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‘Earth to Congress,’ SPEEA votes ‘no,’ centrist copout…



► The Editor’s rhetorical question of the day — Why isn’t the local press asking our state’s Congressional delegation where they stand on the debt ceiling negotiations?! I can find only one newspaper (The Columbian) that asked one U.S. Representative (Herrera Beutler), and she refused to answer the question.

What about the rest? I’m pretty sure I know what our Democrats will say, but do they support some version of Obama’s “Grand Bargain” that includes Medicare and Social Security cuts? I’m pretty sure Republican Reps. McMorris Rodgers and Hastings will do as they are told by House GOP leaders (if they can figure out who’s in charge), but what about Reichert? Is he concerned about defaulting on the nation’s obligations?

This has been the biggest national issue for weeks, it threatens to crash the market and our already floundering economy. Is it too much to ask where our elected officials stand?! (And if they refuse to answer, make THAT the issue as opposed to leading with the rantings of teabloggers.)

► In today’s Columbian — States threatened (editorial) — Washington’s two senators and nine representatives must set aside partisan differences and find a way to keep American from falling into default.

► In today’s Olympian — State has 6-8 weeks of cash left — Washington Treasurer Jim McIntire says he has six to eight weeks of cash available to keep paying state-government bills if Congress fails to lift the debt ceiling in time and interrupts federal payments of about $500 million a month.

► In today’s NY Times — House puts off debt vote as press by Boehner fails — Short of support from their conservative members, House Republican leaders on Thursday abruptly put off a vote on their proposal to raise the debt ceiling and cut government spending, throwing last-ditch efforts to avert a government default next week into disarray.

► In The Hill — Conservatives angry over Pell Grant funding in Boehner debt bill — House conservatives who have stalled legislation to raise the national debt limit are angry that it includes $17 billion in supplemental spending for Pell Grants, which some compare to welfare.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Really? REALLY?! This is about stopping students from poor families from going to college?

► In The Hill — Unions hit Cantor, other vulnerable Republicans on debt ceiling — Liberal group Americans United for Change is teaming up with a trio of large unions to air television ads attacking House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and seven potentially vulnerable Republicans for stance on raising the debt ceiling.

► In The Onion — Emergency team of 8th grade civics teachers dispatched to Washington, D.C. — With lawmakers still at an impasse over increasing the debt ceiling, a special team of 40 eighth-grade civics teachers was air-dropped into Washington earlier today in a last-ditch effort to teach congressional leaders how the government’s legislative process works.




► In today’s NY Times — U.S. economy worse than expected as recovery slows — The country’s GDP grew at an annual rate of 1.3% in the second quarter, after having grown at a 0.4 percent% rate in the first quarter — a number that itself was revised sharply down from earlier estimates of 1.7%. Data revisions going back to 2003 also showed that the 2007-2009 recession was deeper, and the recovery to date weaker, than originally estimated. “The word for this report is ‘shocking,’ ” said the chief economist at RDQ Economics.

► At AFL-CIO Now — Poll: Voters rank JOBS as No. 1 priority — When asked whether Congress and the president should focus on the federal budget deficit or jobs, 67% say jobs, according to a poll released Thursday. A stunning — and distressing — 60% also say they think the next generation will be economically worse off. Only 10% said the next generation would be better off.




► At — Spirit contract overwhelmingly rejected by SPEEA members in Wichita — Faced with a contract offer that sought large concessions from employees, stagnated wages for a decade and ignored proven methods for harnessing medical costs, technical and professional workers at Spirit AeroSystems today told management they must do better by voting 96.5% to reject the offer. (Spirit, formerly the Wichita division of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, builds several important pieces of Boeing aircraft, including the fuselage of the 737, portions of the 787 fuselage, and the cockpit of nearly all of its airliners.)

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Boeing’s “secrets” at issue in NLRB flap — Attorneys for the labor board said they don’t “reject out of hand” Boeing’s request to keep some information secret, but said in their filing that Boeing failed to show good cause in its request for a protective order. Attorneys for the Machinists and labor board believe Boeing’s “sweeping” request would create too many challenges in the case. Says IAM 751 spokeswoman Connie Kelliher: “We suspect the documents Boeing wants to keep secret prove that Boeing executives didn’t make a legitimate business decision to transfer work from Everett to Charleston, but instead broke the law by moving because of union activity here.




► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Lockout over sick time continues at Pasco hospital — Management and employees at Lourdes Medical Center remain deadlocked on two expired union contracts covering nurses, technicians and other hospital workers. About 30 members of the UFCW and SEIU picketed outside the Pasco hospital Thursday demanding fair terms for hospital workers. But the hospital’s administration countered that it believes fair terms have been offered and rejected by the two unions.

► In today’s Olympian — Lawmakers need to fix unfair health insurance system (editorial) — Washington’s health care system for 100,000 public school employees in the state’s 295 school districts is broken and in desperate need of a legislative fix. Simply put, the health care system favors teachers over other K-12 employees such as custodians and bus drivers, and it favors single individuals over families. It’s time to erase the favoritism and create a system that is equitable and affordable for all kindergarten through 12th-grade employees.




► At AFL-CIO Now — Hotel workers charge Hyatt with ‘assault’ with heat lamps — Last week when hotel workers at the Park Hyatt Chicago hotel went on strike after nearly two years of fruitless negotiations, they set up a picket line at the front entrance. That’s when management turned the heat on, literally, by firing up 10 heat lamps in the awning above the entrance—on a day when the National Weather Service had issued an excessive heat warning for temperatures above 100 degrees.

► In the Washington Post — New Balance fights to keep jobs in U.S. –The last major athletic shoe brand manufacturing in the United States is watching closely as the Obama administration negotiates a free-trade agreement with Vietnam and seven other countries, and it is unclear whether the company can stand up to a flood of shoes from overseas.

► In today’s NY Times — Detroit, the union and improving times (editorial) — While the UAW must refrain from extreme demands, Detroit’s automakers must remember that their rebound would not have been possible without deep concessions by the union. It is time for them to start giving back to their workers.

► In today’s Washington Post — House Dems to Obama: Require contractors to disclose political contributions — More than 60 House Democrats (including Reps. Inslee, Larsen, and Smith) have signed a letter asking President Obama to issue an executive order requiring federal contractors to disclose political contributions.




► In today’s NY Times — The Centrist Copout (Paul Krugman column) — The facts of the crisis over the debt ceiling aren’t complicated. Republicans have, in effect, taken America hostage, threatening to undermine the economy and disrupt the essential business of government unless they get policy concessions they would never have been able to enact through legislation. And Democrats — who would have been justified in rejecting this extortion altogether — have, in fact, gone a long way toward meeting those Republican demands. Yet many people in the news media apparently can’t bring themselves to acknowledge this simple reality. News reports portray the parties as equally intransigent; pundits fantasize about some kind of “centrist” uprising, as if the problem was too much partisanship on both sides.

The cult of balance has played an important role in bringing us to the edge of disaster. For when reporting on political disputes always implies that both sides are to blame, there is no penalty for extremism. Voters won’t punish you for outrageous behavior if all they ever hear is that both sides are at fault.


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