A dramatic downgrade of U.S. economic growth in the first quarter revealed the economy’s lingering weakness, exposed the folly of Washington’s austerity obsession and slapped the Federal Reserve’s newfound optimism right in the face.

Gross domestic product grew at just a 1.8 percent annualized pace in the first quarter, the Bureau of Economic Analysis said on Wednesday, revising down its earlier estimate of 2.4 percent growth. Economists had expected no change in the BEA’s third effort at estimating GDP, and such sharp revisions are rare in a third estimate.

The first quarter’s dismal growth was at least better than the 0.4 percent GDP growth of the fourth quarter of 2012. But it was still far from healthy, and economists don’t see it getting much stronger any time soon. Paul Edelstein, director of financial economics at the research firm IHS Global Insight, now estimates the U.S. economy will grow by just 1.6 percent this year, down from an earlier estimate of 1.8 percent. That is well below the economy’s long-term average growth rate of 3 percent or so. It means the economy is vulnerable to shocks and that it will be much more difficult to bring unemployment down quickly from 7.6 percent.

Nevertheless, the Fed recently announced plans to slow down the pace of its bond-buying program known as “quantitative easing,” in the belief that the economy and job market will bounce back by the end of the year.

That sunny view always seemed strange, and financial markets clearly didn’t buy it. Now it is even more questionable.

“This report is a reminder that the economy is not out of the woods,” independent economist Robert Brusca wrote in an email. “We will need a lot of magic to drop the unemployment rate as the Fed members see, given the sort of economic growth that seems to be percolating. Good luck with that.”

One big drag on growth in the first quarter was a sharp downward revision in the growth rate of consumer spending, to 2.6 percent annualized from an earlier estimate of 3.4 percent. Consumer spending makes up about two-thirds of total U.S. GDP and was likely hampered by an increase in payroll-tax withholding that took effect at the start of the year. Hourly pay for U.S. nonfarm workers suffered its biggest drop on record in the first quarter, the government announced earlier this month. That took an obvious toll on spending.

That payroll-tax hike was part of a deal to help the economy avoid falling entirely off what was known as the “fiscal cliff,” an assortment of tax hikes and spending cuts that Congress and the White House set up to punish themselves for failing to reach a Grand Bargain on budget deficits — a bizarre obsession anyway, in the middle of a stagnant economy.

Though the full fiscal cliff would probably have been even more damaging, the fiscal-cliff “solution” was not a whole lot better, involving several painful austerity measures, including the payroll-tax increase and the draconian budget cuts of the “sequester,” that will likely shave 1.5 percent from GDP growth this year, economists estimate.

Federal government spending shrank at an 8.7 percent annualized rate, on top of a 14.8 percent contraction in the fourth quarter, subtracting nearly 0.7 percentage points from total GDP growth. The U.S. government has been cutting spending for most of the past two years, at the fastest pace since the end of the Vietnam War, despite the shaky recovery from the Great Recession.

Weak demand has kept businesses anxious about hiring and expanding. Business investment grew at just a 0.4 percent rate in the first quarter, contributing nearly nothing to GDP growth.

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Where Do We Begin

November 16, 2012

I don’t believe anyone thought

 

That the fiscal cliff

 

Would include a complete review

 

Of our Military and Intelligence command

 

 

 

It seems that while the country

 

Was wallowing in debt

 

The good ole boy network

 

Were all out there

 

Enjoying themselves

 

 

We speak of the integrity and sacrifices

 

Made by our forefathers

 

To help establish

 

This great nation

 

 

Yet we soon forget

 

The sacrifices they made

 

 

There are 3 major issues

 

That must be addressed by the

 

End of this year…..

 

 

The Bush Tax Cuts

 

 

The Payroll Tax Holiday

 

 

The $16 Trillion Debt Ceiling

 

 

 

I hear people saying

 

 

Go over the cliff….

 

 

 

Then go back and fix it

 

 

In 2013

 

 

 

This has been bantered around

 

For the last 2 years….

 

 

 

What makes people think that…..

 

 

 

2013 will be the cure all

 

 

 

This is not a…..

