McCormick challenges Manchin & Capito to “put their money where their mouth is”

Lisa McCormick challenged U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) to “put their money where their mouth is” by sponsoring legisaltion to raise taxes on the wealthy and giant corporations in order to back up their claimed desire to rein in the national debt.

Manchin and Capito have introduced legislation called the ‘Time to Rescue United States’ Trusts’ (TRUST) Act, bill which they claim would create a process to rescue the endangered federal trust funds and rein in the national debt.

“While President Joseph R. Biden is asking Congress to approve tax increases on the rich, McCormick says federal law should restore top tax rates that existed in 1981, when the failed experiment with ‘trickle down economics’ got started,” said McCormick. “If Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito really want to rein in the deficit, then they should sponsor a tax hike on the wealthy big enough to fundamentally recerve Reaganomics, because

“The Biden plan would raise the corporate tax rate to 28% from 21%. The federal corporate income tax was highest at 52.8% in 1969, when the economy was booming,” said McCormick. “The Economic Recovery Tax Act (ERTA) of 1981 cut the top individual income tax rate from 70 percent to 50 percent while keeping the corporate tax rate at 46 percent. The capital gains rate also fell from 28 percent to 20 percent. These tax cuts primarily enriched the wealthy but eviscerated the quality of life for working middle-class Americans, who are today buried in debt, paid unfair low wages, and often unable to afford $400 expense in an emergency.”

McCormick says if federal lawmakers restore those 70 percent, 46 percent and 28 percent tax rates, it would be possible to erase the budget deficits.

“After 40 years of failed ‘trickle down’ policies, we can all see that cutting taxes on the rich does not create jobs for ordinary working people or generate new revenue for government,” said McCormick. “Cutting taxes for the rich means the wealthy have more and everyone else has to make up for the difference, either in a heavy national debt or program cuts or worse.”

McCormick said it is disingenuous for the Democrat and Republican from West Virginia to lecture other Americans about finding a middle ground

West Virginia’s two U.S. Senators are among the opponents of President Biden’s proposed $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan, which comes with a corporate tax increase to pay for it.

Capito is the ranking Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee leading a $568 billion counterproposal that won’t do enough to rekindle economic benefits for the majority of Americans who have been not only left behind but kicked to the dirt over the last 40 years.

“The Capito alternative scheme is too narrowly focused on roads and bridges, instead of the transformation of our society to a clean energy future and Manchin is against the Biden plan because he says it is too big,” said McCormick. “Manchin and Capito want a smaller economic lift because they only care about the richest one percent. Democrats, Republicans and independent Americans should find common ground that would be beneficial for the entire country.”

In his first address to a joint session of Congress, President Biden spent a lot of time extolling the virtues of the three massive spending packages that have quickly become centerpieces of his agenda: the $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus package, a $2 trillion infrastructure bill and a $1.8 trillion plan for child care, universal prekindergarten and more.

“Senators Capito and Manchin are in unique positions of power to help make real progress happen, but they appear dedicated to causing obstruction,” said McCormick. “The key to economic stimulus is making sure consumers have money to spend and that means higher wages for working people, jobs for everyone who wants to work and fair taxes on the rich to pay for all that.”

McCormick says Wall Street millionaire Murphy swelled corporate welfare

Lisa McCormick says Gov. Phil Murphy is a Wall Street millionaire who is out of touch but she says his worst offense is promising to do things people want and then doing the same bad things that were done by Chris Christie, Jon Corzine and other previous governors.

McCormick is asking voters to write in her name as their choice for governor in the Democratic primary election on June 8, arguing that residents have been poorly served by traditional politicians.

“Governor Murphy betrayed New Jersey voters,” said McCormick. “He said he would stomp out corporate welfare but he enacted a $3 billion subsidy to keep nuclear plants profitable and just three weeks after it was first introduced and fast-tracked through the state Legislature, he signed the New Jersey Economic Recovery Act of 2020, a $15 billion corporate welfare package.”

Murphy signed the $15 billion corporate welfare package after he called for an overhaul of the state Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) following an investigation that revealed billions of dollars worth of corporate welfare incentives were improperly awarded by the agency to benefit

After a bitter outcry involving tax incentives given out by the NJEDA, Murphy said the state “squandered” nearly $11 billion in tax breaks for corporations, many of which weren’t able to prove they created and retained the types of jobs that they promised.

Good government advocates condemned the Murphy-Norcross corporate welfare package.

“There is some transparency and reform in the bill, but they ironically pushed it through without time for proper oversight or public scrutiny,” said New Jersey Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel. “This is a New Year’s gift to big corporations and the wealthy. Meanwhile, it is peanuts for small businesses and coal in our stockings for the rest of us.”

“The BPU sold out the ratepayers and renewable energy today by going along with this unnecessary nuclear subsidy,” said Tittel, of the nuclear subsidies enacted by Murphy over the objections of the state’s ratepayer advocate, the AARP and several renewable power generators. “This giveaway is about greed and not need.”

“The New Jersey Economic Recovery Act of 2020 is what you get when politicians look in the face of small business, taxpayers, and residents that have been ravaged by a pandemic and laugh,” said Jason Krychiw, an unemployed scientist living in Union Township who has been an outspoken progressive Democrat. “Anyone who voted for this chose corporations over people. Period.”

