Archive for the ‘unemployment’ Category
In 2009, Barack Obama inherited a situation with crumbling infrastructure and a lot of people out of work. In a 2+2=4 world, the logical step would be to take the people out of work and have them build up infrastructure. Even if everyone couldn’t do those skills, there were enough people who could, and if they had jobs, other jobs and businesses wouldn’t have fallen in 2009 and 2010.
In 2009, if CBS or any other broadcast network came out with a show idea about giving someone a job, that could have turned into the next “American Idol” or “The Voice” or “So you think your smart 5th grader has talent.”
In 2013, President Barack Obama, having been elected to a second term, has proposed a “Fix it First” to help rebuild infrastructure. Obama said 70,000 bridges were in need of repair, among countless problems. Jon Stewart thought the bridges were a rather immediate concern.
In 2013, CBS is running a show called “The Job” where they make people go through humiliation for a “dream job” such as being an editorial assistant at Cosmopolitan magazine. As the promo notes — “the employer has all the power” — a rather depressing and not altogether accurate statement.
This feels more about humiliation than help; Stephen Colbert put it best when he labeled the program despertainment.
“And with one hire per show, ‘The Job’ should run for 12.3 million episodes.”
In both cases, the feeling is “too little, way too late.” The difference is that Obama is being sincere and CBS, well, doesn’t look like they really want to help.
Our infrastructure still needs fixing as does our job market. So we can certainly use the help. One bridge and one job at a time is too little, but better than we have had lately.
Getting infrastructure improved and a jobs program requires help from the GOP, and that party isn’t interested. Nor are Republicans game for raising the minimum wage.
Republicans preach about the value of work, yet they aren’t willing to pay for it. The proposed raise to $9/hour wouldn’t be immediate. The minimum wage would go up incrementally over three years to $9. Even then, the minimum wage will be undervalued, worse if someone is a tipped employee.
Liberals joke that the GOP wants the world of “Leave It to Beaver” brought to life. If the minimum wage reflected buying power in 1957, the wage would be well beyond $9 right now.
The United States needs rebuilding, but the GOP doesn’t want to pay for it. Poor people need a raise, but the GOP doesn’t want to pay for it. The GOP wants people to get jobs, but won’t submit any plan to get those jobs.
The good news for the Republicans is that Barack Obama can’t run for president in 2016. So they might as well give Obama the chance to succeed or fail based on his requests. Don’t worry, Obama won’t get as much horrible stuff as you think he will, or anyone else for that matter.
We need help, but the GOP doesn’t want us to get that help. The GOP House controls the House. So as the saying goes, “Lead or get out of the way.”
We’re trained with a cynical mind not to believe what politicians have to say, Even in that world, Rick Snyder sunk himself to a new low, and dragged down the state of Michigan with him.
In lightning fast speed, the Republicans in Michigan put together and Snyder signed legislation making Michigan the 24th state to be “right to work.’ Or as the liberals have put it so well, “right to work for less.”
The statistics are consistent: “right to work” (RTW) states consistently have lower wages, more poverty, and less access to healthcare. Why wouldn’t Michigan be any different? The state may not even get the crappy jobs other RTW states get.
One of the proposals on the Michigan ballot in November tried to strengthen the resolve of unions, and voters rejected that proposal. For having the “audacity” to try and strengthen unions — this is one of the reasons why Snyder and his GOP cronies pushed through the RTW legislation so quickly. Except that this was in the planning stages for some time. Why let facts stand in the way of a good story.
We know this is about politics, about Michigan once again voting for a Democratic president. The last Republican to win Michigan? George H.W. Bush in 1988.
Like most legislation where Republicans claim is about jobs, let’s pretend this is about jobs. Someone has to care about jobs, especially in Michigan, even if much of that hasn’t happened in Lansing in the last couple of years.
State Senator John Proos, a Republican who backed the RTW bill, predicted that the public anger would subside because jobs would be coming to Michigan.
“As they say in sports, the atmosphere in the locker room gets a lot better when the team’s winning,” Mr. Proos told The Associated Press.
This gets to the crux of the legislation. “Unions are the reason why Michigan has failed to generate jobs,” goes the argument. As soon as jobs come, regardless of the wages and conditions to follow, they will shut up and be glad they have a job.
This isn’t Alabama, this is Michigan.
