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Presidential Race: Different Tax Policies Would Have HUGE Effects On Working People

Underneath all the headlines about emails and wandering hands, there are some very important policy differences between the two presidential candidates.  Let’s start with tax policies.

Donald trump 5 (Gage skidmore Flikr)Donald Trump:

  • His plan would give highest-income taxpayers – those with incomes of more than $3.7 million – an average tax cut of $1.1 million.
  • About 8 million large families and single parents would see their taxes increase under his proposals.
  • His tax plan would add about $7.2 trillion to the national debt over the next decade.
  • His plan would cut taxes for hedge fund operators and other money managers by more than a third — allowing them to use a special 15% “pass-through” tax rate.

hillary clinton (WisPolitics.com FLIKR)Hillary Clinton:

  • Her plan would reduce taxes for low- and moderate-income households by an average of $100.
  • High-income taxpayers would see an average tax hike of $118,000.
  • Her tax plan would increase federal revenue by $1.4 trillion over the next decade (which could be used to lower the federal debt, or to offset spending).

Donald Trump is old enough to remember what happens when the rich get tax cuts:

  • Ronald Reagan’s 1981 tax cut: “Despite the tax cuts, business investment remained weak… The ballooning budget deficit forced Mr. Reagan to give ground” and taxes were raised again in 1986. And the deficit kept growing, until George H.W. Bush broke his “no new taxes” pledge in 1990.
  • George W. Bush’s 2001 tax cut package was supposed to create enough new jobs to pay back the entire federal debt.  Instead, those tax cuts contributed to record-setting federal deficits.
  • Bush’s 2003 tax cut package didn’t fix the economy, either; and as the deficit kept rising, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan suggested reducing Social Security to pay for the cuts.
  • By 2006, even the US Treasury was saying that tax cuts for the rich don’t do much of anything… other than cut taxes for the rich.

But here we are, just three weeks from the election, and the mainstream media is focused on leaked emails and wandering hands… and there’s almost no mention of the fact that Trump wants to give the highest-income taxpayers an average $1.1 million tax break

There’s almost no mention of the fact that his proposal would add $7.2 trillion to the national debt.

There’s almost no mention of the fact that these sorts of tax cuts never, ever generate the kind of job growth that they’re supposed to.  (Why?  Maybe because corporate decision-makers keep spending their extra money on Wall Street rather than hiring workers.  Just last year alone, corporations spent more than $5.5 trillion buying shares of stock in their own or other companies.  That same amount of money could have created more than 70 million median-wage jobs.)

Three weeks out from the election, and almost no-one in the mainstream media is looking at how Trump’s “greatest tax cut ever!” would actually affect our country.  So if you think your friends might be interested in this, please use social media to share it.

The Tax Policy Center analysis of the presidential candidates’ tax policies is available here.

Governor Hassan’s Statement on June Unemployment Rate

Maggie-Hassan-Headshot-WebCONCORD – Governor Maggie Hassan today issued the following statement on the announcement of the June unemployment data, which showed that the number of employed Granite Staters and the labor force continued to grow in June:

“As the number of employed residents and the labor force continued to grow in June, our unemployment rate still remains among the lowest in the nation. Despite these encouraging signs that indicate that our economy is moving in the right direction, we know that we still have more work to do to help all of our citizens access high-quality jobs and to support our innovative businesses who are looking for more skilled workers now.

“We must continue working together to build a stronger workforce with the skills and innovative thinking needed for success in the 21st century economy. This is why it’s more important now than ever to get Gateway to Work up and running as soon as possible. Gateway to Work will help us to develop and expand our workforce as our economy continues to strengthen, while at the same time closing the opportunity gap for our families. By strengthening job training, creating new partnerships between community colleges and businesses for apprenticeships and helping to remove the barriers that cause too many citizens to fail in the workplace, Gateway to Work will help us provide more of the workers our businesses need to thrive while helping our young people in the Granite State get a leg up on their futures.

