Obama Jobs Program – Help Illegal Immigrants Compete With Americans For American Jobs – Grasping At Straws By Bypassing US Congress And Changing Laws On His Own To Support His Doomed Re-Election Efforts

June 18, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the Obama Administration, in an obvious attempt to boost the President’s flailing reelection campaign, announced that it would bypass Congress and rewrite the nation’s immigration laws.

The Obama administration will stop deporting and begin granting work permits to younger illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and have since led law-abiding lives. The election-year initiative addresses a top priority of an influential Latino electorate that has been vocal in its opposition to administration deportation policies.

The second sentence of the Associated Press story addresses the true impetus for the policy change; election-year politics. Obama, and today’s Democrat party, see the electorate as a patchwork-quilt of interest groups. Sprinkle enough goodies on certain blocks of voters and they believe they can put together just enough support to win. It can work to a point. But, when the pandering to specific groups undercuts one’s overarching narrative it can erode support in the overall electorate.

Obama’s policy change sends a clear message to Hispanic voters. It also sends a clear message to non-hispanic voters. Namely, Obama has just added millions of workers to the legal labor force. Millions of illegal immigrants will now be able to legally compete with Americans for the very few jobs available. This message will not be lost on working-class voters.

The media loves to obsess over GOP divisions on the immigration issue. What they fail to note, however, is the Democrats are equally divided. (A Breitbart award to the first reporter who goes to a union hall to get reaction to today’s policy change.)

This is unsurprising because Americans are divided on the issue. We’re a nation of immigrants and pride ourselves in being a land of opportunity for those eager to seek the American Dream. We are also, though, a nation of laws and many Americans of all political leanings are uncomfortable with the idea that someone can be “rewarded” by breaking the law. Especially at a time that Americans across the economic spectrum feel acute economic anxiety.

Its a tough issue. Which is why we have a Congress, where the nation’s representatives can deliberate and try to find the right policy path. It isn’t pretty and it often fails. But, that’s how laws our made. We do not enact far-reaching rewrites of our laws by executive fiat. Political expediency doesn’t negate an entire branch of government.

The media will no doubt applaud Obama’s policy reverse on this issue. I’ve already seen a few commentators hail it as a brilliant move to shore up the Hispanic vote. But, the bigger question is, why does Obama need to shore up the Hispanic vote? He won their support overwhelmingly against McCain in 2008. Why does he need to bypass Congress and institute a policy that risks alienating working class voters?

Obama’s entire reelection campaign is based on pandering to specific blocks of voters. Its all he has left. In just three and a half years, he’s lost the ability to talk to the rest of us. He’s lost the ability to communicate with our collective aspirations.

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High School Students With Jobs At Lowest Level In More Than 20 Years

May 25, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – Did somebody say McJobless?

The American job market is no place for students as the number of employed high schoolers has hit its lowest level in more than 20 years, according to new figures from the National Center for Education Statistics.

In 1990, 32 percent of high school students held jobs, versus just 16 percent now. Blame their elders.

Sectors that traditionally have offered teens their first paying gig — fast-food chains, movie theaters, malls and big-box retailers — have now become the last resorts for out-of-work college graduates or older Americans forced back into the labor force out of sheer financial necessity. The resulting squeeze has left students on the outside looking in.

“By definition, teenage workers get the jobs that are left over,” said Charles Hirschman, a sociology professor at the University of Washington who has studied and written about student employment. “When you can’t find someone else to bag your groceries or work construction, often teenagers are the labor force you can count on to pick up that slack for a low wage. But now, with the recession, everybody has moved down. Those jobs aren’t going to teenagers.”

The decline began in the 1990s, but accelerated in the past decade. It has grown worse since the dawn of the Great Recession, analysts say.

Local McDonald’s managers, for example, are no longer forced to accept young workers who can show up after class. They now have the option to hire older employees with more experience and, in many cases, much more education.