As it turns out, I sort of know Proos. I went to the same high school as Proos — he was a few years back. He might remember me, I might remember him. Others that we know know him and me better than we know each other.
The idea that a crappy job is better than a good job is an attitude that plays well in the South, the dominant region of RTW states. Michigan has a stronger tradition that Proos and his fellow colleagues will find more difficult to switch over.
Proos should have learned in school, though I can’t remember if we learned it there, the words of Henry Ford. He was smart enough to realize that if his employees were going to buy his cars, they needed to earn enough to buy them. With the escalating costs of college education, parents need to be able to save money to help put their kids through school. Of course, since costs have skyrocketed, they can’t afford to repay their loans, even if they could find good wages. Since lower wages are coming to Michigan, if those magical jobs suddenly appear, a whole new generation can’t afford to live, buy a house, or reproduce.
The salaries of Snyder, Proos, and the other GOP politicians aren’t shrinking, so they don’t have to worry. And they’ll get plenty contributions from business that suddenly have more money because they won’t have to pay that cash to the workers.
Why hasn’t Michigan generated jobs?
Let’s started by quoting from a Salon article by someone I know better than Proos: Edward McClelland, a Michigan native now based in Chicago.
Fifty percent of Michigan State students now leave the state immediately after graduation. That ratio doubled in the 2000s, which is known in Michigan as “The Lost Decade.” In those 10 years, Michigan dropped from 30th to 35th in the percentage of college graduates, and from 18th to 37th in per capita income. (Michigan was also the only state to lose population in the last census.)
Brain drain is definitely a factor. And through my own experience, Michigan State isn’t the only university being affected. Chicago is filled with graduates of many Michigan universities. Go to a Red Wings or Tigers game in Chicago to get a sense of the love for the Michigan teams.
Even if you think Michigan made a wise choice by becoming a “right to work” state, ask yourself this simple question, “Why would a company pick Michigan over the other RTW states?”
This is a state where its citizens get upset if you are seen driving a “foreign” car, as in not a car with a stamp of a “U.S. company.” They don’t care if the car was “made in America” — the make has to be USA.
In the other 23 states, their attitudes toward unions and union labor aren’t as strong or intense. Most of these states, the majority of them in the South and West, have better weather, better kept roads, worse education, and an attitude that accepts lower wages as “God’s will.”
Even those who are vehemently against the concept of RTW can understand objectively why Southern states would go that route. Lower wages plays along with the anti-establishment mood.
Michigan has generations of people who had middle-class jobs with just a high school education. This may seem long ago to some Michiganders, but having that memory makes people less likely to settle. Employers might break that down in a generation or two, but that won’t help Michigan residents who want a job.
We’ve heard that Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder wasn’t that bad before this RTW vote. Consider, though, that Snyder pushed through and signed legislation limiting unemployment insurance from 26 weeks, the standard minimum, to 20 weeks. In good times, this action is cruel, but in a state that has suffered economically, even in good times, the cruelty is downright unconscionable.
Even though all this legislation is about “jobs,” the GOP and Snyder got around to passing a bill that severely restricts abortion and access to women’s healthcare in the state.
The voters said no to Snyder’s ridiculous notion of seizing control from local officials. Funny how Snyder only picked cities with predominantly African-American populations. And if Snyder did that in cities with mostly white populations, the same people who voted for Snyder would scream for his head.
Voters took that power away from Snyder. Snyder got that power back with a bill passed by his GOP buddies. And like the RTW legislation, Snyder put a provision that makes it impossible for the voters to rescind the law.
Style does say something about a politician. If you deliberately pass a law with a provision that voters can’t turn around that law, you don’t have much faith that what you passed has any legitimacy or usefulness.
Despite potential concerns, a flood of locusts will not come through if the United States manages to fall off the fiscal cliff. Also, first-born sons will not be in danger of death due to the fiscal cliff.
Everything short of locusts and the loss of first-born sons has been promised if the Bush tax cuts expire and spending cuts kick in at the end of the year. Panic in the streets.
Y2K promised us some panic, but comparably, that potential panic is nothing like the potential panic we are forecast to get if we fall off the fiscal cliff.
What we’re hearing from Republicans and some elements of the mainstream is that compromise is what we need to avoid going over the fiscal cliff. Their cries of compromise after almost a decade of digging the deficit deeper ring hollow as the Dems only know compromise.