“I remain committed to working with members from both parties to continue working together to support job-creating businesses, expand middle class opportunity and build a stronger, more innovative New Hampshire where all of our people who work hard have the opportunity to get ahead and stay ahead.”

This Thanksgiving: How To Talk About The Economy Without Getting Into An Argument

man yelling with megaphone

Is your family one of those families… where Thanksgiving dinner always ends up in a political argument?

First thing to remember is that arguing won’t get you anywhere. Research shows that when the people you’re talking with hold strong beliefs, arguing with them only makes it harder for them to change those beliefs. And “when people’s confidence in their beliefs is shaken, they become stronger advocates for those beliefs. … when faced with doubt, people shout even louder.”

Political scientists call it the “backfire” effect – and if you’re an activist, you need to know about it (and remember it). Also remember that there are neurological differences between “Republican” and “Democratic” brains… and there are behavioral differences… although scientists are still trying to figure out exactly what those differences mean.

no_megaphoneSo what are you supposed to do? If you’re, say, sitting around the Thanksgiving table when Great Uncle Chester starts berating your college-graduate niece about the fact that she’s living at home rather than in her own apartment…?

Start by finding common ground. There’s always something to agree on, if you just look hard enough. Even if it’s just a gentle restatement of what the other person said. “Yes, Uncle Chester, we all agree that college graduates should be able to find jobs that allow them to support themselves.”

Then, add a little reality in there. “But that doesn’t seem to be happening in the current economy. There are a whole lot of twenty-somethings who are still living at home.”

Try to use personal examples rather than just facts. “I remember what my neighbor’s son went through, when he graduated two years ago. It took him 18 months to find a job, and even then he earned barely enough for him to make his student loan payments.”

When you talk about facts, try to frame them as a question, not a statement. “Don’t you think that the economy has changed from when you graduated college? Remember how working in a bank used to be a highly-respected job? Did you know that, these days, almost one-third of bank tellers need food stamps?”

Don’t push too hard. With Uncle Chester, you might not be able to persuade him of anything other than that he should stop berating your niece. (And if you push any further, the conversation might get loud and become a “nobody’s going to win this” argument.)

But continue the conversation, if your audience seems receptive. “Did you know that, these days, banks are paying billions of dollars to stockholders, rather than paying their tellers a decent wage?”

— — — —

no_megaphoneDo you have a second cousin Mildred who insists that “cutting taxes for job creators” is the answer to everything?

Find something you both agree on. “Nobody likes paying taxes.”

Add a personal story. “I remember when we got President Bush’s ‘tax refund checks’ back in 2001 and 2008. It was nice to get the money, but I didn’t invest it. I don’t know anybody who invested it. Most people either kept the money in the bank or used it to pay down debt.”

Then, a little reality. “Did you know that Congress has been cutting taxes on ‘job creators’ since Ronald Reagan was President? Back then, they used to call it ‘supply side economics.’ But it didn’t fix the economy; all it did was create a huge budget deficit. So after a few years President Reagan gave up on the idea and increased taxes again.”

Is Mildred still listening? If she looks interested, rather than angry, give her a few more facts. “Did you know that corporations are spending literally trillions of dollars buying back their own stock? Rather than building new factories or hiring new employees, they’re buying back shares of their own stock in order to keep stock prices high.”

Is she still listening? “And corporations are even borrowing money – bonds they will be paying back for decades – in order to give money to their stockholders now. So I don’t think CEOs would really invest money from tax cuts in ‘job creation.’ Don’t you think they would just pay it out to stockholders?”

Is she still listening? “I wonder what would happen to our tax rates, if corporations were paying taxes at the same rate they used to, before the SEC started allowing companies to buy back their own stock. Don’t you think that we might be paying less in taxes?”

— — — —

no_megaphoneDo you have a brother-in-law who isn’t bothered by increasing inequality? Who thinks CEOs actually deserve to receive 373 times as much as their employees are paid?

