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Why the Fed’s Jobs Program Will Fail by Robert B. Reich, robertreich.org | December 13, 2012Republicans want to make corporations and the wealthy even richer — demanding tax cuts and roll-backs of regulations on the pretense that companies and the wealthy are the “job creators.” But the real job creators are America’s middle class and all those aspiring to join it, whose purchases propel the economy forward. And whose declining earnings are holding the economy back. So two cheers for Ben Bernanke and the Fed. They’re doing what they can. The failure is in the rest of the government — at both the federal and state levels — still dominated by deficit hawks, supply-siders, and witting and unwitting lackeys of big corporations and the wealthy. read more »
The Billionaires’ Long Game by Robert B. Reich, robertreich.org | December 12, 2012I keep hearing that the billionaires and big corporations that poured all that money into the 2012 election learned their lesson. They lost their shirts and won’t do it again. Don’t believe that for an instant. It’s true their political investments didn’t exactly pay off this time around. But if you think these losses mean the end of high-stakes political investing, you don’t know how these people work. You see, if and when they eventually win, these billionaires will clean up. Their taxes will plummet, many of laws constraining their profits will disappear, and what’s left of labor unions will no longer intrude on their bottom lines. And they have enough dough to keep betting until they eventually win. That’s what it means to be a billionaire political investor: You’re able to keep playing the odds until you get the golden ring. read more »
Michigan Workers now have Right to “Work for Less” by Juan Cole, juancole.com | December 12, 2012What “right to work” laws do is allow workers to be free riders, benefiting from union representation without paying the dues that support the officials, lawyers and others who make successful collective bargaining possible. Unsurprising, in “right to work” states, unionization rates fall precipitously. “Right to work” can also be called a “wage reduction program,”, since the average wage of the average worker in “right to work” states is roughly $5,000 less than in states that do not interfere with unions. Some 70% of Swedish workers are unionized, compared to about 9% in the United States. The nominal per capita annual income of Swedes is $57,638. For the United States? $48,328. And, income inequality is twice as bad in the U.S. as in Sweden. But, folks, you might as well give up on being Sweden. You are all peasants now, so bow the knee to your lords. read more »
How Michigan’s Right-To-Work Law Came to Be by Theresa Riley, billmoyers.com | December 12, 2012As police held back thousands of protesters near the state capital building, Michigan, the birthplace of the modern labor movement, became the 24th state to enact so-called “right-to-work” legislation. Earlier today, Governor Rick Snyder signed two bills preventing public and private sector unions from requiring workers to pay union fees. The Detroit News reports that after requests from Grover Norquist and others, Snyder switched sides on the issue. United Auto Workers President Robert King said in an interview, that the Koch brothers and Amway owner Dick DeVos “bullied and bought their way to get this legislation in Michigan.” State Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville may have been under pressure, the DetroitFree Press said, from the anti-union Americans for Prosperity and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), both financially supported by the Koch brothers. ALEC’s model right-to-work bill “mirrors the Michigan law word for word.” read more »
The Democrats' Fight in Michigan by Michael Tomasky, thedailybeast.com | December 12, 2012It tells us something that Governor Rick Snyder signed the right-to-work bill into law with no fanfare, in private, as if he didn't quite want to own up to it. The whole question of how this came about is an interesting on. But Michigan voters, if properly organized by labor, might undo this. Remember, Ohio voters undid a somewhat similar conservative law last year. That vote was 61 to 39 percent, and if anything Michigan is slightly more union friendly. Democrats can't afford to leave this fight to unions. The ultimate goal here is to weaken not just unions, but the Democratic Party. So the Democrats--the national party, the money people, and so on--have no choice but to put some muscle into this fight, starting today. read more »
In Michigan, the Republican Will to Power by Jonathan Chait, nymag.com | December 12, 2012Republicans understand full well that Michigan leans Democratic, and the GOP has total power at the moment, so its best use of that power is to crush one of the largest bastions of support for the opposing party. I don’t think Democrats abstain from this behavior (to anything like the degree the GOP employs it) because it’s made of angels. Rather, the Democratic party comprises an economically diverse coalition, including not just labor but business as well. Even if Democrats could come up with a plan to crush the political power of business — which is hard because business is way larger and stronger than labor, even in Michigan — huge chunks of the party would object. Whereas nobody in the GOP cares about labor at all, so it’s easier to unify them behind the kind of political/class war strategy we’re seeing here. read more »