“With a stroke of a pen, New Jersey has chosen to repeat the mistakes of the past by giving away billions of dollars in corporate tax breaks,” said Brandon McKoy, president of New Jersey Policy Perspective (NJPP). “This is a bloated economic development strategy that has failed to work, not only in New Jersey but in every other state that participates in this costly race to the bottom.”

McKoy said that Murphy’s corporate tax breaks are on such a vast scale that they are likely to cheat taxpayers for decades to come.

“These super-charged programs will leave the state with far fewer resources for a robust recovery,” said McKoy. “It will also crowd out revenue in future budgets to invest in proven building blocks of a state economy, like education, health care, child care support, mass transit, and job training.”

Despite its name, McKoy charged there is “little to nothing” in Murphy’s law targeting small businesses or the state’s economic recovery from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“While a number of laudable reforms and innovative incentives are included in the Economic Recovery Act, its size and scope actually surpass that of the expired programs,” he said. “Simply put, size matters.”

“Instead, the New Jersey Economic Recovery Act mirrors some of the most egregious elements of the previous generation of economic incentives: overly generous tax subsidies for corporations that typically sell them for cash, a program design that favors businesses with the resources to navigate the application process, a deliberate disconnect between the NJEDA and the annual state budget, and a refusal to entertain the idea of a ceasefire agreement with neighboring states,” McKoy said. “New Jersey deserves better.”

Lisa McCormick sweeping plans on climate crisis

Democratic primary write-in candidate Lisa McCormick said she would propose sweeping restrictions on greenhouse gas pollution, in order to aggressively cut New Jersey’s carbon footprint while driving billions of dollars into state coffers to finance clean energy initiatives.

McCormick wants to end gas-powered vehicle sales, force polluters to pay for cleaning up their mess and correct historic environmental injustices.

“I want New Jersey to be the center of 21st century climate action because the leadership we exhibit will influence the world, which must extinguish the crisis before it makes us extinct,” said McCormick. “New Jersey needs new leadership to embrace measures that will combat climate change, including cap and trade, electric vehicles plus real environmental justice.”

“My Climate Commitment Act will require industrial polluters to buy market credits from the state in a cap-and-trade system similar to one operating in California, with funds used to finance cleanup New Jersey’s most contaminated areas,” said McCormick, describing legislation that would pave the way to net zero carbon emissions by the year 2050.

“I will seek vehicle-fuel restrictions to force producers of carbon-heavy fuels like gasoline and diesel to underwrite charging stations for fleets of electric cars and trucks,” said McCormick, who noted that Gov. Phil Murphy called for a ban on gas-powered car sales by 2035, the same timeframe as Republican Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker.

Since automakers like General Motors have set a goal of ending gas-powered passenger vehicle sales by 2035, the Murphy-Massachusetts maneuver really is not a mandate as much a reaction to market forces.

California also plans to ban the sale of new gas-powered passenger cars and trucks in 2035, but McCormick noted that she was driving a hybrid 2002 Prius until she switched to a 2004 Prius last year.

“Four years ago, India announced it would end gas-powered car sales by 2030, and I said America should beat them to it,” said McCormick.

A group of more than 70 U.S. House Democrats led by Representative Doris Matsui urged President Joe Biden to ensure that 60% of new passenger cars and trucks sold are zero-emission by 2030, while 10 U.S. senators led by Democrat Edward Markey urged the White House “to set a date by which new sales of fossil fuel vehicles will end entirely.”

“I will also ask the Legislature to approve a ban on the sale of new gasoline-  and diesel-powered cars in 2030 or afterwards along with legislation that addresses environmental racism,” said McCormick, a move that would put the Garden State ahead of California with a more ambitious policy

Three years ago, McCormick said New Jersey Transit must transition its entire fleet of buses to electric vehicles, because that could significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions & reduce air pollution.

In April, McCormick called on President Biden to offer every American homeowner $10,000 to buy and install an electric heat pump in exchange for half their energy savings each year until the government recovers its investment or unless energy prices go up, in which case homeowners wouldn’t owe anything.

McCormick previously said that if the U.S. transitioned its entire fleet of 480,000 school buses to all-electric vehicles, it could cut 5.3 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year and reduce the toxic air pollution to which schoolchildren are directly exposed.

“Moderation isn’t going to help us survive when we must heal a world on fire. #WriteMeIn for governor on June 8,” said McCormick.

“I believe residents most often on the receiving end of environmental problems — people who are disproportionately Black, Latino, or in low-income communities — deserve state government agencies that explain what is being done to fix those pollution burdens,” said McCormick, who said environmental inaction is a bipartisan problem.

“We all know Republicans entirely oppose all meaningful legislation to address the climate crisis and achieve environmental justice but corporate Democrats are not pursuing the change necessary to sustain life on Earth. Establishment moderates will kill us just as fast as the GOP,” said McCormick. “If you know that the climate crisis is real and the political establishment is putting off life-saving action, take a chance and #WriteMeIn for governor on June 8 in the Democratic primary election.”

After Murphy changed the rules to allow signature collection to occur electronically, McCormick’s nominating petitions for governor were disqualified so her name will not be on the June 8 in the Democratic primary election ballot but the progressive activist is asking voters to write-in her name.