Then you ought to read this Pacific-Standard magazine article about a recent International Monetary Fund report.

And you can start the conversation with something like, “We all agree that economic growth is a good thing.”

Then add a little reality. “Did you know that income inequality actually hurts our country’s economic growth?”

Add a story. “Gosh, I wonder if this is why Macy’s is having such a hard time. None of my friends are planning to do their Christmas shopping there.   It seems like everybody is shopping discount stores or making their gifts, this year.”

Use questions. “How can the economy recover, if ordinary people don’t have money to spend? Did you know that one in ten American jobs is in retail? What’s going to happen to that sector of the economy if wages stay stagnant?  What’s going to happen to the rest of the economy?”

Know your audience, and either stop (before things get loud) or keep going. “Did you know that increasing the income share to the bottom 20% – even just by a tiny bit – helps the whole economy grow?”  “Do you think that’s why the economy grew more, back when income was a bit more equal?”

— — — —

no_megaphoneAnd if the conversation turns to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) treaty… please be thoughtful and careful about what you say.

Personally, I’m tired of politicians pitting people against each other. And factory employees in Singapore are working to feed their families, just like we are.

The problem with the TPP isn’t overseas workers, it’s how much power the treaty would give to corporations. It’s how much power the treaty would give to big banks. It’s the idea of America giving up our right to enforce our laws, when those laws are inconvenient to multinational corporations. It’s the idea of turning over even more of our country’s sovereignty to international “investor-state dispute settlement” (ISDS) tribunals.  Read more about how the TPP empowers corporations on the Public Citizen website.

So please, if you’re opposing the TPP, don’t talk about how overseas workers are taking “our” jobs. The real problem is how much it will benefit corporations.

The real problem is that corporate profits are at all-time highs… while labor’s share of that bounty is pretty close to its all-time low.

And the TPP is likely to make that problem worse, not better.

But that’s not the fault of the migrant workers in a Malaysian electronics factory.

— — — —

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope the conversation around your dinner table is a peaceful one.

— — — —

no_fearBut if the conversation turns to Paris and Syrian refugees, please be especially careful. Fear is one of the most basic human emotions… it’s also one of the most destructive… and one of the easiest to manipulate.

Journalist Naomi Klein is the author of “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.” She’s done a lot of research into how corporatists use disasters to push through political change. Read her work about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina here.

“For more than three decades, [economist Milton] Friedman and his powerful followers had been perfecting this very strategy: waiting for a major crisis, then selling off pieces of the state to private players while citizens were still reeling from the shock, then quickly making the ‘reforms’ permanent. In one of his most influential essays, Friedman articulated contemporary capitalism’s core tactical nostrum, what I have come to understand as the shock doctrine. He observed that ‘only a crisis— actual or perceived—produces real change.’ ”

I think of her work every time someone mentions the Bush tax cuts. Back in 2001, the federal government had a budget surplus; and in the first few weeks of September, the Washington Post did a poll that found 57% of Americans wanted the Bush tax cuts reversed, in order to preserve that surplus. Then 9/11 happened. And a decade and a half later, we still haven’t gotten tax rates restored to Clinton-era levels… and the federal debt has increased by $12.4 trillion.  (And we’re being told we need to cut Social Security, rather than restore the tax rates that President Bush cut even further “while citizens were still reeling from the shock” of 9/11.)

The Paris attacks renewed the atmosphere of fear that I remember after 9/11… and we’ve already seen how some politicians want to use that fear to change government policies. The good news is: my Facebook feed is full of people pushing back against these proposals, questioning them and using historical analogies to say “This is not what America stands for.” The bad news is: Facebook feeds are determined by an algorithm that tends to reinforce what people already believe.

