Thursday, September 12, 2013
► At AFL-CIO Now — Convention calls for fixes in Affordable Care Act — Delegates passed Resolution 54 expressing support for the goals of the Affordable Care Act but also addressing a number of issues about its implementation, including the way the ACA treats multi-employer health care plans. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka called the issues raised by the resolution ones of “fundamental fairness,” including if low- and moderate-income union members and their collectively bargained health care plans will be able to benefit from the same premium support that big insurance companies will receive and if they will have to pay fees to subsidize big insurance companies.
ALSO TODAY at The Stand — AFL-CIO unions debate health care, more (by WSLC President Jeff Johnson)
► In today’s NY Times — Unions’ misgivings on health law burst into view — While praising the overall legislation, the delegates overwhelmingly passed a sharply worded resolution that demanded changes to some of its regulations, although AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka made sure to strip out some proposals that called for repealing the legislation.
► In The Hill — AFL-CIO demands Obamacare fix
► At AFL-CIO Now — Education, Postal Service and other resolutions pass at AFL-CIO Convention — As the AFL-CIO 2013 Convention comes to a close, delegates passed a number of resolutions on Wednesday, including support for the U.S. Postal Service, reclaiming the promise of public education and improving the effectiveness of grassroots action in the labor movement, among others.
ALSO SEE the entire list of resolutions approved.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Fixing a flawed state tax system (editorial) — Autopsy the state’s tax code, and behold the rot. A budget heart riven with holes, siphoning equity and fairness. … Washington’s budget heart has 700 loopholes. Rep. Reuven Carlyle, chair of the House Finance Committee, wonders if the number has its own Malthusian pattern, mushrooming beyond the point of sustainability. … At some point, lawmakers will need to do more than tinker with a regressive tax structure that demands a full overhaul.
► In today’s Olympian — Gov. Inslee giving double-digit pay hikes to some new agency directors — Gov. Jay Inslee’s revamp of state government includes a few substantial pay boosts for key agency directors he has hired.
► In today’s Columbian — Herrera Beutler says revived CRC plan doesn’t qualify for federal money — U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler reminded U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx on Wednesday that a last-ditch effort to resurrect the Columbia River Crossing project still must overcome some difficult hurdles before receiving federal money.
► At PubliCola — Isn’t it weird that…? — Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn used his bully pulpit to object to a street vacation (essentially, the sale of a public street to a private developer) for a proposed Whole Foods in West Seattle because the libertarian-led grocery giant is non-union, but has remained silent on a policy that gives expedited permits to a downtown convention center hotel being built by Richard Hedreen?
ALSO at The Stand — Hyatt workers urge boycott of two Seattle hotels (Aug. 28)
► In today’s NY Times — Top California lawmakers back raising minimum wage — California’s top lawmakers on Wednesday pledged their support for a plan to raise the minimum wage in the state to $10 an hour, which could soon give California workers the highest minimum pay rate in the country. In a rare show of backing for pending legislation, Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, announced his “strong support” for a bill in the State Legislature that would raise the minimum wage to $10 per hour from $8 by the start of 2016. Currently, Washington has the highest minimum wage of any state, at $9.19 per hour.
► In today’s LA Times — Boeing to deliver final C-17 cargo jet to Air Force — The hand-over of the 223rd massive aircraft will end a 25-year relationship that has been an economic boon to Long Beach. Foreign sales will keep the plant running through 2014.
► This morning in the Washington Post — D.C. vetoes ‘living wage’ bill aimed at Wal-Mart, setting up decisive council vote — District Mayor Vincent C. Gray vetoed legislation Thursday that would force the city’s largest retailers to pay a super-minimum wage to their workers, ending two months of uncertainty over the controversial bill’s fate and setting up a decisive override vote at the D.C. Council as early as Tuesday.
► In today’s Washington Post — House Republican leaders delay vote on new budget bill until next week — With a government shutdown looming in less than three weeks, Republican House leaders conceded Wednesday that they have yet to muster enough votes to approve a plan to keep federal agencies open.
► At Politico — ‘Race to the Top’ for education largely a flop, report finds — The Obama administration’s signature $4 billion “Race to the Top” initiative is largely a failure, a new analysis concludes. Most winning states made “unrealistic and impossible” promises to boost student achievement in exchange for prizes that were ultimately paltry in comparison with their pledges, it finds.
► At Politico — Exclusive: The Koch brothers’ secret bank — An Arlington, Va.-based conservative group, whose existence until now was unknown to almost everyone in politics, raised and spent $250 million in 2012 to shape political and policy debate nationwide. The group, Freedom Partners, and its president, Marc Short, serve as an outlet for the ideas and funds of the mysterious Koch brothers, cutting checks as large as $63 million to groups promoting conservative causes, according to an IRS document to be filed shortly.
► At Gawker — The Waltons are the greediest family in the world — Four members of the Walton family, heirs to Sam Walton’s Wal-Mart fortune, are collectively worth more than $100 billion — more wealth than the entire bottom 40% of Americans. They are doing everything in their power not to give up a penny more than they have to. The Waltons are the richest family in the world. They are the new Rockefellers, the modern synonym for “vast wealth.” And indeed, income inequality in America has reached levels not seen since John D. Rockefeller roamed the earth. The Waltons are the kings and queens of our new Gilded Age.
Reasonable people, I suppose, can disagree on the morality of amassing such mind-boggling wealth. What most reasonable people would agree on, I think — what we would regard as basic human decency and common sense — is that it is not healthy for such great wealth to exist in perpetuity, passed down from generation to generation endlessly, creating ever-larger dynasties, until America is even more of an unequal plutocracy with unequal opportunity than it already is. This is why estate taxes exist. We have agreed, as a society, that at least some of these huge piles of wealth should be put back into the public coffers when their rich owners die. Not all of the wealth; not even most of the wealth; just enough to get some back in circulation, for the good of everyone, and to try to do something to slow down the creation of personal billionaire kingdoms.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.