 

 

Democratic

 

Or

 

Republican Issue

 

 

 

This has to be settled in a

 

Bipartisan effort

 

 

 

We need a strong

 

Federal Government

 

 

But it is bloated and

 

 

 

Waste too much money

 

 

 

The Bush tax cuts

 

Were put into place

 

12 years ago

 

 

 

In the meantime

 

We engaged ourselves

 

In 2 wars

 

 

 

Which we did not have

 

The money to pay for

 

 

 

A bipartisan resolution should focus on

 

 

 

Creating Jobs for the future

 

 

Cutting Cost

 

 

 

Raising Revenue

 

 

 

Balancing the Budget

 

 

And

 

 

 

Long Term Deficit Reduction

 

 

 

 

The finger pointing must stop….

 

 

 

It was the abuses of both parties

 

That put us in this position

 

 

 

A Vision must be set

 

To both inspire

 

And lift up

 

The citizens of

 

The United States

 

 

 

The whole world looks to us

 

 

As the land of opportunity

 

 

 

Let’s quit bickering

 

 

And work together

 

 

To restore the integrity

 

 

That the world aspires

 

 

To see in us

 

Find us on the web www.hutchinsonbusinesssolutions.com

Just Thinking

October 5, 2012

My wife and I were watching TV

 

Last week

 

 

And she made a very

 

Astute observation

 

 

“How come all we hear about

 

 

 

In the Presidential election

 

 

 

Is the middle class

 

 

 

 

Did everyone stop talking…..

 

 

 

 

About the Poor?”

 

 

 

 

 

We hear about the top 2%

 

 

 

And

 

 

 

The middle class

 

 

 

What are we doing about the poor?

 

 

 

 

Are they now the middle class…

 

 

 

Want to hear some sobering facts?

 

 

 

There have been

 

48 murders…..

 

 

 

In Camden, NJ

 

 

So far this year

 

 

 

Camden has gained the title of….

 

 

 

America’s most dangerous city

 

 

 

Camden is about 7 miles

 

From where I am sitting

 

 

 

Let’s look at some of the facts:

 

  • 13 homicides in July – the most deadly month since a shooting spree in 1949
  • Murder rate was ten times New York City in 2011 — and on pace to be even higher this year
  • More than half of children live below the poverty line as the city is ravaged by drugs
  • Police department forced to cut one third of officers in 2011 and arrests dropped to less than half of what they were in 2009

 

 

 

I am using Camden

 

 

As an example

 

 

Because it is

 

 

Close to home

 

 

 

There are many families hurting

 

 

Not only in Camden….

 

 

 

But in all across…

 

 

The United States

 

 

 

In cities

 

 

And

 

 

 

In small towns

 

 

 

 

There are independent programs

 

 

Set up

 

 

To help these people…..

 

 

 

Mostly non profits

 

 

With Church affiliations

 

 

 

Providing food

 

 

Temporary Shelter

 

 

 

 

Working with youth

 

 

Helping them to

 

 

Believe in their abilities

 

 

 

 

Teaching them

 

 

You can make a difference

 

 

 

 

Aspire,

 

 

 

Don’t settle

 

 

 

 

But there is no grand effort

 

 

 

 

No coordinated

 

 

Vision

 

 

 

To make a difference

 

 

 

 

 

To lift these people up

 

 

 

 

Yes,

 

 

There is unemployment

 

 

Disability

 

 

Food Stamps

 

 

And

 

 

Other Government assistance programs

 

 

 

 

But what are we doing

 

 

As a whole….

 

 

 

To lift the poor in spirit

 

 

 

 

Give them the opportunity

 

 

To live

 

 

To Share

 

 

 

 

The American dream

 

 

 

 

Whatsoever you do

 

 

To the least of my brethren

 

 

 

That you do unto me

 

 

 

 

I think we are all familiar with that line

 

 

 

 

 

What are we doing to help…..

 

 

The poor?

 

 

 

 

We all take our lives for granted

 

 

 

 

What we fail to realize is that…..

 

 

 

Every Day is a Gift

 

 

 

 

 

I am a product of Catholic Schools

 

 

 

They taught the….

 

 

 

 

 

The 7 Corporal Works of Mercy

 

 

  • Feed the Hungry
  • Give drink to the thirsty
  • Cloth the naked
  • Shelter the homeless
  • Comfort the imprisoned
  • Visit the sick
  • Bury the dead

 

 

 

What have we been doing….

 

 

 

With the gifts that we have been given?

 

 

 

 

Many years ago

 

 

As man evolved

 

 

They realized

 

 

The only way

 

 

They could sustain

 

 

Continue to grow

 

 

And Survive

 

 

Would be by

 

 

Helping each other

 

 

 

There was no….

