Friday, November 22, 2013
► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Hanford contractors to lay off 450 workers — Three Hanford contractors told employees Thursday that they plan to lay off up to 450 workers, with most of the layoffs planned in December and January. Union and nonunion workers are expected to lose their jobs. The contractors are reacting to an uncertain Hanford budget for the fiscal year that started Oct. 1. With no federal budget passed by Congress for the year, the Department of Energy is operating under a continuing resolution that keeps funding at fiscal 2013 levels — which included sequestration, or a mandatory federal budget reduction.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Hey, Congressman Hastings, how’s that sequestration working out for your constituents?
► In today’s Seattle Times — Metro union wants workers to defer 2014 cost-of-living raises — About 4,200 union workers at King County Metro Transit will be asked to defer next year’s cost-of-living pay increase, for the sake of the system’s financial and political well-being. County Executive Dow Constantine and union President Paul Bachtel announced a tentative three-year agreement Thursday morning.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Maritime industry worth $30 billion to state economy — As the second day of Seattle’s Pacific Marine Expo kicked off Thursday, the buzz among the attendees — fishermen and legislators alike — was a newly released economic report boasting of Washington’s $30 billion maritime industry.
ALSO at The Stand — Jones Act is essential to U.S. maritime industry, workers (by Frank Foti)
► In today’s (Longview) Daily news — Cowlitz County to cut 20 jobs to help balance the budget — Cowlitz County will eliminate 20 of its 309 employees to help fill a $4 million hole in the county’s 2014 budget, Commissioner Dennis Weber said Monday.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Why immigration is a big issue for women (by Pramila Jayapal and LeeAnn Hall) — Kirby Wilbur’s tweet describing protesters as “witches and hags” shows how little the GOP understands about immigration and women.
ALSO at The Stand — WSLC’s Dodson, 32 other women arrested calling for immigration reform (Nov. 8)
► In the Seattle Times — State GOP chair Susan Hutchison cites ‘war on women’ in pay-raise spat — Susan Hutchison, the new chair of the state Republican party, gets a salary of about $75,000 a year — substantially less than the $95,000 earned by her predecessor, Kirby Wilbur. But when Hutchison tried last weekend to convince the GOP executive committee to boost her pay to Wilbur’s level, the conversation turned ugly and Hutchison’s request was rebuffed.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Hey, Kirby. Does this make her a witch or a hag?
► From KING 5 — Inslee not giving up on Boeing-Machinists talks — Governor Jay Inslee met with representatives for the Machinists union Thursday and will be on the phone with Boeing Friday, urging the two sides to get back together. Meanwhile, he says Olympia has work to do to secure the 777X for Washington.
► At Crosscut — New water standards may spare Boeing — Unless Washington goes with the most extreme option, water-quality targets based on fish consumption studies should spare Boeing any troubles in the next few years. That assessment came from a state official on Thursday.
► In today’s News Tribune — Mistaken airport landing could have put dent in Boeing Dreamliner production — A short crisis brought on by the mistaken landing of a behemoth Boeing at a small Kansas airport could have become a much larger headache for Boeing if the plane hadn’t been able to takeoff from the airport’s short runway Thursday afternoon.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — No conclusions on proposal to raise gas tax — A proposal to raise the gasoline tax by 11.5 cents over three years and spend $12.3 billion on transportation projects and maintenance of existing structures generated four solid hours of testimony Thursday but no conclusions on whether it’s ready to place before the Senate in a special legislative session.
► In today’s Olympian — Inslee wants healthful food, drinks for state employees — A new order issued by Gov. Jay Inslee will require healthful food and drinks in state facilities. That and other directives in Inslee’s executive order move state government toward a wellness plan for its employees. The Democrat pitched such a plan during his campaign for governor last year as a major way to cut costs, and he secured it in principle last month during contract negotiations with state-worker unions.
AFFORDABLE CARE ACT
► In today’s Bellingham Herald — Sliver of Washington state residents could lose health plans and pay more for coverage — Less than 1 percent of Washington residents who are younger than 65 and who buy their own insurance could lose their plan under Obamacare and pay more for coverage — a rate comparable to national totals — according to a report released Thursday by Families USA, a national consumer health care organization.
