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October 31, 2010

Tea Party Members VS Tea Party Wall Street Funders

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture I am a Fellow with CAF.

The Tea Party hates the Federal Reserve. You hear it over and over:
Tea Partiers support audit of Federal Reserve.
Tea Party could challenge Federal Reserve.
From Tea Party Advocates, Anger at the Federal Reserve.
Audit the Federal Reserve - Toledo TEA Party.
Tea Party Patriots | The Secret of Oz - Federal Reserve.
NH Tea Party: Federal Reserve Must Go
American Tea Party Constitutional Coalition: The Federal Reserve - A Scam!.

THIS is the member of Congress that the Tea Party's funders are trying hardest to defeat:


Go figure.

In the following paragraph, please click the links. If you are a Tea Party supporter, PLEASE click the links:

Do you think the tea party is getting played? Any Tea Partier who votes for these guys is being played for a sucker. The 12 leading Tea Party Senate candidates have accepted over $4.6 million in campaign contributions from Wall Street for the upcoming election. (See the list.)

What will Tea Party members do when their politicians betray them?


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Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:35 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

My Local Newspaper

Runs a comic strip that tells readers they shouldn't read newspapers. (At the link, 4th down.)

And they wonder why newspapers are going out of business?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:15 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

October 30, 2010

Remember the Big Smallpox Scare?

The drumbeat for war. Remember? And they just made it up, to scare us. Actually, terrorize is the right word. To terrorize us.

NY Times: C.I.A. Hunts Iraq Tie to Soviet Smallpox,

The C.I.A. is investigating an informant's accusation that Iraq obtained a particularly virulent strain of smallpox from a Russian scientist who worked in a smallpox lab in Moscow during Soviet times, senior American officials and foreign scientists say.

The officials said several American scientists were told in August that Iraq might have obtained the mysterious strain from Nelja N. Maltseva, a virologist who worked for more than 30 years at the Research Institute for Viral Preparations in Moscow before her death two years ago.

Leak of the Week: Madame Smallpox,

Miller's Tuesday scoop in the Times, "C.I.A. Hunts Iraq Tie to Soviet Smallpox," explores the theory that a Russian virologist named Nelja N. Maltseva might have given "a particularly virulent strain of smallpox" to the Iraqis, a finding that obviously grows out of the expertise she acquired in writing the book.

CNN: The smallpox scenario,

As the U.N. and member governments seek to uncover whatever illicit weapons programs Iraq might have, few tasks are as urgent as determining whether Baghdad has obtained the smallpox virus.

The only declared reserves of the 120 known strains of smallpox are in two labs, in the U.S. and Russia, but fears that Iraq may possess the virus have lately come to a head.

Why the suspicions? As the New York Times first reported last week, the CIA is investigating the possibility that a Russian scientist, Nelli Maltseva, ferried a nasty strain of smallpox from the Research Institute for Viral Preparations in Moscow to Iraq in 1990. She died two years ago.

Washington Post: 4 Nations Thought To Possess Smallpox

A Bush administration intelligence review has concluded that four nations -- including Iraq and North Korea -- possess covert stocks of the smallpox pathogen, according to two officials who received classified briefings.

. . . In public, the White House has described its smallpox concerns in only hypothetical terms, and until now the gravity of its assessment has not been known.

. . . "Al Qaeda is interested in acquiring biological weapons, to include smallpox," according to a classified intelligence summary prepared for senior officials debating options on the scope of a preventive vaccination campaign. . . . The "top five list" for al Qaeda, one official said, included anthrax, the nerve agent ricin, and botulinum toxin.

Think about how much money was involved with that war. Completely unaccountable money, pallets of money, shrink-wrapped bundles of cash, literally flowing to all those campaign contributors...

And the Tea Party wants that crowd back in charge. Hard to imagine.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:57 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Word

Does Sanity Matter?

The reality that the Tea Party's phony “grassroots” obscures is that the hated federal government is the only force potentially powerful enough – if it were energized on behalf of the people – to counter the overwhelming might of multinational corporations. By hobbling the government, the Tea Partiers are simply empowering the corporations to run everything.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:32 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Corporate Media Not Even Pretending Anymore

ABC Taps Andrew Breitbart For Election Night Analysis

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:51 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

October 29, 2010

Map: 6 Mos of Right Wing Violence

Right Wing Violence 6mos - Mar 15 - Sep 15, 2010 - Google Maps. Click the pins, scroll the map, use the +- bar to zoom in. Click this link to go to the full-sized map and explanation.


View Right Wing Violence 6mos - Mar 15 - Sep 15, 2010 in a larger map

(ht skippy)

Watch your backs!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:42 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

October 28, 2010

I Remember Which Party...

Powerful -- send this around!

"On November 2 you should remember too."

From the International Brotherhoood of Boilermakers Union

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:30 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

What American's "Know"

Here is one example of why Americans "know" so many things that are false. This is an ad (shown of FOX News Oct. 28, 2010 approx 1pm PST) from one more Koch/corporate front group, "Americans for Prosperity."

Lies? Of course. But THIS is all that many people know about the health care reform (except that insurance companies are raising their rates 40% and telling them it's because of Obama.)

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:00 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

October 27, 2010

99 Movement

The Road to Revolution: 99% Uprising (Video) | Amped Status

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:56 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Winning The Race To The Bottom

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture I am a Fellow with CAF.

im_voting_for_the_economy.gif Visit the "I'm Voting For..." campaign

Conservative policies have propelled us into a global raced to the bottom. Conservatives can take pride: we're winning!

"Free trade" -- moving factories across borders to evade the protections of democracy that generations of Americans fought for -- pits exploited workers with few rights and no means of improving their condition against Americans who once had environmental and wage protections. But ideas like protecting the gains of democracy are out of favor. That is labeled "protectionism" and is thought for some reason to be a bad thing. Conservatives were able to break the unions and wages for working people have stagnated, while the amount going to the top few has soared.

Here is the future of American wages: From today's Washington Post: In its biggest foreign market, BMW gets skilled workers for less,

Among the applicants: a former manager of a major distribution center for Target; a consultant who oversaw construction projects in four Western states; a supervisor at a plastics recycling firm. Some held college degrees and resumes in other fields where they made more money.

But they're all in the factory now making $15 an hour - about half of what the typical German autoworker makes.

. . . the price of having a more globally competitive workforce means more in the United States could fall well short of the middle-class living standards that manufacturing workers once could expect. Wages adjusted for inflation have declined for these workers since 2003.


That's right, German workers are now paid almost twice what American's can make. (And they get health care and an average of 35 paid vacation days, we get 13.)

Tea Party Wants To End Minimum Wage

The Tea Party has its sights set on the minimum wage. They say it is "unconstitutional" and want it "abolished."

Your Wages Are Next

If you still have a job, your wages are next. You can bet that executives in every company are wondering why they are paying their employees so much when there are so many hungry, unemployed people out there looking for work. Every dollar they can save on paying you goes into their pockets.

Isaiah Poole pointed out the other day, in Latest Reagan Revolution Price Tag: A $313 Billion Wage Cut, (Please click through an dread his whole post!)

New data compiled by the Social Security Administration reveals that the total wages earned by American workers fell by a total of $313 billion from 2007 to 2009, Johnston writes. That's a 5 percent cut, and is measured in 2009 dollars.

In one year alone, from 2008 to 2009, wage income declined $215 billion.

What can you do about this? Terrance Heath writes in, Minimal Wages For All, (Please click through an dread his whole post, too!)

Here's another reason to vote in the mid-term elections this November: Conservatives think you need a pay cut. As I've said once or twice before, conservatives' bottom line message is simple: America has economic problems because too many people have had it good for too long; and when they're worse off again, the nation and its economy will be better off. The people they think had it too good for too long are you and me, and almost anyone who punches a clock to pull a paycheck.

The Answer

The answer is to insist that goods brought into this country are made by people who are paid a decent wage. That way they could make enough to buy things we make, too. That really could be called trade. And the other answer is to pay people here enough to have a decent standard of living, even if it means hedge fund manager could only make maybe $100-200 million a year instead of billions. That way we would all benefit from our economy, instead of everything going to the top at the expense of the rest of us.

Vote as if your standard f living depended on it.


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Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:26 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

October 26, 2010

What Will Tea Party Members Do When Their Politicians Betray Them?

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture I am a Fellow with CAF.

Tea Party members hate Wall Street bailouts, trade deals like NAFTA, job outsourcing, giant corporations buying laws, government spending, and elites telling the rest of us what to do. But there is no question that their candidates - many of them wealthy corporatists themselves - are funded by big corporations (even foreign oil companies) and Wall Street. So the question is, once in Congress will they vote with their base or their owners? And when they vote with the people who bought them, what will Tea Party members do about it?

Trade

Tea Party members want to be able to buy things that are "Made In America" in stores again. I have yet to meet a Tea Party supporter who doesn't absolutely hate NAFTA, WTO and other one-sided “free trade” agreements. They say these treaties "violate our sovereignty." But Tea Party candidates are funded by groups like the Chamber of Commerce and others who are the drivers of these "free trade" policies that close American factories and send jobs out of the country. This does not bode well for these candidates voting the way Tea Party members expect them to if they are elected.

Outsourcing

Tea Party members are astonished when they learn that the government gives companies tax breaks that encourage companies to send jobs away. But just a month ago a bill to do something about this was filibustered in the Senate by a unanimous Republican caucus. One thing about Tea Party candidates - they're also unanimously Republicans. Does anyone other than Tea Party members really think the Tea Part candidates are going to go against the now-unanimous Republican support for these outsourcing incentives if elected? Tea Party candidate Scott Brown didn't after he was elected.

Bailouts

If there is one thing that unites all Tea Party members, it is hatred of the Bush Bank Bailouts (except they think these passed under Obama.) But this is an area where their leaders will almost certainly stand with the banks, because that's where the money is -- their campaign money to be precise. The other day I wrote about In Oregon one Wall Street hedge fund manager is spending up to $1 million (pocket change) on a front group to elect a Tea Party candidate and unseat a Congressman who sponsored a couple of Wall Street reform bills.

Government Spending

Will Tea Party politicians vote to balance the budget? Really? Their members certainly expect them to. But like so many misinformed Americans, Tea Party members think the government spends most of its money on welfare and foreign aid. This is why Tea Party candidates refuse to specify just what spending they will cut to balance the budget. (Also see here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, etc.)

So when they get into office will they really cut spending -- where the spending really is? There are plenty of reasons to think they won't. The first and foremost reason is they are funded by people like the Chamber of Commerce who really, really want that spending to keep flowing. This is why Republicans increased government spending and deficits so much the last time they were in charge. In fact, there are reasons to think they'll incresase spending. For example, they hate health care reform, but if they really vote to repeal it they will increase the deficit, because the reform cuts the projected deficits by at least $138 billion.

But the bloated, huge, vast, overwhelming military budget might be worth a look. We spend more on military than every other country combined. (Total military-related spending actually pretty closely matched the deficit this year.) What do you think the odds are that the Tea Party politicians will cut the military budget?