 

 

Bigger

 

 

Better

 

 

Stronger

 

 

 

 

They all worked together

 

 

They Realized that they….

 

 

 

All needed each other

 

 

 

 

The world calls us to be engaged

 

 

 

We are all one

 

 

 

 

“For I was hungry and you gave me food

 

 

I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink

 

 

I was a stranger and you welcomed me

 

 

I was naked and you gave me clothing

 

 

I was sick and you took care of me

 

 

I was in prison and you visited me.”

 

 

Mathew 25:34-36

Did I ever tell you the story

 

About trying to renew

 

 

My NJ plumbing license seal

 

 

 

It was old and needed to be

 

 

Replaced.

 

 

 

Do you have about an hour?

 

 

 

It is wayyyy tooooooo long of a story

 

 

 

Without going into details

 

 

Let me just say

 

 

After many phone calls

 

 

 

 

It only took the State a year

 

 

To mail out my new

 

 

Plumbing seal

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now the State is treading on sacred ground

 

 

 

 

Each year in late July or early August

 

The State of New Jersey

 

Mails out the

 

 

 

New Jersey Employer Contribution Reports

 

 

 

To all New Jersey Employers

 

 

 

 

This form shows you how the State

 

 

Calculates your new

 

 

Unemployment Tax rate

 

 

For the next 12 months.

 

 

 

 

You have to stay with me here…..

 

 

 

 

The form shows how much

 

Your Company has paid

 

Into the unemployment fund

 

Since inception

 

 

 

It also shows the total amount of

 

Unemployment claim dollars

 

The Company has paid out

 

Since inception

 

 

 

 

Confused yet?

 

 

 

Keep reading

 

 

 

 

The bottom line

 

Shows your reserve balance

 

 

Or

 

 

How much money is left

 

 

In your account

 

To pay

 

 

Future claims

 

 

 

 

Alright….. take a breath

 

 

 

 

 

To determine your new rate

 

 

 

The State looks at your

 

Reserve balance

 

 

 

 

The State also looks at your

 

 

 

3 year taxable wage base

 

 

And your

 

 

 

5 year taxable wage base

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guess which Taxable Wage Base

 

 

The State picks?

 

 

 

 

 

If you said the higher number…..

 

 

 

 

You would be correct.

 

 

 

 

Well….

 

 

 

Guess what?

 

 

 

 

 

New Jersey will not be mailing out the

 

 

New Jersey Employer Contribution Reports

 

 

 

Any longer

 

 

 

 

You will now have to go online…

 

 

 

 

Set up an account…

 

 

 

And look up the information…..

 

 

 

 

Yourself

 

 

 

 

Did I miss that memo?

 

 

 

 

Did you miss that memo?

 

 

 

 

 

 

I bet you did not know that

 

 

 

 

Unemployment is the 2nd highest

 

 

Employer mandated tax by the government

 

 

 

 

It is the only tax

 

That you are able to manage

 

 

 

 

You do have the ability to manage

 

 

What rate your company is assigned

 

 

 

 

And

 

 

 

What dollar amount will be

 

Paid into the account

 

For the next 12 months

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did you know

 

 

That the national average

 

 

For the overpayment of an

 

Unemployment claim is

 

 

 

Over 10%

 

 

 

 

That means the State may be paying

 

The wrong amount for an unemployment claim

 

 

 

And the money is

 

Coming out of your account

 

 

 

How do you even know your

 

Unemployment Rate

 

Is correct?

 

 

 

How do you know if your

 

 

Reserve balance

 

Is correct?

 

 

 

 

This is one of the services

 

HBS provides

 

 

 

 

We serve as a public advocate for

 

Our clients

 

 

 

 

We hold the state responsible

 

 

 

 

We verify the assigned rate

 

Is correct

 

 

 

 

We manage the payment of claims coming

 

Out of your account

 

 

 

 

Auditing each claim payment

 

 

Verifying it is the correct amount

 

 

 

 

For companies with over 100 employees

 

 

The cost savings to

 

 

 

Manage your unemployment account

 

 

Can be seen within the first year

 

 

 

 

With the unemployment fund depleted

 

 

Now more than ever

 

 

Companies should be taking steps to

 

 

Manage their unemployment accounts

 

 

 

 

 

 

To learn more contact george@hbsadvantage.com

 

 

Visit us on the web www.hutchinsonbusinesssolutions.com

As reported in Huffington Post

WASHINGTON — House Republicans on Tuesday rejected a Senate bill that would have prevented a payroll tax cut from expiring on New Year’s Day, saying they wanted a year-long extension or no extension at all.

