Bogus on the ballot, austerity updates, tax-free Trump, 30-year walk…
Friday, May 20, 2016
► From Newsweek — States’ Republicans scramble to halt minimum wage initiatives — Opponents of minimum wage increases elsewhere have been adopting the stealth alternate countermeasure tactic. They increasingly realize that simply opposing any minimum wage increase is a losing proposition given the overwhelming public support for higher minimum wages. Their own polling, in fact, shows that 80 percent of business owners and executives favor raising the minimum wage. Thus, the new bag of tricks, sham proposals and deceptive alternate measures. In Washington state, where voters will decide on a November ballot measure to raise the minimum wage to $13.50 by 2020 and require paid sick leave, business groups are scurrying to put up an alternate measure that would provide a much smaller increase, include a bogus lower “training wage” for up to six months for new hires and block cities from enacting higher local wages in the future.
► From PubliCola — Improved traffic times continue to contradict anger about I-405 tolling — When the GOP controlled State Senate fired Inslee’s transportation secretary Lynn Peterson in dramatic style in the middle of the session, Republican lawmakers cited WSDOT’s I-405 tolling program as their main grievance… Despite the noise, the latest data (such as measuring traffic speeds) shows that I-405 tolling has actually improved traffic conditions and commutes. What’s more: the surveys show that people are pleased with the program.
► In today’s Olympian — State still short-changes community-technical college funding (by Marty Brown and Timothy Stokes) — Our community and technical colleges have seen minimal support from the Legislature since the recession. In real dollars, state funding is down to levels not seen since before 2007. The bonds needed to construct, maintain and repair campus buildings across the state have decreased more than half — by 55 percent — in the same time period. Per-student funding has declined by more than 8 percent. Meanwhile, our state’s skills gap and unfilled jobs in high demand industries continually increases.
► In today’s News Tribune — Time for Washington state lawmakers to face Supreme firepower? (editorial) — The daily $100,000 fine is a phantom, but stopping it would send a message that the justices are easing pressure on lawmakers at absolutely the wrong time. On the other hand, ratcheting up pressure in radical ways — such as by shuttering the school system, as the New Jersey Supreme Court did in 1976 — would go too far. One step it could take is including a proviso in this year’s ruling, an order for legislators to stay in session next year until they solve this hydra-headed problem once and for all. It could lay out harsh penalties effective Jan. 1, 2018, such as the canceling of all state tax exemptions.
► From IAM 751 — IAM leaders join strikers on picket line at Triumph — Leaders of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers on Thursday marched in solidarity with Machinists Union Local Lodge 86 members in Spokane, who are in the second week of a strike at Triumph Composite Systems. IAM International President Bob Martinez and Western Territory General Vice President Gary Allen also met with local union representatives to assure them they will have the support and resources they need to prevail.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Washington suffers worst Hispanic jobless rate in U.S. (by Jon Talton) — A new report from the Economic Policy Institute brings this nugget: Washington, along with Illinois, had the highest Hispanic unemployment rate in the nation, 7.8 percent in March. Nationally, it was 5.6 percent.
► From KOMO — Sea-Tac debuts private screeners at TSA checkpoints — For the first time, private contractors will join federal agents to work security checkpoints through the summer. Wait times can quickly stack up at security checkpoints as TSA agents struggle to staff them. The Port of Seattle’s solution is to experiment with private security officers. The forecast calls for 95,000 additional air travelers every day across the nation. However, in recent years TSA has lost 5,000 agents and seen its budget shrink by nearly $250 million.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Mission accomplished, champions of austerity! 1) Strangle government budgets until services suffer. 2) Blame government inefficiency. 3) Contract out public services to your benefactors in the private sector who pay low wages.
► In today’s News Tribune — Save KPLU effort nears its $7 million goal (editorial) — We’ll repeat our call that keeping a second public radio station in the region, one that has provided a strong, independent voice for journalism — and jazz and blues, to boot — is worthy of support.
► From The Nation — The TPP is ‘disastrous for working families’ and central to the 2016 campaign (by John Nichols) — Voters are justifiably angry about past trade deals, which were written to favor the interests of multinational corporations over those of workers, the environment, labor rights, human rights, and democracy. And they are justifiably frightened by the prospect that the TPP could make things much worse. How justified?The United States International Trade Commission has just released a long-awaited “report on what critics have decried as the NAFTA on steroids” proposal for a Pacific Rim trade deal. The report was expected to make a strong case for the agreement. Instead, it barely makes a case at all. So modest is the argument for the TPP that it was characterized by Politico as a “mildly positive” document with a “mixed” projection for how the TPP would influence the U.S. trade deficit and the bad news that “the oil, coal, chemical, auto parts, forestry, leather and medical device industries could see slower growth than without the agreement.” Instead of strengthening the argument for the TPP, the congressionally mandated study of how the sweeping agreement might help or harm the US economy is heightening the level of concern.
► In the Wall St. Journal — U.S., Japan heading for standoff on yen devaluation — Japanese firms concerned about falling exports and lower profits are putting pressure on policy makers to devalue the yen. In the U.S., unions and companies worry that devaluation will mean more job losses and factory closures.
► In today’s Washington Post — Trump’s income tax returns once became public. They showed he didn’t pay a cent. — The last time Donald Trump’s income-tax returns were made public, in 1981, the bottom line was striking: He had paid the federal government $0 in income taxes as the wealthy Manhattan investor had taken advantage of a tax-code provision popular with developers that allowed him to report negative income. Today, as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Trump regularly denounces corporate executives for using loopholes and “false deductions” to “get away with murder” when it comes to avoiding taxes. “They make a fortune. They pay no tax,” Trump said last year on CBS. “It’s ridiculous, okay?”
► In today’s NY Times — Obama’s war on inequality (by Paul Krugman) — While the move on overtime pay comes late in the game, it’s a pretty big deal, and could be the beginning of much broader action. Nothing Obama has done will put more than a modest dent in American inequality. But his actions aren’t trivial, either.
► Yesterday, The Washington Post (of all sources) posted a fantastic piece about the how Run-DMC met Aerosmith and changed music forever. Thirty years ago, a 22-year-old white producer named Rick Rubin had the idea of bringing the rising-star rappers together with the then-fading rockers to remake this song. (But as the article points out, let’s give DJ pioneer Grandmaster Flash some props for “discovering” and re-purposing the song’s beat many years prior.) This landmark collaboration catapulted Run–DMC into mainstream stardom and would influence hip-hop and rock music for years to come.
So let The Entire Staff of The Stand take you back to 1986, the year Da Bears were champs, Matt Groening first created The Simpsons family, and none of us were paying proper attention as a company called Microsoft held its IPO. Enjoy! And make sure you check out that article for newly unearthed behind-the-scenes footage from the recording session and the video shoot.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.