Let’s Talk About Jobs & Unemployment

‎”The Republicans have no credibility on deficits. The Republicans have no credibility on national security. For decades, both have been all but ceded as Republican strengths, despite plenty of evidence that they shouldn’t be. On those issues, Democrats have often played on the Republican home field, to the detriment of everyone. The Republicans would like for the same dynamic to pertain on the economy and unemployment. At the end of last week, while President Obama was enjoying the early indications of what we now know is a substantial post-Convention bounce, Republicans rejoiced at the release of a lousy jobs report. They were sure that would deflate what they deluded themselves into believing was but a temporary Obama polling bubble. It’s the economy, stupid—Republicans rejoiced. And it is the economy. And unemployment still will be one of the key issues in this election, up and down the ballot. But not in the way Republicans think.

President Obama and the Democrats have tried to pass jobs bills. The Republicans killed the American Jobs Act. The Republicans killed the jobs bill that would have repaired our badly crumbling national infrastructure. The Republicans killed the jobs bill that would have given tax cuts to small businesses that create jobs. They’re even holding up a bill specifically designed to create jobs for military veterans. The Republicans don’t care about creating jobs. Republicans do care about playing politics over jobs, obstructing bills that would actually create jobs so they can exploit the lack of jobs for political gain.”


Taking Us Back to 1897

We’ve been listening to the GOP and their Tea Party brethren talk about “taking our country back” and most folks have wondered “from what?”  But the question isn’t “from what?” … it’s “to when?”  And now, FOXnew has given us the answer …. 1897.

I’m surprised they didn’t include a bullet point denoting the elimination of laws prohibiting child labor as well.

Absolutely none of those bullet points would increase job growth, but they would improve the ability of Corporations to further subjugate their all-white-male workforces.  If you’re female, or if your skin has any tinge of color … good luck getting a job at all.

If these guys get their way they might as well rename our country to the United Corporations of America, because this will no longer resemble the country in which we grew up and we can mourn the American Dream as they will have effectively slaughtered it.

Under the Reading Lamp — 10/24/2010

Why (Almost) Everything Women Are Told About Work Is Wrong
That’s the message of the career advice book Rachel and I are working on together, and that’s the message of this new report from nonprofit research group Catalyst. Despite all the advice women receive telling them that they fall behind men in the workplace because they don’t ask for raises; because they don’t network; because they don’t promote themselves, it turns out that women actually do all of these things, as much as or more than men. The problem isn’t us, it’s them.

Defending Bloated Military Spending
Ryan Alexander, News Analysis: “Had the political leaders tackling our budget mess visited this spectacle, they would have gotten a good lesson on federal spending. The Pentagon’s budget stands the risk of being subjected to a process known as ‘sequestration,’ which would impose $600 billion in defense cuts over 10 years if Congress doesn’t approve a $1.2-trillion deficit-slashing plan that the panel of lawmakers known as the super-committee will propose later this year. In his address to the convention, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called this plan a ‘doomsday mechanism.’”

Bank of America Makes 6.2 Billion Tax Free Dollars in Third Quarter Profits
Brian Walker, News Report: Bank of America reported $6.2 billion in third quarter gains this year, nearly recouping a $7.3 billion loss from the same time last year. Bank of America ceded its ranking as the largest bank to J.P. Morgan & Co after CEO Brian Moynihan began a campaign of mass asset sales in an effort to boost the bank’s capital. Moynihan has suggested that new regulations mean the bank will have to start charging fees for services that have traditionally been free, such as debit cards and checking accounts.

Republicans in Congress Are in a Quandary on Jobs
Kathleen Hennessey, News Report: “[Republican Rep.] Tom Rooney’s candid assessment puts a fine point on the political predicament facing GOP lawmakers when it comes to jobs bills. With President Barack Obama touring the country to sell his $447 billion plan, Republicans increasingly are under pressure to present an alternative vision for reviving the economy. For months, the party has focused on shrinking the government, sparking ugly battles with Democrats over the budget and the debt ceiling.”

Without Credit Card Donations, WikiLeaks Facing Funding Crisis
Mark Seibel, News Report: “WikiLeaks, the whistleblower website that has been at the center of some of the world’s most controversial news for the past 18 months, is facing dire economic times, largely, the website says, because Visa, MasterCard and PayPal have refused for more than 10 months to process donations made on its behalf. The total financial cost of what WikiLeaks calls a blockade is uncertain, but the lack of resources mixed with turmoil that has surrounded the organization has kept the website from accepting new documents from would-be leakers for much of the year, its spokesman says.”