House Republicans accomplished that with a convoluted motion to reject a Senate compromise that would have extended the 2 percent payroll tax break for two months, voting 229 to 193 to send the measure to a conference committee.

Seven Republicans voted with Democrats, and no Democrats crossed the aisle. They were Reps. Charles Bass (R-N.H.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.), Tim Johnson (R-Ill.), Walter Jones (R-N.C.) and Frank Wolf (R-Va.).

Senate leaders also were hoping for a year-long deal, but sources told The Huffington Post that Republicans and Democrats could not agree on how to fund about half of the $200 billion needed to pay for the bill for a full year. The measure would also extend unemployment insurance benefits and would prevent a 27 percent cut to Medicare payments to doctors with a “doc fix” provision. Those also expire Jan. 1.

So instead, the Senate voted 89 to 10 on Saturday for a two-month extension to buy time to bridge the gap. The upper chamber then recessed, apparently confident that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had the go ahead from House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to cut a deal.

But Boehner’s members rebelled against the bill, even with 39 Senate Republicans backing it, and scrambled to oppose it. At first, the GOP had set a vote on the bill, but late Monday changed it to an unusual motion to reject the Senate compromise. If they had held the first vote, and it had passed, the bill would have gone straight to President Obama.

But under the new version, House leaders accomplished their goal of sending the bill to a conference committee instead, even though Senate and House Democratic leaders insist they will not appoint members to the committee.

Democrats argued that the parliamentary gymnastics were just a way to prevent a clear vote on a bill that they believe would pass.

“The Republican majority in this House of Representatives is refusing — it is refusing to allow a vote in this House on the Senate bipartisan compromise,” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.). “What are they so afraid of? It is very clear that the Republican leadership is afraid that the same bipartisanship that took place in the Senate will take place right here in the House… otherwise we’d have a vote on it.”

Republican leaders insisted they were preventing a vote to pass the Senate deal because approving a bill for just two months creates uncertainty. They cited a payroll business trade organization that said a two-month extension is problematic for electronically processed payrolls.

And they contended that the sides were “90 percent” of the way to a deal, even though $100 billion separated the GOP and Democrats in the Senate. The original version of the House bill also adds a string of “poison pill” riders on top of the differences over funding. Democrats initially wanted to tax the rich to pay for the bill, but dropped that surtax in the compromise.

“We need to come together in a responsible manner to find common ground,” said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.).

Cantor and others argued that the Senate had only been interested in going on vacation.

“We stand ready to work over the holidays to get this done,” said Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas). “That’s the question, are you willing to work over the holidays, or are you not willing to work over the holidays,” Hensarling said, suggesting that Democrats need to watch Schoolhouse Rock to figure out how Congress’ conference committees work.

Democrats didn’t buy it, and none budged to the GOP side, even though at least a handful usually do.

“If you’re so sure of your argument, why not vote on the Senate bill?” asked Rep, Sander Levin (D-Mich.), the top Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee. “Because everything you said is a smokescreen,” he said.

The House could still hold a separate vote directly on the Senate bill if GOP leaders relent.

However, they seemed intent on trying to make the president or Democratic leaders blink on their position, and restart negotiations.

Democrats insisted they would not budge, leaving the Senate bill as the only standing proposal.

“It is unconscionable that Speaker Boehner is blocking a bipartisan compromise that would protect middle-class families from the tax hike looming on January 1st – a compromise that Senator McConnell and I negotiated at Speaker Boehner’s own request,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said in a statement just after the vote.

“I would implore Speaker Boehner to listen to the sensible Senate Republicans and courageous House Republicans who are calling on him take the responsible path, and pass the Senate’s bipartisan compromise,” Reid added. “I have been trying to negotiate a yearlong extension with Republicans for weeks, and I am happy to continue doing so as soon as the House of Representatives passes the bipartisan compromise to protect middle-class families, but not before then.”

 

Reported by Sam Stein

 

WASHINGTON — As the United States Senate considers yet another variation of the payroll tax cut, there appears to be little common ground over how the measure should be paid for. Democrats, along with one Republican, continue to argue for a small surtax on millionaires. Republicans either balk at that proposal or say they don’t support extending the payroll tax cut at all.

The impasse is unlikely to be bridged by the time the newest bill comes to the floor on Thursday, leading operatives to suggest that it would simply be easier to pass the payroll tax cut extension without paying for it.

