Statement: AFGE 704: Proposed EPA budget cuts will mortally wound environment, local economies

CHICAGO (March 16, 2017)–Following is a statement from Michael Mikulka, President of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 704, the union representing employees of the Environmental Protection Agency Region 5, in response to the drastic proposed Trump administration cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency budget:

“These cuts amount to the White House sending a wrecking ball into the heart of the Environmental Protection Agency–and they’ll put American lives at risk.

“The cuts would cripple EPA employees’ ability to do our duty to protect the nation’s natural and economic health. Communities across the country could now be subject to long-banned practices such as the dumping of industrial and mining waste and untreated sewage into lakes, streams and rivers. Wildlife and fish populations will likely be reduced, and human health will be directly damaged as a result of dropping longstanding environmental safeguards. And make no mistake: if these cuts are implemented, the safety of the nation’s drinking water and the air we breathe will be at stake.

“The proposed federal budget would shift the responsibility for water, land and air quality to the states and localities; but that is nothing more than a pipedream. The White House must face the hard truth that states are already struggling and lack the capacity to manage these programs. Here in Illinois, we’ve been without a state budget whatsoever for two years.

“EPA Region 5 manages the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, for which funding has been zeroed out in this proposal. The Great Lakes are the biggest fresh-water supply on the planet and source the drinking water for most of the Midwest. For recreation, health and safety, the protection of the Great Lakes ought to be top priority. Instead, they are being slashed. Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin will be in grave danger as a result.

“We urge lawmakers in Washington to roundly reject these EPA cuts, and protect human health and the environment for all Americans.”

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Election issue: Why people still feel the economy stinks

Election issue: Why people still feel the economy stinks

October 22, 2014: 7:04 AM ET

economy issue
NEW YORK (CNNMoney)

U.S. unemployment is down. Consumer confidence is up. Inflation is low.

Things are improving, yet Americans are still worried. The economy is voters’ top concern ahead of the midterm elections next month, ranking ahead of national security, according to a recent Politico poll.

Only 42% of those surveyed by CNN late last month thought the economy was in good shape. While that’s the highest share since January 2008 and an improvement from the 29% who felt this way a year ago, it’s still weak overall.

Let’s take a look at what’s going right: The unemployment rate is below 6% for the first time since 2008. Job openings are back to 2001 levels. Consumer confidence is at its highest point since before the recession, and inflation remains a tame 1.7%.

Related: What do women want in a husband? A job!

Sounds great, but it’s taken the country a long time to get to this point, said Richard Curtin, chief economist of the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Survey of Consumers.

The recovery has also been stronger for some than others. Young adults are still having a tough time starting their careers, while older Americans are having difficulty shifting into retirement after their nest eggs were destroyed during the Great Recession.

“It’s taking so long to recover and it’s been so uneven,” he said. “It’s been more than five years since the end of the recession.”

Related: Obama’s midterm message: Believe me, we’re better off

Although the unemployment rate has fallen rapidly in the past two years, it remains at a relatively elevated level, said Justin Wolfers, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. The average jobless rate in the decade before the Great Recession hit in December 2007 was 4.9%.

Americans also don’t feel any better off. While more people may have jobs, they aren’t bringing home fatter paychecks. Wages and income have remained stagnant for years, making it tough for folks even though inflation is low. Median household income, which stood at $51,939 last year, is back to 1995 levels.

median household income

Consumers expect a median income boost of 1.1% over the next year, Curtin said. But that won’t keep up with their inflation expectations of 2.8%.

“American households, on average, are still struggling with their living standards slowly eroding,” he said.

Not everyone, however, is suffering from flat-lining wages … and that’s also why the average American remains worried about the economy. The rich are seeing both their income and wealth rise. The wealthiest 5% of American households held 63% of all wealth in 2013, up from 54% in 1989, according to a recently released Federal Reserve survey.

“Rising inequality is why Main Street doesn’t feel like it’s benefiting from the full fruits of the recovery,” Wolfers said.

Paranoia of the Plutocrats

The New York Times

The Opinion Pages|Op-Ed Columnist

Paul Krugman

Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times
Paul Krugman joined The New York Times in 1999 as a columnist on the Op-Ed Page and continues as professor of Economics and International Affairs at Princeton University.
 
Mr. Krugman received his B.A. from Yale University in 1974 and his Ph.D. from MIT in 1977. He has taught at Yale, MIT and Stanford. At MIT he became the Ford International Professor of Economics.
 
Mr. Krugman is the author or editor of 20 books and more than 200 papers in professional journals and edited volumes. His professional reputation rests largely on work in international trade and finance; he is one of the founders of the “new trade theory,” a major rethinking of the theory of international trade. In recognition of that work, in 1991 the American Economic Association awarded him its John Bates Clark medal, a prize given every two years to “that economist under forty who is adjudged to have made a significant contribution to economic knowledge.” Mr. Krugman’s current academic research is focused on economic and currency crises.
 
At the same time, Mr. Krugman has written extensively for a broader public audience. Some of his recent articles on economic issues, originally published in Foreign Affairs, Harvard Business Review, Scientific American and other journals, are reprinted in Pop Internationalism and The Accidental Theorist.
 
On October 13, 2008, it was announced that Mr. Krugman would receive the Nobel Prize in Economics.

Paranoia of the Plutocrats

Rising inequality has obvious economic costs: stagnant wages despite rising productivity, rising debt that makes us more vulnerable to financial crisis. It also has big social and human costs. There is, for example, strong evidence that high inequality leads to worse health and higher mortality.

But there’s more. Extreme inequality, it turns out, creates a class of people who are alarmingly detached from reality — and simultaneously gives these people great power. Continue reading “Paranoia of the Plutocrats”

Jobs Deficit: Austerity Politics Threatens Economy

Jobs Deficit: Austerity Politics Threatens Economy

Posted: 01/30/2013 1:25 pm EST  |  Updated: 01/30/2013 1:46 pm EST

Obama AusterityWASHINGTON — Lawmakers were stunned Wednesday to learn that the U.S. economy officially dove toward a double-dip recession at the end of 2012, contracting for the first time in three and a half years amid steep declines in government spending and sluggish exports.

Policymakers were similarly stunned in Europe when reductions in government spending led to continued economic malaise, leading top economists there to question the logic behind austerity recommendations. European austerity programs are a major driver of the slowdown in U.S. exports, and several economists have argued that reductions in government spending, here and abroad, are almost solely responsible for the suddenly tanking economy. Continue reading “Jobs Deficit: Austerity Politics Threatens Economy”

The U.S. Economy Is Shrinking: Now Is the Time to Worry

AFL-CIO Now

01/31/2013 William Spriggs

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia commons.

MAD magazine’s Alfred E. Neuman was always shown with a grin on his face, captioned, “What, me worry?” Well, now it is time to worry.

The release of the advanced GDP numbers—measuring all goods and services produced in the United States—for the past three-month period of 2012, shows the economy shrinking. Why? Well, personal consumption—all those Christmas gifts—grew by 2.2%, a growth rate faster than in the preceding quarter. Non-residential fixed investment, what businesses are buying to increase their economic activity going forward, jumped by 8.8%, almost six times faster than in the preceding quarter, and imports dropped significantly (a drain on the system, since that is money going abroad), so that the net effect of exports and imports was a boost of 5.7% to the economy. So, if people are buying more, business is investing more and imports aren’t sucking the wind out of the economy’s sails, where did we go wrong? Federal expenditures plummeted by 15%. The big chunk of the drop from federal expenditures came in defense expenditures. Continue reading “The U.S. Economy Is Shrinking: Now Is the Time to Worry”