A year after taking office, the Governor took the opportunity to climb on the soapbox to emphasize the issues he ran on and report progress. He enumerated a number of issues, but jobs and healthcare were the bookends claiming substantial progress on one and frustration with the other. On jobs, he pointed out that the state faced strong headwinds, losing nine billion dollars in defense contacts the last three years; more than any other state in the country. So, he has set out re-purposing Virginia's economy to make it less reliant on the federal government. That is what he thinks about every single day.
Additional issues addressed:
- Women's rights
- Marriage equality
- Responsible gun ownership
- Mental/behavioral health
- Reformed Standards of learning
- Daycare centers
- Restoration of rights
- Building broadband
McAuliffe announced that there would be a booklet published today, the first anniversary of his inauguration, outlining accomplishments during his first year in office. Highlighting successes on jobs, he said his whole emphasis is on how to build that new economy. And in that effort he has become the most travelled governor in our nation's history. The results so far include 265 economic deals and $5.4 billion in direct investment; double what any governor has ever done on job creation.
Bob McDonnell didn't make this happen under his watch. The convergence of conditions, largely out of human hands, did. And though you can claim that there is some correlation between this outcome and jobs, any additional employment is at the margin and highly susceptible to the vagaries of weather. So this is a moment when another man who told us he had a jobs plan, Governor McAuliffe, can step forward to show the world how to turn this advantage into something that can shield the state in the lean years.
As long as these products are shipped off to other places to be processed, ignoring the potential benefit resulting from jobs that are immune to weather, this portion of the economy will remain as vulnerable as any backwater that is content with shipping off raw materials for processing until they are exhausted. And then what?
It is the transformation of raw materials that creates wealth. In Virginia some of this does occur; sometimes due to force of circumstance. Hams keep and ship over long distances better than pigs, for instance. The grapes that we harvest are generally economical to grow because they reap a premium when transformed into wine. But we should not be satisfied when so much of the raw agricultural and forestry production in Virginia goes off to other lands where labor is rewarded for the potential that is unlocked there.
Production of end-products is not dependent upon Virginia agricultural conditions. If Virginia has a bad harvest as a result of drought or pestilence or whatever, there's always someplace else to find raw materials. If transformation of raw materials happens to be in Virginia, then the port continues to operate (and is potentially busier with the import of materials) and end product continues to be produced and sold. We are positioned to assist the sectors which are suffering misfortune to sustain them for the future good years.
So let's learn from this moment. We should all look forward to initiatives coming out of the McAuliffe administration that will leverage our great agricultural and forestry fortune. It certainly didn't happen under the other jobs governor.
A new Center for American Progress report details how the Bay State's clean energy policies have the industry booming, with 64,000 people now working in clean energy jobs in Massachusetts and growing at an annual rate of 7 percent. That's compared to just 16,907 in Virginia, according to the most recent data I could find in a 2009 Pew report. But even that relatively low number of clean energy jobs dwarfs the number of coal mining jobs in Virginia - just 5,164 in 2011. Across Appalachia, just 59,059 people work in coal mining - and that represents a 14-year high.
Meanwhile, Gov. McDonnell and the Republican-controlled, Dominion Virginia Power-funded General Assembly aren't just protecting tax giveaways to the coal industry, they're adding new loopholes to let coal companies like Consol increase their already sky-high profits by polluting more.
Even with a slightly improved 2011 job assessment, "Virginia's job losses in 2011 were in construction, manufacturing and the information sector" - some of the same industries that would benefit from the move to clean energy. Imagine if Virginia had set strong, mandatory clean energy & energy efficiency standards at the same time Massachusetts did. How many of these stories would we be hearing from across Virginia?
Watch the video:
Just how stupid does Mitt Romney think we are? If you've been following his campaign from the beginning, that's a question you have probably asked many times.That's how the Nobel Economic Laureate begins this column this morning, immediately reminding us that Romney appeared at a drywall factory (owned by a Republican, btw) which was closed during the Bush administration yet blaming Obama for the closure, attempting to make it a symbol. As Krugman notes, "It was a symbol, all right - but not in the way he intended," especially as the press quickly picked up on when the factory closed. And although the Romney campaign attempted to cover itself by saying the factory was still closed because Obama's policies had failed to get the economy going again, Krugman counters saying, "Actually, that factory would probably still be closed even if the economy had done better - drywall is mainly used in new houses, and while the economy may be coming back, the Bush-era housing bubble isn't."
There is more - deliciously so.
The number of people applying for unemployment benefits dropped to the lowest level since May 2008, a hopeful sign that layoffs are declining and hiring is picking up.Remember, Barack Obama and the Democrats inherited an economy in free fall when they took charge in late January 2009. By the time the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was signed into law on February 17, 2009, and by the time the "stimulus" actually started kicking in (many parts of it took months if not longer to have an impact), the unemployment rate was soaring towards 9% and (well) beyond. That's a fair point to start counting the Obama economic record. Since May 2009, for instance, when unemployment was at 9.4%, the rate has now fallen 0.8 percentage points, to 8.6%, and the latest data on new claims for unemployment benefits is highly encouraging that this rate will continue to fall in coming months.
The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications fell by 19,000 to a seasonally adjusted 366,000 last week.
