Franklin County Democrats

The official site of the Democratic Party of Franklin County, Missouri

Browsing Posts published in February, 2014

I doubt that this will convince voters that Republicans are not the party that “supports the troops” as they so often claim, but it should.

After being told that the bill was too expensive, Senator Bernie Sanders responded correctly:

“If you can’t afford to take care of your veterans, then don’t go to war,” Senator Bernie Sanders, the chairman of the Committee on Veterans Affairs, said on CNN shortly before the vote. Sanders proposed paying for the bill with savings from the drawdown in Iraq and Afghanistan; the expenditures amounted to less than 2 percent of those savings, and would have directly benefitted the soldiers who fought those wars. (Which, incidentally, themselves added $2 trillion to the debt.) Furthermore, according to an updated score from the Congressional Budget Office, the bill would actually have decreased the deficit by $1.34 billion over the next decade.

“I think we should be very, very clear that the cost of war does not end once the last shots are fired and the last battles are fought. When members of the military lose arms, legs, eyesight, come back with PTSD or TBI, after fighting in wars that Congress authorizes, we have a moral obligation to make sure that those veterans receive all of the benefits that they have earned and deserve,” Sanders said on the floor.

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AlterNet has this piece by Dean Baker, Why Obamacare is Scary for Folks Who Want Their Toilets Cleaned on the Cheap.  I paraphrased the title to illustrate a challenge I often issue to my Republican or undecided friends.  The challenge is to list two examples of GOP legislation designed to actually increase wages.

If one were to look at politics through the lens of the wage issue the party of the long trunk is clearly against working folks.  Hence, their stance on Obamacare…

This means that millions of people will no longer be tied to their jobs in the same way as they had been previously. As a result, millions of older workers and people with serious health conditions are likely to cut back their hours or quit work altogether since they will no longer need to work at a job that provides health care insurance. The same will be true of many parents of young children who would rather work less to spend time with their kids.

This was the basis for the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO)  assessment that the ACA would reduce the supply of labor by 2 percent. CBO calculated that several million people would either cut back their work hours or leave the labor force altogether. While CBO didn’t explore this issue, other things equal, a reduction in the supply of labor would be expected to lead to a rise in its price. In other words, wages would rise. That would be good news for workers who have seen their wages stagnate for more than three decades.

We actually already have some evidence that Obamacare could lead to a rise in wages for this reason. In 2005, Tennessee essentially did Obamacare in reverse. Prior to that date, it had a generous supplement to its state Medicaid program that provided highly subsidized insurance for people below 200 percent of the poverty line. Due to budgetary pressures, it cut back this program in 2005. It ended the subsidies for single adults. Immediately afterwards there was a sharp increase in labor force participation, as hundreds of thousands of people in Tennessee again had to seek insurance through their job. This meant a big increase in the supply of labor.

The textbook story is that a rise in the supply of labor would lower wages. It appears that this is exactly what happened. My colleagues Janelle Jones and John Schmitt compared wage trends in Tennessee with the rest of the South in the years since 2004. They found wages in Tennessee for workers with a high school degree or less (the group likely to be most affected)  fell by 6.5 percentage points relative to wages in other southern states.

If the increase in the supply of labor resulting from Tennessee’s cutback in its Medicaid program led to a drop in wages, the implication is that the reduction in the supply of labor from Obamacare will lead to an increase in wages. In other words, Obamacare might be the best news on the wage front that most workers have seen for some time.

This could help to explain the outrage coming from Republican quarters following the release of the CBO report. Many opponents of the ACA claimed that CBO had projected a loss of millions of jobs, implying that impact was on the demand side. This is clearly not the case and CBO was careful to clarify in subsequent writings that the impact was on supply of labor, not the number of jobs.

Ed Schultz takes a look at the latest ad campaign by Wal-Mart in which Dirty Jobs’ Mike Roe is the pitchman for WM’s intention to purchase more American made goods.  Wouldn’t that be nice!  I sure hope that is true but the record is not encouraging.  Remember the old “Bring it back to the USA” campaign?   As my neighbor used to say ” The Wal-Mart store has more American flags than a U.S. Embassy, just no American products.”

This tactic exposes the Wal-Mart business model of outsourcing jobs, fleecing taxpayers for help paying their employees, and extracting tax subsidies for store construction.  These costs average almost a MILLION DOLLARS per store in subsidies from you the taxpayer.

Enjoy the show and try not to get upset.  This may be difficult if you take a few minutes to check out Ed’s trp to Nebraska to talk with landowners and communities that would be affected by the Keystone pipeline.

