Currently viewing the tag: "Barack Obama"

On January 1, 2012 Washington State’s minimum wage will increase to $9.04.  Once again Washington State will lead the nation in having the highest minimum wage.  Oregon’s minimum wage will increase to $8.80. 

The minimum wage level of Washington State, Oregon and 8 other state’s is indexed to inflation and the consumer price index. In 1998 Washington voters passed Initiative 688. It was the first state to index it’s minimum wage to inflation and set the standard for other states to follow rather than every few years waging battles to try to increase the minimum wage when inflation went up. The other eight states are Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, and Vermont.

As CNNMoney notes, “Minimum wage rates in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont and Washington will rise between 28 and 37 cents per hour on Jan. 1 …Rates in these states will range from $7.64 per hour (in Colorado), to $9.04 (in Washington) in 2012.” Nevada does not raise its minimum wage until July 1st and Missouri, even with an adjustment, does not exceed the Federal minimum wage.

Increasing the minimum wage has positive effects on the economy.  As CNNMoney noted:

 ”The small boosts for 2012 are estimated to tack an extra $582 to $770 a year onto the paychecks of full-time workers, according to the National Employment Law Project, a non-profit advocacy group.

What’s more, the increases could be a mini-boost for the economy. The expected rise in consumer spending as a result of the wage increases would add $366 million to the nation’s gross domestic product and lead to the creation of more than 3,000 full-time jobs.”

The Economic Policy Institute calculates the actual impact in even broader terms.

Across these eight states, an estimated 1,045,000 workers will be “directly affected.”  These are workers whose current wages are between the existing state minimum wage and the new Jan. 1 minimum wage. In addition, another 394,000 workers will be “indirectly affected” by the increase. These indirectly-affected workers are those whose current wages are just above the new Jan. 1 minimum, and are likely to also see a wage increase as employers adjust their overall pay structures to reflect the new minimum (the “spillover” effect).

Despite the benefits of indexing the minimum wage to inflation, the national minimum wage is not indexed to inflation. Thus as the cost of goods like food and gas go up, the buying ability of minimum wage workers decreases. The current Federal wage is currently only $7.25.  That’s just a little over $15,000 a year.

The federal minimum wage needs to be indexed to inflation. Congress has a dismal record of increasing the minimum wage.  From 1997 to 2007, the minimum wage was stuck at $5.15 despite increases in inflation. In legislation passed in 2007 it went up to $5.85 in June 2007, then to $6.55 in June 2008 and then to $7.25 in June 2009. No further increase have been made in the last 2 1/2 years.

Barack Obama, as part of his transition team agenda, said he would work to raise the minimum wage and index it to inflation.  We need to hold him to his promise and to put Democrats and Republicans on the spot as to standing up for helping low income workers make it in this economy.  Republicans will voice all their usual objections but there is no better way to convince voters of whose interests they really represent than to challenge them to support working Americans by raising the minimum wage for the lowest paid workers.

And progressives in the states that have initiatives would be wise to run minimum wage initiatives with an inflation index in 2012.  With all the attention on the vast disparity of wealth distribution in this country that has gotten worse, its time to put on the ballot measures that work to redress this imbalance and that point out the differences between the goals of Republicans and Democrats.  Democrats have joined with Labor in working to help raise the pay of lower wage earners. Republicans have not.

In an article in Newsweek’s The Gaggle on Press, Politics and Absurdity, Arthur Romano details how the Republican agenda for the economy doesn’t hold up when examined. The article is entitled Estimates Say Fewer Jobs, Larger Deficits if Republicans Were in Charge”. Romano examines and calculates the figures based on stated Republican positions and actions they have proposed.

The article notes:

As House Minority Leader John Boehner put it in a “major economic address” on Tuesday, President Obama is “doing everything possible to prevent jobs from being created” while refusing to do anything at all “about bringing down the deficits that threaten our economy.” Elect Republicans in November, Boehner assured his audience, and we will put an end to this insanity.

