NATCA Makes A Call For Help To End Sequestration

air traffic controller

air traffic controller The possibility of the devastating ‘Sequestration’ cuts occurring are becoming a very harsh reality.   Many organization have come out against the sequestration cuts.

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association is working to educate Congress, industry and the flying public on the devastating effects that sequestration would have on the national airspace system and the national economy.  NATCA, represents the Air Traffic Controllers who help ensure the safety of over 70,000 flights a day and 130 Million operations a year.

In the end of last year NATCA released a report talking about the potentially significate impacts to the National Airspace System.  This report was based on cuts, had they been implemented at the beginning of January.  Sequestration was then pushed back for two months, changing the FY2013 estimates somewhat.  Should sequestration take place at the beginning of March, the Federal Aviation Administration will be forced to reduce their operating budget by 5% or approximately $480 Million dollars.

These cuts would mean furloughs, layoffs and a significant loss in air traffic capacity.   These are hard working men and women who who devote their lives to ensuring the safety of the flying public.   (Embeded below is the video from NATCA titled : NATCA the Voice of Aviation Safety.)

The cuts are detrimental to the FAA and the entire workforce, hoever the impact on the national economy could be far worse.  NATCA reports that airports like Manchester / Boston Regional Airport could be forced to close do to furloughs.

How important is it the aviation industry to the national economy?

“Commercial aviation contributes $1.3 trillion in economic activity and comprises 5.2 percent of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) annually, while providing $75 billion against the U.S. trade deficit” –From NATCA Report

Everyone agrees that reducing our GDP would hurt our overall economy, and yet these cuts would do exactly that.  This is why it is so important that we all work together in a truly bi-partisan way to stop these cuts from happening.  We must put an end to the perpetual ‘kicking the can down the road’ and create a long term budget.

NATCA is urging everyone to take action now! Contact your Congressional Representatives and tell them to stop the sequestration cuts before they happen.

These are real people with real families who could be pushed over the edge with a long unpaid furlough.  New research from the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) says that over 40% of America is ‘liquid asset poor’.  This is a very fancy way of stating that over 40% of Americans have less than $6,000 in savings and are one or two paychecks away from financial ruin.  What would this mean to the thousands of workers in the FAA alone?

These sequestration cuts would have a much deeper impact than just the 17,000 air traffic controllers.  Aviation alone drives nearly 10 Million jobs.  Any cuts to the National Airspace System would have rippling effects throughout the aviation industry.  The FAA contractors could be forced to layoff thousands of workers due to a lack of funding.  During the last partial shut down of the FAA, many of the engineers and architects were placed in furlough status.  There was 5,000 FAA employees effected by the furlough and that translated into over 75,000 non-government jobs being also placed into a “furlough” status as well.

Take the time to tell your Congressional Representatives and Senators that making these cuts to aviation are wrong!  Our national economy is dependent on the aviation industry. Send your message here.

350 economists believe that making these cuts to the Federal Government would send our country back into recession.  Austerity is not the solution and sequestration is not the answer. Stop the cuts before they happen.

How About We Maybe Don’t Intentionally Cause a Recession by Breaching the Debt Ceiling?

US CONGRESS

Written by Seth D. Michaels on the Working America Main Street Blog

This is the first thing you need to know before you hear anything else about the debt ceiling: it has to go up and everyone knows it. Before you listen to any of the political rhetoric or watch any of the media coverage, commit that truth to mind and remember it.

Why does it have to go up? For two reasons.

1. The debt ceiling doesn’t authorize new spending. It covers spending that Congress has already appropriated. Congress sets revenue levels and spending levels, and the administration has to obey those levels—that’s how it’s laid out in the Constitution. The debt ceiling only refers to Congress allowing the administration to borrow in order to meet the spending levels Congress appropriated.
2. If you breach the debt ceiling, it’s really, really bad. The exact extent to which it’s really bad is somewhat unpredictable, because we’ve never breached it before, but it’s guaranteed to have a big negative effect on the economy.

