The GOP’s “Jobs Bill Joke” (and other 2015 LOLs)

Nine million unemployed Americans and six million others who are "not in the labor force" but also want a job will soon see what the new Congress will propose next year as their first "jobs bill" (Hint: It won't be for government jobs or public infrastructure investment — and it will be the GOP's very first bill).

CNN reports that soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) said a measure authorizing construction of the Keystone pipeline will be the very first bill he'll schedule for a vote. McConnell said, "People want jobs. And this project will create well-paying, high-wage jobs for our people."

But TransCanada's website says the Keystone XL pipeline would only create 20,000 jobs for Americans — 13,000 in construction (until it's built) — and 7,000 in manufacturing. But the job estimates listed in their application draws from a 2011 report commissioned by TransCanada that actually estimates 20,000 “person-years”, not 20,000 people. Either way, that's not very many jobs at all.

So what do our prime-age workers have to look forward to? We might expect to see more offshoring with two pending trade agreements: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP), a trade agreement linking the economies of the U.S., Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam and eight other Pacific Rim countries — along with an even bigger trade deal with the European Union: the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

And the new GOP Congress most likely won't pass a new federal minimum wage (which might have put pressure on all employers to raise everyone's wages) which might have allowed service industry employees, part-time workers and "temps" a semi-adequate income to live on.

Also, how will government agencies that protects our workers fare? Will their budgets also be cut like others were in the last spending bill? And on the state level, might we also expect to see more "right-to-work" laws, furthering the GOP's assault on labor unions?

And we also might expect more guestworkers visas (H-1B, etc.) to flood the labor market, putting more Americans out of work and further depressing domestic wages.

A poll released last October by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics found that among 18-to-29-year-olds who had planned to vote in the midterms (meaning: "definite voters", those not hampered by voter suppression laws) 51 percent said they would prefer to see Republicans in control of Congress — while 47 percent favored the Democrats. (They should have been more careful about what they wished for.)

On the question: "How important is the economy in determining which candidate you support in November?" — 77% had answered "important" — but yet, 40% were "not sure" which party they trusted to handle the economy. Maybe they weren't aware that the major U.S. stock markets had, not only regained all their previous losses from the crash of 2008/09, but they also hit many all-time record highs over the last two years. And even the most die-hard "free market" capitalists should realize that "capitalism" also requires "government". So the only question should be: What kind of government do you want? One that protects the rights and economic interests of everyone, or just those of the most rich and powerful?

In a recent interview posted at Reuters, David Kaplan asked former Democratic Congressman Barney Frank, "What do you think of the midterms?"

Answer: "I’m discouraged by more than simply the God-awful turnout. The root of our problem is people who are frustrated because we haven’t produced for them economically. You get into a vicious cycle in which people are disappointed in government because it hasn’t delivered, so they then get mad at government and vote for people who dislike government, which makes it even less likely that government will do anything for them." And this: "The press is very different today. It’s a major contributing factor to the pro-right-wing, anti-government feeling. Because even the liberal press is anti-government."

[Editor's Note: In an article titled Hunger Games Economy by David Cay Johnston, he writes about the new spending bill: "Far too many mainstream journalists help obfuscate the awful truth . . . our leading news organizations cater to economic elites favored by advertisers, and how the current generation of reporters at the best news organizations comes heavily from the upper economic tiers of American society. Reporters and editors whose parents were coal miners, truck drivers and clerks have given way to those with degrees from elite schools, some with trust funds that insulate them from the realities of American life for the vast majority. With that shift comes a predicable change in perspective." I've also noticed that CNN has been leaning a lot more "right" rather than "neutral" as they once were. See my post: Notable Economist Blasts Media Bias. I also touched on this subject in a post about The White House Correspondents Dinner.]

So it appears that a combination of factors had affected the last mid-term election results: voter turnout, apathy, lack of information (or ignorance), poor Democratic messaging and GOP propaganda (e.g. Fox News, SuperPACs and dark money in campaign ads, etc.), which may have all contributed to those Millennials who had voted against their own best economic interests (while also greatly harming the "Silent Majority" in the process).

So it seems that all of the GOP's "anti-government" rhetoric has helped achieved its desired affect. And budget cuts in the sequester didn't help much either. The Institute of Politics' poll showed that 56% of Millennials blamed all members of Congress for the gridlock in Washington, whereas only 22% correctly blamed the Republicans for obstruction (such as filibusters, nominations not approved and bills not brought to the floor for a vote).

This may have left many Millennials with a bad impression of all "government" in general. From the Washington Post: Millennials exit the federal workforce as government jobs lose their allure (by Lisa Rein on December 15, 2014) -- "Six years after candidate Barack Obama vowed to make working for government 'cool again', federal hiring of young people is instead tailing off and many Millennials are heading for the door."