McCormick proposes marijuana legalization — for real

Murphy’s law makes possession of large amounts of marijuana a first-degree crime punishable by up to 20 years in prison

Lisa McCormick, ​the progressive Democratic challenger, says Phil Murphy betrayed voters who cast ballots to legalize cannabis, when he signed a law making possession of large amounts of marijuana a crime punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Lisa McCormick, is the progressive Democratic activist who earned the support of nearly four out of every 10 Democrats in the 2018 primary election over incumbent US Senator Bob Menendez, but now she taking on Wall Street millionaire Phil Murphy, the incumbent governor who she claims betrayed voters who cast ballots to legalize marijuana last year.

In the 2020 election, NJ voters overwhelmingly decided to legalize cannabis, but instead of doing what the people wanted, Gov. Phil Murphy signed a law making it a first-degree crime — punishable by up to 20 years in prison — to possess more than 25 pounds of marijuana, or 50 marijuana plants or 5 pounds of hashish.

McCormick has long held that marijuana should be legal and declared that the ‘war on drugs’ has not only failed to solve America’s substance abuse problems, but it created or worsened many others.

On August 23, 2015, McCormick posted a blog entry that said, “The so-called ‘war on drugs’ declared by President Richard Nixon has been an unmitigated failure that cost billions of taxpayer dollars and ruined millions of lives instead of addressing a public health issue in a sensible and intelligent way.”

“The ‘war on drugs’ is a war on people that has failed to solve America’s substance abuse problems,” said McCormick in that 2015 blog entry. “It is far past the time to try a different approach, such as the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), which was recently signed into law by President Obama to help curtail the nation’s heroin and opioid drug epidemic with addiction treatment, overdose prevention and doing more to protect drug-dependent newborns.”

“It is time to plot a new course,” said McCormick. “No American should be jailed for smoking marijuana.”

McCormick is running because she believes without giving voters a choice, elections are meaningless, but she also has severe disagreements with Murphy in both style and substance.

These marijuana issues are policy differences that show how she would respond to situations better than the former Goldman Sachs partner, who essentially bought his way into public office.

“It is time to end the hypocrisy that treats vodka and whiskey differently than marijuana, which is more benign, and stop the negligence of overlooking the crises that result from addition or driving while intoxicated,” said McCormick. “It is time to change policies that clearly do not work as they were intended and start looking for ways to invest wasted resources far more wisely.”

McCormick says millionaire Murphy is out of touch because, “he lives in a different universe than ordinary people who work for a living and struggle to pay bills, like rising property taxes.”

McCormick said Murphy has been far more aggressive at getting things done for the rich and powerful than he has when it comes to fulfilling the promises he made as a candidate.

“We got complex sports betting and online gambling approved in New Jersey only weeks after the federal courts opened a door for that, top government officials like judges and cabinet members were handed pay raises only six months after Murphy’s inauguration, plus a $3 billion subsidy for the nuclear industry preceded Murphy’s recent $14 billion corporate welfare package,” said McCormick. “Meanwhile, the poorest New Jersey workers still do not make $15 an hour, the millionaire’s tax did not raise taxes on those making more than $5 million and despite voter approval, marijuana is still illegal in the Garden State.”

On Twitter, McCormick posted:

In the 2020 election, NJ voters overwhelmingly decided to legalize cannabis, so @GovMurphy signed a law making it a first-degree crime (up to 20 years in prison) to possess more than 25 pounds of marijuana, or 50 marijuana plants or 5 pounds of hashish.

Write in my name on June 8

I have been seeking some other progressive Democrat to take on this challenge for a long time, but I filed petitions because I could not find anyone willing to take on the task. Unfortunately, my name will not be on the ballot but that won’t distract me from speaking out.

Governor Murphy has betrayed his promises, he hired a rapist and fired women who complained about his misogyny. He approved $3 billion in nuclear subsidies and $15 billion in corporate welfare. His $15 minimum wage law allows employers to pay workers $4.13 an hour. He signed a law to legalize marijuana that provides up to 20 years in prison for possession of marijuana.

Marc Helewa, a student at Bergen County Technical Schools, was charged today by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office with one count of possession with the intent to distribute marijuana, a 2nd degree crime.

I believe “Quixotic is not crazy” because there are solutions to the problems we face in America. We know what these solutions entail. They will not be implemented by a political establishment that runs entirely on bribery, so ordinary people must rise up to the responsibility of citizenship.

While Governor Murphy may use the invalidation of my petition to make me look bad, anyone who can see reality knows the entire political system look much worse. Governor Murphy showed no interest or respect in me when he endorsed the US Senator who had been indicted for bribery during the Obama administration, back when I ran in 2018. Governor Murphy shows no interest or respect in you, either.

Without expert testimony, without providing me a chance to look at the allegations, and without my ability to participate in the hearing due to other issues in my life, a decision was made to deny voters a choice on the ballot in the Democratic primary, which in New Jersey is the only consequential election due to an overwhelming partisan advantage in registration.

I am surprised that they are so afraid of someone who won’t raise money and only is armed only with the truth, but the people still have a chance to write in my name on June 8.

If I am entrusted with the Democratic nomination, I will win and pursue big, giant changes instead of tinkering with the fringes of a broken and unjust political system.

