Wednesday, December 24, 2008
The size of the average American home has more than doubled over the past half-century. The most recent statistics from the National Association of Home Builders show that the average American home grew from 983 square feet in 1950 to 2,434 square feet in 2005. In 1950, only one percent of homes built had four bedrooms or more, but 39 percent of new homes had at least four bedrooms in 2003. Garages have become almost obligatory, with only eight percent of new homes built without a garage, as opposed to 53 percent built without one in 1950.
Think about the implications of the information contained in that paragraph. Since most contractors charge for home construction on a square foot basis, and apparently bid their jobs out on that basis, this means that as the size of homes went up, so did the cost of building those homes. Now, for the most part, incomes also kept going up, so people could afford the increase in the size of the average home and didn't think about what that increase meant.
Well, here's what it meant: It meant more energy usage per home; it meant more money being tied up in real estate instead of other assets; and it meant that when times got bad, a lot of homeowners couldn't make the mortgage payments. It costs a lot less to pay for a 1300 square foot home than it does to pay for a 2600 square foot home.
Why did this happen? Homes went from being a way to house people to a way to show off your wealth. Homes went from being a practical thing to a status thing. Homes went from a place to raise your family to an investment. Children who grew up in "McMansions" began to believe that they were entitled to live that way, and so, when they got married, wanted to start where their parents had left off.
One way to solve the housing crisis is for Americans to start thinking of homes as a way to house people and not as a way to show their status, or as an investment. This won't happen overnight, but it will happen because America can no longer afford the "average American home."
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Not only are less houses being built, but less homes are being sold. The number of residences being sold declined by 13.8% when compared to the number that were sold a year ago. Statewide the decline was 21.7%. Nationwide the decline in residential sales was 8.6%. Just further proof, in case you needed it, that Ohio's economy is hurting.
You can read the entire article here.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Senate Bill 380 was a textbook example of how not to improve election administration. Republicans eager to settle partisan grievances with Ohio's chief elections officer, Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, rushed it through on a series of party-line votes. And though Ohio GOP leaders will sputter in outrage when Strickland wields his veto pen, there is absolutely no way they ever could have expected him to sign such an ill-considered package.
The editorial then goes on to call for a bi-partisan approach to election legislation and notes that Ohio's Secretary of State recently hosted a conference to discuss the experiences of the 2008 election. The editorial writer refers to her conference as "valuable." Then, incredibly, the editorial calls for Brunner to step back and not be involved in such conferences in the future. Here's the reason:
Thanks to both GOP targeting and her own actions, she has become a partisan lightning rod.
What actions of Brunner is the writer referring to? Running a problem free election in 2008 compared to the soap opera Ohio experienced in 2004? Making sure that voters' rights were protected? Winning virtually every lawsuit that the Ohio GOP filed?
Basically, it seems to be the PD's position that since Republicans filed baseless lawsuits against her, and since they made hysterical comments to the media about her, somehow it is now illegitimate for her to make election law recommendations. Basically the PD is rewarding the Republicans' bad behavior.
The problem here is that the media is afraid to call Republicans bullshit for what it is, bullshit. When the media takes positions such as the one quoted above, it provides cover for baseless Republican attacks.
Here's our suggestion: Brunner should hold a another conference, invite Republicans as well as Democrats to the conference, develop proposed legislation, and then take that legislation to the Democratic controlled House of Representatives and see if the House will pass it. Once passed, then she goes to the Senate and tries to get them to pass it, and if the Senate doesn't pass it, then at least she has tried.
What she cannot do is forsake her constitutional duty to be Ohio's chief election officer just because the Ohio GOP will throw a hissy fit.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Today, December 20, 2009, both the Akron Beacon Journal and the Cleveland Plain Dealer carried opinion columns or editorials blasting the Governor for his planned veto. The Beacon's Dennis Willard, who reports from Columbus for the Beacon, called the Strickland administration "whiners" and the Cleveland Plain Dealer, in its editorial, called Strickland anti-Cleveland. Interestingly in both papers the justification for supporting the tax credit provision was that while Ohio would lose tax revenues, it would gain jobs.
Interestingly enough, however, neither article set forth any analysis of how many jobs would be created versus how much would be lost in tax revenue. This brings up the question, who has the burden of proof? Is the burden of proof on the sponsors of the legislation to show that the loss of tax revenue is worth it in terms of jobs created, or is the burden of proof on the Governor to show that the loss of tax revenue is too much when compared to the potential number of jobs created?
