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McEntee on Jobs

6:54 am in Uncategorized by Gerald McEntee

On Tuesday, the Majority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Eric Cantor of Virginia, told the press that he would not schedule a vote on President Obama’s American Jobs Bill. That’s appalling, but not surprising. With its current leadership, the House never schedules votes on bills to increase employment in the U.S. If you look closely at their record, you’ll see that putting more people to work is the last thing they want to accomplish. It would be bad for the billionaires who finance their campaigns, and it would hurt their chances of maintaining power.

None of the folks on TV news will mention it, but the truth is that the bosses on Wall Street and right-wing talk radio like high unemployment. It drives down wages and increases profits. That makes most corporate CEOs happy. High unemployment delights the Rush Limbaughs of the world, too. It makes President Obama fail, and that’s been their hope since day one of his presidency. Remember, it was Limbaugh who told his audience in the earliest days of 2009: “I want to see him fail.”

Limbaugh was not alone. The GOP leader in the Senate made it clear after the elections last November that jobs would not be the top item on his upcoming agenda. No, Sen. Mitch McConnell said: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” Not lower unemployment. Not help for families facing foreclosures. Not financial support for students struggling to stay in school. No, the single most important thing they want is to defeat President Barack Obama.

If you understand that this is their guiding goal, much of their abysmal record on the economy begins to make sense. It helps explain the GOP’s willingness to allow taxes to be raised on 99 percent of the American public, which is what will happen if President Obama’s plan to extend the tax cuts for workers is not passed by the end of the year. That tax cut is part of the American Jobs Act, which Leader Cantor won’t schedule for a vote.

It explains the efforts by House members last spring, when the economy was beginning to recover, to launch an unprecedented months-long debate on whether the U.S. would increase the debt limit. This wasn’t about giving President Obama a blank check, as clueless Rep. Michelle Bachmann said. The Congress had already approved legislation spending the money – with the support of Rep. Bachmann. The question was whether the U.S. would live up to its commitments.

In the end, thanks to the efforts of Rep. Cantor’s and Rep. Bachmann’s allies to undermine the full faith and credit of the United States, a ratings agency lowered the rating of the U.S. debt, for the first time in history. They sent a clear message to the financial markets that the leadership in the U.S. House was willing to risk the default of the United States rather than compromise on taxing the wealthiest people in America. They succeeded in derailing the economic recovery. They got what they really wanted: higher unemployment.

Never mind that this agenda hurts millions of America’s working families. The House leadership in Washington may give lip-service to the concerns of America’s jobless, but they do what their bosses on Wall Street tell them to do. And that is: “Don’t increase taxes on the rich.”

The working middle class has been under attack for decades. Now, when we have a chance to rebuild Main Street and help hard working American families by passing a much-needed jobs bill, the leadership in the House won’t hold hearings or bring it to a vote. These people deserve all the criticism they are getting from the students, young people and activists who are targeting the House leadership’s bosses on Wall Street. That’s why AFSCME stands with the courageous participants who are broadening the Main Street movement by occupying Wall Street.

When will Congress realize that they should be working for the American people, not the obscenely wealthy CEOs, the slick Wall Street operators and the shrill blowhards on right-wing talk radio? When will they listen to the voices on Main Street, and not do the bidding of their Wall Street masters? No time soon, if Eric Cantor and Mitch McConnell have their way.

According to the latest Washington Post/ABC poll, only 14 percent of Americans think Congress is doing a good job. Those 14 percent must be working for Cantor and McConnell and their cronies in the U.S. Capitol. The rest of us think that their leadership is worthless. They take their cues from Wall Street, not Main Street. If they are not going to help put the country back to work, it’s they and their Congressional collaborators who will be looking for work after the next election.

More Jobs = Less Debt

4:30 pm in Uncategorized by Gerald McEntee

In the worst economy since the Great Depression, far too many Americans are out of work. Despite the rising fears of more job losses, the Senate is refusing to do what is necessary to protect and create jobs. On Thursday, the Senate failed to break a Republican filibuster of the jobs bill, meaning that states will not get help with their budget shortfalls; and more than 1.5 million unemployed Americans will lose their unemployment insurance at the end of this week.

