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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.

Gagging Workers is Un-American

9:33 am in Business, Government by Gerald McEntee

photo: Katie Tegtmeyer via Flickr

As the world watched the people of Egypt take to the streets in an effort to exercise their rights and have their voices heard, here at home in the USA, plans are being put into place to silence workers, lower their wages, cut their benefits and increase the likelihood that they will suffer injuries and fatalities at work.  It is happening at a breakneck pace and too little attention is being paid.

In Columbus, Indianapolis, Madison, Tallahassee and other state capitols, newly elected politicians are working tirelessly to pay back their debt to the corporate CEO’s who funded their campaigns by destroying the power of working men and women to have a real voice on the job.  The net result of this activity will be lower standards of living for all working people, while corporate interests gain more control and a greater ability to increase profits while privatizing public services and shipping jobs overseas.

All Americans will suffer if we fail to stop these unconscionable policies from being put in place. In Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida and in other states across the country, legislators are moving rapidly to pass new laws to cut education, health care and public safety programs while imposing new rules to gag workers and make it more difficult for them to organize for better wages, benefits and working conditions.  . . . Read the rest of this entry →

Stop the Lies

9:27 am in Uncategorized by Gerald McEntee

Near the end of the now-classic film Chinatown, set in Los Angeles during the 1930s, working-stiff private detective Jake Gittes (Jack Nicholson) confronts the greedy land developer Noah Cross (John Huston) about his sinister, murderous behavior:

Gittes: I just wanna know what you’re worth. More than 10 million?
Cross: Oh my, yes!
Gittes: Why are you doing it? How much better can you eat? What could you buy that you can’t already afford?
Cross: The future, Mr. Gittes! The future.

That scene’s been on my mind as I have listened to the repugnant rhetoric that’s recently spewed out of the mouths of some of our newly elected public officials and other right-wing representatives of the super-rich.

During his campaign, incoming Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said, “We cannot and should not maintain a system where public employees are the haves and the taxpayers footing the bill are the have-nots.” Now he’s talking about rescinding the right of government employees to bargain collectively.

Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich recently told Fox News that public service workers — not the Wall Street CEOs who crashed the economy (and got rich doing it) — are the privileged class.

And, in a throwback to the dark days of McCarthyism, former ‘Morning Zoo’ shock jock Glenn Beck has the gall to say that AFSCME is synonymous with “commies.”

These statements are false and absurd. By blaming public service workers and working families, the right wing tries to divert attention from the simple fact that reckless, unregulated behavior of multi-millionaires on Wall Street caused unprecedented state budget shortfalls, the loss of 15 million American jobs and the collapse of our economy.

We’re not going to let them get away with it. At this pivotal moment in the economic history of our country – indeed, the world – we cannot stand by and let corporate CEOs and their flunkies define the debate and shape the future. . . . Read the rest of this entry →

Voters Want a Recovery That Works for Everyone

1:06 pm in Uncategorized by Gerald McEntee

Angry voters sent a clear message on Tuesday: Much, much more must be done to put America back to work. But voters rejected right-wing and Tea Party candidates who argued that government should do nothing to improve the economy or protect working families during the worst economic crisis the Great Depression. Voters support efforts to build an economic recovery that works for everyone.

Voters abandoned most of the U.S. Senate candidates backed by the Tea Party, including Sharron Angle, Ken Buck, Joe Miller, and Christine O’Donnell. And they thwarted millionaire candidates who sought to catch a Tea Party wave – such as Linda McMahon, John Raese, Carly Fiorina and Dino Rossi.

But let’s be clear: The loss of the U.S. House of Representatives is a real setback for working families. Washington Republicans have done nothing since the last election to curtail the Bush recession and bring down unemployment. They opposed every effort to address the economic wreckage that resulted from their failed policies in the Bush years. They voted against the Recovery Act that prevented a second Great Depression and a jobs bill that provided emergency funding to the states for public safety, health care and education programs. Now, Republicans must demonstrate that their priority is working families, rather than corporate interests and the very rich. Voters have not embraced the radical plans of Republican leaders in the Congress to cut taxes for millionaires, privatize Social Security and slash Medicare funding.

It is worth noting that in the past century, Republicans gained the most seats in off-year elections following the passage of remarkable legislative achievements by Democratic Congresses: the GOP gained more than 80 seats in 1938 after the passage of the Social Security Act and more than sixty seats in 1966 after the passage of Medicare and the Civil Rights Act. Over the years, voters recognized the enduring value of these historic bills. We have no doubt that in coming years, the passage of health care and Wall Street reform will be regarded as similar, far-reaching victories for all Americans.

On the state level, candidates who support the funding of public services won races for governor in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Rhode Island. We are optimistic about the three gubernatorial races that are now too close to call.

Voters also produced important victories in state ballot initiatives, including the passage of propositions in California to end the destructive requirement of a two-thirds vote to pass the state’s budget. In Colorado, voters rejected the ‘Bad 3’ ballot initiatives, signaling their support for funding the state’s vital public services.

Voters in Massachusetts and Washington also voted to reject proposals that would have restricted the ability of government to pay for the services families rely upon during these tough economic times. These votes signify that Tuesday’s elections were not a blanket rejection of government and revenue-enhancing measures at the ballot box.