We think it is on those who would cut tax revenue at at time when the State of Ohio is facing massive budget deficits. It is impossible to have a informed debate on the Governor's proposed veto when neither the bill's Republican sponsors nor their media allies can tell people how many jobs would be created versus the tax revenue that would be lost.
This problem, of course, is nothing new. Ever since the 1980s when Ronald Reagan promised that tax cuts would actually lead to more tax revenue, a proposition that was shown to be totally bogus when the Federal deficit exploded under St. Ronnie, the media has never challenged Republicans on their claims about the supposed benefits of tax cuts.
Why? Because the corporations that own media companies and the executives who run them like tax cuts, especially tax cuts tilted toward the wealthy. Because they like these tax cuts, they never demand that Republicans produce the proof that their tax cuts result in benefits to the economy as a whole.
The column by Dennis Willard and the editorial by the Cleveland Plain Dealer are just one more example of this behavior. In their minds, the burden of proof is not on the Republicans who would deprive Ohio of tax revenue when it is facing a deficit but on the Democratic Governor who thinks that we can't afford such a tax credit. That position is simply ridiculous.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Running for the state's top executive spot would require too big of a commitment at a time when Husted is focused on his wife, 13-year-old son and baby daughter. At least that's the situation now. Down the road? "I have plenty of time," he said."
When a politician tells you that he or she isn't running for a certain office because of his or her family. nine times out of ten you can bet that it's really because they don't think they can win the race. Interestingly, while Husted ruled out running for governor, he didn't rule out running for State Treasurer or Secretary of State. Apparently, his family comes first when it comes to running against a popular Democratic Governor, but not when it comes to running for other state-wide offices.
Our guess is that Husted knows he can't raise the money to run against Strickland, but figures that there will be Republican money to run against Brunner for Ohio S.O.S. The reason is that if Republican donors think they are going to lose to Strickland again, they will go all out to beat Brunner so they can draw the district lines for the General Assembly and for Congress.
In the State Treasurer's race, the Democrats will have an incumbent, but one that will have been appointed, not elected. Such a race will be easier than running for Governor or for Secretary of State, although Husted will still be up against an incumbent. Our predication is that "family obligations" will be the reason why Husted passes on a state-wide race next year.
This will be the first time since 2007, by the way, that Strickland has vetoed legislation. Since he has had to work with a General Assembly controlled by the Republicans since he took office, he obviously isn't veto-happy. These bills, however, were just bad legislation and needed to be struck down.
Two of them would hurt the state financially and the elections "reform" bill would have inconvenienced Ohio's voters by setting up three different dates under which Ohioans could vote early. If the Republicans needed a reminder that things have changed in Columbus, Strickland just provided it.
The irony of all this is that the Republicans drew the district lines of the General Assembly and, for that matter, of Ohio's Congressional Districts. If they are losing seats under lines that they drew, what will happen to them if Democrats retain control of the offices that make up Ohio's Reapportionment Board?
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
CLEVELAND, OH – In response to today’s announcement by Cooper Tire and Rubber to keep 1,100 jobs in Findlay, Ohio, U.S. Senator Brown (D-OH) released the following statement:
“I commend Cooper Tire for their decision to keep jobs in Ohio. Cooper Tire has been a part of the Findlay community for more than 90 years. I applaud the outstanding collaborative efforts of the United Steelworkers Local 207L, Greater Findlay Inc., the Ohio Department of Development, and the City of Findlay, and Hancock County. The community united to save jobs and to help keep Cooper Tire competitive. This is a proud day for Ohio and for middle class families. The productivity of Cooper Tire Workers is a big reason why this plant is staying open. I look forward to continuing to work with them and with the company as we rebuild Ohio.”
Brown, who has been working with union leaders, company management, state officials, and local stakeholders since a network capacity study was announced in October, also expressed concern for Cooper Tire Workers in Albany, Georgia, where Cooper Tire was forced to close a plant.
“Ohio has lost more than 200,000 manufacturing jobs in the last eight years,” Brown said. “I am extremely empathetic to the plight of Georgia families with this plant closing. This news underscores why we must have a new direction for our trade policies so that U.S. companies can stay globally competitive and keep jobs here at home.”
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Zillow.com, a website that follows real estate trends, reports that in the third quarter of 2008, real estate values in the United States declined by 9.7% compared to 2007. Real estate values are down by 12.8% compared to 2006.
