► From McClatchy — State expected to gain from trade agreements — Among the potential winners: U.S. agricultural producers who grow cherries, potatoes and apples, big crops in Washington state and the Pacific Northwest. Farmers expect sales to rise substantially when tariffs are lifted.
► In today’s NY Times — Congress ends 5-year standoff on trade deals in rare accord — The passage of the trade deals is important primarily as a political achievement, and for its foreign policy value in solidifying relationships with strategic allies. The economic benefits are projected to be small. A federal agency estimated in 2007 that the impact on employment would be “negligible.”
► At Huffington Post — Congress passes three trade deals, ending political standoff –The Kaesong Industrial Complex is a conglomeration of factories dedicated to lowering labor costs for South Korean corporations. More than 47,000 North Korean laborers work for companies like Hyundai under horrifying conditions. They earn an average of $57 per month — half of Chinese labor costs and less than 5% the salaries of their South Korean counterparts. Laborers are hired, disciplined and fired by the North Korean government, and the wages are kept low via intense citizen repression. Under the trade deal between South Korea and the U.S., products from Kaesong could be sold in the U.S. tariff-free.
► From Daily Kos — What the polls say about free trade — A robust plurality of Americans believe that free trade agreements have hurt the country, while a paltry 23% agree with the reigning consensus in both parties. It is extremely difficult to find a single policy that both parties agree support, the American public thinks is bad, and that politicians of both parties decry the effects of, such as outsourcing.
► From Yahoo! News — Americans, unlike Senate, approve of Obama’s jobs bill — Nearly two-thirds of the respondents to a survey from NBC/Wall Street Journal voiced their approval when pollsters were told them the details of the “American Jobs Act” — including that it would cut payroll taxes, fund new road construction, and extend unemployment benefits. NBC reports that 63% of respondents said they favored the bill, with just 32% opposing it.
► In today’s NY Times — No jobs bill, and no ideas (editorial) — It was all predicted, but the unanimous decision by Senate Republicans on Tuesday to filibuster and thus kill President Obama’s jobs bill was still a breathtaking act of economic vandalism. There are 14 million people out of work, wages are falling, poverty is rising, and a second recession may be blowing in, but not a single Republican would even allow debate on a sound plan to cut middle-class taxes and increase public-works spending. The Republicans offer no actual economic plans, only tired slogans about cutting regulations and spending, and ending health care reform. The party seems content to run out the clock on Obama’s term while doing very little.
► From AP — Emergency call worries college faculty union — Last month’s action by the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges allows individual colleges to declare financial emergencies and have an easier time laying off faculty without having to adhere to some contracted job protections. “Individual colleges can invoke the law,” said Sandra Schroeder, president of AFT Washington. “Then there’s no longer any reasonable protections we can give to the people who have been targeted. Seniority becomes fairly meaningless in this process.”
► In yesterday’s Olympian — End of automatic COLAs for some retirees spurs suit — The Washington Federation of State Employees filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking to overturn legislation that ended automatic cost-of-living pay raises for retirees in two of the state’s older pension plans.
► In today’s Olympian — DSHS chief Dreyfus to leave for Wisconsin job — Gov. Gregoire says that Susan Dreyfus will return to Wisconsin after the Legislature finishes an emergency budget session that starts Nov. 28. Among the options lawmakers will consider are cuts to human services that Dreyfus laid out but calls “unconscionable.”
FUN FACTS! Susan Dreyfus personally contributed $2,000 to notorious anti-union Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign, before and after she moved to Washington, according to campaign finance records. Her last $500 contribution was received the day before Election Day 2010 and listed her mailing address as P.O. Box 45010, Olympia, WA — her DSHS address. She is married to Waukesha County (Wis.) Circuit Judge Lee Sherman Dreyfus, Jr., the son of former Wisconsin GOP Gov. Lee S. Dreyfus.
► At Olympian.com — State tax collections up $10M for month — The gain is a blip, a mere speck of spit compared to the roughly $2 billion budget hole that is requiring a special legislative session on Nov. 28.
WE ARE THE 99%
► In today’s Seattle Times — Late-night arrests at Occupy Seattle — Police arrested two Occupy Seattle protesters in Westlake Park on Wednesday night. As officers moved into a crowd about 100 strong, protesters began chanting, “We are the 99 percent. We are the 99 percent.” Moments after an announcement that the park had closed at 10 p.m., 12 police officers on bicycles rode through the park, then surrounded a sole tent in the north end occupied by two men.
► Good news, at SeattlePI.com — Poll: Thumbs up for Occupy Wall Street — A plurality of Americans approve of the Occupy Wall Street protests that have set up tents and filled streets from lower Manhattan in New York to Westlake Park in Seattle, according to a new Reuters/Ipsos poll.
► Bad news, at TPM — Pew: More Americans interested in Amanda Knox than Occupy Wall Street — The institute found that interest in the return of the American acquitted of murder in Italy attracted more attention than the protests, despite the same amount of news coverage.
► In today’s Washington Post — Postal Service isn’t owed big refund, GAO says — Transferring tens of billions of dollars in worker retirement accounts back to the USPS would not address its long-term debt problems and would force unfunded liabilities on to taxpayers, says a GAO report. Its findings run counter to the opinions of postal regulators, the postal inspector general and congressional Democrats, who say Congress should refund as much as $75 billion to the USPS for improperly overpaying federal retirement accounts since the 1970s.
► In today’s Washington Post — One-quarter of millionaires pay taxes at lower rate than middle class, report finds — When all federal taxes are taken into account, some households earning more than $1 million a year paid as little as 24% of their income to the IRS, substantially less than the share paid by many families making less than $100,000 a year that faced a top effective tax rate exceeding 26.5%.
► At TPM — Why GOP is advocating tax increases for middle class — Thanks to a strange convergence of conservative ideological trends since Obama’s election, Republicans now are expected to protest the entire bottom half of taxpayers’ contributions as too stingy even while they proclaim Americans are “Taxed Enough Already.”
► In today’s NY Times — Facing cuts, a city repeals domestic violence law –The Topeka, Kan., City Council has repealed the local law that makes domestic violence a crime. Eighteen people have been arrested on domestic violence charges since September and released without charges because no agency is accepting new cases.
► In Vanity Fair — The woman who knew too much — Millions of Americans hoped President Obama would nominate Elizabeth Warren to head the consumer financial watchdog agency she had created. Instead, she was pushed aside. At a time of record corporate profits, a time when 14 million Americans are out of work, when millions have lost their homes and the ranks of those living in poverty has grown to one in six — that Warren could be publicly kneecapped and an agency devoted to protecting American consumers could come under such intense attack is, ultimately, the story about who holds power in America today.
As Warren kicks off her run for Scott Brown’s Senate seat in Massachusetts, the Harvard professor has emerged as a champion of the beleaguered middle class, and her fight against a powerful alliance of bankers, lobbyists and politicians promises to make her race one of the most closely watched — and most brutal — congressional elections next year.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 9 a.m. Make this electronic “clip service” your first stop each morning! These links are functional on the date of posting, but sometimes expire.