AFSCME is proud to stand as a champion of working men and women against an onslaught of money from shady organizations that seek to harm them. We mobilized tens of thousands of volunteers and sent more than 300 staff to key battleground states. Our Councils and affiliates mounted aggressive operations throughout the country. Through phone, mail and person-to-person contact, we reached more than one million of our members to get out the vote.

Progress is a process. The hard work does not end on Election Day. State governments have cut almost a trillion dollars in spending in the past three years and services have been cut to the bone. We will mobilize to defend the programs that help middle class families as well as the working poor and disadvantaged families. We intend to continue our efforts to support working Americans in the days and months ahead, confident in our cause and committed to doing what is necessary to ensure that all of our nation’s families have the ability to realize the American Dream.

What’s at Stake Tuesday

5:30 pm in Uncategorized by Gerald McEntee

The conventional wisdom in Washington right now is that the Republicans are about to take back the House, and possibly the Senate. That would be awful news for every American who believes that government should protect the interests of American working families rather than international corporate interests. And it is certainly a nightmare for the young people, minorities, union members and progressives who made history two years ago by electing Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

Nobel Prize winner and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman notes today that Republican control could have dangerous long-term consequences. “In fact,” he writes, “future historians will probably look back at the 2010 election as a catastrophe for America, one that condemned the nation to years of political chaos and economic weakness.”

Anyone who remembers the eight years of George W. Bush should know that now is not the time to play six-bullet Russian roulette with the future. Every vote for the GOP only makes it more likely that they will continue to stand in the way of the kind of reforms Americans support, such as real penalties on corporations that outsource American jobs. Unfortunately, too few voters – particularly independent voters – have gotten that message. We need to be sure over these last few days that we let them know what is really on the ballot Tuesday.

When talking with AFSCME members across the country, I have focused on four issues that I believe have helped to energize them to get active this campaign season: Jobs, Social Security, Retirement and Medicare. How we respond to the challenges posed by these issues will be determined on November 2nd. Here’s why:

American jobs are on the ballot. If Republicans gain power in either the House or the Senate, they will have a much stronger hand in their efforts to give corporations the power to lay off American workers and send our jobs to foreign countries. This has been a GOP priority for years, yet too few independents are aware of it. Remind them that just this August, all but two Republicans in the House voted against reforms to eliminate tax loopholes for companies that outsource American jobs. Just two. Now they want to take control of the entire House.

Social Security is on the ballot. The same politicians who have spent a generation bad-mouthing Social Security now say they want to improve it by privatizing it and giving Wall Street the ability to manage the nation’s retirement security. Republicans from coast-to-coast have made it clear that they have big plans to overhaul Social Security in the coming congressional session. Their candidates for the U.S. Senate in Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Kentucky and other states have called for the eventual elimination of Social Security, the greatest program of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal. Nevada’s Sharon Angle says Social Security – along with Medicare and Aid to Families with Depended Children – is part of America’s “wicked ways.” She and her fellow Republicans would place our retirement security at risk in the stock market.

Contrary to what the Republican privateers want people to believe, Social Security is healthy. It did not cause the deficit. It has a $2.6 trillion surplus. But Republicans want to take it and hand it away to their backers on Wall Street. We cannot let them do this.

Retirement is on the ballot. John Boehner, Wall Street’s favorite member of the House, has already announced his plans to push the retirement age up to 70. As many know, or should, Boehner would be named Speaker of the House if the Republicans win. He spends many hours each week playing golf with his buddies – the Washington corporate lobbyists. They finance his campaigns and give him checks to distribute to other Republicans on the floor of the House of Representatives. He has no problem asking bricklayers, firefighters, road crews and nurses to keep working until they are 70 to qualify for their full Social Security benefits. And he has no problem allowing corporate lobbyists to write the legislation he’ll push through the House as speaker.

Medicare is on the ballot. Rep. Paul Ryan, who will head up the Budget Committee if the Republicans win Tuesday, has already announced his plan to end Medicare as we know it. He would turn it into a voucher program. Republicans would wreck a program that has successfully provided health security for millions of Americans – for more than forty years – solely to give insurance companies more opportunities to make a buck.

Indeed, they would make unconscionable cuts in other programs that millions of Americans rely on, including veterans’ benefits, children’s health programs, cancer research and food safety. They plan to turn back the clock on environmental protection, women’s rights and the cause of equality for LGBT Americans. Their views are far from mainstream, yet if they gain control of Congress, they could cause untold damage to the lives of countless millions in our country. They have outlined some of their plans in the so-called Pledge to America, which they released to great fan-fare a few weeks ago. Today, few GOP candidates are discussing what’s in the Pledge to America, because they know voters would reject the radical cuts in important programs that the Pledge seeks to hide.

Paul Krugman sees danger ahead with Republican policies: “If they get their way, we’ll get the worst of both worlds: They’ll refuse to do anything to boost the economy now, claiming to be worried about the deficit, while simultaneously increasing long-run deficits with irresponsible tax cuts — cuts they have already announced won’t have to be offset with spending cuts.”

Tuesday’s elections can save us from the bleak future that awaits working families if the GOP takes control. It is a day when working Americans can stand up to the corporate special interest who control Wall Street and too much of Capitol Hill and elect champions of the middle class to Congress. It’s not too late. Call your friends and neighbors and let them know what’s at stake on Tuesday, November 2nd.

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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