Wednesday, January 30, 2013
► In today’s NY Times — Boeing earnings exceed estimates — The company says it does not expect the recent problems with the 787 to have a significant impact on its earnings in 2013. Boeing also reported that it had $13.5 billion in cash in hand at the end of 2012, leaving it in strong financial shape to weather any further problems with the 787 batteries.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Boeing says it has plenty of money to pay (more) 787-related charges — which could end up being as high as $5 billion this time — but apparently not enough money to maintain its existing contract with its engineers and technicians so everyone can focus on fixing the 787. That offer from their union should have been considered a significant concession amid these profit numbers. Instead, as profits continue to swell and allow Boeing to hoard cash, management is risking a strike by insisting on taking away pensions and making other benefit cuts. Even Jack Welch would say, “Unbelievable.” (You know, again.)
► In today’s News Tribune — Boeing dials up 737 production rate in Renton — The production pace increase from 35 to 38 is part of a phased speed-up that will ultimately have the plant building 42 of the twin-engine jets monthly by the end of next year. Boeing has sold more than 10,000 737s, the world’s best-selling commercial airliner.
► In today’s NY Times — 787 battery was concern before failure — All Nippon Airways said it replaced 10 of the batteries in the months before fire in one plane and smoke in another led regulators around the world to ground the jets. The airline said it told Boeing but was not required to report the replacements to safety regulators. The airline’s explanation on the extent of the previous problems underscore the volatile nature of the batteries and add to concerns over whether Boeing and other plane manufacturers will be able to use the batteries safely.
► In today’s Seattle Times — At least 100 batteries failed on 787 fleet — Boeing had numerous reliability issues with the main batteries on its 787 Dreamliner long before two serious incidents this month grounded the entire fleet, according to sources familiar with the issues.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Business jet will have sturdier batteries than 787 — A lithium-ion battery for Cessna Citation business jets is designed to contain an overcharge explosion within an armored casing — unlike the Boeing 787 batteries that led to the plane’s grounding.
► In today’s Bellingham Herald — New health insurance market opens in Washington state in October — Another aspect of President Barack Obama’s health care law will go from concept to reality this fall as Washington state residents who don’t have health insurance will become eligible for Medicaid or gain access to a new insurance exchange.
► At AFL-CIO Now — More governors supporting Medicaid expansion — Two more Republican governors (Arizona and Nevada) have come out in support of expanding Medicaid in their states, realizing that not only is the program a good deal for them, but that it provides additional benefits for their residents.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Meanwhile, here in deep-blue Washington, we have self-described “moderate” Republicans like Sen. Rodney Tom (D-Medina), openly questioning whether we should expand Medicaid here. It’s almost as if Washington voters didn’t just elect a new governor who campaigned for Medicaid expansion. Maybe Tom’s fancy new headphones block out all that noise from voters…
► From AP — State tax dollars go to dry cleaning, artwork — An AP analysis finds that state legislators are getting taxpayer-covered reimbursement for a variety of expenses, including iPhones, picture frames, artwork, expenses for meetings with lobbyists and dues to professional organizations like the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council. Sen. Rodney Tom, who lives in the wealthy enclave of Medina, got reimbursement for a Bose headset that cost $164.20.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Wait a second, I’m paying ALEC to write anti-working family bills for state legislators?!!
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — New Mukilteo ferry terminal needs $38M but work moves on — Two hurdles to building a new ferry terminal in Mukilteo should be cleared this spring, but state leaders must deal with a looming lack of money to build it. Says Rep. Marko Liias (D-Edmonds): “My goal is to make sure we keep the project on track, because it’s a critical improvement that needs to be done.”
► In today’s Seattle Times — Fast-track legislation may get some brakes — Sen. Barbara Bailey (R-Oak Harbor) thinks her fellow legislators have been too quick to call something an emergency, tacking the designation onto nearly 1,000 bills that have become law since 1997.
► At SeattleTimes.com — Gary Alexander to serve double duty as Thurston County auditor, state lawmaker — The Thurston County commission unanimously chooses Rep. Gary Alexander to replace newly elected Secretary of State Kim Wyman as county auditor.
