Action Alert: Fight Back Against GOP Attempts to Scuttle Hilda Solis’ Nomination

by matttbastard

ZP Heller @ OpenLeft:

The Senate Labor committee postponed [Hilda] Solis’ nomination yesterday because of a recent USA Today report about her husband’s outstanding California tax liens. (NOTE: it was her husband’s auto repair business, not anything to do with Solis herself.)  Though the tax liens have since been repaid, Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) and his Republican cohorts are still delaying the confirmation vote, claiming they need to investigate Solis’ involvement with American Rights at Work (ARAW), a pro-labor non-profit.  But this really boils down to the GOP’s inherent fears over the Employee Free Choice Act, a bill Solis co-sponsored in the House that would enable workers to unionize more easily and negotiate for equitable wages and benefits and safer working conditions.

[…]

Solis might understand the needs of workers better than anyone in Congress. There’s no question she could help ensure President Obama’s plan to create 3.6 million jobs by next year actually happens.  We must fight like hell to get her approved. Join this Facebook page and help confirm Hilda Solis now. Then, sign American Rights at Work’s petition to support the Employee Free Choice, where you snag their Employee Free Choice widget for your own personal blog.

Go.

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Hey, What’s the Rush?

by matttbastard

Nearly 600, 000 American jobs were lost in the month of December, the largest single month loss since 1974.  These latest figures bring the total number of jobs shed in the last 3 months to 1.8 million.  As a result, the US unemployment rate is now pushing 8%.

Chris Isidore of CNNMoney.com puts those numbers into proper context:

As bad as the unemployment rate was, it only tells part of the story for people struggling to find jobs. Friday’s report also showed that 2.6 million people have now been out of work for more than six months, the most long-term unemployed since 1983.

And that number only counts those still looking for work. The so-called underemployment rate, which includes those who have stopped looking for work and people working only part-time that want full-time positions, climbed to 13.9% from 13.5% in December. That is the highest rate for this measure since the Labor Department first started tracking it in 1994.

Absolutely “devastating”, as President Obama just observed during a news conference introducing his new emergency economic advisory board.

Yet, as Ali Frick at Think Progress acidly points out, “Republicans are stonewalling action to help the economy recover. Even as millions of Americans are losing their jobs, conservative Senators insist that there’s no rush to help them.”

Watch it:

Transcript:

LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): We do not need any more news conferences. What we need is getting more than 16 people in a room. We need to slow down, take a timeout, and get it right.

ROGER WICKER (R-MS): As Thomas Jefferson reminded Americans in his day — and I quote — “Delay is preferable to error.” Let’s not rush into doing this the wrong way.

JOHN ENSIGN (R-NV): So we need to act much more responsibly than this bill acts. It’s still time. There is no hurry.

TOM COBURN (R-OK): There’s no reason for us to hurry up, number one. There’s no reason for us not to look at every area of this bill and make sure the [American] people know about it.

Paul Krugman doesn’t mince words in his column today:

Over the last two weeks, what should have been a deadly serious debate about how to save an economy in desperate straits turned, instead, into hackneyed political theater, with Republicans spouting all the old clichés about wasteful government spending and the wonders of tax cuts.

It’s as if the dismal economic failure of the last eight years never happened — yet Democrats have, incredibly, been on the defensive. Even if a major stimulus bill does pass the Senate, there’s a real risk that important parts of the original plan, especially aid to state and local governments, will have been emasculated.

Somehow, Washington has lost any sense of what’s at stake — of the reality that we may well be falling into an economic abyss, and that if we do, it will be very hard to get out again.

[…]

Would the Obama economic plan, if enacted, ensure that America won’t have its own lost decade? Not necessarily: a number of economists, myself included, think the plan falls short and should be substantially bigger. But the Obama plan would certainly improve our odds. And that’s why the efforts of Republicans to make the plan smaller and less effective — to turn it into little more than another round of Bush-style tax cuts — are so destructive.

