Erika Eichelberger

Erika Eichelberger

Reporter

Erika Eichelberger is a reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau. She has also written for The NationThe Brooklyn Rail, and TomDispatch. Email her at eeichelberger [at] motherjones [dot] com. 

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Todd Akin Is Not Sorry for His Insane Rape Comments

| Thu Jul. 10, 2014 8:38 AM EDT

Former GOP Senate candidate Todd Akin is not sorry for saying that women don't usually get pregnant from rape.

Akin tanked his 2012 Missouri Senate campaign by claiming that there is no need for rape exceptions to abortion bans because "if it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." In his new book due out next week, titled Firing Back: Taking on the Party Bosses and Media Elite to Protect Our Faith and Freedom, Akin says he regrets airing a campaign ad apologizing for the statement, Politico reported Thursday.

"By asking the public at large for forgiveness," Akin says in the book, "I was validating the willful misinterpretation of what I had said."

He adds that the media misconstrued his words and explains why he's still right about rape and pregnancy. "My comment about a woman's body shutting the pregnancy down was directed to the impact of stress of fertilization. This is something fertility doctors debate and discuss. Doubt me? Google 'stress and infertility,' and you will find a library of research" on the impact of stress on fertilization, he writes.

And Akin doubles down on the term "legitimate," which he says refers to a rape claim that can be proved by "evidence," as opposed to one used "to avoid an unwanted pregnancy."

Akin's comments two years ago perpetuated what Democrats have dubbed the GOP "war on women," which refers to Republican attempts to limit abortion coverage, contraception, and workplace rights for women.

The release of Akin's book comes just weeks after the Supreme Court ruled that family-owned companies—which employ more than half of all American workers—do not have to provide contraception coverage for women as mandated by Obamacare if their owners have a religious objection to doing so. The decision is expected to open the floodgates to further assaults on contraceptive access for women.

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Obama Calls for a New Crackdown on Wall Street

| Thu Jul. 3, 2014 10:18 AM EDT

On Wednesday evening, President Barack Obama called for a new Wall Street crackdown, noting that more than five years after the financial crisis, banks still focus too much on gaining profits through often risky trading, instead of investing in Main Street America.

"More and more of the revenue generated on Wall Street is based on…trading bets, as opposed to investing in companies that actually make something and hire people," the president said in an interview with Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal. He called for "additional steps" to rein in the industry.

Obama's comments Wednesday represent one of the most pointed critiques he has made of the banking industry since he took office at the height of the financial crisis, and suggest that he may use his final two years in office to pursue further Wall Street reforms.

The president singled out big bonuses as a central problem plaguing the financial system. Banks can still "generate a huge amount of bonuses by making some big [trading] bets," he said. "If you make a really bad bet, a lot of times you've already banked all your bonuses. You might end up leaving the shop, but in the meantime everybody else is left holding the bag."

He did not offer specific policy cures, instead alluding to the need to "restructure" how banks work "internally."

The massive Dodd-Frank financial reform law that Congress passed in 2010 was supposed to keep banks from taking excess risks and prevent another economic collapse. Obama pointed out that much of that law has already gone into effect. Banks now have to keep more funds on hand to guard against an economic downturn or a bad trading bet, he said. The law created a new agency designed to prevent consumers from being duped by mortgage lenders, credit card companies, and student lenders. Last year, Wall Street regulators implemented a much-touted Dodd-Frank measure aimed at limiting the high-risk trading by commercial banks that helped lead to the 2008 economic crash.

But much is left to be done. Wall Street regulators have completed only about half of the banking rules mandated by Dodd-Frank. Scores of these regulations have been watered down by financial industry lobbyists. Congress has made many legislative attempts to weaken Dodd-Frank. Despite efforts to ensure that banks are no longer too-big-to-fail—or so large that their collapse would endanger the entire economic system—the largest banks are bigger than they were during the financial crisis.

Progressives fault the president for part of the lax response to the financial crisis. Under Obama's Justice Department, for example, no high-level bankers went to jail or faced criminal charges for actions that led to the financial crisis. And liberal critics slam Obama's economic team for focusing too heavily on bailing out banks after the crisis, and allowing the foreclosure crisis to fester.

It is unclear how Obama will push through additional Wall Street reforms. He has limited oversight of rule-making, and banking legislation is not likely to get through the current sharply divided Congress.

These 204 Republicans Don't Want to Punish Companies That Steal Workers' Wages

| Tue Jun. 24, 2014 11:33 AM EDT
House Speaker John Boehner

Last week, House Republicans voted to protect companies that steal workers' wages.