In his press conference yesterday, President Obama said—correctly—that the debt ceiling has to be raised to cover spending Congress already passed. Contrary to what theWashington Post’s Aaron Blake says, that’s not exactly a “semantic” difference or a “trick”—that’s how things actually work.

Nevertheless, Republicans in Congress continue to claim that this is an “opportunity” for them to force through unpopular policy changes they couldn’t otherwise carry out. In their public rhetoric, they’re claiming that raising the debt ceiling is something that President Obama wants, rather than a basic requirement of governing that everybody needs to happen. Put simply, they are lying.

So what happens if Congress doesn’t raise the debt ceiling? A few descriptions from folks who have looked at it closely:

• “Unprecedented legal and economic chaos.”
• “The greatest smash in world financial history.”
• “Havoc would ensue.”
• “The markets will go haywire.”
• “We’d default on 40 percent of our obligations, over and over again…It would be pandemonium.”

Breaching the debt ceiling is essentially the same as tearing up your credit card bill and refusing to pay after the bank tells you that you hit your limit. It’s a declaration that we’re not good for the promises we’ve made, and that we won’t actually carry out the laws we’ve passed. Investors have been happy to put their money into the U.S.—refusing to raise the debt ceiling would hurt our national credit-worthiness far more than any deficit ever could. It would have spiraling consequences for the economy and could actually increase the deficit.

Who actually gets the checks when the government spends? A third of what the government spends is Social Security and Medicare benefits. Another fifth is taken up by military spending, including pay for active duty soldiers. Smaller portions are made up by veterans’ benefits, unemployment compensation, and Medicaid. That doesn’t even get into things like food safety inspectors, federal highway maintenance, air traffic controllers and college grants and loans. That’s real money that matters to real people—people who have house payments, kids to feed, medical needs.

The biggest problem we have in the economy right now is weak purchasing power—not enough people are employed and wages aren’t growing fast enough. We’re still trying to recover from a recession that devastated Americans’ purchasing power. A hit to purchasing power on the scale of a debt-ceiling breach would pull us back into recession.

Some officials are claiming that the government could pick and choose which bills it pays, so there wouldn’t be any “default,” just a “partial shutdown” of some government services. At the moment, that’s not true at all; the administration has no legal or constitutional power to pick and choose what to implement among the many kinds of spending Congress has mandated.

Republicans in Congress who understand how things work know that we have to raise the debt ceiling, but they’re hoping you don’t. The more confusing the argument over the debt ceiling is, the better off they’ll be. In reality, though, they’re threatening to intentionally tank the economy—to put us back into recession—unless they get policy changes that they couldn’t get through the normal democratic process. The word for that is “extortion.”

Only Two Months until the NEXT Congress-Created Crisis

is_this_tomorrow

Congress creates another crisisLate last night, one-third of House GOP members voted with the Democrats to pass legislation avoiding the “Fiscal Cliff”.  Congressman Bass voted in favor of the bill; Congressman Guinta voted against it.

Even though the Senate had passed the bill almost unanimously, until dinnertime, it looked like the bill would fail in the House.  What happened at dinnertime?  The House took up a brand-new bill bashing federal employees and attempting to rescind their 0.5% cost-of-living increase, which is scheduled to go into effect at the end of March.  [Federal employees have already supplied $108 billion in “budget savings” through a two-year pay freeze and increased retirement contributions.]

Sure, there were only a few hours left for Congressional action.  Sure, there was no chance whatsoever that a brand-new bill would become law.  The House still took 90 minutes to debate it and hold a roll call vote. [Both Guinta and Bass voted for the bill.  Please remember that, if either of them run again for Congress in 2014.]

And after that last symbolic attack on federal employees, GOP House leadership was finally able to get around to the business of avoiding the Fiscal Cliff.  Gotta wonder about their priorities.

When it finally passed at 11:00 last night, the Fiscal Cliff bill was a true compromise.  It included concessions that angered people on both sides.   (Read the bill here.)

But it also set up yet another Congress-created crisis, scheduled to hit in only two months.