“They think, ‘I can hire this old guy instead. He already knows how to work, so we don’t need to teach him,’ ” said Andrew Sum, director of Northeastern University’s Center for Labor Market Studies. “It’s a real weakness in our labor market right now. We’re going to need a big increase in demand to turn this around in the short run.”

The crunch is also hitting college students. In 2000, 52 percent of full-time college students worked. That number has now fallen to 40 percent, the National Center for Education Statistics reports.

Some may interpret the NCES numbers as a sign that today’s generation of young people simply has grown lazier, but analysts say that’s not necessarily the case. It’s their opportunity to work, not their desire, that has fallen off a cliff.

“Adolescents, like everybody else, like to spend money. If they have opportunities to work, even if it’s at a local fast-food place, a lot of students would still do that so they can afford to buy new music and new clothes,” Mr. Hirschman said.

For high schoolers, the dream of going to college also plays a role in low employment figures, according to specialists. Their desire to get straight A’s and attend a prestigious university can lead them to spend all their time studying. Parents often encourage that type of laserlike focus on studies at the expense of getting that first job.

“Everybody wants to do it. Every positive thing in life is highly correlated with education. Most adolescents know that, and most parents know that,” Mr. Hirschman said.

In the long run, the trend could produce more and more young adults who lack the basic skills, such as how to interact with a customer, gained while working early in life. The longer a young person goes without a job, Mr. Sum said, the less attractive he or she looks to employers.

“There’s only one way you can learn how to work — you’ve got to work,” he said.

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Congressional Budget Office Predicts “Recession” Beginning In Early 2013

May 22, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said Tuesday that unless lawmakers act to prevent scheduled tax increases and spending cuts at the end of the year, a recession will likely result in early 2013.

Early next year income taxes are set to go up when the Bush-era tax rates expire. Automatic spending cuts totaling roughly $109 billion triggered by last August’s debt-ceiling deal are set to hit. Meanwhile, payments to physicians under Medicare will be slashed.

CBO projects that these and other elements of the so-called “fiscal cliff” will cause the economy to contract as demand dries up.

It projected in a Tuesday report that the gross domestic product (GDP) will contract by 1.3 percent in the first half of 2013 before growing 2.3 percent later in the year. Annualized, GDP would grow just 0.5 percent in 2013.

“Given the pattern of past recessions as identified by the National Bureau of Economic Research, such a contraction in output in the first half of 2013 would probably be judged to be a recession,” the report states.

A recession is technically defined as two economic quarters of negative economic growth.

This is the first time CBO has forecast a recession resulting from the fiscal cliff. In January it saw 1.1 percent GDP growth in 2013 if policies are not dealt with.

If Congress and the White House turn off all the automatic cuts and the tax increase, growth would rise to 4.4 percent, CBO predicted in the report released Tuesday.

The CBO projections appear to go further than other policymakers have gone in stating the economic risks of lawmakers failing to act.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has warned of the risk to the economic recovery.

“It’s very important to say that, if no action were to be taken by the fiscal authorities, the size of the fiscal cliff is such that I think there’s absolutely no chance that the Fed could or would have any ability to offset, whatsoever, that effect on the economy,” Bernanke told reporters in April. “I am concerned that if all the tax increases and spending cuts that are associated with current law would take place, absent congressional actions … that’d be a significant risk to the recovery. “

Keeping the automatic cuts and tax increase in place would reduce the deficit by $607 billion in 2012 and 2013, CBO notes.

Unless future spending cuts are made, the national debt would grow at unsustainable rates and hurt long-term growth in that scenario, CBO warned.

Democrats and Republicans are in a standoff over fiscal issues and are unlikely to tackle the “fiscal cliff” until after the November elections. Lame-duck action could be limited to punting most issues into 2013 by extending current policies temporarily.

The White House said the CBO report shows that Congress should adopt President Obama’s overall budget plans.

