Since it’s the beginning of the Labor Day weekend, I thought I’d start out with some Labor News. There are so many jobs these days that don’t really pay a living wage in the US that it’s really astounding. Fast Food Workers are among the lowest paid in the country.
Fast-food workers went on strike and protested outside McDonald’s, Burger King and other restaurants in 60 U.S. cities on Thursday, in the largest protest of an almost year-long campaign to raise service sector wages.
Rallies were held in cities from New York to Oakland and stretched into the South, historically difficult territory for organized labor.
The striking workers say they want to unionize without retaliation in order to collectively bargain for a “living wage.”
They are demanding $15 an hour, more than twice the federal minimum of $7.25. The median wage for front-line fast-food workers is $8.94 per hour, according to an analysis of government data by the National Employment Law Project (NELP), an advocacy group for lower-wage workers.
“It’s almost impossible to get by (alone),” said McDonald’s worker Rita Jennings, 37, who was among about 100 protesters who marched in downtown Detroit Thursday. “You have to live with somebody to make it.”
LIMBAUGH: If you want a “living wage,” if you don’t like what fast food restaurants pay, then do something else. It’s just that simple. Go to a trade school. Go to another business. Start your own business. Maybe the work that you are capable of isn’t yet worth $15 an hour at a fast-food restaurant. Maybe the consumer doesn’t want to pay $10 for a Big Mac so that people working at McDonald’s make $15 an hour. It’s not just a one-way strata.
You don’t just sit there and double what the employees at McDonald’s make and keep the prices the same. Now, you may think this is obvious, folks, and you may think, “Come on, Rush,” you’d be amazed at how many people do not understand the push-pull in economics. You’d be amazed at the number of people who have taken economics courses who think that the truth about headaches is that the boss is a cheap skinflint and wants his employees to starve and wants to screw his customers.
That’s the basis of their understanding, and they go from there, and they are applauded by left-wing Democrat politicians for holding that belief, and they’re encouraged to have it. Now, to those of you who, like Sean from San Diego, are sympathetic to this demand for the minimum wage at Mickey D’s to go from $7.15 or $7.25 an hour to $15, let me ask you this: When you buy a meal, do you make sure that you’re paying a fair price for it?
When you walk in there, do you ask the employee, “Look, am I paying enough here so that you can get a livable wage? When you go in and buy a Big Mac or a Quarter Pounder with cheese or a double Quarter Pounder with cheese, do you look at the price is and say, “Are you sure that this costs enough that you can make a livable wage?” Or do you just get a little upset when you think it’s a little too expensive?
Limbaugh was lecturing fast workers on getting a better job as he sat in his mansion with no clue what it is like to work and survive on minimum wage. Limbaugh’s lecture was centered around a couple of the Republicans favorite falsehoods. Rush was pretending that there are better jobs out there for minimum wage workers.
Some happy news for married GLBT workers! The IRS and the US Treasury will recognize your marriage. You get the standard marriage deduction!!
The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) today ruled that same-sex couples, legally married in jurisdictions that recognize their marriages, will be treated as married for federal tax purposes. The ruling applies regardless of whether the couple lives in a jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriage or a jurisdiction that does not recognize same-sex marriage.
The ruling implements federal tax aspects of the June 26th Supreme Court decision invalidating a key provision of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.
“Today’s ruling provides certainty and clear, coherent tax filing guidance for all legally married same-sex couples nationwide. It provides access to benefits, responsibilities and protections under federal tax law that all Americans deserve,” said Secretary Jacob J. Lew. “This ruling also assures legally married same-sex couples that they can move freely throughout the country knowing that their federal filing status will not change.”
Under the ruling, same sex couples will be treated as married for all federal tax purposes, including income and gift and estate taxes. The ruling applies to all federal tax provisions where marriage is a factor, including filing status, claiming personal and dependency exemptions, taking the standard deduction, employee benefits, contributing to an IRA, and claiming the earned income tax credit or child tax credit.
I joined the Sisterhood of the Pink Shoes this weekend. Meanwhile, the real sister with the pink shoes is doing really well in the fundraising arena.
In the six weeks following her headline-grabbing filibuster, Wendy Davis raised $1.2 million — nearly 40 percent of it from outside Texas. Davis drew national attention following the filibuster against an abortion-restriction bill that helped shut down the Texas Senate and prompted Gov. Rick Perry to call lawmakers back into another special session. In the wake of Davis’ new-found fame, Davis has been urged by some Democrats to run for governor next year. She says she will announce her political plans — whether to run for reelection as a senator from Fort Worth or as a Democrat for governor — in a few weeks.