At the same time, U.S. companies are sitting on $1.8 trillion, the most cash they have ever hoarded. Stockpiling this vast amount of money means less investment in economic growth, fewer new hires and continued unemployment for millions of Americans. Corporations, the Republican party and so-called ‘deficit hawks’ are prolonging the recession with their irresponsible games. The reckless policies of corporate America put us into the economic ditch. The truth is that investment in America’s economy and its people is the only way to get out.

The more jobs we create now, the less federal debt our children will have to carry later. Jobs not only put food on the table, they put revenue in the Treasury and money in the marketplace.

Last month, only 45,000 private sector jobs were created. State and local governments laid off 22,000 employees. More than five job seekers are available for every one available job. Nearly 7 million workers have been unemployed now for more than six months. Those are signals that we may see a double dip recession and more people out of work – that means “it will get worse – much worse.”

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It’s Time to Hold Wall Street Accountable

1:53 pm in Business, Financial Crisis, Government by Gerald McEntee

Almost two years have passed since the taxpayers of America gave the titans of Wall Street more than $700 billion to keep the world’s economic system from plunging into another world-wide Great Depression. Yet, the big banks, the Wall Street investment houses, the hedge funds and the CEOs of America’s top companies still have not taken the steps needed to tighten up the shoddy practices that led our economy right to the edge of the cliff.

Even worse, they are fighting common sense reforms being debated in the Senate that would end the insider games that put millions of Americans out of work, stole billions from our retirement plans, and left states and cities with huge amounts of unsustainable debt. They are spending millions of dollars on lobbying to prevent the Senate from enacting tough new rules to prevent another financial crisis and give investors and the public the kind of protection that has been missing for far too long in our economy.

Four years after the stock market crash of 1929, President Roosevelt and New Deal Democrats enacted important reforms to held Wall Street accountable. Those rules kept the financial system operating on an even keel for more than 50 years. But, beginning with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, the New Deal regulations were undermined, giving Wall Street unfettered freedom to turn our financial markets into a casino, where the homes and retirement security of middle class Americans became little more than chips to the traders and the CEOs.

While most Americans think of stocks and bonds as the investment instruments we purchase, Wall Street was busy creating new, risky and unregulated products like “collateralized debt obligations,” and “credit default swaps.” The lack of oversight and accountability in the trading of these new products led to the meltdown of 2008 and economic catastrophe. That is a major reason why we need new rules to regulate transactions of new and complex financial instruments.

All across the country, cities and towns, school districts and even sewer systems have been hit hard by these Wall Street products. Sellers misrepresented these instruments as a way to help reduce the financing costs for public projects, but hidden features were included that ultimately are costing taxpayers billions, if not trillions, in added costs. In Alabama, for instance, Jefferson County sought Wall Street financing for a $250 million sewer system. After purchasing a wide variety of “tools” from Morgan, Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers, the taxpayers of Jefferson County now owe more than $1 billion, just in interest and fees on their debt.

In every region of the country, Wall Street has sold derivatives that essentially bet on municipalities defaulting on their loans. Using “municipal swaps,” the banks give investors a way to sell short – or bet against – countless cities, towns and states, including California, Michigan and New York. This is nothing short of a potential time-bomb for taxpayers, giving investors an opportunity to make millions while taxpayers might be forced to pay billions to paying off Wall Street gambling bets.

The financial reform bill being debated in the Senate would regulate the derivatives market and provide much-needed transparency to these risky deals. The Senate needs to resist the efforts of Wall Street and their Republican allies and pass this legislation immediately. The debate in the Senate has gone on long enough. It is time to get the job done and ensure that American people are not left paying billions of dollars because of the unregulated greed of Wall Street and the big banks. It’s time for Congress to send a clear message that they will side with Main Street and not cave in to the power and money of Wall Street. It is time to close the casino.