Let’s acknowledge that keeping the Bush tax cuts for an extra four years is compromise enough. Republicans during the campaign whined about how President Obama was blaming Bush for what was happening for the last four years. The tax cuts were still there and that was Obama’s fault.
The Bush tax cuts were self-imposed compromise, the worst kind, so the idea of giving that up as “compromise” is a sick joke if keeping them hadn’t done enough damage to the economy in the last four years.
The latest GOP strategy is to tie reforming Obamacare to solving the fiscal cliff. Obamacare was a compromise, again somewhat self-imposed. If Dems could vote their true feelings, Obamacare would lose in a landslide.
Obamacare still allows for a healthy 17% profit margin for insurance companies for doing virtually nothing. The hassle of paperwork, which other Western countries do not have, will still exist and raise people’s blood pressure in having to deal with those issues.
The problem in the threat of going off the fiscal cliff is that the GOP wants to use that leverage to get more of what they want, i.e., not compromise.
What have progressives gained from this in the last four years? What have the conservatives really given up?
We still spend plenty on defense. Yes, Obama finally shut down the war on false pretenses (Iraq), but we’ll have 6 of President Obama’s 8 years with Afghanistan.
Bill Clinton had to spend his time cleaning up the Reagan/Bush messes on the deficit, hampering Dem attempts to spend money on programs that they want. Barack Obama has had to clean up the George W. Bush mess, forcing self-imposed and other forms of compromise.
And yet the same Republicans who literally got us into this financial mess are crying to keep us from the fiscal cliff, forcing Dems to give up even more.
Obama’s insistence of keeping the Bush tax cuts for those making less than $250,000 is still ridiculous. Low-income people, regardless of party, are being ignored. Dems would be smart to start focusing on them, since they make up the vast majority of potential voters. To be fair, the GOP would also be smart but the party has further to travel to help low-income people since the GOP is still trying to protect millionaires and billionaires.
So what should President Obama do?
If the Dems had taken back the House, the solution would be simple. Go over the cliff, wait for the new Congress to arrive in January and put together a sharp bill. Then again, the Dems should have done this in 2009.
Since the GOP will be in control of the House in December and January with a larger majority in 2013 …
Bush tax cuts: dead for everyone. If you have to make a case for “middle class,” set the bar at $100,000 not $250,000. The GOP will whine about small businesses in a compromise. No tax cuts period is a better political sell.
The GOP has been talking about cutting loopholes. Mitt Romney offered up a deduction ceiling. Take those ideas, give Republicans credit for them, and still raise the tax rates. The Republicans get something: credit for ideas and cooperation and Dems get Clintonesque tax rates.
Keep the 2009 stimulus credits, fix the Alternative Minimum Tax (proof of progress), and slightly modify the payroll tax holiday. Show off the modification as proof of compromise. You could give away the payroll tax holiday as proof the economy is getting better, but be willing to keep it for compromise sake.
Ideally, Obama should use Romney as an example and make sure people in his position pay their fair share. The rich won’t like that, but the people will.
The taxes won’t put the country over the fiscal cliff, though this is what you hear in the press. The real issue to the economy is the spending.
As much as progressives will cheer about defense cuts, the cuts in programs are devastating. And there is little to no shot at getting only defense cuts.
One ideal compromise is that defense plants would make high-speed rail cars and solar panels and devices to capture wind power to build up the infrastructure instead of planes and bombs. That would be the ultimate compromise, since the GOP loves defense spending. Defend us against crumbling infrastructure.
By cutting loopholes and raising the tax rates, the Dems could hit the $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction mark, which would void the sequester cuts. If anything, the $1.2 trillion number should be the fiscal cliff. Obama wants $1.6 trillion over the next decade, a strong position for compromise.
Going over the fiscal cliff on spending would force both hands to work harder on a deal. The Dems have to fight hard for unemployment insurance. Everything else could be negotiated in January. Things would be bad enough on both sides that the $1.2 trillion mark would sound like a better solution.
Of course, the deficit cutting doesn’t help the need to stimulate the economy. Better economic numbers would raise tax revenue and be the best cure for the deficit. Getting out of Afghanistan early, cutting off farm subsidies to rich people, setting the middle class at $100,000 not $250,000 are better ways to reduce the deficit, but those ideas aren’t even at the kids table, much less the adult table. Both parties should get on board with these easy ideas where the American people would support, regardless of party, and neither party wants to make those moves.