If click on the link above, you will find this really interesting tool that Zillow has created that shows the decline in real estate values by metropolitan area.
While things are bad for Cleveland, they are horrible for parts of Florida and California. In Miami, for example, values have declined by 21.5% compared to one year ago. In Riverside, California, real estate values have declined by 30.4% compared to one year ago.
Basically, according to Zillow, the United States real estate market just plain sucks.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer ran an article on Monday, December 15, 2008, about the number of job losses that Northeast Ohio has sustained during the past year. This picture is from the article.
According to the article, NE Ohio has lost 7,000 jobs through the end of October. This means that the article doesn't take into consideration the job losses in November, which, at least nationally, was a horrible month.
You can read the whole article by clicking on the link above.
Monday, December 15, 2008
December 15, 2008
WASHINGTON, DC – In response today’s Kongsberg Automotive announcement to close its Van Wert plant – formerly Teleflex – and move the jobs to Matamoros, Mexico, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) issue the following statement:
“I am deeply disappointed by this decision. For more than 40 years, Teleflex was an excellent corporate citizen of Ohio. This is a betrayal of generations of Van Wert workers who raised families on Teleflex salaries and who helped build the company and support the community. This also underscores the need to review the results of trade deals like NAFTA, and move our nation’s trade policies in a new direction. We must also ensure that Kongsberg’s Van Wert workers get every benefit they deserve. I encourage workers to call my Cleveland office for assistance. My staff and I stand ready to assist workers and their families.”
Norwegian-based Kongsberg bought Teleflex last year. Shortly after the purchase, Kongsberg locked out Teleflex workers and moved a production line to Mexico. Brown, who contacted Kongsberg directly to call on them not to close the plant, has been working closely with workers as the situation unfolded.
According to a sheet kept by the Medina County Board of Elections, Republicans have already picked up petitions for both Brunswick and Wadsworth city elections. Democrats have picked up petitions for Brunswick, but not yet for Wadsworth. Interestingly, the petitions for Wadsworth Republicans were picked up by Sharon Ray, one of the three Republican members of the Board of County Commissioners. This is not too surprising, however, since she is from Wadsworth and her first elected position was on Wadsworth City Council.
Although Brunswick is non-partisan, Republicans make up a majority of the City Council. There are currently two Republicans and one Democrat who are councilmen-at-large. With a little effort, Democrats could take all three positions in Brunswick.
Municipal elections in Wadsworth are always spirited. Wadsworth is interesting because it is the only political subdivision in Medina County that has partisan elections every year, either for city offices, for state and county offices, or for federal and county offices.
A fact that most journalists don't write or talk about is that George W. Bush was elected president because of controversial elections in two states: Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004. In both states, partisan Secretaries of State used their position to help Bush. In Florida it was Kathrine Harris and in Ohio it was Ken Blackwell.
Recently a reader sent us a link to an article that appeared on the website Truthout written by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman. Firtakis and Wasserman, who write for a blog called The Free Press, have been talking about what happened in Ohio in 2004 for the last four years.
The article talks about the recently announced victory of Mary Jo Kilroy in Ohio's 15TH congressional district. This is a quote from the article:
Mary Jo Kilroy of Columbus will be the first Democrat to represent any part of Franklin County in Congress since 1982, and the first to represent her 15th Congressional District since the 1960s.
In 2006 Kilroy barely lost to incumbent Deb Pryce as thousands of contested provisional ballots went uncounted. Under then-Secretary Blackwell, voters in Democratic precincts were routinely challenged on minor details and forced to cast provisional ballots to allegedly be counted at a later time.
But thousands were merely pitched in the trash or otherwise negated. Some 16,000 provisionals and 93,000 machine-rejected ballots have never been counted from a 2004 election decided by an official margin of less than 119,000 votes. Independent observers believe a fair vote count would have given Kilroy her House seat in 2006. Also in that election, e-voting machines had statistically unlikely high rates of undervotes in central city polls.
So what happens when you get rid of Republican hacks like Harris and Blackwell and replace them with less partisan Secretaries of State? Well, not only do Democrats like Kilroy win congressional races, but both Florida and Ohio went for Barack Obama.
Now, obviously, just getting rid of Harris and Blackwell wasn't enough to tip those states to Obama. The horrible economic record of the Republicans as represented by George W. Bush's failed policies was probably the biggest factor in Obama's win. Still, having rabid partisans like Harris and Blackwell out of office certainly helped, especially in Ohio, since we had a relatively close presidential election.
