of the most regrettable urban planning decisions in the city’s history.
While city planners, led by controversial administrator M. Justin Hermann, claimed the decision was based on soaring crime rates in the neighborhood, most saw it for what it was — a racially motivated removal of African Americans from the district. The redevelopment project in the ’60s affected nearly 100 city blocks and displaced more than 20,000 mostly Black residents.
The district has seen some renewal, even to the Jazz scene, in recent decades, but the Starbucks and high-rise condominiums that now loom over O’Farrell and Fillmore are a shadow of the former bustling corner of city life a century ago.
The many lives of Pacific Avenue
There is maybe no single block in San Francisco that has had more makeovers than Pacific Avenue between Kearny and Montgomery. Once the heart of the infamous Barbary Coast, the sordid, violent strip catered to the vices of the thousands of young men who came ashore to find gold in the 1860s. After the 1906 quake, it was rebuilt and rebranded as “Terrific Street,” a dirty, boozy strip of nightclubs and jazz clubs where buttoned up middle-class businessmen would sojourn to “slum it” and get their fill of the debaucherous side of San Francisco.
The third iteration of Pacific Avenue, seen here in the 1957 musical movie “Pal Joey,” was somewhat oddly named “International Settlement” — a less vice-ridden but equally entertaining strip of restaurants and clubs including the Arabian Nights cocktail lounge, the Gay ‘N Frisky club, the Hippodrome club, Bella Pacific and Moulin Rouge.
The wild side of Pacific Avenue would finally be tamed in the late ’50s, when the bawdy establishments were replaced with respectable furniture and drapery stores, and the historic block hasn’t changed much since.
California and Grant
The view down the steep block of California Street towards Grant Avenue in San Francisco’s historic Chinatown is almost unrecognizable today when compared with this archival photograph, with a few notable exceptions.
The hatted gent strolling down the hill in 1915 has a clear view of Old St. Mary’s Cathedral on the left — unsurprising, as that building was once the tallest building in California, though now it’s not even the tallest building on the block. In 100 yards, he may catch glimpse of the strange sign that looms from the tower: “Son, Observe the Time and Fly from Evil,” still visible today.
The other tall structure on the right — under construction in today’s view — is the pagoda-like old Sing Fat Company building. The Chinese-styled architecture however was not built by, or for, the Chinese residents, but by white architects Ross and Burgren in 1910 as a tourist-enticing “Oriental Bazaar.”
The Cliff House
After the first Cliff House burned down in 1894, there was great consternation that property owner Adolph Sutro would destroy the aesthetic of the area with his new construction. “[Architects] fear that Mr. Sutro will sacrifice art to utility, and make the Cliff House a laughing stock rather than a delight,” the Examiner fretted in 1895.
Instead, he made one of San Francisco’s most photographed buildings, a seven-story gothic gingerbread fantasy. Next door, he also added the Sutro Baths, creating a huge entertainment complex along the seashore. But by the middle of the 20th century, both had burned down.
Although some may like the stark, clean lines of the current iteration of the Cliff House, we think it doesn’t compare with the opulence of the 1890s. Coupled with the fact the grounds used to be a public park, covered in statues and ornate landscaping, the area today feels rather antiseptic.
Latham Square in downtown Oakland
It’s not as striking as some of the other transformations, but this little corner in Oakland interested us primarily as an example of how public spaces changed over the past 70 years. Eagle-eyed locals may recognize the lion fountain that serves as the centerpiece of Latham Square at Telegraph and Broadway. Over the decades, much of the attractive landscaping was removed, as was a spectacular AC Transit bus stop.
Gone, too, are all the adorable retail and restaurant signs, like Monroe’s Toys, Pam’s (which advertises “famous pancakes”), Manning’s Coffee Cafe and a See’s Candies. Behind the square still is the slim and stunning Cathedral Building, finished in 1914. Back then, as the sign indicates, it was a Merle Norman. Today, the ground floor is home to — you guessed it — a Peet’s.
Top of the Mark
Since World War II, generations of San Franciscans and tourists have taken in the city skyline from the Top of the Mark.
