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Contracts ratified, tax-free Trump, killing Social Security…

Monday, October 3, 2016




WFSE-rally-for-contract-16Aug04► From WFSE — All contracts ratified — The online votes are in and all 10 Washington Federation of State Employees contracts for 2017-2019 have been ratified. All contracts were ratified by “overwhelming” margins, according to the Election Committee… Now that we have voted to ratify our new union contracts, the Legislature must fund our contracts, too. The Legislature has the final say on funding the parts of our contract on compensation and health care. (On non-economic parts of the contracts, they have no veto power.) Only then will we see a raise on July 1, 2017.




synthetic-seattle► From Huffington Post — The University of Washington minimum wage study and its critics (by Peter Costantini) — The small negative employment effects so widely referred to by the study and media accounts of it apparently are not present when the entire Seattle low-wage job market is measured, and the overall impact of the minimum wage increase on employment was positive. If this is the case, it would seem that the study should have reversed its presentation: rather than relegating the broader results to the appendices, it should have put them front and center in the body of the study and done appendices on the single-establishment results (or not published them at all). This is a serious enough misinterpretation on a pivotal point that the team should consider republishing a corrected version of the study.

► In the Bellingham Herald — Alcoa to split into two companies; no name change for Intalco — Beginning Nov. 1, Alcoa Corp. will hold its legacy metal-processing business, while the valued car and jet parts businesses will go by the name of Arconic Inc.. Intalco, the aluminum smelter operation near Ferndale, will remain under the Alcoa legacy metal-processing business.




port-of-tacoma-ILWU23-1► In the News Tribune — Why I’m in favor of trade, but oppose TPP (by ILWU 23’s Dean McGrath) — As president of the longshoremen’s union in Tacoma, I’m naturally pro-trade. So it might come as a surprise that I strongly oppose what’s been billed as the biggest free-trade agreement in a generation, the TPP. If this agreement passes Congress, it may directly benefit my workforce through an increase in jobs, but in this day and age of globalization, it would be very shortsighted to think only about the effects of something so substantial through a lens of self-interest. The reason is simple: TPP isn’t really about trade. Of the agreement’s 30 chapters, only six have to do with reducing barriers to trading goods and services. The deal is mostly about giving the world’s biggest corporations special rights and privileges that would come at the expense of workers, the environment, even consumers.

ALSO at The Stand — We support trade, but oppose flawed TPP (By Lynne Dodson and Bob Guenther)




► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Nation’s first carbon tax on the ballot in Washington — Washington voters will decide whether to approve the nation’s first carbon tax in November… I-732 has failed to gain support from some of the groups that would typically back efforts to reduce carbon emissions. Both the state’s Democratic Party and the Sierra Club have opposed the initiative, saying it isn’t the right approach to climate policy.

ALSO at The Stand — Why voters should reject I-732 carbon tax

► In the Seattle Times — You’d think the Sierra Club would back carbon-cutting I-732 — but you’d be wrong — The Sierra Club has faced an internal backlash in Washington state over a decision to withhold support for a fall ballot measure that would impose a carbon tax on fossil fuels.




clinton-hillary-L► In the Spokesman-Review — Clinton is the rational choice for president (editorial) — The histrionics of the presidential campaign has masked a simple question: Who is qualified? At this point, there is only one candidate who meets this essential requirement: Hillary Clinton… Her breadth of experience – from White House, to U.S. Senate, to secretary of state – is unrivaled. Her grasp of the issues is impressive. She is not a charismatic leader, but she is tough, focused and cool under pressure. She has a moderate record to run on and her positions are well-known. That is not the case for Donald Trump.

► In Saturday’s NY Times — Donald Trump tax records show he could have avoided taxes for nearly two decades, The Times found — Trump declared a $916 million loss on his 1995 income tax returns, a tax deduction so substantial it could have allowed him to legally avoid paying any federal income taxes for up to 18 years, records obtained by The New York Times show… The Trump campaign released a statement that neither challenged nor confirmed the $916 million loss.

trump-taxes► In today’s NY Times — How Donald Trump turned the tax code into a giant tax shelter — It’s hard to imagine a starker contrast with the vast number of Americans who struggle to both pay taxes and make ends meet, or a more damning indictment of a tax code that makes that possible.

