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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Gender Entitlement?

NELP: Sequester Takes a Major Toll on the Unemployed

"With the sequester deadline fast-approaching, NELP prepared a short analysis documenting the devastating impact that the massive budget cuts will have on unemployed workers collecting federally funded benefits, on the overburdened state claims process, and on the delivery of critical reemployment services.

"Of special note, the analysis shows that 2 million workers will have to absorb an 11-percent reduction in their federally-funded unemployment benefits, starting most likely in April when most states make the challenging programming changes necessary to implement the cuts. By the end of the fiscal year, that number will grow to nearly 4 million, totaling $2.3 billion in benefit cuts to the long-term unemployed.

"Also significant, the state agencies that process state and federal unemployment benefits will lose nearly $200 million in administrative funding, which comes at a time of unprecedented challenges that have already seriously compromised the delivery of UI services and benefits. In addition, the Department of Labor projects that one million workers will lose out on critical reemployment services and training necessary to get back on their feet while the economy still struggles to recovery."

For more information, please see NELP's briefing paper on the sequester.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Right to Vote

When a Constitutional Amendment specifically identifies a right, it cannot be considered as something less - it cannot be considered as a privilege. For instance: it's the right to free speech, not the privilege. It's the right to bear arms, not the privilege.

The Fifteenth Amendment states that:

Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

The Nineteenth Amendment states that:

Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

The Twenty-Fourth Amendment states that:

Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.

Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

The Twenty-Sixth Amendment states that:

Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.

Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Voting is a right, not a privilege, specifically named by multiple Constitutional amendments, and must be defended as strongly as every other right so named.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Speaker Boehner, why did the House GOP vote 'aye' for the sequester?

The bill required a simple majority of votes (218) to pass. Here's the breakdown of the roll call vote: 174 Republicans voted 'aye' and 66 voted 'no'. 95 House Democrats voted 'aye', and the same number voted 'no'.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

State of the Union: Reactions

"Jobs" received over 45 mentions in President Obama's State of the Union speech. Two key passages:

"A year and a half ago, I put forward an American Jobs Act that independent economists said would create more than one million new jobs. I thank the last Congress for passing some of that agenda, and I urge this Congress to pass the rest."
"Let's offer incentives to companies that hire Americans who've got what it takes to fill that job opening, but have been out of work so long that no one will give them a chance."

We have to keep pushing at the Federal level, because states aren't helping. (I'm looking at you, North Carolina.)

Remember: based on projections from Macroeconomics Advisors and Moody's, we may see an additional 12 million jobs over the next four years. That is, as long as Congress, specifically the House GOP, can figure out how to stop manufacturing crises and holding the economy hostage.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Federal Debt Basics: What is the difference between the two types of federal debt?

source: the U.S. Government Accountability Office

Debt held by the public essentially represents the amount the federal government has borrowed to finance cumulative cash deficits. Debt held by the public represents a burden on today's economy as borrowing from the public absorbs resources available for private investment and may put upward pressure on interest rates. The cost of borrowing or the price paid for the rental of funds (usually expressed as a percentage). Moreover, the interest paid on this debt may reduce budget flexibility because, unlike most of the budget, it cannot be controlled directly.

Debt held by government accounts represents the cumulative surpluses, including interest earnings, of these accounts that have been invested in Treasury securities. The special Treasury securities held in these government accounts represent legal obligations of the Treasury and are guaranteed for principal and interest by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government. This debt reflects a burden on taxpayers and the economy in the future.

Whenever a government account needs to spend more than it takes in from the public, the Treasury must provide cash to redeem debt held by the government account. The government must obtain this cash by increasing taxes, cutting spending, borrowing more from the public, retiring less debt (if the budget is in surplus), or some combination thereof.

Debt held by the trust funds, such as Social Security and Medicare, is not equal to the future benefit costs implied by the current design of the programs and, therefore, does not fully capture the government's total future commitment to these programs. For additional information about trust funds, see GAO, Federal Trust and Other Earmarked Funds: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions.

Only debt held by the public is reported as a liability on the consolidated financial statements of the United States government. Debt held by government accounts is an asset to those accounts but a liability to the Treasury; they offset each other in the consolidated financial statements.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Tales from the "new normal"

This article is republished from PBS

"In my area a company will not hire you if you've been unemployed for too long." –Need to Know viewer
Although the unemployment rate hovers near a five-year low, it is still at a painful level. Critics say that the official numbers masks the true problem by not counting those who have just plain given up looking for work or are not working enough to support themselves. The U.S. government itself will admit to some 20 million un and underemployed Americans. Indeed, some economists, labor statisticians and management experts are warning that the eventual outcome of our recent economic troubles might well be a "jobless recovery". It's called "the new normal" — an economy where we never get near full employment again and where the traditional strategies used to land a job — more education, working your connections, rapidly sending resumes to every listing — won't do the trick. And, then there's the bias against the long-term unemployed. After a spate of complaints about discrimination against the currently jobless, several states have passed laws which prohibit any employer holding a candidate's employment status against them. Will it help? What will? Read some of the stories we've received over the past year and add your own.

American Voices: George Wentworth

This article is republished from PBS

George Wentworth is a senior staff attorney at the National Employment Law Project.

"I graduated from college in the 1970s during a recession not unlike the one we’ve been experiencing for the past few years.

My first job out of college was working in my hometown unemployment office. And in some respects it was difficult because I knew a lot of the people that I was paying unemployment checks to. And one of them, I remember, was my godfather, Frank, who had gotten laid off from one of the major manufacturing plants in town.

And I remember him coming in. He was just embarrassed to see me. And, over time, you know, he said, "I'll be back to work." But he ended up being outta work for a long, long time. And it was just so painful to see the depression set in.

It was an experience that left an impression on me throughout my career.

Workers who are long-term unemployed have a leg down because employers are in many instances not interested in considering them after they've been out of work for a certain amount of time.

So, we've seen the phenomenon of discrimination against the unemployed. Unemployed need not apply.

It really is kind of a catch 22 when an employer says they're only going to consider workers who are currently employed, so you have to have a job to get a job.

That's why one of the initiatives, that my organization is very active in, is encouraging the adoption of policies that help low-income workers and unemployed workers.

Just last week, the New York City Council passed an ordinance that would prohibit discrimination against the unemployed in the hiring process.

Now, this doesn't mean that an employer could not take into account the reason that somebody became unemployed. But what it does do is say that you can't be excluded from the pool of candidates solely because you're unemployed.

We need to, I think, invest more in quality reemployment services for unemployed workers, particularly long-term unemployed workers. 'Cause it will really be a tragedy to lose their workers – and see them leave the labor market altogether. Everyone loses in that scenario.