Once the 19th-floor penthouse of the Mark Hopkins Hotel, the suite was converted into a cocktail lounge in 1939. It gained nationwide fame during the war as the farewell drinking spot of many troops about to ship out to the Pacific.
The black-and-white photograph shows a patron in the mid-1940s looking out onto Nob Hill’s tallest buildings, like the Clay-Jones Apartments and Bellaire Tower (where Gavin Newsom once lived in the penthouse). The current view, while still lovely especially on a clear day out to the Golden Gate Bridge, is not quite so iconic, now peppered with a number of nondescript apartment and condo buildings.
Katie Dowd is the SFGATE Managing Editor. Written ByAndrew ChamingsReach Andrew on
SFGATE Local Editor Andrew Chamings was formerly Senior Editor at The Bold Italic and has written for The Atlantic, Vice and McSweeney’s. Follow him on Twitter. Email: email@example.com
Have includedTRANSPORTATION AND ACCESSIBILITY from AROC’s link which includes shuttle, parking, and resources to bring.
BART starts running at 5:00am
This is from AROC
ZIM IS DOCKING IN OAKLAND FRIDAY, JUNE 4TH!TIME TO PROTEST THE APARTHEID-PROFITEERING ZIM SHIP!
After delaying an Israel-operated vessel from docking in the port of Oakland for over two weeks, #BlockTheBoat is mobilizing thousands to block its unloading!
WHAT: Mass community picket to block Israeli ZIM-operated cargo ship from unloading in the Port of Oakland WHEN: Starting at 6 am, Friday, June 4, 2021 WHERE: Middle Harbor Shoreline Park, 2777 Middle Harbor Rd, Oakland
Shuttles will be taking people from West Oakland BART to Middle Harbor Shoreline Park beginning at 5:30am. Please look out for signs around BART and on vehicles. More information: bit.ly/btbaccess
Real-time updates can be accessed by subscribing to alerts at (812) 562-5946
For weeks, the Arab Resource & Organizing Center’s (AROC) #BlocktheBoat campaign has mobilized communities to successfully prevent the docking of vessels operated by Israeli shipping company ZIM. Over 5,000 people have signed up to answer the call to action at the Port of Oakland in solidarity with Palestine and the international BDS movement. Following AROC’s calls for a community picket at the port, the ZIM-operated Volans ship delayed docking in Oakland for 17 days. The ship is now scheduled to dock in the port of Oakland on the morning of June 4th, 2021.
Thousands of Bay Area residents, organized labor, and community activists will mobilize tomorrow, June 4th, 2021, starting at 6:00 am at Middle Harbor Shoreline Park, Port of Oakland, to prevent the unloading of the Volans’ cargo.
AROC has called for an international week of action to #BlockTheBoat from June 2 – June 9th. Social justice organizations in port cities are organizing community pickets to prevent ZIM ships from unloading anywhere. Actions are now scheduled in Los Angeles, Houston, Vancouver, Seattle/Tacoma, New York/New Jersey, and Philadelphia, with projected actions in Italy and South Africa.
Zim Integrated Shipping Services Ltd (ZIM) is Israel’s largest cargo shipping company, often dealing in Israeli manufactured military technology, armaments and logistics equipment.