I will sign legislation to outlaw bribery in the form of political campaign contributions and make the ballot fair to all candidates, instead of preserving the culture of corruption that exists today and gave us such leaders as Phil Murphy, Chris Christie and Jon Corzine.

I will seek to reform our education system, which is among the most segregated in America and structured to waste billions of dollars. My plan would cut property taxes in half and shift costs from the working middle class to the rich.

I will make sure that police stop wasting public resources, answer for misconduct and solve more crimes. In 2017, state and local governments in American spent $115 billion on police, $79 billion on corrections, and $48 billion on courts, or close to ten percent of state and local direct general expenditures. Experts have described police violence as a serious public health issue. The vast majority of crimes reported to police in New Jersey go unsolved.

I will also invite ordinary people with little means to engage in using the government as a powerful force for good. We can reduce bureaucracy and make your public servants more useful while improving the quality of life, so more of us can afford to pay attention and get involved in civic affairs.

We have big problems and we need bold progressive leadership to solve them, but as long as voters accept 30 second commercials and three-word slogans instead of exercising serious citizenship, we are going to be stuck in this mess.

With all due humility, I am committed to saving our species from itself, but I cannot do that alone.

And then there was one…

Lisa McCormick expects to become the sole challenger to millionaire Governor Phil Murphy in the Democratic primary election, since officials are expected to determine that Roger Bacon is not qualified to seek the nomination for governor.

Governor Phil Murphy, a Wall Street millionaire and former Goldman Sachs executive, will face progressive champion Lisa McCormick head to head in the Democratic primary election

McCormick’s campaign manager, James Devine, has challenged Bacon’s qualifications because he is a registered Republican.

Devine also found that many of the 1,271 people who signed his petitions are non-voters, Republicans, Libertarians or even members of a far-right-wing fringe group called the U.S. Constitution Party.

“There is going to be a two-way contest in the Democratic primary, where voters have a choice between someone who is very much like you or the rich, powerful incumbent, who is unanimously backed by the political establishment and represents everything that is wrong with American democracy, in terms of arrogance, incompetence, misogyny, and being out of touch,” said Devine. “

Being the sole challenger means people who are dissatisfied with the Wall Street millionaire’s leadership have a focal point where they can

If McCormick seems mismatched against Murphy in the fight over the Democratic nomination, which will be decided in the June 8 primary election, it is worth noting that the progressive woman earned a greater percentage of the 2018 primary vote than Bernie Sanders got in New Jersey in 2016.

In her 2018 statewide challenge to Senator Bob Menendez, McCormick also outpolled by about 50,000 votes each of Sanders’ New Jersey campaign chairmen, former Assemblyman John Wisniewski, the 2016 campaign chair and a 2017 contender for governor, and 2020 campaign chair Larry Hamm, who was a 2020 Senate challenger.

McCormick says Murphy does not deserve the Democratic nomination before he hired a former councilman who was convicted of bribery, he wasted $18 billion on corporate welfare, and he stuck taxpayers with the $830,000 bill to settle a lawsuit that resulted after he hired a rapist.

“Voters must hold him accountable by firing the misogynistic millionaire Phil Murphy, because it is necessary for people to rise up to the responsibility of citizenship,” said McCormick.

You have a choice for change

Lisa McCormick posted this statement after filing petitions to seek the Democratic nomination for New Jersey Governor. 

If New Jersey Democrats let millionaire Phil Murphy run unopposed in the primary election after he hired a rapist & bribery convict, wasted $18 billion on corporate welfare & stuck taxpayers with a $830,000 bill for his misogyny, it would be a sin. Voters need to elect one of us.
An independent analysis ranked New Jersey 46th out of 50 states in terms of performance in combatting the pandemic, despite having some of the most restrictive COVID-19 orders & fastest moving vaccination programs in the nation.

As a nation, we cannot adequately respond to, and recover from, COVID-19 if we do not protect all of our neighbors no matter what they look like, or what they think or where they came from.

We are all in this together.

After 40 years of ‘limited government & low taxes,’ Reaganomics made almost everyone in America poor, it exploded the national debt & let China’s economy & military surpass our own.

I will make sure every voter understands simple economics, so they understand why it is crucial that we reverse Reaganomics. Trickle down theories do not work.

Of course, much of the mainstream media will ignore me. When I ran for US Senate in the 2018 Democratic primary, I got almost the same percentage that Joseph Kyrillos got when he ran against the same incumbent in the 2012 general election. I do not have to be for sale to be serious. I am appealing to voters who understand what is at stake, asking them to tell neighbors, family and friends about my campaign.

If it is just about talking, there are lots of things Phil Murphy and I sound like we agree upon:

A woman’s right to choose what is best for her body, her family, and her health is a right guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution, according to the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade. Congress must codify that decision to protect women’s freedom.

Too many Americans die in gun violence, and there are things we can do to stop senseless slaughter that do not infringe on Second Amendment rights, like requiring background checks on all firearms sales.

The deadly hazards of crude oil shipments on trains and underground conduits conveying fossil fuels over long distances are endangering residents of New Jersey as thousands of rail cars and miles of natural gas pipelines now pass through our most densely populated communities.

After New Jersey wasted $11 billion on corporate welfare, Gov. Phil Murphy said: “For the same price as these tax breaks, we could have rebuilt the entire portal bridge, on our own, seven times.”