Martin Luther King was fighting for working folks when he was assassinated. We’ve already said that no Republicans showed up to commemorate the March on Washington. Where were they?
So what was did they do instead? Well, Boehner was in Jackson Hole, Wyo., and had no public events scheduled, but he has been headlining GOP fundraisers all this month, so it’s a fairly safe to assume that he was raising cash at the time. Cantor, meanwhile was touring an oil field in North Dakota. The Grand Forks Herald reports:
Cantor, hosted by Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., met with energy industry and community leaders at a crew camp in Williston, toured a drilling site and other oilfield locations in the Bakken and met with North Dakota Petroleum Council members in Watford City.
Cantor praised North Dakota’s approach to energy development and said the country needs to follow the state’s example and adopt a national energy policy.
“I hope to be able to tell the president that there’s a lot for him to learn here as far as energy production here in America,” Cantor said. “North Dakota seems to have gotten it right.”
Now optimism is rising as a rebounding city approaches the 300th anniversary of its 1718 founding.
“The city is a much better place than it was eight years ago. The biggest challenge we have is blight,” Landrieu said, adding that 10,000 blighted properties have been removed from the cityscape.
A thriving downtown and newly vibrant neighborhoods contrast starkly with the city’s appearance eight years ago. When Katrina hit, thousands of people who couldn’t escape New Orleans in time were trapped in homes as levees broke and floodwaters rose. Helicopters plucked the desperate from rooftops as chaos spread. The damaged Superdome became a refuge of misery for thousands as tempatures and tempers soared.
Days afterward then-President George W. Bush promised the nation’s full attention. But federal authorities were sharply criticized for their early response and local and state authorities as well. And though billions of federal dollars have helped to rebuild a strengthened levee system, many locals remain bitter with the Army Corps of Engineers for the failure of the levees.
Landrieu said he’s intent on moving forward.
“I think that we have successfully done the most important thing, which was to think about building the city back the way she should have always been and not the way she was,” he said.
Landrieu said rebuilding has even meant re-organizing government operations, streamlining finances, curbing waste and fraud and reorganizing the city’s education system – even adding new fire and police stations, parks and libraries.
The weird thing about the blight is that it’s in areas that you wouldn’t necessarily expect to have ramshackled buildings and over grown lots. Every time I go from my home near the Mississippi River towards the Lake I see blight on the way. It pops up in the newer suburban areas as well as older neighborhoods. There are still a lot of eye sores and it appears it’s going to take a long time for many of them to be torn down or restored. Thankfully, the historic parts of the city appear to be well on the mend. Unfortunately, the infrastructure is so gone in many areas that the blight will remain for some time.
That’s my offering today! What’s on your reading and blogging list?
Yesterday, Newsweek published a list of job-creating strategies by former President Bill Clinton. The headline is “It’s Still the Economy, Stupid.” I’m not going to excerpt from the article, you can read it at the link above.
But I’ll share part of the bad review Dean Baker gave Clinton’s suggestions, some of which seemed credible to to me. Dean Baker really has a bug up his a$$ about Bill Clinton. He makes a case that we began losing manufacturing jobs under Clinton and Bush simply continued was Clinton’s policies. I’d be interested to hear people’s responses this critique.
I don’t watch the Sunday shows anymore, but I learned from Steve Benen that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was asked about jobs and unemployment on Face the Nation this week.
On CBS’s “Face the Nation” yesterday, host Bob Schieffer asked Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) yesterday, “Do Republicans have any plans to do anything on the unemployment front or are you just going to let things take their course?” It seemed like a good question.
McConnell replied, “No, I — I think — what — what we’re doing is encouraging the president to — to quit doing what he’s doing.”
Clearly McConnell isn’t even worried enough about the current unemployment crisis to have even thought about a response to what should be an obvious question.
From Jay Bookman, I learned that McConnell’s primary concern is “overregulation.”
McCONNELL: If you talk to business people and Bill Daley, the present chief of staff did recently, you find out their biggest complaint is overregulation. You know, the federal government with that stimulus money hired a quarter of a million new employees. These people are busily at work trying to regulate every aspect of American life in– in health care, financial services, through the Environmental Protection Agency, really sort of bureaucrats on steroids that are freezing up– the private– private sector and making it very difficult, Bob, for them to grow and expand. You know, you’re seen the reports that they’ve two trillion in cash. The reason they’re not investing that in hiring more people is the government has made it very expensive to expand employment.
