Tag Archives: Unemployment

What you won’t hear in Gov. Haslam’s “State of the State” address

For Haslam...a lot is better left unsaid.

For Haslam…a lot is better left unsaid.

Tonight, Gov. Haslam will deliver his “State of the State” address. I expect it will go a lot like last year’s address, keying in on education and fiscal restraint. He might say something about Tenncare expansion, but if he does, it will only be to say we can’t afford to take a couple of years of free money to care for 180,000 people in our state…because, you know, free money from the Feds is too costly when you’re terrified of the Lt. Governor.

Haslam will have to face the fact that revenue collections are $171m short for the first 6 months of the year. That’s a lot of scratch any way you slice it. Perhaps this isn’t the economic miracle that he thought it was.

Of course, lower tax collections means the Governor has an excuse to cut necessary services. Every year he’s been in office he’s directed all departments other than education to cut an arbitrary 5% from their budgets…all while lowering taxes on folks who make their money through investment income.

All of this fits neatly into an ideology that’s centered around the”haves” and “can’t haves”…a worldview the Governor doesn’t explicitly articulate, but one he is a studious acolyte of.

But there’s so much more you won’t hear from the Governor.

Giving our money away to other states

Giving our money away to other states

You won’t hear that his Tennessee plan for Medicaid Expansion is a plan in name only, or that, as of today he’s surrendered $85,000,000 of Tennessean’s Federal Tax dollars to other states because he thinks a health insurance plan based on Republican ideology, and authored largely by the Heritage Foundation, aka Obamacare, is a clunker.

You won’t hear about government contracts he supports with a company he formerly invested in, or that an audit calls that same contract into question, or that when he tried to get more government money for his former investment he was told no by members of his own party.

You won’t hear anything about any of these issues, or the contract he gave to his Finance Commissioner’s former employer, or the contract General Services awarded to Enterprise-Rent-a-Car after hiring one of its former execs.

You won’t hear him talk about his economic development plan that includes paying $100,000 per job to a company that gave over $36,000 to his campaign, and is represented by his under the table paid “advisor” Tom Ingram.

You will hear how he’s running state government like a business…he just won’t mention that business is his family business, Pilot Flying J which is under Federal investigation for defrauding clients.

I mean, there’s a whole page of questions and an hour long special to boot.

But despite all this graft, regular Tennesseans must suffer cuts because a state with one of the lowest tax burdens on the wealthy in the nation must find more ways for them to accumulate wealth so…they will “create jobs” even though business leaders say tax cuts don’t create jobs, and so does a study from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.

You probably will hear him crow about education, but he won’t mention the reforms he’s taking credit for were first offered by a Democratic President, and put into action by a Democratic Governor.

You won’t hear him talk about our poverty rate that is higher than the national average, or our jobless rate is higher than the national average.

You won’t hear him talk about any of these things because he doesn’t have to. This is just another victory lap in a life of victory laps for a Governor that likely won’t have anyone running against him in the fall, and that feels he can act as he pleases, so long as it doesn’t raise too much of a stir so as to damage his widely held image as a “moderate”.

So enjoy the kabuki theater that will be tonight’s State of the State address, which will be aired online and on your local PBS station.

It’ll be a doozie…I’m sure.

Unemployment Extension Clears Senate Hurdle

As far as Republicans are concerned, it sucks to be you but they won't vote to help ya.

Huffington Post is reporting that the extension passed the Senate overcame a filibuster vote today by a vote of 60-40.

From the article:

Defeating the filibuster clears an easy path toward the president’s desk this week. People who missed checks will be paid retroactively; people who exhausted all weeks of benefits available before the lapse will not get anything.

The great debate pitting deficit reduction against jobless aid is over — until November, when it is certain to return. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday that the president will push for an additional extension of benefits when the current one expires shortly after the midterm congressional elections.

“I think it is fair and safe to assume that we are not going to wake up and find ourselves at the end of November at a rate of employment one would not consider to be an emergency,” Gibbs said, in one of the most affirmative statements from Democrats about their plans for the next lapse in benefits.

