Monday, February 2, 2015
► Today from Bloomberg — U.S. oil workers’ strike enters 2nd day as crude prices slide — The strike by oil workers at plants accounting for 10 percent of U.S. refining capacity entered a second day Monday in the biggest walkout since 1980. The United Steelworkers union that represents employees at more than 200 refineries, terminals, pipelines and chemical plants stopped work Sunday at nine sites after failing to agree on a renewed labor contract.
ALSO at The Stand — USW strike at Anacortes, 8 other refineries
► In today’s (Longview) Daily News — Legislators focus on wages, union labor contracts — Local employers may dislike the idea of raising the minimum wage to $12 an hour, but they may want to get behind a legislative effort to do so, said state Rep. Dean Takko (D-Longview). If the Legislature doesn’t raise the minimum wage this session, voters may approve a much higher wage hike through the initiative process, he said. Meanwhile, Sen. John Braun (R-Centralia) wants to make collective bargaining discussions open to the public.
► In today’s Olympian — Early House budget vote is good sign (editorial) — In a year when political logjams are predicted if not assured, the state House showed Thursday that it can get smaller things done quickly at the Capitol. The House passed a $299 million supplemental spending bill for the budget cycle that ends in June. The strongly bipartisan vote was 83-to-15.
► In the News Tribune — When it comes to unfair tax systems, Washington is No. 1 (by Katie Baird) — After adjusting Washingtonians’ income for the state and local taxes they pay, the distribution of income within our state becomes even more weighted toward the rich. In other words, tax policy in Washington state contributes to rather than ameliorates the nation’s growing problem of income inequality.
► In the Olympian — Bills would allow voters to vote through email, fax, and without postage — Two bills in the state Legislature aim to simplify the process of voting: one through providing prepaid postage on ballots, and the other by allowing voters to return ballots by email and fax.
► In Sunday’s Seattle Times — Senate’s Majority Coalition Caucus needs to be renamed — The Senate Republican majority on Tuesday shattered the “coalition” facade by rewriting membership of the rules committee, the gatekeeper for votes of the full Senate. Republicans, with a three-vote command of the Senate, gave themselves a six-vote margin on the rules committee.
► In today’s Yakima H-R — H-2A guest worker lawsuit to proceed — Mercer Canyons has failed to get a federal judge to dismiss a class-action lawsuit filed by farmworkers over the Horse Heaven Hills farm’s use of the federal H-2A guest worker program.
NAFTA ON STEROIDS
► At Politico — Obama cranks up trade pitch to Dems — Sources say the White House is still only informally counting votes, and Obama was careful to soften the hard sell during a closed-door meeting with lawmakers last week. He said the White House “will make [a] substantive case” for a trade deal but won’t “go after folks” or make the vote a “litmus test” for Democrats, according to sources.
“We share same values and are looking out for the same people,” Obama said in response to a question from Washington Rep. Derek Kilmer, who said he was still undecided despite his state’s dependence on trade.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Opposing Fast Track and the TPP is NOT the same as opposing trade! Reporters who suggest as much are doing exactly what advocates want: turning the debate into a simplistic question of supporting or opposing trade. Read Stan Sorscher’s columns to understand the case for supporting trade and opposing these NAFTA-like agreements.
► In the Washington Post — The Obama administration’s illusionary job gains from the Trans-Pacific Partnership — The Obama administration says that a proposed international trade agreement, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, would support some 650,000 jobs… In this case, the correct number is zero (in the long run), not 650,000, according to the very study used to calculate this number. Administration officials earn Four Pinocchios for their fishy math.
► At AFL-CIO Now — McCain fails to move Jones Act repeal — A move by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to scuttle the nation’s key maritime law — the Jones Act — which put in jeopardy 400,000 shipbuilding, seafaring and supply chain jobs in the maritime industry, failed last week. McCain had proposed an amendment to the XL pipeline bill to repeal the Jones Act, which requires that goods shipped between U.S. ports are carried by U.S.-built, flagged, crewed and owned ships. But there was vocal opposition from the shipping industry, maritime unions, manufacturers and national defense experts, and McCain failed to garner enough support to bring his amendment to a vote.
ALSO at The Stand — McCain’s job-killing plan to repeal Jones Act (Jan. 26)
► In today’s NY Times — Obama budget seek to stabilize deficit, address income inequality — The president will propose a 10-year budget on Monday that stabilizes the federal deficit but does not seek balance, instead focusing on policies to address income inequality as he adds nearly $6 trillion to the debt.
► From Politico — Obama budget pitch: Tax offshore profits to fix U.S. roads — Obama will propose tapping taxes on the $2 trillion in profits sitting outside the U.S. to “to make critical new investments in our roads, bridges, transit systems and freight networks as part of a $478 billion, six-year surface transportation reauthorization,” according to a summary of the plan.
► In the NY Times — The economic benefits of paid parental leave (by Claire Cain Miller) — What are the true economic effects of paid leave? Real-life experiments are underway in three states that already have operational paid leave programs: California, New Jersey and Rhode Island. Their experiences — particularly California’s, where the policy is a decade old — offer some answers. Economists have found that with paid leave, more people take time off, particularly low-income parents who may have taken no leave or dropped out of the work force after the birth. Paid leave raises the probability that mothers return to employment later, and then work more hours and earn higher wages. Paid leave does not necessarily help businesses — but it does not seem to hurt them, either.
► In today’s NY Times — Piling on work to escape gap in health law — Four million adults in the 22 states that did not expand Medicaid earn too much for that program but too little to receive federal subsidies for coverage.
► In Sunday’s NY Times — Forty years of servitude, and counting (editorial) — A federal judge’s decision on the labeling of aides for the elderly and disabled “companions” means an even longer wait for labor protections.
► At Huffington Post — Bill Maher says socialism created America’s successful middle class
WE ♥ PETE
► Attention, Monday morning quarterbacks! Seahawks coach Pete Carroll’s decision to pass from the one-yard line is being called the “worst call in Super Bowl history” by some. Because it resulted in an interception that ended the Seahawks’ hopes, fans will rue the call forever. But it wasn’t stupid. A strong case can be made for passing on 2nd down in that situation. So put away the pitchforks. Do we wish he’d handed it to Marshawn Lynch instead? With the benefit of hindsight, of course! If Lynch had fumbled in that situation, would we be hating on Beast Mode this morning for the biggest choke in Super Bowl history? Of course not.
The Entire Staff of The Stand would rather have Pete Carroll coaching our beloved Seahawks than any other coach in the NFL, including and especially Bill Beli-cheat. Yesterday’s call doesn’t change that one bit.
Now, Offensive Coordinator Darrell Bevell, on the other hand… he’s got to go.
Just kidding. Kind of.
Congratulations on another fantastic season, Seahawks. We can’t wait until next year when we’ll get to continue this ride.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.