Below are excerpts from the Financial Times: Millennials Rejecting Government Jobs May be Making a Big Mistake (By Eric Pianin on December 16, 2014):

A raft of developments have discouraged or scared away the Millennials — including last year’s government shutdown, periodic furloughs and pay freezes. Still, all of that couldn’t be any worse than the realities for undereducated Millennials who lack the verbal and technical skills to succeed in the workplace. So says The Future of Millennial Jobs, a new report by the Young Invincibles.

The report suggests that despite society’s mind-boggling array of technological advances, young people today have less to cheer about in terms of employment opportunities and advancement than people their age 50 years ago, at the dawn of the computer age.

“The optimistic vision of economic prosperity has been tarnished by severe economic retraction, industry shifts, and ironically, lost jobs due to increased technical efficiency.”

For those young adults fortunate enough to have found employment, their jobs are disproportionately more likely to be part-time, the study shows. About 25 percent of employed 18 to 34-year-olds are working only a part-time position.

What’s more, employers “have shifted towards hiring more part-time and temporary workers in lieu of investing in full-time employees,” the report states. Although contract workers comprise a relatively small sector of the labor market, contract workers have also increased four-fold in the past three decades. Career Builder’s annual jobs forecast claims that 42 percent of employers planned to hire temporary or contract workers in 2014.

“The trends are alarming for young adults who are starting their careers with fewer options than before,” the report concludes. So, with all of that to contend with, a government post many not look so bad after all.

[Editor's Note: And any union job also looks good. But then again, we have GOP politicians corrupting the process. Gov. Bill Haslam and U.S. Sen. Bob Corker were among several Tennessee politicians subpoenaed as part of the United Auto Workers' appeal of the failed union vote at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga.*]

Abraham Lincoln, our first Republican president, had advocated for "a government of the people, by the people, for the people". Today the Democrats are seen as the party of "government" (protecting the poor, the elderly, the disabled and the working-class) — while the Republicans more-or-less represent the "anti-government" (big corporations, big banks and the very rich) — except of course, when it is the GOP itself who is "the government".

The Millennials will certainly have a lot of obstacles going forward in their daily lives — and most likely, for the rest of their lives — because if the GOP ever has their way, young workers today won't have Social Security or a pension to look forward to either (after slaving away for 50 years at low-paying jobs). But the Millennials (the ones who were allowed to vote) got just what they wished for in the last mid-term elections — an "anti-government" government (less oversight, less regulations, more corporate tax dodgers, fewer voting rights, less worker rights, more budget cuts, a weaker safety net, fewer social programs, out-of-control tuition costs, etc., etc., etc.) So --- good luck with that.

There's a difference between "bad" government and "good" government (and/or more or less of either); but "government" itself isn't the problem, it's who we have "governing" the government that also matters. Yes, the Democrats made a HUGE mistake by not focusing more on what would also benefit white working-class Americans. Even former Democratic Congressman Barney Frank said in that recent interview: "We have to persuade white guys that we really do care about their economic interests" --- because most Americans are really "economic populists" --- so it makes less sense for them to "get mad at government and vote for people who dislike government, which makes it even less likely that government will do anything for them."

Millennials would be much better off with FDR's party. But if they believe they'll have a better future with the Tea Party (or no government at all), then good luck with that too. 

* UPDATE: The United Auto Workers qualified for the top tier of a new labor policy at the Volkswagen plant in Tennessee, giving the union its first formal role within a foreign-owned auto plant in the South. Contrats!



Dean Baker vs. Senator Chuck Schumer

From the Washington Post: The Schumer prescription for 2016 (by E.J. Dionne Jr. on December 17, 2014) -- Here’s the heart of Schumernomics: “As technology continues to advance, automation supplants employment across a number of different industries; low-skilled and even high-skilled wage and salary workers lose their jobs to machines. Globalization, enabled by technology, allows businesses and employers to relocate to low-wage markets halfway around the globe — putting downward pressure on wages. While overall, technology has many good effects — making markets more efficient — it cannot be denied it puts a downward pressure on wages." The other part of Schumer’s argument is that only government can expand the bargaining power of the middle class and help it to “adapt to these new forces.”

From the Center for Economic Research: Schumer Should Focus on Keeping Government from Redistributing Income Upward (by Dean Baker on December 18, 2014) -- "The basic story is that technology and trade have displaced large numbers of middle class workers, and thereby redistributed income upward, but government can redress this problem. Every part of this story is wrong ... It is government that increased inequality ... So Dionne and Schumer are right. We need government [but] we need government to stop pursuing policies to give the rich all the money. Unfortunately, Schumer is not talking seriously about the real problem. He is putting on a silly show."