  • The bill did not address the federal debt limit – and two months from now, the Treasury will have exhausted the debt limit “headroom” created by taking “extraordinary measures” with government and postal employee pension funds.
  • The bill did not resolve “sequestration” spending cuts – but rather postponed them for two months.

So, the nation is rolling straight from one Congress-created crisis into another Congress-created crisis.

Gotta wonder why Congress keeps creating crises.  (Journalist Naomi Klein has an interesting theory about how crises – real or perceived – are used to further corporate goals.  Read more here.)

——————–

One of many things the Fiscal Cliff bill didn’t address was restoring the state share of federal estate taxes.

In a “sponge tax” system dating back to 1924, estate tax revenues were historically shared between the states and the federal government.  Back in 2001, Congress federalized the states’ portion of these revenues to help pay for the “temporary” Bush tax cuts.

Restoring the “sponge tax” system could mean more than $3 billion in annual revenues for state governments.  New Hampshire could receive an estimated $27 million in annual revenues.  Read more here.

frigateThe estate tax has a long and patriotic history.  It was created to raise funds for the country’s first Navy, and was used to fund almost every war before Iraq.  Read more here.

But for the past few decades, “members of a handful of super-wealthy families have quietly helped finance and coordinate a massive campaign to repeal the estate tax.  …The families also have helped finance outside groups that have spent millions on fear-mongering ad campaigns intended to sway public opinion against the estate tax.”  Read more here.

Who knows?  Maybe restoring these state revenues will be a part of whatever bill resolves this next Congress-created crisis.

‘The ACTION’ Urges The US House To Vote YES On Tax Relief For The Middle Class

the action 2 (vote)

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Senate Rings In New Year with Responsible Bipartisan Bill Extending Tax Relief for All But the Wealthiest Americans That Make Over $400,000 a Year

All Eyes Now On Congressmen Bass and Guinta: Will They Help Restore Now Expired Middle Class Tax Relief by Immediately Passing the Senate Bill — Or Will They Keep Insisting That Millionaires Get Another Tax Break Before They Agree to Put $2,200 Back in the Pockets of the Middle Class?

The ball is now officially in the court of U.S. Rep. Charlie Bass, U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta and the Republican-led Congress as early New Year’s Day the U.S. Senate passed – with broad bipartisan support – a responsible bill to avert the tax portion of the so-called ‘fiscal cliff’.  By a 89-8 margin, a bill was approved that would avoid a $2,200 middle class tax hike scheduled to take place on January 1 by extending tax relief for all but the richest individuals making more than $400,000 a year and families making more than $450,000. Under the legislation, these wealthy Americans would see their tax rates go from 35% back to Clinton-era level of 39.6 percent when the nation saw one of its greatest periods of economic prosperity.  Additionally, the Senate bill extends jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed (which expired Friday) through the end of 2013. This bill, meanwhile, holds the line on taxes for the middle-class and extends unemployment insurance for those in need.

Dwight Haynes of Concord, NH – a retired Methodist minister and volunteer with The Action, a joint project of Granite State Progress and New Hampshire Citizens Alliance for Action, on Rep. Bass in particular: “Charlie Bass has always described himself as a moderate Republican and this vote gives him a chance to make that his legacy as he prepares to leave the House. With this vote, Rep. Bass allow middle class families to keep   $2,200 MORE in their pockets. Charlie Bass’s family has advocated a moderate and fiscally responsible Republicanism for nearly a century. Voting for this bill is the responsible thing to do.”

