Friday, September 20, 2013
► From AP — House poised to pass spending bill defunding Obamacare — The House on Friday is poised to approve a stopgap spending bill that strips out funding for President Obama’s signature healthcare law. The continuing resolution, pushed by Republican leaders at the behest of conservatives, will serve as the first volley in a 10-day battle that will determine whether much of the federal government shuts down on Oct. 1.
► In today’s Washington Post — Lawmakers scale back ambitions as government shutdown looms — Meeting even the modest goals of routine governance could prove to be a tall order this time around.
► In today’s NY Times — The crazy party (by Paul Krugman) — Most of the time divided U.S. government has led to compromise; sometimes to stalemate. Nobody even considered the possibility that a party might try to achieve its agenda, not through the constitutional process, but through blackmail — by threatening to bring the federal government, and maybe the whole economy, to its knees unless its demands were met. Yet, at the moment, it seems highly likely that the Republican Party will refuse to fund the government, forcing a shutdown at the beginning of next month, unless President Obama dismantles the health reform that is the signature achievement of his presidency.
► In today’s Washington Post — House passes GOP plan to slash food stamp funding — The House narrowly approved a far-reaching overhaul of the nation’s food-stamp program Thursday that would slash food aid to about 4 million Americans over the next few years and shift a greater burden of taking care of the poor to state governments.
ALSO TODAY at The Stand — House Republicans vote to slash food assistance for the poor
► Meanwhile, from AP — DSHS prepping low-income clients for cuts in food assistance — Washington state officials want low-income residents to be prepared for a reduction in food-assistance benefits when the federal stimulus package expires this fall.
► In today’s NY Times — Another insult to the poor (editorial) — The vote came two weeks after the Agriculture Department reported that 17.6 million households did not have enough to eat at some point in 2012 because they lacked the resources to put food on the table. It came two days after the Census Bureau reported that 15 percent of Americans, or 46.5 million people, live in poverty.
► At Think Progress — Colorado House Republicans unanimously support flood relief, unanimously opposed Sandy aid — All four Republican Congressmen from Colorado are supporting disaster relief for their own state, but were among those voting earlier this year against the emergency aid funding for Superstorm Sandy victims on the East Coast.
► At AFL-CIO Now — New House bill strengthens Social Security benefits — The Strengthening Social Security Act (H.R. 3118) introduced by Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.) eschews the “chained” CPI cost-of-living formula and instead offers a cost-of-living adjustment that reflects the actual costs of beneficiaries and makes other adjustments to the benefits formula. The change is estimated to add about $70 a year to Social Security recipients’ checks in addition to a higher COLA.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Co-sponsors include Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Seattle).
► In the (Aberdeen) Daily World — Former Harbor Paper employees to receive more benefits — Former Harbor Paper employees will soon get a fresh batch of unemployment benefits, with the workers now eligible for federal Trade Act benefits. The program is designed to help unemployed workers complete job retraining programs or relocate to find new jobs, said Bill Messenger of the Washington State Labor Council.
ALSO at The Stand — TAA program helps many laid-off workers (by Caitlyn Jekel and Bill Messenger)
► In the Columbian — Longview PeaceHealth workers hold rally — More than 100 members of a union representing support staff at Longview’s PeaceHealth St. John Medical Center rallied Wednesday outside the hospital to push for strong health care benefits in a new contract now being negotiated between Vancouver-based PeaceHealth and Service Employees International Union Local 49.
► In today’s (Longview) Daily News — St. John Medical Center reduces staff — St. John Medical Center has reduced nursing staff hours and positions in response to the hospital’s declining patient load, but officials declined to be specific Thursday. Some nurses (WSNA) were reportedly asked to consider voluntary hour reductions or layoffs.
► In the P.S. Business Journal — Valley Medical Center cutting retirement benefits — Valley Medical Center CEO Rich Roodman sent a memo to employees Tuesday, saying the hospital was terminating its pension plans and replacing them with retirement plans that push employees to contribute more. The changes will apply to all employees, but hospital officials said they’re still in negotiations with unions, so the timing for implementation with those groups will depend on negotiations. “Heavy-handed maneuvers are out of character with this employer and we think violating signed contracts with employees is not in the best interest of patients who utilize this hospital,” said Diane Sosne, a nurse and president of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, one of Valley’s unions.
► In today’s Yakima H-R — New teacher contracts proving elusive in Yakima Valley — A sense of “fear and mistrust,” as one official described it, is characterizing contract negotiations for many Yakima Valley teachers, who have been working without a contract since late August.
► In the (Aberdeen) Daily World — College president given 24% salary increase — Grays Harbor College President Dr. Ed Brewster’s new three-year contract includes a salary increase of $36,000 per year after the college’s Board of Trustees approved a 24 percent pay increase at its July meeting.
► From AP — Bremerton Naval Shipyard hiring for more than 1,000 jobs — Puget Sound Naval Shipyard says it’s hiring more than 1,000 helper trainees in all trades. The starting pay is $15.11 an hour. Shipyard spokeswoman Mary Ann Mascianica says the new helpers will boost the workforce to more than 11,500. (Learn more about PSNS employment opportunities here.)
► In today’s Seattle Times — Sprint to lay off 161 in Bellevue, Kirkland — Sprint will lay off 161 people in Bellevue and Kirkland on Friday as part of its $3.5 billion purchase of wireless network operator Clearwire.
► At AFL-CIO Now — Amazon workers file suit over unpaid time — More workers at Amazon.com’s warehouses — that some describe as high-speed, high-tension sweatshops — have filed federal court suits against the company and its contractors that supply the mostly temporary and low-paid workers for workplace rules that require them to undergo unpaid security checks at breaks and the end of their often 12-hour shifts.
► In today’s NY Times — Residents of Detroit go to court over pensions — In an emotional hearing, Detroit residents protesting the city’s bankruptcy filing pleaded on Thursday with a federal judge to protect employee pensions and essential services from cuts they said would be devastating.
► Today the entire staff of The Stand presents songwriting and performance excellence by Jim Croce backed by Maury Muehleisen on BBC’s Old Grey Whistle Test. About two months later — 40 years ago today on Sept. 20, 1973 — both were killed in a small plane crash in Louisiana. Departing for their second concert of the day, the pilot of their leased Beechcraft clipped a pecan tree during takeoff. In a letter to his wife which arrived after his death, Croce told her he was homesick from touring and that he intended to quit music, withdraw from public life, and write short stories and movie scripts instead. He was 30 years old.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.