Saturday, September 17, 2011

Republicans Pass Bill Granting Corps The Right To Outsource Jobs

On September 15, 2011 John Boehner “made a speech”  at the Economic Club of Washington calling President Obama’s “American Jobs Act”  a “poor substitute for pro-growth policies”, he stated:

“But let's be honest with ourselves. The president's proposals are a poor substitute for the pro-growth policies that are needed to remove barriers to job creation in America...the policies that are needed to put America back to work. If we want job growth, we need to recognize who really creates jobs in America. It’s the private-sector.”

So what exactly would be their “pro-growth” plan? Why less regulation, less taxes, and less entitlements, (except for big corporations of course). The same ole same ole republican diatribe that we know boils down to corporate welfare at the expense of Main Street America. He quotes the co-chairman of the Joint Committee, Jeb Hensarling:

"Our debt threatens our jobs. . .Speak to any Fortune 500 CEO or small business person. It is clear that our debt hangs like the Sword of Damocles over their hiring decisions. . .It should be obvious that deficit reduction and a path to fiscal sustainability are themselves a jobs program."

I can’t say much for the small business person, but yes, by all means, speak to any of the Fortune 500 CEO’s that are making an average salary of more than $12 million, and who will directly benefit most from Republican plan. They’ll tell you how concerned they are that without tax cuts for them and their companies they’re just not going to have enough money to invest in creating jobs. (Except of course for all the jobs they do have money to create overseas.)

Boehner also says:

“Tax increases, however, are not a viable option for the Joint Committee.
It's a very simple equation. Tax increases destroy jobs. And the Joint Committee is a jobs committee. Its mission is to reduce the deficit that is threatening job creation in our country.”

And yet as we pointed out in the last post even the CBO has confirmed that drastic cuts to the federal deficit at such a crucial time IS what will threaten job creation. Let us refer once again to the letter “written by CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf”  to Tea Party Congressman Tim Huelskamp.

Snip
"Changes in government spending can affect the economy in two different ways: in the short term, by changing demand for goods and services and over the long run, by changing the potential supply of goods and services."
Snip
When demand for goods and services falls short of the economy’s ability to produce them, as is the case currently, increasing government spending can increase aggregate demand and thereby narrow the gap between the economy’s actual and potential levels of output.”
Snip
"The magnitude of the effect on demand depends on the details of the spending policies and the economic situation. For example, when the Federal Reserve’s ability to lower short-run interest rates is constrained because those rates are already near zero, as they are currently, the short-run effects of changes in government spending on output tend to be larger than usual.
Nevertheless, changes in government purchases and transfers create demand-side effects that are usually only temporary: They raise or lower output relative to what it would be otherwise only for a while because, over time, stabilizing forces in the economy (such as the responses of prices and interest rates and actions by the Federal Reserve) tend to move output back toward its potential."
Snip
"A recent analysis by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) of an illustrative deficit reduction plan (without any particular changes in spending or revenues specified) provides a very rough indication of the magnitude of the economic effects of cuts in government spending under current economic conditions. In that analysis, CBO estimated the short-term and longer-term effects of reducing the primary deficit (the budget deficit excluding net interest) by $100 billion in 2012 and by amounts increasing gradually to $300 billion by 2021. CBO estimated that the illustrative plan would decrease real (inflation-adjusted) gross national product (GNP) in 2012, 2013, and 2014 by amounts ranging from roughly 0.1 percent to 0.6 percent depending on the year and the assumptions used.3 A policy that had a different amount of cumulative reduction in primary deficits but that reduced them on the same gradual time path as that illustrative plan would have macroeconomic effects that, in percentage terms, were about the same. Thus, for example, a reduction in primary deficits that followed the same gradual time path but was twice as large would produce macroeconomic effects that were roughly twice as large. Again, as noted, the precise magnitude of the effects of a specific deficit reduction plan would depend on the specific policies it included. In particular, a plan of the same size as the illustrative plan but based only on reductions in government purchases of goods and services could reduce GNP by substantially more in the short run."
Snip
“Specific spending policies can also influence the economy’s potential output in other ways. Some types of spending, such as funding for improvements to roads and highways, may add to the economy’s potential output in much the same way that private capital investment does. Other policies, such as funding for grants to increase access to college education, may raise long-term productivity by enhancing people’s skills. The positive longer-term impact of deficit reduction on GNP would be smaller if the policies that reduced deficits included cuts in productive government investments.
Even among types of federal spending that contribute to potential output, the effects of different policies can vary greatly. For example, spending for basic research and education may affect output only after a number of years, but once those investments begin to boost output, they may pay off over more years than would the average investment in physical capital (in economic terms, they may have a low rate of depreciation). Moreover, even within a specific program, how those funds are allocated also matters a great deal. Although some specific government investments in a particular category may be as productive as private investment, other projects probably fall short of that benchmark.”
On a more fundamental level, the government provides a crucial role in maintaining the legal and institutional framework within which the economy operates. Government spending on the justice system, for example, supports the Honorable Tim Huelskamp smooth functioning of the economy by protecting private property rights and enforcing contracts."