By the way, the budget deficit's falling as well. Keep in mind that when Barack Obama took office, the projected deficit for 2009 was $1.2-$1.3 trillion. This year, the budget deficit is projected to be down to $973 billion. Obviously, that's still very high, but remember, it would have been a LOT lower if the Republicans had allowed the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans to expire in 2010, as they were supposed to (by the law that Republicans voted for, and that George W. Bush signed). If we got rid of all the Bush tax cuts, that would save us $4 trillion over the next decade, or $400 billion per year, sharply reducing the deficit. In addition, deficits would be a lot lower if it weren't for the recession that we inherited from the Republican'ts, and the urgent need for aid to the unemployed, as well as other measures to help the economy recover. Finally, I'd point out that the long-term budget situation also would be a great deal better if Republican'ts like Eric Can'tor hadn't pulled out of negotiations last summer on the debt ceiling increase, as President Obama and Speaker Boehner were negotiating significant deficit cuts.
Bottom line: Democrats are slowly but surely digging the country out of the mess the Republican'ts - Bush, Allen, Can'tor, etc. - left us in. As time goes by, this trend is likely to continue, as long as Americans aren't foolish enough to hand the keys back to the people who drove us into the ditch in the first place.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the Republican leadership's tether to the Tea Party, flutters the hearts of the government-bashing, budget-slicing faithful with his relentless attacks on runaway federal spending. To Cantor, an $8 billion high-speed rail connecting Las Vegas to Disneyland is wasteful "pork-barrel spending." The Virginia Republican set up the "You Cut" Web site to demonstrate how easy it is to slash government programs. And he made the Department of Housing and Urban Development the poster child for waste when he disclosed that the agency was paying for housing for Ph.D.s.Boy, when he thinks no one's listening, Cantor sounds ... well, downright progressive on government investment in high-speed rail, doesn't he?
But away from the cameras, Cantor sometimes pulls right up to the spending trough, including the very stimulus law he panned in public. Letters obtained by Newsweek show him pressing the Transportation Department to spend nearly $3 billion in stimulus money on a high-speed-rail project-not the one he derided in Nevada, but another in his home state. "Virginia ... will demonstrate that this historic investment in rail will create jobs, reduce congestion, spur economic growth and improve our environment," says a letter he signed with other Virginia members in October 2009, cribbing President Obama's own argument for the stimulus.
Cantor signed several such letters, including an earlier one seeking rail funds a month after he went on national television attacking the Vegas project.
But if that's how he feels about jobs bills like President Obama's American Jobs Act in private, why does he bash them in public? Why is he throwing up political roadblocks instead of trying to create more Virginia jobs? If you live in the 7th district, call Cantor's DC office at (202) 225-2815 or his Culpeper office at (540) 825-8960 and let us know what they say in comments.
To paraphrase Herman Cain, "Don't blame Obama, don't blame the Democrats. If you vote Republican and then the economy collapses and you don't have a job...blame yourself!" That makes a lot more sense to me than what Cain said and what the teahadist crowd cheered. If it makes sense to you as well, then on November 8, whatever you do, don't vote Republican!
From the DPVA press release accompanying the release of this video:
The number of unemployed Virginians grew by 9,535 in the month of August. The unadjusted Virginia unemployment rate increased by .03 percent in August while the national rate fell by .02 percent. The seasonally adjusted rate in Virginia rose by .02 percent in August while the seasonally adjusted national rate remained stable.Oh, and that's not even counting all the jobs losses in state and local government, in part thanks to McDonnell's misguided policies and counterproductive cut-cut-cut-some-more ideology. Meanwhile, "Bob's for Jobs" is actually focusing every day on everything BUT jobs - national Republican politics, mainly, plus his relentless flacking for the dirty energy industry (and doling out of corporate welfare to his favorite industries in general, for basically no results in terms of jobs) and, of course, his divisive social policy agenda. And this failure's considered VP material by national Republicans? That really says it all, doesn't it?
Even though the financial markets have been counting on the Federal Reserve to take action, Republican Congressional leadership sent a letter to the Federal Reserve chairman on Tuesday evening urging it not to engage in further stimulus. [...]It's no mystery what Republicans are doing here. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said the GOP's top goal is defeating President Obama in November 2012. Republicans know they worse the economy is, the better their chances of defeating President Obama. So Republicans are doing whatever they can to stop the Fed from improving the economy, American suffering and political tradition be damned.
With unemployment at 9.1 percent and Congress unable to agree on fiscal policies that might encourage job creation, many advisers have been calling on the Fed to continue using whatever ammunition it has left.
The Federal Reserve is an independent body whose decisions do not have to be ratified by the president or Congress, and efforts to influence monetary policy are discouraged to maintain its credibility.
"Even if I agreed" with the Republican letter, Tony Fratto, a former adviser to President George W. Bush, wrote in a Twitter post, "I'd still disagree with the effort to put public political pressure on Bernanke."
The mystery? That every reporter in Washington knows all of the above, but they won't say any of it out loud. Instead, we get he said, she said reporting - "Lots of people want the Fed to do something, Republicans don't, who can say why or who's right? We'll have to leave it there."
UPDATE: The Fed has ignored GOP pressure and moved to get the economy growing again.