Historically, Congress has never allowed federally-funded extended benefits to lapse when the national unemployment rate has been above 7.2 percent. The current rate is 9.5 percent, and few projections show it coming down any time soon.

ED Note: Corrected title, and some text.

Previously:
Obama Calls on GOP to Do the Right Thing

Sitting on Cash But Not Hiring

Today, the Washington Post has an article about how companies are sitting on their money, rather than hiring, or investing in capital expenditures that might ultimately lead to hiring.

Welcome to your jobless recovery.

From the article:

Nonfinancial companies are sitting on $1.8 trillion in cash, roughly one-quarter more than at the beginning of the recession. And as several major firms report impressive earnings this week, the money continues to flow into firms’ coffers.

Yet all the good news from big business hasn’t translated into much promise for jobless Americans, leading many to wonder: If corporations are sitting on so much money, why aren’t they hiring more workers?

The answer to that question has become a political flash point between the White House and big business groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which held a jobs summit Wednesday and accused the Obama administration of dumping onerous regulations on businesses. That has created an environment of “uncertainty,” which is causing firms to hold back on hiring as the unemployment rate has hovered near 10 percent, the Chamber said.

The White House countered that companies are wary of hiring not because of new regulations but because they’re still waiting for consumer demand to return. The administration also claimed credit for 3.5 million jobs created by the stimulus bill from last year.

Ok, so that’s a lot of finger-pointing. I don’t think the unemployed give a damn about that, they want to know where the jobs are.

The question of how to encourage companies to hire has challenged policymakers.

A survey last month of more than 1,000 chief financial officers by Duke University and CFO magazine showed that nearly 60 percent of those executives don’t expect to bring their employment back to pre-recession levels until 2012 or later — even though they’re projecting a 12 percent rise in earnings and a 9 percent boost in capital spending over the next year.

When asked why companies are holding back so much, many economists cite broader uncertainty that goes well beyond anything happening in Washington. Firms aren’t sure whether the economy can sustain a strong recovery. And as long as consumer spending remains low, there’s not much incentive for companies to ramp up.

So wait, they’re making more money, but instead of using it to grow, they’re sitting on it. Is there an upside for the ordinary man anywhere?

Some analysts said it may be hard to create policy that compels companies to use some of their cash to hire workers. “CEOs don’t like taking risks. They kind of move in packs,” said Zachary Karabell, president of River Twice Research.

“There’s not a whole lot that you could do to entice companies to hire,” he added. “You could cut taxes on them, but they’re not going to hire just because they have the extra cash, because they already have the extra cash.”

I’ve got a suggestion. Since these guys have all this money sitting around, why not raise their taxes? If they’re not going to put the money to good use, or are too chicken to start a hiring trend, then at the very least something should be done with it. So tax the hell out of idle cash, then that will encourage some spending from these folks, which will mean jobs and some upside.

Or they could just tell the whole country to take a flying leap, which seems to the the US Chamber of Commerce’s current strategy.

Way to be, dillholes.

Morning Coffee – Post Explosion Edition

The Innards of Fireworks Revealed
Via How Stuff Works

The ground was littered with the remnants of celebrations, fireworks casings and cookouts yesterday as I sleepily awoke. The night before had been one of celebration as friends gathered to celebrate the birth of a nation.

Now, two days later, the only real indication this weekend was different than any other is burned places on the pavement from the fireworks that were shot, the strange absence of antacid from the shelves of stores, and piles of trash bags that grace just about every dumpster on the block.

About two blocks from the party I was attending, a garage caught on fire and burned to the ground. Several of us watched in amazement as the Memphis Fire Department worked to save what was left of the structure, and prevent the fire from spreading to other buildings. The garage didn’t make it, but from what we could tell, no one was hurt.

Thank goodness.

