Daily Archives: April 6, 2011

Truthout: The Truth About the Economy That Nobody in Washington or on Wall Street Will Admit

April 1, 2011- Why aren’t Americans being told the truth about the economy? We’re heading in the direction of a double dip – but you’d never know it if you listened to the upbeat messages coming out of Wall Street and Washington.

Consumers are 70 percent of the American economy, and consumer confidence is plummeting. It’s weaker today on average than at the lowest point of the Great Recession.

The Reuters/University of Michigan survey shows a 10 point decline in March – the tenth largest drop on record. Part of that drop is attributable to rising fuel and food prices. A separate Conference Board’s index of consumer confidence, just released, shows consumer confidence at a five-month low — and a large part is due to expectations of fewer jobs and lower wages in the months ahead.

Pessimistic consumers buy less. And fewer sales spells economic trouble ahead.

Crooks & Liars: Fox Yappers on Cashin’ In Love the Idea of Replacing Union Workers With Welfare Recipients

April 3, 2011- If there's anything you can count on from the yappers on some of the Fox Business Channel shows that they air on Fox News on Saturdays, it's that if there's a way to trash unions or to paint anyone who receives any sort of government assistance as lazy, good-for-nothing loafers who just want to suck off of the government teet, they're going to do it. With this story, they got a two-fer.

Buzzflash: Yes, They Are Outlawing Unions for Public University Professors and Teachers in Ohio

April 3, 2011- An obscure clause that was slipped into Ohio's infamous anti-union Senate Bill 5 may spell the end of collective bargaining for the state's public college teachers.

SB-5 was passed in the face of bitter controversy and mass public demonstrations at the state capitol in Columbus. It was signed into law Thursday, March 31, by Ohio's new extreme right-wing Governor John Kasich.

But little attention has been paid to the following clause on page 272, which reads:

"With respect to members of a faculty of a state institution of higher education, any faculty who, individually or through a faculty senate or like organization, participate in the governance of the institution, are involved in personnel decisions, selection or review of administrators, planning and use of physical resources, budget preparation, and determination of educational policies related to admissions, curriculum, subject matter, and methods of instruction and research are management level employees."

Buzzflash: If You Are Black or Young in America, the Economy is Not Getting Better

April 3, 2011- If you are black or young in America, the economy is not getting better.

According to the April 1st AFL-CIO blog,

Young people and people of color continue to experience the worst jobless rates which have remained high, with 24.5 percent of teenagers out of work and 15.5 percent of black workers and 11.3 percent of Hispanics jobless. Some 7.9 percent of white workers are jobless, as are 7.1 percent of Asian workers.

Dean Baker, who writes regularly for Truthout, noted,"Employment among blacks fell back almost to its low-point for the downturn."

Furthermore, despite the recent official drop of unemployment to 8.8%, the AFL-CIO points out the starker reality of joblessness: "While the official unemployment rate is 8.8 percent, it's 15.7 percent if unemployed, underemployed and those who have given up looking for work are included-more than 24 million people."

Huffington Post: Scott Walker’s ‘Waterloo’: 19 Counties Flip To Democrats In Wisconsin Supreme Court Race

April 6, 2011- A divisive budget battle between labor unions and Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) turned a state Supreme Court race into a nationally watched bellwether on the electorate's mood heading into a recall campaign and the 2012 elections.

Nearly 1.5 million people turned out to vote, representing 33.5 percent of voting-age adults — 68 percent higher than the 20 percent turnout officials had expected. JoAnne Kloppenburg has already declared victory, with the vote tallies showing her beating incumbent David Prosser by just a couple hundred votes. The race is expected to head to a recount.

Significantly, 19 counties that went for Walker in the 2010 elections this time flipped and went for Kloppenburg, including LaCrosse (59 percent), Sauk (56 percent) and Dunn (56 percent).

There were no party affiliations on the ballot, but Kloppenburg was heavily backed by Democrats and Prosser by Republicans, making it a fierce proxy battle for the two parties.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Tuesday’s Supreme Court turnout in Wisconsin was off the charts

April 6, 2011- Absolutely massive for a spring election, Tuesday’s turnout is unmistakable evidence of the impact the state’s budget and labor wars are having on Wisconsin voters.