What is also ironic is that when both Harris and Blackwell tried to run for statewide office, they were defeated, Harris for Senator and Blackwell for Governor.
What's also interesting is that after they were both defeated, the Bush Administration didn't find them a cushy government job. In fact, in Harris's case, neither Karl Rove or Jeb Bush would endorse her for the Senate.
The election of Jennifer Brunner was critical for Democrats in 2006 and it will be critical for Democrats in 2008. Brunner will be targeted by the Republicans who don't want to lose control of the State Reapportionment Board and who want to continue to disenfranchise minority and other Democratic leaning voters. All of us who value free and fair elections need to work for Brunner's election.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Congressman-Elect John Boccieri's Remarks, Part One
Congressman-Elect John Boccieri's Remarks, Part Two
Pam Miller's Opening Remarks
Pam Miller's Closing Remarks
Here's a list of Republican Senators who voted against bailing out Detroit with taxpayer funds by voting not to cut off debate on the bill:
The Republican Senators who voted for both bailing out Wall Street and against bailing out Detroit are highlighted in red on the second list.
So, why did these Senators find nothing wrong with using up to 700 billion dollars of taxpayer money to bail out banks, but opposed using 15 billion to help American automakers? Well, according to a report in the L.A. Times, it comes down to their opposition to unions. Republicans can't stand the UAW because it supports Democrats and because it fights for ordinary Americans, you know, Americans who build the Cadillacs and Lincolns that their rich supporters drive.
Here's our political lesson for the day: You can rip off your fellow Americans, and make scads of money doing it, and these Republicans will help you out with taxpayer money if you get in trouble because of your own stupidity. If, however, you are the ordinary citizen affected by these actions, there is no protection against foreclosure and no help in saving your union job. In other words, they are less troubled by protecting corporate golden parachutes than by providing nylon umbrellas for the ordinary citizen.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Honda, Marysville, Ohio, 1980, $27 million*
• Nissan, Smyrna, Tenn., 1980, $233 million**
• Toyota, Georgetown, Ky., 1985, $147 million
• Honda, Anna, Ohio, 1985, $27 million*
• Subaru, Lafayette, Ind., 1986, $94 million
• Honda, East Liberty, Ohio, 1987, $27 million*
• BMW, Spartanburg, S.C., 1992, $150 million
• Mercedes-Benz, Vance, Ala., 1993, $258 million
• Toyota, Princeton, Ind., 1995, $30 million
• Nissan, Decherd, Tenn., 1995, $200 million**
• Toyota, Buffalo, W.Va., 1996, more than $15 million
• Honda, Lincoln, Ala., 1999, $248 million
• Nissan, Canton, Miss., 2000, $295 million
• Toyota, Huntsville, Ala., 2001, $30 million
• Hyundai, Montgomery, Ala., 2002, $252 million
• Toyota, San Antonio, Texas, 2003, $133 million
• Kia, West Point, Ga., 2006, $400 million
• Honda, Greensburg, Ind., 2006, $141 million
• Toyota, Blue Springs, Miss., 2007, $300 million
• Volkswagen, Chattanooga, Tenn., 2008, $577 million
Total: more than $3.58 billion
You can read more about the Good Jobs First study here.
Medina County Democratic elected officials who attended include Medina County Prosecutor Dean Holman; Medina County Coronor Dr. Neil Grabenstetter; Medina County Common Pleas Judge James Kimbler; Medina Municipal Court Judge Dale Chase; Brunswick City Councilman Vince Carl; and Brunswick City Councilman Pat McNamera. Judge Clair Dickinson of the Ninth District Court of Appeals, whose jurisdiction includes Medina County, also attended.
Below are some pictures from the event taken by Medina County Democratic Executive Committee member Carol Gurney.
Friday, December 12, 2008
The non-voting Senators included four Democrats and eight Republicans. Of the eight Republicans not voting, three were defeated Republicans. Of those three, two of the Democratic Senators-elect who will be replacing them would probably have voted for the motion. They are the new Democratic Senators from Oregon and New Hampshire. The newly elected Democrat from Alaska is much more of an unknown factor.