Longtime anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist said he would prefer to see the tax cut accompanied by an equivalent reduction in spending to make up for the decrease in revenue. He and other conservatives said that if spending offsets do not accompany the tax cut, it would be harder for Democrats to argue against other such tax cuts, including a repatriation holiday on corporate taxes.

“No to a tax increase, yes to extending it without a quote, unquote ‘pay for,’ and the preference is to do it with spending cuts as the offset,” said Norquist. “The worst thing you can do would be to extend it with a permanent job-killing marginal tax increase. You would end up with permanent marginal tax rates in exchange for a temporary reduction in tax rates on Social Security.”

When the payroll tax cut was first introduced at the end of 2010, there was no talk about how it would be offset. Instead, it was passed as part of an agreement to extend the Bush tax cut for an additional two years. The estimated $860 billion price tag was simply put on the books.

So why not do the same now, when the price tag is significantly lower — $185 billion to reduce the employee’s share from 4.2 percent to 3.1 percent of wages, along with other tax policy changes — and Republicans have, as a matter of ideological principle, argued that tax cuts pay for themselves?

The question was posed to two senior Obama administration officials during a briefing with reporters yesterday. And while they continued to argue that there were easy ways to cover the payroll tax cut — while needling Republicans for suddenly insisting that tax cuts be offset — they never explicitly said it had to be paid for.

// // “So we still think that the payroll tax, unemployment insurance, any other jobs measures can be paid for in a responsible way,” one said. “The important thing here, though, is that this get done.”

Reminded that, at least as far as unemployment insurance is concerned, the president has consistently held that such emergency expenditures don’t need to be offset, the official replied: “I don’t think the president’s longstanding position on that has changed. But there is a way of paying for it that was put forward in the American Jobs Act.”

And therein lies the problem. While both Republicans and Democrats privately admit that they have been and would be comfortable with letting tax cuts continue without offsets, neither will say so publicly, lest their commitment to deficit reduction be questioned.

Top congressional Republican aides argue that a payroll tax cut extension without offsets isn’t necessarily easier to pass than one paid for by a millionaire’s surtax. But the reasoning behind that argument has more to do with timing than philosophical disputes.

Congress will be voting on major appropriations bills before the Christmas recess. To have them turn around and stack $185 billion on the deficit would be too much to ask, the logic goes.

“The president said in his speech to Congress and in speeches since, that ‘everything’ in the bill will be paid for,” Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), said in an email. “I think it will be MUCH easier to pass it if they take out the poison pill of a tax hike on job creators; a tax hike, by the way, that has bipartisan opposition.”

A top House aide was more blunt. “I don’t think either would pass the House,” the aide explained, when asked about a payroll tax cut extension without offsets and one that was paid for with a millionaire’s surtax. “So it’s a ‘would you rather burn to death or drown’ type of question.”

by Jesse Eisinger ProPublica,  Nov. 30, 2011, 12:12 p.m.

Note: The Trade is not subject to our Creative Commons license.

Last week, I had a conversation with a man who runs his own trading firm. In the process of fuming about competition from Goldman Sachs, he said with resignation and exasperation: “The fact that they were bailed out and can borrow for free — It’s pretty sickening.”

Though the sentiment is commonplace these days, I later found myself thinking about his outrage. Here was someone who is in the thick of the business, trading every day, and he is being sickened by the inequities and corruption on Wall Street and utterly persuaded that nothing had changed in the years since the financial crisis of 2008.

Then I realized something odd: I have conversations like this as a matter of routine. I can’t go a week without speaking to a hedge fund manager or analyst or even a banker who registers somewhere on the Wall Street Derangement Scale.

That should be a great relief: Some of them are just like us! Just because you are deranged doesn’t mean you are irrational, after all. Wall Street is already occupied — from within.

The insiders have a critique similar to that of the outsiders. The financial industry has strayed far from being an intermediary between companies that want to raise capital so they can sell people things they want. Instead, it is a machine to enrich itself, fleecing customers and exacerbating inequality. When it goes off the rails, it impoverishes the rest of us. When the crises come, as they inevitably do, banks hold the economy hostage, warning that they will shoot us in the head if we don’t bail them out.

And I won’t pretend this is a widespread view in finance — or even a large minority. You don’t hear this from the executives running the big Wall Street firms; you don’t hear it from the average trader or investment banker. From them, we get self-pity. For every one of the secret Occupy Wall Street sympathizers, there are probably 15 others like Kenneth G. Langone, who, like downtrodden people before him, is trying to reclaim and embrace a pejorative [1], “fat cat.”

