The Government Does Make Jobs and I Wish Everyone Could Take One

The Government Does Make Jobs and I Wish Everyone Could Take One

By Kim Z Dale, Wednesday at 12:35 pm

One of the recurrent issues in the presidential race is the question of who does and should make jobs. Mitt Romney has repeatedly said, “Government does not create jobs.” I’m sorry, Mr. Romney. The government does create jobs. They are good ones, and our democracy would be stronger if everyone took a government job for a while.

I got a master’s degree under the CyberCorps Scholarship for Service program. Yes, that means that tax dollars paid for me to go to school. I await your angry comments. However, this was not an outright gift. I needed to do a 10 week internship with a government agency during my program then work for at least 6 months for every semester of school. For me that ended up being two years at the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

While I was still working on my degree, former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill spoke at my school. He talked about being inspired as a kid hearing President Kennedy‘s call to service. You know the one: “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” He credited that speech with inspiring him to do community service and eventually accept a job in government. Continue reading “The Government Does Make Jobs and I Wish Everyone Could Take One”

Who Stole the American Dream? A Q&A with Hedrick Smith

09/13/2012; Tula Connell

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Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Hedrick Smith joined us here today to discuss his new book, Who Stole the American Dream? Can We Get It Back? at an event sponsored by the AFL-CIO and the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).

In Who Stole the American Dream? Smith deploys his formidable investigative skills to trace how we got to a point where U.S. economic policy overwhelmingly favors the rich—and looks at whether it’s possible to undo the damage done to our working and middle class. Smith, known for his investigative journalism, is author of the national bestseller, The Power Game: How Washington Works. In 1971, as chief diplomatic correspondent for the New York Times, he was a member of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team that produced the Pentagon Papers series. We asked Smith a few questions about what he found in researching his new book.

Question: Many pundits and analysts recently have been noting the decline of the American dream. Most focus on the economic shifts caused by federal policy decisions, such as the role of corporations in pushing for tax law changes that benefit Big Business at the expense of working people. What sets your analysis apart?

Smith: There’s no question that the power shift in Washington, starting in the late 1970s that made corporate America the dominant influence with Congress, brought changes in the tax system and rolled back regulations to the advantage of corporate America, Wall Street and capital investors. What needs to be added, as I do, is that the middle class has been severely hurt by the change in the business ethos from a vision of stakeholder capitalism in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s that saw it as the duty of CEOs to balance the interests of investors, workers, management and local communities to the New Economy ethos of “wedge economics” of the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, which cut many average Americans out of their fair share of America’s growth and prosperity. Under “wedge economics,” corporate profits continued to rise along with the productivity of the American workforce, but average wages and salaries remained stagnant. Productivity rose roughly 80 percent from 1973 to 2011, but the hourly wages of the typical worker rose only 4 percent and, even adding in benefits, the increase was only 10 percent. What my analysis does is to focus on the shifting in business thinking and strategies as well as on the power shift in Washington and its policy impact.

Q.: You argue that unlike the 1960s and 1970s, Americans today feel politically powerless. What the reasons for this shift? How does the Occupy Wall Street movement fit into this analysis?

Smith: We had strong, powerful citizens’ movements in the 1960s and 1970s with real impact on policymakers in Washington—the civil rights movement, environmental movement, women’s movement, labor movement, consumer movement and the peace movement. But after the mid-1970s, those movements lost momentum. In part, some of those movements ran out of steam because they had been so successful in pushing Washington to adopt civil rights laws, environmental laws and consumer protection laws and to end the Vietnam War. But they also lost power and influence because business interests became so well organized and special interest lobbyists became so dominant in Washington that ordinary Americans lost faith in their ability to have a voice with policymakers. The Occupy movement was an attempt to reverse this trend and give voice to ordinary people. It succeeded in changing the national dialogue so that today, when people talk about the 1% and the 99%, everyone understands that this refers to the unfair and dangerous hyper-concentration of wealth and power in America today. But unlike those earlier movements, Occupy did not have a short list of clearly defined goals that could attract wider support and have an impact on Congress and the White House.

