Category Archives: Labor

How Would You Put Americans Back to Work?

First and foremost, pay no attention to the gyrations of the stock market. The nation is still hurting, and a big reason is that not enough people have been able to find work. Consider this. In December of 2007, just two years ago, there were 1.7 applicants for every available job. Last month, that number jumped to 6.1.

The House is currently trying to figure out what to do about this. Those people who elected Barack Obama and gave both the House and Senate Democratic majorities are getting antsy. That’s not a good place to be with midterm elections on the horizon. But what to do?

There are a number of proposals on the table. Some lawmakers want to see a second stimulus enacted. Trouble is, no one, least of all the White House, sems to know how many jobs were really created or maintained from the last one. You can probably count a second stimulus as DOA, at least for now.

There are calls for some type of incentive for employers to hire new people. They range from a tax credit, to government funding of health benefits, to a straight payment of up to $3000 to any employer who hires new workers. Congress backed away from these incentives when they were brought up before because they worried employers would game the system (who, those capiatins of free enterprise? Never!!!).

Still others want to see some form of government make woprk program similar to the WPA or CCC during the Great Depression. Cost would be a big impediment here. Moderate Democrats would have the same objections they had to healthcare reform. And the Republicans? Suffice to say that anything that they see as hurting President Obama, like high unemployment, is a good thing.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is urging caution, even in the face of mounting pressure to get something done. To pay for jobs creation, some have argued for using unspent financial bailout money, while others say new fees on securities transactions would make Wall St. foot at least part of the bill.

While out and out jobs creation sounds wonderful, Democrats in both houses of Congress have to be mindful of the political minefield any proposal would have to navigate. So as the House leadership takes its time in coming up with a plan, they must also balance fiscal prudence with an urgent need to act. Fewer and fewer Americans are buying the notion of a recovery, either now or in the near future.

So what would you do to put the unemployed back to work?
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So What Did We Learn From Tuesday’s Election?

Despite the relatively small number of electoral contests, media pundits of every shape and size are trying to come up with the elusive answer to what it means. Many of them are just blowing smoke. However, there ought to be some lessons learned by politicians of every party and ideology. Many of those lessons won’t be trumpeted by the mainstream media, who will be so busy writing President Barack Obama’s political obituary they can’t see the forest for the trees.

The President did make some mistakes for sure.

He spent a great deal of political capital on two uninspiring Democratic gubernatorial candidates, Jon Corzine and Creigh Deeds. The Obama magic didn’t work. Young people and people of color simply didn’t turn out in Virginia or New Jersey, and both crashed to defeat. The President could have spent just a little time in New York City trying to elect Comptroller William Thompson as mayor. His little shout out of an endorsement didn’t even fool Thompson, yet he ran closer to Mayor Michael Bloomberg than anyone expected. Thompson also suffered from a lackluster campaign, but more importantly from a stunning lack of support from unions that ordinarily would back any Democratic candidate.

While the Mayor of New York City won a third term he engineered for himself, the NY-23 race in upstate New York turned out to be a Waterloo for the conservative, birther, tea party wing of the GOP. They threw endorsements around like Frisbees, falling all over each other to sing the praises of Doug Hoffman, the true conservative who vanquished Marxist Republican Dede Scozzafava, who dropped out before a vote was even cast.

And what did Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Tim Pawlenty, Michelle Bachman, Fred Thompson, and Rush Limbaugh (did I forget anybody?) get for all their hot air? They elected a Democrat, Bill Owens, the first Democrat to hold the seat in over 100 years. Watch a Democrat win, watch the right wing spin. some of them want people to believe Hoffman’s defeat was actually a victory for them. Witness the writing of Erick  Erickson of the conservative “This is a huge win for conservatives…the GOP now must recognize it will either lose without conservatives or will win with conservatives.” Right, okay. Next?

And finally, there was the district that media forgot, California’s 10th. Like NY-23, there was a special election because the sitting congressperson, Ellen Tauscher, took a post in the Obama Administration. Rep. Tauscher, it should be noted, was part of the conservative wing of the Democratic Party in the House. So who won her seat? Democrat John Garamendi, who couldn’t be more different. He supports the public option, but really wants to see single payer healthcare for all Americans. He also wants US troops out of Afghanistan ASAP. He beat his Republican challenger by 10 points.

So why is nobody outside of California talking about him, and what he means to the national agenda? You tell me.
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