As Obama put it in a speech to Democratic lawmakers last night (h/t Steve Benen), “[Y]ou get the argument, ‘Well, this is not a stimulus bill, this is a spending bill.’ What do you think a stimulus is? That’s the whole point. No, seriously. That’s the point.”

Watch it:

Benen further notes that “The Politico‘s Jonathan Martin said that the president’s urgent tone was “reminiscent of the final days of the campaign.” It was actually more than just reminiscent — at one point, Obama literally asked lawmakers, “Fired up?” They shouted back, “Ready to go!“”

So, let’s go.  Now.

Take action: Contact your senator and demand they cease with the tiresome, frivolous political theatrics and pass this recovery package intact (not a watered-down goddamn bullshit “moderate” compromise version) ASAP.

Go.

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Record-Breaking Canadian Job Losses in January

by matttbastard

Happy Job Catastrophe Friday:

The recession hit home where Canadians live last month as a massive 129,000 workers joined the ranks of the unemployed and the country’s jobless rate surged to 7.2 per cent.

It was the worst monthly employment drop in at least three decades, topping figures seen in either of the two previous recessions in the 1980s and 1990s.

Almost all the jobs were full-time and were mostly in a battered manufacturing sector that has been most affected by the severe downturn in the United States.

The carnage was everywhere. Ontario shed 71,000 jobs, half in the manufacturing sector. British Columbia and Quebec workers were also hit hard with losses of 35,000 and 26,000 respectively.

Since October, when most economists say the global recession hit Canada’s shores, the country has lost a whopping 213,000 jobs, wiping out a year’s gains.

Somebody get Guinness on the horn — Statistics Canada calls this “the largest employment decrease since the agency began keeping what it described as comparable figures in 1976.”  Highly “regrettable” hemorrhaging, as hapless Finance Minister Jim Flaherty blandly  put it last night.  Understatement as performance art — I love our (probationary!) Conservative government.

And let’s not be Negative Nancys.  Displaying that keen sense of priorities that sets apart the Queensway elite from the scrum, Chantal Hebert proudly reports that civility has finally returned to the House of Commons, welcome news that should help salve the pain of economic woes.  Try not to rejoice too boisterously (not that y’all can, um, afford to celebrate with anything more extravegant than a bottle of Baby Duck and a box of Kraft Dinner).

Anyway, here’s hoping those 129,000 newly unemployed individuals are all eligible for EI.

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US Job Losses in 2008 Highest Since 1945

by matttbastard

Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

My apologies for being so late noting this–congratulations are owed to our southerly neighbours for their latest dubious economic milestone. Our paltry 34,000 jobs lost in December pale in comparison to your staggering 524,000 (524,000!), let alone the 2.5 million (2.5 million!) over the course of 2008. Rest assured that, as per our recently-resigned-to-reality Minister of Finance and Prime Minister, we’ll be doing our goddamndest in 2009 to catch up with the good ol’ US of A.

So don’t get too cocky, Uncle Sam — The Beaver is on the rise! (or the decline, if you will.)

Ok, all snark aside, with the US shedding over one million (one million!) jobs in the final two months of 2008 alone, one really, really hopes that, contra John Judis, Obama does, in fact, fully appreciate the enormity of the global economic crisis he will inherit from the outgoing administration.

Because we’ve yet to even come close to hitting bedrock.

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Truthiness and National Priorities

by matttbastard

533,000 US jobs lost in November, raising the unemployment rate to 6.7%. And they’re still fucking talking about that oft-debunked conspiracy theory regarding Obama’s citizenship.

We are so fucked.

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What’s At Stake

by matttbastard

While Ottawa smolders with inflamed partisanship, CP reports that Canada shed 70,600 jobs in November, the highest monthly job loss figures since 1982, when the country was mired in a deep recession (as opposed to a ‘technical’ recession *cough*). Guess which province (and sector) overwhelmingly bore the brunt of the bleeding?

Yep:

Ontario shed 66,000 jobs last month, leading the country to the largest decline since the deep recession of 1982.

