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Medicare hybrid-ization, session ends, Boeing drones on, job growth…



► In today’s NY Times — Lawmakers offer bipartisan plan to overhaul Medicare — A Democratic senator, Ron Wyden of Oregon, and a Republican member of the House, Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, unveiled a bipartisan plan on Wednesday to revamp Medicare.  Under the proposal, known as premium support, Medicare would subsidize premiums charged by private insurers that care for beneficiaries under contract with the government. Congress would establish an insurance exchange for Medicare beneficiaries. Private plans would compete with the traditional Medicare program and would have to provide benefits of the same or greater value.

► This morning from AP — Deal close on $1 trillion spending bill — Bipartisan agreement is near on a massive $1 trillion-plus year-end spending package and should be reached in time avert a possible government shutdown this weekend, Senate leaders said Thursday. Democrats had been holding up the huge bill, seeking leverage in talks on extending payroll tax cuts and unemployment insurance, two pillars of Obama’s jobs agenda.

► At TPM — House GOP pushes envelope in shutdown, payroll tax fight — Testing the limits of compliance with their own rule that legislation be posted online for three days before a final vote, GOP leaders unveil major appropriations legislation that must pass by Friday at the stroke of midnight if Congress is to avoid a government shutdown.

► At AFL-CIO NOW — No time to end unemployment benefits — An end to the benefits would threaten our economic recovery. Economists across the board agree that unemployment benefits are one of the most important countercyclical economic policies we have, helping those who do not have jobs with assistance that is immediately spent in the broader economy.

► At TPM — Dem governors press congress to fully extend UI benefits — In a letter to key Congressional principals, 16 Democratic governors (including Gov. Chris Gregoire) are seeking the full renewal of extended unemployment benefits, which are set to lapse (along with the payroll tax cut) on January 1, 2012.

TAKE A STAND! –Tell Congress to extend jobless benefits now!




► In today’s Olympian — Special session ends— The Legislature adjourned a 17-day special session Wednesday after voting to close $480 million of the state’s $2 billion budget gap. “I believe we are making a significant down payment on the crisis we face with this almost half-billion dollars,’’ Sen. Ed Murray, the Senate Democrats’ top budget writer.

► From AP — Three bills passed to shore up aerospace industry — Before adjourning its special session, the Legislature approved three bills requested by the governor to shore up the state’s competitiveness in the aerospace industry.




► From AP — Boeing drone builder to stay in state — Insitu, a Boeing subsidiary that designs and builds aerial drones, announced plans Wednesday to expand and centralize its operations in southeast Washington. The company had been considering proposals from other states to move its operations, but decided to build a 70,000-square-foot production facility and a 30,000-square-foot engine testing building in Bingen, Wash. The company employs about 800 people in the area straddling Washington and Oregon.

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Leaders promote Fairchild AFB as ideal site for new tankers — A major lobbying push is under way for Fairchild Air Force Base to receive the first of the next-generation aerial refueling tankers.

► From AP — Profits up, FedEx orders 27 Boeing 767-300s — The company has signed a deal to buy 27 new Boeing 767-300 aircraft, with the first three set to arrive in 2014.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Boeing’s passenger 747-8 certified by FAA




► In today’s Seattle Times — Jobs engine revs up in state — Washington employers added 12,100 payroll jobs last month and 44,600 over the past 12 months, according to preliminary estimates. That growth, fueled entirely by the private sector, helped push the state unemployment rate down to 8.7%, its lowest level since February 2009. Governments cut a net 100 jobs in November.

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Democrats see opportunity in 5th District — Dan Morrissey, a former dean of Gonzaga University Law School, is among the Democrats considering a campaign against Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers next year.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Council overrides Reardon’s veto, raises road tax — All four Democrats voted to revive the 1% hike in the roads levy. Only Republican Councilman John Koster voted no.




► From AP — Census shows nearly half are poor or low-income— Squeezed by rising living costs, a record number of Americans — nearly half — have fallen into poverty or are scraping by on earnings that classify them as low income. Census data depict a middle class that’s shrinking as unemployment stays high and the government’s safety net frays. The new numbers follow years of stagnating wages for the middle class that have hurt millions of workers and families.

► At Huffington Post — CEO pay jumps minimum of 27% last year, survey finds — American CEOs saw pay increases of between 27% and 40% last year, according to a new survey. In addition, the median value of CEOs profits on stock options jumped to $1.3 million from $950,400 — a 70% boost.




► In today’s NY Times — Wage protection planned for home care workers — The Obama administration will propose new regulations on Thursday to give the nation’s roughly two million home-care workers minimum wage and overtime protections after those workers had long been exempted from coverage.

► In The Hill — Obama taps two for NLRB posts — Obama picked Sharon Block, a Department of Labor official, and Richard Griffin, general counsel for the International Union of Operating Engineers, to join the panel. The nominations came the same day that House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said he would continue an investigation into the NLRB’s decision to drop a complaint against Boeing.

► At Huffington Post — Rick Berman’s anti-labor front group to launch $10 million ad campaign — A D.C.-based front group representing corporate interests will be rolling out a $10 million national advertising campaign next week to promote legislation that would require unions to hold recertification votes every three years.

► In the USA Today — Don’t blame government workers’ pensions (by Gerald McEntee) — Impartial observers agree that the modest pension benefits of public employees are not the source of the funding challenges faced by some systems. It was the casino economy set up by the big players on Wall Street that has devastated our economy and our retirement savings. Fortunately, because our pension systems are structurally sound, they have fared much better than individual, “you’re on your own” retirement accounts.




► In today’s NY Times — Worker-owners of America, unite! (by Gar Alperovitz) — more and more Americans are involved in co-ops, worker-owned companies and other alternatives to the traditional capitalist model. We may, in fact, be moving toward a hybrid system, something different from both traditional capitalism and socialism, without anyone even noticing. Some 130 million Americans, for example, now participate in the ownership of co-op businesses and credit unions. More than 13 million Americans have become worker-owners of more than 11,000 employee-owned companies, six million more than belong to private-sector unions.


The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 9 a.m. These links are functional at the date of posting, but sometimes expire.

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