For Sarah Palin in 2008, the VP nomination acceptance speech was the high point of her run. If Paul Ryan’s speech turns out to be his high point, the GOP is in more serious trouble than we ever would have considered.
Ryan’s speech was filled with lies, distortions, criticism of Obama for the same thing he proposed (cuts in Medicare). We can’t wrap this up in a cute little “bridge to nowhere” synopsis, but delusion was the theme of both speeches.
Both speeches were eaten up by the base, but will likely prove to be an overall negative by everyone else.
Ryan was sold as being the intellectual part of the GOP. This is a party that does not believe in climate change and thinks women can protect themselves from rape sperm. His budget plan is spend on defense and very little else. This plan isn’t so much intellectual but a version of what Republicans want that sounds smart.
Few outside political circles know of Ryan, and in their eyes, starting out with lies hurt the VP candidate in 2008 and won’t help the VP candidate in 2012.
“Mitt Romney and I know the difference between protecting a program and raiding it (Medicare),” said Ryan in a truthful note. The problem is that Ryan thinks he’s protecting Medicare and the rest of us know he is raiding it.
Heck, Paul Ryan was more than a hour off when he said he ran a marathon under 3 hours. If you can easily lie about something that has nothing to do with politics and is easily verifiable, this feels like Sarah Palin, part deux.
Ann Romney gave us a speech about love. Chris Christie told us this was about respect, not love (thanks to the Colbert Report for noticing that theme). The speeches ran back to back in the same night. If we were to judge a party based on the convention was run, the GOP would lose in a landslide.
When the networks came into the 10 pm Eastern time slot, Clint Eastwood was on stage with an empty chair. The Mitt Romney video had already aired. Given that about 22% fewer people saw Romney’s speech than John McCain in 2008, Romney lost a huge opportunity to show who he is now.
The fact that more people were talking about Eastwood than Romney on Friday morning is either an embarassment or genius, if you wanted to hide how well Romney gave his speech.
Romney violated the cardinal rule of giving a speech on TV; the people in the audience aren’t your target, the people at home need your attention. And Romney fell short of that way too often.
Chris Christie was running for president in his keynote speech. His speech had a nasty tone, one that wouldn’t seem presidential but more egotistical. Christie hit on the GOP theme that Romney started about being “scaring and dividing.” Has Christie met Karl Rove or heard of Lee Atwater.
In one of the few times Christie mentioned someone other than himself, he said Mitt Romney will “end the debacle of putting the world’s greatest healthcare system in the hands of federal bureaucrats and putting those bureaucrats between an American citizen and her doctor.” As we’ve learned in the last two years, Republicans think that’s the government’s job. Forced invasive transvaginal ultrasounds. Christie ought to meet Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and Texas Governor Rick Perry.
Watching Ryan bash Obamacare as something that “has no place in a free country,” the Republicans don’t seem to get that they are bashing something created by their presidential nominee. Even if Republicans outside of Andrea Saul aren’t allowed to mention that Romneycare was the inspiration for Obamacare.
Mitt Romney pointed out that after 2008, “Americans always come together after an election.” The Republicans didn’t. As Jon Stewart noted, “Bull-F*cking-Sh*t.”
Ryan noted that with the stimulus “he (Obama) got everything he wanted under one-party rule.” Except for the tax cuts in the first stimulus, or how the country needed a second stimulus.
The Daily Show, which did another outstanding job in Tampa, coined its coverage of the Road to Jeb Bush 2016. Still can’t quite seeing that happen, but if Romney loses, the GOP has a lot of directions to go in to find a contender. The formula of a moderate turned conservative picking a much younger, lying running mate isn’t a winning formula for the GOP.
“Unlike the president, I have a plan to create 12 million new jobs.” — Mitt Romney’s speech
Finally, Romney will tell you how he plans to create these jobs, this magical plan that he hasn’t felt like disclosing until now.
1) by 2020, North America will be energy-independent (including nuclear)
2) “the skills they need for the jobs of today and the careers of tomorrow” by vouchers for private or charter schools
3) new trade agreements “when nations cheat, there will be unmistakable consequences”
4) job creators investments — “cut the deficit and put America on track to a balanced budget”
5) champion small businesses — reducing taxes, simplifying modernizing regulations that hurt small business the most, reign in health care costs by repealing Obamacare.
