Bill Scher

Business and Labor: Create Clean Energy Markets

This morning’s “Policies and Partnerships for a Clean Power Future” session found wide agreement from union officials and business leaders on how we should reform our energy policies. Todd Foley of BP Solar and Jim Gordon of Cape Wind both lamented the “start and stop” nature of our government’s involvement in promoting renewable energy. Gordon advocated long-term policies, including tax incentives for production and power-purchasing agreements with utilities, while IBEW Local 103’s Marty Aikens supported residential tax credits . Lee Smith of the National Photovoltaic Construction Partnership pushed for state and local governments to create more demand by purchasing clean energy from domestic manufacturers. Foley concurred that if smart policies create domestic markets, home-grown manufacturing will make good business sense.

Continue Reading...
Bill Scher

Green Buildings: Win-Win-Win-Win

By retrofitting our nation’s buildings to make them energy efficient, we can improve the environment, save consumers money, create good-paying union jobs, and reduce poverty. That’s the word from the panelists at today’s “High Performance Buildings & Job Creation” session. Don Gilligan of the National Association of Energy Services Companies told the crowd that a $7 billion annual investment would save consumers $22 billion in energy costs by 2017, while also creating 400,000 jobs annually. Steve Cowell of the non-profit consultant Conservation Services Group explained that the new jobs would not come and go after buildings get retrofitted, but good-paying high-skill permanent jobs would be created to operate and manage energy efficient buildings. And that’s a good fit for unions.

Continue Reading...
Bill Scher

Welcome To The Apollo Summit LiveBlog

Today in Washington, labor leaders, environmental activists, business executives, elected officials and community organizers are convening for the Apollo Summit For Clean Energy & Good Jobs. The broad array of participants — brought together by our Apollo Alliance coalition — are finding critical common ground: highlighting state and local projects that have enhanced energy independence while creating jobs with good pay and benefits, and developing strategies that can build on these successes nationwide. I’ll be liveblogging the action for the rest of today and tomorrow, and our friends at PoliticsTV will be posting video highlights and interviews.

Continue Reading...
Bill Scher

The Power of the Wage Issue

CQPolitics.com today highlights new research from the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, finding that minimum wage initiatives in five states significantly boosted voter turnout: Voter motivation and reported interest in the election was disproportionately high among Democratic base voters, African-Americans, unmarried voters and women — especially where minimum wage initiatives were in play… …[For example,] Democrats in Missouri were twice as likely to vote for Senate challenger Claire McCaskill, who upset Republican incumbent Jim Talent, because of an initiative to increase the state’s minimum wage that won easy approval in November with 76 percent of the vote.

Continue Reading...
Bill Scher

Employer-Based Health Care: The Denouement

NPR’s Morning Edition aired a piece earlier this week about a burgeoning trend: corporations giving money to unions and handing off the responsibility of providing health care. With costs skyrocketing, these companies believe paying a lump sum now is better than being crushed by rising costs later. While the trust being put into unions is nice, it feels more like a panic move as our current health care system continues to crumble all around us. As SEIU’s Andy Stern says: It is time to admit that the employer-based health care system is dead, a relic of the industrial economy. America cannot compete in the new global economy when we are the only industrialized nation on earth that puts the price of healthcare on the cost of our products. This development is merely a cry for fundamental, comprehensive reform. Check out our Health Care For All page for more.

Continue Reading...
Bill Scher

Rabid Fox Gets Bitten Again

Prolific and incisive filmmaker Robert Greenwald today launched the FoxAttacks website and unveiled an online video exposing Fox News’s efforts to smear Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama as he is being introduced to voters nationwide. For Greenwald, shining a spotlight on such conservative propaganda is the continuation of his earlier important work, the documentary Outfoxed, which helped alert the public to Fox News’ aversion to reporting straight news. This time, Greenwald is not merely trying to document the well-known hypocrisy of Fox’s “fair and balanced” journalism, but he has joined forces with MoveOn.org to try to get the Nevada Democratic Party to disinvite Fox News from sponsorship of a presidential candidate debate in August.

Continue Reading...
Bill Scher

W. Post Crusade Against Fair Drug Prices – Part 3

Most of the media saw today’s report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and concluded the headline was that overall health care spending continues to rise. Not the Washington Post. It’s headline? “Medicare Benefit Appears to Slow Spending Growth on Drugs”. And so, the W. Post continues its biased coverage about Medicare’s prescription drug plan, supporting it’s editorial board in opposition to empowering Medicare to negotiate for lower prices. The W. Post dutifully transcribed what the Bush Administration told them: Analysts said they expect to see that spending on prescription drugs rose more slowly in 2006 because of the Medicare Part D drug benefit that began last year. In the program, private insurers negotiate prices with drug companies as they compete to attract Medicare beneficiaries.