With 99% of the returns in, almost 1.5 million people had voted in the state Supreme Court race, which would represent a turnout of 33.5% of voting-age adults.

That’s 68% higher than the official state prediction of 20% turnout, which was based on recent historical norms.

A 20% turnout would be about 874,000 votes. Tuesday’s turnout exceeded that by almost 600,000 votes.

The chart below shows the percentage of voting-age adults who have voted in contested Supreme Court elections since 2000:

Keep in mind that this is a nonpartisan spring election – which historically draws far fewer voters than fall elections – and a judicial race in which the candidates themselves are practically invisible to average voters.

Talking Points Memo: Turnout For Wisconsin Court Race Went Off The Charts

April 6, 2011- In another sign of just how big a contest the Wisconsin Supreme Court became — going from sleepy spring election and likely easy win for incumbent conservative Justice David Prosser, to a hot race in which liberal-backed challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg now has a very narrow lead — the results show that turnout was incredibly high.

Craig Gilbert at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:

With 99% of the returns in, almost 1.5 million people had voted in the state Supreme Court race, which would represent a turnout of 33.5% of voting-age adults.

That's 68% higher than the official state prediction of 20% turnout, which was based on recent historical norms.

A 20% turnout would be about 874,000 votes. Tuesday's turnout exceeded that by almost 600,000 votes.

Another way to look at it: Each candidate has just under 740,000 votes right now — compared to the 874,000 votes total that would have occurred under typical conditions.

Wisconsin State Journal: ‘No cop in the state’ would arrest Senate dems: Fitzgerald

April 2, 2011- Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald was repeatedly warned he would be stepping outside the law if he forcibly returned 14 Democratic senators who fled Wisconsin in February, according to internal emails.

Records obtained from the offices of Fitzgerald and Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Ted Blazel show Fitzgerald was told he was on shaky legal ground by attorneys from three state agencies. The memos and email correspondence were released in response to a public records request from the State Journal.

In an interview Friday, Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said the flight of the senators and the resulting legislative stalemate were “uncharted territory” that no one knew how to navigate.

But he acknowledged the efforts to return the senators to Madison came off as “comical” and would have become a public relations “disaster” if any lawmakers had been hauled back to Madison in a squad car.

“The whole thing was a mess,” Fitzgerald said. “You just can’t compel a senator to come back to the chamber.”

RAW Story: ‘No cop in the state’ would arrest WI Senate dems

April 2, 2011- Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald was warned by legal representatives of three separate state agencies that ordering state troopers to forcibly return senate democrats to Madison would place his actions in a zone "outside the law", according to the Wisconsin State Journal. The Journal has obtained memos and e-mail from Fitzgerald's office and the office of Sergeant-at-Arms Ted Blazel through a public records request.

Fitzgerald now admits in an interview with the Journal that his efforts to compel the Democrats back to the State House were "a mess" and that when he tried to give a statewide order for law enforcement to arrest the missing lawmakers, “There was no cop in the state that would enforce it.”

Palm Beach Post: Poorest, sickest, oldest poised for brunt of Florida Senate budget cut proposals

March 21, 2011- A budget hobbled by recession-era red ink began taking shape Monday in the state Senate, including proposed cuts to schools, Medicaid and programs used by some of the poorest and sickest Floridians.

With lawmakers facing a shortfall that state economics last week estimated had sunk $3.7 billion deeper, Health and Human Services budget chairman Joe Negron, R-Stuart, praised Senate leaders Monday for designating $28 billion for health and social programs. The allocation will allow budget-writers to maintain some key programs, including funding for homeless, AIDS drug assistance, and the state's KidCare and Healthy Start insurance programs, he said.

But Negron acknowledged that the Senate — like the House — plans deep cuts that will affect the state's most vulnerable residents. Both sides are looking to overhaul Medicaid, putting almost 3 million Floridians into managed care programs in a bid to save money while also reducing services.

"We've heard that the current system is irretrievably broken, so we're starting a new system," Negron said.

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