So, if you start with the 52 Democrats who voted for the motion, add Reid, add the two newly elected Senators from NH and OR, and then add the four Democrats who weren't present for the vote, you get 59 votes for cloture, and the motion still fails. Of course, one of those who voted against the motion was Coleman from Minnesota. If Franken manages to eke out a victory in MN, then such a motion after January 3rd would have reached the 60 votes necessary to cut off debate.
Why are we going through this analysis? Because there are going to be many votes in the Senate to cut off debate on legislation that Obama will be supporting. Legislation on energy, health care, the environment, and other issues. Despite his margin in the polls, there is a good chance that enough Republicans and Democrats will be found to oppose such motions and they won't pass.
Why do we think that? Because of the 35 Senators who opposed the cloture motion, only four came from states that Obama carried. Of the three Democrats other than Reid who voted against the motion, all three of them came from states that McCain carried.
Think about the legislation that was being debated. According to some experts, if there is a failure of two of the Big Three American automakers, three million Americans could be put out of work. We are not just talking autoworkers. We are also talking about employees of car dealers, parts suppliers, and other related businesses. Indeed, there are some automotive experts who claim that all North American car manufacturing could stop if GM goes down because auto companies like Nissan, Toyota, and Honda, which have American plants, depend on the same suppliers as GM. If GM goes down, the theory goes, so much of the business of those suppliers would be lost that they would also go out of business even though they also sell to foreign-owned plants in the U.S.
If 35 Republicans are willing to risk that kind of disruption to the American economy on this issue, then why will they be willing to support health care reform, energy legislation, education reform, and other big-ticket items on the Obama agenda?
So, here is the question: Should Democrats start laying the groundwork to exercise what conservatives call the "constitutional option" to change the Senate Rules to eliminate the filibuster? Should Democrats just sit back and let a minority of the Senate, representing states that comprise much less than half the nation's population frustrate progressive legislation?
Andrew Jackson, in his first State of the Union message, said that the first principle of our government is that the majority should govern. He said that in the context of calling for a constitutional amendment to get rid of the Electoral College and allow direct election of the President by the nation's voters.
The same argument can be raised against the filibuster, only, unlike the Electoral College, it isn't constitutionally mandated. Think about what the adoption of Jackson's philosophy would have meant over the last eight years. Get rid of the Electoral College and Gore becomes President in 2000. Get rid of the filibuster and there is a deadline set for Iraq withdrawal back in 2007 and health care for children is extended to millions more of America's children.
Is there a risk in getting rid of the filibuster? Sure, because in the future there will be a Republican President with a Republican Senate and Democrats will want to frustrate his or her legislative agenda. We think, though, that on the whole, filibusters have been used more often against progressive legislation than against conservative legislation. Get rid of the filibuster and it becomes a lot easier to pass progressive legislation. Grass-roots Democrats should start laying the groundwork for the Senate to exercise the "constitutional option."
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Sectionalism is nothing new in American politics. Since the beginning of the United States, there have been sectional disputes centered around the economy. During the Jefferson Administration New England politicians debated the idea of secession. During the Jackson Administration South Carolina talked about secession. Obviously, during the Lincoln Administration secession became a reality.
All of these disputes centered around economic issues, including slavery. While slavery was a moral issue for abolitionists, it was a big economic issue in the South. A lot of Southern plantation owners had wealth tied up in owning slaves.
So sectionalism in American politics is nothing new, and sectionalism based on economic issues is certainly not new. Given that fact, then how do you rise about sectionalism? You rise about sectionalism by pointing out how interconnected the American economy is and how that what happens to one section hurts all sections.
What those of us in Northern states need to point out is that millions of Americans losing their jobs hurts all of us. Interestingly, there is an article on the Forbes website that points out that Southern auto workers realize this fact. Here is a quote from the article:
"If they go under I don't know what's in store for us," said the 41-year-old employee at Nissan Motor Co. (nasdaq: NSANY - news - people )'s Smyrna assembly plant. "Everybody at Nissan is scared."
The worker being quoted works at a Nissan plant in Tennessee. She realizes that the failure of GM and Chrysler would cripple auto production because of the effect on suppliers.
There is also the fact that bankruptcy of Chrysler and GM would actually cost more than the cost of the bailout being debated. If there is a bankruptcy, then literally thousands of jobs will be lost, leading to an increase for things like unemployment, medicaid, and a loss of tax revenue for local and state governments.
Southern politicians need to understand that poking the Yankees in the eye may lead to vision problems for residents of their states as well.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Well, here is a question: what demands did these conservative hacks demand of the Wall Street firms? What guarantees did the demand of any bank getting TARP funds? Why all of a sudden do they want guarantees from the car companies?