This week’s audio netcast:

Peter Singer is one of the country’s leading experts on the Internet and the riveting gripping issues of cybersecurity, cyberterrorism — and cute cat videos. With the CBO weighing on both sides of the minimum wage debate, poverty expert Chris Wimer foresees a future of a “trickle UP” economy. And Bill Press interviews Zoe Carpenter, of “The Nation” on the subject of climate change

Any one with an interest in politics, societal change, and movement building has to admit that the right-wing media machine is a powerful engine of message amplification.  With the rise of Rush Limbaugh, Fox News and the Gingrich “Contract on America” the echo chamber seemed like it couldn’t be stopped.  Like all things that will change.  What were the seeds that grew into such a kudzu patch?

One of those seeds was the “Powell Memo” which advocated the creation of a system of think tanks, advocacy groups, and political action that formed the foundation of what is now known as the “echo chamber.”

Reclaim Democracy reviews this piece of American history.

In 1971, Lewis Powell, then a corporate lawyer and member of the boards of 11 corporations, wrote a memo to his friend Eugene Sydnor, Jr., the Director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The memorandum was dated August 23, 1971, two months prior to Powell’s nomination by President Nixon to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Powell Memo did not become available to the public until long after his confirmation to the Court. It was leaked to Jack Anderson, a liberal syndicated columnist, who stirred interest in the document when he cited it as reason to doubt Powell’s legal objectivity. Anderson cautioned that Powell “might use his position on the Supreme Court to put his ideas into practice…in behalf of business interests.”

Though Powell’s memo was not the sole influence, the Chamber and corporate activists took his advice to heart and began building a powerful array of institutions designed to shift public attitudes and beliefs over the course of years and decades. The memo influenced or inspired the creation of the Heritage Foundation, the Manhattan Institute, the Cato Institute, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Accuracy in Academe, and other powerful organizations. Their long-term focus began paying off handsomely in the 1980s, in coordination with the Reagan Administration’s “hands-off business” philosophy.

Why Corporations Want Our Public Schools

USA Today has compiled a list of the Top 10 Vehicles To Last Over 200,000 Miles.  While not listed, my St. Louis made Dodge Grand Caravan is well over 200,000 and still going strong.  To top it off the Pacific, MO made seats still look good!

The two top vehicles showing the biggest percentage are two bitter rivals, the heavy duty – and gas guzzling- pickups from Ford and Chevrolet.  The Ford Super Duty F-250 came in first.  Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD came in second.

After that came three big SUVs: Chevy Suburban, Toyota 4Runner and Ford Expedition. For long-lasting vehicles, General Motors was the big winner. Seven of the Top 12 vehicles are from GM. ISeeCars.com notes, too, that no European models make the list and speculates  that the old ones become more valuable for spare parts as they near retirement.

Yes! magazine is running a series of articles about public education which we will feature for the next couple of posts.  Particularly interesting is the inclusion of both Ronald Reagan and Milton Friedman’s Free To Choose television series in The Myth Behind Public School Failure.

Until about 1980, America’s public schoolteachers were iconic everyday heroes painted with a kind of Norman Rockwell patina—generally respected because they helped most kids learn to read, write and successfully join society. Such teachers made possible at least the idea of a vibrant democracy.

 Since then, what a turnaround: We’re now told, relentlessly, that bad-apple schoolteachers have wrecked K-12 education; that their unions keep legions of incompetent educators in classrooms; that part of the solution is more private charter schools; and that teachers as well as entire schools lack accountability, which can best be remedied by more and more standardized “bubble” tests.

 What led to such an ignoble fall for teachers and schools? Did public education really become so irreversibly terrible in three decades? Is there so little that’s redeemable in today’s schoolhouses?

The beginning of “reform” To truly understand how we came to believe our educational system is broken, we need a history lesson. Rewind to 1980—when Milton Friedman, the high priest of laissez-faire economics, partnered with PBS to produce a ten-part television series called Free to Choose. He devoted one episode to the idea of school vouchers, a plan to allow families what amounted to publicly funded scholarships so their children could leave the public schools and attend private ones.

You could make a strong argument that the current campaign against public schools started with that single TV episode. To make the case for vouchers, free-market conservatives, corporate strategists, and opportunistic politicians looked for any way to build a myth that public schools were failing, that teachers (and of course their unions) were at fault, and that the cure was vouchers and privatization.

Jonathan Kozol, the author and tireless advocate for public schools, called vouchers the “single worst, most dangerous idea to have entered education discourse in my adult life.”

Upworthy carried this video presentation from Global POV.  If You Think Only Poor People Need Welfare, Wait Until You See What The Rich Do With It, is an exercise in critical thinking and will blow your mind!  Enjoy!

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