“The President has put forth his plan to keep the recovery going now and reduce the deficit by more than $4 trillion over the next decade. Congress should act to avoid the scenario CBO lays out by putting forth balanced deficit reduction that meets the test of fairness and shared responsibility,” Office of Management and Budget spokesman Ken Baer said.

Last week, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) called on Congress and the White House to work out a long-term deficit deal and threatened not to raise the nation’s debt ceiling next year unless a greater amount of spending cuts is enacted.

In a Tuesday opinion piece in USA Today Boehner blamed President Obama for the failure to lock in a long-term fiscal solution last year.

“The president lost his courage, and the country lost its gold-plated triple-A credit rating for the first time,” Boehner wrote. “Since then, the president has been in campaign mode — playing small ball at a time when we need to address big challenges.”

House Budget Committee ranking member Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said the CBO warning means the Democratic path should be followed.

“It is clear that we need to act and we must do so in a balanced way,” he said.

“Given this report, Speaker Boehner’s threat to prevent the United States from paying its bills unless Republicans are able to impose additional economy-slowing austerity measures is especially reckless and irresponsible,” Van Hollen said.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) speaking on Fox News Tuesday said Congress should give certainty to the economy by canceling the scheduled tax increases now, but if it does not the public will have a clear choice in November.

“We are going to try every way we can to make sure taxes don’t go up on anybody,” Cantor said. “And so that is why we are saying this election, really, is much about the fact that if people do not want their taxes going up, they have got to vote to make sure that they don’t. And that is a vote for Mitt Romney.”

Earlier this month the House passed a bill replacing $78 billion of the $109 billion in automatic across-the-board spending cuts with a package of cuts to social programs over 10 years. Boehner has said the House will pass an extension of all the Bush-era tax rates before the election.

Those GOP actions are unlikely to be taken up in the Senate.

The White House and Senate Democrats want to end the tax breaks for the wealthy but extend them for the middle class. Democrats want the automatic spending cuts to be replaced by cuts less focused on social programs and revenue from ending tax breaks, including for oil and gas companies.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said the CBO report means that the GOP should extend the middle class tax rates and come to the table ready to compromise with Democrats.

“We could avoid the so-called fiscal cliff tomorrow if Republicans would agree to extend the middle class tax cuts, which would provide certainty to millions of families and give us ample time to deal with the other challenges facing Congress at the end of the year,” he said. “If Republicans want to walk away from the bipartisan spending cuts agreed to last August, they will have to work with Democrats to replace them with a balanced deficit reduction package that asks millionaires to pay their fair share.”

Also on Tuesday, Reid wrote to Senate Republicans to say that action on debt issues appears to be “impossible” before the election so long as Republicans continue to reject any new tax revenue as part of a way to chart a new fiscal course.

“The American people want a balanced approach to fiscal policy that combines smart spending cuts with revenue measures that ask millionaires and big corporations to pay their fair share,” Reid wrote. “Yet a strict adherence to Tea Party ideology among Republicans in both the House and the Senate has so far put that balanced, common-sense solution out of reach.”

“It is imperative for both sides to rally around a long-term fiscal agreement that includes revenues,” Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a release. “A stopgap deal that just kicks the can down the road is not much better than pure deadlock.”

Deficit hawks have been hoping that lawmakers would put their differences aside and come up with a compromise along the lines of the Bowles-Simpson deficit commission, which sought to reform the tax code while trimming some entitlement benefits.

Reacting to the CBO report, the Center for a Responsible Federal Budget’s Maya MacGuineas said “you can only hope that as we march down a treacherous path between a fiscal cliff-recession and a mountain of debt, lawmakers are hard at work to come up with a workable solution, rather than taking the year off with the excuse that it is an election year.”

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Half Of US College Graduates Are Jobless Or Underemployed

April 22, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – The college class of 2012 is in for a rude welcome to the world of work.

