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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.

America’s Future is at Stake this Labor Day

7:15 am in Uncategorized by Gerald McEntee

"San Francisco Labor Temple Wall Painting"

"San Francisco Labor Temple Wall Painting" by xeeliz. The San Francisco Temple of Labor was built to house the San Francisco Labor Council and labor union offices and to provide a meeting hall for San Francisco's unions. The building was the primary center for the city's historic labor community for over half a century and played a significant role in the 1934 citywide labor strike for better working conditions.

As we celebrate Labor Day 2011, working families face greater attacks on their economic security than at any time since the days of the robber barons in the late19th Century.  In state houses across the country, politicians backed by Wall Street billionaires are attacking fundamental reforms that union members fought and won over many decades, reforms like collective bargaining, child labor laws, safety regulations and even the right of workers to vote.  In the U.S. House of Representatives, right-wing forces have passed legislation to eliminate Medicare, undermine Social Security and increase the taxes paid by working families while giving massive benefits to corporations and the very rich.

Rather than pulling together to find real solutions to our problems, anti-worker billionaires and the politicians they fund are mobilizing to transfer all the burdens of taxation onto working families.  Under the budget bill supported by all except nine Republicans in the U.S. House and Senate, taxes would increase for the working middle class while the wealthiest one percent would find their taxes cut in half.  Millionaires would be taxed at a lower effective rate than anyone working nine to five for a paycheck.  That’s not a real solution, and it does nothing to create jobs.

We fought for reforms . . .

Unions opposed these measures.  The labor movement worked long and hard to enact reforms like the progressive income tax, Social Security and Medicare.  On Labor Day and every day, we need to remember that winning those victories – and so many others – was not a day at the beach or a walk in the park.  When unions fought for collective bargaining rights, for the eight hour work day, to expand non-discrimination laws, to restrict the use of child labor and to enforce workplace safety regulations, we were always opposed by Wall Street.  Yet, today, too many Americans take those reforms for granted.  But many realize how important these reforms were.  And they are mobilizing to oppose the concerted efforts underway across the country to repeal them, along with other policies and laws that have promoted social and economic justice.  Read the rest of this entry →

Why Unemployment Makes the Tea Party Happy

8:21 am in Uncategorized by Gerald McEntee

DONT TREAD ON ME

DONT TREAD ON ME by DonkeyHotey

The tea party Republicans have drawn a line in the sand. The debt ceiling was raised five times during the administration of President George W. Bush. Yet, it is only now, with tea party Republicans holding the balance of power in the U.S. House of Representatives, that America is placed in the position of defaulting on our commitments, for the first time since the founding of our country.

Their irresponsible position is that corporations and billionaires should not have to share the sacrifices needed to keep our economy on track for recovery. That is why they vehemently oppose efforts to cut corporate welfare and to eliminate subsidies for the oil companies. Unlike most Americans, who believe we should pull together to find real solutions, these politicians are intent on dividing Americans by destroying programs that have broad public support. At the same time, they have done all in their power to create instability in the economy and put more Americans out of work.

With more than 14 million Americans out of the job market, it is appalling for these politicians to play games with our nation’s economy. Creating jobs and keeping Americans working have to be top priorities. But for the tea party Republicans controlling the House of Representatives, those are far from the top of their “to-do” list. Instead, they have repeatedly passed bills that would put more Americans out of work. A harsh conclusion, perhaps, but just look at the facts:

Since the tea party took over the U.S. House of Representatives in January 2011, they have pushed legislation which, if enacted, would have added more than 6.5 million additional workers to the unemployment rolls:

• The Economic Policy Institute estimates that nearly 1 million jobs would have been lost if their 2011 appropriations bill had been enacted.
• Their bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act would have cut as many as 400,000 jobs annually, according to the Center for American Progress.
• And the Ryan Budget they passed, which destroys Medicare and Medicaid, student loan programs and health care research, would put as many as 3 million more workers out of their jobs during the next five years.

Thankfully, President Obama and cooler heads in the Senate have kept these job-killing bills from becoming law. But they all passed the tea party-controlled U.S. House of Representatives.

Tea party politicians have been ramming through similar misguided bills at the state and local level. Scott Walker in Wisconsin, John Kasich in Ohio, Chris Christie in New Jersey and Rick Scott in Florida are just a few of the elected officials who have pushed policies to put people out of work. All of them turned down federal funding for transportation projects that could have produced hundreds of thousands of jobs. And they have ruthlessly cut budgets rather than ask billionaires in their states to pay their fair share of taxes. Their actions are hurting job creation, even in the private sector. As economist Adam Hirsch noted on the website Think Progress last month: “States that cut spending are seeing significantly more job losses in the private sector than states maintaining or increasing spending levels.”

In the last Congress, tea party Republicans consistently voted to increase unemployment. In August of 2010, for example, every tea party-backed politician in Congress voted against legislation to provide assistance to the states to pay for teachers, firefighters and vital public services. If they had their way, 300,000 additional jobs would have been lost, adding to the more than 500,000 state and local jobs that have been lost in recent years. The next time a tea party politician tells you that jobs are what they care about, remind them that if it had been up to them, every auto worker at General Motors would be out of work today. And what about the jobs saved or created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act? They opposed the bill kicking and screaming, yet every thinking economist in the country agrees that it saved or created anywhere from to 2 to 4 million jobs.

While they consistently pay lip service to “reducing the debt,” that is not their real goal. Their tax cuts for corporate CEOs and hedge fund managers actually increase our debt. As FactCheck.org, under Ryan’s plan “the public debt would increase from $10 trillion in 2011 to $16 trillion in 2021,” even while decimating essential programs for Main Street Americans. That’s because Ryan adds to his Draconian cuts with even larger tax giveaways to his friends on Wall Street. (Ryan wasn’t drinking tea with his Wall Street pals last week. He and two companions spent $700 on two bottles of wine at a Capitol Hill restaurant.)

One is tempted to conclude that the tea party Republicans see political benefit from increasing unemployment while President Obama is at the helm. Michelle Bachmann, in an unguarded moment last week, admitted as much. Whatever their motivation, their policy choices do not reflect the Main Street values shared by most Americans.

It is clear, however, that many of them are willing to tip the country into a double-dip recession and put the world economy into a tailspin. They are, as Warren Buffett said last week, “playing Russian roulette.” And if that leads to more unemployment, apparently the tea party Republicans really don’t care.

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. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-huea-boGg

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.”

Read the rest of this entry →

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.