That pretty much says it all, but republicans are just not listening. Boehner just keeps dancing on those Big Corporate puppet strings. Back to his speech, and his cut cut cut.

Snip
"When it comes to producing savings to reach its $1.5 trillion deficit reduction target, the Joint Select Committee has only one option: spending cuts and entitlement reform."
Snip
"The Joint Committee can achieve real deficit reduction by reforming entitlements and taking real action to preserve and strengthen Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid."

Right, real intended action is the ultimate elimination of all three.

Snip
"As the Joint Committee does its work, there is a lot of other work in Washington that also needs to be done.
As I mentioned earlier, there are 219 major regulatory actions in the works by the federal bureaucracy right now. We know seven of them will each have an economic impact of $1 billion or more.
The biggest is an EPA rule that could have an impact of as much as $90 billion."

Now lets stop right here for just a moment and take a look at what the republicans in the House consider as “job killing federal regulations”. “From TPM” :

GOP members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee today called attention to a proposed regulation that would restrict the transportation and importation of nine types of snakes, including the Burmese Python.
In a new report entitled "Broken Government: How the Administrative State has Broken President Obama's Promise of Regulatory Reform," GOP members cited the proposed snake ban as one of seven examples of red tape choking off job growth in an already ailing economy." 

That’s right folks, snakes. The GOP is claiming that restricting the transportation and imports of snakes as an example of “red tape choking off job growth”. But… why would anyone be bothered to make such regulations about snake sales and imports? Well, maybe its because some of these irresponsible snake owners who get tired of dealing with these exotic reptiles just decide to turn them loose. The results of emancipating these “pets” into places like the Florida Everglades has produced “monsters on the loose”, like the 13 foot long Burmese Python that was found and “photographed”  in 2005 after it exploded after eating a 6 foot alligator.

Now if I lived near the Florida Everglades and knew that there was a single monster large enough to swallow a whole 6-foot long alligator on the loose and it had met its demise, I may not have too much further concern. But the problem is that its not just one. “Politico”   reported estimates of 100,000 or more and they are eating the friggin Everglades, up to and including 6-foot alligators. And the problem may not be or stay contained in the Everglades.

“Some scientists have warned that the snakes might eventually spread throughout much of the U.S., with potentially suitable climate for some species existing as far north as coastal Delaware or Oregon”.

100,000 “or more” Burmese pythons? You know, I’m not sorry to say that I not only think that importing these giant snakes should be banned, but people should have to be licensed to own one if you ask me. Think about it, there are a lot of unintelligent people out there thinking “Ohhhh cute snake lets get one”, yea maybe in a shop when its 15 inches long, but who in their right mind wants a 10 – 20 foot Burmese python living in your house eating your dogs and potentially your kids or YOU for chrissakes? So they just turn it loose when it gets too big? Well, why not just get a lion, or maybe a grisly bear, they’re cute when they’re little too. (Not that I have ever thought a snake was cute) Oh, but wait. There are regulations prohibiting keeping lions and grisly bears. Humm, I wonder why?

There ARE reasons for these types of regulations, and in this case I’d say damn good ones. But hay, that’s beside the point, it’s something they can “use” to blame Obama for making too many regulations. RIGHT! Do these people not even think?

Bonehead Boehner's plan also claims:

“We'll pass the REINS Act, which would require congressional review for any new regulation that has a major impact on the economy. House committees have identified dozens of job-crushing regulations that are keeping our economy from producing jobs.”


“The bill would apply to any agency regulation with an expected annual economic impact of $100 million or more. Between 50 and 100 of these “major rules” are issued annually. Boehner dismisses them as “red tape,” but most are critically important, governing everything from food safety and housing discrimination to airline pilot training, accounting standards in financial statements, and air pollution control.”