► MUST-READ in Today’s NY Times — The South’s new lost cause — By refusing to expand health care for the working poor through Medicaid, which is paid for by the federal government under Obamacare, most of the old Confederacy is committed to keeping millions of its own fellow citizens in poverty and poor health. What we could see, 10 years from now, is a Mason-Dixon line of health care. One side would be the insured North, a place where health care coverage was affordable and available to most people. On the other side would be the uninsured South, where health care for the poor would amount to treating charity cases in hospital emergency rooms.
► At Huffington Post — Single-payer advocates: It hurts to say I told you so — Single-payer advocates favor scrapping private health insurance and enrolling everyone in a program akin to Medicare with a comprehensive set of benefits that is financed through taxation, one whose primary focus is providing medical care, not earning profits. To them, the messiness of Obamacare’s infancy was inevitable; the law is built upon a fragmented health care system and a private insurance industry that they believe, by definition, is focused on profit first and the needs of its customers second.
► At Salon — Our Walmart promises 1,500 Black Friday protests — The group behind the past year’s Wal-Mart strikes pledged Thursday to back an unprecedented 1,500 protests for “Black Friday” next week, but stopped short of predicting an increase in the number of Wal-Mart employees on strike compared to last year.
► In today’s NY Times — In landmark vote, Senate limits use of filibuster — The Senate approved the most fundamental alteration of its rules in more than a generation on Thursday, ending the minority party’s ability to filibuster most presidential nominees in response to the partisan gridlock that has plagued Congress for much of the Obama administration.
► In today’s NY Times — Democracy returns to the Senate (editorial) — For five years, Senate Republicans have refused to allow confirmation votes on dozens of perfectly qualified candidates nominated by President Obama for government positions. They tried to nullify entire federal agencies by denying them leaders. They abused Senate rules past the point of tolerance or responsibility. And so they were left enraged and threatening revenge on Thursday when a majority did the only logical thing and stripped away their power to block the president’s nominees.
► At TPM — GOP may be about to fold in protracted food stamp fight — Just a couple months ago, House Republicans passed historic cuts to food stamps, nearly $40 billion worth. But now, a short time after that ideological stand, the GOP may have to relent in its effort to extract such significant reductions in the program’s funding and agree to far less austere cuts, even if it means having to rely on Democratic votes to get it passed.
► Our idea, in today’s Washington Post — Drug testing is a great idea. Thanks, Rep. Radel! (by Petula Dvorak) — In Florida Congressman Trey Radel’s version of Absurdistan, it’s totally okay for a guy in a suit to use coke and collect a government paycheck, but a single mom who needs help buying milk for her kids has to be drug-tested before she gets one government dime. Why, exactly, don’t we require a drug test for our lawmakers? They get paid by the taxpayers. They make important decisions. I’m sure the electronic voting machines they use to cast their yeas and nays count as heavy machinery. Or the members-only elevator does. In America, if you stack apples, cut meat, pitch a baseball, carry a weapon, drive a forklift, answer phones, sweep streets or do any number of other jobs, you’ve got to pee in a cup to assure your employer that you are drug-free and worthy of the job. You were right, Congressman Radel. Drug testing is an excellent idea!
► In today’s NY Times — Expanding Social Security (by Paul Krugman) — There’s a strong case for expanding, not contracting, Social Security. Yes, this would cost money, and it would require additional taxes — a suggestion that will horrify the fiscal scolds, who have been insisting that if we raise taxes at all, the proceeds must go to deficit reduction, not to making our lives better. But the fiscal scolds have been wrong about everything, and it’s time to start thinking outside their box.
► On this 50th anniversary of a dark day in American history, The Entire Staff of The Stand™ will let Mick & Co. answer the question most Americans still believe remains unanswered. (In case you’re wondering, Mick’s vocals are live as the band half-heartedly pretends to play along to a recorded backing track.) Stick around until the end of this performance to enjoy the bewildered applause from the always-polite London audience trying to figure out if something satanic just happened.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.