His recommendations for Obama:
Quit overspending. And we’re hoping with the debt ceiling discussions we can begin to address deficit and debt. And second, they need to quit over-regulating the American economy. This is something they can do on their own. They don’t have to come to us for permission to rein in these regulators who are really at work across the American economy making it very, very difficult for businesses to function.
What about the Democrats? Benen links to this piece at Politico: Democrats eye new jobs agenda.
Senate Democrats are beginning to fear that the country’s increasingly dim economic outlook will cost them their seats in 2012 and are trying to craft a new agenda aimed at spurring job creation.
Wow! The Dems in the Senate have finally figured out that they might be in trouble with the electorate. Someone go find the President on the golf course or the basketball court or whereever he’s hanging out today and tell him the breaking news.
Fearing the economy may be getting worse, Democrats plan to soon unveil what they’ll call a “Jobs First” agenda — and the stakes are high. A bleak economic outlook, like the May jobs report, could cost Democrats their thin Senate majority and even the White House if they can’t make a strong case to an anxious electorate that their policies will create jobs.
“Jobs First?” Isn’t it a little late for that? It has already been “Wall Street First” for three years. Maybe “Jobs Second” would be a little more accurate, although I doubt if this latest project will amount to anything.
Everyone is talking about the NYT Sunday Magazine profile of Jon Huntsman, who is spouting the usual Republican economic insanity: Jon Huntsman Supports Radical Balanced Budget Amendment
In a private conference call with a handful of university students across the country, GOP Presidential hopeful — and President Obama’s former Ambassador to China — Jon Huntsman argued in support of one of the most far-reaching, controversial elements of the conservative political agenda.
As first reported in a broader piece by the Huffington Post, Huntsman argued in favor of a constitutional amendment requiring the federal government to maintain a balanced budget — an innocuous-sounding, but radical plan pushed by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and numerous other congressional conservatives.
“We’re going to have to fight for a balanced budget amendment,” Huntsman said. “Every governor in this country has a balanced budget amendment. It keeps everybody honest. It’s the best safeguard imaginable.”
At its core, a balanced-budget amendment would make it unconstitutional for the government to spend more than it collects in revenue — a requirement that, without safeguards, would make stimulus and emergency spending impossible.
I’ve noted previously that Jon Huntsman’s campaign strategy appears to be to match a moderate, conciliatory tone with an orthodox conservative policy platform. And sure enough, he’s endorsing a balanced-budget amendment. It’s not clear if the specific balanced-budget amendment he’s endorsing is The Worst Idea in Washington — in which case, Huntsman will have to explain how he’ll handle the fact that Paul Ryan’s budget, which he has also endorsed, will be unconstitutional — or just a relative of it. Either way, it’s not moderate in the least. Which isn’t to say it’s not good politics.
From Andrew Leonard at Salon: The imaginary GOP “moderate” candidate
Reporter Matt Bai manages to deliver more than 6000 words on Huntsman without providing a single practical reason why anyone, Republican, Democrat, or Independent, might possibly consider voting for him. Whether this is because Bai simply isn’t interested in actual positions on the issues or because Huntsman just doesn’t have a platform to campaign on — or some evil toxic combination of both — is hard to say. But the result is just plain baffling. Bai quotes Huntsman as saying “I think what’s going to drive this election, really, are two things — authenticity and the economy” — and then proceeds to write a profile that doesn’t contain a single iota of insight into Huntsman’s views on any economic policy issue.
6000 words — and not a single one of them is “jobs” or “taxes” or “budget” or “deficit” or “Wall Street.” This amounts to political reporting malpractice. If Huntsman isn’t interested in delineating a stance on these issues, then why is Bai bothering to cover him? And if Bai isn’t interested in trying to discern what Huntsman’s stance is, why is the New York Times publishing him?
LOL! That’s pretty funny. Have I ever told you how much I hate Matt Bai?
It’s hard to believe it at this point, but some bloggers are just now figuring out that Obama isn’t “The One.” At Shakesville, Melissa McEwan reacts to a quote from Russ Feingold in which he says Jeffrey Immelt is “not the right guy…”
“It’s not just campaigns and contributions,” Feingold noted. “We have to say to the president, ‘Mr. President, Jeff Immelt is not the right guy – the CEO of GE is not the right guy to be running your Jobs & Competitiveness Council, not when your company doubled its profits, increased his compensation, and asked its workers to take huge pay and benefits cuts.'”
