As efforts continued Wednesday to “top kill” the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, workers in the region continue to say they are being sickened by the toxic mix of crude oil and the chemical dispersant being used by BP. Jesse Russell has more.
By Doug Cunningham
AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka is headlining a protest march on Arizona’s capitol this Saturday expected to draw tens of thousands of people protesting Arizona’s new immigration law. Trumka has called on the U.S. Justice Department to protect and defend civil rights by bringing legal action to stop Arizona from implementing the law. The AFL-CIO says comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship, not racial profiling, is the answer to our broken immigration system.
NEA President Van Roekel: $23 Billion In Federal Funds Urgently Needed To Avert 300,000 Education Job Losses- 05/27/10
By Doug Cunningham
With teachers nationwide facing an unprecedented crisis in impending layoffs from massive education budget cuts, Congress is considering a $23 billion education funding aid bill. National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel was on Capitol Hill Tuesday urging swift passage of the funding.
The President’s Fiscal Commission is holding its second pubic meeting today and when commission members say “everything is in the table,” the biggest things they are talking about are Social Security and Medicare.
The commission was created by an Executive Order from President Obama in February after a move to create a commission with much broader powers failed in the Senate. The current commission’s charge is to propose ways to address the nation’s growing debt. The 18-member commission will meet throughout the year and then present its recommendations to Obama after the fall elections. (For more information, visit Social Security Works.)
are spending more than $1 billion dollars to convince the public that slashing these programs [Social Security and Medicare] is the only way to protect our children and grandchildren from poverty.
But while we will see and hear more deficit horror stories from the corporate media and right-wing front groups, Baker says that as they “ramp up their anti-Social Security and Medicare crusade, it is important to remember, it’s just Wall Street propaganda.”
As William Greider recently pointed at The Nation (subscription required):
Here is what the media don’t tell you: Social Security has accumulated a massive surplus–$2.5 trillion now, rising to $4.3 trillion by 2023. This vast wealth was collected over many years from workers under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) to pay in advance for baby boom retirements. The money will cover all benefits until the 2040s–unless Congress double-crosses workers by changing the rules.
According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, most of the deficit over the next 10 years will come from the Bush administration’s tax cuts for the rich, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the staggering economy and rising heath care costs–although the new health care reform law is expected to rein much of those costs. Says AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka:
The main driver of the recent increases in deficit projections is worsening economic conditions–in short, the present deficit crisis is largely a symptom of the jobs crisis.
Barbara Kennelly. President of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM), says if the “commission’s goal is to get our nation’s fiscal house in order then its attention should be on programs which contribute to our debt and the revenue reforms necessary to improve the federal balance sheet.”
Unfortunately, too much attention thus far has been focused on using Social Security as the piggybank for fiscal reform. Let’s be clear about this, Social Security has not contributed one dime to our current fiscal woes because that money was contributed by America’s workers over decades. Cutting benefits under the guise of “fiscal responsibility” is anything but responsible during a time when retirees and near retirees are still suffering the effects of this recession.
Trumka says that when the commission finishes its deliberations in December, “Congress should not merely rubberstamp its recommendations.”
Legislation of the magnitude likely to be proposed should be considered under the regular congressional process… Under no circumstances should deficit alarmists be allowed to circumvent the regular democratic process to advance their long-standing agenda of gutting Medicare and Social Security.
A newspaper reporting team for Bloomberg News, two Washington, D.C., bloggers and a labor historian are among the winners of the 2010 Sidney Hillman Foundation Journalism Awards.
The awards will be presented tonight in a ceremony at The Times Center in New York City.
The Hillman Foundation praised the late Mark Pittman, Bob Ivry, Alison Fitzgerald and Craig Torres who made up the Bloomberg News reporting as “the first to determine the true cost to the taxpayer of the federal bailout of Wall Street.” Bloomberg successfully sued the Federal Reserve to gain access to information about the $2 trillion bailout for Big Banks. Pittman died in November.
Bloggers Jonathan Cohn and Ezra Klein will be honored for their in-depth coverage over the battle for health care reform. Cohn, whose blog The Treatment ended its run on The New Republic website in April, and Klein, who writes the Economic and Domestic Policy, and Lots of It blog for the Washington Post, provided “authoritative, up-to-the minute coverage of health care reform,” the Hillman judges said.
Dorothy Sue Cobble, professor of labor history and labor studies at Rutgers University, will receive the Sol Stetin Award for Labor History. Cobble is the author of the prize-winning books, “Dishing It Out: Waitresses and Their Unions in the Twentieth Century” in 1991 and “The Other Women’s Movement: Workplace Justice and Social Rights in Modern America,” which won the 2005 Philip Taft Book Prize for the best book in American labor history.