The critics are more often found on the periphery, running hedge funds or working at independent research shops. They are retired, either voluntarily or not. They are low-level executives who haven’t made scrambling up the corporate hierarchy their sole ambition in life. Perhaps their independent status removes the intellectual handcuffs that come with ungodly bonuses. Or perhaps they are able to see Big Money’s flaws because they have to compete with the bigger banks for dollars.

Are these “Wall Streeters”? To civilians, they work on the Street. Bankers at the bulge-bracket firms wouldn’t think they are. But that doesn’t mean they don’t count. They know the financial business intimately.

Sadly, almost none of these closeted occupier-sympathizers go public. But Mike Mayo, a bank analyst with the brokerage firm CLSA, which is majority owned by the French bank Crédit Agricole, has done just that. In his book “Exile on Wall Street [2]” (Wiley), Mr. Mayo offers an unvarnished account of the punishments he experienced after denouncing bank excesses. Talking to him, it’s hard to tell you aren’t interviewing Michael Moore.

Mr. Mayo is particularly outraged over compensation for bank executives. Excessive compensation “sends a signal that you take what you get and take it however you can,” he told me. “That sends another signal to outsiders that the system is rigged. I truly wish the protestors didn’t have a leg to stand on, but the unfortunate truth is that they do.”

I asked Richard Kramer, who used to work as a technology analyst at Goldman Sachs until he got fed up with how it did business and now runs his own firm, Arete Research, what was going wrong. He sees it as part of the business model.

“There have been repeated fines and malfeasance at literally all the investment banks, but it doesn’t seem to affect their behavior much,” he said. “So I have to conclude it is part of strategy as simple cost/benefit analysis, that fines and legal costs are a small price to pay for the profits.”

Last week, in a Bloomberg Television event, both Laurence D. Fink, the chairman and chief executive of the mega-money management firm BlackRock, and Bill Gross, the legendary bond investor, evinced some sympathy for the Occupy Wall Street movement [3].

Over the last several decades, “money and finance have dominated at the expense of labor and Main Street, and so how can one not sympathize with their predicament?” Mr. Gross said, speaking of the 99 percent. “To not have sympathy with Main Street as opposed to Wall Street is to have blinders.”

It’s progress that these sentiments now come regularly from people who work in finance. This is an unheralded triumph of the Occupy Wall Street movement. It’s also an opportunity, to reach out to make common cause with native informants.

It’s also a failure. One notable absence in this crisis and its aftermath was a great statesman from the financial industry who would publicly embrace reform that mattered. Instead, mere months after the trillions had flowed from taxpayers and the Federal Reserve, they were back defending their prerogatives and fighting any regulations or changes to their business.

Perhaps a major reason why so few in this secret confederacy speak out is that they are as flummoxed about practical solutions as the rest of us. They don’t know where to begin.

Over the next year, maybe that will change. Things are going to be tough on Wall Street. Bonuses will be down. Layoffs are coming. Europe seems on the brink of another financial crisis. Maybe from that wreckage, a leader will emerge.

as reported in HuffingtonPost 11/30/2011

WASHINGTON — For the second year in a row, Congress must decide during the holiday season whether to renew federal jobless benefits for people out of work six months or longer. While Democrats have been making a huge fuss, with a press conference Wednesday featuring hundreds of unemployed workers, Republicans have been relatively quiet — but that doesn’t mean they’re against reauthorizing the benefits.

Republican leaders in both Houses of Congress have expressed support for continuing the benefits, saying the holdup is just a matter of how the legislation is put together.

“We’re going to be discussing between the House and Senate ways to deal with both continuation of the payroll tax reduction and unemployment insurance extension before the end of the year,” Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday. “And in the end, it will have to be worked out in a joint negotiation between a Democratic Senate and a Republican House.”

If the benefits are not reauthorized, 1.8 million jobless will stop receiving checks over the course of January, according to worker advocacy group the National Employment Law Project. The federal benefits kick in for laid off workers who use up to six months of state-funded compensation without finding work. Congress routinely provides extensions during recessions and hasn’t dropped extended benefits with the national unemployment rate above 7.2 percent.

