By Chuck Idelson
National Nurses United
They came, they danced, they marched, 2,000 people spirited and strong, Robin Hood's merry band of men and women, through the streets of Washington April 20.
Ending up astride a prominent government building, christened with a new name and a naming ceremony. No more U.S. Treasury, now, the banner declared, "The U.S. Treasury. A Citigroup Subsidiary. Jack Lew, Inc., CEO."
"We could end AIDS, reverse climate change, fund jobs and health care. Who do you work for Secretary Lew?" asked Jennifer Flynn, managing director of Health GAP (Global Action Project). "You work for the people, not Wall Street."
By Rev. Jim Conn
With a trumpet blast from the sources of conventional wisdom, the Keystone XL pipeline charged through the news sources last month. When the State Department released its positive environmental report that is seen as clearing the way for a pipe full of Canadian oil slurry to run through the heartland of America to the refineries of Houston, the pundits lined up to salute. They said the XL would add to American oil independence. They said it would bring jobs. They said it would never cause any of those silly problems the environmentalists were bothered about.
By Robert Reich
Bad news on the economy. It added only 88,000 jobs in March - the slowest pace of job growth in nine months.
While the jobless rate fell to 7.6 percent, much of the drop was due to the labor force shrinking by almost a half million people. If you're not looking for work, you're not counted as unemployed.
That means the percentage of working-age Americans either with a job or looking for one dropped to 63.3 percent - its lowest level since 1979.
The direction isn't encouraging. The pace of job growth this year is slower than its pace last year.
What's going on? The simple fact is companies won't hire if consumers aren't buying enough to justify the new hires. And consumers don't have enough money, or credit, or confidence to buy enough.
By Rebecca Band
Imagine a system that gives companies enormous tax breaks for firing workers - and then forces those jobless workers to pay for those tax breaks themselves.
It might sound outrageous, but in California, that's the reality. Just ask Joan Beighley, who worked at VWR in Brisbane for 14 years before her job was eliminated when her employer decided to take advantage of the state's wasteful "enterprise zone" (EZ) corporate tax giveaway program. Thanks to this flawed program, VWR is able to collect up to $37,000 for each worker the company fired and replaced when they shut down their Brisbane facility and relocated to Visalia - even though no new jobs were created, and the jobs in Visalia pay a fraction of what the Brisbane workers earned for the same work.
By Steve Smith
It's been a good start to the year for California. We lead the nation in job creation. Our budget is balanced. Unemployment is dropping. Prop 30 stopped devastating cuts to our schools. While we still have a lot of work to dig out from the recession caused by Wall St. greed and excess, there's no question that California is enjoying a major comeback.
But the California comeback could be short-lived if Republicans in Washington, D.C. continue this insane game they are playing with the so-called "sequestration" cuts. These automatic spending cuts would sap $500 million in federal funding from California putting priorities like education, health care and public safety at risk. The cuts could cost California 225,000 jobs.
By Rev. Jim Conn
My friend pastors a vibrant congregation in the Mid-City area of Los Angeles. Her people reflect the neighborhood and the church worships in both Spanish and English. In a conversation this week I asked her how her folks were doing. Her voice dropped, and she shook her head. "There are no jobs," she said, "and the ones who work can only get part-time hours." With dismay, she said, "I don't know how they are making it."
By Robert Reich
If you're sitting in the well of the House when a president gives a State of the Union address (as I've had the privilege of doing five times), the hardest part is on the knees. You're required to stand and applaud every applause line, which means, if you're in the cabinet or an elected official of the president's party, an extraordinary amount of standing and sitting.
But for a president himself, the State of the Union provides a unique opportunity to focus the entire nation's attention on the central issue you want the nation to help you take action on.
President Obama has been focusing his (and therefore America's) attention on immigration, guns, and the environment. All are important. But in my view none of these should be the central theme of his address Tuesday evening.
By Dick Meister
Here's some good news for the new year: Ten states are set to raise their minimum wage rates on January first.
The National Employment Law Project (NELP) calculates that the increased rates will boost the pay of more than 850,000 low-income workers in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.
The rates, raised in accord with state laws requiring automatic adjustments to keep pace with the rising cost of living, will go up by 10 to 35 cents an hour depending on the state. NELP figures that will mean $190 to $510 more a year for the four million workers who are paid at the minimum in those states.
By David Dayen
In the context of doing a deficit reduction deal at all, this is an extremely strong bid that Tim Geithner delivered to John Boehner today. Now we know why Boehner whined and cried all afternoon. Let's walk through it.
House Republicans said on Thursday that Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner presented the House speaker, John A. Boehner, a detailed proposal to avert the year-end fiscal crisis with $1.6 trillion in tax increases over 10 years, an immediate new round of stimulus spending, home mortgage refinancing and a permanent end to Congressional control over statutory borrowing limits.
By Duane Campbell
The Sacramento Bee editorial board started in the right direction in their editorial of November 26, 2012 by calling for small steps to avoid the "fiscal cliff". Then, strangely, they list small steps that only call for compromise as advocated by the Republican-austerity side. While unemployment remains high and economic growth slow, we do not need more austerity. If you want some small steps, President Obama suggested that we extend the Bush era tax reductions for the bottom 98% of earners. This is a proposal that almost everyone agrees with - or at least say they agree with. Then, we can disagree over the 2%, and work out a compromise.