Q.:  What will it take to politically mobilize working- and middle-class Americans?

Smith:  It will take an effective organized people power, a broad-based movement built on a change in the public’s mindset—a sense that the current lopsided split in the nation’s economic gains is unfair to most Americans and that this is no longer tolerable. Plus, a willingness of ordinary people to literally put themselves on the line, to go out and protest in marches and sit-ins and talkathons in the same way that the civil rights, environmental and anti-war protests of the 1960s and 1970s brought people together to act for the common good. It will take organized people to offset the dominant power of organized money.

House Panel Unveils Continuing Resolution With $88B for Afghanistan War

House Panel Unveils Continuing Resolution With $88B for Afghanistan War

Sep. 11, 2012 – 10:17AM   |  By JOHN T. BENNETT   |

If approved by both chambers, the continuing resolution unveiled Sept. 10 would fund all federal activities through March 27. If approved by both chambers, the continuing resolution unveiled Sept. 10 would fund all federal activities through March 27. ()

The House Appropriations Committee unveiled a stopgap spending measure Sept. 10 that would continue funding the Pentagon at current levels, and nearly $90 billion for the Afghanistan War.

If approved by both chambers, the spending measure would fund all federal activities through March 27. It appears unlikely Congress will approve most annual spending measures either before Election Day or during a November-December lame-duck session.

The bill adheres to an agreement between congressional leaders and the White House for a governmentwide $26.6 billion cut to discretionary accounts from fiscal 2011 levels.

The House CR would provide the Pentagon $88.5 billion for the war in Afghanistan and other ongoing global operations, according to an Appropriations Committee statement. Continue reading “House Panel Unveils Continuing Resolution With $88B for Afghanistan War”

Spending cuts likely to trigger furloughs

Spending cuts likely to trigger furloughs

Federal agencies will have to consider furloughing employees if Congress and the White House cannot reach a deal before the end of the year to stave off the governmentwide automatic spending cuts scheduled to take effect in January 2013, according to a former top budget aide on Capitol Hill.

“I’m afraid you are going to have to be looking at furloughs,” Bill Hoagland, a longtime policy and budget adviser to former Republican Sens. Bill Frist of Tennessee and Pete Domenici of New Mexico, told an audience of federal employees during Government Executive’s Excellence in Government conference in Washington on Thursday. Hoagland said if furloughs are to occur at some agencies, managers will have to decide them wisely to avoid triggering reductions-in-force among staff, which could be costly. A furlough of more than 30 calendar days, or of more than 22 discontinuous work days, is considered a RIF, according to the Office of Personnel Management. Continue reading “Spending cuts likely to trigger furloughs”

Part 2: D.C. Area Braces For Impacts Of Federal Budget Cuts

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Part 2: D.C. Area Braces For Impacts Of Federal Budget Cuts

By: Rebecca Blatt // July 30, 2012
Stan Soloway, president and CEO of the Professional Services Council, addresses federal contractors at a meeting called "OMG: What if sequestration happens?" in Arlington, Va. earlier this month.
 Mylon Medley
Stan Soloway, president and CEO of the Professional Services Council, addresses federal contractors at a meeting called “OMG: What if sequestration happens?” in Arlington, Va. earlier this month.

As deadline looms, planning for the worst and hoping for the best

There’s a lot of talk around Washington these days involving a nasty “s”-word: sequestration. It’s the name given to the deep, across-the-board federal spending cuts set to go into effect in January if Congress does not intervene.

These cuts were meant to be an incentive for a Congressional “super committee” to find an alternative way to reduce the deficit, but its failure to reach any agreement triggered $1.2 trillion in reductions during the next decade. As the deadline approaches for lawmakers to avert the cuts, many local leaders are concerned.

“When you tie your economy to one horse, it really has to be a good horse. And ours has come up lame now,” says Stephen Fuller, director of George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis. Continue reading “Part 2: D.C. Area Braces For Impacts Of Federal Budget Cuts”