I haven’t really taken time to reflect on the weekend, or the events that transpired. In all, it was a good weekend. I actually gave myself permission to sleep more than my normal 6 hours a night, something that rarely if ever really happens. I also gave myself permission to completely and totally ignore everything that was going on in the rest of the world, which is also something that I almost never do.

Its important to sometimes unplug and just focus on the micro, especially when the macro often feels well beyond your reach.

I won’t say that the weekend gave me a new perspective, but I will say that taking time to disengage now and again can leave you refreshed and renewed, ready for the tasks ahead of you.

I hope that all of you were able to find some time for you and yours. Most importantly, I hope that regardless of what your long weekend held you were able to recharge your batteries. The next several weeks on the way to November are going to be the back half of a marathon.

On to the coffee!

Today is the last day to get your voter registration forms in if you want to vote in the August Election. You can download the form here, then mail it to your election commission. Not sure where to mail it? Use this handy online search tool. All registration forms postmarked by today will be accepted for the August election and voters will be eligible to vote in August.

Tom Humphrey is talking aboutFederal money to the states and the looming State House and Senate elections.

The TEP is also looking at the upcoming elections in a couple of posts.

Fayette County is realizing it must be the master of it’s own destiny when it comes to development.

There were a couple of articles about Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Ron Ramsey this weekend.

An Op-Ed in the Jackson Sun talks about the price of partisanship for the unemployed.

And finally, Steffens over at LWC sounds the alarm about an appearance in Shelby County by Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Mike McWherter. The CA has the coverage.

Hope you had a great weekend. Here’s to an abbreviated week!

That’ll Fix the Deficit…Oy

Just when you thought things couldn’t get more silly, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) has proposed that by drug testing the unemployed, we just might be able to fix, at least part of the deficit.

What?

From the article:

“A lot of people are saying, ‘Hey, it’s about time. Why do we keep giving money to people who are going to go use it on drugs instead of their families?'” Hatch said.

The goal, he said, is to get users into treatment.

“Now, it doesn’t do away with food stamps. And it does get the help for them that they really need. And if they get the help, then they’re right back on to the cash,” he said.

Hatch said the test would be paid for with money saved by not paying benefits. “Any monies left over would go to help the states with the drug testing and so forth, and if there’s any surplus it goes to pay off the deficit,” he said.

Unfortunately for the Senator from Utah, this has been tried before with few results.

A project in Michigan demonstrated that reality. “A decade ago, Michigan implemented mandatory testing in three welfare offices. Out of 258 new and continuing applicants tested, 21 tested positive for illicit substances. All but three of these women tested positive for marijuana only. In light of such experiences, few states have chosen to pursue similar efforts,” said Pollack.

This is just another in a series of Republican “blame the victim” tactics that ranks right up there with Glen “Just get you a job” Casada.

Unemployed people are no more likely to engage in drug use than the general population, and may actually be less likely, as they haven’t got the funds to pay for the stuff.

Seriously Orin, how’s about you come up with a plan to build jobs for all the unemployed instead of creating one more barrier for people to have to scale as we’re dealing with the mess your party left?

Morning Coffee – Adjournment Imminent? Edition

The Tennessee Legislature is in its last throes. The Senate meets at 11am and the House meets at 1:30. Most people I talked to yesterday believe today will be the last day of session. We’ll see if both houses are willing to play nice and make that happen.

Last throes or not, there was some movement on the Freedom From Healthcare bill that’s been tossed around for nearly the entire session.

Tom Humphrey reports that some legislators saw the bill as an opportunity to point out the “rectal-cranial inversion” that it represents. One proposed an amendment that would exempt Tennesseans from the Federal Income Tax, another proposed that we eschew federal dollars for TennCare, that represent a 2-1 federal match. All of these were defeated.

In the end, it passed with a bunch of folks not voting, which is better than voting to give this ridiculously unconstitutional bill some legitimacy.

We’ll see if our legislators can actually wrap it up today or not. I picked tomorrow in the STP legislature go home pool, but I don’t think anyone picked today. I may be a winner, but if these guys stop with the shenanigans today, I think we all may be winners.

