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Compromise offer, big union vote, Grand Bargain takes a hit…

Thursday, June 6, 2013





► In today’s Spokesman-Review — House Democrats offer state budget compromise — House Democrats offered to trim spending and drop many proposals on taxes as part of a compromise they say would allow the Washington Legislature to pass a 2013-15 operating budget before time runs out in the special session.

► From AP — State Dems back away from business tax extension — Democrats in the Legislature are retreating from a plan that would have raised money by extending a business tax, as lawmakers seek an elusive budget compromise in the final week of an overtime legislative session.

► In today’s Olympian — State Senate cool to House plan to cut spending — In a bid to break a budget logjam, House Democrats put a new offer on the table Wednesday that sharply reduces their previous spending targets and tax-hike plans, but a Republican-led coalition that runs the Senate immediately threw cold water on the plan.

costco-ballot► In today’s Olympian — Liquor move sullies Costco’s reputation (editorial) — While state lawmakers sit idle, waiting for their respective party’s budget writers to find an acceptable compromise before the special session ends Tuesday, lobbyists for the giant discount retailer Costco are hard at work. They are once again trying to rewrite the state liquor laws in their favor. Fearing that voters would reject I-1183 because the state might lose hundreds of millions in tax revenue, Costco added language that requires retailers to pay a 17% fee on all sales, including those made directly to restaurants for resale. Just 18 months after getting voter approval on the initiative, Costco is now brazenly pressing state legislators to remove the 17% fee. If passed, 2SHB 1161 would deprive the state of tens of millions in revenue, and give Costco, and other big retailers, an inequitable and unwarranted advantage over other private liquor distributors.

► In today’s Olympian — Another GOP gift to the wealthy (editorial) — Republicans controlling the state Senate cynically used the urgency to fix an accidental loophole in the estate tax to benefit about 300 wealthy Washingtonians.

ALSO at The Stand — Senate is choosing millionaires over students




IAM► From AP — Precision Castparts workers to vote on joining union — More than 2,000 local employees of Precision Castparts Corp. are deciding whether to unionize Oregon’s only Fortune 500 company besides Nike. Workers will vote Thursday and Friday in the companies’ Portland, Milwaukie and Clackamas plants whether to join the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers. The National Labor Relations Board will supervise the election in a secret ballot covering 12 factories. Employees have complained about mandatory overtime shifts that force them to work weeks at a stretch. Precision, which makes airplane and gas turbine parts, has a $6.8 billion backlog of unfilled orders.

► In The Stranger — Supersize my salary now! — Seattle’s strike was not only the latest in a rolling series of nationwide fast-food walkouts, it was proving to be the largest: By the end of the day, at least eight—and as many as 14, by some counts — local fast-food restaurants had been forced to shut down, at least temporarily. Many other stores were left to operate shorthanded. As one striker put it: “When a manager has to make fries, that’s a victory, too.”

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — New ferry dock in Mukilteo two steps closer — After many hang-ups and delays, two major developments this week have cleared the way for the state to begin building a $140 million terminal as soon as next year and be finished by 2017.

► In today’s Bellingham Herald — Environmental groups sue BNSF, coal companies — A coalition of environmental groups has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Seattle, accusing BNSF Railway Co. and several coal companies of violating the Clean Water Act.

► From AP — Worker fired for stealing pie sues city — A Bridgeport public works employee who was fired by the mayor for shoplifting a $1.69 fruit pie is filing a wrongful termination lawsuit against the city.




► In today’s Olympian — Debunking myths about Obama’s Affordable Care Act — State Office of Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler delivered a mythbusting speech about the Affordable Care Act on Wednesday, telling a lunchtime audience that changes set to take place in health care in 2014 are much better than what the current health care system has to offer.

► From CNBC — A reason for conservatives to love Obamacare — A rift between labor unions and the White House over coverage through Obamacare might be putting smiles on opponents of the health care law — as well as those antagonistic to unions themselves.

► In The Hill — Obamacare more unpopular than ever — A new poll found that 49% of people call Affordable Care Act a bad idea, about four in 10 say they will be worse off under the law, and 37% call the reform a good idea. A plurality, 39%, said the law won’t make a difference to them, while 19% said it will leave them better off.




nation-walmart-bangladesh► In The Nation — Striking workers bring Bangladesh safety demands to Walmart’s headquarters — On a public sidewalk across from Walmart’s “home office” headquarters, international Walmart workers and fired warehouse workers joined striking employees in a demonstration calling for Walmart to avert future deaths in its international supply chain. On the other side of a narrow parking lot, a few of the blue-shirted Walmart employees brought to Bentonville by Walmart management began snapping cell phone photos of their striking co-workers, who sang, “Which side are you on Walmart…. Are you on the side of safety or on the side of murder?” Then a series of well-dressed Walmart staff began leading the blue-shirted employees in the company’s classic cheer spelling out its name: “Give me a W!” “W!” “Give me an A!” “A!”… “What’s that spell?” “Walmart!”

EDITOR’S NOTE — A Walmart Anti-Retaliation Rally will be held Friday, June 7 from 11 a.m. to noon at the Bellingham Walmart, 4420 Meridian St. Twenty one members of OUR Walmart from Washington State (including some members from Bellingham) are in Bentonville, Ark., for the shareholders meeting. The workers are standing together and speaking up to make change in their working conditions and for worker safety in Walmart’s supply chain. In the past, Walmart has retaliated against and attempted to silence those who speak out. Support Walmart workers who speak out by attending this event.




obama-thinking► At Huffington Post — Grand Bargain loses center for American Progress support in major blow for austerity — The Center for American Progress, a pillar of the Democratic establishment in Washington is walking away from the broad negotiations aimed at reaching a “grand bargain,” the pursuit of a deficit-reduction deal that has dominated the political agenda since mid-2010. The idea of a grand bargain had little backing from organized labor and the progressive flank to begin with, but maintained institutional support from establishment forces in the party. CAP’s exit from the stage sends a powerful signal to the White House, leaving the president to craft a deal largely on his own, should he continue to pursue it.

EDITOR’S NOTE — This Grand Bargain nonsense has been a driving factor in efforts to cut Social Security benefits via a “chained CPI” index. So this is good news.

► In today’s Washington Post — Social Security, Medicare changes to put seniors at financial risk, report says —  Nearly half of the nation’s elderly population is “economically vulnerable” and would be particularly hard hit by even modest changes in the Social Security and Medicare programs being considered to slow the growth of the nation’s long-term debt, according to a new report by the Economic Policy Institute.

demint-jim-heritage► At — Heritage shock (by Paul Krugman) — A Heritage Foundation economist has been accused of presenting false, deliberately misleading data and analysis to the Senate Budget Committee. One does wonder whether Heritage may at this point be destroying its own usefulness. Its purpose was never to do real research; it was always a propaganda arm of the movement. But it was supposed to create a plausible illusion of intellectual rigor, good enough to take in gullible journalists. But is there anyone not a committed right-winger who, at this point, believes anything coming out of Heritage? And in that case, what’s the Foundation for?




► In today’s Washington Post — Go slower on free trade (by Harold Meyerson) — What’s in the (Trans Pacific Partnership) pact isn’t clear, as the administration has clamped a tight lid on the proceedings. What is clear, however, is that the era of free-trade deals has been one of growing economic inequality in the United States and the decoupling of U.S. corporate interests from those of the American people. These deals have done little to nothing to offset the job and income losses that U.S. workers have endured during this period.


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