Congressmen Bass and Guinta, consider your legacy: Polls Show Most Americans Want Wealthiest to Pay Fair Share and Will Hold Republicans Responsible If Nation Dives Off ‘Fiscal Cliff’

§  CNBC, Dec. 21: Majority of Wealthy Support Taxing Themselves: Poll

§  CNN, Nov. 28: New Poll: Majority support taxing wealthier Americans

§  Rasmussen, Dec. 27: No ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Deal? 44% Blame GOP, 36% Obama

§  Reuters, Dec.27: Americans blame Republicans more than Democrats for “fiscal cliff”: Reuters/Ipsos poll

§  NBC News, Nov.13: If government careens off fiscal cliff, GOP to shoulder blame

ABOUT THE ACTION: The Action NH is a joint project of NH Citizens Alliance for Action and Granite State Progress, and part of a national grassroots movement that demands Congress end the Bush-era tax cuts for the richest 2%—those making more than $250,000 per year. The Action is for critical investments that create and sustain jobs.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka responds to the Senate agreement on the “Fiscal Cliff”

Richard_Trumka

From WIKIPediaThe agreement passed by the Senate last night is a breakthrough in beginning to restore tax fairness and achieves some key goals of working families.  It does not cut Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid benefits. It raises more than $700 billion over 10 years, including interest savings, by ending the Bush income tax cuts for families making more than $450,000 a year. And in recognition of the continuing jobs crisis, it extends unemployment benefits for a year.  A strong message from voters and a relentless echo from grassroots activists over the last six weeks helped get us this far.

But lawmakers should have listened even better.  The deal extends the Bush tax cuts for families earning between $250,000 and $450,000 a year and makes permanent Bush estate tax cuts exempting estates valued up to $5 million from any tax. These concessions amount to over $200 billion in additional tax cuts for the 2%.

And because of Republican hostage taking, the deal simply postpones the $1.2 trillion sequester for only two months and does not address the debt ceiling, setting the stage for more fiscal blackmail at the expense of the middle class.

Instead of moving to address our nation’s real jobs and public investment crisis, our leaders will be debating a prolonged artificial fiscal crisis.  In the weeks to come, as the confrontation over the economic direction of our country continues, the working men and women of the AFL-CIO will continue to fight to keep poor and middle class families from giving more so rich people can continue paying less.  That means a fairer, more progressive tax system, an end to Bush tax rates for the 2% and protection of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid from benefit cuts.

The Wealthy Have To Pay A Little More As We Avoid The Fiscal Cliff, or Did We?

Joe Biden In Merrimack

Late last night Vice President Biden and  Senate Leaders worked out a deal to temporarily avoid the so-called Fiscal Cliff.  The plan was brokered after midnight even after the US House said there would be no vote on the Fiscal Cliff, and had basically given up on the idea of compromise.

The deal is good in many ways.  It permanently  secures the tax cuts for the middle class to avoid a huge jump in taxes for all Americans.  The biggest news is that the deal, which moves to the House today, includes a significant revenue increase.  For those who make more than $400,000 ($450,000 for couples) will see a 4% increase.

The bill also increases the rates on capitol gains taxes from 15% to 20%.   While this is not the rates and numbers that President Obama campaigned on however in a negotiation you have to give a little as well.

“This agreement will also grow the economy and shrink our deficits in a balanced way – by investing in our middle class, and by asking the wealthy to pay a little more.”
-President Barack Obama 1-1-13

The proposed bill includes a “cap on personal exemptions and itemized deductions for income above $250,000, or $300,000 per household.”

Another fabulous part of this bill is that it extends the Child Tax Credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Tuition Tax Credit for the next five years.  These are tax credits that are specifically designed to help the middle and lower class families.

For labor this bill is a huge win.  VP Biden included a one year extension of the unemployment insurance for more than two million Americans.  The UI helps those who are still struggling to find meaningful work, survive, while the economy is still recovering.

The big draw back to this agreement is that it does not solve the Debt Ceiling issue. As we all remember the House GOP held American’s hostage by refusing to raise the debt ceiling and nearly shut the government down.  This also resulted in a downgrade of our national credit rating.  Early proposals of the Fiscal Cliff negotiations allowed the President to raise the Debt Ceiling without Congressional approval.

President Obama released this statement last night.