Yet the need to reauthorize benefits has been overshadowed by the looming expiration of a payroll tax cut put in place last December, which would result in a tax hike on every working American — an average hike of $1,000 — a scenario Republicans would like to avoid. And Congress also needs to pass a so-called “doc fix” by the end of the year to prevent a 27 percent cut in pay for doctors who see Medicare patients.

“Nobody is coming out with any definitive statements on [unemployment insurance]. Last year they were happy to,” Judy Conti, a lobbyist for NELP, told HuffPost. “I think it’s indicative of the fact that on a bipartisan basis people understand that workers families and the economy need these programs to continue.”

HuffPost readers: Worried your benefits will stop because of Congress? Tell us about it — email arthur@huffingtonpost.com. Please include your phone number if you’re willing to do an interview.

// // The sticking point over renewing the benefits through next year will be their roughly $50 billion cost. Republicans typically insist that the aid must be “paid for,” but that calculation may not apply if the benefits can be attached to something attractive like a tax cut. Republicans blocked renewed unemployment aid last year until President Obama agreed to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for two more years — at a cost much greater than unemployment. Earlier this year President Obama pressed Congress to pass a jobs package that included many items Republicans favored — for instance a “Bridge to Work” training program — but so far congressional Democrats have not signaled support for those programs.

Many members of Congress expected the deficit reduction super committee to craft a deal that included the benefits, but the committee turned out to be less super than advertised.

“Any kind of grand deal that we’ve been after has eluded us,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Tuesday, referring to the failed broader talks on the budget and debt. “So let’s try and work incrementally towards a conclusion this session that can benefit all Americans. Because we Republicans do care about people that out — that are out of work. We don’t want to raise taxes on anybody. We want to provide the help to the physicians and the providers in the health care arena in this country, and we want to make sure this country has a sound national defense policy.”

Even Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who suggested during a standoff on jobless benefits last summer that unemployed people blow the money on drugs, sounded sympathetic to jobseekers on Wednesday.

“Nobody really has a real quick answer. We’re studying it, looking at it. We’re clearly going to have to do something — nobody wants to see people suffer,” Hatch told reporters outside the Senate floor on Tuesday. “There’s a huge underemployment rate as you know, of 16, 18 percent, somewhere in that area. People don’t even want to look for jobs anymore. There oughta be some incentives to find jobs, to get to work. It’s easier said than done. I think there’s a general consensus that we need to help people.”

What’s Going On

November 3, 2011

What’s going on?

 

That seems to be the big question…..

 

Everyone is asking

 

 

Marvin Gaye sang about it back in the 70’s

 

Yet we still are asking the same questions, today….

 

 

The economy almost collapsed

 

People started looking at….

 

How the government reacted…

 

 

Why did they not see it coming?

 

 

The stimulus failed…

 

 

And the people started saying…..

 

 

No More …….

 

 

The Teaparty came from a grass roots effort

 

And have grown to be a voice

 

 

They have endorsed……

 

Reducing government spending

 

Opposition to taxation in varying degress

 

Reduction of the national debt…

 

And the reduction of the Federal Budget Deficit

 

 

Their message resonated during the 2010 elections

 

As a result we saw a total shake up in Congress

 

 

Did we get any results???

 

 

The result was total gridlock!!!!!

 

 

I do not think that is what the Teaparty had in mind…

 

 

Closing down the government….

 

 

That will not resolve anything

 

 

 

Agreed…… the Government has grown too big

 

Agreed…… the Government must be held more accountable

 

 

The stimulus was needed…

 

 

But it was mismanaged

 

There was no accountability

 

It should not have been

 

 

Carte Blanche

 

 

 

All these events leading to the collapse

 

Did not happened overnight

 

 

We put faith in our elected officials

 

 

We too, turned a blind eye

 

 

Borrowing against inflated housing values

 

 

Margining accounts

 

We all allowed this to happen

 

 

We all drank the Kool-Aid

 

 

And must take responsibility

 

 

 

Now the voices are growing

 

We are the 99%

 

 

What started in New York City

 

Has grown not only throughout the US

 

But has seen its’ presence grow around the world

 

 

There is just not 1 message

 

 

They are saying enough is enough…

 

 

 

What happened to the American Dream?

 

The land of opportunity got up and went

 

 

Overseas….

 

 

 

They are calling for the end of corporate greed

 

 

Corruption and influence over Government

 

 

No more too big to fail

 

 

Where are the jobs

 

 

 

 

How long will this go on?

 

 

Is anybody listening?

