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Greg Kauffman has, for a long time, been focused on poverty issues, a subject that rarely arouses much concern in the stenographic media but matters a great deal to tens of millions of Americans directly affected by it. What follows is the introduction and first question of an interview at The Nation with a long-time organizer whose activism is worth emulating and who ideas are worth spreading. You can read the other eight questions at the link. There is also an action you may wish to participate in here:

[T]o build a new anti-poverty movement will require the kind of organizing and actions that are as creative, visible and gripping as the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Enter Stephen Lerner.

Lerner is a labor and community organizer who has spent more than three decades organizing hundreds of thousands of janitors, farm workers, garment workers and other low-wage workers into unions. These efforts resulted in increased wages, first-time health benefits, paid sick days and other improvements on the job. The architect of the historic Justice for Janitors campaign, he is currently working with unions and community groups across the country to break Wall Street’s anti-democratic grip on our politics and our economy.

Lerner lays out a powerful case about the intersection between poverty and Wall Street accountability—and how a Wall Street accountability movement can transform an economy that offers so few pathways out of poverty, and so many ways to keep people impoverished.

Here is our conversation:

Greg Kaufmann: Why is the Wall Street accountability movement now the focus of your work, and what is the potential you see there?

Stephen Lerner: One of the challenges is that there are so many things wrong right now—that you can be involved in any of a thousand causes. The problem is if they are disconnected it doesn’t add up to anything. So, people who are opposed to poverty have a dozen different things they’d like to move on the Hill, none of which are likely to pass at this time.

Stephen Lerner
So the focus on Wall Street is: How do you connect all of these different battles? And, in fact, are there core things in common that drive them together?

If you look at some of the biggest issues of the day—whether it’s the loss of wealth in communities of color, the housing crisis, the student debt crisis, local and state governments cutting jobs and services because of debt—you can connect all of these issues to the original economic crisis of 2008, and the growing and continued dominance of the Wall Street big banks.

The majority of people in this country are either impacted by student debt, the ongoing housing crisis or the crisis of the public sector. And you can trace so much of it to Wall Street. This means instead of having twenty separate campaigns, you can have one campaign, that says how do we rebalance and reorganize the economy so that it benefits everybody—not just a teeny elite at the top.

Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2012Mitt, you dunce, you have to remember your lies:

We all know that Romney is a major liar. We've seen it over and over during this campaign. The pile of his lies already has grown enormously and the general election campaign is barely under way.

For someone with his assets, you would think he would have hired himself a better coach of effective lying. He can certainly afford it given the gobs of cash he's sucked up by destroying jobs and being rewarded for it. But apparently he's been a cheapskate on that front. Because he just isn't very good at it despite all the practice.

Tweet of the Day:

GOP thought they could lie & lie about the Benghazi emails because they didn't think press/public would ever see them. WH said, Here. #oops
@steveweinstein via web

On today's Kagro in the Morning show, Greg Dworkin on the dying embers of the "scandal" fires. Kevin Drum reports that news outlets got burned by Republican sources on those Benghazi emails, and Armando calls for Jonathan Karl's head. The bizarre story of a holocaust denier reinvented as a Hollywood conservative player. A brief #GunFAIL update. Doctor Who asks about Joan McCarter's post on Reid's plan to call for a vote on the Cordray nomination. Our thanks to show sponsor Audible! Be sure to get your free audio book, download here.

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