Ok, on to the coffee…

Over at the Nashville Scene, Jeff Woods takes up a post by conservative blogger Terry Frank accusing Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Zach Wamp of unethical fundraising activities. As shakedowns go, one has to wonder how much Wamp has in common with this guy.

As expected, tuition is going up at Tennessee colleges and universities. I wonder how many people will have to either cut back on their hours, or just give up the dream of a college education as a result.

Polar Donkey puts his mapping skills to work to illustrate Memphis’ unemployment stats.

And finally, after confronting his primary rival’s campaign headquarters, former Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton agreed to hold one of his famous “free for all” Q&A sessions. Fox 13 is asking for your questions for the former Mayor. Also, Zach McMillin asks if Herenton can be polled accurately.

Get out there and get ‘er done. We’re half-way to the weekend, and I can hardly wait.

Gaylord To Lay Off 1,700 Employees

Breaking from WKRN:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Gaylord Entertainment Company announced plans Wednesday to release more than 1,700 employees at its Opryland Resort in the wake of historic flooding that hit the Nashville area last month.

Since May 3, Gaylord has been providing its Opryland employees with full pay and benefits.

However, as a result of the timeline associated with the reopening of the resort, the company will release 1,743 employees, effective Saturday, June 12. Read More.

This isn’t good.

Sometimes I think those of us in Tennessee are just waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Unemployed Due to the Flood?

Joe Pitts - D - Clarksville

Yesterday the Clarksville Leaf Chronicle posted a story about unemployment benefits for people whose jobs were displaced by the flood. The contact information on that story was for State Representative Joe Pitts. Here’s what we learned…

Please be aware that if you have lost your job due to your employer shutting down temporarily because of the flood, you are eligible to file for unemployment compensation. According to the TN Department of Labor and Workforce Development, your claim to collect benefits will not count against your employer’s experience rating. You may file an unemployment insurance claim by going to www.tennesseeanytime.org/labor or by calling 1-877-813-0950.

Note: all calls are being routed through Chattanooga while the Nashville office is closed. Call volume is high. Applying online may be your best option for getting through the process quickly.

Morning Coffee – Hootsylvania Edition

For those of you that are following along on the twitter, several of us were up in Hoots this weekend, plotting our reign of terror. Actually, for the most part we were just hangin’ out. I would post a picture and all, but since much of the discussions were top secret, I would hate to lose a finger over such a transgression. I type slow enough as it is.

So, instead, here’s a picture of some catfish. Maybe this will make you forget just how terribly frightened you are of the thought of a blogger dominated world.

Or not…

Time for some coffee!

Apparently we have another dubious distinction, to add to our list.

But thankfully, we’re not on this list.

Do our country’s sentencing laws amount to the modern equivalent of Jim Crow? Watch and decide for yourself.

Drama erupts in the Shelby County Commission race.

If you want to know what really went down in Hoots this weekend, check LWC, he has a good account.

Ok, have a good day! Mine’s gonna be busy as all get out!

Americans Dumped Off Unemployment Benefits Today

No one ever expects to lose their jobs. Sometimes I wonder if a Congressman or a Senator had to go through what average Americans who unexpectedly faced unemployment would do if they didn’t have the luxury of things like, oh, I don’t know, a spring break that lasts a month.

Extended unemployment benefits will temporarily expire for thousands of Americans on Monday because the Senate went on its spring recess without approving a one-month deadline extension.

The extension, which had bipartisan support, would have cost about $10 billion, but a lone Republican, Sen. Tom Coburn, said no until the costs are offset.

The Oklahoma senator objected to a commonly used unanimous-consent agreement to pass the bill under emergency conditions, even if it increases the federal deficit. Coburn wants to eliminate additional government spending to pay for the bill.

Democrats are furious. And they should be. We need a Sherry Jones right now to tell Sen. Tom Coburn the best line of the Tennessee session this year thus far.

“How do you expect people to eat.”

More from JR Lind at Post Politics