We could be said to agree on that but then, Murphy went and signed a $15 billion corporate welfare package with no public input or oversight., a measure strongly condemned by Jeff Tittel, of the New Jersey Sierra Club, and others.

Gov. Phil Murphy and lawmakers announced a plan to codify the right to an abortion into state law, amid a growing concern that Roe v. Wade could be overturned by former President Trump’s Supreme Court appointees. But the Reproductive Freedom Act has languished in committee since it was introduced in October of last year.

We must transform how abortion is treated in this country and ensure meaningful access to abortion for all—especially for those whose abortion rights have been most obstructed. People of color, people with low incomes, LGBTQ people, young people, people with disabilities, immigrants, and people in rural areas have all faced significant barriers to accessing essential reproductive health care—including abortion care.

After voters voted to legalize marijuana, Phil Murphy signed a law that says: Any person who possesses more than 25 pounds of marijuana, 50 or more marijuana plants, or more than five pounds of hashish is guilty of a crime of the first degree.  First-degree crimes carry a sentence of ten to 20 years’ imprisonment, with a 15-year presumptive sentence.

I am not alone in recognizing the Wall Street millionaire’s dishonesty and duplicity.

“Governor Murphy criticized Christie’s corporate subsidies, but now he is pushing even higher subsidies than Christie did,” said Jeff Tittel. “They are spending $14.5 billion, but only about $50 million is going to Main Street and small businesses. This is a Christmas gift to big corporations and the wealthy. Meanwhile, it is peanuts for small businesses and coal in our stockings for the rest of us.”

Murphy also failed to curb abuses at the local level. Public school students in the U.S. suffered poorer schools—as local and state taxpayers paid $2.37 billion higher taxes—in 2019 due to corporate tax breaks. Corporate welfare cost $77 million that year, to students in 121 New Jersey school districts.

Worst of all, he displayed terrible judgment, hiring a rapist and a convicted criminal who was banned from public office after being found guilty of accepting bribes. I made headlines when I challenged a Democrat who took bribes, and now I am running against one who pays them out. I do not believe there is any moral superiority in paying bribes then there is in pocketing them. And it is disgusting that people are not more intolerant of our corrupt political system, because that is the only way we are going to regain control over this republic.

I harbor no delusions, but I also know that uncontested elections are pointless. I know that people need a choice if we are to ask them to rise up to the responsibility of citizenship.

Gov. Phil Murphy is going to run some polls and then he is going to tell people exactly what they want to hear, but he lacks the courage, confidence and conviction to stand up for those ideas. He will capitulate at the first sign of resistance, so he is unreliable as our champion.

He caved in on corporate welfare. He surrendered on legalizing marijuana. He gave up on a $15 minimum wage and allows New Jersey’s poorest workers today to take home $4.13 an hour. Phil Murphy is never going to fight for us because he can not grasp the faintest understanding of our problems.

He is a Wall Street millionaire who lives in a world alien to our own.

He created a toxic work environment for women employed on his 2017 campaign. One woman reported that a male campaign staffer threw a chair but she was exiled and he is now deputy chief of staff in the Governor’s office.

Murphy’s campaign manager called a top female strategist the C-word, so she got fired while he is still collecting big checks for running the Governor’s dark-money super PAC. And of course, everyone knows that Murphy hired a rapist to a six-figure government job, but what has slipped attention was the fact that this misogynistic millionaire then had the audacity to make taxpayers shell out $830,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by the rape victim.

The arrogance, the cowardice, the betrayals, the capitulation and the misogyny are all unacceptable but these are the defining characteristics of Phil Murphy, who went to the White House and sat with President Donald Trump, without mentioning his many flaws, his incompetence or his inhumanity.

I am not only willing to point out the problems, and I will endeavor to solve serious problems confronting our state if I am entrusted with this office. I won’t quit when the power brokers tell me to stop pushing for justice. I won’t surrender when the political establishment tries to obstruct our progressive plans. I will fight to achieve what must be achieved because I know that together, we have the power to change our society and fulfill America’s promise of liberty, prosperity and justice for all.

Federal Trade Commission retreat is throwing the towel

The Federal Trade Commission’s decision not to petition the Supreme Court for review of the Qualcomm case, which was correctly decided at the district court level and unwisely reversed by the Ninth Circuit, it throwing the towel on a fight that is worth winning.

Qualcomm violated America’s antitrust laws by stifling the ability of an entire industry to grow and flourish because of market concessions that made its parts the industry standard, insuring massive profits.

Qualcomm is arguably the world’s most powerful telecom and mobile equipment manufacturer for its critical components that go into smartphones and mobile devices, but the Internet of Things, cloud SoC processing, Wi-Fi equipment, and carrier equipment.

The FTC alleged on January 17, 2017, that Qualcomm used its dominant position as a supplier to impose onerous and anticompetitive supply and licensing terms on cell phone manufacturers and to weaken competitors.

Qualcomm is the world’s dominant supplier of baseband processors – devices that manage cellular communications in mobile products – and the Federal Trade Commission should have asked the Supreme Court to overturn the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Recent merger activity, a changing political climate, and the company’s significant IP portfolio has created a virtual monopoly of mobile and telecommunications technology in Qualcomm.