 

 

 

I do not believe anybody is protesting

 

Against the successes of the few

 

 

In the past there was an unwritten law…

 

 

Let’s make this a win / win

 

 

The more you help us to become successful

 

We will work

 

To share those successes with you

 

 

That is how the American Dream grew

 

 

Each generation working to improve

 

The Quality of life

 

For the next generation

 

 

The United States was a beacon

 

Everybody wanted to come to America

 

 

 

 

We took our eye off the ball

 

After 911,

 

 

America was united

 

Patriotism was at an all-time high

 

 

Then we got involved in several wars

 

 

Without figuring out how to pay for them

 

 

There was no shared sacrifice

 

 

President Bush told everyone to go out and shop

 

 

The deficits started rising….

 

 

It took over 200 years to get to a $1 trillion dollars
deficit

 

 

Yet in less than 30years

 

It has ballooned to just under

 

$15 trillion dollars

 

 

 

There are hard and difficult decisions to be made

 

 

Not everyone is going to be happy

 

 

But are we all prepared to start sacrificing?

 

 

Are we going to commit ourselves to a worthy goal?

 

 

 

What will be the quality of life we pass on?

 

 

To our Children….

 

 

And our Grandchildren…..

 

 

 

Will we be known as the lost generation?

 

 

How did we ever….

 

 

 

Let it go so far?

 

 

 

We are the people

 

 

We must all take on a shared responsibility

 

 

Do what needs to be done

 

 

To right the ship

 

Steady the course

 

 

Fulfill the promise America

 

Has brought to all generations

 

 

 

Like our forefathers before us

 

 

 

When asked….

 

Is the quality of life we are passing on….

 

Better than that which we have experienced

 

 

Let us stand proud and say

 

 

YES!!!

As reported by Jennifer Bendary from Huffington Post

WASHINGTON — Senate Democratic leaders have settled on which piece of President Barack Obama’s jobs plan they want to move on first: $35 billion for state and local governments to rehire teachers, police and firefighters.

“Our expectation [is] that the first measure will be teachers,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said during a Monday press gaggle aboard Air Force One.

“I didn’t want to get ahead of Senator Reid,” Carney said of breaking the news. “We have been in consultation with him, but it’s his prerogative and we’re very pleased that he will be taking it up.”

During a conference call, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he plans to unveil the Teachers and First Responders Back to Work Act later Monday and decide “in the next day or two” when to hold a vote on it. He said the bill would keep 400,000 teachers and first responders on the job, and would be paid for by imposing a 5 percent tax on millionaires.

Asked which pieces of Obama’s jobs plan are next in line for Senate votes, Reid demurred. But he said he has already settled on the next four votes on pieces of Obama’s bill and is waiting to meet with the Democratic Caucus on Tuesday before discussing his plan publicly.

“There is no reason we cannot finish the appropriations bills before the end of the week, and have a vote on this jobs bill,” Reid told reporters on the call. “I am happy to keep the Senate in session as long as needed to make sure we get a vote on this jobs bill.”

Reid’s office also sent out a fact sheet that highlights past votes and statements by Republicans in favor of jobs bills similar to the teacher/first responders aid bill. The fact sheet cites a May 2010 press release by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) saying he was “proud” to help secure funds for first responders. It also points to a March 2007 vote to fully fund the COPS program; it included the support of 16 GOP senators.

//

//

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During a speech earlier Monday in Fletcher, N.C., Obama knocked Senate Republicans for voting down his entire $447 billion jobs package last week. All Republicans opposed a procedural vote to begin debate on the bill, along with two Democrats. Obama said his push to break out pieces of his bill and hold individual votes on them gives Republicans “another chance” to act on jobs.

“Maybe they just couldn’t understand the whole thing all at once,” Obama said, drawing laughs from the crowd of supporters. “So we’re going to break it up into bite-sized pieces so they can take a thoughtful approach to this legislation.”

“So this week, I’m going to ask members of Congress to vote on one component of the plan, which is whether we should put hundreds of thousands of teachers back in the classroom and cops back on the street and firefighters back to work.”

Of course, the reality is that Republicans are poised to vote against any piece of Obama’s plan because they don’t like how it is paid for: by raising taxes on millionaires and ending subsidies for the oil and gas industry. But with the 2012 elections in mind, Obama and Democratic leaders plan to keep lining up votes anyway to build the case that Republicans are voting against jobs and the economy in the name of protecting corporate interests.

This story has been updated with information on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s conference call Monday.