1) Doesn’t Obama have a similar plan? Obama’s job plan calls for alternative energy jobs, including solar and wind. Romney seems to think that the Keystone XL pipeline will account for several million jobs. Canada will lose jobs in the deal, but even the plus effect still isn’t much. And Obama will support the pipeline once TransCanada comes up with a better plan for Nebraska.
2) Vouchers for charter schools or private schools has nothing to do with skills or job gains.
3) Obama has chartered new trade agreements, but these agreements haven’t helped job growth in the United States going back to the U.S.-Canada Free Trade Agreement in 1989. More agreements won’t help.
4) Cutting the deficit and debt would help job growth. Starving everything but defense won’t help job growth.
5) Obama has reduced taxes, and simplified regulations. Republicans forget that responsible capitalism helped job growth from post World War II until Ronald Reagan took over. Besides, we tried this under George W. Bush and the job growth in that time was horrible.
If you are a Republican or you like Romney, you might like his 5-step program. But don’t think this would lead to any job growth much less 12 million jobs. Realize that to get to 12 million jobs, you have to average 250,000 jobs per month every month. Those are Clintonesque numbers. That won’t happen in 2013 regardless of who is in office. Even if Romney got all his rich corporation friends that are sitting on their money to use that dough to hire people, you still won’t get close to 12 million.
Many political pundits are comparing the 2012 presidential election to 2004. Mitt Romney is from Massachusetts, is very rich, doesn’t connect well, and the base doesn’t like him. John Kerry is from Massachusetts, is rich (mostly from his wife), doesn’t connect well, and the base didn’t like him.
John Kerry was attacked by a group that spread lies about Kerry’s war record. Even though the spots didn’t accurately reflect Kerry’s time in Vietnam, the attitude among the MSM was “politics is dirty.” Kerry’s supporters wanted action to correct the inaccuracies in the ad. Kerry also waited too long to respond to the charges. Though Kerry had the truth on his side, he lost the battle.
Mitt Romney was attacked by a group that told the truth about Romney’s role in Bain Capital. Romney took a while to respond. The Romney campaign wants that group to apologize for running the ads. For telling the truth.
The coverage of Romney wanting an apology for ads against him that are true has been louder than the coverage of Kerry wanting a correction for ads against him that were false.
Republicans aren’t used to being attacked. The media gives them an easy ride, Ronald Reagan taught them not to attack each other, and the Dems float like a bee and sting like a butterfly.
When Dems do attack, the media treats their actions as being somehow unfair. This ruins their narrative that Republicans go after Democratic politicians, truth be damned. But the reverse can’t happen.
Dem supporters would certainly love to see their politicians land some blows on the Republicans, especially when they have the truth on their side. They had the truth in 2004 and Kerry didn’t fight back hard enough or soon enough. Obama, as a contrast, is throwing the first punch.
The Romney folks say we shouldn’t be talking about this; they were rather talk about the economy. Well, what Bain Capital and other companies have done — ship jobs overseas — is certainly economic-related.
The fact that companies are sitting on a record amount of cash is economic-related. And those companies appear to be waiting for something (a Romney presidency) to suddenly hire people. But we don’t hear much about that.
Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and the other Republican presidential candidates did their very best to warn the GOP not to nominate someone with a business background who had ties to this economic approach, sacrificing jobs for profits. However, the GOP is stuck with Mitt Romney, who has this track record that he isn’t happy that people are talking about.
Romney could run on his work as Massachusetts governor, but is running away from that part of his past. Romney could run on his work in helping the 2002 Winter Olympics, but we haven’t heard much from that part either.
No, Romney wants to run as a businessman. True, George W. Bush tried that approach. To be fair to Romney, he is a better businessman that George W. Bush could have dreamed about. They both had famous fathers so they started out with a silver spoon and a gold briefcase. Bush had the anti-Midas touch; Romney made a lot of money for himself and others. But Romney made this money in great part by getting rid of employees. This is part of his economic record.
Romney’s frustration gears around how the media won’t cover the small sliver of his economic record that he wants to promote. Remember back when Romney talked about all the jobs he created as a result of his work with Bain Capital. Anybody with a paycheck learns quickly the difference between gross and net. Romney used gross numbers and tried to make us think that those were net numbers.
If Romney wants an apology, he should look in the mirror and ask himself whether throwing people out of work for greed is a sound economic policy for the United States. If he doesn’t think so, then he should apologize … to us.