Budget and jobs bills approved, union ads, Newt’s bounce…
► This morning from AP — State Legislature passes budget bill after all-night session– The Legislature approved a supplemental budget Wednesday, setting the stage for adjournment of a double overtime legislative session. Reform bills that had been a key part of negotiations have either been passed out of the entire Legislature, or at least one chamber. Even though any special session can run up to 30 days, Gregoire said early Wednesday that lawmakers agreed to a one-day session. Lawmakers also approved a $1 billion capital budget package that supporters say will lead to 18,000 construction jobs.
► At Publicola — Sound Transit board member: Transit agency should have run pro-union ad — King County Council member Larry Phillips writes Sound Transit director Joni Earl in opposition to Sound Transit’s decision not to run ads supporting unionization of non-unionized workers at SeaTac airport. The ads, sponsored by Working Washington, feature SeaTac skycap Hosea Watkins, who, according to Working Washington, has worked at SeaTac for 31 years and is still paid minimum wage.
► In WWU’s Western Front — ARAMARK warns employees against unions — Several employees working for campus dining services received a letter from ARAMARK on Friday that had a threatening tone, the workers say. Stephen Wadsworth, the company’s resident district manager, reportedly sent the letters in response to several workers showing interest in joining SEIU.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Seattle Community Colleges scale back rules for protests — SCC administrators have backed away from a rule change that would have restricted campus protests — a proposal that itself brought protests from students and faculty.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Bank bill key to aerospace jobs, senators warn — The U.S.-backed bank that helped finance 471 Boeing jet sales over the last three years could close if Congress fails to act by May 31. That could jeopardize future aircraft sales and jobs at hundreds of Washington aerospace companies, says Sen. Patty Murray and other advocates of the Export-Import Bank.
► At AFL-CIO Now — Corporate tax dodgers didn’t miss a beat in 2011 — A new report shows that most of the 30 Fortune 500 companies that paid no federal income tax from 2008 through 2010 were able to keep up their tax dodge two-step in 2011. Those nimble firms include Boeing, Verizon, GE, Wells Fargo, Tenet Health Care and more.
► In today’s Seattle Times — With unemployment still high, H1-B visa requests rise again (by Jon Talton) — Nearly every week, I get an email from a skilled American worker who can’t find work in the technology industries. Now comes a report that the government has received 25,600 petitions for H-1B skilled-worker visas since April 2. That’s a rate twice as high as that for all of April last year.
► In today’s NY Times — Obama and the ‘Buffett Rule’ (editorial) — Raising taxes on the rich is a necessary way to combat inequality, but it is only a start.
► At TPM — What’s really behind latest conservative attack on ‘Obamacare’ — A new report by a Bush administration economist has reignited the spin wars over the fiscal soundness of Obama’s health care reform law, and is being promoted by conservatives as a counterweight to official, non-partisan government estimates that the law will reduce the deficit by billions of dollars over the next 10 years. It is designed to raise doubts about the soundness of the official estimates, causing editors and reporters, typically ill-equipped to adjudicate partisan disputes, to throw up their hands in frustration and cite it as a valid alternative to the consensus view that the health care law will improve the country’s budget situation.
► In today’s Washington Post — Poll finds more Americans expect Supreme Court’s health-care decision to be partisan– More Americans think Supreme Court justices will be acting mainly on their partisan political views than on a neutral reading of the law when they decide the constitutionality of President Obama’s health-care law, according to a new poll.
► In today’s NY Times — Santorum quits race, clearing path for Romney — Rick Santorum’s abrupt decision to end his campaign clears the way for Mitt Romney to claim the GOP nomination while dashing the hopes of social conservatives.
► In The Onion — Gingrich urges Romney to drop out so he can focus on general election — Newt: “My opponent should be congratulated on running a fine campaign. But I need him to swallow his pride, come back to reality, and tell all Republicans to throw their support behind Newt Gingrich as the next president of the United States.”
► In The Hill — Gingrich’s $500 check for Utah filing fee bounces — “Our office immediately attempted to contact the campaign and the designated agent but no phone calls were returned,” said Utah’s state election director.
► In today’s Washington Post — An economic recovery that leaves workers further behind (Harold Meyerson column) — What really sets the current recovery apart from all its predecessors is this: Almost three years after economic growth resumed, the real value of Americans’ paychecks is stubbornly still shrinking. It’s happening because American workers have lost all their bargaining power. That’s a function of ongoing high unemployment levels, but not only that. There have been two fundamental alterations in the U.S. economy since Ronald Reagan was president. First, American multinational corporations now locate much of their production abroad. Second, with the rate of private-sector unionization down to a microscopic 6.9%, workers have no power to bargain for higher pay. Employers can serenely blow them off — and judging by the data, that’s exactly what employers are doing.
Until we address the imbalance of power in the U.S. economy, and until Americans regain the clout that their parents and grandparents had to compel employers to share their revenue more equitably, the difference between our recoveries and our recessions will grow harder to discern.
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