Congress Set to Decide Whether It Cares About Poor People or Corporations

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Brad Plumer lists seven things that Congress needs to do this month. Two of them amount to “don’t be stupid and shut down the government.” One is just miscellaneous stuff. And another is confirmation of Janet Yellen as Fed chairman, which is uncontroversial and should take only a day or two. So really, we’re left with three things:

  1. Decide whether to extend emergency unemployment insurance.
  2. Pass a farm bill.
  3. Decide whether to extend 55 different tax breaks.

Unemployment insurance is a social safety net program. The farm bill is stalled over whether to enact cuts to food stamps. The 55 tax breaks mostly benefit corporations and campaign donors.

Any guesses about which of these urgent priorities will produce adamantine opposition from Republicans and which will get broad support and pass without too much trouble? Did you guess that #3 would be the easy one, despite the fact that it costs about five times more than the other two combined? Congratulations! You too can be a political pundit.

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WHO DOESN’T LOVE A POSITIVE STORY—OR TWO?

“Great journalism really does make a difference in this world: it can even save kids.”

That’s what a civil rights lawyer wrote to Julia Lurie, the day after her major investigation into a psychiatric hospital chain that uses foster children as “cash cows” published, letting her know he was using her findings that same day in a hearing to keep a child out of one of the facilities we investigated.

That’s awesome. As is the fact that Julia, who spent a full year reporting this challenging story, promptly heard from a Senate committee that will use her work in their own investigation of Universal Health Services. There’s no doubt her revelations will continue to have a big impact in the months and years to come.

Like another story about Mother Jones’ real-world impact.

This one, a multiyear investigation, published in 2021, exposed conditions in sugar work camps in the Dominican Republic owned by Central Romana—the conglomerate behind brands like C&H and Domino, whose product ends up in our Hershey bars and other sweets. A year ago, the Biden administration banned sugar imports from Central Romana. And just recently, we learned of a previously undisclosed investigation from the Department of Homeland Security, looking into working conditions at Central Romana. How big of a deal is this?

“This could be the first time a corporation would be held criminally liable for forced labor in their own supply chains,” according to a retired special agent we talked to.

Wow.

And it is only because Mother Jones is funded primarily by donations from readers that we can mount ambitious, yearlong—or more—investigations like these two stories that are making waves.

About that: It’s unfathomably hard in the news business right now, and we came up about $28,000 short during our recent fall fundraising campaign. We simply have to make that up soon to avoid falling further behind than can be made up for, or needing to somehow trim $1 million from our budget, like happened last year.

If you can, please support the reporting you get from Mother Jones—that exists to make a difference, not a profit—with a donation of any amount today. We need more donations than normal to come in from this specific blurb to help close our funding gap before it gets any bigger.

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