Foreign Oil

Tea Party members understand that our addiction to foreign oil is harmful. We spend more than $300 billion a year on foreign oil -- much of it sent to the Middle East (MUSLIMS!) -- and need to find alternative sources of energy. But Koch Oil is the primary organizer, supporter, funder, and everything of the Tea Party, as well as much of the so-called "conservative movement." But Koch Oil is mostly about oil, not representative government. This is why they directly fund or set up front groups to support climate denial or oppose transit projects, alternative energy, even energy conservation. So don't expect Tea Party leaders to do anything -- anything -- that Koch Oil doesn't want them to do.

What Happens When Tea Party Members Are Betrayed?

It's pretty clear that the Tea Party members are being set up for a big disappointment. There is little chance that the politicians they are supporting are going to do what the members think they're going to do once in office. The members might supply the votes, but the big corporations behind so many of the things that the Tea Party members hate are the ones supplying the money and organization. These politicians, once in office, will understand that the big money can go after them just as well is it went for them this time, if they don't do what they're told by their big corporate funders. But on the other hand, there will be lucrative lobbying jobs waiting for them if they play along. They are going to disappoint the Tea Party members, no question. What will Tea Party members do then?

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Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:50 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

October 25, 2010

Vote For Jobs

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture I am a Fellow with CAF.

im_voting_for_jobs.gif Visit the "I'm Voting For..." campaign

Should you vote? Does your vote matter? If you care about jobs, your vote really, really matters this time. If the Tea Party wave does manage to take over the House and/or Senate the plans they have announced will mean a jobs crisis far beyond anything we are seeing now.

Republicans say that cutting government spending to reduce deficits (and cutting taxes on the rich to bring them back) will create jobs by lowering interest rates. While they refuse to say what they will cut, they pledge to cut a lot. What will be the effect of cuts on jobs? Lowering interest rates is not going to happen because interest rates are already zero, but the cuts will clearly cost jobs. We know this for sure because in the last two years state budget cuts caused layoffs that simply overwhelmed job creation elsewhere -- so many people were laid off by states that jobs created by the stimulus and private sector just didn't register. So we can expect more of this.

Will their tax cuts for the rich create jobs? Bush cut taxes for the rich, and his two terms created a net of ... wait for it ... zero jobs. So don't hold your breath waiting for jobs to come out of that plan. Businesses need customers, not tax cuts.

So what about ideas to get customers to businesses? Don't get your hopes up there, either. Republicans want to get rid of any remaining stimulus designed to take up the slack in demand in our economy.

How about jobs from maintaining and modernizing our infrastructure -- and the long-term job creation that comes from making our economy more competitive? Republicans call maintaining and modernizing the infrastructure "government spending" and since government spending is bad, ain't gonna happen.

What about doing something about companies that send jobs out of the country? Well just a few weeks ago Democrats voted to repeal the tax break that encourages job outsourcing. Every single Republican voted to keep it. So don't get your hopes up there, either.

So what about working with the other side to come up with new ways to create jobs? Republicans blocked everything for the last two years -- something like 420 bills were filibustered, plus many nominees to agencies and the courts. So expect more stalemate – which means no action on jobs, unemployment or anything else.

If You Care About Jobs

If you care about jobs you had best get out and vote. The change that is coming if you don't vote is not the change you want.

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Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:14 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

October 24, 2010

Shorter Tom Friedman

We have a huge deficit because we cut taxes for the rich and massively increased military spending. Therefore we have to cut Social Security.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:12 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos

October 23, 2010

Republican Ads Paid For By Foreign Oil?

U.S.€™ Chamber Of Commerce Is Fueled By Foreign Oil

The United States Chamber of Commerce is running an unprecedented $75 million campaign to unseat progressives from Congress, in defense of a big-oil agenda. As a ThinkProgress investigation has learned Chamber’s donors — who send their checks to the same account from which the political campaign is run — include multinational oil corporations, and even oil companies owned by the Kingdom of Bahrain. The oil-fueled Chamber has hammered candidates who voted to limit our dependence on oil, falsely claiming they supported a “job-killing energy tax” (like Rep. Paul Hodes (D-NH), Rep Joe Sestak (D-PA), Rep. Betsy Markey (D-CO), Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL), and Rep. Harry Teague (D-NM)).
Go read the whole thing.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:00 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

October 22, 2010

Eight False Things The Public “Knows” Prior To Election Day

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture I am a Fellow with CAF.

There are a number things the public "knows" as we head into the election that are just false. If people elect leaders based on false information, the things those leaders do in office will not be what the public expects or needs.

Here are eight of the biggest myths that are out there:

1) President Obama tripled the deficit.
Reality: Bush's last budget had a $1.416 trillion deficit. Obama's first budget reduced that to $1.29 trillion.

2) President Obama raised taxes, which hurt the economy.
Reality: Obama cut taxes. 40% of the "stimulus" was wasted on tax cuts which only create debt, which is why it was so much less effective than it could have been.

3) President Obama bailed out the banks.
Reality: While many people conflate the "stimulus" with the bank bailouts, the bank bailouts were requested by President Bush and his Treasury Secretary, former Goldman Sachs CEO Henry Paulson. (Paulson also wanted the bailouts to be "non-reviewable by any court or any agency.") The bailouts passed and began before the 2008 election of President Obama.

4) The stimulus didn't work.
Reality: The stimulus worked, but was not enough. In fact, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the stimulus raised employment by between 1.4 million and 3.3 million jobs.

5) Businesses will hire if they get tax cuts.
Reality: A business hires the right number of employees to meet demand. Having extra cash does not cause a business to hire, but a business that has a demand for what it does will find the money to hire. Businesses want customers, not tax cuts.

6) Health care reform costs $1 trillion.
Reality: The health care reform reduces government deficits by $138 billion.

7) Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, is "going broke," people live longer, fewer workers per retiree, etc.
Reality: Social Security has run a surplus since it began, has a trust fund in the trillions, is completely sound for at least 25 more years and cannot legally borrow so cannot contribute to the deficit (compare that to the military budget!) Life expectancy is only longer because fewer babies die; people who reach 65 live about the same number of years as they used to.

8) Government spending takes money out of the economy.
Reality: Government is We, the People and the money it spends is on We, the People. Many people do not know that it is government that builds the roads, airports, ports, courts, schools and other things that are the soil in which business thrives. Many people think that all government spending is on "welfare" and "foreign aid" when that is only a small part of the government's budget.

This stuff really matters.

If the public votes in a new Congress because a majority of voters think this one tripled the deficit, and as a result the new people follow the policies that actually tripled the deficit, the country could go broke.

If the public votes in a new Congress that rejects the idea of helping to create demand in the economy because they think it didn't work, then the new Congress could do things that cause a depression.

If the public votes in a new Congress because they think the health care reform will increase the deficit when it is actually projected to reduce the deficit, then the new Congress could repeal health care reform and thereby make the deficit worse. And on it goes.

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Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:10 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

October 21, 2010

Republican Inevitability Strategy In Midterms

Is a Republican sweep inevitable? Saying so is just a strategy.

Don't forget Rove's Bush "inevitability strategy." And Hillary's. It's a strategy, that's all. We're seeing it used now in the midterms.

Don't forget,

It's well-known that Karl Rove believes that swing voters like to vote for the winner. Therefore, one of the central political strategies for Bush has been to create an "aura of inevitability" that, theoretically, will bring people to his side. If everyone believes you're a political juggernaut, the theory goes, then you will become a political juggernaut.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:55 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Essential Must-Watch Video

You just have to watch this: 'In the Souls of the People'

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:55 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Are Tea Party Members Getting Played?

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture I am a Fellow with CAF.

Are the Main Street Tea Party members getting "played" by Wall Street and big-corporate billionaires? There is a big, big, big difference between what the regular members and the big-money funders expect. If Tea Party candidates get elected will they do what their supporters want, or what their Wall Street and big-corporation funders demand?

What Tea Party Members Want

I just finished a week driving around Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia attending and writing about the "Keep It Made In America" Town Hall meetings. At these meetings and on the road I had occasion to talk to self-identified members of "Tea Party" groups. My conversations tell me, and polling confirms, that the regular day-to-day Tea Party supporters want government to stop job outsourcing and help American manufacturers. And even more than that they really don't like trade agreements like NAFTA. In fact some go so far as to say that NAFTA and the WTO violate our country's sovereignty. And even more than that they hate Bush's bailout of Wall Street (but have been told Obama did it).

What Tea Party Funders Want

At the same time I saw and heard ad after ad after ad after ad that backed Tea Party-type candidates, that were paid for by the Chamber of Commerce and other front groups for Wall Street and the big multinational monopolist corporations that live off of "free trade" and have been closing factories and outsourcing jobs. And the Tea Party was originally set up by and is largely funded and maintained by front groups for this same crowd.

Here is just one example of how much the Tea Party is funded by these front groups: In Oregon one Wall Street hedge fund manager is spending up to $1 million (pocket change) on a front group to elect a Tea Party candidate and unseat a Congressman who didn't do his bidding and sponsored a couple of Wall Street reform bills. Do you think the Main Street Tea Party members in Oregon expect their Tea Party candidate to support or oppose measures that further enrich Wall Street hedge fund managers? I'll give you three guesses and the answers are Main Street, Main Street and Not Wall Street. Do you think the Tea Party candidate will dare? I'll give you one guess.

Will Tea Party Members Or Funders Win Out?

So the regular Tea Party people hate NAFTA and "free trade" agreement, Wall Street bailouts, want a stop to job outsourcing and want help for American manufacturing -- but the people behind them and funding their ads do not. What will happen if these candidates get into office? Will they stick with their Tea Party supporters from Main Street, or will the be beholden to the big-money behind their campaigns? As Upton Sinclair said, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"

This is a very, very serious problem. The "crowd" instincts of regular people are usually pretty good and even in the Tea Parties they understand the damage that "free trade," Wall Street, big-corporate interests and the rest of the "free enterprise" crowd have done to the country. But the big money is steering them away from the solutions that their collective gut tells them are right.

Serious Consequences

The financial crisis that Obama inherited has not really gone away. The unsustainable trade deficit that has been growing since Reagan is draining our economy. The huge budget deficit that Bush left behind -- caused by tax cuts and military spending increases -- has not gone away. Global warming has certainly not gone away. All of these problems are still there. We may be headed into a trade war, we need to rebalance the global economy, the rest of the world is jumping on the Green Industrial Revolution and we are not -- but we can't even begin to have a reasonable conversation about it because the entrenched wealthy interests are able to purchase the megaphone, microphone and amplification system that let's people hear the arguments.

I say yes, the Main Street supporters of the Tea Party are getting played. What I want to know is, what will they do if the Tea Party candidates get elected, and then support "free trade' and Wall Street and all of that? Will go even further to the right, or will they start to figure it out?

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Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:33 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

October 19, 2010

Canton, Ohio Town Hall: We Can Make It, Build It, Grow It Here

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.