A weak labor market already has left half of young college graduates either jobless or underemployed in positions that don’t fully use their skills and knowledge.

Young adults with bachelor’s degrees are increasingly scraping by in lower-wage jobs — waiter or waitress, bartender, retail clerk or receptionist, for example — and that’s confounding their hopes a degree would pay off despite higher tuition and mounting student loans.

An analysis of government data conducted for The Associated Press lays bare the highly uneven prospects for holders of bachelor’s degrees.

Opportunities for college graduates vary widely.

While there’s strong demand in science, education and health fields, arts and humanities flounder. Median wages for those with bachelor’s degrees are down from 2000, hit by technological changes that are eliminating midlevel jobs such as bank tellers. Most future job openings are projected to be in lower-skilled positions such as home health aides, who can provide personalized attention as the U.S. population ages.

Taking underemployment into consideration, the job prospects for bachelor’s degree holders fell last year to the lowest level in more than a decade.

“I don’t even know what I’m looking for,” says Michael Bledsoe, who described months of fruitless job searches as he served customers at a Seattle coffeehouse. The 23-year-old graduated in 2010 with a creative writing degree.

Initially hopeful that his college education would create opportunities, Bledsoe languished for three months before finally taking a job as a barista, a position he has held for the last two years. In the beginning he sent three or four resumes day. But, Bledsoe said, employers questioned his lack of experience or the practical worth of his major. Now he sends a resume once every two weeks or so.

Bledsoe, currently making just above minimum wage, says he got financial help from his parents to help pay off student loans. He is now mulling whether to go to graduate school, seeing few other options to advance his career. “There is not much out there, it seems,” he said.

His situation highlights a widening but little-discussed labor problem. Perhaps more than ever, the choices that young adults make earlier in life — level of schooling, academic field and training, where to attend college, how to pay for it — are having long-lasting financial impact.

“You can make more money on average if you go to college, but it’s not true for everybody,” says Harvard economist Richard Freeman, noting the growing risk of a debt bubble with total U.S. student loan debt surpassing $1 trillion. “If you’re not sure what you’re going to be doing, it probably bodes well to take some job, if you can get one, and get a sense first of what you want from college.”

Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University who analyzed the numbers, said many people with a bachelor’s degree face a double whammy of rising tuition and poor job outcomes. “Simply put, we’re failing kids coming out of college,” he said, emphasizing that when it comes to jobs, a college major can make all the difference. “We’re going to need a lot better job growth and connections to the labor market, otherwise college debt will grow.”

By region, the Mountain West was most likely to have young college graduates jobless or underemployed — roughly 3 in 5. It was followed by the more rural southeastern U.S., including Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee. The Pacific region, including Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington, also was high on the list.

On the other end of the scale, the southern U.S., anchored by Texas, was most likely to have young college graduates in higher-skill jobs.

The figures are based on an analysis of 2011 Current Population Survey data by Northeastern University researchers and supplemented with material from Paul Harrington, an economist at Drexel University, and the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington think tank. They rely on Labor Department assessments of the level of education required to do the job in 900-plus U.S. occupations, which were used to calculate the shares of young adults with bachelor’s degrees who were “underemployed.”

About 1.5 million, or 53.6 percent, of bachelor’s degree-holders under the age of 25 last year were jobless or underemployed, the highest share in at least 11 years. In 2000, the share was at a low of 41 percent, before the dot-com bust erased job gains for college graduates in the telecommunications and IT fields.

Out of the 1.5 million who languished in the job market, about half were underemployed, an increase from the previous year.

Broken down by occupation, young college graduates were heavily represented in jobs that require a high school diploma or less.

In the last year, they were more likely to be employed as waiters, waitresses, bartenders and food-service helpers than as engineers, physicists, chemists and mathematicians combined (100,000 versus 90,000). There were more working in office-related jobs such as receptionist or payroll clerk than in all computer professional jobs (163,000 versus 100,000). More also were employed as cashiers, retail clerks and customer representatives than engineers (125,000 versus 80,000).