According to the Department of Labor, many big firms that receive hundreds of millions of dollars a year in federal contracts—including Hewlett Packard, AT&T, and Lockheed Martin—have a history of wage theft. Wage theft refers to employer practices such as not paying overtime, paying employees with debit cards that charge usage fees, or requiring workers to arrive to work early to get ready without paying them for that extra time. On Thursday, House liberals introduced an amendment to a defense spending bill that would forbid the government from handing out contracts to companies that jack their employees' pay. The amendment barely passed, with 25 Republicans voting with Democrats in favor of the measure. But most GOPers—204 of them—voted against the change. (The full list is below.)

The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), a group of about 70 liberal Dems in the House, has introduced the same anti-wage-theft amendment to other spending bills in recent weeks, in the hope that it will make it into the final version of one of those spending bills and be signed by President Barack Obama.

In May, House Republicans voted down the anti-wage-theft amendment when it was attached to a spending bill that funds several government agencies. (Ten GOPers voted in favor.) That led to some bad press for GOPers—perhaps one reason why, when the CPC added the same provision to a defense spending bill Thursday, it passed, with 15 more Republicans crossing over to vote with Democrats.

Obama has cracked down on federal contractors in other ways this year. In February, the president signed an executive order mandating a minimum wage of $10.10 for federal contractor employees. In April, he signed another directive which forbids contractors from retaliating against workers who discuss their pay with each other.

Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.)

Rep. Tom Petri (R-Wis.)

Rep. Ralph Hall (R-Texas)

Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.)

Rep. Christopher Smith (R-N.J.)

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.)

Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas)

Rep. Howard Coble (R-N.C.)

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas)

Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.)

Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio)

Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.)

Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas)

Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) 

Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.)

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.)

Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.)

Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.)

Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.)

Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.)

Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.)

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.)

Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.)

Rep. Tom Latham (R-Iowa)

Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas)

Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.)

Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.)

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas)

Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas)

Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.)

Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas)

Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.)

Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio)

Rep. Gary Miller (R-Calif.)

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.)

Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho)

Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.)

Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.)

Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-Fla.)

Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas)

Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.)

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.)

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.)

Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.)

Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.)

Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.)

Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.)

Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah)

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.)

Rep. John Carter (R-Texas)

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.)

Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.)

Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.)

Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.)

Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.)

Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas)

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa)

Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.)

Rep. Candice Miller (R-Mich.)

Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.)

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) 

Rep. Mike D. Rogers (R-Ala.)

Rep. Michael Turner  (R-Ohio)

Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas)

Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.)

Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) 

Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.)

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.)

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.)

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas)

Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Texas)

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas)

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.)

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.)

Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas)

Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.)

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.)

Rep. John Campbell (R-Calif.)

Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.)

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.)

Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.)

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio)

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.)

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)

Rep. Adrian Smith (R-Neb.)

Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.)

Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio)

Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.)

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.)

Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.)

Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.)

Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.)

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah)

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.)

Rep. John C. Fleming (R-La.)

Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.)

Rep. Gregg Harper (R-Miss.)

Rep. Duncan D. Hunter (R-Calif.)

Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.)

Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.)

Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.)

Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.)

Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas)

Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.)

Rep. Bill Posey (R-Fla.)

Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.)

Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.)

Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.)

Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.)

Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ga.)

Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.)

Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.)

Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.)

Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.)

Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.)

Rep. Dan Benishek (R-Mich.)

Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.)

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.)

Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.)

Rep. Rick Crawford (R-Ariz.)

Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.)

Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.)

Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.)

Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.)

Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.)

Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas)

Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Tenn.)

Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.)

Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas)

Rep. Cory Gardner (Colo.)

Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio)

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.)

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.)

Rep. Tim Griffin (R-Ariz.)

Rep. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.)

Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.)

Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.)

Rep. Joe Heck (R-Nev.)

Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.)

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.)

Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.)

Rep. Robert Hurt (R-Va.)

Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) 

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.)

Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho)

Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

Rep. Billy Long (R-Mo.)

Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.)

Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Pa.)

Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.)

Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.)

Rep. Rich Nugent (R-Fla.)

Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R-Miss.)

Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.)

Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.)  

Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Wis.)

Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.)

Rep. Martha Roby (R-Ala.)

Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.)

Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.)

Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.)

Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.)

Rep. Steve Southerland (R-Fla.)

Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio)

Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Colo.)

Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.)

Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.)

Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Ga.)

Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.)

Rep. Todd Young (R-Ind.)

Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Nev.)

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.)

Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas)

Rep. Andy Barr (R-Ky.)

Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R-Mich.)

Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.)

Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Ind.)

Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.)

Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.)

Rep. Paul Cook (R-Calif.)

Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.)

Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.)

Rep. Steve Daines (R-Mon.)

Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.)

Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.)

Rep. George Holding (R-N.C.)

Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.) 

Rep. David Joyce (R-Ohio)

Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.)

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.)

Rep. Luke Messer (R-Ind.)

Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.)

Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.)

Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-N.C.)

Rep. Tom Rice (R-S.C.)

Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-Pa.)

Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah)

Rep. David Valadao (R-Calif.)

Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.)

Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.)

Rep. Randy Weber (R-Texas)

Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio)

Rep. Roger Williams (R-Texas)

Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.)

Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.) 

Rep. Vance McAllister (R-La.)

Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.) 

Rep. David Jolly (R-Fla.)

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