The Canton, Ohio "Keep It Made In America" Town Hall meeting was at the Kent State University Stark Campus this evening. Lieutenant Governor and Senate candidate Lee Fisher spoke. His opponent, Rob Portman, (U. S. Trade Representative under George W. Bush) was also invited to speak to this meeting discussing how to recover the 2.4 million manufacturing jobs that were lost to China in the Bush years, but had other commitments and was unable to attend.

The crowd was welcomed by Stark County Commissioner Steven Meeks, who let us know that "Stark State College is creating curriculum that addresses needs of unemployed, and is growing 30% every year. Just announced a $2.1 million grant plus $8 million from Stark State, creating a Wind Energy Research and Development Center to test wind turbines." This partnership will train employees but will also bring wind energy business to the area.

After Scott Paul of the Alliance for American Manufacturing introduced the organization and explained the town hall, Congressman John Boccieri, OH-16 spoke, saying, "We can make it, build it, grow it here." Later, "I thought the Chamber of commerce was supposed to protect jobs in the US not in Beijing. I fail to see how they believe that this is good policy for our country."

Next up was Senate candidate, Lt. Gov Lee Fisher. (Summarized from notes):

"Do we go back to the same people who gave tax breaks to large companies to send our jobs out of the country? To treaties that allowed these countries to dump cheap, unsafe unhealthy products, endanger our health and our economic health, put people out of work and companies out of business and industries vanished?

People think it’s OK the steel workers are upset, the auto workers are upset. It isn't. The key is to build alliances that go beyond steel, let’s talk about technology. The guy who founded Intel, Andy Grove, wrote recently that he no longer believes that free trade is the right way to go. In 1975 when first personal computer was invented, 125,000 people employed in the US. Today 125,000 are employed. This is the same but in Asia 1.5 million are employed in this business.

This is not just steel, glass auto, textiles, electronics, this is about solar panels, advanced batteries, wind turbines. We need to wake up the rest of America, you already get it that’s why you’re here, but the key to our victory is waking up the rest of American before it’s too late."

Interestingly, Fisher is running against Rob Portman, U. S. Trade Representative under George W. Bush. Portman was also invited to speak to this town hall discussing how to start recovering the 2.4 million manufacturing jobs that were lost to China in the Bush years but had other commitments and was unable to attend.

The Panel

Canton's town hall panel of local experts was Scott Paul of AAM moderating, with,

* Dave McCall District 1 Director for the United Steelworkers
* Athony Denoi, Plant Manager ATI Alegheny Ludlum (Stainless steel, other specialty steels)
* Max Blachman - Office of Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown

From notes:

Blachman – Sen Brown elected 92 to Congress, fighting for American manufacturing and workers ever since. Ran for Senate said let's make Ohio the Silicon Valley of manufacturing. Sen Brown had an op-ed in yesterday’s NY Times. (Note - a good read , it starts out, "TEN years ago this fall the Senate sold out American manufacturing.")

Steps to take – enforce trade laws, China created tremendous and unfair imbalance

McCall – We need a manufacturing policy. Level playing field. China currency. VAT – every country has a VAT except us. A company that makes something in India pays 20% tax, but when you ship the government gives the tax back, so companies in other countries get as much as a 20% break and China gets that break on top of currency manipulation and other schemes so that's now 60%. … Just try to get 1 pound of steel into China, you can’t. You can’t sell there, they are exporting their unemployment to us. … Why has this been going on for a decade, decade and a half? Because a whole lot of people have very short term thinking, don’t care, want to make their dollars now, want to get out. ... It’s time to give some protections to our American companies. They need to be profitable, so it is fair and balanced for companies and steelworkers as well.

DeNoi – We are in business because of specialty steel that goes into special places like nuke reactors, transformers. To make good steel you need: Good equipment good people know how to make it. China doesn’t have #3, intellectual property, if we lose that China can make it. Silicon Steel, best grade, now China says they can do. It's part of their energy strategy, for China to make their own. Titanium, we know how to make and others do not. Give us a level playing field we can compete globally. I keep on hearing industrial policy, it is a strategy, they are looking 5 10 20 years down the line. Has to be more than policy, has to be a serious strategy for long term/

McCall – on IP rights, I remember a guy testified before the China commission some years ago, who produced roof tiles for all KFC places in US. KFC got a contact from Chinese government to build 100 KFC stores in China. This guy, family business, invested in new technology, 40 employees. Business was good. KFC got this contract, the first load of shingles he sent got locked up on the dock and the government wouldn’t release it to be built on those restaurants until he gave them the formula and processes, KFC said we got to have these shingles, so he had to give up property rights. Now a company in China produces all those shingles, he is out of business.

Q from audience: “How do we get consumers to understand and support Buy American?”

McCall – Look what happens when we fight back. Cooper Tire built a plant in China, China said for 5 years you must export. So they have a price advantage, dump the tires here. So we filed a trade case and won, they put on a tariff, now they are dumping in Europe but not in US, so in Ohio now Cooper plant hires, 100 new jobs.

Q: “What is the government and manufacturers going to do to help put people 55 and older forced into retirement, back to work?”

Blachman – Sen Brown SECTOR act, labor grants to communities, allow labor an business and Community College or other anchor institution to come together with workforce investment board to fashion a curriculum to train for available jobs in new industries, fuel cells, advanced batteries, like what is happening at Stark Research Center on this campus. One-stop services often do not provide those specific skills needed to succeed in these industries.
This passed the House, Senate filibustered

DeNoi – challenge is to get a good educated workforce out there, we try to hire, give them tests, it is hard to get the skill set needed to work in steel. They have to have computer skills, math skills, problem-solving skills, we are having a difficult time finding it so we hire mature workers in this area because of that.

Paul – if you see a factory on TV it’s an action setting, abandoned factory, rusted chains coming from the ceiling, fire coming out of the floor and a dead bodies is thrown from the second floor, that’s what people see when they see factories. Now is clean, highly technological, exciting, and you have an opportunity


Q: "What three things if you could talk to the President."
DeNoi:
1) Level playing field
2) Long term strategy
3) Buy American
Silverware, it is not made here anymore. Gas grills.

So this was the last Town Hall I will be attending. There are more on the schedule and they are GREAT, and you learn a lot. Take a look at the schedule and see if you can make it to one. And I am sure there will be another round coming.

I will be thinking for a while and then writing a wrap-up post that take a bigger-picture look at what I learned this last week. So check back.

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Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:22 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Conservatives Pledge To Kill Jobs

Go read about: The Conservative Pledge To Encourage Big Companies To Send Jobs Away

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:51 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos

Erie, PA Town Hall: "No Country Ever Went Broke Investing In Its Own People"

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.

Last night's "Keep It Made In America" Town Hall meeting was at the Bayfront Convention Center in Erie, Pennsylvania. Kyle Foust, Chairman of the Erie County Council welcomed the attendees and led off the Town Hall meeting, quoting Hubert Humphrey: "No country ever went broke by investing in its own people."

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I recently spoke with a Tea Party member who did not know that it is government that builds the roads, airports, sewer systems, etc. that make up the infrastructure that is the foundation of our country's ability to have companies at all. He actually thought that private companies do this, and that "government spending" just "takes money out of the economy." Maybe this is why so many candidates in this election say that "government spending" is bad but will not say, no matter how hard they are pressed, what spending they plan to cut in their quest for "smaller government."

The Town Hall

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Following a Unitarian invocation by Rev Steve Aschmann, Scott Paul of the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) -- the organization that is putting on these "Keep It Made In America" Town Hall events -- explained what AAM is about, strengthening manufacturing in this country. Scott gave the audience several facts about manufacturing:


  • 74% of Tea Party supporters support more manufacturing, as do 82% of union members.

  • 563,500 in Pennsylvania work in the manufacturing sector

  • This is down from 864,000 in 2000

  • And represents a 35% cut in manufacturing jobs.

Candidates Speak

Two local House candidates spoke at this meeting. Mike Kelley, Republican candidate for Congress spoke first.

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"We can’t control unfair competition. Just make it fair, that’s all, make it fair. Enforce the rules. We play by the rules, other people don’t. Chinese currency."

Q: "Will you support buy American policies?" A: Who would not? Especially in taxpayer-funded projects.
Q: "Hold China accountable?" A: The world has been waiting for America to take the lead. China has to be held accountable when they break the rules.
Q: "Policies?" Competition, we never back away from competition. We need to get a national strategy in place. Taxes – need a VAT. Others all do it. (Note, Kelley's answer is good for manufacturing. Short explanation: Other countries use a VAT to boost their manufacturing sector. Their manufacturers get a VAT rebate, but goods imported from the US do not, so in effect a VAT is a either a subsidy of their companies or a tariff on imports from us.)

Next up was his opponent in the race, Congresswoman Kathy Dahlkemper:

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We need to get back to a manufacturing economy, to provide that good family-sustaining wage.

How to keep it made in America, three points:
1) Close the loopholes, Republicans’s did not vote with us on this. My opponent has pledged, signed a pledge no to remove the tax advantages given to companies for moving factories out of the country and outsourcing American jobs. (Note see my post on this today.)
2) Stop China’s cheating. Everyone knows China cheats. The currency bill, voted for it, the Chamber of Commerce - that's the national Chamber which is a very different thing from the local Chambers -- is against it. We also have to stop China's illegal trade practices and dumping (selling below cost to capture markets).
3) Invest in our domestic manufacturing base. The COMPETES act has passed the House, but Senate… Education.

Raw materials – rare earth elements, China is saying they can get these IF they bring manufacturing t their country.
We can produce them here, but don’t. Because China subsidizes, it is not profitable to start production here.

The Panel

This Town Hall's panel of local experts:
• Kenneth Boothe Jr., General Manager, Donjon Ship Builders
• Reverend Jeffery Priscaro, St. Ann's church
• Ron Oliver, Community Labor Leader
• Tim Ryan President, Apex Offshore Wind.
• David J. Rosenberg, Head of Marketing, North America Gamesa Energy
• Hillary Bright, Blue/Green Alliance Field Organizer.

aaDSC_9007

Priscaro – When people make things It create sjobsm, revenue, they buy houses, participate in economy.

Ryan – Windmills, local wind turbines on old steel mill site, made in the US. Sun Ray project in Texas used GE wind turbines, GE Transport made the gearboxes. Gemasa, of Sain, has set up manufacturing near here. The Export/Import bank financing requires high local content. We need a national Renewable Energy Standard, then there is a tremendous opportunity for American manufacturing in wind energy.

Oliver – the effect on people of losing job, moving, move in with mom, manufacturing is the heartbeat of America.

Boothe – Donjon has recently gone from 13 employees, in 10 months have 118. 125 by end of year, 150 then up to 250.

Bright – Labor and environmentalists share common goals Hadn’t recognized how intertwined manufacturing is with a healthy community, environment, wages, families, healthy communities. And healthy environment. The way we see America in future generations, manufacturing is key to recognizing that.

Q: "Where are we going to get jobs? We need the infrastructure rebuilt, everything reconstructed. How?"