Other Hillman winners are Nick Reding for his book “Methland,” Joe Amon, Hyoung Chang, Andy Cross, Judy DeHaas, Reza Marvashti, R.J. Sangosti and Craig Walker for photo, Maria Hinojosa for broadcast, Rebecca Clarren for magazine reporting. Click here to learn more about the Hillman Foundation journalism prizes.
The annual awards were first presented in 1950. Now presented in six categories, the Hillman awards are among the most prestigious given to journalists, photographers, writers and public figures whose work fosters social and economic justice. The foundation is named for Hillman, former president of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America and a key figure in the founding of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), which merged with the American Federation of Labor (AFL) in 1955 to form the AFL-CIO.
The angry working class—the good folks between the two coasts who live in what elitist pundits dub as ”Fly-Over Land”—are certainly getting a lot of TV face time, dead tree ink and blogosphere attention.
Most of the conventional wisdom paints them as part of a populist uprising, angry at the economy, distrustful of the government and, if not members of the ”Tea Party,” firmly planted on the right side of the political spectrum.
But let’s face it: Who wouldn’t be angry with an economy that’s lost 11 million jobs largely due to Wall Street’s reckless actions? What sane Americans wouldn’t be upset after working hard and playing by the rules for years only to see incomes fall and dreams of retirement security fade?
But does that mean this populist wave embraces the kind of corporate free-for-all, you’re-on-your-own economic philosophy of the Republican right, or the even-further-right fringe groups?
Working America and the AFL-CIO will explore this growing populist anger at a special forum, Working Class at the Tipping Point: Right Wing or Progressive Populism?
Panelists at the June 3 forum (10 a.m. to noon) at the AFL-CIO in Washington, D.C., will discuss people’s growing anger over the economy and explore the elements that push this anger toward a progressive or right-wing economic vision. They also will explore other questions facing working men and women at the tipping point and how the progressive community can shift the balance.
Panelists are Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.), AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, Working America Executive Director Karen Nussbaum, The Nation’s Christopher Hayes and The Wall Street Journal’s Peter Wallsten.
If you wish to attend, click here.
While the U.S. House is still hammering out a timetable for a vote on the Promoting American Jobs, Closing Tax Loopholes and Preventing Outsourcing Act of 2010 (H.R. 4213), lawmakers might move a little faster if they take a look at the latest report on the jobs bill. There are 1 million jobs at stake.
Call 877-442-6801 and tell Congress to pass it now!
The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) estimates that the bill’s package of aid to states, infrastructure projects, extension of unemployment insurance (UI) and COBRA benefits, creation of summer jobs, loan guarantees for small business and other provisions
will help save or create well over a million critically needed jobs.
The EPI report notes that not only will the UI and COBRA extensions benefit “the nearly 10 million Americans who have lost their jobs and are receiving unemployment compensation while they look for work,” but the safety net spending also will benefit “the economy as a whole by circulating cash into local communities and helping businesses avert further job cuts.”
Each $1 billion of unemployment compensation generates an estimated $1.63 billion to $2.15 billion of additional gross domestic product. If the unemployed did not receive insurance benefits, then their reduced consumption would be a serious drag on the economy, reducing demand for businesses’ goods and services, in turn leading businesses to reduce investments and lay off additional workers.
The jobs bill also will start the process of making Wall Street finally pay to restore the millions of jobs the Big Banks and financial institutions destroyed with their reckless and risky practices. EPI says the bill
closes a host of tax loopholes that have allowed many of the wealthiest Americans to pay a lower income tax rate than the average steel worker, encouraged businesses to move their operations overseas to escape U.S. taxes, and allowed some professionals to forgo paying their share of Medicare and Social Security taxes. These provisions will raise well over $40 billion, helping to pay for the bill’s job creation provisions and to make the tax code much fairer.
Those representatives who criticize government spending on job creation as ineffective or inefficient should read another new report. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) finds that in the first quarter of this year, the Obama administration’s stimulus package, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, created as many as 2.8 million jobs.
In addition, the recovery package lowered the unemployment by as much as 1.5 percent and
increased the number of full-time-equivalent (FTE) jobs by 1.8 million to 4.1 million compared with what those amounts would have been otherwise. (Increases in FTE jobs include shifts from part-time to full-time work or overtime and are thus generally larger than increases in the number of employed workers.)
That sure seems like a good use of taxpayer dollars. Click here for the full CBO report.
If you haven’t called your representative to urge him or her to vote in support of the jobs bill, there is still time. Call 877-442-6801 and urge your representative to vote for H.R. 4213 to create and save jobs and make Wall Street pay. Tell your representative a vote against the bill is a vote against jobs.