Let's see, what is the difference between car companies and banks? Could it be that car companies are unionized and banks are not? Could it be that car companies employ blue-collar workers and banks employ white-collar workers? Could it be that a lot of Republican contributors work for banks?
We think it is all that and more.
This is just another example of Republican bs. If the auto bailout bill is defeated and if GM goes under, then the GOP will be responsible for America's swelling unemployment rolls.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
We got curious about the other two cities in Medina County, Brunswick and Wadsworth. We went to the Cleveland.com website and used this tool it has to compare cities in Northeast Ohio. According to this tool, the Census Bureau data for Brunswick shows that 5.2% of its population was estimated to have been living in poverty during the last 12 months. The figure for Wadsworth was 5.4%. The figure for Medina, as reported earlier, was 10.4%.
The tool, by the way, can be used for any city in the United States. You can access the tool here.
According to a Cleveland.com article on this change, the data released on December 8, 2008, shows that the city of Medina has experienced an increase in the number of residents living in poverty. This is from the article:
And urban ills have seeped into the city of Medina, the epicenter of the region's fastest-growing county. More than 10 percent of families in the city of 25,000 are living in poverty, compared with 5 percent in 2000, the bureau reports.
It must be kept in mind that this data represents an estimate, based on data collected by the Census Bureau. This data does show, however, that Medina City officials need to start planning on how city services will be affected by this apparent increase in the number of poor residents.
Sunday, December 07, 2008
The GOP Chair has his job to do and that is to make his party look good. Part of that job is to spin the facts and to try and get the national news media to accept that spin. So it is undertandable that he would try and put the best spin on the Georgia election.
There is, however, another way of looking at these elections, and that is the GOP has now proved that it can still win elections in the Old Confederacy. Frankly, we didn't think that was ever in doubt, but judgind from the fuss that the GOP is making over Saxby Chambliss holding onto his Senate seat, it must have been.
Far be it from us to point out that if the GOP is in the position that it can only win elections in the deep South, then it is totally screwed. No, we would never do that, would we?
Saturday, December 06, 2008
As you can see from the graph below, Bubble-Boy wins this dubious honor. Under Bush the public debt of the United States has gone from 5.7 trillion to over 10 trillion in eight years. Folks, this is what happens when you combine reckless, radical, right-wing tax cuts with a Republican Congress who keeps funding their pet projects.
You can check out the actual numbers for both presidents to the penny by going here.
“I’m honored to fight for the priorities of Ohio’s family farmers,” said Brown. “This award represents our shared success in passing the 2008 farm bill and serves as a reminder of the important work ahead. Together, we can invest in rural communities and support Ohio’s farmers as they meet our nation’s energy and nutrition needs.”
Ohio Farm Bureau President Bob Peterson presented Brown with the award today at the Ohio Farm Bureau’s Annual Meeting in Columbus.
Brown was instrumental in passing the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008, commonly referred to as the Farm Bill. This 2008 farm bill makes bold investments in rural development. Through the Farm Bill and other programs, Ohio received $3.3 billion in rural development funds over the last seven years, with funding for more than 120 rural development projects.
Brown helped to secure several major provisions in the 2008 Farm Bill, including one of the bill’s most notable initiatives, the Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) program. This reform allows farmers to choose between traditional farm programs and a new program that protects against drops in yield or prices – critical for farmers given the uncertain and volatile farm economy. In addition to providing better protection for farmers, ACRE will save taxpayers more than $1 billion over five years.
Brown has held more 120 roundtables throughout the state, including a weeklong series of roundtables focused exclusively on agriculture. This past October, Brown held two hearings of the Senate Agriculture Committee on the effects of the economic crisis on rural America. Brown chaired these hearings, which were entitled “Path to Opportunity: Jobs and the Economy in Appalachia.”
Remarks of President-elect Barack Obama
Radio Address on the Economy
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Yesterday, we received another painful reminder of the serious economic challenge our country is facing when we learned that 533,000 jobs were lost in November alone, the single worst month of job loss in over three decades. That puts the total number of jobs lost in this recession at nearly 2 million.
But this isn’t about numbers. It’s about each of the families those numbers represent. It’s about the rising unease and frustration that so many of you are feeling during this holiday season. Will you be able to put your kids through college? Will you be able to afford health care? Will you be able to retire with dignity and security? Will your job or your husband’s job or your daughter’s or son's job be the next one cut?