Bright – AAM, others have recognized that one of the largest opportunities is in clean energy. The stimulus was a down payment. Opportunity at federal policy level like Renewable Energy Standard to create the market and the demand to get it going, otherwise we lose the race to countries like China.

Oliver – We need to create the jobs here, the stimulus was using money to buy windmills made in China.

Ryan – We need new power plants as well as wind energy power plants. National policy has been up and down up and down, industry can’t survive on federal programs that last 6 months or a year, we need national policy that looks at the next 20 years or so.

Priest, we lost jobs because of legislation, we can gina jobs by legislation.

Q: "What can we do to stop the leak of jobs from US?"

Scott Paul: Stop tax breaks to ship jobs overseas.


(Note - All pictures by Ike Gittlen, USW, with permission. Click any pic for enlargement, see the entire collection here.)

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Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:21 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Absolutely MUST-SEE Ad

You have to see this ad. How close is it to the Republicans in your own state?

Sometimes it sounds like they are reading from a script, because they are.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:19 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

October 17, 2010

Wheeling Town Hall -- BIG Turnout -- Focus: Tax Breaks For Offshoring

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.

Driving across Ohio toward Wheeling you pass one small manufacturing company after another - but not too many with lots of cars in the employee parking lot. I stopped in a coffee shop in a small township. They offered me a cookie, and when I declined, the owner said, “We’re giving them away, it’s our last day.” After 14 years the shop and the restaurant next door are closing because the landlord is giving up, auctioning off the building, and they don’t see how they can reopen somewhere else and make it. Too many manufacturers in the area have had to close.

Every manufacturing job supports four or five other jobs in the economy. This is seven or eight more gone. The Cut Nail plant dominates a section of Wheeling. It closed last week, after 152 years in business. That's a lot more gone.

The Town Hall

Friday night I attended the Wheeling, WV "Keep It Made In America" Town Hall meeting. This was a BIG event – 600 attendees big . (Note - All pictures by Ike Gittlen, USW, click any pic for enlargement, see the entire collection here.

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Many elected officials, starting with Governor Joe Manchi (now running for Senate) attended and spoke. Quite a few candidates for Congress attended and spoke as well. And there was a panel. The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register has a great writeup of the event.

The meeting began with a flag entrance presented by an honor guard of Young Marines:

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This was a big event with a lot of speakers, so I'll only put up snippets of what was said. But the entire town hall was webcast live: see the recording of it here.

Alliance for American Manufacturing Executive Direct Scott Paul gave "manufacturing facts" between each speaker.

"Why should people care about manufacturing if they don’t work in a factory?
* Manufacturing provides 70 of all r&d, 90% of all patents, so if you care about innovation, next best thing…
* Manufacturing largest purchasers of technology, so if you care about…
* Manufacturing still employs 12 million, sizable portion.
* Also manufacturing has a multiplier effect, each job supports 4 or 5 others in your community. More than any other.
* Finally manufacturing jobs pay 22% better."

Vice President of the United Steelworkers Tom Conway spoke first,

aaDSC_8761

"Thanks for coming, having a discussion, about what we think is a crucial issue, and one that America has been struggling with for a while. We’ve lost 50-60,000 factories over the last few years and millions of jobs. Labor and management do not have the luxury of not being together on this. We need to be together on this. Doing it jointly, telling a common story.

Trade is good but trade needs to be balanced, but now for 30 years we have had an imbalance that has gone on and one, and you can’t do that and expect to have a thriving economy, and think the country is going to exist off the growth in the financial services sector. Now 40% of our GDP comes from the financial services sector and you've all seen what’s happened.

You’ve got to have an economy that is based on something. You can’t keep having your best and brightest go to wall street.

It used to be there were two tickets into the middle class, get a union card or get a college degree.

Governor, Senate candidate Joe Mansion:

aaDSC_8781

First question is will you support buy America policies? Made in America, even better.

There is not one thing in free trade that talks about fair trade. We can compete with any workforce in the world as long as it is on a level playing field.

Currency manipulation 40%, no rules or regulations on environment, and then we give tat incentives to companies to move jobs offshore.

Charlie Wilson OH-6, which borders on Wheeling:

aaDSC_8792

We all have common interest, returing to economic security, returning our neighbors back to work and returning our communities to prosperity is a priority for all of us.

We shouldn’t be looking to advance new trade deals if the ones we have aren’t working. I’m proud to be a co-sponsor of Repeal NAFTA. Trade is important but it has to be fair trade and we have not had fair trade.
We have been outsourcing jobs, crippling thing in our economy, voted 2 times in last few weeks to close tax loopholes that encourage companies to outsource. How can we possibly justify rewarding people with tax breaks who send our jobs to other countries. Come here I’ll show you what has happened to our economy from jobs lost to trade deals.

The Conservative Tax Pledge

One speaker said something I want to hilight: Mike Oliverio, Congressional Candidate, WV-1, said something about the "Norquist No New Taxes Pledge" that I think was significant. Oliverio called it a pledge to keep those tax incentives for closing factories and outsourcing jobs.

aaDSC_8794

I support legislation that prevent outsourcing of jobs, these tax giveaways have to stop, my opponent signed a tax pledge to continue these giveaways to corporations. I just can’t imagine how you can sign that kind of pledge in today’s world.

His opponent David McKinley:

aaDSC_8805

The stimulus failed, only added debt to the government. We’re driving business away by overtaxing and overregulating. National Association of Manufacturers, Chamber of Congress, Tea Party backs me, Right to Life back me.

I want to freeze tax rates where they are now to remove uncertainty. Create confidence what our tax structure is going to look like they will start hiring again. Eliminate overregulation of business.

Nancy Pelosi is toxic to our political environment.

About 3-400 other candidates spoke. The Libertarian Party, the Mountain Party, the Constitution Party, others.

The Panel

After approx 28,245 more candidates spoke there was an excellent panel discussion, moderated by Scott Paul, with
* Tom Conway, VP USW
* Kenny Perdue, AFL-CIO West VA
* Beri Fox, CEO of the Marble King Company

Note: About Marble King. Wheeling and WV have been hit hard by imported glass. Glass used to be a very big industry in West Virginia. There were 240 glass manufacturing companies in WV 30 years ago. Marble King is one of only 6 remaining companies.

aaDSC_8825

Berri – Marble King is a 75-year-old company. We want to help keep the American dream alive,. Glass business in WV second only to coal, 240 companies 30 years ago, today 6. The obstacles are substantial. Something has to be done.

We did kids’ toys, supplied game companies. All moved to China, NONE manufactured in US now. This created huge stresses on what was our market share, so we bagan to diversify our product into other areas, creative innovative. Now, you buy spray paint, aerosol, shake it, that sound is our marbles.

Question from audience: Tax Breaks for offshoring?

Conway - companies getting tax breaks are also the companies that have taken control of our government, big multinational companies, they leave American workers and communities behind and we can’t tolerate it any longer.

I think that is the best line to close with. If you need a reason to vote, there it is.

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Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:15 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

October 15, 2010

Lorain, OH Keep It Made In America Town Hall Meeting

Thursday evening I attended the "Keep It Made In America" Town Hall in the John Spitzer Conference Center at Lorain County Community College, an impressive, large campus. Lorain, Ohio is another town with closed factories, boarded-up houses, high unemployment, and ringed by the national big-box vulture chains whose business model is to suck the remaining funds away to Wall Street.

Driving into Lorain

As you drive from town to town in Michigan and Ohio you see one after another a ring of the "big box" stores and national chain stores around each city. You also see the "brownfields" of rusted-out, closed factories, empty, falling-down buildings. Then you go to the downtown and you see boarded up houses, empty storefronts, deteriorating and deteriorated communities, idle people standing on corners. As you drive into these towns you can just see what is happening in a nutshell.

You used to hear about how Wal-Mart was predatory, how it would show up in an area and after a while the downtowns would dry up, local business-owners would go broke, local business employees would be laid off, and the local people would have to work for low wages at Wal-Mart, while the region's spending money would go off to the wealthy few who run these things.

Well a juicy story of devastation like that one gets around, and there are those who hear it and say, "Hey, that's a great idea, I wanna get me some of that." So the Wal-Mart business model has taken off and now there are any number of these vultures, ringing the cities and towns around the country, so often private-equity owned. They are draining away the lifeblood of the downtowns, fighting off the unions to keep wages down, even demanding tax breaks to move in and "create jobs." You see all the same stores circling every town now, running all of the local and regional businesses unto the ground.

Here are some pictures from the inner Lorain area but you see it all around: (click for large)

P1000784P1000802 P1000791P1000795P1000789P1000787

The Lorain Town Hall Meeting

As I said, the meeting was at Lorain County Community College. The turnout was good, a number of candidates, local officials, and people from the community.

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The opening speaker was Congresswoman Betty Sutton. “Manufacturing is the backbone of our economy. It’s the backbone of our nation. We’re aware here in Northeast Ohio that it created and promises to support the idea of a middle class.”

Sutton talked about the bill passed recently by the house that confronts Chinese currency manipulation. She hopes the Senate will also pass this, but we all know how difficult it is to get anything through the Senate. She also said that unlike Wall Street shuffling paper money around, what creates real value is the manufacturing of goods, which supports four surrounding jobs in the economy for every manufacturing job.

Following the opening remarks Scott Paul of the Alliance for Ameican Manufacturing presented a number of facts about manufacturing in Ohio and the country. 624,700 people work in manufacturing in Ohio, down from 1,021,000 in 2000. 39% of Ohio's manufacturing jobs were lost in the last decade. For the country the last decade was the worst ever, worse than great depression. We lost 1/3 of all manufacturing jobs with 50,000 manufacturing facilities closed.

“When I grow up will there be jobs in America?”

Next came a panel, moderated by Scott Paul, with


  • Larry Taylor, Plant Manager, US Steel Corp’s works in Lorain

  • Dave MaCall, Director of District 1 for the United Steelworkers, USW in Ohio

  • Kelly Zelesnik, Dean of engineering technologies at LCCC Elyria


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A video of a question from a young person in Lorain: “When I grow up will there be jobs in America?” was asked of the panel.

MaCall: there will be jobs, because we have to take action, have to level the playing field. Things we need to do. Not be protectionists, have fair and balanced trade. But we need net exports. That’s how we grow. Every other country has a value-added tax so when someone makes a product that country writes a value-added check, so it is a subsidy on them and a tariff for us. America’s Visa card has run out.

We have 100 million tons of demand for steel in the US, has been for decades, last year demand was 60 million tons. Huge numbers of people laid off, from lack of demand, lack of consumption, and illegal trade.

Kelly, LCCC is partnering with manufacturing. LCCC invested in needs of community, 2 of 4 cornerstones of the college are education and economic development. LCCC is helping grow local economy with a new sensor center to develop and commercialize sensor technology. Industry and educational partners and entrepreneurs to access the center to develop and test prototypes and shorten the time to send products to the market as well as train employees. The center is an attractant to new businesses.