Yes, and not to mention things like infestations of giant friggin alligator eating snakes. Pffftt!

"Under the REINS Act, if just one house were to reject a rule, or simply didn’t act on it within the prescribed time period — 70 legislative working days — the rule would be dispatched to the regulatory graveyard. Or, put another way, the bill would provide one house with veto power. (The bill now has 115 Republican co-sponsors in the House — and no Democrats. Jim DeMint introduced a Senate version this week.)[...]
REINS Act supporters know full well that Congress would never be able to debate and vote on 50 to 100 major federal regulations each year (certainly not within the 70 day window for each one). Already, budget negotiations drag on for months, while battles over confirming a single federal judge can rage for a year or more. And, although the Act includes some “fast-track” procedures, such as requiring that each house of Congress take an up-or-down vote on a regulation without amendments after two hours of debate, those hardly solve the problem: That’s still a lot of floor time devoted to regulations — too much, in fact, for most of them to stand a chance of survival. For REINS Act proponents, of course, this is all for the good: Under the guise of oversight, they want Congress’s notorious inability to act quickly to help kill important agency rules."

Yes, another win win for big money, and screw everyone else! Everything else Boehner says in his speech follows along these lines. Seriously, when are the voters in this country going to do something to put a stop to this insanity? 

Finally I’d like to comment this little part of his big “Jobs” speech:

“Earlier I mentioned the situation in South Carolina with Boeing.
Today the House is working on a measure that will prevent the federal government from meddling in that situation, and similar ones.
The Senate needs to follow the House in passing this bill, and we need to send it to the president's desk.
The NRLB bill is one of a whole series of measures we're working on this fall to reduce the burden of excessive regulation on job creators.”

Now for those that don’t know the details of the Boeing /Labor dispute the “NYT”  did a good article on it back in April. The gist of it being something that the courts should be left to settle without political interference, but of course the republican House saw yet another opportunity to DE-regulate and strip workers rights while giving big money corporations yet another victory at the expense of the American people. All under the guise of allowing big corporations the freedom to create jobs of course, so the republican majority passed a bill on September 15, 2011, “H.R. 2587 Protecting Jobs From Government Interference Act”.  Here is the exact text of that bill:

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the ‘Protecting Jobs From Government Interference Act’.
SEC. 2. AUTHORITY OF THE NLRB.
Section 10(c) of the National Labor Relations Act (29 U.S.C. 160) is amended by inserting before the period at the end the following: ‘: Provided further, That the Board shall have no power to order an employer (or seek an order against an employer) to restore or reinstate any work, product, production line, or equipment, to rescind any relocation, transfer, subcontracting, outsourcing, or other change regarding the location, entity, or employer who shall be engaged in production or other business operations, or to require any employer to make an initial or additional investment at a particular plant, facility, or location’.
SEC. 3. RETROACTIVITY.
The amendment made by section 2 shall apply to any complaint for which a final adjudication by the National Labor Relations Board has not been made by the date of enactment of this Act.
Passed the House of Representatives September 15, 2011.”

 

If you will notice, this bill not only strips the Labor board of any power to act on the behalf of union workers but also grants corporations the unconditional right to OUTSOURCE jobs. Now it’s worth noting that under SEC. 3, they’ve also added a little retroactivity clause that will grant victory to Boeing in this labor dispute that has not yet been settled.

Not that this has a snowball's chance of passing the Senate, but Seriously, WTF?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Tea Party’s Job Killing Agenda

Now that the campaigns are commencing for the 2012 elections I think its time to take a good look at just what is on the agendas of some of these Tea Party candidates. Not only that but who is fueling and funding the movement. Money talks and BS walks as they say, and the money that has been talking behind the Tea Party has primarily come from generous funding by people like the Koch brothers. Koch Industries and other big money special interest groups have for years been pushing for lower corporate tax rates and fewer regulations on just about anything that inhibits their ability to increase their profit margins.  

Since the election of Barack Obama in 2008, these corporate big wigs have been pouring money into not just the Tea Party, but also into the GOP. With intense opposition to anything this democratic President has attempted to do, elected GOP officials seem to have become nothing more than special interest puppets dangling on the purse strings of big corporations. They’ve set records of obstruction never before seen in this government. In many instances they even voted to block legislation that they had previously voted to pass, and the reason for this all comes down to putting corporate profits above all else, regardless of the cost to Main Street America. 