The province’s losses pushed the unemployment rate to 7.1 per cent from 6.5 per cent the previous month. Overall, 70,600 jobs were chopped across the country.

The battered manufacturing sector was mostly responsible for the job bleeding in Ontario with a decline of 42,000. That took the factory sector’s share of employment in the province to 13 per cent – down from 18.2 per cent six years ago.

Gee, too bad our prime minister concluded the most prudent step to address the economy was to lock the doors of parliament, at a time when stability and leadership is absolutely vital if we are to maintain public confidence in an increasingly unstable economic landscape. All because Stephen Harper apparently values his own job security over that of the nation. Oh, and I hope you all will excuse me for being a little skeptical of Tony Clement’s MacGyver-like creativity in the midst of a crisis in the auto industry.

Enjoy your fire alarm vacation, Steve. We’ll see you on the 26th. Of January.

Related: Is changing the government without an election “undemocratic”, as Harper and Co. have repeatedly claimed? Of course not. So maybe someone should pass the message along to Bob Fife.

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Joe Biden: Republican Silence on Economy is “Deafening” (Literally!)

by matttbastard

h/t Jed and Kyle Moore (via IM) for the vid

Heckuva job: The NY Times reports that the US unemployment rate hit a 5 year high this week, and is now on par with Canada’s for the first time since 1982 (ppsh, that’s nice — hey, check out McCain’s prime time numbers!):

The August jobs report seemed to suggest that the deterioration in the economy is accelerating. The unemployment rate has risen 1.4 percentage points over the last year and is now at its highest level since September 2003, when the economy was just beginning to emerge from a jobless recovery.

What’s more, those who swelled the unemployment rolls last month were adults, many over the age of 45, and not teen-agers, who were the main contributors to the jump in unemployment in May, when the rate rose to 5.5 percent from 5 percent in April. The nearly 600,000 people added to the unemployment roles in August included almost as many college graduates as those with only a high school degree.

Manufacturing companies shed the most jobs last month, 61,000, mostly at auto plants and in housing-related industries. There were also sharp cutbacks in the use of temporary workers, and across most of the work force hourly and weekly wages once again failed to keep pace with inflation.

The McCain campaign’s thoughtful strategic response to this latest economic body blow?

Piss on the legs of the working and middle classes and call it rain:

Hoping for a poll bounce out of the Republican convention at St Paul, Mr McCain, accompanied by Governor Sarah Palin, his vice-presidential running mate, hit the campaign trail in Cedarburg, Wisconsin, with a populist message.

“John McCain doesn’t run with the Washington herd,” Mrs Palin said, introducing the Republican nominee.

Mr McCain declared: “It’s over. It’s over. It’s over for the special interests. We’re going to start working for the people of this country.

He mentioned the jobless figures and said that these were “tough times” for Americans and promised to “stand on your side and fight for you”, cutting government spending and opening up new markets abroad. He vowed to “shake up Washington and get things done for you”.

The McCain campaign has dubbed their new tour, through many economically deprived areas, as the “Change is Coming” tour.

Yep, nothing boosts voter confidence and stirs the soul quite like hollow rhetoric (“Shake up Washington!” “We’re going to start working for the people of this country!”) from shameless political shills cynically and contemptuously treating the whining electorate like dolts unable to read between the lines of their monthly credit card statements.

“Change is coming”?

My angry black ass.

Charles Krauthammer (!) nails it:

The Republican brand is deeply tarnished. The opposition is running on “change” in a change election. So McCain gambled that he could steal the change issue for himself — a crazy brave, characteristically reckless, inconceivably difficult maneuver — by picking an authentically independent, tough-minded reformer. With Palin, he doubles down on change.

The problem is the inherent oddity of the incumbent party running on change. Here were Republicans — the party that controlled the White House for eight years and both houses of Congress for five — wildly cheering the promise to take on Washington. I don’t mean to be impolite, but who’s controlled Washington this decade?

Gee, damn good thing this election isn’t about the issues (nor, apparently, accountability).

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