There’s only one problem with Boehner’s message: so far, the things that Republicans have said they want to do won’t actually boost employment or reduce deficits. In fact, much the opposite. By combing through a variety of studies and projections from nonpartisan economic sources, we here at Gaggle headquarters have found that if Republicans were in charge from January 2009 onward—and if they were now given carte blanche to enact the proposals they want to—the projected 2010–2020 deficits would be larger than they are under Obama, and fewer people would probably be employed.

It is good to finally see some response from the media to questioning the absurd pronouncements and posturing by Republicans beyond merely quoting their phony claims. Anyone can repeat the nonsense that many Republicans and Tea Party fanatics have been spouting. It’s something else to actually look beyond the heated rhetoric and rantings of the right wing and analyze what putting these folks and their friends back in power would actually mean.

As just one example of why people should read the Newsweek article to understand just how ridiculous the Republican claims are, let’s look at the claim that extending the Bush Tax cuts for the very wealthy will help small business create more jobs.

As Newsweek notes:

“…it’s unlikely that extending the cuts for the richest Americans would have much of an effect on small-business hiring, which is a claim that Republicans make with some regularity. Why? Because of the taxpayers that report running small businesses on their taxes, only 2 percent fall into the top two income brackets.* The other 98 percent of small-business owners make less than $250,000 a year and wouldn’t pay higher taxes under Obama’s plan.

History isn’t on the GOP’s side, either. If keeping the top marginal tax rate at 35 percent—the rate under Bush, and the rate that Republicans are fighting to preserve—spurs so much hiring, why didn’t America experience any job growth at all during Bush’s time in office? And if a top marginal tax rate of 39.6 percent—the rate under Bill Clinton, and the rate that Democrats are fighting to restore—is such a job killer, why did payrolls grow by 20 percent during the 1990s?”

I urge you to read the article to get more details and understand better why the Republican economic
rantings are just a lot of smoke obscuring the reality that things would be worse off, not better if Republicans gain control of either House of Congress.  If you thought we had gridlock and weren’t getting enough done now, expect nothing to get done if Republicans get back control of either house.

An article published in today’s Seattle Times states that supporters of the the health care legislation supported by President Obama and passed by Democrats in Congress now outnumber opponents The Associated Press-GfK poll showed 45% in favor of the legislation to 42% opposed.

The poll found support increased since May among men (from 36 percent to 46 percent), people in their prime working years (from 35 percent to 49 percent among 30- to 49-year-olds) and Republicans (from 8 percent to 17 percent.) The uptick among Republicans comes even as party leaders are calling for the law’s repeal.

The article credits the increased support on the public supporting a number of key provisions of the bill including:

“…coverage for young adults on their parents’ plan until they turn 26; a $250 rebate check for older people with high prescription costs; tax credits for some small businesses that cover their employees; and federal money to train more primary-care doctors and nurses”

Significantly the poll found that the public trusts the Democrats to do a better job of handling health care than Republicans by a margin of 51% to 39% That’s not surprising considering that no Republicans supported the legislation and they made every effort they could to obstruct reform of health care to try to prevent Obama from passing the legislation and having a significant legislative victory.

Republican obstructionist tactics failed and are a sign of the lack of new ideas or an agenda that appeals to Americans interested in solving our countries problems rather than engaging in partisan politics Obama is developing a track record despite the childish tactics of the Republicans who are more intent on trying to get back into power than on dealing with our problems.  Electing naysayers and do nothings just isn’t going to happen. The obstructionist tactics of the Republicans are destined to come back and bite the Republicans at the polls.

As we await the outcome in the Senate race in Massachusetts, one thing is certain.  The Democrats are failing to articulate their message to voters.  Nationally Democrats have become complacent, allowing right wing Republicans and the so called Tea Party fanatics to define what the Democrats are about. One has to wonder where is the vision, where is the voice articulating a progressive future for America.

Democrats have allowed conservative voices to dominate the airwaves with outrageous claims and make Democrats the issue  rather than the failed conservative policies that contributed to our current recession.  They have allowed the Tea Party rhetoric to switch the blame for failed conservative free market and de-regulation policies to Democrats who are struggling to clean up 8 years of failed fiscal policies under Bush.