Far from the Final Defeat in Michigan by Anna Clark, prospect.org | December 12, 2012Now that Michigan, with its symbolic power as the home of the United Auto Workers, has become a right-to-work state, what’s next for workers concerned about fair wages and fair working conditions? What is the long view of organizers here? Those I spoke with say there is no substitute for votes. But how to keep voters motivated when the next major election is nearly two years out? Coalition building is the other major strategy for Michigan organizers. This week’s right-to-work protests brought diverse activists and citizens together in an all-too-rare way. That collective power needs to be carried forward for exponential political influence. Building union membership to help mitigate the threat of devastation from right-to-work, which will go into effect in April. Free riders who don’t pay union dues but get the benefits of labor wins are a real problem that won’t go away with an uptick in membership. But more workers who are aware of their stake in collective bargaining, the better. read more »
Alternative Futures for Labor by David Rolf, prospect.org | December 12, 2012America’s unions and our allies must have the courage to acknowledge that the crisis we face cannot be met with old models and old tools. We must imagine an alternative future, even if we do not yet know what form it will take. We must embrace risk and failure as necessary elements of a long-term strategy for success. Unlike unions of the mid-20th century, today’s unions and their leaders won’t be remembered for the contracts they bargained, the strikes they led, or the workers they organized. Just as John L. Lewis is remembered today for creating a new kind of union, we’ll be remembered—or won’t be—for whether we had the vision to reallocate our resources and our talent on a massive scale to create a new model for worker advocacy, power, and organization that can give rise to an American middle class for the 21st century. read more »
He's Only Stuck If He Lets Himself Be by Mike Lux, Huffington Post | December 11, 2012There was a headline in the Washington Post on Sunday that completely summarizes the Republicans' fondest dreams as well as the expectations of the D.C. establishment's conventional wisdom: "Debt Crisis Expected to Define Obama's Second Term." It's a reminder of something I learned when I first came to D.C.: the conventional wisdom in D.C. is almost always wrong. Indeed, it is hard to think of one big time over the last 20 years when the conventional wisdom turned out to be right. This isn't to say deficits won't continue to be an issue -- the House Republicans will make sure of that. And Democrats and progressives should certainly engage in the debate over how to bring deficits down over the long run. At the end of the day, though, it is Barack Obama who will determine whether, as the headline suggested, debt and deficits will define Obama's second term. That will only be true if he lets it be. read more »
As Washington Fiddles over the Fiscal Cliff, the Real Battle Over Inequality Is Happening in the Heartland by Robert B. Reich, robertreich.org | December 11, 2012Washington has a way of focusing the nation’s attention on tactical games over partisan maneuvers that are symptoms of a few really big problems. A case in point is what’s now happening in Michigan. In the state where the American labor movement was born – and where, because of labor unions, the American middle class once had the bargaining power to gain a significant portion of the nation’s total income – Republicans and big money are striking back. Connect the dots: As unions have withered, the middle class’s share of total income and wealth has dropped. The decline of the median wage in America over the last three decades correlates exactly with the declining percentage of American workers who are unionized. And as the super-rich have grown even wealthier, they’ve been able to extend their power through the Supreme Court and the Republican Party – advancing a war on the middle class. read more »
Key Dem: Immigration Bill Lacks Votes, thehill.com | June 25, 2010
leading proponent of comprehensive immigration reform admitted Thursday that “there are an insufficient number of Democratic votes” to pass a bill this year.
Rep. Luis Gutierrez’s (D-Ill.) comments are significant because he has aggressively pushed President Barack Obama to pass immigration reform during this Congress.
Dems Could Win Tea Party Voters Over With America-First Trade Message, inthesetimes.com | June 25, 2010
Senate GOP Blocks Jobless Aid Extension, Los Angeles Times | June 25, 2010
Senate Republicans on Thursday once again blocked legislation to reinstate long-term unemployment benefits for people who have exhausted their aid, prolonging a stalemate that has left more than a million people without federal help. read more »
Republicans Thwart Bill With Unemployment Aid, Buyout Tax Boost, bloomberg.com | June 25, 2010
Senate Republicans yesterday killed a bill to extend unemployment benefits, provide aid to state governments and raise taxes on buyout fund managers, saying the measure would add too much to the federal deficit. read more »
Senate Democrats Pull Jobs Bill, Politico | June 25, 2010
Her emphasis on small business is not surprising as a senior Republican tax writer on that Senate panel. But the allusion to health care tells something of the history of the past year, too. read more »
Senate Again Rejects Expanded Spending Package, The Washington Post | June 25, 2010
Unemployment: Outlook Grim For Jobs Bill Ahead Of Vote , Huffington Post | June 24, 2010
Thousands in State Squeezed as Clock Runs Out on Jobless Aid, boston.com | June 23, 2010
Republican Leaders Walk Fine Line on Unemployment, thehill.com | June 22, 2010
Congressional Republican leaders are using the nation’s jobless rate as campaign ammunition while facing pressure from some in their ranks who want to stop extending unemployment benefits. read more »
Senate Grapples With Tax and Safety Net Legislation, thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com | June 21, 2010
The Senate will continue trying this week to break a partisan logjam over a major package of tax changes and safety-net spending, including added unemployment benefits.
The Senate’s inability to advance the bill is a sign that the partisan discord in this highly competitive mid-term election year is causing legislative paralysis.