Captured Government’s Increasing Irrelevance Shows Occupy’s Importance
Dave Johnson, Op-Ed: “Our captured political institutions make themselves increasingly irrelevant by not addressing the problems of the 99%. Each day we see more examples of our government being ‘captured’ by and serving the interests of the top 1% against the rest of us. Even as more and more people take to the streets in protest, Washington ignores We, the People, continuing to serve only the top few.

Throw Them Out With the Trash
What the Occupy Wall Streeters are beginning to discover, and homeless people have known all along, is that most ordinary, biologically necessary activities are illegal when performed in American streets – not just peeing, but sitting, lying down, and sleeping.

Robert Reich | The Flat-Tax Fraud, and the Necessity of a Truly Progressive Tax
Robert Reich, Op-Ed: “Herman Cain’s bizarre 9-9-9 plan would replace much of the current tax code with a 9 percent individual income tax and a 9 percent sales tax. He calls it a ‘flat tax.’ Next week Rick Perry is set to announce his own version of a flat tax. Former House majority leader Dick Armey – now chairman of Freedom Works, a major backer of the Tea Party funded by the Koch Brothers and other portly felines (I didn’t say ‘fat cats’) — predicts this will give Perry ‘a big boost.’”

Occupy the Mortgage Lenders
Simon Johnson, Op-Ed: “Participants in the Occupy Wall Street movement are right to argue that the big banks have never properly been investigated for the mortgage origination, aggregation, and securitization behavior that was central to the financial crisis – and to the loss of more than eight million jobs. But, thanks to the efforts of New York’s attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, and others, serious discussion has started in the United States about an out-of court mortgage settlement between state attorney generals and prominent financial-sector firms.”

Sending Troops Home Could Pave Way for More Non-Competitive Defense Contracting
R. Jeffrey Smith, News Analysis: “Out go all the U.S. troops by year’s end, President Obama said Friday about Iraq. And in go the contractors, along with some familiar contracting problems, say other government officials and independent experts. As the United States pulls out its remaining 50,000 or so troops after a decade of conflict costing around $1 trillion, many of the soldiers’ non-fighting functions will be pursued by a force of State Department-funded government contractors expected to near 15,000.”

Is the National Security Complex Too Big to Fail?
Tom Engelhardt, Op-Ed: “Whatever Washington turned over to the banks, the Complex has it so much easier. After all, its managers essentially pay themselves more or less what they desire in the name of supporting the troops and promoting American safety. Yes, our congressional representatives officially dole out the money, but they have little choice when it comes to offering less than what’s asked of them. And presidential election campaigns always lock candidates into yet more of the same.”

Shocking Report Reveals the Pentagon’s Addiction to Fraudulent Contractors
George Zornick, News Analysis: “The report, released today, showed that hundreds of defense contractors found guilty of civil fraud received more than $1.1 trillion in defense contracts since 2001. The study took into account only companies that were found to have defrauded taxpayers of more than $1 million dollars.More than $573 billion went directly to companies that were guilty of defrauding taxpayers, and when you factor in the awards that went to the parent companies of those contractors, the total is $1.1 trillion.”

The Choice Between Democracy and Autocracy
David Sirota, Op-Ed: “This might all sound like Medieval Europe, but it’s not. It’s America circa 2011, as these clashes are now taking place everywhere. Alas, it’s a predictable situation. Horrifying economic inequality has prompted the bottom 99 percent of income earners to finally exercise their constitutional rights to protest. In response, the nobles in the top 1 percent are demanding their political puppets make clear that such dissent will not be tolerated — and they expect their demands to be followed.”

Montana Looks North for Health Care That Works
Rebecca Leischer, News Report: “A little over a decade ago he was busing Montana senior citizens to Canada to fill their prescriptions at reasonable prices—a way of protesting the American pharmaceutical industry. Now, Montana governor Brian Schweitzer is planning to establish a state-wide universal health care system modeled after that of the state’s Canadian neighbor, Saskatchewan. The governor, a Democrat, announced last month he will seek a waiver from the federal government to design his own health care system in Montana.”