Qualcomm’s unlawful abuse of a monopoly taxes its competitors’ baseband processor sales, reduces competitors’ ability to innovate, and raises prices paid by consumers for cell phones and tablets and other products that use baseband processors, semiconductor devices that Qualcomm has patented.

To explain this complex issue, I am relying heavily on material produced by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. EFF is the leading nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world and a source I trust for both its clarity and conviction.

I do not know if the EFF would agree with me, but I do believe the Federal Trade Commission should have petitioned the Supreme Court for review of the Qualcomm case, and to assert the validity of what is known as the “mandatory access remedy” or “essential facilities doctrine.”

Antitrust law empowers the government to break up monopolies when their conduct is so corrosive of competition that they can dictate market outcomes without worrying about their rivals.

In theory, patent and antitrust law serve the goals of promoting economic and technological development, but in practice when a competitor has power that is so great, it can use patents to stifle innovation.

On May 21, 2019, Judge Lucy H. Koh of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ruled in favor of the FTC, finding that Qualcomm violated U.S. antitrust law.

On August 11, 2020, that decision was reversed by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The agency’s request for en banc rehearing of the decision was denied. Subsequently, the Federal Trade Commission decided not to petition the Supreme Court for review of the Qualcomm case.

FTC Chairwoman Rebecca Slaughter cited “significant headwinds facing the Commission in this matter” in deciding to not to ask the top court to review the matter, but the fundamental fact remains that consumers are going to pay a steep price and our national interests will suffer in the global marketplace if American technology advancements are strangled by rules that let the powerful exploit everyone else.

Some technology standards become touchstones by achieving widespread adoption through market forces —the QWERTY keyboard layout as one example—while others are the result of extensive deliberation and cooperation among industry players (including competitors), like the MP3 audio compression and 3G wireless communication standards.

The relationship between antitrust and patent law is especially thorny when it comes to “standards-essential patents” or “SEPs.” These patents cover technologies considered “essential” for implementing agreed-upon rules and protocols that allow different manufacturers’ devices to communicate with each other using shared network infrastructure.

Such criterion can enhance competition and consumer choice, but they also inflate the value of patents deemed essential to the standard, and give their owners the power to sue companies that use them; either for money damages or for injunctions to block competitors from using their SEPs.

To minimize that risk, standard-setting organizations typically require companies that want their patented technology incorporated into a standard to promise in advance to license their SEPs to others on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms.

That promise strikes at a key tension between antitrust and patent law: patent owners have no obligation to let anyone use technology their patent covers, but to get those technologies incorporated into standards, patent owners usually have to promise that they will give permission to anyone who wants to implement the standard as long as they pay a reasonable license fee. 

Qualcomm is one of the most important and dominant companies in the history of wireless communication standards.

It is a multinational conglomerate that has owned patents on every major wireless communication standard since its first CDMA patent in 1985, and it participates in the standard-setting organizations that define those standards.

Qualcomm is somewhat unique in that it not only licenses SEPs, but also supplies the modem chips used by a wide range of devices. These include chips that implement wireless communication standards, which lie at the heart of every mobile computing device.

Although Qualcomm promised to license its SEPs (including patents essential to CDMA, 3G, 4G, and 5G) on FRAND terms, its conduct has to many looked unfair, unreasonable, and highly discriminatory.

In particular, Qualcomm has drawn scrutiny for bundling tens of thousands of patents together—including many that are not standard-essential—and offering portfolio-only licenses no matter what licensees actually want or need; refusing to sell modem chips to anyone without a SEP license and threatening to withhold chips from companies trying to negotiate different license terms; refusing to license anyone other than original-equipment manufacturers (OEMs); and insisting on royalties calculated as a percentage of the sale price of a handset sold to end users for hundreds of dollars, despite the minimal contribution of any particular patent to the retail value.

In 2017, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission sued Qualcomm for violating both sections of the Sherman Antitrust Act by engaging in a number of anticompetitive SEP licensing practices.

In May 2019, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California agreed with the FTC, identifying numerous instances of Qualcomm’s unlawful, anticompetitive conduct in a comprehensive 233-page opinion.

Consumer advocates were pleased to see the FTC take action and thrilled that the district court credited the overwhelming evidence that Qualcomm’s conduct is corrosive to market-based competition and threatens to cement that one company’s dominance for years to come.

Unfortunately, a panel of judges from the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit unanimously overturned the district court’s decision, reasoning that Qualcomm’s conduct was “hypercompetitive” but not “anticompetitive,” and therefore not a violation of antitrust law.

To reach that result, the appellate court made the patent grant more powerful and antitrust law weaker than ever.

According to the Ninth Circuit, patent owners don’t have a duty to let anyone use what their patent covers, and therefore Qualcomm had no duty to license its SEPs to anyone. But that view ignores promises Qualcomm made to license its SEPs on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms—promises that have been consistently enforced.

It also means ignoring principles like the essential facilities doctrine, which limits the ability of a monopolist with hold-up power over an essential facility (like a port) to shut out rivals. Instead, the Ninth Circuit held rather simplistically that a duty to deal could arise only if the monopolist had provided access, and then reversed its policy.

But even when Qualcomm restricted its licensing policies in critical ways, the Ninth Circuit found reasons to approve those restrictions.

For example, Qualcomm stopped licensing its patents to chip manufacturers and started licensing them only to original equipment manufacturers (OEM). This let Qualcomm charge a much higher royalty rate based on the high retail price of the end user devices, like smartphones and tablets, that OEMs make and sell.