MaCall: We need national policies like every other country has. Businesses need to know there is a policy in America that will make sure there is access to capital, etc. For green startups, it is hard for companies to make investment when other countries helping their industry and we are not. Wall Street gets refinanced, now they’re holding it back, won’t let small businesses have access at reasonable rates.

Paul Q: What is the role in trade laws to keep steel competitive and on level playing field?

Taylor – We need strong trade policies that are strictly enforced. If they are not enforced they do no good, if we have this there will be jobs in future, level playing field. We stopped China on the steel tubes, but now other countries are producing subsidized product, we don’t get government subsidies, they do, we must have strong policies that we enforce.

Concluding

Over and over I am hearing these themes emerge: trade is good but stop illegal trade practices, level the playing field to enable us to compete, put together a national policy, improve trade education and training, invest in our future.

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.

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The last three photos by Ike GITTLEN: USW

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:24 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Tonite's Wheeling WV Town Hall Will Be Webcast 5:15 EST

I have just learned that tonite's "Keep It Made In America" Town Hall in Wheeling, West Virginia will be webcast live starting at 5:15PM EST.

Visit the Wheeling Town Hall - Live page for the webcast.

From their page:

With the election less than three weeks away, West Virginia Senate candidates will address the issue of creating jobs and reinvigorating manufacturing at a “Keep it Made in America” Town Hall Meeting in Wheeling, WV. More than 700 voters are expected at the Town Hall Meeting, which is part of a 10-state tour sponsored by the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM). The voters will have a chance to directly question candidates and elected officials - from West Virginia and Ohio - on such key issues as rebuilding U.S. manufacturing for the global economy and balancing trade with China.

You can watch the town hall here live starting at 5:15pm ET today (Friday, Oct. 15th).

On Twitter? Follow us @KeepItMadeinUSA and use the Town Hall hashtag: #aamtht10


Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:05 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

October 14, 2010

Jackson Mich Keep It Made In America Town Hall -- An Energized Event

Yesterday I was in Jackson Michigan to attend the 2010 "Keep it Made in America" Town Hall Tour meeting. It was a very well-attended event, and everyone I spoke with seemed energized because someone is out there talking about what they consider an important issue, and thought that manufacturing is vitally important to the country, for jobs, and so we can pay our bills.

Jackson

Jackson, for your information, makes a claim to be the city where the Republican Party was founded in 1854. One thing is for sure, it was a very, very, very different party then.

I last visited Jackson three years ago. The downtown was dreary, and I remember walking around trying to find a place to buy a sandwich, giving up and ending up at a dreary fast-food place outside of town. Like Flint, things appear to be changing. In Flint is has been public/private government/business partnerships that has helped revive the downtown and the area. The University of Michigan has opened a Flint campus right downtown and you can feel the difference. I'm moving fast on this road trip so I didn't have time to investigate what is behind the different feeling in Jackson. But I had trouble getting to flint because I kept passing all these highway construction zones with ARRA (stimulus) signs. The official U-3 unemployment rate is down to 12.8% from 15.2 earlier this year.

The Town Hall

The meeting was in the Commonwealth Community Center, downtown. The large room was full, approx 275-300 attendees. I asked around and things were getting started and people were getting seated and it was a diverse audience politically, including some Tea Party supporters. Everyone I spoke with seemed energized because someone is out there talking about what they consider an important issue, and thought that manufacturing is vitally important to the country, for jobs, and so we can pay our bills. A recent poll found that 74% of tea party supporters want government strategy for manufacturing

The format was speakers, a brief PowerPoint presentation, buffet dinner and a panel on manufacturing featuring local business, labor and others. Following is a brief summary trying to catch the essence of what some of the speakers said.

Jackson's Mayor Karen Dunigan gave a very short welcoming talk, saying “Every day politicians speak about jobs, and yet we are still losing jobs.”

Next, Lansing Michigan's Mayor and candidate for Governor Virg Bernero spoke, saying that when they say we are done with manufacturing, that it is a thing of the past, they are saying we are done with America being a great country. You can’t just have consumption, you have to make things. It isn’t gross domestic consumption, it is gross domestic product, with "product" being a key word.

Congressman Mark Schauer, MI-7, “Cash for Clunkers invested in auto industry, got our steel plant to reopen, 3 shifts of workers now here in Jackson, we need to do more of that, fight for jobs in Michigan,” and he had a debate in an hour gotta go. "We need to make decisions about educating our workforce, trade, make sure our dollars are not stimulating jobs in China… We were the arsenal of democracy, and China is spending twice what we are spending on renewable energy technology."

The Panel

  • Sharon Collins, local restaurant owner: The Pickle Barrel Deli

  • Mark Gaffney, President Michigan AFL-CIO

  • Amanda Proctor, Exec Director, Shop Rat Foundation

  • Bill Rayl, Jackson Area Manufacturers Association, also on the Council of the National Association of Manufacturers

  • Moderator: Scott Paul, Alliance for American Manufacturing
  • From notes:

    The Shop Rat Foundation offers hands-on skilled trade education to kids, creating the next generation of proud skilled workers and citizens (shop rats).

    Rayl: The federal government needs to step up in this country and realize that the gloves are off on the global playing field, it’s not a playing field it’s a war field, they’re cleaning up, free trade is one thing fair trade is another. We need government to help us out, to fight these trade practices.

    We need to be able to go out there and compete. We want ot do it. China has a big market for us when we can play fair but they hamstring us, one hand tied behind our back, Chinese government is fighting us all the time.

    Scott: There may be difference between business and labor on a lot of issues but on American manufacturing there is very little disagreement, especially on holding China actable, R&D tax credit, there is a lot of support for doing all of it.

    Rayl: Manufacturing is not a Democrat or Republican issue, it’s an American issue, we can make anything you throw at us, we have great skilled workers out there, companies that want to keep those people in good paying jobs, give health care and all that stuff, but we can’t do it if we can’t compete on an even playing field.

    Gaffney: A trade agreement that lets a company just pack up a factory and move it to another country just because wages are lower, leaving behind a devastated community and unemployment, is just bad policy.
    As the country tries to get out of bad economic times hopefully the people in Washington figure out that manufacturing is the way to help. IF there aren’t good-paying jobs for people to go back to, what are we going to do?

    Amanda:
    Q) Filling a need, do you think what we have now with our high schools and Community Colleges is enough?
    A) Definitely some great programs out there. Lot of great but definitely not enough, we’re trying to push, we need to focus on education more than we are. A lot of people don’t think it’s not worth the time to train a 6th grader, don’t think that far back, but I want to stress you've got to get them young, get them interested, without middle and high school programs going on anymore kids don’t know about trade skills, they’re afraid of tools, but get them doing that, they are more confident, they will go out get a job or go on to vocational schools.

    Manufacturing In Michigan

    I guess I don't have to tell you that Michigan is known for automobiles. But manufacturing in Michigan was wiped out in the 2000-2008 period. There were 897,100 people working in manufacturing in Michigan in 2000. There are 466,400 people working in manufacturing in Michigan now.

    Other Jackson Town Hall Resources

    MLive.com covered Virg Bernero speaking at the rally.

    Steve Capozolla was live-blogging Jackson's town hall event last night.

    A local radio station has posted some audio from the event here.

    Details of the Keep It Made In America Town Hall Tour

    And this: American Made Shopper had a display at the meeting. They only sell items that are Made In America.

    This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.

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    Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:07 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    October 13, 2010

    Flint, Michigan: A City Ahead Of The Rest Of Us

    This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.

    I am in Flint, Michigan today, getting ready to drive down to Jackson for this evening's "Keep It Made In America" Town Hall. Flint has been through it and has come out the other end. Now the rest of us are going through what Flint has been going through.

    Many people know about Flint from the 1989 movie Roger & Me. In the documentary General Motors had closed factories in its home town, outsourced the jobs, and left the community behind. This sort of corporate behavior was becoming common by 1989 but it was still shocking that an American company would do this to Americans and America. The movie focused on the effect this had on Flint and its people. You might remember seeing block after block of boarded-up homes and people talking about how the try to get by.

    This has now been a familiar story for decades, companies closing factories, outsourcing the jobs, abandoning the communities, a few at the top pocketing the money and leaving absolute devastation in their wake.

    I was last in Flint three years ago, visiting relatives. Twenty years after the movie Flint was still struggling, in depression, its downtown full of closed stores and many of the blocks of boarded-up homes were worse, if anything. There were "For Sale" signs everywhere, and this was before the national housing bust. But there were many signs of people learning to cope. The Farmer's Market was going strong. The University of Michigan was working on a new campus, the Mott Foundation and others were working on various approaches to try to help the community...

    So here I am again. You can see three years worth of progress here. Revival is clearly occurring. The new U of M Campus is open and clearly making a difference. Part of the downtown is clearly revived, including the Durant Hotel restoration, while other parts are under construction. The Farmer's Market was named one of the best in the nation. There are fewer "For Sales" signs around. All around there is a better mood. Crime is still bad, there are still abandoned buildings, but a corner is turned.

    Flint Farmer's Market:

    Flint Ahead Of Nation

    So Flint has been through it and has come out the other end. Now the rest of us are going through what Flint has been going through. And the rest of the country has a ways to go before we will see the other end of this. Roger & Me was 1989 and now it is 2010. The same crap is still going on, and more so. As I said, in 1989 it was still shocking that American corporations would treat Americans and America the way they did. But now we have been through another two decades of the few at the top closing factories, outsourcing the jobs, devastating the communities, pocketing the money and then using their financial power to demand tax breaks to further defund government. The difference is that now we all live with the effects, not just Flint.

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    Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:29 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    October 12, 2010

    Reminder: I'm On The “Keep It Made In America” Town Hall Tour

    I am joining and writing about the "Keep It Made In America" Town Hall tour. (Click through for more info and a map.) The tour is from October 12-29 and I will be joining from October 13-19, starting tomorrow in Jackson, Michigan.

    The official tour announcement:

    Creating Jobs Takes Center Stage at "Keep it Made in America" Fall Tour Town Hall Meetings in 10 States Ask Political Candidates, "How Will You Create Manufacturing Jobs?" October 12th-29th WASHINGTON, DC. Oct. 4, 2010 - With the midterm election less than five weeks away and all polls showing the economy and jobs topping the list of voter concerns, the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) has announced its 2010 "Keep it Made in America" Tour. The non-partisan group will hold Town Hall meetings in 10 states to help voters directly question their candidates and elected officials on such key issues as unbalanced trade with China and rebuilding U.S. manufacturing for the global economy. "A majority of likely voters say the U.S. no longer has the world's strongest economy and that Washington isn't doing enough to rebuild manufacturing," said AAM Executive Director Scott Paul. "People are greatly concerned about our lost standing. They know China is overtaking us, and they want the United States to be number one again. "We are providing voters with a chance to ask their candidates directly, 'What are you going to do about restoring manufacturing and the millions of jobs we've lost to China,'" Paul said. "We've invited the candidates. Let's see if they'll face the voters." The Town Hall meetings, which will include a panel of local business, labor, and civic leaders, as well as remarks by various federal and statewide elected officials and candidates, will focus on: · The need to create good jobs for the 21st Century; · The importance of fighting for manufacturing as the key to any economic recovery; and · Leveling the playing field for American workers and businesses in the global marketplace. "The voters get it," said Paul. "Will the candidates?"