These are the questions that keep so many Americans awake at night. But it is not the first time these questions have been asked. We have faced difficult times before, times when our economic destiny seemed to be slipping out of our hands. And at each moment, we have risen to meet the challenge, as one people united by a sense of common purpose. And I know that Americans can rise to the moment once again.
But we need action – and action now. That is why I have asked my economic team to develop an economic recovery plan for both Wall Street and Main Street that will help save or create at least two and a half million jobs, while rebuilding our infrastructure, improving our schools, reducing our dependence on oil, and saving billions of dollars.
We won’t do it the old Washington way. We won’t just throw money at the problem. We’ll measure progress by the reforms we make and the results we achieve -- by the jobs we create, by the energy we save, by whether America is more competitive in the world.
Today, I am announcing a few key parts of my plan. First, we will launch a massive effort to make public buildings more energy-efficient. Our government now pays the highest energy bill in the world. We need to change that. We need to upgrade our federal buildings by replacing old heating systems and installing efficient light bulbs. That won’t just save you, the American taxpayer, billions of dollars each year. It will put people back to work.
Second, we will create millions of jobs by making the single largest new investment in our national infrastructure since the creation of the federal highway system in the 1950s. We’ll invest your precious tax dollars in new and smarter ways, and we’ll set a simple rule – use it or lose it. If a state doesn’t act quickly to invest in roads and bridges in their communities, they’ll lose the money.
Third, my economic recovery plan will launch the most sweeping effort to modernize and upgrade school buildings that this country has ever seen. We will repair broken schools, make them energy-efficient, and put new computers in our classrooms. Because to help our children compete in a 21st century economy, we need to send them to 21st century schools.
As we renew our schools and highways, we’ll also renew our information superhighway. It is unacceptable that the United States ranks 15th in the world in broadband adoption. Here, in the country that invented the internet, every child should have the chance to get online, and they’ll get that chance when I’m President – because that’s how we’ll strengthen America’s competitiveness in the world.
In addition to connecting our libraries and schools to the internet, we must also ensure that our hospitals are connected to each other through the internet. That is why the economic recovery plan I’m proposing will help modernize our health care system – and that won’t just save jobs, it will save lives. We will make sure that every doctor’s office and hospital in this country is using cutting edge technology and electronic medical records so that we can cut red tape, prevent medical mistakes, and help save billions of dollars each year.
These are a few parts of the economic recovery plan that I will be rolling out in the coming weeks. When Congress reconvenes in January, I look forward to working with them to pass a plan immediately. We need to act with the urgency this moment demands to save or create at least two and a half million jobs so that the nearly two million Americans who’ve lost them know that they have a future. And that’s exactly what I intend to do as President of the United States.
Thanks for listening.
Friday, December 05, 2008
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
WASHINGTON – The Bush administration backed off proposed crackdowns on no-money-down, interest-only mortgages years before the economy collapsed, buckling to pressure from some of the same banks that have now failed. It ignored remarkably prescient warnings that foretold the financial meltdown, according to an Associated Press review of regulatory documents.
"Expect fallout, expect foreclosures, expect horror stories," California mortgage lender Paris Welch wrote to U.S. regulators in January 2006, about one year before the housing implosion cost her a job.
Bowing to aggressive lobbying — along with assurances from banks that the troubled mortgages were OK — regulators delayed action for nearly one year. By the time new rules were released late in 2006, the toughest of the proposed provisions were gone and the meltdown was under way.
The problem with Bubble-Boy and his band of merry idiots is that they worshiped at the altar of the supposed free-market and didn't think the government had any role in regulating that market. Except, of course, once the stuff hit the fan, then BB and his friend Henry Paulson couldn't intervene fast enough to save the hide of their Wall Street friends and supporters.
That's what really gets me about these right-wingers. They preach free-market for workers, consumers, and the rest of society, but are more than willing to intervene to help their friends. They won't intervene to protect consumers or workers, but they will intervene to protect AIG. They won't intervene to protect auto-workers, but they will intervene to protect people who made millions of dollars by pushing sub-prime mortgages onto people who didn't have the financial savvy to understand what they were doing.
What you get from guys like Bush and Paulson is free-market for us and socialism for them. Thankfully that approach to government will end on January 20, 2009, a date that can't come fast enough to suit me.