But as I read Feingold’s words—not the right guy—a not fully formed thought that has been hanging around the edges of my consciousness suddenly came sharply into focus: Obama is not the right guy.
It’s not (just) that his policies are insufficiently progressive, or even insufficiently Democratic, and it’s not (just) the arrogance, the hippie-punching, the bipartisan blah blah, the 12-dimensional chess, and it’s not (just) his tepid, half-assed, pusillanimous governance and his catastrophic ally fail. All of these things are just symptoms of this basic truth: Obama’s not up to the job.
I don’t mean he’s not up the job of being president; I mean he’s not up to the job of being president right now. I’m sure he’d have made a fine president some other time, some decade of relative peace and prosperity, where the biggest demand on his capacity was “don’t fuck it up.”
Check the date on that post. It’s June 17, 2011. She is just figuring all that out in 2011. How come I could already see it in 2007? And you should see the fawning comments on that post!
Here’s another buyer’s remorse post, and it’s very well thought out and well written. Janet Rhodes has clearly been angry with Obama for quite some time. But she still worked for his Campaign and voted for him. Why? Because he gave inspiring speeches!
Still her rant is worth reading. Fawning comments follow, naturally. Where were all these people back in 2008 when we had a choice? OK, I know I’m beating a dead horse, but still….
Finally, Kathryn Graham’s surviving relatives prove they couldn’t care less about news or the newspaper she valued so highly.
Washington Post Co. Chairman Don Graham sold off about $10 million in company stock days after successfully lobbying to loosen regulations on the for-profit higher education firm that is its most lucrative business.
A spokeswoman for the Washington Post Co. said the sale was on behalf of a trust for one of Graham’s siblings, not for Graham himself, and the company last week amended its filings to the Securities and Exchange Commission to clarify that Graham’s family, rather than he personally, was benefiting from the sale….
The disclosure indicates that the family that owns the paper profited from the bump in its stock price after the regulations became public and drove stock prices up across the for-profit education industry. Washington Post Company stock jumped 9% on reports of the new regulations; it has settled a bit since, but it still trading higher than before the news broke.
Let’s face it, newspapers are dead. Decent reporters should head to the internet.
That’s all I’ve got for today. What are you reading and blogging about?
One of the biggest problems in our political system today is the incestuous relationship between former members of congress that join lobbying firms and their contacts who remain in office. Senator Evan Bayh has decided to become part of the problem.
Not long after announcing his plans to retire in 2010, then-Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) offered this bit of commentary on why he’d opted to leave Congress after two terms in office: “I want to be engaged in an honorable line of work.” It was taken as a biting critique of the increasingly polarized and dysfunctional Senate, and a hint that Bayh’s post-Senate plans might include a quiet career in academia, away from politics.
Now Bayh is eating his words. As iWatch News‘ Peter Stone reports, Bayh has signed on with one of the most corporate-friendly, anti-environment shops in all of Washington, DC: the US Chamber of Commerce. According to an internal memo penned by Chamber president Tom Donohue, Bayh, along with former Bush White House chief of staff Andy Card, are now part of the Chamber’s anti-regulation messaging team, doing “speeches, events, and media appearances at local venues.”
The Chamber’s hiring of Bayh, a big name in Washington circles, will only help its efforts to delay or kill new regulatory legislation in Congress. Indeed, Donohue’s memo touts how the Chamber has filed legal briefs to challenge the validity of President Obama’s health care reform bill; successfully delayed a new Securities and Exchange Commission rule on giving shareholders a say on corporate directors; unveiled plans to undermine the clout of the fledgling Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; and delayed a rule forcing companies to disclose when they use conflict minerals from the Congo in their products. Bayh and Card, the memo says, will help the Chamber push this pro-corporate agenda in Washington and beyond.
It’s very difficult to justify this line of work as honorable. Bayh will join the Chamber in denouncing “excessive” regulation among other parts of a clearly right wing agenda. What’s really stinky about this deal is that Bayh used to decry the excessive role of money and lobbyists in national lawmaking.
In a New York Times op-ed in February 2010, Bayh also spoke out against the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which permits corporations and other groups to spend unlimited amounts of money on campaign ads. “The threat of unlimited amounts of negative advertising from special interest groups will only make members more beholden to their natural constituencies and more afraid of violating party orthodoxies,” Bayh wrote. The Chamber, in contrast, was one of the biggest beneficiaries of the ruling and a major spender in the 2010 election cycle.
Evan Bayh has never really been part of many solutions but now he seems destined to become part of the bigger problem.
