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Jobs Now (and Later); free credit report; death of the middle class…



► In Sunday’s News Tribune — Kilmer’s plan: Ingenious job creation in hard times(editorial) — A genuinely good idea tends to pop out from among the nondescript crowd of been-theres and done-thats. State Sen. Derek Kilmer’s proposal to create jobs without new taxes looks like that kind of idea. With tentative support from both Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature, Kilmer is proposing legislation that would finance major job-creating projects with bonds backed by tax revenues already flowing into two existing state funds.

The Gig Harbor Democrat knows that government best builds the economy by building infrastructure. Such things as sewers, water lines, highways, ports, schools — the necessary foundations of private businesses. … This isn’t spending for the sake of paying construction workers; the idea is to create permanent infrastructure — including classrooms — to help the economy flourish in the future. The immediate construction work is a sweet byproduct, though.

Jobs. No new taxes. Economic stimulus. Historic bargains on construction. It’s hard to see a downside here.

ALSO SEE — Labor and business: FRONTLOAD JOBS! (Jan. 10)




► From AP — Two credit agencies lower Washington’s credit outlook — Moody’s noted that the state’s reliance on a sales tax has made it challenging during a recession that has impacted consumer confidence. The agency cited other challenges, including reliance on the cyclical aerospace industry and frequent voter initiatives that add to budget challenges.

EDITOR’S NOTE — The jobs bill listed above takes a portion of a revenue stream already dedicated to infrastructure spending and uses it to finance projects now. This will generate more income for the operating budget — in the short and long term — and therefore help address the concerns cited by credit agencies, not exacerbate them.

► At Slog — Credit agencies cite structural revenue shortfall (by Goldy) — I know Republicans and their surrogates on the editorial boards insist that this is merely a spending problem, but it’s not. It just isn’t. Our budget problems are due to a structural revenue deficit, pure and simple.

► In today’s Olympian — Pension changes offered— Republican Sen. Joseph Zarelli has floated a bill that would force new hires in state and local governments into what are called hybrid pension plans, which are optional now. Hybrid plans are split — one half providing a traditional pension payment in a worker’s retirement years, the other half providing a contribution to an investment fund much like an IRA or 401(k) that the worker would manage. Zarelli’s idea, SB 6378, gets a hearing at 3:30 p.m. Thursday.

► From AP — Ballot initiative reform moves forward — State lawmakers forged ahead Monday with a bill to require ballot initiative campaigns to identify their top five donors in their advertisements. The bill passed out of a House committee on a party-line vote, with seven Democrats in favor and four Republicans opposed.

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Government is not a business (letter) — Government should not be a subsidiary of business. Elect people who understand the role of government in a democracy, real public servants, not people purchased by corporations to do their bidding, which is government following the business model.




► In today’s Seattle Times — Cantwell’s financial lead over GOP challenger widens — U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell widened her significant financial lead over Republican Michael Baumgartner, taking in 10 times the money in the final three months of 2011 for her re-election than her challenger has raised.

► At — Romney plans Seattle visit on March 1

► At — Scumbags: Our nastiest, most relentlessly negative political voices (by Joel Connelly) — They are: The National Republican Congressional Committee, Washington State Democrats, Crossroads GPS, Traditional Values Coalition, and Climate Depot.

EDITOR’S NOTE — What no representatives from organized labor?! Typical. Well, Joel, try this one on for size…

► In today’s NY Times — McKenna admits lying about SAT scores




► In today’s Yakima H-R — Local governments rely more on volunteers as budgets fail — The increasing use of volunteers comes as the city has laid off employees or cut vacancies over the last several years. For example, Neighborhood Development’s staff has declined from 12 to seven, with a retiring employee’s position to be left unfilled. Regardless, the agency now does more work and relies on the unpaid helpers. Using volunteers is not entirely without risk. If they are hurt or cause an accident, the city could be liable for those costs.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Paccar’s 4Q profit nearly doubles as sales climb 58% — For the full year of 2011, the Bellevue-based truck maker earned $1.04 billion, the second-highest revenue amount in company history.