If Qualcomm had continued to license to chip suppliers, its patents would be “exhausted” once the chips were sold to OEMs, extinguishing Qualcomm’s right to assert its patents and control how the chips were used.

Patent exhaustion is a century-old doctrine that protects the rights of consumers to use things they buy without getting the patent owner’s permission again and again. Patent exhaustion is important because it prevents price-gouging, but also because it protects space for innovation by letting people use things they buy freely, including to build innovations of their own. The doctrine thus helps patent law serve its underlying goal—promoting economic growth and innovation. In other words, the doctrine of exhaustion is baked into the patent grant; it is not optional.

Nevertheless, the Ninth Circuit approved of Qualcomm’s efforts to avoid exhaustion—even when that meant cutting off access to previous licensees (chip-makers) in ways that let Qualcomm charge far more in licensing fees than its SEPs could possibly have contributed to the retail value of the final product.

It makes no sense that Qualcomm could contract around a fundamental principle like patent exhaustion, but at the same time did not assume any antitrust duty to deal under these circumstances. Worse, it’s harmful for the economy, innovation, and consumers.

Unfortunately, the kind of harm that antitrust law recognizes is limited to harm affecting “competition” or the “competitive process.”

Antitrust law, at least as the Ninth Circuit interprets it, doesn’t do nearly enough to address the harm downstream consumers experience when they pay inflated prices for high-tech devices, and miss out on innovation that might have developed from fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory licensing practices.

The Federal Trade Commission’s decision not to petition the Supreme Court for review of the Qualcomm case, which was correctly decided at the district court level and unwisely reversed by the Ninth Circuit, it throwing the towel on a fight that is worth winning. Qualcomm’s unlawful abuse of a monopoly taxes its competitors’ baseband processor sales, reduces competitors’ ability to innovate, and raises prices paid by consumers for cell phones and tablets and other products that use baseband processors, semiconductor devices that Qualcomm has patented.

End oil & gas subsidies to stop corporate welfare

Lisa McCormick supports proposed legislation that would eliminate nearly a dozen of the most egregious tax breaks enjoyed by the oil and gas industry.

The progressive New Jersey Democrat said legislation was introduced by U.S. Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee, Sean Casten (D-IL), Donald McEachin (D-VA), and Katie Porter (D-CA) to achieve that goal and she would be co-sponsoring the measure with them if voters had sent her to represent New Jersey.

The oil and gas sectors are among the world’s most profitable industries, with billions of dollars in earnings each year.

Despite their financial success, these fossil fuel companies receive billions in tax breaks and subsidies annually, undermining the nation’s ability to invest in renewable energy sources and damaging our environment.

Lisa McCormick is leading the Column C Democrats United for Progress team in the June 4 2016 primary election in Union County.
Lisa McCormick is one of New Jersey’s leading progressives.

“Conservative estimates put America’s direct subsidies to the fossil fuel industry at roughly $20 billion per year; with 20 percent currently allocated to coal and 80 percent to natural gas and crude oil. European Union subsidies add another $65 billion to that figure each year,” said McCormick. “The cost of adverse environmental, climate, and public health impacts from burning fossil fuel was $5.3 trillion globally in 2015 alone, so our governments are making a terrible investment.”

The End Oil and Gas Tax Subsidies Act would eliminate 11 provisions in the tax code that unfairly benefit oil and gas companies.

“Not only would this legislation ensure the United States is no longer providing tax subsidies to oil and gas at the expense of clean energy, but it would also increase the competitiveness of the energy industry,” said McCormick.

“Oil and gas are the last industries that should be getting a tax break. In fact, it’s the planet that needs a break from the very companies that have contributed so much to the climate emergency,” said Blumenauer, the Oregon congressman who wrote the legislation.

“It’s unconscionable that we continue to spend billions in tax subsidies to line the pockets of big oil and gas companies and incentivize the extraction of fossil fuels,” said Blumenauer. “We should be investing in clean energy technologies and jobs that will put Americans to work and fight the climate crisis.”

The United States emitted more than 6.5 billion tons of greenhouse gases in 2019.

“The burning of fossil fuels, particularly in the power and transportation sectors, produces three-quarters of total U.S. carbon emissions, which trap heat in the atmosphere and lead to climate change,” said McCormick.

Moving away from oil and gas is a critical step to address the climate crisis.

“Forcing taxpayers to subsidize a failing industry that’s massively distorting energy markets and accounting for nearly 1 in 5 global deaths in 2018 alone isn’t just bad policy, it’s antithetical to free-market capitalism,” Casten said. “When Adam Smith wrote about the power of market capitalism’s ‘invisible hand’ to adequately ensure a fair and efficient exchange of goods and services, he probably didn’t envision the U.S. government subsidizing a sector that’s seen prices decline by 72 percent in the last decade.”

“With fossil fuels continuing to receive $650 billion a year in direct and indirect U.S. subsidies, Smith’s invisible hand functions as a marionette puppet’s pulled by the strings of big oil and gas at the expense of American taxpayers,” Casten said. “Our bill to end fossil fuel subsidies will unrig our energy markets, lower emissions, and protect public health.”