I’m just waiting for life to get back to the normal rat race and off the holiday frenetic rat race. I need to get some plumbing parts, a few store-related things, and a person from my bank to pick up the phone who isn’t distracted or gone. Commerce is dysfunctional this time of year and I just hate it. I found out the hard way that Friday was holiday of some sort and of course, Saturday and Sunday were complete wastes of time. I feel held hostage this time of year. Same thing seems to apply to useful items in newspapers and magazines around the country.
I did manage to find one thing at WAPO today that was snuck in between those perpetual what to do with left overs and presents you do want articles: ‘Lawmakers seek cash during key votes’. Well, isn’t that special? It seems while we were frantically hoping they’d repeal DADT, pass the Dream Act, and ratify START, the Reigndeers were playing Reigndeer games. I’m hoping the information in that article doesn’t get buried in the holiday waste paper.
Numerous times this year, members of Congress have held fundraisers and collected big checks while they are taking critical steps to write new laws, despite warnings that such actions could create ethics problems. The campaign donations often came from contributors with major stakes riding on the lawmakers’ actions.
For three weeks in June, for instance, the members of a joint House and Senate committee worked to draft final rules for regulating the financial industry in the wake of its 2008 meltdown. During that time, the 35 members of the drafting committee collected $440,000 in donations from that same industry, which was then lobbying heavily for looser rules.
What on earth can we do to stop this cash extraction/infusion process from the big special interest groups? Why aren’t people holding their congress critterz accountable for this kind of obvious black mail? This example was just appalling AND unsuprising.
Earlier this month, the chairman of the Senate committee overseeing tax policy, Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), gave himself a birthday-party fundraiser – on the same day that the chamber took its first vote on an $858 billion tax package that would provide breaks to wealthy citizens and business interests.
They must know we’re stupid.
Here’s a real christmas gift from the Center for Responsive Politics: Lobbying Your True Love: Twelve Days of Gifts and Special Interests Access This Christmas. This will let you know who was on the nice list recently. (Hint: it wasn’t you or me.)
Between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30, there were 273 days. That means you should be able to retain the California Pear Growers Association, which reported $20,000 in lobbying expenditures during the first three quarters of 2010, for $73 a day.
To be true to the song, though, you’ll need the Pear Growers trade group every day for 12 days. And 12 days at $73 a day equals $879.
By that same logic, retaining DLA Piper’s services, which is playing a happy tune with $7.6 million in lobbying income this year, would cost $27,875 per day. Good thing they’ll only be need twice — on the eleventh and twelfth days, for a total cost of $55,751.
Your wallet might also take a hit trying to woo Goldman Sachs, which likes the ring of their $3.5 million investments in lobbying between January and September.
While the investment bank’s daily rate is less than half of DLA Piper’s, you’ll pay even more for their services since you’ll need them for eight days: $12,857 per day multiplied by 8 days equals $102,857.
Defense contractor Blackbird Technologies, named after the colly bird, and lobbying firm Drummer and Associates, meanwhile, will each run just $110 a day.
But Leap Wireless International, the parent company of Cricket, will cost ten times as much: $1,099 per day.
And the Dairy Farmers of American, the trade group for maids-a-milking, will cost twice that: $2,220 per day.
On the other hand, the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance — a big fan of ladies dancing — is a steal at just $27 a day. Even for four days of services, you’re only out $110.
Other poultry-related interests — the National Chicken Council, an ardent supporter of French hens, and the United Egg Producers, who have a special place in their heart for geese-a-laying — will cost $586 per day and $165 per day, respectively.
This has got to stop some place. Look at this from the same WAPO link.
Over the course of three weeks in June, the 35 conference committee members collected $440,000 in donations from the financial industry. Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), a member of the Senate banking committee and a powerful conferee, collected the most that month – about $90,000 from financial interests.
Executives of accounting giant Ernst & Young contributed the lion’s share of that amount for Schumer: $49,000 in all of June, including $2,000 from chief executive James Turley. Ernst & Young works for some of the biggest firms on Wall Street. This week, New York state sued the company, accusing it of using a paperwork shuffle to help Lehman Brothers hide billions of dollars in debt before that firm’s 2008 collapse.
Senators collected $469,000 from the financial industry the day before, the day of and the day after that key Sept. 16 vote, a Post review of donations shows. The biggest recipient was Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), who shepherded the legislation and faced a tight reelection race.
We’ve turned into a plutocracy. No doubt about it. Money doesn’t talk any more. It screams.