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North Dakota solved the Wisconsin problem and made it profitable…

Map of USA with North Dakota highlighted

North Dakota is not that far from Wisconsin

… and it did it by turning pension funds into an Investment Bank. No layoffs, no Union destruction, only a predetermined shift in types of equity.
Here’s the start of an article by Ellen Brown that Truthout reprinted from YES! Magazine. Start here then go to Truthout and read the whole thing. You’ll find the solution gratifying:
clipped from www.truth-out.org

How Wisconsin Could Turn Austerity Into Prosperity: Own a Bank

As states struggle to meet their budgets, public pensions are on the chopping block, but they needn’t be. States can keep their pension funds intact while leveraging them into many times their worth in loans, just as Wall Street banks do. They can do this by forming their own public banks, following the lead of North Dakota—a state that currently has a budget surplus.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, whose recently proposed bill to gut benefits, wages, and bargaining rights for unionized public workers inspired weeks of protests in Madison, has justified the move as necessary for balancing the state’s budget. But is it?

President Obama has charged Wisconsin’s Governor Scott Walker with attempting to bust the unions. But Walker’s defense is:

“We’re broke. Like nearly every state across the country, we don’t have any more money.”

That’s what he says, but according to Wisconsin’s 2010 CAFR (Comprehensive Annual Financial Report) the state has $67 billion in pension and other employee benefit trust funds, invested mainly in stocks and debt securities drawing a modest return.
Read the rest of it HERE. blog it

By setting up a State-Controlled Bank with their investment funds, which is what North Dakota did, cutting out the Wall Street investment firms’ profits and making their funds in house (created some new jobs, too.) When you read the whole article you will see why someone should give this idea to Scott Walker and the Wisconsin Republicans.

Morning with the House of Representatives…

“Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.”

Mark Twain

I’m having a morning of amusing television watching the House of Representatives on C-Span debate the extension of the Bush Tax Cuts. Well, right now they are debating the rules by which they will debate the subject (which is funny enough in and of itself).

The Democrats are pushing to extend the cuts to 98% of Americans who earn less than $250,000 a year while restoring the taxes on Millionaires and Billionaires. Republicans are threatening a standoff… either give tax cuts to everyone, including the wealthy, or have the vote held up and watch it die in the Senate.

The republicans are, essentially, wasting as much time as possible with the goal of getting into the next Congress and passing  return to the Bush tax cuts as a return legislative move.

Of course, the thing that would work now is the Democrats in the House pushing this through and the Senate finding two Republican votes to get the filibuster-ending 60 votes which would pass the legislation before everyone trots home for Christmas.

Is this likely to happen? Probably not. There is also the notion that the President has already agreed to a temporary extension for everyone and the wealthy would be taxed again a couple of years down the road. With change in control of the House, this would be highly unlikely…the Republicans, supporting the wealthy, would seek permanence of the extension.

While a fifteen minute vote on the first House rule is going on in the House, I switch to the Senate to listen to Byron Dorgan (D – North Dakota) compare the untaxed Wealthy with the middle class soldiers who get up this morning to get shot at by Afghanistanis. I don’t think anyone is listening (the Senate floor seems to be empty). I’m often curious if Senate speeches accomplish anything at all.

Back to the House where Democrats are voting for the rule and Republicans are voting against it. Surprise, surprise. Wouldn’t it be amazing if Congressfolk voted according to actual values rather than party lines?

Why it’s important that we get behind Senator Byron Dorgan…

Dorgan (D – North Dakota) is the Senator who introduced legislation, S. 260, to shut down a tax loophole that rewards U.S. companies that move U.S. manufacturing jobs overseas. The legislation would close the loophole that allows U.S. multinational companies to defer paying income taxes on profits they make from the U.S. sale of the products manufactured in foreign factories, until those profits are returned to the United States, if ever.  Manufacturers who remain in the United States receive no similar subsidy.

While passage of this law has obvious benefits for the U.S., it has been something Dorgan has been trying to get through for ten years.

You may not believe it, but when a U.S. company closes down a U.S. manufacturing plant fires its American workers and moves those good-paying jobs to China or other locations abroad, U.S. tax law actually rewards those companies with a large tax break called deferral. The tax code allows these firms to defer paying any U.S. income taxes on the earnings from those new foreign-manufactured products until those profits are returned, if ever, to this country. If a company making the same product decides to stay in this country, it is required to pay immediate U.S. taxes on the profits it earns here.

– Senator Byron Dorgan

Examples of products that used to be manufactured in America but now are being made in China or Mexico or other countries? How

No longer Made In America

about Nabisco Fig Newtons, which are now made by 50¢ per hour workers in Mexico. Or Huffy Bicycles, formerly made in Ohio, now made in China by 33¢ per hour workers. Or Etch-a-Sketch. Or La-Z-Boy furniture. Or Fruit of the Loom underwear. The list goes on and on.

And we support the outsourcing of products in two ways. When we go to Wal-Mart or K-Mart (companies that demand our products at the lowest prices) and purchase them we give tacit support to the throwing away of American jobs. But that isn’t the only way we support major corporations who screw Americans out of their jobs…we give them tax breaks for doing it! These are called “Deferrals” and they are totally legal.

We have lost so many jobs, especially in the 8 Bush years when close to 750,000 jobs a month disappeared as work making everything

Made In Mexico

from solar panels to Radio Flyer Wagons went to China, Mexico, and other countries where child labor at 50¢ per hour for 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, can create products for minimum corporate expense. It will be extremely difficult to bring jobs back, but without changing the law so that tax breaks go to those who remain in America to carry out manufacturing and not to those who rob us of jobs and send the production overseas.

The Senate is debating the issue today. Needless to say, no Republicans are stepping up to the plate yet and Republican leader McConnell (R-Kentucky) has stated that no problem exists. The President signed legislation today to make $50 Billion Dollars available to banks for loans to small businesses. Hopefully, this will create employment and perhaps see new products manufactured in our country.

One could hope.

After watching Ben Nelson push the Anti-Woman Amendment on his Colleagues…

… this afternoon, I got an even bigger kick out of the piece our friend Tengrain put on Mock Paper Scissors. Take a look HERE:
There’s People Dumber Than Dirt… and the there’s Ben Nelson
.

Drop over and read it (and tell Tengrain that btchakir sent you.)

What happens when North Dakota Democrats support Single-Payer Health… or at least a Public Option… and let their Senator on the Finance Committee know?

Not much, apparently. Here’s a chunk from an article in The Political Carnival that you should read:
clipped from thepoliticalcarnival.blogspot.com

Dear stubborn Congresspeople who don’t have America’s best interest at heart and who are owned by Big Insurance/Pharma:

In a move that seems designed to push Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) on health care reform, the North Dakota Democratic Party voted two weeks ago to make the public option for insurance coverage a stated objective of its platform.

At a little-noticed policy committee meeting on September 19, state Democratic officials passed a resolution affirming their commitment to “universal single payer health care legislation.”

You know why it was a little-noticed policy meeting? Because the corporate media didn’t report on it. That’s how important things like this stay little and unnoticed.

As a fallback option, the resolution read, the officials supported the creation of a government-run plan for insurance.

And that’s how President Obama should have presented his health care reform push. Start with single payer and fall back on the public option.

  blog it

Senator Conrad could end up in big trouble at home… and it is not that big a state in population terms. I wonder when he’s due for reelection?