The Tea Party and the GOP blame Obama for the national debt and for the millions of people in this country being out of work. They claim it’s all due to his “radical liberal agenda” and they also claim the only way to fix the economic mess this country is in is to “cut corporate taxes” even further, and eliminate what they call “job killing regulations” as well as eliminating entitlement programs referring to them as “government handouts”. And under no circumstances will they tolerate any tax increases, but they intend to cut government down to bare bones.

They have all adamantly opposed raising corporate taxes because they claim that doing so is a proven job killer.  They say that what must be done is exactly the opposite, as well as balancing the national budget by reining in what they call “Obama’s out of control spending” while claiming that his past government bailouts were completely ineffective. 

Lets look little history here and see what has been proven and what hasn’t. The last time this country had a balanced budget was when President Bill Clinton left office. When George W. Bush took office, the budget was not only balanced but had a surplus of $86 billion. Look at this chart from FactCheck.org.


How did he do it? He raised taxes his first year in office, a tax hike that primarily targeted the wealthiest Americans. The results of that tax hike spurred “Historic Economic Growth” .

“In 1993, President Clinton and Vice President Gore launched their economic strategy: (1) establishing fiscal discipline, eliminating the budget deficit, keeping interest rates low, and spurring private-sector investment; (2) investing in people through education, training, science, and research; and (3) opening foreign markets so American workers can compete abroad. After eight years, the results of President Clinton’s economic leadership are clear. Record budget deficits have become record surpluses, 22 million new jobs have been created, unemployment and core inflation are at their lowest levels in more than 30 years, and America is in the midst of the longest economic expansion in our history.”

This is proof that raising taxes on those who can afford it does work and it does so without killing jobs. Unfortunately Clinton’s economic success was short lived once George W. Bush got into office. The Bush tax cuts did exactly the opposite of the Clinton tax increases and the majority of tax cuts went to the wealthiest 1% of Americans while according to  “FactCheck”   millions of Americans got no benefit from the tax cuts at all.

“It is true that everybody who paid federal income taxes is getting a cut. But according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, 35.6 million individuals and families got zero benefit from the Bush cuts because their income was so low they were not paying federal income taxes before the cuts. This number includes 15.1 million workers who are paying federal payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare. That's 15 million "taxpayers" who were left out.”

In addition to the Bush tax cuts Congress approved a “Tax Holiday” in 2004, something else republicans today are clamoring to do again in an attempt to provide corporations extra cash to create more jobs. However history shows that big corporations did reap billions in repatriated cash in 2004, but instead of creating domestic jobs they cut tens of thousands of jobs and pocketed the bulk while continuing to ship jobs overseas where they can pay lower wages with less or no benefits. During the “8 years” of the Bush administration theses tax cuts and the tax holiday created a total of 3 million domestic jobs, while during the Clinton administration 22 million jobs were created. 

The Bush tax cuts are what have been proven as a failed attempt at creating jobs, and this is exactly what republicans want to do again. In January 2009 “The Wall Street Journal”   published a chart going back to Harry Truman showing Bush having the worst track record on jobs on record. 

Given these historically documented facts republicans and tea partiers today are still fighting tooth and nail to continue the Bush tax cuts, some even calling for eliminating corporate taxes all together so corporations can have “extra cash to invest in creating jobs”. They also continually claim that Obama’s $862 billion stimulus was a complete failure and did nothing to help the economy while according to “USAToday”  as well as many other sources corporations are currently already sitting on a record $837 billion in cash and that Obama’s stimulus “saved or created” in his first years in office nearly as many jobs as it took Bush 8 years to create. 

Non-financial companies in the Standard & Poor's 500 have a record $837 billion in cash, S&P says. That's enough to pay 2.4 million people $70,000-a-year salaries for five years. For context, 2.2 million to 2.8 million jobs were saved or created by the $862 billion stimulus that President Obama signed into law in February 2009, according to a report released in April from the Council of Economic Advisers.”

Still while sitting on $837 billion of stagnant cash while Main Street America struggles just to survive big money corporations are pulling the GOP puppet strings as well as lining the GOP coffers lobbying for yet another tax holiday. The truth of it is that they have no more intention of using that “extra” money to create jobs now than they did during the Bush years. It’s all about pure greed. In March of this year “ThinkProgress”  reported on Mitt Romney’s endorsement for another tax giveaway.