EJ Dionne in a commentary yesterday entitled  Mass. Senate raises lessons for Obama  discusses the Democrat’s problems:

“…the success of the conservative narrative ought to trouble liberals and the Obama administration. The president has had to “own” the economic catastrophe much earlier than he should have. Most Americans understand that the mess we are in started before Obama got to the White House. Yet many, especially political independents, are upset that the government has had to spend so much and that things have not turned around as fast as they had hoped.

It’s also striking that most conservatives, through a method that might be called the audacity of audacity, have acted as if absolutely nothing went wrong with their economic theories. They speak and act as if they had nothing to do with the large deficits they now bemoan and say we will all be saved if only we return to the very policies that should already be discredited. …

…the truth that liberals and Obama must grapple with is that they have failed so far to dent the right’s narrative, especially among those moderates and independents with no strong commitments to either side in this fight.”

Just winning the election was only 1 step. It’s like scoring a touchdown and then walking off the football field before the game is over. It’s like winning the first game of the season and then not showing up for the next game. You can’t achieve change if you’re not engaged in an ongong matter. And a big part of the game in politics is getting your message out there defining who you are and what you stand for and what you intend to do for the country; it’s not by letting the fringe conservatives, with no agenda except being in power, define who you are by outshouting you.

America’s free press is disappearing and real political analysis is being lost as polls, yelling and shouting replace political dialogue and serious discussion of the issues. Money exerts an even greater influence in driving politics as an independent press ceases to function and corporate conglomerates consolidate media power. TV, where most people get their news, loves a political circus with controversy. They love car crashes and political scandals more than hard hitting investigations and analysis of policies and programs that affect peoples lives every day. Not enough drama.

Citizens need to demand more from our media and more from our elected officials to engage the public in running our country. Democrats need to wake up and work for the future they want. No one is going to just hand it to them Let’s hope the Democrat’s in power wake up to this reality before the opportunity for real change passes us by again.

Tagged with:
 

The media seems to be working overtime to keep the new Obama “Reality Check” website on health care secret. We’re publishing it up front so you can see it for yourself. Its www.WhiteHouse.gov/RealityCheck .

But read the print edition of the Seattle Times. today. Nowhere does it publish the link. Only if you go online and read the same article can you can find a link to the site. Why is it not published in the print edition? The article is a reprint of an article written by the New York Times.

Go to today’s print edition of the New York Times of the same article and it also does not provide a specific link. It mentions that “The White House on Monday started a new website to fight questionable but potentially damaging charges that Presidents Obama’s proposed overhaul of the nations health care system would inevitably lead to “socialized medicine”, “rationed care” and even forced euthanasia for the elderly.” But they only show a small picture of it do do not provide a web address to go to. Only by going to the New York Times article on the web can you find a link.

The Washington Post on line today notes that “On Monday, the White House launched a new online “Reality Check” on its Web site featuring administration officials rebutting critics’ claims.” But strangely it does not provide a link or website address for the White House website.

Various media outlets seem to be working overtime giving coverage to outrageous poster slogans and deliberate orchestrated efforts by Republicans and conservatives to kill any health care reform. Why does a picture of an absurd slogan or someone yelling to stop debate on discussion on health care deserve more coverage than the simple act of putting up the web address to Obama’s rebuttal of the right wing’s frantic efforts to prevent health care reform?

The media in this case seems to be more in the business of entertainment than providing the public function of information dissemination. Facts about public policy and fostering discussion lose out to slogans, and yelling and screaming by a vocal minority. How is the media doing the public a service by covering the antics of the right wing which is offering no answer to rising health care costs or lack of adequate health care coverage or loss of health care coverage.

Where’s the truth here? Is the media being hoodwinked by the right wing? The right wing’s goal is to stop Obama, is to stop anything that gives Obama momentum to bring about change and to re-institute the conservative policies that contributed to our present recession and multitude of problems that were not addressed while the Republicans were in control. Is the media carrying the water for the right wing conservatives by giving them so much coverage when they don’t deserve it?

The question here is one the media needs to look at. Is it a circus they should be covering or is it helping to try to resolve health care problems that exist in this country? They can help the public by trying to factually deal with health care issues. They could start by helping to insure that the public has access to the proposals being considered by Congress and the President and doing simple things like providing links and web addresses to what the President is saying. Or just a simple thing like publishing the web address www.WhiteHouse.gov/RealityCheck .