    Here is the tour schedule. I will be joining from Jackson, Michigan on October 13, through Canton, Ohio on October 19.

    - Oct. 12: Hartford, Conn., 6 p.m.
    - Oct. 13: Jackson, Mich., 5:30 p.m.
    - Oct. 14: Lorain, Ohio, 5 p.m.
    - Oct. 15: Wheeling, W.Va., 5 p.m.
    - Oct. 18: Erie, Pa., 5:30 p.m.
    - Oct. 19: Canton, Ohio, 5 p.m.
    - Oct. 20: Wayne, Pa., 6 p.m.
    - Oct. 20: Merrillville, Ind., 5 p.m.
    - Oct. 21: Asheville, N.C., 5 p.m.
    - Oct. 27: St. Louis, 5 p.m.
    - Oct. 28: Concord, N.H., 6 p.m.
    - Oct. 29: Wausau, Wis., 5 p.m.


    Please come if you can! If you are going to be in one of those towns please come to the Town Hall. Please RSVP here.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:33 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    So Tired Of Corporations Ripping Me Off!

    So I'm traveling, in Detroit I have a car reserved from Dollar rental car. I get there, they have an SUV for me, which I don't want, I requested a small, economy car, so half an hour at the counter to get everything changed, and then there is a big fee if my wife drives, too.

    I chose Dollar because it cost less and I have an "Express" membership. I finally drive drive out long after everyone else, paying a price much higher than anyone else would have charged. And no recourse.

    The usual.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:26 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

    October 10, 2010

    How Tax Cuts For The Rich Made Corporations Predatory

    This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.

    America used to have a top tax rate of around 90%. This meant that after a person earned a lot of money in a year, additional income beyond that amount was taxed at the higher rate. Back then government worked a lot better. We didn't have deficits, the schools and public universities were better, there were enough police and firefighters, the courts were not overwhelmed, even the IRS was better. Most important, our country's infrastructure -- the soil in which business thrives -- was kept in good shape so the country was more competitive and livable. And all of this meant that the very people who were paying those top rates benefited because their businesses did better.

    Government and the services it provides aren't all that has changed for the worse since we cut tax rates for the very, very rich. It caused the relationship between big businesses and the rest of us to deteriorate, too. Here is why.

    When top tax rates were high it took time to build up a fortune. So businesses had to depend on the health of the communities around them to help keep them growing over a long period. They had to plan and act long-term. Businesspeople had to carefully build up solid businesses that served their customers and kept them coming back. And they had to train and hold on to employees because their experience was needed.

    After the top tax rates were lowered people could reap huge fortunes in a hurry. This changed everything. It created incentives for people to do things that we can now see have harmed our country. Quick-buck schemes for short-term profit became the business model. It made more sense to run up high debt, cut for very high short-term profit or just sell off businesses rather than invest and build build carefully for the long term. Cost-cutting was the name of the game. So cutting R&D and training and quality and support, closing factories and outsourcing jobs made more sense than investing in new equipment and training & retaining a good workforce. Managers who held to the old-fashioned serve-the-customer and support-the-community model faced the private equity buyout -- where companies become buy-and-sell commodities with workers, customers and the country as costs.

    So big corporations became predatory, caring little for customers, communities and country because executives planned to get rich quick and leave soon. Businesses’ interdependence with the community went out the window. It made more sense to fleece the community with quick-buck schemes than to rely on its well-being over a long period of time. Short-thinking business models that cut employees to the bone and took advantage of customers began to make sense. Then, as communities fell apart, those few who benefited from such business practices could just fly away in their private jets or sail away in their yachts. The greater community was no longer of any use to them except as a crop to be harvested.

    Bring Back The 90% Top Tax Rate

    So it is time to change the formula. It's time to bring back the 90% top tax rates. We can use the money to start paying off our debt. It is time to rein in our businesses and make them part of our communities again. The way to do this is to continue to help people become wealthy – just a bit more slowly, please, and bring us all along. Bring back the top tax rates of America's golden years so we can all enjoy the benefits of our economy again.

    A top rate of 90%, phased in as income gets higher and higher, wouldn't raise taxes at all for most of the people in the country but it would mean that the top 15 hedge fund managers would only take home an average of about $100 million a year. While bringing in only $100 million a year might be a terrible hardship for them, it brings up an important question for the rest of us: how much is enough? Especially when a few having so much means that the rest of us have much, much less and live in communities that are much, much worse off than they used to be.

    See also Tax Cuts Are Theft.
    And see Tax Cuts Are Theft: An Amplification by Sara Robinson.

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    Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:39 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    The Foreclosure Paperwork Mess

    You might be starting to read about the big mess with foreclosures and the paperwork.

    During the bubble so many mortgages were given out and then resold to investors, and it was all happening so fast, that the paperwork was not looked at very closely. See this explanation. The result is that it might be clear that you have a mortgage and ought to be making payments, but it is in no way clear who owns that mortgage and who you should be paying, and who should be foreclosing on you if you are not.

    That is the root of the huge problem that is opening up right now. It is becoming very clear that the paperwork on many of these mortgages was not done correctly, and sometimes was even done fraudulently. If an investor bought a mortgage or package of mortgages, like a CDO, it was with an assurance that the paperwork was correct. So now that investor has recourse they they might not have had before and might be able to go back to whoever sold them the toxic assets and demand their money back.

    The implications:

    * People who have been paying mortgages might have been giving money to the wrong people. One investor has been getting extra payments while the correct investor was getting no payments. Now they are all going to have to sort that out and get the money to the correct people.

    * Banks sold these packages of mortgages with assurances that the paperwork was correct and will now be on the hook to buy them back.

    * Those banks might not have the means to buy them back.

    We might be heading for a second round of the really big banks being insolvent again.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:03 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    The Great American Credit Catastrophe

    The 911 of the Middle Class is the consumer credit debacle. It is the gift that keeps on giving. The reality is that the housing crisis is just one piece of this really big, ugly mess. It seems to me that our President MUST call for immediate reform and take action through executive order. Call me politically naïve, but we need action. Unemployment continues to hover close to 10%, and higher in badly hit areas. Interest paid by the banks on savings ranges from less than 1% to maybe 2.5% on a good day. The consumer credit card companies, though regulated now sort of, ran naked through the streets jacking up everyone's interest rates to over 15 to 30%. Yes they have to notify the poor, irresponsible slobs now before they do things, but the banks still get to burn kerosene in the town square with no permits. And we haven't even gotten to the health insurance yahoos that have four more years for their trickery. Oh Nelly, bar the door! It's the Wild West again as the cattle are corralled - only this time it's the American people being herded to ruin by the giddy-up bankers and health insurance companies, not just the mortgage guys.

    People are getting sick from worry. Their backs hurt, their necks are out, and they are grinding their pearly whites. Few sleep well at night. Pharmaceutical sales are up. The banks we saved are savaging us. They are bulldozing the Middle Class under mountains of debt. People are losing their homes, divorces are up, businesses are closing, and unemployment is rampant. The consumer credit world and their FICO scores are broken. They are based on a world that no longer exists. In two short years, many consumers have watched their scores collapse under an avalanche of debt. The FICO scores were calibrated for a different time when consumer credit cards were not the only source of money available, mortgages were not under water, and unemployment was not soaring. If we are ever to unwind this situation, these algorithms must be reset. Otherwise the banks will never lend again. The Middle Class needs a do-over, just like the banks got.

    Yes sir, Obama stood up against the broad sweeping foreclosure legislation, and Bank of America seized the moment halting foreclosures nationwide. But we're all holding our breath waiting for the other shoe to fall as even Progressive strategist Mike Lux gens up the netroots to re-engage with the President and Congress. It is inconceivable that people have not taken to streets in protest over their lost pensions, and the absence of any kind of interest bearing bank account -- except on consumer credit cards. In fact, this week Robert Sheer wrote brilliantly about Obama's "No Banker Left Behind" -- while every normal person has been thrown under the bank bus. How did we allow the bail-out of every financial institution, while abandoning the common folk? Why are Democrats -- whether conservative, moderate or netroots - not able to channel this collective anger, rage and disappointment other than to take aim at one another? Given the data, there is no way out for the once resilient Middle Class without a do-over. Instead of "No Banker Left Behind" let us heal the Middle Class by fixing the credit industry; restricting the health care industry now, not in four years; and making those banks lend the money we gave them and not hide behind FICO scores. All of the Democrats are writing, but no one is demanding change now. The Tea Party has successfully harnessed the anger and rage, but has no plan. Frankly, they are just another distraction taking our attention away from the gravity of the problems.

    Mr. President, come back to us as Mike Lux laments. We need you. We, in the Middle Class, are living this nightmare everyday of our lives. Figure it out, and get the Middle Class out from under. The numbers do not lie. This is our emergency, our call to action, our 911. Friends and neighbors are collapsing from the stress when they can ill afford it. Unemployment is not going away. Consumer debt is skyrocketing. Mr. Obama, Americans are not being frivolous and irresponsible as Dr. Summers would like you to believe. They are boxed in with no escape hatch. Consider enacting a nationwide job core like the WPA, putting the banks on real notice, corralling those nasty health insurance folks, redoing the credit industry, and loosening up cash. No one is sleeping at night. People are nervous and cannot see a future.

    Please, inspire us again, show emotion, get messy, and let the wrinkles show. Mr. President raise your voice in outrage. Give us voice. Come back to us. The time is now.


    This was originally published on the Huffington Post earlier today.

    See the pearltree below for the references for this article.

    US Economy

    Posted by Michelle at 2:22 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    October 9, 2010

    Only 1/3 of Campaign Ads Disclose Donors Now

    I think the flood of corporate money into this election will turn to be the big story of what happened. Millions upon millions is showing up to run smear ads against Democrats, and no one can account for where it is coming from. For all we know plenty of it is coming from China.

    The Secret Big-Money Takeover of America

    According to FEC data, only 32 percent of groups paying for election ads are disclosing the names of their donors.

    After this election no politician will dare vote against a big corporate interest. Any who do will face millions in smear ads and soon be gone, anyway.

    If you think this will lead to a "pro-business" Congress, think again. Small and medium businesses are also squashed by these huge multi-national corporate giants. This is not about "business" this is about entrenched wealth keeping anyone else from getting a slice of the pie. If you think oil companies are "pro-business" ask anyone from an industry that competes with them, including high-speed rail, electric cars, wind farms, etc. If you think Wal-Mart is "pro-business" ask any businessperson from a regional chain or local retailer. If you think Wall Street is "pro-business" ask any local or regional banker or manufacturer.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:34 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    People Hate TARP

    Bush & Republicans caused the economic collapse and passed TARP (the bank bailouts). People HATE TARP. Candidates wish TARP was tied to Bush. A few weeks before the election Obama's Treasury Secretary comes out swinging, defending TARP.

