Double-special, GOP highway jam, USPS not broke…
► From AP — Another special session? — For weeks, the main sticking points to a state budget solution have been a Democratic plan to delay a payment to schools by a day, and a Republican plan to skip a pension payment. Gov. Gregoire recently said those issues are off the negotiating table, but there’s still no sign that lawmakers will reach an agreement before the 30-day special session ends April 10.
► In The Stranger — Preschooling Olympia (by Goldy) — High-quality early education pays for itself, so why won’t legislators fund it?
► And introducing… The Slanted Times — Fuse of Washington created this site to help educate readers about The Seattle Times editorial board’s real mission: to champion the interests of Washington’s rich and powerful. The Times is adept at cloaking their conservative agenda in thoughtful language and misleading statistics, in hopes of appearing to be a moderate, non-partisan editorial page. But the decisions being considered in Olympia are too important to be influenced by The Times’ slanted allegiance to the 1%. We hope you enjoy this light-hearted attempt to set the record straight about The Seattle Times and bring some badly-needed balance to the public debate.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Personal income in state grew faster than U.S. average in 2011 — Washington’s strong population growth last year — the state added 87,000 people, or 1.29%, the 5th-highest growth rate in the nation — served to tamp down its increase in per-capita income.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Our state is growing and adding people, but slashing the public services it provides them. Our state MUST make a serious effort to reform its revenue system so we can maintain quality schools, colleges, transportation systems and public safety for all those people.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Faculty, students abhor community-college protest rules — Karen Strickland, president of the Seattle chapter of AFT, called for the college to convene a group of faculty, students and staff members to rewrite the rules to make them more supportive of First Amendment rights.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Boeing warns 39 defense employees of layoffs — SPEEA’s Ray Goforth says 32 of those receiving 60-day notices are members of his union, and given the hiring boom on the commercial airplane side, he assumes that most of the people on the list will find jobs elsewhere within Boeing before the May 28 layoff date.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Boeing worker details accident that cost him his legs — A safety inspection by the Department of L&I is still under way, as are reviews of Josh Divers’ accident by Boeing and Machinist union representatives.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Voices of the mill — Through Sunday, we’re telling the stories of what the Kimberly-Clark mill closure means for workers and for Everett, which has been defined by mills for more than a century.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Red Lion explores potential sale with investment bankers — Red Lion Hotels of Spokane said it has hired Bank of America Merrill Lynch to explore possible moves “including a potential sale of the company or a strategic combination with a third party.”
AFFORDABLE CARE ACT
► In today’s NY Times — On Day 3, justices weigh what-ifs of health ruling — The day after the Supreme Court suggested that President Obama’s health care law might be in danger of being held unconstitutional, the justices on Wednesday turned their attention to the practical consequences and political realities of such a ruling.
► In today’s NY Times — Activism and the Roberts Court (editorial) — On the last day of hearings for the Obama administration’s health care reform, conservative justices were asking policy questions that seemed beyond their constitutional role.
► In today’s Washington Post — Judicial activists on the Supreme Court (by E.J. Dionne) — Liberals should learn from this display that there is no point in catering to today’s hard-line conservatives. The individual mandate was a conservative idea that President Obama adopted to preserve the private market in health insurance rather than move toward a government-financed, single-payer system. What he got back from conservatives was not gratitude but charges of socialism — for adopting their own proposal.
► At Publicola — DelBene nets two big labor endorsements — Former State Department of Revenue director Suzan DelBene snagged two major labor endorsements in the 1st District Congressional race: From the Teamsters and Machinists unions. Combined, the two unions represent more than 50,000 workers in the Puget Sound region.
► In today’s NY Times — Business bets on GOP may be backfiring — Business groups that worked hard — and spent heavily — to install a Republican majority in the House equated Republican control with a business-friendly environment. But the majority is first and foremost a conservative political force, and on key issues, its ideology is not always aligned with commercial interests that helped finance election victories.
► In The Hill — Romney tells ‘humorous’ story about his dad closing Michigan auto factory — Mitt Romney gave Democrats more attack ad fodder on Wednesday when he told a “humorous” story about his father closing down a factory in Michigan.
► At AFL-CIO — Romney finds soul mate in Gov. Walker’s assault on workers’ retirement security — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney today praised Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s attack on public employees’ collective bargaining rights and singled out Walker’s assault of workers’ pensions.
► And a related story today in The Hill — Poll: Obama holds double-digit lead over Romney nationally
► At TPM — Jobs on the line as GOP pushes last-ditch highway bill — Despite a strong push by GOP leadership, rank-and-file House Republicans have resisted the call to back a bipartisan transportation bill, including one that passed the Senate overwhelmingly two weeks ago. So, with potentially millions of jobs on the line, House Republicans are now advancing their last, best option to prevent scores of transportation and infrastructure programs from expiring this weekend. It’s a three-month extension of existing programs. But even that isn’t a sure bet to win 218 Republican votes.
► In today’s NY Times — Union chief assails new U.S. rules for immigration detention — An AFSCME leader representing thousands of federal officers responsible for detaining and deporting illegal immigrants says that new rules issued by the Obama administration for immigration detention centers nationwide are flawed and would make the system “more dangerous.”
► In today’s NY Times — Where are the good-government Republicans? (editorial) — Sen. John McCain has publicly denounced the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, but neither he nor the rest of the Republican Party has been willing to offer a corrective.
► From AP — Bank of America CEO got six-fold raise last year — Brian Moynihan’s 2001 pay included a salary of $950,000, a $6.1 million stock award and about $420,000 worth of use of company aircraft and tax and financial advice. It happened in a year when Bank of America stock plunged 58%.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Not bad for running a company that’s been called a “hypergluttonous ward of the state” for its four years — and counting — of public subsidies.
► At CommonDreams.org — The truth about the U.S. Postal Service — The Postal Service is NOT broke. During the four-year period that the privatizers have decried “losses” of some $13 billion, the USPS actually produced a $700 million operational profit despite the worst economy since the Great Depression. What’s going on here? Right-wing sabotage of USPS financing, that’s what. In 2006, the Bush White House and Congress whacked the post office with the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act — an incredible piece of ugliness requiring the agency to PRE-PAY the health care benefits not only of current employees, but also of all employees who’ll retire during the next 75 years. Yes, that includes employees who are not yet born! No other agency and no corporation has to do this. Worse, this ridiculous law demands that USPS fully fund this seven-decade burden by 2016. Imagine the shrieks of outrage if Congress tried to slap FedEx or other private firms with such an onerous requirement.
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