“While Romney and the corporations say that such a tax holiday would lead to massive domestic investment and job creation, the Bush administration tried such a policy already. It turned into a windfall for shareholders and corporate CEO’s, but didn’t deliver the promised domestic investment.
In 2004, Congress passed the Homeland Investment Act, allowing companies to bring back offshore profits in 2005 and pay a tax rate of just 5.25 percent, far below the 35 percent corporate tax rate. Congress passed the bill because corporations said the money would go towards domestic job creation. However, according to work done by the National Bureau of Economic Research, 92 percent of the nearly $300 billion that companies brought back went to share buybacks and increased dividend payments.”

And Romney is not the only GOP onboard with giving away billions more in corporate welfare at the expense of those that are in desperate need when it has already been proven that doing that did not and will not work. Especially when they will be sure to repeal enough regulations as well to be sure it won’t. In addition to repealing regulations that protect the public and the environment, which will of course let the big corporate polluters wreak havoc not only on the planet, but also on the health and safety of every person in this country. The rest of the GOP jobs agenda consists of repealing the minimum wage, which currently stands at  $7.25 per hour while restricting or eliminating workers collective bargaining rights. They also want to repeal the Healthcare amendment, privatize Medicare, and eliminate social security to cover the cost of making the very rich even richer, while completely screwing the rest of the country. 

Republicans are calling Obama’s “American Jobs Act”  nothing but another $450 billion bailout, another stimulus that will fail just like the first one did, and even “son of stimulus” and most of them firmly reject it. They also dismissed the payroll tax cut for the middle class claiming that the cuts should go to the corporations who not only are sitting on hundreds of billions of dollars here, but have trillions stashed overseas so they don’t have to pay taxes on them at all. These big corporations pay fewer taxes through lower tax rates and loopholes already than any other income level in this country, IF they pay taxes at all. Kids with summer jobs (if they can even get them) who are asking “Would you like fires with that?” pay higher taxes than these greedy multi-billionaires do. 

Republicans are dead wrong and refuse to admit it even when faced with the “actual” facts. They have nerve to complain about $450 billion which will pay for itself for the most part and certainly will in the long run when according to “Center for American Progress” 

“We calculate that today’s recycled conservative economic policy prescriptions would cost about $10 trillion in new deficit spending over 10 years relative to the current Congressional Budget Office baseline, which is the CBO’s estimate of spending over 10 years figuring in no changes to current tax law and discretionary spending. This nearly $10 trillion surge in deficit spending would flow overwhelmingly to the rich and corporations, with the rest of us picking up the tab to pay the cost of borrowing these vast sums. The Economic Freedom Act alone would add about $6.9 trillion to the deficit relative to current law, while the rest comes from Republican refusal to allow any of the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 to expire.”

Tea Party Congressman and Budget committee member Tim Huelskamp from Kansas who was elected in 2010 posted on his website on June 23, 2011 a video of himself questioning CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf. “The post states”    (verbatim, including spelling errors)

“Congressman Huelskamp asked Director Elmendorf as to when the last time was that the CBO analyzed a Congressional Democrat budget, as it has been 785 days since either the House or Senate Democrats passed a budget in Congress. Congressman Huelskamp also queried Director Elmendorf about the positive economic impacts of spending, including on Social Security, Medicare, and Defense. He requested follow-up from CBO as to the types of spending that provides positive economic growth.”

On August 11 Director Elmendorf “Responded” , and as reported by “TPM” 

“To illustrate the point, Elmendorf notes that deficit reduction measures that cut spending by $100 billion next fiscal year, and hundreds of billions more over the coming decade "would decrease real (inflation-adjusted) gross national product (GNP) in 2012, 2013, and 2014 by amounts ranging from roughly 0.1 percent to 0.6 percent depending on the year and the assumptions used." In other words, the GOP's current governing theory is damaging the economy and, by implication, costing jobs. And for those Republicans who want to cut more, " a reduction in primary deficits that followed the same gradual time path but was twice as large would produce macroeconomic effects that were roughly twice as large."

The bottom line with the entire GOP agenda is to support the richest people/corporations by any and all means, no matter how idiotic or even blatantly ignorant they appear when doing so.  So, who is it that’s really out of control here?

We need jobs; we need elected officials who do not have their heads lodged in the asses of greedy corporations and who will look out for the interests of those that elected them. Obama may not be perfect, but he’s a hell of a lot closer to reality on what needs to be done to fix this economy and we need this economy fixed.  

Its getting way passed time to BAG THE TEA!