► In today’s Columbian — Local grocery workers may vote on possible strike next week — Grocery store workers at Albertsons, Fred Meyer and Safeway stores in Southwest Washington and Oregon will vote next week on whether to strike if an impasse in contract negotiations continues. Health benefits are the main issue behind the stalemate, said UFCW 555 President Dan Clay. About 14,000 members of the 19,000-member union are gearing up for the Feb. 7 vote in Vancouver, Portland and Eugene. Clay said he believed a majority of voting members would approve a strike if the negotiations fail.
► In today’s Columbian — CRC-backing transportation chief to resign — U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a high-level supporter of the Columbia River Crossing, is stepping down from his post this year. “While Secretary LaHood has certainly been a valuable supporter of the CRC, the fact is that this is an Obama administration priority and will remain so,” said a spokesman for Sen. Patty Murray.
► In today’s Yakima H-R — Yakima County inks union contract — Yakima County commissioners Tuesday approved another contract with a county bargaining unit — the 27-member technology services group that maintains the county computer and phone systems.
► At AFL-CIO Now — Report: U.S. corporations aren’t paying fair share of taxes — U.S. multinational corporations are reporting that they “earned” large portions of their profits in tiny, low-tax countries in order to lower their tax rates. Bermuda, for instance, is home to reported profits by American companies that are 1,000% of the country’s actual GDP. Often a corporation will have little more than a mailbox in such a country.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Wells Fargo is one of the “Dirty 30” corporations that pay NOTHING in federal taxes while lobbying for permanent tax breaks and cuts to Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security. If that pisses you off, you are invited to release some steam at lunchtime TODAY and play some Corporate Dodgeball outside a Wells Fargo bank in Seattle!
► In today’s Washington Post — U.S. economy unexpectedly shrank in 4th quarter — The U.S. economy contracted slightly in the final months of 2012, as defense spending plummeted and businesses depleted their inventories, in a surprising development that could presage economic troubles to come. The good news is that the biggest factors in the decline aren’t expected to repeat themselves.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Or will they…?
► In today’s Washington Post — Deep spending cuts are likely, with no deal on sequester in sight — Less than a month after averting one fiscal crisis, Washington began bracing Tuesday for another, as lawmakers in both parties predicted that deep, across-the-board spending cuts would probably hit the Pentagon and other federal agencies on March 1.
► In The Hill — Unions, Hollywood open to bankrolling Obama’s advocacy arm — Unions are considering putting their financial weight behind Organizing for Action, the outside group that will try to harness the grassroots power of Obama’s reelection machine.
► In The Hill — Obama approval rating hits 3-year high at 60% — President Obama’s personal popularity continues to surge, with six in 10 voters saying they had a favorable impression of the president.
► From Yahoo! News — AFL-CIO chief vows ‘full-fledged campaign’ for immigration reform — Richard Trumka calls the planned overhaul “one of our top priorities right now.”
► In today’s NY Times — A better immigration plan (editorial) — Given existing immigration backlogs and the possibility of other administrative hurdles being placed in the way, any future path to citizenship could be so long and burdensome as to be all but imaginary. President Obama, to his credit, made the citizenship path a central part of his plan and did not make it contingent on adding still more troops, border fencing and aerial drones.
► In today’s Washington Post — We’ve tried guest worker programs before. They don’t work. (by Dylan Mathews) — Guest worker programs are set to be a major sticking point in immigration negotiations before Congress. Are guest worker programs a workable alternative to a pathway to citizenship for some low-skill workers? Most experts argue no. “I find it slightly amazing that the phrase ‘guest worker program’ still gets used with a straight face in Washington,” remarks Boston College political scientist Peter Skerry, who specializes in immigration policy and the politics around it.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Senate’s H-1B visa proposal goes far beyond Microsoft’s — A bipartisan Senate plan to dramatically expand a visa program for highly skilled foreign workers resembles a proposal unveiled by Microsoft last fall, but well exceeds the company’s own goals.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 9 a.m.