► From Reuters — Trump’s tax writeoff shows his ‘genius’ at business, advisers say

► In today’s Washington Post — Following Trump tax revelations, voters in Toledo question his business acumen — “It’s disgusting,” said Steve Crouse, 65, the owner of Toledo’s downtown Glass City Cafe and a separate printing business. “As a businessman, he’s got that right to do that. It’s the way the laws were set up. But it’s not right. I would feel guilty if I didn’t pay anything. It’s flat-out cheating the government. You’re using all the roads, the fire department, the police, so you should pay for that.”

► From Huffington Post — Solidarity against Trump (by Leo W. Gerard) — The AFL-CIO has found that only a small faction, fewer than a third, of its members are Trump supporters. That’s true in my union, the United Steelworkers, as well. And the numbers are declining daily as members find out the truth about The Donald, including how he managed to lose a whopping $916 million in one year and his failure to pay federal income taxes.




supreme-court-do-your-job-garland► In today’s NY Times — A crippled Supreme Court’s new term (editorial) — This is American politics in 2016: the normalization of the deeply abnormal, the collapse of customs of behavior and respect, and the creation of an environment so toxic and polarized that the nation’s leaders struggle to carry out the most basic tasks of government. In this chaotic climate, it can be easy to forget that the Supreme Court, which begins a new term on Monday, remains without a ninth justice nearly seven months after President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February. That seat is likely to stay empty until well into 2017, and depending on which party wins the White House and controls the Senate, possibly long beyond that.

► From Reuters — Supreme Court denies Obama request to rehear major immigration case — The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to rehear a bid by President Barack Obama’s administration to revive his plan to spare from deportation millions of immigrants in the country illegally, a case in which the justices split 4-4 in June. That ruling left in place a lower court decision that had blocked the plan, which Obama announced in 2014 but never went into effect. The court remains one justice short following the February death of Antonin Scalia.

► In today’s NY Times — Ailing Obama health care act may have to change to survive — Obama’s signature domestic achievement will almost certainly have to change to survive. The two parties agree that for too many people, health plans in the individual insurance market are still too expensive and inaccessible.




mcteachers-night► From Think Progress — Corporations are taking advantage of our underfunded public schools — Across the country, large urban school systems — such as Detroit Public Schools, Chicago Public Schools, and Los Angeles Unified School District — are going through budget crises or are teetering on the brink of them. Rural school districts are also struggling financially and considering mergers to provide basic services to students. This underfunding of public education presents an opportunity for corporations, as schools desperate for new fundraising mechanisms may turn a blind eye to corporate involvement in schools.

► From In These Times — Contract for disaster: How privatization is killing the public sector — The new study, “How Privatization Increases Inequality,” explores the role privatization plays in the American economy –compiling data on the estimated $1.5 trillion of state and local contracts doled out each year.




WA-GOP-social-security► In today’s Huffington Post — Slowly killing Social Security: Death by a thousand cuts — Just since 2010, Congress has required that SSA spend ten percent less, in real dollars, than what it was spending before. Ten percent less, even though Social Security ran a surplus in every one of those years. Ten percent less, even though Social Security has trillions of dollars in reserve. Ten percent less, even though, in order to simply maintain services at their current level, SSA needs to spend an additional $300 million a year just to cover the increase in its fixed costs, such as the cost of rent, electricity and phones. Ten percent less, even though those fixed costs rise every single year.

dont-cut-social-security The hardworking SSA employees are not to blame (for service cuts). The blame rests squarely on Congress, which refuses to let Social Security spend its surplus on increased services — or, for that matter, even on maintenance of its services. Since 2011, SSA has been forced to close 64 field offices, along with 533 — almost all — of its mobile offices. The agency employs 25,000 fewer employees, resulting in shortened hours and long lines at the field offices that remain open.

False claims by Social Security’s opponents that Social Security is unaffordable have succeeded in weakening the confidence of the American people in the program’s future, but the false claims have not, at least so far, resulted in actual cuts. But perhaps closed offices, long wait times, and overworked employees might weaken the public’s support enough, to allow the program to be dismantled. At least, that appears to be the thinking.


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