    Political incompetence is dangerous when it is so bad it threatens to swing the country over to the far, far, far, far, right.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:36 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

    Why Obstruction Worked

    The thing about the Republican obstruction of the Senate is that the public doesn't KNOW there has been obstruction. SO they blame Dems for not getting things done. Currently the number is 420 bills passed by the House, held up by the Senate, never mind appointees to the administration and courts.

    This is the fault of the Dems and the corporate-controlled media.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:22 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

    October 8, 2010

    Obama Reduces Bush Deficit By $100 Billion In First Budget Year

    President Obama's first budget year ended on September 30, and the

    first reports are coming in:

    The federal government recorded a budget deficit of just slightly less than $1.3 trillion in fiscal 2010 ... $125 billion less than the record high of $1.4 trillion set in fiscal 2009.

    Considering the problems Bush left behind, this is a good start.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:31 AM | Comments (4) | Link Cosmos

    Conservative Policy = Bad Jobs Report

    This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.

    The September jobs report is out and conservatives got exactly what they wanted: less government, less stimulus, less aid to states, less help for small businesses, less infrastructure investment, less help for the unemployed and ... a bad jobs report. Conservatives successfully watered down the first stimulus, defeated further stimulus, fought aid to state governments, fought unemployment benefits, defeated help for small businesses, etc., etc. Here are the results, just in time for the election.

    NY Times, Employment Picture Dims as Government Cuts Back:

    ... over all, the economy shed 95,000 nonfarm jobs in September, the result of a 159,000 decline in government jobs at all levels. Local governments in particular cut jobs at the fastest rate in almost 30 years.

    “We need to wake up to the fact that the end of the stimulus has really hit hard on local governments,” said Andrew Stettner, deputy director of the National Employment Law Project.

    Conclusion: conservative policies kill jobs. They got what they wanted, and most of all they wanted bad job news, right now. Now, some if this was strategic, using obstruction to intentionally cause a bad jobs report in time for the election in order to turn voters against the governing party. But this jobs report clearly demonstrates what the results will be if conservatives get what they want: less government = fewer jobs. Less state government = fewer jobs. Less stimulus = fewer jobs. Fewer jobs = more people fighting for what jobs there are = lower wages. Lower wages = more stress on workers = angry electorate. Angry electorate = people divided, set against each other, not thinking long term, not thinking about the greater good, not seeing the bigger picture = conservative paradise.

    Less government: Government payrolls shrank by 159,000.

    Less help for the states: Local governments reduced payrolls by 76,000, 50,000 of those in education.

    Less stimulus: The stimulus obviously turned things around, halting the freefall of job losses, but is running out. The chart below shows this Conservative have blocked more stimulus. Keep in mind, conservatives want to go back to the policies of the left side of this chart, the part that is in red. They want to stop government from stimulating demand in the economy.

    Lower labor costs for businesses: "Flat hourly wages, now at $22.67, also threaten what fragile confidence American families may have in their household budgets."

    Less help for the unemployed: Conservatives say helping the unemployed makes people lazy. They follow a dehumanizing "If you feed them they will breed" philosophy. There are nearly 15 million unemployed, 42% of them out of work longer than half a year. At the end of November help for those unemployed more than 26 weeks runs out.

    Desperate workers: "In September, the typical unemployed worker had been searching for a job for 33.3 weeks."

    Chad Stone, Chief Economist at the Economic Policy Institute, on the jobs report,

    Today’s jobs report shows that the economy still faces a long and difficult climb out of the jobs hole created by the recent recession. The private sector has created, on average, fewer than 100,000 jobs a month this year — not enough to keep up with population growth and not nearly enough to reduce the unemployment rate. Worse, the pace of job creation is slowing as the economy slows, with only 64,000 private-sector jobs created in September.

    Speaker Pelosi,

    Today’s jobs report shows our private sector continues to lead our economic recovery. We lost more than 800,000 private sector jobs the last month of the Bush Administration, but America’s business owners and entrepreneurs have added more jobs this year than the Bush Administration and its Republican allies did in eight years. Democrats are moving our country forward, and we will and we must do more to strengthen our economy and put people back to work.

    The American people face a clear choice: Democrats fighting for the middle class or Republicans standing up for special interests. They know Democrats want to ‘Make It in America,’ cut taxes for small business, and create good-paying jobs here at home. Republicans want to protect Wall Street and corporations that ship jobs overseas. Democrats want to cut taxes for the middle class, and Republicans want to give a break to millionaires and billionaires, and blow an even larger hole in our deficit. Democrats will preserve Social Security and Medicare; Republicans promise to privatize and cut benefits.

    Americans can’t afford a return to the ‘exact same’ failed policies that produced the worst recession in generations. We will keep moving forward to create more jobs, growth, and prosperity for our workers and our families.

    The "underemployed" - people who can only find part-time jobs, or have had hours cut, is up to 17.1%. See this chart:

    PartTimeSep2010


    And, finally, here is Calculated Risk's "scariest jobs chart," updated:


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    Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:02 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    Infrastructure Jobs, Repeat And Amplify

    This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.

    Just a short note here, to repeat and amplify what Krugman said:

    And right now, by any rational calculation, would be an especially good time to improve the nation’s infrastructure. We have the need: our roads, our rail lines, our water and sewer systems are antiquated and increasingly inadequate. We have the resources: a million-and-a-half construction workers are sitting idle, and putting them to work would help the economy as a whole recover from its slump. And the price is right: with interest rates on federal debt at near-record lows, there has never been a better time to borrow for long-term investment.

    Amplifying:
    We have: Work that really, really needs doing. People that really, really need work. Borrowing money is really, really cheap.

    Now, repeating and saying it a different way. We have:

    • Work that really, really needs doing.
    • People that really, really need work.
    • Borrowing money is really, really cheap.

    Elaborating: All this infrastructure work needs to be done anyway. Since Reagan we have fallen waaayyyy behind on maintaining and modernizing our infrastructure. This lowers our quality of life and makes us less competitive in the world.

    Repeat: We are going to have to do this work anyway -- it has to be done. Right now money costs less to borrow than ever before. There are millions of people who need work.

    Repeating a different way:

    • We are going to have to do this work anyway -- it has to be done.
    • Right now money costs less to borrow than ever before.
    • There are millions of people who need work.
    In case conservatives still don't get it, let me repeat and amplify:.

    Infrastructure work - the rail, bridges, roads, schools, courts, power systems and everything else that makes our way of life better and makes our economy stronger by providing the soil in which business thrives - needs to be maintained and modernized. We have fallen behind and have to do it anyway one of these days. And right now there are millions of people who need work. Finally, it has never been cheaper because money costs less than ever before.

    • Work that really, really needs doing.
    • People that really, really need work.
    • Borrowing money is really, really cheap.
    Now, conservatives, should I repeat it for you, spell it out, say it a different way? Maybe pictures?

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    Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:45 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    October 7, 2010

    I'll Be On The “Keep It Made In America” Town Hall Tour Next Week

    I will be joining and writing about the "Keep It Made In America" Town Hall tour. (Click through for more info and a map.) The tour is from October 12-29 and I will be joining from October 12-19.

    The official tour announcement:

    Creating Jobs Takes Center Stage at "Keep it Made in America" Fall Tour Town Hall Meetings in 10 States Ask Political Candidates, "How Will You Create Manufacturing Jobs?" October 12th-29th WASHINGTON, DC. Oct. 4, 2010 - With the midterm election less than five weeks away and all polls showing the economy and jobs topping the list of voter concerns, the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) has announced its 2010 "Keep it Made in America" Tour. The non-partisan group will hold Town Hall meetings in 10 states to help voters directly question their candidates and elected officials on such key issues as unbalanced trade with China and rebuilding U.S. manufacturing for the global economy.

    "A majority of likely voters say the U.S. no longer has the world's strongest economy and that Washington isn't doing enough to rebuild manufacturing," said AAM Executive Director Scott Paul. "People are greatly concerned about our lost standing. They know China is overtaking us, and they want the United States to be number one again.

    "We are providing voters with a chance to ask their candidates directly, 'What are you going to do about restoring manufacturing and the millions of jobs we've lost to China,'" Paul said. "We've invited the candidates. Let's see if they'll face the voters."

    The Town Hall meetings, which will include a panel of local business, labor, and civic leaders, as well as remarks by various federal and statewide elected officials and candidates, will focus on:
    · The need to create good jobs for the 21st Century;
    · The importance of fighting for manufacturing as the key to any economic recovery; and
    · Leveling the playing field for American workers and businesses in the global marketplace."The voters get it," said Paul. "Will the candidates?"

    Here is a Business News Daily story about the tour, Advocates of U.S. Manufacturing Prepare Pre-Election Tour,

    Preparing for the elections, the Alliance for American Manufacturing, a nonpartisan, nonprofit trade group, is launching its “Keep it Made in America” tour, a series of town hall meetings in 10 states where local business, labor and civic leaders will help voters question candidates on issues, particularly the state of manufacturing jobs in the United States.

    ... In each of the 12 cities, the group has scheduled a panel of local leaders and invited federal and statewide elected officials and candidates to discuss job creation, manufacturing’s importance in economic recovery and “leveling the playing field for American workers and businesses in the global marketplace.”


    Here is the tour schedule. I will be joining from Jackson, Michigan on October 13, through Canton, Ohio on October 19.

    - Oct. 12: Hartford, Conn., 6 p.m.
    - Oct. 13: Jackson, Mich., 5:30 p.m.
    - Oct. 14: Lorain, Ohio, 5 p.m.
    - Oct. 15: Wheeling, W.Va., 5 p.m.
    - Oct. 18: Erie, Pa., 5:30 p.m.
    - Oct. 19: Canton, Ohio, 5 p.m.
    - Oct. 20: Wayne, Pa., 6 p.m.
    - Oct. 20: Merrillville, Ind., 5 p.m.
    - Oct. 21: Asheville, N.C., 5 p.m.
    - Oct. 27: St. Louis, 5 p.m.
    - Oct. 28: Concord, N.H., 6 p.m.
    - Oct. 29: Wausau, Wis., 5 p.m.

    If you are going to be in one of those towns please come to the Town Hall. Please RSVP here.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:12 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    It's The Lack Of Demand, Stupid!

    This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.

    In the 1992 campaign the Clinton War Room had a famous sign that read, "It's the economy, stupid!" This meant that the central theme of the campaign was the economy. President Obama's downturn-fighting war room needs a sign, too. The sign should read, "It's the demand, stupid." And what that means is: businesses want customers, not tax cuts.

    The stimulus was supposed to help make up for the lack of demand in the economy caused by Bush's financial crisis. The stimulus worked, but was not enough. And tomorrow's job numbers are likely to reflect that.

    Here are some (slightly out of date, new numbers come out tomorrow) job charts that show the effect of the stimulus as it kicked in, and now as it fades. First, the overall jobs picture:

    July Jobs Report

    The manufacturing jobs picture:

    July Jobs Report - Manufacturing Jobs

    The lesson from these charts is obvious, and right in front of your face: The stimulus worked, but was not enough.