According to government projections released last month, only three of the 30 occupations with the largest projected number of job openings by 2020 will require a bachelor’s degree or higher to fill the position — teachers, college professors and accountants. Most job openings are in professions such as retail sales, fast food and truck driving, jobs which aren’t easily replaced by computers.

College graduates who majored in zoology, anthropology, philosophy, art history and humanities were among the least likely to find jobs appropriate to their education level; those with nursing, teaching, accounting or computer science degrees were among the most likely.

In Nevada, where unemployment is the highest in the nation, Class of 2012 college seniors recently expressed feelings ranging from anxiety and fear to cautious optimism about what lies ahead.

With the state’s economy languishing in an extended housing bust, a lot of young graduates have shown up at job placement centers in tears. Many have been squeezed out of jobs by more experienced workers, job counselors said, and are now having to explain to prospective employers the time gaps in their resumes.

“It’s kind of scary,” said Cameron Bawden, 22, who is graduating from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas in December with a business degree. His family has warned him for years about the job market, so he has been building his resume by working part time on the Las Vegas Strip as a food runner and doing a marketing internship with a local airline.

Bawden said his friends who have graduated are either unemployed or working along the Vegas Strip in service jobs that don’t require degrees. “There are so few jobs and it’s a small city,” he said. “It’s all about who you know.”

Any job gains are going mostly to workers at the top and bottom of the wage scale, at the expense of middle-income jobs commonly held by bachelor’s degree holders. By some studies, up to 95 percent of positions lost during the economic recovery occurred in middle-income occupations such as bank tellers, the type of job not expected to return in a more high-tech age.

David Neumark, an economist at the University of California-Irvine, said a bachelor’s degree can have benefits that aren’t fully reflected in the government’s labor data. He said even for lower-skilled jobs such as waitress or cashier, employers tend to value bachelor’s degree-holders more highly than high-school graduates, paying them more for the same work and offering promotions.

In addition, U.S. workers increasingly may need to consider their position in a global economy, where they must compete with educated foreign-born residents for jobs. Longer-term government projections also may fail to consider “degree inflation,” a growing ubiquity of bachelor’s degrees that could make them more commonplace in lower-wage jobs but inadequate for higher-wage ones.

That future may be now for Kelman Edwards Jr., 24, of Murfreesboro, Tenn., who is waiting to see the returns on his college education.

After earning a biology degree last May, the only job he could find was as a construction worker for five months before he quit to focus on finding a job in his academic field. He applied for positions in laboratories but was told they were looking for people with specialized certifications.

“I thought that me having a biology degree was a gold ticket for me getting into places, but every other job wants you to have previous history in the field,” he said. Edwards, who has about $5,500 in student debt, recently met with a career counselor at Middle Tennessee State University. The counselor’s main advice: Pursue further education.

“Everyone is always telling you, ‘Go to college,'” Edwards said. “But when you graduate, it’s kind of an empty cliff.”

___

Associated Press writers Manuel Valdes in Seattle; Travis Loller in Nashville, Tenn.; Cristina Silva in Las Vegas; and Sandra Chereb in Carson City, Nev., contributed to this report.

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US Taxpayer Cash Sent To Philippines To Train Foreign Workers For Jobs In English Speaking Call Centers

April 22, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – While the president has been urging “insourcing,” the government has been sending money to the Philippines to train foreign workers for jobs in English-speaking call centers.

According to New York Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop and North Carolina Republican Rep. Walter Jones, this is unacceptable and “shocking.”

The pair are calling on the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to immediately suspend what is known as the Job Enabling English Proficiency (JEEP) program.

According to Jones’ office, in 2010, after the two men compelled USAID to end a similar training program in Sri Lanka, the agency assured the congressmen that they would “conduct a review to ensure the project will not take any jobs away from Americans.”