So… when the conversation turns to Paris, and ISIS, remember the advice above.  Arguing isn’t going to help. You need to find some way to help the people you’re talking with step away from their fear, and step into the reality that their fear allows them to be manipulated. Find something to say that you both agree on – most people agree that refugees should be vetted before being resettled – and work from there.

Building Racial Equality In Our Schools

Some people say “racism is dead,” however that is a lie.

The outright discrimination of African-Americans is now illegal but that does not mean that racial discrimination does not still exist.  Just look at our public school system.  Do you think it is an accident that rich, white, sub-urban schools are better funded than the inner-city, mostly poor, where they majority of students are people of color?  No, it is not an accident.

Nationally we have seen states tightening their belts and squeezing their school budgets, forcing deep cuts and even school closures.  Class sizes in the inner-city schools are larger, the teachers – fresh out of college – are paid less, a large percentage students live in poverty, and people wonder why they are under-performing.

This week, the American Federation of Teachers released a report focusing on ways to bring racial equality to our public school system.

“Separate but equal is no longer the law of the land, but systemic inequity in education has relegated millions of children of color to under-resourced, struggling schools,” said AFT’s Executive Board.

Inequality in our schools leads to severe economic problems for the individual as well as the community.  Without a good education, individuals are forced to work in low-wage unskilled jobs that continue to keep them in, or on the edge of, poverty for their entire lives.  African-Americans earn on average “$224 a month less” than their white counterparts.

Robert Putnam, a Harvard University professor, talked about this in his book “Our Kids,” where he refers to it as the “opportunity gap.”  This means lower incomes for workers, lower tax revenues for cities and towns, and less spending in the economy.  Research shows that this leads to a societal loss of $529,030 per person (lifetime).  If nothing is done, this will lead to over $4 trillion dollars in lost revenue and lost economic opportunity.

AFT’s new report, Reclaiming the Promise of Racial Equity in Education, Economics and Our Criminal Justice System, highlights some possible ways to directly address racial inequality in our schools.

We envision an equitable education system that guarantees world-class, properly resourced public schools that provide wraparound services in every neighborhood, where young black male students have the opportunity to achieve by:

  • Ensuring the fair enforcement of discipline policies and practices to create supportive learning environments for black males.
  • Guaranteeing that all schools provide safe, welcoming and caring spaces for students and educators.
  • Working for policies and practices that favor education over incarceration and that decrease the disproportionately high number of black males dropping out of schools into jails.
  • Radically increasing the percentage of young black male high school graduates who are ready for college, career and citizenship.
  • Ensuring a diverse teaching force that includes black male educators as role models for African-American male students.

African-American’s face a 10% unemployment rate and a growing opportunity gap.  Before we can talk about closing the opportunity gap and getting more African-Americans into college, we first must help them graduate from high school.

Getting a good paying job and being a productive member of our economy begins with a strong public education.

Kuster to Host Second Career and Opportunities Fair Next Week in Concord

Jobs fair to feature financial, medical, manufacturing employers from across the Granite State

CONCORD, N.H. – As part of her commitment to helping create jobs and opportunity for middle class families, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) today announced that she will host her second Career and Opportunities Fair next week to help connect local residents with jobs and employment opportunities throughout the Granite State. The fair, which will be held on Thursday, February 20, at the Holiday Inn in downtown Concord, will feature employers from the financial, medical, manufacturing and hospitality industries, among others.

More than 300 job seekers and nearly 30 employers and professional groups took part in Kuster’s first Career and Opportunities Fair, held November 22 in Nashua. Next week, more than two dozen employers and service agencies will be represented at the Concord fair, including Concord Hospital, Grappone Automotive Group, NHTI, N.H. Department of Transportation, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Southwest Airlines, and others.

Job seekers wishing to attend next week’s fair can register here. Employers looking to take part in the fair should contact Collin Lever at 603-595-2006 or Collin.Lever@mail.house.gov, and members of the media wishing to attend should email Jake Berry at Jake.Berry@mail.house.gov to RSVP.