(My note) So it's not just "government" per se, but who runs the government and who decides what the government does for us. One government can allow for the offshoring of our jobs and paying us slave wages — while a different government can prevent this from happening. It's only in my humble opinion that "Third Way" Democrats and "moderate" Republicans (who are beholden to corporate interests) are equally guilty of destroying our middle-class.

nice fall guy

Blame it on automation and technology instead of Dems like Schumer doing their corporate sell out while claiming they are for the middle class. At least some GOP make no pretense on who they represent, the uber rich.

The entire premise that automation is displacing workers belies the 1 million Foxconn employees.

Foxconn workers to be replaced with “Foxbots”

The largest private employer in all of China and one of the biggest supply chain manufacturers in the world, Foxconn announced it will soon start using robots to help assemble devices at its several sprawling factories across China.

Apple, one of Foxconn’s biggest partners to help assemble its iPhones, iPads, will be the first company to use [their robots].

Foxconn said its new “Foxbots” will cost roughly $20,000 to $25,000 to make, but individually be able to build an average of 30,000 devices. The company will deploy 10,000 robots to its factories before expanding the rollout any further.

Even slaves have to be fed

Just thinking of the end game in that robots will be cheaper than paying for the gruel one needs to keep people running. The end game on squeezing labor unabated is none too pretty.

This is "the End Game"

I already imagined what the Top One Percent's "END GAME" would look like...

Technology and Secular Stagnation

Scientific American: How the digital economy could lead to secular stagnation --- "The digitization of the economy may have far-reaching implications for the future of growth and employment ... After 2000, when the first wave of IT investment peaked, the demand for new work in the U.S. declined ... There is much that governments can do to prevent stagnation. They can redistribute income to those with a higher propensity to spend. They can also support investment into industries that might foster more new jobs [other] than digital technologies ... Self-employment might become the new normal. The challenge for economic policy is to create an environment that rewards and encourages more entrepreneurial risk taking. A basic guaranteed income, for instance, would help by capping the downside to entrepreneurial failure while boosting spending and combating inequality."

The New Normal Is Already Here

"Self-employment might become the new normal. The challenge for economic policy is to create an environment that rewards and encourages more entrepreneurial risk taking." says Bud Meyers

Self-employment is about all too many now have. Unfortunately for the vast majority, their intended customer base has little income themselves to purchase any output from such a one.

As for that desired entrepreneur-friendly economic environment, it already exists. All anyone needs to do is check out the tax code, which has so many giveaways for those who take up a side business -the ONLY reason to have ever done AMWAY- they can trim thousands from their taxable income without resorting to exotic or illegal tricks.

But to conduct a self-business to the point one can live on it, requires a cushion of capital. How does one raise that cushion without gainful employment at a good wage? Not from the banks, which require one's detailed economic history to determine eligibility. No good income, no loan.

Many of today's "conservatives" got their starts from the massive spending for WWII. If one had a working lathe or drill press in the shed, one could win a contract to make parts. Some of these start-ups later became large companies with contracts funded by the taxpayers long after the hot war ended and the Cold War took over. Just don't expect any Peace Dividend from those who use their public connections to ensure private profit. In otherwords, what we now have in the US. They got theirs, and you can get lost.

Just to be clear...

"Self-employment might become the new normal. The challenge for economic policy is to create an environment that rewards and encourages more entrepreneurial risk taking."

That was from Scientific American, not Bud Meyers.

everything wrong wtih liberalism in this one column

so 20,000 job years, good paying jobs, are not important ?
schmuck (and I don't use that word lighlty)
why don't you go to gary IN or someplace like that and tell people 5 or 6 or 7,000 high pay jobs are not important

how about, instead of criticizing, an alternative ? nah, that would require actual work

Speaking of ignorance...

Didn't say it wasn't important, said it was pathetic and insufficient.

"We need government [but] we need government to stop pursuing policies to give the rich all the money. "

Here's the solution you asked for. Perhaps they need to type more slowly for you.

Someone doesn't get out much

20,000 jobs created in an area where the job skills don't exist, requiring a move to the Great Plains where XL is to be built. Once XL is completed, there is NO MORE WORK THERE. All these 20,000 people are then to hope that Red State economies will absorb them? I'm very sure Kansas can't care for their own citizens who have lived there for many years much less those transients who came in for the construction. Would they regret having to spend what little they saved across that one year to find another place to alight in hope of gainful employment?

Typical CON radical. A band-aid will fix anything, as long as you got yours.