Sucker punched by massive, illegally subsidized imports, American steel producers laid off thousands of workers in bedrock communities from Ohio and Illinois to Texas and Alabama.
That’s in just the past three months.
The families of furloughed workers are struggling to pay mortgage bills. The communities, losing tax dollars, are canceling needed road work. The companies are talking about the similarities between now and the 1990s when half of the nation’s steel firms disappeared. Members of the Congressional Steel Caucus are worrying about the effect on national security if America can’t make its own steel for guns and tanks.
Virtually everyone who testified last week at a Congressional hearing on the state of steel fingered bad trade as the culprit in the current collapse. Lawmakers, steel company executives, industry group leaders and a vice president of the United Steelworkers (USW) union all agreed on this. Foreign firms, particularly those operating in non-capitalist countries, are violating international trade regulations. Those rules also require American companies, communities and workers to forfeit a pound of flesh before trade enforcement can occur. They’re failing America.More ...
Over at Real Clear Politics, I explain why Republicans are taking a big risk by committing themselves to balancing the budget in a nine-to-10 year timeframe, without raising revenue or significantly affecting the military.
The result is a budget that would completely decimate the federal government, gutting essential programs that support college grants and school lunches. Unlike the radical Paul Ryan budgets of recent years, this one will likely pass both chambers of Congress, effectively becoming the party’s platform, yoking to it blue- and purple-state Republican senators up for reelection next year.
The budget is so insane that even deficit hawks concede it will never happen. (Congressional budgets are nonbinding resolutions, lacking the force of law.) This may be why Republican leaders are willing to get behind it; it’s a sop to the debt-obsessed tea-party right that doesn’t actually require any cuts.More ...
A key section of the secret Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement has been leaked to the public. The New York Times has a major story on the contents of the leaked chapter, and it's as bad as many of us feared.
Now we know why the corporations and the Obama administration want the TPP, a huge "trade" agreement being negotiated between the United States and 11 other countries, kept secret from the public until it's too late to stop it.
The section of the TPP that has leaked is the "Investment" chapter that includes investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) clauses. WikiLeaks has the text and analysis, and the Times has the story, in "Trans-Pacific Partnership Seen as Door for Foreign Suits Against U.S.":
An ambitious 12-nation trade accord pushed by President Obama would allow foreign corporations to sue the United States government for actions that undermine their investment "expectations" and hurt their business, according to a classified document.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership -- a cornerstone of Mr. Obama's remaining economic agenda -- would grant broad powers to multinational companies operating in North America, South America and Asia. Under the accord, still under negotiation but nearing completion, companies and investors would be empowered to challenge regulations, rules, government actions and court rulings -- federal, state or local -- before tribunals organized under the World Bank or the United Nations.
Adjunct Action Day on February 25 highlighted the working conditions of adjuncts, who make up about 70% of the American professoriate. Adjuncts usually make $20,000–$25,000 a year, often by teaching courses at various institutions each semester. They have no job security, and frequently receive no health or retirement benefits. But they have begun fighting to improve their lot. SEIU is organizing in several states. In the Baltimore/ DC area it has formed adjunct faculty unions at several colleges and universities, Georgetown and American University among them. At Goucher College in Baltimore, SEIU is struggling to have a pro-union vote recognized by the administration.
For the past 25 years I’ve taught at this small liberal arts college that purports to value inclusion and fairness. We value diversity in staff, faculty, and students. We do anti-racist work. Yet approximately 60% of our faculty are adjuncts—lower than the national average, but shockingly high for an expensive selective college. When SEIU came to Goucher with the goal of representing full-, part-, and half-time adjuncts, the College’s values were put to the test, and the College failed.More ...