WHO:                  Congresswoman Annie Kuster

WHAT:                Kuster to host second Career and Opportunities Fair

WHEN:                Thursday, February 20, 10:00am to 1:00pm

WHERE:              Holiday Inn, 172 N. Main St., Concord NH

 

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka’s Statement On May Jobs Report

The politics of austerity still hold the world in a vise-like grip and today’s employment report provides another view of that failure, despite U.S. job creation barely above what’s needed to accommodate new entrants into the labor market.

Within today’s 7.6% unemployment rate are millions of people who could be building our economy. Millions of young people are living with unemployment rates between 25 and 50 percent, their dreams of opportunity slowly fading. Communities of color are devastated.  And formerly middle class workers are finding part time, low wage, no benefit jobs. This tepid, so-called recovery hurts all of us.

The reality is, our economy will not recover until our government and global financial institutions begin to govern – not just for the banks – but for the well-being of all of us. People unwilling to give up the ghost of austerity provide the same-old tired ideas: the idea that drastic cuts to public spending will promote private spending.

Austerity doesn’t work—under any name or by any measure. Eurozone leaders are beginning to accept this idea. We should do the same.

As Michael Linden of the Center for American Progress reported yesterday, the economic theory and empirical reality undergirding the bipartisan embrace of austerity have crumbled. The evidence shows that what we need now is job creation.  Amidst sequester and without real progress on the 2014 budget or the debt ceiling, he argues that “[t]hese changes should dramatically affect the debate on federal economic policy in general and the federal budget in particular.”

We strongly agree with Linden’s assertion and urge Congress to reject cuts in Social Security and Medicare, reject senseless cuts that hurt the ability of our country to grow and meet the needs of people. The sequester is not savvy frugality but a disastrous assault on working people that Congress must repeal, rather than replace. We must all demand real solutions — like investments in good jobs, education, infrastructure, job training, and the green jobs that come with sustainable development. America’s working people are ready to stand with any leaders committed to large-scale investments to create jobs, to rebuild our middle class and lead us all forward.

Unemployment For Younger Granite Staters More Than Double The State Average

The NH Labor News has always been pushing to highlight how workers are continuing to be screwed by corporations and low wages.  Today a new group who call themselves the Young Invincibles are pushing back for young workers.

Young Invincibles is a national organization committed to amplifying the voices of young Americans, aged 18 to 34, and expanding economic opportunity for our generation.  Young Invincibles ensures that young Americans are represented in today’s most pressing societal debates through cutting-edge policy research and analysis and innovative campaigns designed to educate, inform and mobilize our generation to change the status quo.

The Young Invincibles just released their first report about the unemployment problems facing young workers in NH.  They highlight that the national unemployment level for workers between 16.2% which is over twice the national average (7.6%).  In NH, the unemployment for these young workers is 14.0% (NH unemployment rate 5.5%).

Youth Unemployment in NH

 

These numbers are bad enough but it is not the worse part.  Nationally workers have continued to see their paycheck to decline.  For younger workers in NH the numbers are even worse.  Young Granite State workers are making on average $3000 dollars less per year since 2005.

NH Youth make 3000$ less

 

The report also highlighted full time employment of these younger workers has dropped eight percent (8%) since 2005.  Studies show that the inability to gain early work experience dims career prospects for a lifetime; if we do not act now, this crisis could have far-reaching economic consequences for all Granite Staters.

Applicants Should Be Hired Based On Merit, Not Current Employment Status

Unemployment has been a problem throughout the United States for the last four to five years.  People some times forget that unemployment means that people do not have a jobs.  Short term unemployment can happen for many reasons, however with millions of unemployed workers on the streets a new trend has emerged.

Some employers have begun to discriminate against workers who are currently unemployed.  It is not that they do not have the qualifications need to work in the job they applied for, it is that they currently have no job to speak of.   Employers have begun telling applicants that they are only looking for people who are currently employed.