Robert Reich | The Austerity Death-Trap
Robert Reich, Op-Ed: “Under these circumstances, the harder a country works to cut its debt, the worse the ratio becomes — because the economy shrinks even faster. The only way out of this vicious cycle is for the government – the spender of last resort – to boost the economy. The regressives are all calling for the opposite. But even without these hare-brained Republican plans, we’re heading in their direction anyway. Unless Republicans agree to a budget deal before the end of the year (don’t hold your breath), the temporary payroll tax cuts and extended unemployment benefits we have now will end.”

Republican Field Shies Away From History on Insurance Mandate
Wendell Potter, News Analysis: “In the Republican presidential debate Tuesday night, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich acknowledged, apparently in an unguarded moment, that a core element of “ObamaCare,” the requirement that all Americans be enrolled in either a private or public health insurance plan, was a proposal originated by the Heritage Foundation, a powerful conservative think tank. I’m sure the other presidential hopefuls on the stage in Las Vegas were holding their breath.”

Progress on government transparency threatened by proposed budget cuts

Alexandra Duszak | iWatchNews:  “Groups pushing for more government transparency agree with the Obama administration’s recent self-assessment that  progress is being made —but budget-cutting efforts on Capitol Hill could threaten both recent gains and the prospect of future progress.”

Robert Reich | The 7 Biggest Economic Lies
“The President’s Jobs Bill doesn’t have a chance in Congress — and the Occupiers on Wall Street and elsewhere can’t become a national movement for a more equitable society – unless more Americans know the truth about the economy.

Here’s a short (2 minute 30 second) effort to rebut the seven biggest whoppers now being told by those who want to take America backwards.”

Billionaire Tycoon Claps For Herman Cain’s Attacks On Occupy Wall Street Movement
Lee Fang, News Analysis: “Many people in the crowd began clapping for Cain’s response. But one person in particular stood out: casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson. Adelson owns casinos in Las Vegas and China, including the Venetian, where the debate was held tonight. Adelson has served as a major donor to far-right causes. This New Yorker profile reveals Adelson’s many years of funding stealth attack group and Bush-era Republican politicians.

Super Congress Hauls in Super Donations as Special Interests Try to Influence Budget Cuts
Aaron Mehta and Josh Israel, News Analysis: “Formed as part of a compromise in late July between Republicans and Democrats in Congress, the committee faces a serious uphill task: they must come up with $1.5 trillion or more in budget savings, enough to match increases in the government’s ability to borrow enough money to pay its bills through the beginning of 2013. It requires a bipartisan majority of at least seven of the committee’s 12 members to recommend legislation to be presented to the whole Congress for an up-or-down vote by Dec. 23.”

House GOP Wants to Waive Environmental Laws on US Borders
Rob Hotakainen, McClatchy Newspapers | Report: “In a move aimed at improving national security, House Republicans want to give the U.S. Border Patrol unprecedented authority to ignore 36 environmental laws on federal land in a 100-mile zone stretching along the Canadian and Mexican borders.”

Graphic | Border zone bill would waive environmental laws — In Washington state alone, the zone would apply to about 1/2 of the land area within the state and would include three of the largest cities and it’s capital.

Hispanic Alabama Schoolchildren Face Bullying In The Wake Of Anti-Immigrant Law
Ian Millhiser | ThinkProgress: “In a sadly predictable development, Hispanic public school students in Alabama — some of whom are United States citizens — are now facing racially motivated bullying in the wake of the state’s unconstitutional attack on undocumented school children”

Effort to Cut Medicare, Medicaid & UEC Waste

September 14, 2011
Contact: HHS Press Office
(202) 690-6343

Vice President Biden announces over $2 billion in anti-waste measures at Cabinet meeting

New initiatives led by campaign to cut waste will save Medicaid waste and strengthen partnership with states to reduce improper unemployment insurance payments

WASHINGTON – At the White House today, Vice President Biden convened a cabinet meeting to discuss waste reduction at federal agencies as part of the administration’s Campaign to Cut Waste. The vice president announced a new initiative to fight waste in Medicaid that is estimated to save taxpayers over $2 billion, unveiled new efforts to track state progress in reducing improper unemployment insurance payments, and directed each Cabinet secretary to undertake a waste and efficiency review that will target unnecessary, wasteful, and inefficient federal spending.

“Today’s announcements on cutting waste in Medicare, Medicaid and Unemployment Insurance shows that we can make our government more efficient and responsible to the American people,” said Vice President Biden.  “If we’re going to spur jobs and economic growth and restore long-term fiscal solvency, we need to make sure hard-earned tax dollars don’t go to waste.”