The website has a number of videos where response is given to criticism of Obama’s health-care reform. Here are some of the areas covered:

CEA Chair Christina Romer details how health insurance reform will impact small businesses.

Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes tackles a nasty rumor about euthanasia and clearly describes how reform helps families.

Matt Flavin, the White House’s Director of Veterans and Wounded Warrior Policy, clears the air about Veteran’s benefits.

Kavita Patel, M.D., a doctor serving in the White House’s Office of Public Engagement, explains that health care rationing is happening right now and how reform gives control back to patients and doctors.

Bob Kocher, M.D., a doctor serving on the National Economic Council, debunks the myth that health insurance reform will be financed by cutting Medicare benefits.

Tagged with:
 

The New York Times has an interesting opinion piece today by David E RePass. RePass is an Emeritus Professor of Political Science at the University of Connecticut.

RePass’s opinion piece is entitled “Make my Filibuster” and his thesis is simple. Republicans have been repeatedly threatening to filibuster legislation essentially giving a minority veto power to 40 Senators. Yet actual filibusters he says are extremely rare. He says this threat of a filibuster is preventing government from functioning effectively and is really more appropriately called a “phantom filibuster.”

RePass notes that:

“The phantom filibuster is clearly unconstitutional. The founders required a supermajority in only five situations: veto overrides and votes on treaties, constitutional amendments, convictions of impeached officials and expulsions of members of the House or Senate. The Constitution certainly does not call for a supermajority before debate on any controversial measure can begin.

And fixing the problem would not require any change in Senate rules. The phantom filibuster could be done away with overnight by the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid. All he needs to do is call the minority’s bluff by bringing a challenged measure to the floor and letting the debate begin.”

I strongly agree with DePass. He suggests that the Democrats would be politically astute if they called the Republicans bluff. Obama is enjoying much public good will, having inherited a disaster of an economy from the Republicans. The Republican mind set of a free market economy and little or no regulation and oversight brought on this current economic nightmare.

Voters clearly said it’s time to change and Republicans still don’t get it. Their answer to the problems is to continue the tried and failed Republican free market economy approach, rather than admit that they failed and brought us this mess. It is a Republican mess and if they want to filibuster Obama’s proposals to try to fix the problem, let them go ahead.

Let them get on the Senate floor and oppose health care legislation and green jobs legislation and regulation for the financial industry and unemployment compensation for the unemployed and mortgage reform and help for homeowners losing their jobs and solutions to deal with climate change. That’s what they’ve been doing for years.

But the public mood has changed. If they didn’t get the message from last November’s election of Obama and the loss of formerly Republican seats in the House and Senate, let them see how Americans feel about their trying to stop Congress and the President from working and doing their job by proposing and passing needed solutions to our current problems.

Americans are tried of naysayers and want our problems solved. Republicans botched the economy and Americans want them to get out of the way and let the President and Congress work to clean up the mess they created. They’ll soon learn that the filibuster approach to solving problems is not one that going to earn them more votes in the next election. It’s time for Reid and the Democrats in the US Senate to call the Republicans bluff on filibustering and move on to working out urgently needed solutions to our pressing problems.

Tagged with:
 

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson has asked Barack Obama to withdraw his nomination to be Commerce Secretary. Obama has accepted his withdrawal..

As reported locally by Ken Camp on the Northwest Progressive Institute Advocate Richardson’s office released a statement this afternoon announcing his withdrawal. Ken Camp was a strong advocate for Richardson’s campaign for President.

As reported by the New Mexican, Richardson’s statement was released by his office and noted the following:

“I felt that duty particularly because America is facing such extraordinary economic challenges. The Department of Commerce must play an important role in solving them by helping to grow the new jobs and businesses America so badly needs. It is also because of that sense of urgency about the work of the Commerce Department that I have asked the President-elect not to move forward with my nomination at this time. I do so with great sorrow. But a pending investigation of a company that has done business with New Mexico state government promises to extend for several weeks or, perhaps, even months,” the governor said.”

In a statement by Obama released through Richardson’s office, Obama stated:

“It is with deep regret that I accept Governor Bill Richardson’s decision to withdraw his name for nomination as the next Secretary of Commerce.Governor Richardson is an outstanding public servant and would have brought to the job of Commerce Secretary and our economic team great insights accumulated through an extraordinary career in federal and state office. It is a measure of his willingness to put the nation first that he has removed himself as a candidate for the Cabinet in order to avoid any delay in filling this important economic post at this critical time …”

As noted in the Huffington Post:

“New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson abandoned his nomination to become commerce under pressure of a grand jury investigation into a state contract awarded to his political donors _ an investigation that threatened to embarrass President-elect Barack Obama. …A federal grand jury is investigating how a California company that contributed to Richardson’s political activities won a New Mexico transportation contract worth nearly $1.5 million. Richardson said in a statement issued by the Obama transition office that the investigation could take weeks or months but expressed confidence it will show he and his administration acted properly.”

I see two reasons why Richardson was forced by circumstances to withdraw. One certainly was the hint of pay to play politics that dominated the news with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich scandal over the nomination of a replacement Senator for Barack Obama’s seat. A second hint of scandal, even if not true, only focused the public’s attention more and more on the issue and away from Obama’s agenda.

The second reason was timing – Obama needs his cabinet appointments to hit the ground running and the grand jury investigation would only delay Richardson’s confirmation. Obama and the country need cabinet members to get busy tackling the problems left by Bush and the economic meltdown right away. Unfortunately Richardson’s problems left doubts as to when he would get Senate approval.

Howard Dean is going to step down as Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. He is not seeking a second term and will leave in January. He could turn up as a Cabinet member under President Obama – maybe Secretary of Health and Human Services.

As Adam Nagourney on The Caucus blog at the NY Times notes:

“As chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Mr. Dean pressed the party to expand its efforts and set up offices in all 50 states, arguing that the party was making a mistake in effectively ceding states to the Republican Party. That position led him into some famously pointed clashes with Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, who at the time headed the Democratic Congressional Campaign, and who was angry that Mr. Dean was not sending money he had raised to help in Democratic efforts to take back Congress.
Mr. Emanuel was appointed by Mr. Obama last week as the White House chief of staff.”

Donna Brazile, a DNC member is quoted on the Huffington Post saying:

“The 50-state-strategy was successful in laying the groundwork for 2006 and 2008, …. Clearly, the strategy has reaped a harvest of new voters for Democrats and the next Chair will no doubt build upon this foundation for 2010 and beyond. Remember, we have some interesting statewide and mayoral elections next year before the all out organizing for redistricting.”

Sam Stein in his post suggests that a good replacement for Dean might be a duo combination of Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, who was a co-chair of Obama’s Presidential campaign and Steve Hildebrand who was deputy campaign manager.

David Corn also on the Huffington Post in a second article suggests that Obama’s Campaign Manager David Plouffe might be a better choice noting specifically that:

Job One of the new DNC chair is to win the 2010 congressional elections as a prelude to winning reelection for Barack Obama in 2012. The party doesn’t need a visionary or public leader in the position. Obama can handle those tasks. (The party on the outs is the one that requires a posterboy or postergirl who is good on television.) The Democrats need an uber-operative who can simultaneously oversee scores of critical House and Senate races, supervise the early reelection effort, and chart out the overall mission of advancing the party’s interests across the country. The next DNC chair should also know a thing or two about fundraising and be able to transform the party into the receptacle for all the grassroots energy and passion that poured into the Obama campaign. Who better than Plouffe to do all this?

Corn notes that Plouffe has communicated that he is not interested yet it is important to note that Obama basically set up an independent campaign organization in his run for President that incorporated fundraising and get out the vote efforts. It obviously worked and from a practical sense the DNC is the logical organization to merge with Obama’s structure and focus to look toward the future.

The choice of who chairs the DNC is the prerogative of Obama as President. It is as critical a choice as any he makes regarding his future and the future of the Democratic Party. It is important that he makes the right choice.

John W Dean, the former Nixon White House Counsel, has thrown his support strongly behind the need to elect Barack Obama to the White House and reject McCain/Palin.

Saying that Barack Obama “has shown without any doubt (in my mind anyway) that he is not only qualified to be president, but that he might be a once-in-a-lifetime leader who can forever change the nation and the world for the better.”, Dean gives insightful and cogent reasons to end Republican rule in the White House.

The following excerpt is from a column he wrote for FindLaw’s Writ entitled The Evidence Establishes, without Question, that Republican Rule Is Dangerous: Why It Is High Time to Fix This Situation, For the Good of the Nation”

The Republican Approach to Government: Authoritarian Rule

“Republicans rule, rather than govern, when they are in power by imposing their authoritarian conservative philosophy on everyone, as their answer for everything. This works for them because their interest is in power, and in what it can do for those who think as they do. Ruling, of course, must be distinguished from governing, which is a more nuanced process that entails give-and-take and the kind of compromises that are often necessary to find a consensus and solutions that will best serve the interests of all Americans.

Republicans’ authoritarian rule can also be characterized by its striking incivility and intolerance toward those who do not view the world as Republicans do. Their insufferable attitude is not dangerous in itself, but it is employed to accomplish what they want, which is to take care of themselves and those who work to keep them in power.

Authoritarian conservatives are primarily anti-government, except where they believe the government can be useful to impose moral or social order (for example, with respect to matters like abortion, prayer in schools, or prohibiting sexually-explicit information from public view). Similarly, Republicans’ limited-government attitude does not apply regarding national security, where they feel there can never be too much government activity – nor are the rights and liberties of individuals respected when national security is involved. Authoritarian Republicans do oppose the government interfering with markets and the economy, however – and generally oppose the government’s doing anything to help anyone they feel should be able to help themselves. “

The column makes interesting reading and puts forward a concise analysis of the current ongoing disaster that has been the Republican Party’s approach to governing our country.

I feel the same mentality exists in Washington State. GOP aka Republican candidate Dino Rossi has run a typical authoritarian conservative Republican campaign, such as Dean describes, against Democratic Governor Christine Gregoire. Ads supporting Rossi and opposing Gregoire are full of distortions and misrepresentations of Governor Gregoire’s record.

Rossi and his supporters like the BIAW and the Republican Governor’s Conference have run a divisive us versus them campaign that is bereft of detail on what he would do which lets the public fill in the details. The problem is that if he wins, what he will do will be very different from what people expect.

Unfortunately voters made a similar mistake years ago when they elected Dixie Lee Ray Governor. She also represented change. She only survived one term after voters finally got to know her.

Don’t be fooled by Rossi’s smile. He’s for change all right, just not what you might think.

For example, if Rossi is elected, he will be appointing a Washington State Supreme Court Justice to replace Judge Gerry Alexander when he reaches the mandatory retirement age. Expect Rossi to reward his big BIAW money backers with a BIAW approved candidate like John Groen that voters previously rejected.

Among the names circulating as possible candidates for positions in an Obama administration is that of Democratic Congressman Jay Inslee for Secretary of the Interior. A second name mentioned is that of Robert F Kennedy, Jr.

You can check out the list of names of potential candidates being discussed for staff and Cabinet positions in an Obama Administration according to a post today by Politico.

As noted by Politico:

“The list is heavy on campaign heavyweights and Washington insiders, many of them from the administration of President Bill Clinton. So while surprises can be expected to crop up — especially on any Republican members of the Cabinet — many of the selections would likely be proven hands who would provoke little controversy. Obama has not communicated his final choice on any of these posts but plans to move very quickly if he is elected, according to the sources. They point to the political price that Clinton paid for dilly-dallying on his appointments and nomination. “

Good for a little diversion and feel good reading at seeing some great names as possible key players in an Obama Administration but don’t forget the election isn’t over yet. Just a few more reasons to keep working hard to put a great new team in place in Washington DC. Vote Barack Obama for President!

And don’t forget the local races to keep Washington moving forward as part of the national change.

Vote Nov. 4, 2008 for:

Chris Gregoire for Governor,
Peter Goldmark for Public Lands Commissioner,
John Ladenburg for Attorney General,
Jason Osgood for Secretary of State,
Jim McIntire for State Treasurer,
Darcy Burner for Congress
George Fearing for Congress.

Set your Twitter account name in your settings to use the TwitterBar Section.