“There’s more work to do to reduce our deficits, and I’m willing to do it. But tonight’s agreement ensures that, going forward, we will continue to reduce the deficit through a combination of new spending cuts and new revenues from the wealthiest Americans.  And as we address our ongoing fiscal challenges, I will continue to fight every day on behalf of the middle class and all those fighting to get into the middle class to forge an economy that grows from the middle out, not from the top down. “

This may not be all we wanted or what we have been fighting for, however we made some great advances.  We removed any Social Security cuts, and made positive changes to the Medicare program.

Now we all wait and see what the House does with the proposal.

Read the entire bill

UPDATED 1-2-13

Late in the night the US House passed the bill 257-167.  Only a handfull of Democrats opposed the bill however the Republicans opposed it.  Republicans voted 85 for to 151 against the bill, showing that only some were truly willing to do their jobs as elected leaders.  I applaud these 85 Republicans who help get this legislation through, including Lame Duck Congressman Charlie Bass.  Congressman Frank Guinta voted against it, showing that he is true to his “NO TAX” pledge and Tea Party politics.

See where your Congressional Reps voted.

Adding ‘Headroom’ to the Debt Limit? Thank our Federal Employees and Postal Carriers

US Capitol

US CapitolA few days ago, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told Congress that the federal government would reach its debt limit at the end of this year.  As of January 1st, Secretary Geithner will be taking “extraordinary measures” to buy another two months’ time  for Congress to resolve its self-created fiscal cliff/debt limit crisis.

What are those “extraordinary measures”?  Almost all of them involve using the retirement funds of federal employees and postal workers to create artificial “headroom” under the debt limit.  You can read the details here.

Create your own fiscal crisis… then use it as justification to borrow from employees’ retirement funds (while complaining that long-promised retirement benefits are “not affordable”).  That’s what politicians tried to do here in New Hampshire, back in the early 1980s.

We’re having déjà vu all over again, watching the same scenario play out on the national stage all these decades later.

As of Tuesday, federal and postal employees’ retirement funds will become “headroom” under the debt limit.  Maybe the extra two months will give Speaker Boehner time to reconsider the GOP’s  allegiance to the ultra-rich.  Maybe it will give Congress time to fix the crisis it created.

In the meantime: to all those federal employees and postal carriers out there, “Thanks for the headroom!”

Read more about political attacks on federal employees here.

Read more about political attacks on the US Postal Service here.

 

NH Small Businesses Speak Out Against Fiscal Cliff

small business matters

Every day we move closer to the so-called ‘Fiscal Cliff’.  The deadline that could instantly change the tax rates for every American.  Middle class Americans are being held hostage by the Republicans in the US House who refuse to raise the taxes on the ultra wealthy in order to reach a deal.

Many of the Republicans in Congress are concerned that tax increases on the ‘top 2%’ would end up hurting small businesses.  This is a complete fallacy.  ‘The Action’ in conjunction with other labor and community allies are encouraging Congress to reach an agreement to put ‘the middle class, over millionaires’.

Yesterday in a press conference in Concord small business owners came together to explain what the ‘fiscal cliff’ would mean to their businesses.  All of which agreed raising taxes on the middle class would hurt their businesses. Most of the concern from small business is that consumer spending would drop due to a higher cost of taxes.

Consumer spending is what drives our economy. It fuels our small businesses.  If the middle class does not have money to spend, or is afraid to spend it due to economic concerns, that is when small businesses are hurt.

In an interview with WBIN, Laurie Miller said “economy is turning a corner.”  She mentioned gas prices being lower and stock markets doing better.  Miller also send a message directly to our political leaders.  She said, “people need to get down and dirty and sit in a room and do what is best for this country instead of politics.”

I could not agree more.  Our elected officials are in Washington to represent us not corporations and personal agenda.  They should be acting on what is best for the country not 2% of the country.

The President and Speaker Boehner are set to meet over the weekend to try to resolve the ‘fiscal cliff’ before the sequestration cuts are triggered and the middle class tax cuts expire.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Be sure to check out all the interviews with NH small business owners who are urging Congress to take action before taxes go up on the middle class.