People do not want to talk about discrimination though it happens all the time.  Now people are being disseminated against because some company owner wanted to increase his profit margin and decided to outsource those jobs?

The New Hampshire AFL-CIO is working with legislators to pass HB 0350: “This bill prohibits hiring discrimination by employers based upon an individual’s unemployment status.”

This law is a very proactive way to help put an end to this type of discrimination.  The best part of this bill is section IV:

“No employer or employment agency shall print or circulate or cause to be printed or circulated any statement, advertisement, or publication, or use any form of application for employment or make any inquiry in connection with prospective employment, which expresses directly or indirectly, any limitation, specification, or discrimination as to unemployment status, or any intent to make any such limitation, specification, or discrimination, unless based upon a bona fide occupational qualification.”

No longer can an employment agency or any employer post a job listing that requires applicants to be currently employed.

All workers, currently employed or unemployed deserve the chance at a new job.  Applicants deserved to be evaluated on the merits of the experience not their current employment.

You Are Better Off Now Than Four Years Ago As New Unemployment Claims Drop

Cross posted with permission from the United Steel Workers Blog

Four years ago, hundreds of thousands of people were applying for unemployment insurance benefits each week.  In the third week of October 2008, nearly half a million people filed initial claims, signaling that they had recently lost their jobs.  By the first quarter of 2009, every week more than 600,000 people were filing initial claims.

 

Now, instead, the labor market is improving.  In the week that ended Oct. 6, the number of workers filing new claims for jobless benefits fell to its lowest level in four and a half years.  More importantly, the number of new unemployment claims has steadily decreased since the spring of 2009.

The number of initial claims is an important indicator of economic health.  It is more precise than looking at the total number of workers who are receiving unemployment benefits because the total can be artificially depressed by workers whose unemployment benefits have run out. The number of new claims measures only those who have recently become unemployed, making it a much more accurate gauge of employment trends.  Reductions in initial claims over the past three years show that the rate of job loss has significantly dropped, meaning the economy is becoming stronger.

Reversing the rising unemployment of four years ago took substantial investment by the federal government.  The economic stimulus, passed in 2009, extended unemployment benefits, which gave furloughed workers additional time to find new jobs and gave them a few more bucks to spend, which, in itself, stimulated the economy. Just as importantly, the stimulus helped curb unemployment by supporting businesses.  $51 billion of the stimulus went toward stabilizing companies affected by the failing economy so that they would not be forced to lay off more workers.

In contrast to four years ago, the unemployment rate is now dropping.  Not only is the number of newly unemployed steadily declining, the number of new jobs is also growing.  There were 3.6 million job openings in August 2012, up 400,000 from August 2011 and up 1.2 million from the end of the recession in 2009.  Businesses have now turned a corner from simply maintaining their current workforces to adding new positions.

Recent trends in initial unemployment claims help explain the falling unemployment rate, which is now the lowest since January 2009.  As the economy continues to recover, fewer businesses feel they need to cut jobs and more are beginning to add them.

Robert Reich Explains the Romney Ryan Plan….

The Romney Ryan Plan To Destroy Rebuild America

Many of you have seen some of Robert Reich’s other videos.  Robert Reich is a world-famous economist and former Secretary of Labor.  Mr Reich has been very quick to judge both President Obama for the way he has handled the economic crisis.  Now Mr Reich and Move On are working to spread the word about the Romney Ryan Economic Plan.

The Romney Ryan plan will destroy our economy in five easy steps.  Without giving away too much from the video here are the five points that Mr Reich explains.

  1. The R/R plan will Raise Unemployment
  2. The R/R plan will Raise Taxes on the low-income to Reduce Taxes on the wealthy
  3. The R/R plan will turn Medicare into a Voucher Plan….
  4. The R/R plan adds money to Defense fund while cutting funds to Education, infrastructure,  and other low-income programs.
  5. The R/R plan it will not reduce the budget.


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