Saturday, July 24, 2010

Conyers' Deficit-Neutral Jobs Bill - Blog - OpenCongress

Conyers' Deficit-Neutral Jobs Bill - Blog

July 14, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

"...If I had to pick the top three factors in U.S. politics right now I would say the unemployment situation, concern about the deficit, and distrust of the financial industry. Remarkably, Rep. John Conyers [D, MI-14] (pictured) has introduced a bill this session that seems to fall on the popular side of all three of these issues. It would be deficit neutral, dramatically reduce unemployment, and levy a new tax on the riskiest Wall Street transactions.

The bill is called
the 21st Century Full Employment and Training Act. (HR 5204) Here’s how it would work.

First, the bill sets a series of binding unemployment-rate targets that over a ten-year period would bring the rate down to 4%. Here are the targets:

  • 9% unemployment after 6 months of the bill being enacted
  • 8% unemployment after 2 years
  • 6% unemployment after 5 years
  • 5% unemployment after 8 years
  • 4% unemployment after 4 years

If, according to data from the Labor Department, any of the above targets are not met, money would be automatically disbursed from a new “National Full Employment Trust Fund” that would be set up under the bill to fund new job positions around the country."

That money would go primarily to city governments in areas with exceptionally high unemployment rates, but some of it would also go to state governments (30%) and indian tribes (5%). Those funds would then be disbursed to public and private projects that directly address the needs of their communites. Examples spelled out in the bill include repairing schools, revitalizing abandoned property, expanding emergency food programs, and increasing staff at programs that help disadvantaged youth.

All jobs created under the bill would have to be designed to last for 12 months or more at at least 30 hours per week. They would also have to meet some minimum pay requirements to ensure that employees funded by the bill earn rates equivalent to regular employees.

You’re probably wondering how anything like this could possibly be deficit neutral. Well, the answer is that the bill calls for a new financial transactions tax to be levied on companies that engage in high-risk trades. Stock trades, futures contracts and credit default swaps would all be included. More exotic transactions would likely be taxed several times over under the bill, and the impact on short-term, risky speculation would be more significant than that on long-term investing and hedging. The idea behind this financial transaction tax is twofold — it raises money to fund the jobs trust fund and it discourages financial companies from getting involved in too much short-term speculation.

This bill has not moved an inch in the legislative process. It was introduced on May 4, 2010 and has been stuck in committee since. But that’s really no surprise. Congress right now can hardly pass a 6-month extension of unemployment insurance, let alone a massive new jobs program. And they can’t pass a financial reform bill that contains a relatively modest $19-blilion-over-ten-years tax on big banks and hedge funds, let alone a sweeping financial transactions tax that could cost the industry as much as $100 billion per year. But support for the bank tax is steadily growing — see the work of Dean Baker and Bankster USA — and the unemployment situation is set to take a turn for the worst, so a legislative package like this may look different to us in the coming months and years.

Read HR 5204

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Government should put unemployed back to work

Government should put unemployed back to work

July 23, 2010

State unemployment agencies are set to resume sending unemployment checks to millions of people after Congress voted this week to restore lapsed federal benefits.

Almost 5 million people who have been out of work for six months or more have seen their benefits lapse. Under best-case scenarios, people can expect retroactive payments starting next week. For others, it will take longer.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke characterized the job market Wednesday as showing continued weakness.

In particular, the 100,000 or so private jobs being created each month so far in 2010 is 'a pace insufficient to reduce the unemployment rate materially,' he said.

With a brutal job market and fears of a double-dip recession, these millions of people are in dire need of unemployment benefits. Many rely on these payments to put food on the table for their families.

With the economy in the tank, the Obama administration should take a lesson from the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration and create a government-run jobs program.

During the Great Depression, Roosevelt created the Works Progress Administration under the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act of April 1935, with the purpose of creating public jobs for the unemployed.

During the WPA's tenure, workers constructed 651,087 miles of roads, streets and highways; and built, repaired or refurbished 124,031 bridges, 125,110 public buildings, 8,192 parks, and 853 landing fields, according to Workers also cleaned slums, revived forests and extended electrical power to rural locations.

If this worked in the 1930s, it can work now. Obviously, some modifications would need to be made but there is plenty of work that could be done through a government program.

Many of our nation's bridges are in dire need of repair. Roads, streets and highways could be repaired; and public buildings and parks could be cleaned and refurbished.

Also, broadband Internet access could be extended to rural locations.

The WPA employed more than 8.5 million people on 1.41 million projects. The agency was terminated in 1943 because it became difficult to justify with wartime prosperity rising in the 1940s.

A 21st century version of the Works Progress Administration could put millions of people back to work.

Let's stop paying bailout money to large corporations and put that money where it belongs, in the pockets of the American people.

When people have money to spend, it provides a real shot in the arm to the economy.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

It's a one-and-a-half dip recession, for sure

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

The Pundit Delusion

Op-Ed Columnist - The Pundit Delusion -

"...The best way for Mr. Obama to have avoided an electoral setback this fall would have been enacting a stimulus that matched the scale of the economic crisis. Obviously, he didn’t do that. Maybe he couldn’t have passed an adequate-sized plan, but the fact is that he didn’t even try..."

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Friday, July 23, 2010

Five myths about unemployment

Five myths about unemployment

The Washington Post
By Heidi Shierholz
Sunday, July 25, 2010

"...After a hard-fought political battle, President Obama signed legislation Thursday restoring benefits to the long-term unemployed, aid that had expired more than seven weeks before. Under the extension, unemployed workers can receive up to 99 weeks of income assistance. Helping the long-term jobless in a prolonged recession is generally a bipartisan issue, but this time, Republicans argued that the measure will add too much to the national debt. It's a discussion that gets bogged down in myths about how to assist the long-term unemployed, and the economy, at the same time..."

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Second Stimulus? No Chance!

Never say never... it's a teachable moment.

Second Stimulus? No Chance!
by Ann Elise Taylor
Texas Observer
Published on: Friday, July 23, 2010

"...Two years ago, Michael Williams, 47, worked in retail management. He had been with the same company, which he prefers not to name, for 22 years. His performance evaluations were excellent, and his employer gave him rave reviews, he says. He was seasoned, successful and secure in his chosen career field.

That was before the recession. Williams has been unemployed since Nov. 2008.

Williams is now a member of Launch Pad Job Club, a nonprofit that aids job seekers in the Austin area, and he volunteers as the leader of Public Servants Alliance Group (PSA), a subgroup of the organization. PSA has been working to turn the attention of Texas politicians to the unemployed by advocating for policies that will aid job seekers. Among these is a second round of federal stimulus.

“There’s a huge need out there [for more stimulus],” Williams said. “There’s such a vast majority of people who are suffering and struggling from no fault of their own.”

However, with the federal deficit hovering near $13 trillion, American voters are skittish to support spending more to boost the economy. And, with the November elections approaching, even some of the Senate’s Democrats are hesitant to approve of additional stimulus money..."

Read rest of article

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

WPA Posters

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.