► In the (Longview) Daily News — Three more ILWU charges dismissed

► In today’s Columbian — Power’s back on thanks to hard work (Don Brunell column) — At the peak of this year’s storm, about 300 crews (about 900 people) responded to the outages, including workers from California, Oregon, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Montana and Alaska. Back at the PSE office, another 1,000 employees provided engineering, logistics and customer service support. If you lined up all the power and tree crews bumper to bumper, it would form a line 10 miles long.




► In today’s Huffington Post — Working poor: Almost half of U.S. households live one crisis from the bread line — A new report finds that 43% of households in America — some 127.5 million people — are liquid-asset poor. If one of these households experiences a sudden loss of income, caused, for example, by a layoff or a medical emergency, it will fall below the poverty line within three months. People in these households simply don’t have enough cash to make it for very long in a crisis.

► At AFL-CIO Now — U.S. tops the world in income inequality — New research shows that within the developed world, no nation has seen the income share of the top 1% grow faster over the past three decades than the United States.

► In today’s Washington Post — Obama’s push to revive middle class will clash with long-term trends — Obama calls it “the defining issue of our time” — forging a fairer economy by reversing years of widening income inequality and building a strong middle class. But economists and scholars say his ideas confront decades-old trends that will make it difficult to fix. Those trends include the rise of nations with abundant cheap labor and the development of new technologies that allow companies to operate with far fewer workers.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Just about everything worth doing is difficult.




► From AP — Unions denounce FAA bill compromise— Union leaders on Monday denounced a deal in Congress that would make it harder for them to organize airline and railroad workers, saying it was reached without their input. More than a dozen unions — including the Teamsters, CWA, IAM and the AFA — issued a statement calling on the Senate to reject the deal, struck 10 days ago by top House Republicans and Senate Democrats: “Unilaterally changing that law without labor’s input and without due deliberation threatens to unravel its carefully balanced goals of labor stability and uninterrupted commerce.”

► At AFL-CIO Now — House Republicans renew attack on jobless workers, UI benefits — In December, after being battered in the arena of public opinion, House Republicans reluctantly agreed to a short extension of unemployment insurance for the nation’s jobless workers. That reprieve runs out Feb. 29 and House Republicans are set to relaunch their attack on UI.

► In today’s LA Times — Democrats in Congress step up tax-the-rich efforts — Congressional Democrats, more liberal since the 2010 elections thinned out moderates’ ranks, are embracing the populist agenda President Obama outlined in his State of the Union speech.

► In today’s Washington Post — CBO: Federal workers better compensated than private sector — The Congressional Budget Office says that federal workers are compensated 16% more than comparable private-sector workers on average. The finding is bound to inflame disputes between Republican and Democrats as to how much to reduce the deficit by cutting federal worker pay.

► In today’s Washington Post — Obama calls again for capping federal contractor pay — The Obama administration is renewing its push to cap the pay of government contractors, as the House prepares to vote on a bill that would freeze federal and congressional salaries.




► From Reuters — U.S. refinery rift grows ahead of deadline — Union and oil company negotiators resumed talks on Monday after union leaders told workers to prepare for a strike within 48 hours that could shut down 6% of U.S. refinery capacity. A strike by the United Steelworkers union could start as early as 12:01 a.m. EST on Wednesday on the East Coast and then spread throughout the country.

► In today’s Chicago Tribune — Indiana ‘right-to-work’ bill advances toward approval — The measure, already given preliminary approval by both chambers of the Indiana legislature, would allow workers to opt out of paying union dues, even when a workplace is unionized.

► In today’s NY Times — Trade protest is planned on eve of Chinese leader’s visit — On Tuesday, a coalition of U.S. labor unions, Democratic politicians and trade advocacy groups plans to start campaigning for the Obama administration to file a series of trade cases against China in the auto industry.

► At TPM — Wisconsin recall spending could hit $100M — or more

► In today’s NY Times — Pregnant, and out of a job (by Dina Bakst) — Thanks to a gap between discrimination laws and disability laws, it’s possible for a pregnant woman to be forced from her job.




► In today’s NY Times — The end of health insurance companies (by Ezekiel Emanuel and Jeffrey Liebman) — Here’s a bold prediction for the new year. By 2020, the American health insurance industry will be extinct. Insurance companies will be replaced by accountable care organizations — groups of doctors, hospitals and other health care providers who come together to provide the full range of medical care for patients.


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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