“For too long, dirty energy companies have enjoyed billions of dollars in federal tax breaks and subsidies each year – a direct attack on our nation’s health and ability to combat climate change. Instead of incentivizing the continued extraction of fossil fuels, we must end these subsidies and advance legislation, like the End Oil and Gas Tax Subsidies Act, to stop the federal government from rewarding dirty polluters,” McEachin said. “By prioritizing federal assistance away from fossil fuels and toward the continued growth and expansion of clean renewable energies, we can protect public health and our environment, and continue to bolster the green jobs and infrastructure America needs to power a better, more sustainable future.”

“It is anti-capitalist to give special tax breaks to oil and gas companies that other businesses don’t get—it restricts the competition we need for healthy capitalism,” Porter said. “Giveaways to Big Oil are bad for our economy, bad for our planet, and bad for American taxpayers, who pay their fair shares while polluters get a discount. I’m proud to help reintroduce the End Oil and Gas Tax Subsidies Act to bring a little more fairness to our tax code.”

The legislation is supported by Earthjustice, Earthworks, Food & Water Watch, Friends of the Earth, Oxfam America, and the Sierra Club.

“For far too long, the oil and gas industry has benefited by not paying its fair share. This legislation would eliminate nearly a dozen of the most egregious tax breaks from which the oil and gas industry disproportionately benefits. Lining the pockets of industry executives who are driving the climate crisis is unacceptable. Instead, we must build a sustainable future – not by investing in fossil fuels – but by protecting our environment and communities,” said Patrick Grenter, Associate Director at the Sierra Club.

McCormick believes in prioritizing strong science-based environmental protections that deliver on the promise of clean air, clean water, and safe drinking water for all communities across the nation.

She has railed against corporate welfare, particularly that which encourages harmful economic pursuits, such as causing climate change.

Full text of the legislation is available here.

McCormick joins chorus demanding action on guns

While much of the nation is still reeling from news about two 21-year-old men who in less than a week apart, used a legally purchased firearm to massacre people in the United States, preliminary reports about multiple shootings over Friday night into Saturday morning, suggest that five people are dead and at least 22 others wounded on Chicago’s South Side, in New Jersey’s Edgewater Park, at the Virginia Beach oceanfront, and at a social club in the Fishtown area of Philadelphia.

The mass shootings in Colorado and Georgia are showing how hard it can be to prevent a tragedy, even while everyday bloodshed in communities all across America are giving new urgency to efforts to enact gun restrictions.

“President Biden inherited a vexing advance of gun homicides, suicides, domestic violence, mass shootings, and armed political violence that are all rising, but he was chosen to get results for the American people,” said Lisa McCormick, a New Jersey gun safety advocate.

Lisa McCormick

“In the first three months of 2021, almost 10,000 Americans lost their lives to gun violence,” said McCormick. “Every American is concerned about the rising violence but Black and Brown communities are experiencing a disproportionate share of the tragedy, sorrow and pain associated with this traumatic crisis.”

“Gun violence killed eight people near Atlanta, Georgia, and 10 more people were killed in a Boulder, Colorado, grocery store only days ago but we cannot fail to recognize that this epidemic threatens Americans anytime, anywhere,” said McCormick. “Twenty seven more people died or were injured—two of them here in New Jerseyin a single night.”

The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV) extended sympathies to the survivors and families affected, following a difficult week in the nation, but once again the organization called on Congress to take meaningful action to to address this ongoing devastating epidemic.

“Our nation has mourned the past week following the highly publicized shootings in Atlanta and Boulder,” said Lauren Footman, CCSGV director of Outreach and Equity, who is based in Greater Philadelphia. “We saw a return to the all too familiar media coverage and to the back and forth political football debate about our nation’s gun violence epidemic.”

Lauren Footman

“If the past is prologue, the next step of the process is the media moving on to the next topic du jour and the American public losing interest in the issue until the next mass casualty shooting tragedy unfortunately and inevitably occurs. As an organization and as a nation, we must not let that happen,” said Footman.

“Neither Virginia Beach nor Philadelphia or Chicago will trend as hashtags with the word ‘strong’ attached to them. Flags across the nation will not fly at half-mast to remember the lives killed in these shootings, or in shootings in other cities across the nation,” saidFootman. “Three people are dead and multiple others remain in critical and life-threatening conditions this morning. These are not statistics, they are Americans.”

“And they are a reminder that this debate and the absolute need for true policy discussions around the ease and availability of guns, meaningful violence interruption program investments at the local, state, federal level, and a nationwide framework of strong evidence-based policies put into law to reduce gun violence and save lives,” said Footman.

“The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence is one of many gun violence prevention and social justice organizations to sign on to a letter calling on the Biden administration to not hesitate and take immediate action on gun violence prevention. We are encouraged by preliminary reports of executive orders being readied by the president’s team — including a national investment in violence interruption programs and policies. But we must do more.

The background check expansion that passed the U.S. House and awaits action in the Senate must be a top priority, said McCormick.

“A functional, universal background check system is the bare minimum — but there are other evidence-based gun violence prevention policies that can be put in place at both the state and federal level,” said McCormick. “We cannot accept 40,000 dead Americans as the cost of gun ownership or simply say the Second Amendment won’t let us save lives.”

“#TheTimeisNow to finally address and end gun violence in all of its forms,” said Footman.