Sue McCoo, owner of the Capital Craftsman and Romance Jewelers

Laura Miller, owner of Imagination Village in Concord

Don Brueggeman, a manager at The Works Bakery Cafe

Lorrie Carey, owner of Marshall’s Flowers

The Action to urge lame ducks Bass, Guinta to get back to work

TheAction

Here is your chance to encourage your Congressional Representatives to get back to work and the Bush Tax Cuts.

Activists working with The Action, a joint project of Granite State Progress and the New Hampshire Citizens Alliance for Action, will demonstrate outside the Concord office of lame duck Rep. Charlie Bass and the Manchester office of lame duck Rep. Frank Guinta tomorrow, Friday the 28th, to demand that the House get back to work to stop the country from going over the fiscal cliff and protect the middle class by maintaining the current tax rates for 98% of Americans and 97% of small businesses.

The House, including lame ducks Bass and Guinta, remain on vacation while the Senate and Pres. Obama have returned to DC to try to find a solution to the on-going uncertainty created by the so-called ‘fiscal cliff.’ Activists from the Action will be urging Bass and Guinta to get back to work and help the president and Senate find a solution.  After the failure of Speaker Boehner’s ‘Plan B,’ the GOP leadership of the House has failed to offer any solutions while the Senate passed a bill over the summer to protect the middle-class. Speaker Boehner has refused to bring this bill to a vote.

The event will include a short speaking program and rally, followed by the building of snowmen to hold signs outside of the offices long after the action ends.

Who:             Activists with The Action, a joint project of NH Citizens’ Alliance for Action and Granite State Progress 

What:            Demonstration to urge Bass and Guinta back to work on fiscal cliff 

When:            Friday December 28th 12:00 noon  

Where:           Office of Congressman Bass, 114 North Main Street, Concord

Office of Congressman Guinta, 33 Lowell Street, Manchester

US House Republicans Try To Force A Pay Cut To Federal Workers In Boehner’s “Plan B”

House Speaker John Boehner

Once again House Republicans are after the Federal workers.  This time they want more from workers in the form of a 5% increase to the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS).  This once again proves that the House Republicans are trying to use the Federal workers as their personal piggy bank.

From GovExec.com:
“House lawmakers passed legislation requiring spending cuts to accompany Speaker John Boehner’s Plan B tax proposal, including major changes to federal employee retirement plans, before Boehner pulled the Plan B bill from the floor Thursday evening for lack of GOP support.”

A 5% increase in pension costs added in with the proposed  three year pay freeze is a net loss in pay for millions of middle class families.

National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen M. Kelley also wrote to House members. “Make no mistake,” she said, “an increased contribution toward one’s pension, with no corresponding increase in benefits, is a pay cut.”

Thankfully the White House was ahead of the proposal.

“President Obama threatened to veto the measure, saying “the approach put forward in this bill, virtually identical to earlier legislation, eliminates the defense portion of the pending sequester and does so in a way that imposes far greater cuts in the non-defense part of the budget than the existing sequester would entail.”

The previous legislation that the President is referring to was passed in the House along party lines and has yet to be (most likely will never be) discussed in the Senate.

As it was previously reported Speaker Boehner never called for a vote on his ‘Plan B’.  Congresswomen-Elect Annie Kuster had this to say.

“After failing to pass even their lopsided ‘Plan B’ proposal, it’s now clear that House Republican leadership is not serious about coming together to pass a balanced plan to reduce the deficit and avert the fiscal cliff. Instead, with the threat of across-the-board spending cuts and tax increases looming, they have simply given up. This is not what responsible governing looks like. With the clock ticking, both parties need to come back to the table to pass a balanced, bipartisan solution that averts the fiscal cliff, reduces the deficit, asks the wealthiest to pay their fair share, protects seniors and the middle class, and strengthens the economy.”

Annie is right, it does not seem that the House Republicans have any interest in avoiding this fiscal cliff that they created all because they refuse to increase taxes on the ultra-wealthy.  Guess what House GOP, if you do nothing the taxes are going up anyway!