Continue Reading...
Bill Scher

Who Will Call Europe’s Bluff?

The NY Times reports today that the European Union will cut greenhouse gas emissions 30% by 2020, if the US will too. Obviously, the EU knows that President Bush won’t bite, and if you read between the lines of the NYT piece, it would seem the offer is a way to gloss over differences within the EU over how aggressively it can combat global warming. (The EU at least plans to shoot for a 20% cut by then, which ain’t bad at all, as it could put us on the path to cut emissions 60-80% by 2050, widely considered to be the ultimate goal.) But there are a lot of folks looking to replace Bush these days.

Continue Reading...
Bill Scher

Grassley Threatens To Kill Wage Raise

Roll Call reports today: Senate Finance ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has warned that he may block a House-Senate conference on the minimum-wage bill unless he is assured his Democratic colleagues will join him in demanding inclusion of a sizable tax-cut package … much larger than the $1.4 billion House-passed proposal. Grassley wants his demands met before any House-Senate conference, or else he’ll filibuster a vote on naming people to the conference. Senate Dems have been trying a strategy of accommodation to avoid a filibuster. But the Roll Call article indicates Republicans are worried what might happen if Democrats call their bluff: Senate Republicans are wary of the political and public relations pitfalls of appearing to block completion of a minimum-wage bill, if they back Grassley in any floor fight.

Continue Reading...
Bill Scher

Where The Health Care Debate Is Going

The following was written by Campaign for America’s Future Co-Director Roger Hickey and Online Editor Bill Scher The health care debate has leapt forward in the last few weeks. After the bold health care plan from John Edwards, and the new business-labor coalition Better Health Care Together— spearheaded by Andy Stern (founder of Wal-Mart Watch) and the CEO of Wal-Mart, Lee Scott– there is a growing consensus. America needs, and Americans want, heath care for everyone in America. It is terribly significant that we are forging a broad consensus that everyone should be covered. Now the debate shifts to the question of how to get there. Long-time advocates of universal health care are properly suspicious of plans that get the label right but the details wrong.

Continue Reading...
Bill Scher

Another Year, Another Record Trade Deficit

The trade deficit ballooned to $764 billion in 2006, a new record shortfall. The White House shrugged its shoulders. From the W. Post: “Trade is good for America,” [White House spokesman Tony] Fratto said. “There are dislocations for people when you trade. A factory closes, those are real people. But the benefits that accrue to all Americans are clear.” But this severely unfair trade may not benefit all Americans. Also from the W. Post: Some analysts fret that the trade deficit’s continuing climb raises the possibility of a precipitous drop in the dollar. For now, China, Japan and many oil-producing countries are plowing the proceeds of their exports to the United States back into the country by buying U.S. Treasury bills, propping up the dollar and allowing the Fed to keep interest rates low.

Continue Reading...
Bill Scher

Minimum Wage Compromise In Sight

The House Ways & Means Committee yesterday cleared a bill with less than $2 billion in business tax breaks, as part of a plan to resolve differences in the House and Senate minimum wage bills. While I noted earlier that the House is passing the tax bill separately from its wage bill — keeping the wage bill “clean” — the plan is to forge a compromise “dirty” bill in a House-Senate conference. How dirty is the House bill? The picture is mixed. On one hand, the size of tax giveaways in the House bill is smaller than the $8.3 billion Senate version. On the other, according to CongressDaily and CQ Today, the business lobby is happier with the House version in part because it leaves out a Senate provision closing a tax loophole for executives earning over $1 million a year.

Continue Reading...
Bill Scher

Bush’s Medicare Drug Program. It Ain’t Working.

Medicare’s prescription drug benefit, it’s working — Current TV ad from Big Pharma [Rep. Henry] Waxman, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, laid out his health oversight priorities for the year at a Feb. 9 hearing, drawing a bull’s-eye on Medicare’s Part D drug benefit and the drugmakers and distributors in the program. … Citing a lack of transparency by drugmakers, pharmacies and insurers, Waxman said the current system “calls out for more fraud, and a harder job for those who are trying to protect the taxpayers.” … Witnesses at the Feb. 9 hearing said the government has failed to carefully monitor the cost of its drug programs, Part D in particular. “Many government programs do not know the prices they pay for drugs,” said Gerard Anderson, professor of health policy and management at Johns Hopkins University.