In a letter to the USAID administrator, Rajiv Shah, Bishop and Jones expressed their displeasure at learning of the effort they thought the agency had explicitly promised against.

“I believe it was reasonable to conclude from that statement that your agency’s outsourcing training program was terminated, particularly in light of President Obama’s ‘insourcing’ initiative announced earlier this year,” the pair wrote. “Therefore, I was shocked to learn that USAID has used taxpayer dollars to invest in outsourcing training programs in the Philippines at the expense of American workers.”.

According to Bishop, more than 4.5 million Americans currently work in call centers, but since 2007 more than 500,000 call center jobs have been outsourced to foreign countries.

Business Week broke the story about the JEEP program this week. According to Business Week, the program is part of the Growth and Equity in Mindanao (GEM) initiative, which costs $100 million annually.

“The JEEP program was developed to promote peace and stability in Mindanao by teaching English to youth in conflict-prone areas to help them pursue gainful employment in tourism, nursing and other locally-based industries and to break the cycle of violence which had gripped that region of the Philippines,” a USAID spokesperson told Business Week, adding that it is set to expire at the end of the year.

The congressmen want it gone yesterday.

“Using Americans’ hard-earned taxpayer dollars to fund the training of foreign nationals to take our jobs is absolutely crazy and totally unacceptable,” Jones said in a statement. “Uncle Sam is over $15 trillion in debt and unemployment is still elevated because of policies like this, and it’s got to stop.”

The pair pledged in their letter to “use every legislative option available to permanently prohibit USAID from engaging in such practices in the future.”

“I support the international development mission of USAID but my top priority is protecting American jobs and American taxpayers,” Bishop concluded. “I anticipate working closely with USAID in a bipartisan manner to ensure that none of its programs overseas will hurt workers here at home.”

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US Gun Sales Jump Since Beginning Of Current Recession – Accounts For 98,750 Additional Jobs – $31 Billion In Sales Last Year

April 19, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – Gun sales are up 66 percent since the beginning of the Great Recession, providing an unexpected shot in the arm for the economy, according to a new study.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation claims that firearm sales hit $31 billion in 2011, up from $19 billion in 2008.

The increase in sales accounted for a 30 percent increase in jobs to 98,750 last year.

It also led to $2.5 billion in federal taxes in 2011, an 66 percent increase.

“Ours is an industry with a rich history and heritage that remains vital and important to the American economy today,” NSSF Senior Vice President Lawrence G. Keane said in a statement. “To millions of Americans our industry’s products represent liberty, security and recreation.”

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Los Angeles California Pissed Away Stimulus Funds Creating Jobs – Each Position Cost U.S. Taxpayers Between 1 To 2 Million Dollars Each

September 17, 2010

The Los Angeles City Controller said on Thursday the city’s use of
its share of the $800 billion federal stimulus fund has been
disappointing.

The city received $111 million in stimulus under American Recovery
and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) approved by the Congress more than year ago.

“I’m disappointed that we’ve only created or retained 55 jobs after
receiving $111 million,” says Wendy Greuel, the city’s controller, while
releasing an audit report.

“With our local unemployment rate over 12% we need to do a better job
cutting red tape and putting Angelenos back to work,” she added.

According to the report, the Los Angeles Department of Public Works
generated only 45.46 jobs (the fraction of a job created or retained
correlates to the number of actual hours works) after receiving $70.65
million, while the target was 238 jobs.

Similarly, the city’s department of transportation, armed with a
$40.8 million fund, created only 9 jobs in place of an expected 26 jobs.

The audit says the numbers were disappointing due to bureaucratic red
tape, absence of competitive bidding for projects in private sectors,
inappropriate tracking of stimulus money and a laxity in bringing out
timely job reports.

“While it doesn’t appear that any of the ARRA funds were misspent,
the City needs to do a better job expediting the process and creating
jobs,” she said.

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