Joined by Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the vice president discussed a new initiative to fight waste and fraud in Medicaid that will save taxpayers an estimated $2.1 billion.  HHS today released its final rule for the Medicaid Recovery Audit Contractor Program, a waste-cutting program created by the Affordable Care Act. HHS projects the program will save $2.1 billion over the next five years, of which $900 million will be returned to states.  The new program is based on the successful Medicare Recovery Audit Contractor program, which the vice president announced has already recovered nearly $670 million to date in 2011 – increasing the taxpayer dollars recovered by nearly 800 percent compared to 2010.

“Today we are building on an already successful program that targets improper payments in our health care programs and recovers those dollars, making Medicare and Medicaid more reliable and responsible,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “We simply can’t afford to see even one penny of our health care dollars wasted and expanding this program will help us reach that goal.”

The vice president also unveiled new Labor Department efforts to reduce improper Unemployment Insurance payments and hold states accountable for progress as part of the administration’s comprehensive efforts to crack down on waste, fraud and abuse. Department of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis joined the vice president to discuss the department’s next steps in combating these improper payments:

  • A New Transparency Initiative to Make It Clear Where States Stand: The Department of Labor is launching a new effort to clearly show every state’s performance on improper payments.  The agency unveiled an online map that will show citizens their state’s payment errors, which types of problems are driving its error rate, and the steps it has taken to address its rate.
  • Comprehensive Turnaround Plans for High Priority States: DOL has identified six high priority states — Virginia, Indiana, Colorado, Washington, Louisiana, and Arizona — based on their high rate of improper payments. DOL is working with these states to ensure they develop a comprehensive turnaround plan to reduce their improper payments. In addition, high-performing states will be paired with these states to offer guidance and aid as the plans are developed and implemented.  High priority states will be subject to additional monitoring and technical assistance until they achieve an improper payment rate under 10 percent and sustain that performance for at least six months.
  • New Awards to States to Automate and Improve Unemployment Insurance Data Collection:  The Department of Labor today awarded nearly $92 million to 42 states to implement waste-cutting initiatives and improve the Unemployment Insurance program, including upgrading technology systems to more accurately collect data and process claims.

These steps build on other efforts to address improper payments the administration launched earlier this year.

“The Unemployment Insurance system is a unique partnership between the federal government and the states. States bear the responsibility of operating an efficient and effective benefits program, but as partners the federal government must be able to hold them accountable for doing so,” said Secretary Solis. “These new measures, demonstrate our commitment to working closely with states to ensure the integrity of the system, turnaround underperforming programs and save taxpayer dollars.”

Finally, as part of efforts to cut waste and inefficient spending, the vice president asked the Cabinet to report back on wasteful and inefficient agency spending on travel, auto fleets, publications, and office equipment and supplies, from cell phones to software, or in any other areas identified by agencies.

The vice president highlighted the Department of Homeland Security’s Efficiency Review as a model effort. Since 2009, the agency has identified more than $1 billion in cost avoidances and implemented 30 efficiency initiatives across the agency – from buying software licenses in bulk to using government offices for meetings instead of renting private space.  As a result of these savings and other ongoing efficiency initiatives, the agency’s 2012 budget request included more than $800 million in reductions.  As he did with the Recovery Act, the vice president called on secretaries to be personally involved in these reviews, and will hold cabinet members personally responsible for the performance and results of the process.

“Over the last two years, we have made an unprecedented commitment to efficiency in order to support frontline operations by building a culture of fiscal discipline and accountability throughout the department,” said Secretary Napolitano. “Through the Department of Homeland Security’s Efficiency Review, we’ve taken a hard look at how we do business, and identified ways to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of limited taxpayer dollars we receive.”

As part of the launch of the Campaign to Cut Waste in June, the president asked the vice president to take on a new role holding the Cabinet accountable for cutting waste in their agencies – part of the administration’s ongoing effort to make government more efficient and responsive to the American people. The vice president will hold regular Cabinet waste cutting meetings and is working closely with Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew and the administration’s Chief Performance Officer Jeffrey Zients to root out waste across the agencies and make government work for America’s families.

“We have made great strides in the last two years – shrinking contract spending for the first time in 13 years, identifying $3 billion in cost reductions from information technology projects across government, and getting rid of property we no longer need,” said Lew. “Particularly now in these challenging fiscal times, it is critical that each and every member of the Cabinet take personal ownership of aggressively rooting out waste and being vigilant stewards of taxpayer dollars.”