Continue Reading...
Bill Scher

Blog Reaction to Edwards Health Care Plan

Lots of blogger takes on presidential hopeful John Edwards new health care plan, which in part draws on Health Care For America. Tapped’s Ezra Klein writes: “it has widened the field of the debate, and unless the other candidates want to explain why they lack the boldness of Edwards’ plan, they’ll have to offer similarly comprehensive proposals. What they will have to match is full community rating, a public insurance option, total universality, scaleability towards more public involvement, and a willingness to propose something comprehensive enough to require revenue increases to fund. In other words: The goalposts have been moved.

Continue Reading...
Bill Scher

Global Warming Deniers Are Funny

In the wake of the world’s leading authority on climate change definitively concluding that global warming is happening and caused by humans, professional global warming deniers are flailing, and it’s hilarious to watch. Over at TomPaine.com, Clean Air Watch’s Frank O’Donnell finds that Sen. James Inhofe, the “Senate’s resident crackpot on global warming finally seems to have—well, cracked up,” after witnessing a bizarre exchange he had on CNN last week. Today’s amusement comes from LA Times columnist Jonah Goldberg. Not being as unbalanced as Sen. Inhofe, he won’t quite say global warming isn’t a problem. All he’ll say is fighting it will cost money. So he tries to argue the best strategy for now is to wait: Frankly, I don’t think the trade-off is worth it — yet.

Continue Reading...
Bill Scher

House Inches Toward Senate on Biz Tax Breaks

Trying to break a House-Senate stalemate over competing minimum wage bills, Rep. Charlie Rangel is planning on moving a bill with $1 billion in business tax breaks, separate from the minimum wage bill, according to CQ Today. That’s much smaller than the $8.3 billion handout in the Senate minimum wage bill. And, keeping the bills separate would at least symbolically keep the minimum wage bill clean — re-establishing a precedent that wage raises for the working class do not need to be directly tied to favors for the business class. This doesn’t immediately resolve the dispute, but it does appear we’re moving in the direction of a compromise.

Continue Reading...
Bill Scher

The Universal Health Care Debate Is Over

If the head of Wal-Mart and the head of Wal-Mart Watch agree we need universal health care, then we need universal health care. QED. McClatchy Newspapers has the story: A group of businesses and labor unions – led by Wal-Mart and one of the retailer’s staunchest critics – Wednesday called for universal health care for all Americans by 2012. The group, known as Better Health Care Together, is the latest coalition of with varying agendas and constituencies to call for fundamental changes in America’s health care system since Democrats took control of Congress. … Coalition members also include the unlikely pair of Wal-Mart CEO H. Lee Scott, Jr. and Andy Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union that represents nearly one million janitors nationwide.

Continue Reading...
Bill Scher

Bloggingheads.tv

Earlier today, Bloggingheads.tv posted a diavlog between Eric Alterman and myself. Among other topics, we discussed how the Senate should deal with the conservative minority seeking to thwart priorities shared by Campaign for America’s Future. You can jump to that portion of the conversation here.

Continue Reading...
Bill Scher

Edwards Gives Nod Toward “Health Care For America”

Yesterday, presidential hopeful John Edwards announced a health care plan titled, Universal Health Care Through Shared Responsibility. The New Republic reports today that a core feature of the plan is “the essential idea behind another health care reform plan that has been quietly generating a great deal of enthusiasm among reformers–a plan composed by Yale University political scientist … Jacob Hacker.” That plan is Health Care for America, which Campaign for America’s Future has been promoting debate around. Today, Jacob Hacker and Roger Hickey released statements praising the basic outline of the proposal. Hickey noted this will significantly move the debate, while Hacker laid out areas for Edwards and other candidates to strengthen. Here’s Roger Hickey: The health care plan put forward by Sen.

Continue Reading...
Bill Scher

Bush Flinches on Big Oil Subsidies

CQ Today notes that on subsidies to Big Oil, the Bush budget proposal actually inches towards the recently passed House bill, which takes back $14 billion in giveaways and invests it in renewable energy. CQ reports: In a nod to Democrats seeking to end subsidies for the oil industry, the administration also proposed repealing provisions in the 2005 energy law (PL 109-58) that expanded royalty relief for deep-water oil and gas operations. The House passed a bill (HR 6) last month that would go further. That’s a sign of weakness on the part of the White House, a sign that they don’t relish the propsect of vetoing a tough bill, and would prefer a watered down version they can stomach. This is notable because Senate leaders have yet to say what they will do with the House bill: push it as is, or draft a less ambitious version.

Continue Reading...
1 581 582 583 584 585 586