Recent calls for action against ZIM follow a call from labor unions in Palestine calling on workers and communities worldwide to refuse dealings with Israeli companies. On May 25th, the 10 unions representing Bay Area port workers, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Northern California District Council, released a statement ‘in solidarity with Palestine and Palestinian communities across the world who are fighting for justice.’ #BlocktheBoat has received over 100 endorsements from labor unions, faith, and community organizations, including the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), the largest federation of trade unions in South Africa, representing 1.8 million people. TRANSPORTATION AND ACCESSIBILITY CARPOOL · There will be drivers shuttling people from West Oakland BART to Middle Harbor Shoreline Park beginning at 5:30am. Please look out for signs around BART and on vehicles. · · Directions for those needing a shuttle: Exit West Oakland Bart to 7th St., the main street in front of the BART station. Turn left on 7th St. to walk a half block toward the corner of 7th and Chester St. Shuttles will be waiting at Chester St. and 7th St.· · We unfortunately currently will not have an accessible van that can accommodate wheelchairs for the carpool.· · There will be rotating carpools throughout the day bringing people from the West Oakland BART station to the port gate (location to be added soon). Cars will be marked with BTB (Block The Boat) signs.· · Before the action, call this Jewish Voice for Peace number (510) 255-0058 to offer your services to carpool to and from the West Oakland BART station and the gate. · RESOURCES TO BRING
· If possible, please bring folding chairs, sunscreen/hats, water, snacks, good shoes, or any other resources that you will need to picket in front of the gates for extended periods of time.· If you have bikes or cars that can be used for shuttling, please let us know! Call and leave a message at the Jewish Voice for Peace number (510) 255-0058. PARKING · West Oakland BART station has parking available – parking costs $3 until 4pm and you have to enter the BART station to pay.· International Maritime Center also has limited parking .· Join us as we mobilize in Oakland to demonstrate to the world that apartheid-profiteering is not welcome anywhere, and that we will continue to echo the calls to Boycott, Divest and Sanction Israel until Palestine is free!
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My apologies for getting this out so late. Our film(s) this month will be a series of short of 5 short videos that cover various aspects of the Palestinian situation, which is our subject for the month. The films vary in length from 8 to 12 mins (less than an hour in total). Here’s the writeup and the official flyer is attached: Here’s the Zoom link information: Sensible Cinema Zoom meeting at 6:30pm on Friday, June 18, 2021. The virtual door opens at 6:00pm if you care to drop in early. Join Zoom Meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89812236935?pwd=dnpDbWpkeUg3cndudXE2TDhPV1JZUT09 Meeting ID: 898 1223 6935 Passcode: 254041… Continue reading →
ISF State and Local Working Group meeting: Friday, June 18, 7:30–8:30 PM. Register here to help us plan to propose legislation to our state legislators and support progressive initiatives on the state and local level.
The Institute for the Critical Study of Society at the Niebyl-Proctor Marxist Library Sunday Morning at the Marxist Library OUR CURRENT SCHEDULE (NOTE: These are all tentative and may be changed. Please check back the week before, or sign up for our weekly reminders/updates at firstname.lastname@example.org) Sun, Dec 27, 2020: 10:30 am to 12:30 pm CONFIRMED: The Three Concepts of Freedom Synopsis: In this session we will compare and contrast the Liberal, Democratic, and the communist concepts of freedom. We will discuss that the Liberal freedom consists of the legal guarantees against outside intrusions. Democratic freedom emphasizes the right to participate in the… Continue reading →
Phone Bank to Arizona to Kill the Filibuster, with Indivisible East Bay: Sunday, June 20, 1-3 PM. Call Arizona voters of color and patch them through to Senator Sinema to encourage her to reform the filibuster in order to pass the For the People Act (HR1/S1). This will be a recurring virtual phone bank hosted each Sunday between 1 PM – 3 PM PT. Sign up here.
Neighborhood Outreach to Renters in the Fillmore Interested in tenant organizing? Join Neighbors United for our weekly phonebank, Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m. We’ll be calling tenants in the Fillmore to let them know about their rights, and how to access rent relief. On June 30th at 6:00 p.m. in Jefferson Square Park, we’ll be hosting a tenant’s rights bootcamp. Want to become more involved on a regular basis? Join our weekly meeting on Sundays at 12:00 p.m.
Tom Ammiano in conversation with Tim Redmond Tuesday, June 22nd, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. Virtual event hosted on Zoom; register at this link: https://bit.ly/TomAmmiano06-22-21 Tom Ammiano discusses his recently published autobiography, Kiss My Gay Ass: My Trip Down the Yellow Brick Road Through Activism, Stand-up, and Politics. The book follows Tom from his arrival in San Francisco on a Greyhound bus, through the flopsweat trials of professional comedy and deep into the halls of power at City Hall and the State Capitol. Tom Ammiano’s story could only happen in one place: San Francisco.