    People need jobs, not tax cuts. Jobs create demand and demand creates jobs. Tax cuts just create the massive deficits and concentration of wealth at the top that kills demand and jobs as we are seeing now. When neither jobs nor demand is happening the government needs to step in and create jobs to get things moving, as well as just to keep people employed so they can get by. At a time when our economic competitiveness is hampered by an aging infrastructure that has to be fixed up sooner or later anyway, combined with the ability of the government to borrow money at record-low interests rates, it seems obvious that government should be directly employing people to modernize our infrastructure.

    Here is a chart of the "output gap." That big dipper at the top right is the current Bush-caused gap.

    outputgap

    Government needs to step in and fill that gap by creating demand. We need fiscal stimulus. The stimulus worked, but was not enough.

    Businesses Want Customers Not Tax Cuts

    Businesses want customers. Hand a businessperson a check and that businessperson will smile and say, "Thank you!" But the businessperson will not hire a single person more than is needed to meet demand. That check is going in the bank. If it is a tax cut, it is going in the bank. If it is a direct payment it is going in the bank. "Thank you," bank. There is no other path that money will take except, "Thank you," bank.

    But a businessperson with customers coming through the door will do whatever it takes to make sure there are enough employees to serve those customers. Businesspeople understand opportunity. A businessperson with an overdrawn bank account will hire employees to meet demand, and will find a way to get the money to pay for it. He or she might sell a car, run up the credit cards or even pawn jewelry or sell the first-born, but the employee will be hired because customers are coming in the door. (I know this, I've been there.)

    Economist Joseph Stiglitz spoke up on Tuesday about the Federal Reserve's loose monetary policies, which are intended to help banks, and get businesses to borrow and expand,

    "The irony is that the Fed is creating all this liquidity with the hope that it will revive the American economy," Stiglitz said. "It's doing nothing for the American economy, but it's causing chaos over the rest of the world. It's a very strange policy that they are pursuing." [. . .] But additional monetary stimulus will "clearly" not solve the problems caused by lack of global aggregate demand, Stiglitz said.

    "Lowering the interest rates may help a little bit, but that's much too weak to address the problems facing the United States and Europe," Stiglitz said. "We need fiscal stimulus."

    What he is saying there is that making it easy to borrow is not creating jobs or demand. We need "fiscal stimulus" which is government directly stimulating demand, which is what makes businesses hire.

    So, once again, the answer is so clear and obvious that it is exactly the kind of thing that the elites in DC will miss: The stimulus worked, but was not enough.

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    Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:18 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    October 6, 2010

    How "Free Trade" Led To Currency War

    This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.

    Lyndon Johnson is said to have commented that the press is like birds sitting on a telephone line. When one flies away, they all fly away. This week they are all flying around squawking "currency war!" But the world has been in a currency/trade war for some time, with only one side fighting and the rest losing. Now the world, on the edge of defeat in that war, sees that China is not "trading" they are taking. So, how to fight back, without (further) blowing up the world's economy?

    The world can’t get to full recovery from this terrible recession without more balanced trade. That is a huge part of the equation. Our trade deficits started with Reagan when "free trade" was used to force concessions from labor by threatening to move the factories to non-democracies, away from the wage and environmental protections We, the People fought so hard to achieve. The wage squeeze resulted in unprecedented concentration of wealth - and loss of buying power for the rest of the population. Under 'W' Bush, Wall Street used China for short-term profits and bonuses and China used the power that brought to buy advantage around the world. So now the rest of us are living with the long-term consequences of race-to-the-bottom policies. Namely, the bottom.

    That loss of buying power -- lack of demand -- is holding back recovery. To lift the economy we need to lift wages. We can’t get there without challenging current arrangements with China.

    Yves Smith sums up this "full boil," in Currency War Threats Escalating, at naked capitalism,

    Last week, the simmering threat of trade disputes erupted into a full boil when Brazil’s finance minister Guido Mantega said that national governments around the world were weakening their currencies in an “international currency war” to gain competitive advantage. Mantega stressed that Brazil was prepared to back his words with action to lower the value of the Brazilian real. Yesterday, IMF chief Dominique Struass-Kahn warned that countries were beginning to use their currencies as “a policy weapon” in a Financial Times interview.

    So does the world now go into a full-on, chaotic currency/trade war? Martin Wolf weighs in at the Financial Times, How to fight the currency wars with stubborn China, (Click through to see the charts)

    Has the time for a currency war with China arrived? The answer looks increasingly to be yes. The politics and economics of an assault on Chinese exchange rate policy are increasingly convincing. The idea is, of course, deeply disturbing. But I no longer believe there is an alternative.

    Wolf runs down the issues.

    Currency manipulation? "If a decision to invest half a country’s gross domestic product in currency reserves is not exchange rate manipulation, what is?"

    Does it matter? "By keeping its real exchange rate down, China subsidises production of its exports and import substitutes. Since China is now the world’s biggest exporter, this has to be a significant distortion of world trade."

    What might China reasonably be asked to do? Stop the manipulation and increase domestic demand. "[T]he menu of possible options for the Chinese authorities could include a cap on the intervention, an end to sterilisation of the monetary consequences and targets for real domestic demand, household consumption and the current account."

    Can other countries shift China’s policies, with limited collateral damage?

    Negotiation remains a hope. The rest of Group of 20 leading countries should unite in calling for these changes. But if negotiation continues to fail, alternatives must be considered. Import surcharges are one possibility. ... countervailing currency intervention ... affected countries could prevent other countries from purchasing their financial instruments, unless the latter offered reciprocal access to their financial markets.

    OK, about that "without (further) blowing up the world's economy" I mentioned at the top. Instead of tariffs and other trade sanctions Wolf suggests currency-rate counter-policies,

    "I find ideas for intervention in capital markets far more attractive than those involving action against trade. ... A trade war would be very dangerous. Insisting that China stop purchasing the liabilities of other countries so long as it operates tight controls on capital inflows is, instead, direct and proportionate and, above all, moves the world towards market opening."

    Will China retaliate by ceasing to buy US bonds? If they do, that would be a good thing.

    Some fear that a cessation of Chinese purchases of US government bonds would lead to a collapse. Nothing is less likely, given the massive financial surpluses of the private sectors of the world and the continuing role of the dollar. If it weakened the dollar, however, that would be helpful, not damaging.

    Yves Smith weighs in on Wolf's recommendations,

    Yves here. I see the odds of things going Wolf’s way as close to zero. China has no intention of “opening” its markets to investment bankers; it is not about to have its capital markets colonized, and it lacks the domestic finance skills to cope. China has made a close study of the errors Japan made in its peak years, in the 1980s, and one was the overly rapid deregulation of its financial sector….in response to US pressure.

    Similarly, the impetus to put pressure on China IS coming from the trade front, due to high unemployment. Action on the trade/tariff front looks like a more direct remedy, even if, as Auerback points out, the lags in trade are long. And with more economists lining up behind the crowd-pleasing idea of getting tough with China, the pressures and the intellectual cover, are in place.

    Even though no one wants a trade war with China, it is not beyond the real of possibility that we wind up there. ... he odds of miscalculation have to be magnified when operating across a large cultural divide.

    I wrote the other day, and want to repeat: There are always winners and losers. Right now in China there are currently winners and losers from the manipulated currency rate. If rates adjust to where they should be China might lose some jobs, but Chinese workers will immediately be higher-paid relative to the world than they had been, and Chinese consumers will also be more able to buy things made elsewhere.

    Right now those in control of industries that are moving to China are winners and those in China who want higher pay and want to import are losers. And as is the way of the world the winners in China are fighting to keep their advantages, while the losers want change to occur. And outside of China the winners are fighting to keep their advantages, while the losers want change to occur.

    But if China starts bringing its currency to market rates the world's winners and losers will be the winners and losers for the right reasons. It is time for China to move on from currency manipulation.

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    Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:42 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

    October 2, 2010

    One Nation Working Together March Live Webstream

    Updated: The march is over.

    Huffington Post has this picture:

    Of course the right's blogs are going with a picture that CNN ran in the morning, during setup, before anyone arrived, and claiming that no one showed up:

    Credit where credit is due: FOX News shows an honest view of the crowd, in a good clip that I can't seem to embed, so click through to see it.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:00 AM | Comments (4) | Link Cosmos

    October 1, 2010

    Tomorrow's One Nation March In DC And Around The Country

    This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

    Does the corporate-sponsored Tea Party speak for you? Or are we One Nation, Working Together?

    One Nation Working Together For Jobs, Justice and Education for All. How can you not agree with that? How can you not demand that Washington hear this, and get going on delivering the change that we voted for? There is a march tomorrow along with events around the country, with that message. You should attend.

    Tomorrow, October 2, the One Nation Working Together march takes place. More than 400 organizations (go see) are working together to help make this happen and to add their voices demanding a country that works for US.

    If you are not able to come to DC, there are local events all around the country. Click here to learn how you can participate and add your voice.

    Please read the Who We Are, Why We March statement. We are ... US. "We march for a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. We march for jobs, justice, and education. We march for an economy that works for all. We march for a nation in which each person who wants to work can find a job that pays enough to support a family."

    The other day Bill Scher wrote, in Why March Saturday? Take Back The Discourse (That The Tea Party Stole),

    ... a larger turnout Saturday in support of "jobs, justice and education" than Glenn Beck's recent rally in support of "Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck" will be very hard for the media to ignore.

    Simply achieving parity in media attention blunts the Tea Party's corrosive influence on the discourse, opening up the possibility for a serious, responsible dialogue on the next steps America must take to recover from the conservative-created recession.

    Isaiah Poole wrote, in Who Will March For Patricia Reid?,

    A coalition of labor, civil rights and community organizations is seeking to bring hundreds of thousands of people to Washington on October 2 for the "One Nation Working Together" march. A principal goal of that march is "to build a more united America – with jobs, justice and education for all."

    The march's supporters include "people who got thrown out – thrown out of our jobs, schools, houses, farms and small businesses – while Wall Street's wrongdoers got bailed out. We are families who pray every day – for peace and prosperity; for deliverance from foreclosures; for good jobs to come back to urban and rural America. We are unemployed workers – forced to watch hopes for bold action dashed – because some Senators threaten filibusters, and other would-be champions fold in fear."

    According to The New York Times,

    The rally’s platform looks like a liberal wish list: extend unemployment benefits, raise the minimum wage, end the foreclosure epidemic, enact legislation making it easier to join unions, increase infrastructure spending to create jobs, “fix our broke immigration system” and end immigration round-ups that “encourage racial profiling.” The march’s sponsors hope it will help turn some of these wishes into legislative reality, in part by giving the Democrats some highly visible and clamorous backing to push through stalled legislation.

    “Our rally is standing up for the change we voted for two years ago,” Mr. Gresham said.

    Here is your chance to show up and be counted. Do people just hand the reigns back over to the right and let us fall into another decade of conservative dominance, or do we get out there and do something?

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    Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:28 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos