Nel's New Day

October 9, 2022

News – October 9, 2022 (Some Hopeful)

Twenty miles from Fort Myers (FL) where multitudes of homes were destroyed, a 4,600-resident model community at Babcock Ranch, a 100-percent solar-powered built-to-code storm-resilient town, suffered only ripped pool coverage, broken fence posts, downed trees, and a few missing shingles. It didn’t even lose power. Structures are on land 25 feet higher on average than surrounding communities, and buildings are specified for Category 4 hurricane winds of 145 mph. Drinking water wasn’t contaminated and never shut off from the water system and wastewater plant deep into an underground aquifer. The 700,000 solar panels owned by Florida Power & Light covering 900 acres suffered little damage. Population of the town is expected to grow to 50,000 with six million square feet of commercial space. Houses can be expensive, but some of them start about $300,000. Sadly, Florida will probably rebuild on the beaches with no regulations, and people will again be destroyed in another hurricane.

President Joe Biden’s administration has reunited 500 children separated by the zero tolerance border policy instated by former Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). The number is almost half the goal of over 1,100 separated children returned to their parents. About 200 families are being processed, and another 150 contacted by the government haven’t responded. Reunited families may temporarily stay in the U.S., and parents separated from their children have work permits for three years. The program also provides mental health service through non-profits. Some children have not seen their parents for four years. The cases meet the definition of torture, according to a study, because “U.S. officials intentionally carried out actions causing severe pain and suffering in order to punish and intimidate mainly Central American asylum seekers to not pursue their asylum claims.”

Headlines have lambasted President Joe Biden’s job losses the past month from 315,000 to 263,000 jobs, “the slowest month of hiring in 18 months” (Fox), after his administration created 10 million jobs in the past 20 months. Yet increasing employment edged down to unemployment of 3.5 percent, and real economists are delighted with the overall picture, predicting no recession.

Compare Biden’s record to that of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) who promised 25 million new jobs in a decade but ended up with 3.1 fewer million jobs when he left office than when he came into office. People might blame the COVID problems, but he increased jobs by only 6.6 million in his first three years and then badly mismanaged COVID in his last year. DDT left office with the worst jobs record since Herbert Hoover in 1932. President Bill Clinton created 22.745 million jobs during his two terms followed by George W. Bush with 0.523 million new jobs in two terms.

In the 18 months since Biden’s rescue act, over 8 million people jobless in March 2021 now have jobs. Last year’s economy had its fastest growth since 1984, ending 2021 with a three-percent higher GDP than before the pandemic. Unfortunately, a hot economy also kicked off a higher inflation rate exacerbated by Russia’s war in Ukraine, higher prices for huge big business profits, and now the OPEC’s cut in oil production. People had money, and their purchases drove up prices. The Federal Reserve started to drive down prices by raising interest rates which angered people who want both low prices and low interest rates.

In one way to lower costs for people, Biden is tackling “junk fees,” the hidden costs from overdrafts on a bank account to terminating cellphone contracts early, usually impacting low-income people the most. The project goes through agencies controlling areas in which these fees predominate—banks, credit unions, debt collection, transportation, etc. For example, payments for credit card late fees fun $12 billion. Eliminating some of these fees may help problems with inflation. Some banks such as Capital One and Citibank have already done away with non-sufficient funds and overdraft fees. Wells Fargo dropped NSF fees but kept the overdraw ones after making $1 billion from January through September 2021.

Two states have delayed anti-abortion laws until litigation moves through the courts. One of the blocked laws is the 1864 anti-abortion legislation passed in Arizona passed during the Civil War, 48 years before Arizona became a state. In Ohio, a county judge blocked the state’s “heartbeat law,” eliminating any abortions after the law pretends an ultrasound noise at six weeks is an embryo’s heartbeat.

A dozen hypocritical Florida members of Congress joined both Florida senators and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) to beg Republican Kay Granger (TX) for aid after Hurricane Ian despite their “no” votes on providing the assistance. At least one of them still stands by his “no” vote and praised his colleagues in the Florida delegation for the same action. Their objection is that other states could receive disaster assistance.

Republicans have continued their fury with the Democratic opposition to “trickle-down” economics, the theory that cutting taxes for the wealthy would allow them to hire more workers, a philosophy that failed for much of the 20th century and most recently failed in the 2017 GOP tax cuts for big business and the rich that financially benefited only these categories. Unfortunately, the good news of over 10 million jobs created since Biden’s inauguration and the increased buying power from congressional economic stimulus bills led to inflation and lower stock markets because business wasn’t prepared to provide goods and it raised prices for greater business profit.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott may have committed fraud by using federal COVID-19 relief funds for transporting migrants out of the state to northeastern U.S. as part of his anti-immigrant Operation Lone Star. In the 2021 regular session, Abbott persuaded the GOP legislature to approve $1.1 billion for border guards and their supplies but wanted more money. He called a special session to get for another $1.9 billion for another 1,800 guards/troopers and a border wall, Operation Steel Curtain. When Abbott reallocated funds from a number of agencies, he said nothing about using COVID funds and told them that “the agencies’ earlier appropriations have been fully funded with other sources.”

GOP legislators loudly shouted the word “socialism” for the new infrastructure law while grabbing the money and behind the scenes begging for funding before telling their constituents how they, who voted against the laws, are benefiting them. In one of dozens of requests, Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN) attacked what he called “President Biden’s multi-trillion dollar socialist wish list” and wrote Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg about his support for the multimillion dollar grant to improve part of Highway 65 in his district. Emmer called it “a social justice measure.” Perhaps the most hypocritical and crazy congressional member, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) bitterly complained about the bill serving “the America Last’s socialist agenda” before writing three separate letters imploring for funding that would enhance quality of life with the projects he wants. Other congressional members—Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Reps. Elvira Salazar and Carlos Giménez (R-FL) Rep. David Valadao (R-CA), Rep. Ashley Hinson (IA), Rep. Marwayne Mullin (R-OK)—took the same approaches to smear the bill and pleading for money.

Republicans almost always take the opposite position of President Joe Biden in anything he does, but in the case of the president’s pardons for federal convictions of cannabis possession, they’ve gone off the radar. From the RNC and the congressional and senate committees, only silence. From Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), nothing. Just a couple of weak tweets about “soft on crime” from Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), wannabe presidential candidate, and Fox network’s Laura Ingraham.

Last week for Tesla was the worst week since March 2020 when COVID was announced. Electric vehicle production and delivery numbers didn’t meet analysts’ expectations, over 21,000 short despite two new factories in Brandenburg (Germany) and Austin (TX). That was before Elon Musk posted his controversial solution to the Russian invasion that Ukraine should give them part of the Country that Russian president Vladimir Putin wants. Musk also said he was continuing his deal to buy Twitter but would charge cryptocurrency for posts.

Then Musk took China’s side against Taiwan for “peace reunification” in which China controls Taiwan—sort of like Musk recommended for Russia’s control of Taiwan. The response was the same as from Ukraine: Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to Washington, Hsiao Bi-khim answered, “Taiwan sells many products, but our freedom and democracy are not for sale.” Tesla has a large factory in China.

And an oldie but goodie from August. In McAllen (TX), an anti-LGBTQ church put on an unauthorized performance of the popular musical Hamilton that changed language to make it homophobic with its version of Christianity. One of the pastors lied about how “the Hamilton team” gave the church “the license to perform” their version, but Hamilton’s creators called them out on the falsehood. The pastor then admitted the church didn’t request or receive this permission and promised to destroy all images of the production, never stage it again, and pay damages. The pastor had depicted Alexander Hamilton, the first U.S. Treasury Secretary, as accepting Jesus Christ as his savior, and gave a sermon comparing homosexuality to drug use. Hamilton’s letters indicated his romantic feelings for his closest male friend, and the play’s creator Lin Miranda helped launch an initiative to support Florida’s Hispanic LGBTQ community. The money for damages goes to the South Texas Equality Project, a coalition of LGBTQIA+ organizations.

September 5, 2022

DDT’s ‘Special Master,’ Biden’s Wins on Labor Day 2022

The Florida judge appointed by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has ruled in favor of appointing a third party attorney “special master” from outside the government to review his documents, an act that DDT’s former AG Bill Barr called a “crock of s**t.” Her rulings:

  • The FBI must stop examining the documents until after the review or another court order.
  • The classification review and intelligence assessments conducted by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence may continue.
  • Both sides have until September 9 to nominate candidates and duties.
  • The review is reviewing “seized property for … claims of attorney-client and/or executive privilege.”
  • DDT hasn’t proved his “constitutional rights” were disregarded.
  • The FBI had obtained DDT’s medical and tax information.

DDT responded to the court ruling by writing that the FBI and DOJ should “change the results of the 2020 Presidential Election.” Heather Cox Richardson has an excellent analysis of the flaws in the judicial decision.

On to the good news for Labor Day 2022, “a celebration of workers and of their dignity,” according to Eugene Robinson. We’ve come a long way in the past decade since Paul Ryan, then House Majority Leader and vice-presidential candidate, gave a speech on how Labor Day celebrated business management and CEOs because business owners were the only Americans working hard and taking risks to make “this country grow.” He went on to lose, become House Speaker, and  turn into a professional board member for several companies, including Fox.

Union organizers at a Staten Island warehouse defeated Amazon in its attempt to overturn the employee vote at a federal labor board hearing. Employees’ decisive vote last April created the first unionized Amazon facility in the U.S. Amazon claimed fraud by organizers and the agency overseeing the election. The company even failed to make the hearing secret. It will appeal with September 16 the deadline to file exceptions. Amazon will likely take the case into federal court, a practice to thwart labor victories.

At Google, a 300,000-member union of hotel and food service workers has helped unionize 90 percent of food service workers in 23 of the company’s cafeterias proving free food for programmers and product managers. Last week, workers moved into Atlanta where workers presented managers at Sodexo with plans to unionize and gained an agreement that a majority vote would rule. Tens of thousands more workers voted to join unions in the first half 2022 than the same time period in 2021. For the first time, Chipotle, Trader Joe’s and the recreation equipment maker REI have unionized from concerns about safety and low wages along with 230 Starbucks locations and Apple Store.

Google in North Carolina may have the next union after workers protest the company dropping their salaries. With $257.6 billion in revenue during 2021, Google’s profits rose 41 percent from 2020. Google said it’s move to the South was for diversity, but that area has the lowest salaries in the nation.

Unions won more representation elections in 2022 than they have in nearly 20 years, going from a slightly above 50 percent win rate in 2000 to 76.6 percent thus far this year. [visual – union win rate]

Republicans won’t admit that Biden’s economy has rapidly recovered from the COVID devastation, regaining all net private sector jobs lost from the pandemic since his inauguration. Yet the 9 million jobs he added in his first 17 months was the highest number for any president in that time. Without Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) the unemployment would have been seven percent in summer 2021 and stay higher after that instead of sliding to 5.4 percent and then shrinking to 3.5 percent a year later.

Despite GOP spreading fears of a recession, the International Monetary Fund predicts the U.S. can “narrowly avoid a recession” in 2022 and 2023, and net domestic investment is at an all-time high. New manufacturing facilities construction is up 116 percent over last year as more companies move supply chains back to the U.S. from foreign countries. June 2022 manufacturing jobs exceeded those in February 2020.

To combat inflation, gas prices have dropped about 25 percent from a high of $5 in some places. Freight shipping costs have decreased along with shipping container costs reducing by half and transit times by 35 percent. The past month have seen prices for raw materials such as wheat, corn, and copper trending downward.

August gained 315,000 jobs, totaling 3.5 million new jobs for the year; the unemployment rate rose to 3.7 percent because 786,000 new people entered the workforce. Last month, the share of adults in the workforce jumped from 62.1 percent in July to 62.4 percent, and the 82.8 percent of people aged 25-54 in the workforce was slightly below pre-pandemic levels. Average wages were up 5.2 percent from a year ago.

ARPA assistance with the expanded child tax credit in 2021 took 3.7 million children out of poverty. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) blocked its continuance in the Inflation Reduction Act, but another possibility for tax credits at the end of the year during negotiations for extensions on expiring business tax breaks. The overturn of Roe v. Wade has also encouraged more relief for family benefits with three Republican senators introducing a proposal for credit although it has a work requirement for parents.  In addition, 29 states have programs to compensate for the lack of federal child credits with an additional three next year.

While the attention was largely focused on DDT since Joe Biden was inaugurated, the new president has been on a roll. He came into the presidency with three major goals—investing in the U.S. unraveling infrastructure, taking action against climate change, and expanding the social safety net.

For the past few months, Biden has had other successes—helping average people instead of the GOP focus on special interests. He took out the top al-Qaeda leader, put the first Black female justice on the Supreme Court, expanded NATO by unifying European support for Ukraine after Russia’s invasion, and passed the first gun reform law in almost 30 years.

During his first 17 months, Biden’s accomplishments echo themes and priorities from the major initiatives of Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Lyndon B. Johnson and Ronald Reagan. He signed the Inflation Reduction Act, the American Rescue Plan, the infrastructure law, the gun law, the Chips law, the PACT burn pits act, and the anti-Asian hate crimes as well as updating and reauthorizing the Violence against Women Act. In addition, Biden addressed climate change, offshore wind projects, and mitigation funds for drought, wildfire, and flooding. And he reduced the federal budget deficit, required publicly traded corporations to pay a modest one-percent excise tax on stock buy-backs, required corporations with over $1 billion in earnings to pay a minimum 15 percent income tax, and greatly eased student loan debt

Biden came into the presidency with three major goals—investing in the U.S. unraveling infrastructure, taking action against climate change, and expanding the social safety net. Republicans minimized Biden’s November 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) but took credit for it with their constituents after they voted against it. The joke during the term of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) was “it’s infrastructure week,” every week, but DDT failed to accomplish in that area. Biden ‘s bill invests $1.2 trillion into U.S. infrastructure: surface transportation, public transit and rail, water, and broadband internet infrastructure. It also invests in renewable energy and electric vehicles. And supports over 770,000 jobs in during the next decade.  

Two Democratic senators blocked another major bill for several months and reduced its amount, but Congress passed the $750 billion Inflation Reduction Act last month. It reduces energy, health care, and prescription drug costs for American families; invests $370 billion over a decade for clean energy and climate programs; and allows Medicare to negotiate lower prices and reduce Medicare out-of-pocket costs for drugs. It will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, once Sen Manchin (D-WV) renamed it and gained a few personal perks. U.S. production of crude oil during Biden’s first year was higher than in DDT’s first year, and he issued more drilling permits on federal land than DDT did in his first three years.

The Economic Policy Institute also has a detailed view of Biden’s work for low- and middle-income families in his work to address equity and racial justice through over 90 agencies, a director of racial equity, and $738 million to minority-owned businesses. He also rescinded DDT’s punitive orders against equity. The article also lists how Biden rescinded DDT’s punitive orders to block achievements for anyone except wealthy white people. Xenophobic policies in the workplace during DDT’s term allowed employees to cheat workers out of wages and force them into sub-standard work conditions. Biden also strengthened protections for collective bargaining, due process, and labor representatives that DDT had weakened. 

Biden’s wins are almost as long as crimes by Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) whose only domestic policy change was a tax cut for the wealthy and big business that increased the national debt, skyrocketing by $7.8 trillion during DDTD’s four years. Republicans complain about inflation, but they have blocked ways to block it and support corporations raising prices sky high to make profits. Congressional GOP members voted against negotiating drug prices, putting a $35 a month cap on insulin cost, investigating high gas prices while the industry makes huge profits, etc. 

And on Labor Day 2022, unions are coming back.

August 13, 2022

DDT’s Difficulty with Generals, Search Warrant

With the danger of Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) running for the presidency in 2024, news about his past becomes far more important. An ongoing message from DDT is his love for generals, but appointing them didn’t bring the satisfaction he thought it would. Once, he complained to a former Marine Corps general, his chief of staff John Kelly, that he wanted “totally loyal” generals like World War II generals who served Adolf Hitler. This information is included in The Divider: Trump in the White House, 2017-2021 by journalists Peter Baker and Susan Glasser. Kelly responded:

“You do know that they tried to kill Hitler three times and almost pulled it off?”

DDTd couldn’t believe Kelly and insisted, “No, no, no, they were totally loyal to him.” The book’s authors describe DDT’s military leaders in conflict between resigning in protest and remaining in the administration to prevent more catastrophes. In another conversation with Kelly, DDT said he didn’t want any injured veterans to be part of his Independence Day parade, that “this doesn’t look good for me.” He kept disagreeing with Kelly who told him “those are the heroes.”

A week after the military police fired gas cannisters and used grenades at peaceful racial justice protesters in Lafayette Square, Gen. Mark A. Milley, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, drafted a resignation letter. DDT’s action to clear the square for his photo op in front of a church caused Miley to do “deep soul-searching,” according to the draft of the letter. He added DDT was “doing great and irreparable harm” to the country and made “a concerted effort over time to politicize the United States military.” Miley felt he could no longer change that.

“You are using the military to create fear in the minds of the people—and we are trying to protect the American people. I cannot stand idly by and participate in that attack, verbally or otherwise, on the American people.”

Milley concluded by writing he “deeply” believed that Trump was ruining the international order and causing significant damage to the United States overseas and did not understand that millions of Americans had died in wars fighting fascism, Nazism, and extremism. He pointed out that DDT “subscribe[s] to many of the principles that we fought against.” Milley never sent the letter because he was persuaded to stay, but he later feared two “nightmare scenarios” from DDT’s clinging to power: the 1933 fire in the German parliament Hitler used to seize German control and a declaration of martial law “or a Presidential invocation of the Insurrection Act, with Trumpian Brown Shirts fomenting violence.” The insurrection on January 6, 2021 was DDT’s failed “Reichstag moment,” the parliament fire. Milley later said about the attack:

“They shook the very Republic to the core. Can you imagine what a group of people who are much more capable could have done?”

Baker and Glasser provided a detailed description of DDT’s relationship with his generals from their book in this article. In response to DDT’s desire to have “the biggest, grandest military ever for the Fourth of July” after watching the one in France for the Bastille Day celebrations, then Defense Secretary James Mattis said, “I’d rather swallow acid.” Authors explained that the difference between DDT and his generals were difference in values, their view of the U.S. Air Force general Paul Selva, the vice-chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that parades in Portugal, where Selva grew up under a dictatorship, “were about showing the people who had the guns.” DDT was surprised that Selva didn’t like his idea.

DDT had avoided going into the military with “bone spurs” [visual] but loved being Commander-in-Chief. As generals continued to disagree with him, however, he called them “very untalented people” and he “did not rely on them” because they weren’t unquestioning loyal to him. DDT then frequently replaced them for no reason other than they weren’t his “loyalists.” He openly said, “I want a yes-man!” The “adults” in the White House were largely gone by 2019. And in his devotion to Russian President Vladimir Putin, he “gave Russia Ukraine and Syria,” as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told him.

One of DDT’s infamous questions for Milley was about turning the National Guard on protesters. “Can’t you just shoot them? Just shoot them in the legs or something?” he asked. This question indicates DDT’s increasingly erratic thoughts and behavior, causing Robert Gates, a former Secretary of Defense and C.I.A. chief, to persuade Milley and then Defense Secretary Mark Esper to stay in their jobs until they were fired. Milley was contrite about his presence at Layfayette Square, but he still participated in the killing of Iranian commander Qassem Suleimani without briefing congressional leaders in advance. Pelosi described him as “evasive” and disrespectful to Congress. Milley had followed DDT’s order not to notify lawmakers.

Esper, too, was on the hot seat. DDT’s then chief of staff Mark Meadows threatened Esper for not recanting his opposition to invoking the Insurrection Act after Lafayette Square. Yet Esper was determined “to endure all the shit and run the clock out,” as he put it. He refused to turn the right to deploy troops over to people such as Robert O’Brien or Ric Grenell.

 Both Milley and Esper hung on, but Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told them that the “crazies” were ascendant in the White House and inside the Pentagon. The day after DDT lost the election, he fired Esper, Defense Secretary, and replaced him with Christopher Miller, an obscure mid-level counterterrorism official at DDT’s National Security Council, surrounded by DDT’s political minions and one of only two people in the U.S. able to launch nuclear weapons. DDT lobbied Miller to preemptively attack Iran.

Milley knew coups required the takeover of the military, the national police, and the interior forces, and he was again persuaded not to retire. He warned Miller and his new people that they were being watched and the newly elected president could put them “behind bars” for any illegal actions. Milley overheard DDT asking Miller if he were ready for the upcoming January 6 protest because “it’s going to be a big deal.” He told Miller to have “enough people to make sure it’s safe for my people.” Milley didn’t see DDT after that.

On January 6, Milley ordered the D.C. National Guard to the Capitol at 3:04 pm. They arrived at 5:40 pm, almost four hours after the attack began, and set up a perimeter by 7:00 pm. Then-VP Mike Pence had also tried to defend the Capitol, but Meadows told him to pretend DDT was the person who took action to give the impression that he “is still in charge.” Milley called DDT both “shameful” and “complicit.”

The search warrant updates won’t go away. More pieces:

  • At least one of DDT’s lawyers signed a written statement in June claiming that all classified material in the Mar-a-Lago storage were returned to the government after a government visit to the club on June 3. The assertion was wrong—or a lie. Therefore the DOJ cited a potential violation of a criminal statute related to obstruction as one basis for the warrant.
  • Material seized by the search warrant contained 11 sets of documents with confidential or secret markings, some of them “classified/TS/SCI”—“top secret/sensitive compartmented information” to be viewed only in a secure government facility.
  • The search was done in the storage areas with boxes of material as well as DDT’s office and residence.
  • DDT said he had declassified the material while he was still in the Oval Office, but there is no evidence that this happened. Right-wing writer John Solomon, designated by DDT as a representative to interact with the National Archives asserted that DDT had a “standing order” during his term that “documents removed from the Oval Office and taken to the residence were deemed to be declassified the moment he removed them.” No law permits this order.
  • Surveillance video outside the storage room for two months showed boxes moved in and out of the room while the DOJ was attempting to retrieve the materials.
  • The 30 million documents that DDT claims President Obama has in Chicago are under sole custody of the National Archives in that city.
  • DDT has been barred from receiving intelligence briefings usually provided to former presidents; Biden said DDT could not be trusted because of his “erratic behavior.”

The good news: the U.S. economy recovered all the jobs lost since the pandemic shutdown in 2020, the fastest employment bounce-back in U.S. history. Biden has seen 9.5 million jobs, 3 million more than DDT achieved in his first three years before he lost them all to his mismanagement of the pandemic. Job seekers have their choice of 10.7 million openings.  

Hypocrisy for the day:

Mama Bears, a group of Georgia mothers has been intent on banning library books. One of its members now complains about her being banned from a school board for censorship because she can’t read what she calls sexually explicit passages aloud at the meetings. Mama Bears has tried to ban over 100 books with no evidence they are pornographic. Fifty-one years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that “one man’s vulgarity is another’s lyric.” People upset by language can avert their eyes.

July 13, 2022

News – Week of July 13, 2022

Updates: When Twitter gave Elon Musk 53 terabytes of raw user data, the company was concerned that he would use it for building his own social media platform. According to Twitter, Musk had only three plans: “sit on its board, buy it, or build a competitor.” If Musk tries to buy Twitter at a reduced price, his lawsuit could become the “world’s most expensive case of ‘if you break it, you pay for it.’” Delaware have forced other prospective buyers, such as Louis Vuitton maker LVHM in 2020, to comply with signed merger agreements.  

The feud between Musk and Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) continues after Musk tweeted, “It’s time for Trump to hang up his hat & sail into the sunset” after DDT called him “another bullsh–t artist.” DDT’s lengthy response slammed electric, “driverless cars, … rocketships to nowhere,” and more. Tesla laid off 229 employees in its Autopilot team and closed its San Mateo office, transferring other workers to another facility. Musk said he will be firing ten percent of Tesla’s workforce; his net worth has fallen $65 billion in the past three months, largely because of the 24-percent drop in Tesla stock value. In November 2021, Musk was worth $340 billion, but his assets fell 42 percent by May 2022 to $197.1 billion.

Notes about the January 6 debacle:

DDT’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows, who may end up being the patsy for all the illegal activities setting up the insurrection, White House Communications Director Alyssa Farah Griffin that she shouldn’t resign after DDT lost the election because he wasn’t leaving the Oval Office.  

DDT’s Islamophobic supporter Brigette Gabriel wanted all January 6 hearings canceled “out of respect” for DDT while he mourns the death of former Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo. One respondent pointed out that DDT barely knew Abe who was in the same room as DDT only a few times.

Alex Holder, the British director of a documentary film Unprecedented with footage from DDT, his family, and his allies, is under armed protective guard because of threats from DDT’s supporters.

More video footage of the insurrection planning comes from two conservative filmmakers, Jason Rink and Paul Escandon, who filmed footage of DDT’s friend Roger Stone and his protégé organizer of “Stop the Steal” Ali Alexander leading up to the attack on the U.S. Capitol. The documentary is to be called The Steal. Also starring in the film are insurrectionists Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and DDT’s former national security adviser Mike Flynn.  Stone also gave permission for a Danish documentary film crew to record his activities in the Willard Hotel, where DDT’s allies planned the election overturn. The content of the film footage is not known.  

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is really afraid of testifying to a Fulton County (GA) grand jury about his trying to interfere in its state 2020 presidential election: asking a federal court to quash a grand jury subpoena for his testimony in the Fulton County district attorney’s investigation into former President Trump’s efforts to undermine Georgia’s election results.

For the first time in seven years, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will have a director after the Senate confirmed Steve Dettelbach, President Joe Biden’s second nomination after he withdrew David Chipman. The vote was 48-46 with GOP Sens. Susan Collins (ME) and Rob Portman (OH) joining Democrats. The NRA called Dettelbach “anti-gun.”

After the six Supremes removed the right to abortion for all women in the U.S., Biden signed an executive order in an attempt to mitigate the removal of reproductive rights. It tries to strengthen existing provisions for medication abortion, emergency care, contraception access, resources, and information. Doctors and hospitals in all states accepting federal funding must provide abortions to women whose lives are at risk through the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA). The federal mandate preempts state law that doesn’t permit a woman’s life to be saved.

The story about a raped 10-year-old Ohio girl forced to travel to Indiana for an abortion resulted in great skepticism from conservatives, including Ohio’s Republican AG Dave Yost, who claimed it was fake reporting to push for legalized abortion. The 27-year-old rape suspect was arrested after he confessed to raping the child at least twice at the same time the Wall Street Journal published an editorial doubting the victim’s truthfulness. Ohio GOP Gov. Mike DeWine agreed with Yost that the rape is likely a “fabrication.” Evidencing approval of the arrest, DeWine and Yost did not issue any apologies for their attacks on the girls and her doctor. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) deleted his tweet about the reporting about the rape that ended, “Another lie. Anyone surprised?” The surprise is that anyone reports a rape.

With abortion gone in some states and contraception on the chopping block, some men are getting prepared. Anecdotally, the interest in vasectomies has largely grown since the announcement from the six Supremes in late June. A Kansas City (MO) doctor said his vasectomy consults skyrocketed 900 percent since then, and a Laredo (TX) described a similar uptick. Same for urologists in Idaho and Tampa Bay. According to a research company, searches for “where can I get a vasectomy?” spiked 850 percent. While 18 percent of women use tubal ligation, an invasive surgical procedure, for birth control, only six percent of men in the U.S. have vasectomies.

Suggestions that the pro-forced-birth legislators should help women and children in the future chaos of more births and parental hardship following the six Supremes’ mandate blocking abortions have fallen on deaf ears. Democrats have supported assistance through direct cash or family leave, but Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said that “supporting families and family formation [is] separate and apart from the abortion questions.” No one on the right is disagreeing with them, and many Republicans claim their opposition to more federal assistance means they don’t support children. The U.S. already does enough to support families, according to the GOP.

Only Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) believes in a monthly cash allowance for families. Two other GOP senators, Steve Daines (MT) and Richard Burr (NC), propose “child” tax credit for the fetus until it becomes a baby but say it won’t pass anyway. A few Republicans, like Sen. Marco Rubio (FL) support paid parental leave by taking the money out of later Social Security benefits. GOP ideas come from their philosophy that reducing material hardship removes any desire to have a job.

Republicans are also silent about the new jobs report for June—an additional 372,000. The private sector has recovered all the jobs that DDT lost during the pandemic plus more. During the second quarter of 2022, Biden created more jobs during that period of time in almost 40 years.  For the first half of 2022, 2.63 jobs have been added, more than any full year under DDT even before the pandemic. Despite an additional 9.37 jobs since Biden’s inauguration, the GOP blames Democrats for poor job growth but gives them no credit for job growth.

The media focuses on the annualized inflation being higher than a year ago, but it actually shrank a bit from June 2022 to the previous June. Core inflation in June, excluding gasoline and food, is expected to be the third month of slowing. Retail prices will likely drop because retailers miscalculated some inventories, and container costs of shipping and airlines are falling. The Federal Reserve also plans to peak out prime rate with one more 0.75 percent increase on top of June’s 0.75 percent.  

After whining about inflation, Fox hosts are now upset because gas prices are declining too fast. According to Martha MacCallum, lower gas prices are bad for “mom-and-pop” gas station owners.

The DOJ is suing Arizona to block its law, set to take effect in January, requiring proof of citizenship for voter registration. In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Arizona’s proof of citizenship law, and this new law violates the National Voter Registration Act, according to DOJ. State law already requires Arizona voters in state elections to provide proof of citizenship, but this law extends the requirement to federal election. Registering to vote in federal elections requires attesting under penalty of perjury but doesn’t require proof until this new law. County records or election officials who don’t attempt to verify citizenship status and registers voters without documentation can be charged with a felony. Federal statutes do not require this documentation. Arizona already requires attestation of citizenship on the ballot; lying is a crime.

California now has a law modeled after Texas’ law allowing private citizens to sue people enabling abortions. The Supreme Court refused to block the law so California now has a law allowing private citizens to sue gun manufacturers and distributors whose produces cause them harm. When signing the bill, Gov. Gavin Newsom said “that nearly every industry is held to account when their products cause harm or injury, except one: the gun industry.”

Rules require “reasonable controls” to keep guns from people most likely to cause harm such as systems to prevent gun sales to straw purchasers, gun traffickers, everyone legally prohibited from owning firearms, and those whom the business has a reasonable concern might unlawfully harm themselves or others. A 2005 federal law bans state and federal lawsuits against gun manufacturers and dealers, but a clause in that law allows lawsuits if a firearms business “knowingly violated a State or Federal statute applicable to the sale or marketing of the product” and harm was directly caused because of it.

July 10, 2022

News: Week of July 3, 2022

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) thinks the problem with the job market is that too many people have too much money. He said that “a whole lot of people [are] sitting on the sidelines because … they’re flush.” He just wants them to run out of money. And he’s talking about working-class people, not the wealthy. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has complained that Democrats created labor shortages through “Socialist policies that pay people more money to stay home than go to work.” (Republicans don’t understand the definition of “Socialism,” defined as common or public ownership of resources.)

Last month the U.S. added 372,000 jobs, and unemployment stayed at 3.6 percent for the fourth straight month, matching an almost-50-year low.  Wages and benefits increased 4.8 percent in the year prior to March 2022, up from 2.8 percent annual increase the year before. A survey shows that 69 percent of workers are satisfied with their wages and 80 percent with recent raises.

The American Rescue Plan, which Republicans brag about although they didn’t vote for it, helped fuel the economic recovery, but Republicans didn’t want to give money to anyone except the wealthy. The GOP is still complaining about the program as if it were still in effect today, but it expired at least ten months ago. Unlike McConnell’s claim, the government isn’t paying people “not to work.”

McConnell is also blocking a bill allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices which would save the country $287 billion over the next decade. He was rewarded for his prevention of the bill reaching the floor: within under four months, the pharmaceutical industry gave him $50,000 in contributions. The bill has an 88-percent favorability rating. Democrats are still trying to pass the reform, and in exchange, McConnell threatens to block a bipartisan bill to make the U.S. more competitive with china and ease the shortage of semiconductor chips.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is working on a reconciliation bill bypassing the 60 votes necessary with a filibuster and requiring only a simple majority. Within the possible bill are prescription drug price cuts, tax hikes on the wealthy and corporations, and energy and climate provisions. Congress returns on July 11 to continue with the bill. Schumer hopes to get both this bill and the China competition bill completed by August. The China bill would pay for creating new technologies to help the U.S. stay ahead of its competitor through domestic semiconductor manufacturing.

Democrats hope to put the chips funding and other parts of the China bill into the budget, but regulatory and foreign policy aspects of the China bill might not be allowed into the budget. Delays in the bill would cause economic consequences: Intel Corp said the timing and size of its new Ohio facility depends on the funding. Sen. Todd Young (R-IN) is working with Schumer on the bipartisan legislation, and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), usually an obstructionist, may support the bill. 

McConnell, along with the six Supremes, is helping to lead world toward greater climate warming. Conservatives refuse to believe their involvement in the problem, but the Midwest’s heat wave in May started the temperatures of 10 to 20 degrees above normal this summer in the U.S. Last year, Canada and the Pacific Northwest suffered from extreme heat waves. Higher temperatures equal faster snowmelt that, with rainfall, causes disastrous floods in Montana and Wyoming. The U.S. also faces horrific wildfires, many of them in the West including Yosemite National Park in California and Alaska.

High gas prices, partly caused by the industry’s price-gouging and Russia’s war in Ukraine, are benefiting the climate. June gas sales dropped about 5 percent from pre-pandemic levels and 2.6 percent from a year ago, causing people to drive six percent few miles than in June 2019, a one percent drop in U.S. carbon emissions. Some people have switched from gas-guzzling monster vehicles to smaller ones for necessary driving. Others walk more or take public transportation, and carpooling is another way they cut back. On the July 4th weekend, drivers shortened their trips.

Still traveling the country, DDT told an Anchorage (AK) crowd that Musk is a “bullsh*t artist” because Musk had never voted for DDT although he told him he did. In a speech, Musk said he couldn’t remember if he ever “voted for a Republican” but plans to do so in the future. DDT is campaigning for Sarah Palin, candidate for the state’s one U.S. representative. Formerly comparing Musk to inventor Thomas Edison, DDT called Musk “one of our greatest geniuses.”  Musk’s mistake may have been support for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in the 2024 presidential election.

DDT is ostensibly campaigning for Sarah Palin, candidate for the state’s one U.S. representative, but he’s really trying to destroy the re-election chances for Sen. Lisa Murkowski who voted to convict DDT at his second impeachment trial. Palin used the event for a self-pitying rant about the media attacking her children and praise DDT’ testicles, massive according to Palin. She also advocated shooting when people at the opposition by invoking her father’s words: “Don’t retreat, reload.”

War on Fox occurred after Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) called pro-choice supporters the “genocide squad” and accused “leftists” of supporting abortions even for “babies who are already born.” These statements and other inflammatory lies were made to guest host Gregg Jarrett on The Sean Hannity Show. Another Jarrett panelist, Alan Dershowitz, condemned Boebert’s statements after he addressed her ire at protesters outside a Morton’s restaurant where Justice Brett Kavanaugh was having dinner. He said Boebert’s accusations about pro-choice supporters are “even more disgraceful than anything that happened to the justice.”  

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has decided, by majority 4-3 vote, that drop boxes for ballots are undemocratic and ruled against their use in the state. The four judges decided that because there was no law about drop boxes they must be illegal. Primaries are in one month. Spring 2021 elections in Wisconsin used 570 drop boxes. In her majority opinion, Justice Rebecca Bradley compared the use of drop boxes to systems by tyrants Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, North Korea’s Kim Jong-un and Kim Jong-il, Cuba’s Raul Castro, and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. Two months ago, Bradley joined the majority in heavily gerrymandering the state districts.

Frantic about losing his re-election this fall, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) lambasted the Democrats with a radio ad stating, “The latest mass murder in America didn’t involve guns.” He blamed President Joe Biden’s immigration policies for human traffickers causing the deaths of 53 people, including five children, in an abandoned truck trailer in San Antonio (TX). “Human, sex, and drug trafficking are out of control because of Democrat governance.” The ad was due out on July 6, two days after the “latest mass murder” that killed seven people and injured another 30 in Highland Park (IL) two days earlier. His campaign had to pull the false ad. Johnson has received about $1.2 million from pro-gun groups since his first campaign in 2010.

A third Wisconsin judge has ordered Michael Gableman not to delete his probe’s records from the state’s 2020 presidential election. Turning up no new information despite years of work, Gableman has done “bizarre” and “amateurish” work, according to bipartisan election administration experts. Last month, Gableman said he had deleted records despite requests for them. The judge had found him in contempt last month and ordered him to pay $2,000 per day until he complied with the order to submit the records. Gableman and two earlier reviewers of the ballots are each paid at least $11,000 a month despite doing “almost no substantive work.” The review has cost about $1 million thus far.

The DOJ is suing Arizona to block its law blocking the law, set to take effect in January, requiring proof of citizenship for voter registration. In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Arizona’s proof of citizenship law, and this new law violates the National Voter Registration Act, according to DOJ. State law already requires Arizona voters in state elections to provide proof of citizenship, but this law extends the requirement to federal election. Registering to vote in federal elections require attesting under penalty of perjury but doesn’t require proof until this new law. County records or election officials who don’t attempt to verify citizenship status and registers voters without documentation can be charged with a felony. Federal statutes do not require this documentation. Arizona already requires attestation of citizenship on the ballot; lying is a crime.

Last Friday, DDT’s former White House counsel Pat Cipollone testified for several hours. House investigative committee member Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) said Cipollone did not contradict testimony from previous witnesses and he committee members “did learn a few things, which we will be rolling out in the hearings to come.” Cassidy Hutchinson had testified at length about Cipollone’s knowledge of DDT’s seditious plans.

A second hearing by the House January 6 investigative committee possibly scheduled this week on July 14 at during prime time will examine the 187-minute time period when Donald Trump failed to act while his mob of supporters stormed the Capitol. The first one in the week on July 12 at 10:00 am EST focuses on the plotting and planning of the insurrection on January 6 by white nationalist groups including the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, and the Three Percenters.

June 12, 2022

Catchup – June 5-12, 2022

Update: Nine infants—two more than originally reported—have died since early 2021 after consuming baby formula produced at the Abbott Nutrition plant in Sturgis (MI). The source of the infection could not be identified, sometimes because not enough formula remained for testing. Complaints were discovered through a Freedom of Information request; consumers also reported 25 for “life-threatening illness/injury” and 80 for “non-life-threatening illness/injury.” The Sturgis plant opened last week.

Mass shooting, June 9: Six people, three dead and three injured, were shot by a male at a manufacturing facility north of Smithsburg (MD), in the northwestern part of the state. The suspect was shot by a state trooper who was injured when the suspect shot him.

Mass shootings, June 10-12: At least seven mass shootings left at least five people dead and 27 others injured in seven cities: New Orleans, Detroit, Louisville (KY), Decatur (GA) Antioch (TN), Gary (IN) and Chicago. In another incident, three people were shot and wounded Friday afternoon at a shopping mall in Temple Hills (MD), a suburb of Washington, D.C., but the number of people shot doesn’t rise to the minimum of four people shot and/or wounded at one time.

A few happenings while people were focused on the January 6 hearings:

With much excitement, the media announced a Senate compromise proposal between ten Democrats and ten Republicans for gun reform. If all the Democrats agree and the ten Republicans don’t flip-flop, it would meet the 60 percent majority necessary to pass anything in the Senate. Don’t get too excited—it doesn’t do much. Provisions:

  • Juvenile records of gun buyers under age 21 available (to whom?) when they undergo background checks.
  • State funding for implementing “red flag” laws making it easier to temporarily take guns from people considered potentially violent, legally only in only 19 states and D.C., and bolstering school safety and mental health programs.
  • Some more people required to have federal dealers’ licenses, mandating background checks of more purchasers.
  • Domestic abusers not living with a former partner, such as ex-boyfriends, barred from buying firearms.
  • Criminalizing the purchasing a weapon for someone who doesn’t quality for ownership.

Missing? No bans of semi-automatic AR-15 style rifles; no increase in the age for buying these extra-lethal weapons; no barring large-capacity magazines; and no giving federal courts the power to rule when local authorities want to remove from people considered dangerous.

Little will change, and Republicans will brag while repeating that gun reform bills do no good.

Drew Tipton, a federal judge appointed by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), vacated guidelines giving priorities for immigration enforcement. Last year, the Department of Homeland Security directed Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to arrest immigrants deemed risks for public safety or national security risks and recent border crossers. Tipton acknowledged the federal government had discretion but said guidelines bind officials in a “generalized, prospective manner” in decision making. It was his second ruling against President Joe Biden’s policy.

A chief scandal during DDT’s administration was the kidnapping of at least 3,900 children at the border when DHS separated families to punish them. With no tracking of these separations, DDT’s officials didn’t bother to reuify families back together again. A current ICE official from DDT’s time called the reunifications a “fiasco” because they occurred too fast. Former official Matthew Albence, who described migrant family jails as “summer camps,” worried that the parents’ court proceedings could return them to a Customs and Border Protection facility before their children could be sent to the program for unaccompanied children in immigration proceedings.

The D.C. bar regulating attorneys charged DDT’s former personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani with an ethics violation because he “pushed baseless claims about fraud in the 2020 presidential election in a Pennsylvania court and [violated] two professional conduct rules in the state.” The charges also included Giuliani’s support of a Pennsylvania lawsuit filed by DDT’s campaign to overturn the state’s election results when Giuliani sought an emergency ruling to prevent certification of the presidential election. The lawsuit filed in Pennsylvania was dismissed. The D.C. Bar argues that the affidavits were “(a) unsupported, (b) unrelated to Trump voters (c) involve conduct outside the seven Defendant Counties, and (d) by their own terms were isolated incidents that could not have affected the presidential election’s results by offsetting the Biden majority of over 80,000 votes.” A hearing will now be scheduled and Giuliani will have an opportunity to respond. A year ago, New York blocked Giuliani from practicing law in his home state. The

A Wisconsin judge found Michael Gableman, former state Supreme Court justice who led the state bogus investigation on overturning the presidential 2020 election, in contempt because he berated the judge and refused to answer questions while on the witness stand. The hearing concerned questions for one of three open records lawsuits that the watchdog organization American Oversight filed against Gableman, the speaker of the state Assembly, and the Assembly itself.

Far-right conspiracy theorist and Infowars host Alex Jones lost his bankruptcy lawsuit, intended to preserve his fortune in three separate companies after legal settlements with families of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School 20 child victims after Jones called the shooting a hoax. DDT appointed the judge who dismissed Jones’ case. The parents’ defamation lawsuits against Jones can continue after Jones’ followers subjected them to harassment and death threats.

Before COVID vaccinations, the per capita death rate for Black people in the U.S. was almost twice that for White people and over twice that of the Asian rate. Latinx death rates were less than for Blacks but above the average. Blacks and Latinx had less access to the shots, but the death rates have now flipped. For the past year, the COVID death rate for Whites in the U.S. has been 14 percent higher than that of Blacks and 72 percent higher than of Latinx. For both these groups the vaccination rate is higher than for Whites. Local outreach provides vaccinations through the Affordable Care Act as workers listen to concerns respectfully and “with humility.”

Because of politics, the share of Whites receiving COVID vaccinations has barely moved in the past year. Only about 60 percent of Republican adults are vaccinated, compared with about 75 percent of independents and over 90 percent of Democrats. Republicans are both disproportionately White and older. In highly conservative White communities, leaders—media figures, politicians, clergy members, and others—spread false or misleading information about vaccines, and people didn’t get the shots. White Republicans, who complain about a conspiracy to replace them, are killing White Republicans. 

After authorities received a tip about a “little army” loading into a U-Haul truck in Coeur d’Alene (D), they arrested 31 people, most of them members of the white supremacist Patriot Front, who participated in the Charlottesville (VA) rally where one of them killed a woman with his car. They wore face coverings, white-supremacist insignia, and shields, and carried a “operations plan” for their plan to riot at an Idaho Pride festival. Some of them had traveled across the county to participate. One of the charges was criminal conspiracy to riot. All of them posted bond and are now free, waiting arraignment later this week. Online threats had been made in the days before the weekend.

Updating Pennsylvania’s crime code, the state House of Representatives unanimously voted to remove the word “homosexuality” from the definition of prohibited sexual acts in sections relating to prostitution and child pornography.

The media focuses on inflation and gas prices, with little reference to price gouging from big business, but it skips the current strength of the economy, better than DDT’s last couple of years:

A slowing job growth remains strong: May added 390,000 jobs, 40,000 more than predicted, while unemployment stayed at 3.6 percent. The current per month job addition is twice what it was before the pandemic. The labor force size also grew in May, meaning less trouble for businesses to fill jobs.

Businesses still struggle with labor shortages: about 11.4 million jobs were open in April, down from 11.98 million in March—almost two open jobs for each of the six million people considered unemployed. A record number of people, 4.2 million, continued to leave jobs, keeping businesses from making layoffs; only 200,000 people signed jobless claims for the last week of May, 11,000 fewer than the previous year. The number of people on unemployment insurance is the lowest since December 1969.

Wage growth is cooling off: economists agree that slowing wage growth also slows inflation. Average hourly earnings rose 5.2 percent during the year ending in May but fell from a 5.5 annual increase in March.

Supply chain snarls are still boosting prices: Prices are increasing because of shortages, shipping delays, port bottlenecks, factory shutdowns, and problems from the war in Ukraine, but manufacturing picked up.

Fed rate hikes show no end in sight: during the next two meetings, the Feds may have two 0.50 percent increases.

DDT is gone and so is his new paint design for Air Force One. He ordered a red, white, and blue color scheme, similar to his private 757, but it costs more. The dark blue color on the plane’s belly and engines also creates heating problems on the aircraft, costing more to cool some of the components. The light blue and white motif will likely stay.

May 7, 2022

New This Week outside the Anti-Abortion Draft Leak

Washington Post has a piece today called “what happened this week besides Roe v. Wade.” My thought exactly, because Republicans want you to skip over all the other news. Here are some of the other happenings.

Former federal official in a variety of capacities while he was sycophant for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) Mike Pompeo held a press conference and expressed national security concerns regarding “Dr. Oz,” DDT’s pick for the Pennsylvania U.S. Senate seat. Mehmet Oz, a Turkish citizenship, has “close ties to the Turkish government and military,” according to Pompeo. Oz also voted in the 2018 Turkish election. Supporting the hedge fund billionaire opposing Oz for the GOP candidate in the general election, Pompeo stated that if Oz were elected, he would have much less scrutiny for a security clearance as a senator than a civilian applying for a clearance. DDT had a Friday evening rally in Pennsylvania for Oz.

DDT went to Pennsylvania for Friday evening rally to tout Oz, and it did not go well for DDT’s endorsement. In the pouring rain, the MAGA crowd consistently booed DDT’s choice for U.S. senator and groaned when DDT’s stumping began, groans building when DDT begged them to “secure a massive victory” for Oz. Jeers from the audience greeted Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA) who tried to persuade them to pick Oz. They weren’t even impressed with DDT’s reason for picking Oz, that he was “in the bedrooms” of women across America. DDT called Oz’s opponent, David McCormick, a “liberal Wall Street Republican,” who had been appointed to Under Secretary of the U.S. Treasury for International Affairs by George W. Bush in 2007. McCormick spent over $6 million on his campaign, twice that of Oz.

Going beyond endorsing his own candidates, DDT is making robocalls for them.  In incoherent rambling, he pushed the election of Rep. Jody Hice in Georgia’s GOP Secretary of State primary. The rambling 1.5 minute schtick immediately with his talking about himself before repeating “stolen” election conspiracies and lambasting Hice’s opponent, incumbent Brad Raffensperger—the guy who wouldn’t hand over almost 11,000 to DDT. A new falsehood he espoused was accusing Raffensperger of “perhaps in collusion with Stacey Abrams, I don’t know if that’s possible, but perhaps.”

President Joe Biden received good economic news today with an additional 428,000 jobs in April after his first shrinking economy during the first 2022 quarter since he was inaugurated. Expectations were much higher than the predicted 400,000 jobs, and unemployment stayed at 3.6 percent. Economists’ reasons were supply chain issues and business purchases of less inventory. This number sets a record 12 straight monthly gains above 400,000 for the first time since statistics started in 1939. In four months of 2022, the economy created over two million jobs, almost one-third the number of DDT’s first three years before the pandemic. The U.S. economy has gained back about 95 percent of its pandemic job losses.

More leaked tapes immediately after January 6, 2021 from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) recorded him saying that the 25th Amendment, a constitutional way to remove a president from office by the vice president and cabinet, “takes too long.” A majority would have to agree DDT was unfit for office.

The war in Ukraine caused by Russia’s invasion is dragging on much longer than expected with greater involvement from Western nations. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), three steps from the presidency, became the highest ranking U.S. official to meet in Ukraine with its president Volodymyr Zelensky. First lady Dr. Jill Biden is currently in Romania.

Business owners need more workers so Biden is extending the time that immigrant workers can stay in the U.S. Work permits, usually for two years before the renewal requirement, can use the existing permits for almost 18 months after expiration.

Uncomfortable with the attempt to defend Samuel Alito’s leaked decision overturning Roe v. Wade, Republicans are concentrating on damning LGBTQ people. Sen. Roger Marshall’s (R-KS) letter to the TV Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board has been signed by four other GOP senators—Mike Braun (IN), Kevin Cramer (ND), Steve Daines (MT), and Mike Lee (UT). The letter demands that all programming with LGBTQ characters be labeled with “sexually-related content” for “mature” audiences only. The letter describes the use of these characters as “modeling behavior,” a term also used for “grooming.” There was no indication whether the demand extends to new programs. 

Rep. Jeff Van Drew introduced a bill requiring written consent from over 50 percent of parents at least 30 days prior to any discussions of LGBTQ people in schools. My Child, My Choice Act (MCMCA) claims schools are “compromising the safety of our young children.” Any school violating the act would lose federal funding, the only control the federal government has over education. States determine whether to provide an education or not and, if deciding to provide one, determine at what level of quality. The Fourteenth Amendment guarantees every citizen equal protection under the law.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has a new case for the Supreme Court: overturning the 40-year-old decision requiring states to pay for children’s public education, regardless of citizenship status. Plyler v. Doe (1982) struck down a Texas law refusing to educate some children based on their immigration status. Abbott claims that the state cannot afford to educated undocumented children. In Texas, each student costs $6,160, less than half of the national average in 2018 of $12,600. Last month, Abbott spent $9 billion in ten days to make an anti-immigration statement by blocking traffic at the southern border. He isn’t finished with the expenditure; he took another $500,000 from state Health and Human Services Commission and the Department of Public Safety to continue funding his “inspection” program. The 1982 decision was based on the 14th Amendment equal protection grounds. Abbott demands the federal government, but Texas already receives $1.20 per person from the government for each $1 the person pays.

Abbott’s stunt on the southern border is already making him a loser. Mexico’s trade railway from Mazatlán to Winnipeg, with a connection in Texas, will be rerouted through New Mexico losing international trade for Texas. The ten-day inspection showed up with zero migrants or drugs, but Abbott is having another search because he didn’t like critical remarks from Mexico’s president after massive commercial delays. Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard called Abbott’s policy extortion.

Texas leads in many ways, one is persecuting trans youth. Abbott requires that parents who permit their children to be transgender should be investigated by Children’s Services with possible child abuse. With over 300 anti-trans bills introduced in 28 states already in 2022, at least eight states passed laws blocking sports for trans youth and other laws charging doctors with felonies if they providing health care for trans youth. In other states, governors are issuing anti-trans policies. Legislation also attacks trans adults, targeting birth certificates, other legal identifying documents, and more rights.

In 19 states, Democratic legislators are trying to offer safe legal refuge for displaced trans youth and families forced from their homes because of the conservative legislation. A bill introduced in March would make California a refuge state, and Democrats are hoping to follow in West Virginia, Washington, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Michigan, Kentucky, Maine, Kansas, Illinois, Georgia, Florida, Colorado, and Connecticut.

Starting in 2017, more people ages one to 24 have been killed with guns than in car crashes, reversing the decades-long cause of death. Between 2000 and 2020, the rate of firearm-related deaths in this age group increased from 7.3 per 100,000 people to 10.28 per 100,000 while deaths from car crashes decreased from 13.62 to 8.31 per 100,000. The difference comes from the work to prevent deaths in car crashes compared to federal inability to regulate firearms safety, deaths’ tracking, and the interpretation of a government law—the Dickey Amendment—discouraging CDC funding for research in preventing gun injuries until 2018. Federal gun laws allows gun purchases without background checks and shields gunmakers from negligence claims, including when guns fall into the hands of children with deadly results.

Sarah Palin, running for the sole U.S. House position in Alaska against 50 opponents, may know something about her bad chances of winning that others don’t: she’s already claiming voter fraud happened in the election that hasn’t occurred, the one on June 11. For those who haven’t kept up with Palin, she lost the 2008 election when former Arizona Sen. John McCain picked her as his Republican running mate. Less than a year after she lost that election she resigned as Alaska’s governor. Maybe she noticed last October that 56 percent Alaskans view her negatively. Locals say she doesn’t spend any time in the state. Palin told Fox News’ Mark Lewin that she will lose because of mail-in ballots and the Dominion Voting Services tabulation.

Much has been said about GOP candidates, but this one hits a new low—hopefully! In Boone County (IN), Andrew Wilhoite, in jail awaiting his trial for killing his wife, has secured his position on November’s ballot for the Clinton Township Board. Three Republicans ran for three primary seats, and Wilhoite got 60 votes. His wife, who recently completed chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer, filed for divorce because Wilhoite had an affair. Her body was found in a creek near their home, and Wilhoite said he hit her with a flowerpot. His trial begins in August. At least, felony convictions prevent people from candidacy and holding office.

And lots more news other than the anti-abortion ruling leak. Maybe tomorrow?

November 9, 2021

Bits of Hope, Accountability

COVID keeps killing, the Building Back Better jobs/infrastructure bill hasn’t yet passed despite promises, and President Joe Biden keeps getting bashed. At the same time, the first infrastructure bill passed Congress, courts without appointments by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) keep making constitutional ruling, and President Joe Biden makes progress. Some recent news:

The most recent ruling against DDT rejected his request to conceal White House records during his time in the Oval Office. DDT’s claim of “executive privilege” didn’t work, and the documents must be turned over to the House January 6 Committee by November 12, 2021. The decision was handed down in under 24 hours; DDT plans to appeal.

Fox celebrity Judge Jeanine Pirro may have destroyed DDT’s claim of executive privilege to keep his inner circle from testifying to the subpoenas from the House committee. The day after subpoenas were sent to DDT’s allies working in the Willard Hotel “command center,” the war room orchestrating the election takeover for DDT, media pointed out a report that Pirro had supported the participants in the request for DDT to pay for the hotel bill. Her comments led to DDT’s campaign paying Bernard Kerik’s personal business for the rooms and other expenses in connection with the insurrection planning, destroying validity for the executive privilege excuse. Attorney Richard Ben-Veniste explained that “the use of campaign funds ‘further undermines a wildly broad assertion of executive privilege.… Executive privilege is typically limited to the protection of communications involving a president’s official duties—not to those relating to personal or political campaign matters.'”

Sworn testimony from DDT’s lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, who tried many of the cases attempting to support the myth of a “stolen” election, stated they had not done much to verify the fake claims that they purported in court. Giuliani said it wasn’t his job to look up “evidence,” and Powell said the truth was not one of her objectives.

Republicans, including those who voted against Biden’s first infrastructure bill, are hoping to give GOP lawmakers credit for the money flowing into their states. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), retiring next year, credited DDT for the achievement despite his failure to pass anything in his weekly Infrastructure Week. DDT is having none of it: he worked to destroy it so that Biden couldn’t get a “big and beautiful win” to benefit Democrats. Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY), one of 13 House members voting for the bill, said DDT “laid the groundwork for this infrastructure.” She overlooked DDT’s abandoning his infrastructure bill to spite Democrats.

Republicans voting against the infrastructure bill may have difficulty taking credit for it. Newspapers in GOP-controlled states throughout the nation have touted the funding their states will receive, at the same time announcing in large print that their representatives and senators in Congress voted against it. The source could be a PR push, perhaps from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) office, to point out who supported funding for their states. With the excitement for infrastructure repair and expansion, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) may want to think twice about his possible plan to strip all committee assignments from the 13 House representatives who voted in favor of the bill. 

McCarthy will be in an even more awkward place if he does nothing about Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) after he arranged to put together and tweeted an anime film in which Gosar’s character kills a character with the face of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and physically attacks another character with the face of President Biden. The question is whether MCarthy will punish GOP members for their votes but condone Gosar for his violence, thus promoting more from both House members and conservatives throughout the United States.

Positive statistics from the past few weeks:

The economy created 531,000 new jobs for October, and 235,000 more jobs were created in August and September than previously reported with a total of 5.6 new jobs since Biden was inaugurated. DDT created no new jobs in his four years.  

The unemployment rate dropped to 4.6 percent, down from 6.3 percent in January when Biden was inaugurated and two year ahead of anticipated.

The vast majority of deaths from COVID are in unvaccinated people, meaning the vaccines are successful.

The deficit for fiscal 2021 shrank by $360 billion, and it’s $897 billion less than predicted in February. This drop follows the pattern that Republicans raise the deficit while Democrats pare it down. (Red = GOP; blue = Democrats)

Biden will ease U.S. tariffs on European steel and aluminum, and Europe will drop a large number of tariffs on some U.S. products—motorcycles, boats, peanut butter, whiskey, etc. The 25-percent tariff on whiskey dropped U.S. exports to Europe by 37 percent, and it was due to double in December. The distilled spirits industry supports 1.7 million people in the U.S., and Harley Davidson has another 5,600 manufacturing workers at Harley Davidson.

The U.S. will have some of the nation’s strongest regulations against methane emissions from oil and gas drilling in history, according to Biden’s announcement at the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow. The new EPA rules will cover 75 percent of the country’s methane emissions. Although methane accounts for a smaller percentage of gas emissions than carbon dioxide, its molecular structure drives significant short-term warming because it more readily absorbs thermal radiation. That gives methane 86 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide in a 20-year period. Sixty percent of methane emissions comes from human activities with agriculture two-thirds and fossil fuel production and use most of the remainder.  

The U.S. will again participate in nuclear talks between world leaders and Iran, according to Biden. With the leaders of Germany, France, and Britain, he warned that Tehran was accelerating “provocative nuclear steps.” Iran stopped complying with the 2015 agreement after DDT withdrew the U.S. and reimposed sanctions.

A month ago, Biden canceled 44 miles of border wall contracts, this time in the Laredo and Rio Grande Valley areas. Funding will be redirected to innovative border security technology. People in the Rio Grande Valley have been fighting to keep their property. Biden has already returned some property.  

The NRA is being sued for $35 million because of allegedly using shell companies illegally running ad buys for seven GOP Senate candidates. The lawsuit comes from Campaign Legal Action Center, a watchdog gun safety advocacy group founded by former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ), shot and badly wounded while campaigning several years ago. Political candidates include congressional members Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), former Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-MT), and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC).

A federal jury in Tacoma (WA) ruled the GEO Group owning and running a large detention center owes 10,000 former detainees $17.3 million in back pay for such tasks as cooking meals and cleaning. Workers were paid only $1 a day, a violation of the state’s minimum wage law. The class action suit was consolidated with another one by the state accusing GEO of unjustly enriching itself by violating state labor law. GEO made $18.6 million in profits from the detention center in 2018 and had previously acknowledged it could have paid more to the detainees. The company must also pay Washington state almost $6 million “in unjust enrichment gained.”

In a unanimous decision, a racist, sexist Alabama judge has been removed from the bench for hundreds of comments demeaning both employees and citizens. Talledega County Probate Judge Randy Links took office in 2019 with no legal background although he is responsible for adoptions, estates, wills, guardianships, conservatorships, and involuntary commitments. Jinks, who believes the election was stolen from DDT, also oversees elections.

DOJ AG Merrick Garland announced he was restoring the Office for Access to Justice, working to reform the use of fines and fees by state and local courts, protect the right to counsel for juvenile and indigent defendants, and increase access to civil legal aid for those who could not afford lawyers. In 2018, then-AG Jeff Sessions shut down the office.

The DOJ, State Department, and Treasury Department have collaborated to indict two men, a Russian and a Ukrainian, for cyberattacks on U.S. companies and announced sanctions against them.

Zillow’s project of flipping houses may be dropped after the company lost $1.4 billion in two years, selling only two-thirds of the houses it buys. The current $3.8 billion inventory has vastly grown since only $491 less than a million a year ago. When Zillow started the scheme in 2019, it lost $109,000 a flip. Because Zillow overbid for the houses, it inflated prices for individual purchasers. The company’s shares are down 62 percent from the February 2021 high.

 Pennsylvania has another case of voter fraud to prosecute: Gov. Tom Wolf admitted his wife dropped off his ballot for him.

November 6, 2021

‘Finally, Infrastructure Week!’–Joe Biden

Thanks largely to Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Congress failed to pass the Build Better Back (BBB) jobs/infrastructure bill. With the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure framework (BIF), states will get money for roads and bridges, and the current loss of BBB means no paid leave, expanded healthcare, lowered Medicare drug prices, child care, climate action, housing, immigration reform, education, etc.

Republicans have always opposed BBB, a reconciliation bill requiring only a simple majority vote in Senate instead of the 60 percent normally required with the filibuster. Both Sinema and Manchin negotiated on the watered-down BBB and before backing out again. Manchin’s question is “what’s the hurry” while many women cannot go back to work without help with child care,

BIF did pass by 228-206 with the support of 13 Republicans and the loss of six Democratic House members who objected to separating the two infrastructure bills. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) cautioned that BIF’s success lost the “leverage to get Build Back Better through the House and Senate, and I fear that we are missing our once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in the American people.” Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY) bragged about her vote for BIF and gave truth to Tlaib’s warning when she said, “I weakened their hand. They have no leverage now.” She claimed that passing BIF will cause BBB to be “drastically weakened” in the Senate or “die altogether.”

Conservative House Democrats also opposed the annual $175 billion for BBB although the U.S. Treasury Department, the White House, and the Joint Committee on Taxation found that it is paid for and may actually reduce deficits. These representatives demanded an official score, which will take weeks, before passing BBB. Democratic holdouts for BBB are Reps. Ed Case (HI), Jared Golden (ME), Stephanie Murphy (FL), Kathleen Rice (NY), Kurt Schrader (OR), and Abigail Spanberger (VA). Their constituents support BBB by large margins, but the politicians have been well-paid by corporate interests that lobbied against BBB’s key provisions. Four of the holdouts stated:

“We commit to voting for the Build Back Better Act, in its current form other than technical changes, as expeditiously as we receive fiscal information from the Congressional Budget Office—but in no event later than the week of November 15—consistent with the toplines for revenues and investments.”   

The $1.2 trillion BIF over a decade which is ready for the president’s signature includes $40 billion for bridge repairs and replacement, $39 billion for transit, $65 billion for broadband internet, and $74 billion toward power and clean energy, among other provisions. Passing the Senate three months ago, it provides $550 billion in new federal spending and reauthorizes several existing programs.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), removed from her committee assignments because of her incessant repetition of conspiracy theories, called BIF a “Communist takeover.” Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) tweeted back to Greene:

“Infrastructure=communism is a new one. Eisenhower’s interstate system should be torn up or else the commies will be able to conveniently drive! Red Dawn in real life.”

When 19 GOP senators, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), joined independents and Democrats to pass BIF by 69 to 30, DDT threatened to primary Republicans who support the bipartisan infrastructure plan. Their fear is for any “victory” for Biden even if Republicans need BIF for a safer infrastructure. 

BBB, still waiting, would provide help for middle- and lower-income people which would be paid for by new taxes for large corporations and the wealth—slashed by the GOP 2017 tax law—and the recovery unpaid taxes by strengthening the IRS. Large corporations would be subject to a 15 percent minimum income tax and a one percent surcharge on corporate stock buybacks. A surtax for millionaires and billionaires would close a loophole permitting wealthy U.S. taxpayers to avoid a 3.8 percent Medicare tax on their income. Moderates (aka conservative Democrats) forced the elimination of two years of free community college plus dental and vision coverage in Medicare. The original 12 weeks of paid family leave was reduced to four weeks.

Objections to the BBB by GOP/Manchin/Sinema:

Lowering drug costs: people in the United States pay between 64 and 78 percent of the pharmaceutical industry’s profits for the world. In the U.S., people pay 3.5 times more on average per dose of medication, both brand-name and generic, than Europeans. The money comes either out of patients’ pockets or by insurers that raise premiums to pass on the cost. Moderna managed $3.3 billion profit for just the third quarter with a planned $8 billion to $9 billion for the year. Yet U.S. taxpayers own the patent on key spike-protein technology used in several coronavirus vaccines, including Moderna’s and Pfizer-BioNTech’s. Many congressional members, including Sinema, receive huge donations from the industry. 

Families with infants: Cost for access to high-quality care is an average of $16,000, twice the monthly cost of a home mortgage in some areas.

Baby boomer population growing older: the cost of long-term care for older Americans will be prohibitive to many families.

Corporate taxes: Workers have to pay taxes, but many companies don’t, even if they make huge profits. An example is Shell which “reported $2.7 billion through offshore havens and avoided paying hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes,” according to journalist Akela Lacy. Walmart avoided $2.6 billion of taxes by routing money through a fictitious Chinese subsidiary and reported zero tax haven subsidiaries despit having up to 75 of them, according the Quartz.

And more to be covered later.

Manchin’s and Sinema’s insistence on cutting back the proposed BBB already reduced it in half. Another reduction to $1.5 trillion over ten years would support 2 million fewer jobs. Every state would lose jobs as shown by these maps; Manchin’s own state of West Virginia would have 9,880 fewer jobs annually, a 1.33 percent loss of the state’s employment in manufacturing, construction, healthcare, and social assistance. Sinema’s state of Arizona would lose almost the same percentage in the same job areas. The reduction also cuts back the economy to threaten its recovery.

Republicans call infrastructure “Communism” and “Socialism,” but they supported the building of the interstate by a Republican president, Dwight Eisenhower, almost 70 years. Long before that, a Republican and sixth president of the U.S., John Quincy Adams, called for internal improvement in his first annual message to Congress. Named an “American System” by then-Speaker of the House Henry Clay, this national market included roads, canals, a national university, a national astronomical observatory, and other initiatives. Despite criticism, Adams succeeded in beginning his projects, according to Margaret Hogan:

“Through the use of military engineers for survey and construction operations, public land grants, and governmental subscription to corporate stock issues, the administration achieved considerable progress in support of harbor improvement and road and canal development. Some of the specific projects included extending the Cumberland Road into Ohio with surveys for its continuation west to St. Louis, beginning the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, constructing the Delaware and Chesapeake Canal and the Portland to Louisville Canal around the falls of the Ohio, connecting the Great Lakes to the Ohio River system in Ohio and Indiana, and enlarging and rebuilding the Dismal Swamp Canal in North Carolina.”

Abraham Lincoln, another Republican president and who led his party to invent the U.S. income tax, wrote that the “legitimate object of government, is to do for a community of people, whatever they need to have done, but can not do, at all, or can not, so well do, for themselves—in their separate, and individual capacities… The desirable things … embraces all which, in its nature, and without wrong, requires combined action, as public roads and highways, public schools, charities, pauperism, orphanage, estates of the deceased, and the machinery of government itself.”

Moody’s Analytics, a highly respected economic research company, has reported that BBB would “strengthen long-term economic growth, the benefits of which would mostly accrue to lower- and middle-income Americans. The legislation is more-or-less paid for on a static basis and more than paid for on a dynamic basis through higher taxes on multinational corporations and the well-to-do and a range of several other pay-fors.” The report also stated, “Concerns that the plan will ignite undesirably high inflation and an overheating economy are overdone.” Manchin’s reduction in the “provides a modest increase in infrastructure spending and it thus supports only a modestly stronger economy. The reconciliation package is much larger and thus meaningfully lifts economic growth and jobs and lowers unemployment.” Long underinvestment in “infrastructure and social needs [with slowness] to respond to the threat posed by climate change [has] mounting economic consequences… [F]ailing to pass [this] legislation would certainly diminish the economy’s prospects.”

Maybe that’s what the Republicans want in their efforts to get re-elected. Especially after Hugh Lowell (Guardian) tweeted: “Regardless of the politics, the passage of a $1.2T bipartisan infrastructure bill is a towering legislative achievement for Biden—and one that Trump never came close to matching.”

September 5, 2021

Feds Stop Unemployment Boost on Labor Day

Filed under: economy — trp2011 @ 10:57 PM
Tags: , , , , , ,

Last week, the last week of summer vacation before Labor Day, saw a huge number of disasters: Taliban controlling Afghanistan after a frantic U.S. airlift of 123,000 people from the country; the nation literally on fire as the Caldor fire threatens Lake Tahoe; another part of the U.S. under water as Hurricane Ida killed at least 51 people in a swath from New Orleans to the Northeast; Florida’s COVID cases going sky high while Gov. DeSantis tries to conceal the facts; and Texas Republicans passing draconian anti-choice, unlimited gun carry, and voter suppression laws. All these were anticipated, but GOP lawmakers postponed prevention for decades—no solutions for climate change, corruption in Afghanistan, increasing COVID disasters, etc.

Tomorrow, on the day to honor workers, life will become harder for ten million people in the U.S. when they lose their federal jobless benefits. Three federal programs expire in an abrupt finish with no relief in sight. Almost three million workers to lose the benefit don’t qualify for regular state unemployment insurance including gig workers, caretakers, and self-employed people. Representing 40 percent of all unemployment claims, these people, typically lower-income and younger, will have no unemployment insurance starting on Labor Day 2021.

At the same time, the large number of unvaccinated people and movement of the COVID Delta variant sweeps the U.S. Both disease and lack of benefits will cut back on spending in parts of the country, especially in restaurants and other service businesses. Pulling people from this federal support will throw millions back into poverty with much less access to food and housing.

Bipartisan legislation approved the emergency jobless aid in Spring 2020 through the CARES Act as almost one million people lost their jobs each day and the economy went into freefall. Lawmakers believed the pandemic was short-lived because of assurances by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), but it didn’t. The aid was extended again in December 2020 and in another three months until Labor Day through the American Rescue Plan.

Republicans maintained people on unemployment were lazy, wanting to stay home when they could have a job, and demanded an investigation into fraud, declaring hundreds of billions of dollars in unemployment aid were stolen. Twenty-six states run by Republicans ended unemployment benefits early, giving a preview of what people in other states now face.

Economists researched the relationship between local economies and the combination of GOP benefits withdrawal and the pandemic. One study revealed withdrawing benefits didn’t force people back into the workforce: for every eight workers losing benefits, only one could find a job, resulting in a drastic drop in spending throughout the state. Those states saw seven cents in increased earnings for every dollar lost in benefits. Labor Day marks the beginning of “$8 billion in reduced spending during September and October,” according to Arindrajit Dube, an economist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

In states continuing unemployment insurance, 21.5 percent found employment while states without the unemployment saw only 24.9 percent of the unemployed finding jobs. Earnings in the states refusing to pay unemployment rose by an average of $14 for people who found employment while benefits declined by $278 per week, a net income decline of $264 per week at $13,728 on an annualized basis. In the same states, spending decreased by $145 per week ($7,540 annually) compared to states continuing to pay benefits. Workers may not have had much increase in wages during the pandemic (a 3.9 percent increase), but CEOs made out well—18.9 percent gain on average.

When the pandemic began, 152.5 million were employed, compared to the 146.8 million people now with jobs. With employment continuing its increase of 900,000 jobs a month, the gap would be closed in six months without damaging the economic recovery. States don’t have to stop the unemployment benefits on Labor Day: President Joe Biden told states they can use funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, the federal stimulus law passed in March 2021, for some of the lost federal aid. Of the 24 states continuing federal benefits until tomorrow, most said they didn’t plan to use stimulus plans in this way or would let the legislature made the decision.

A common question in the media is why over 8.4 million unemployed are searching for work in a market with 10 million job openings. One major reason is that the pandemic situation in which people lost their jobs, even temporarily, or were forced to stay home, perhaps working remotely, set up a “Great Reassessment” of work by both employers and employees. Employees may want to continue remote work, spend more time with their families, or find more flexible or more meaningful careers. Some people are still afraid to come into the workplace, especially with the concern for contracting “long-haul” COVID, coronavirus-like symptoms affecting their organs, joints, and muscles for months and possibly years after recovery of the infection.

Some companies, still desperate for employees, have increased wages, 8.8 percent up for nonmanagerial workers in the restaurant-and-hospitality sector and 6.1 percent for warehouse workers. Almost half the 3.1 million jobs gained since March are in hospitality although employment stalled with the Delta variant surge in August. Job resignations are up 13 percent over the beginning of the pandemic with an additional 4.9 million people who aren’t working or searching for work. During the pandemic, 3.6 million people resigned, two million more than expected. Others became entrepreneurs.

Many available jobs aren’t in the same locations or occupations where people worked before the pandemic. For example, professional and business services have 1.8 million job openings with 925,000 unemployed people who had worked in that category. Leisure and hospitality, retail, and wholesale trade have more openings than pre-pandemic workers in those areas, and many workers losing jobs in those industries don’t want to return. Education and health services have .6 million more job openings than unemployed workers from that sector. Workers in those areas have quit their jobs at the highest rate on record beginning in 2002. Child care facilities are in trouble with a serious shortage of applicants, and people with children need care for them to go back to work.

Alternatively, many employers want to hire fewer people and expanded their automation or completely revised supply chains and office organization. Last year, 43 percent of companies planned to use new technology to reduce their workforce, and business investment grew 26 percent in the past year, over twice as much as the economy. Roving machines are cleaning supermarket, hospital, and warehouse floors, and robots will start delivering room service. Salads and cooked vegetables will start being prepared by kitchen robots. Diners scan barcodes to access a menu and order food without servers.

People searching for jobs say they aren’t being hired, especially if they haven’t worked for a year—even if they were laid off because of the pandemic. About 40 percent of those now unemployed, 3.2 million, haven’t had a job for at least six months. Workers have had to decide whether to keep their jobs or follow COVID guidance. These people may have a good reason for not working, but employers worry that their skills may not be up-to-date. With prior jobs and employers often gone, job-seekers also may not have personal connections for resumes.

Job losses are worst for Latinas, Black women, and people without college degrees. In Idaho and Utah, employment recovered months ago with 2.6 percent and 3 percent unemployment respectively. On the other hand, tourist-oriented states are struggling: Hawaii is short 12 percent of its jobs, New York 9 percent down, and both Nevada and Alaska 7 percent behind. Urban downtowns such as San Francisco and Washington D.C. don’t have need for shops and restaurants because office workers aren’t back. Employers such as Google, Amazon, Apple, and Facebook won’t open until January. Buffets and movie theaters don’t need half their workers while RV dealers, carwashes, breweries, and appliance stores are going gangbusters. Some industries such as delivery services, mortgage lenders, and breakfast-cereal manufacturers had no job losses and now have 10 or even 20 percent more employees than 18 months ago.

Far more than 10 million people will participate in the massive loss. Because the average household getting unemployment insurance has 3.8 members, almost 40 million people, over 10 percent of the U.S. population, will lose this benefit tomorrow—on Labor Day. Keep this in mind tomorrow while you go shopping and then join friends in the backyard to grill hotdogs. 

 

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