mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“The Nature Of His Public Service”: John Boehner’s Plan To Hurt The Country On Purpose

Sequestration cuts, we learned yesterday, continue to undermine the U.S. economy severely, and are quickly losing support of the congressional Republicans who pushed for the policy in the first place. As the GOP budget strategy unravels, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said yesterday the sequester is “unrealistic,” “ill-conceived,” and a policy that “must be brought to an end.”

For now, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) doesn’t give a darn.

Speaker John A. Boehner came before the mics on Thursday, and he made one thing clear: The sequester is here to stay until the White House gets serious about spending cuts.

“Sequestration is going to remain in effect until the president agrees to cuts and reforms that will allow us to remove it,” the Ohio Republican said to reporters in his weekly news conference. “The president insisted on the sequester none of us wanted, none of us like it, there are smarter ways to cut spending.”

It’s frightening how little Boehner understands about this policy. He’s the Speaker of the House, for goodness sake.

First, the president didn’t “insist on the sequester.” That’s just crazy.

Second, if “none of us” want this stupid policy, it’s within Boehner’s power to stop the cuts that are hurting the country on purpose. For reasons that only make sense to him, the Speaker refuses.

Third, Boehner’s argument is that he’ll stop deliberately undermining the country when Obama “agrees to cuts and reforms.” But Obama has already approved $1.5 trillion in spending cuts, and offered Republicans even more. So far, GOP officials have offered no comparable concessions.

And finally, there’s the problem Boehner doesn’t like to talk about: he has no alternative.

In effect, he’s saying, “When Obama agrees to make me happy, I’ll agree to end the pain.” And what would make Boehner happy? He won’t say — Obama is supposed to just offer Republican goodies, in the hopes that the House Speaker will eventually say he’s satisfied and turn off the policy that’s hurting the country on purpose.

Maybe Boehner should take a moment to consider how he defines the nature of “public service.” Does he seriously believe he’s acting in the nation’s best interests by pushing a policy both parties hate and is clearly undermining economic growth and job creation?

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, August 1, 2013

August 2, 2013 Posted by | Sequester, Sequestration | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Largest Share Of The Burden”: Sequestration Forces Cuts To Long-Term Unemployment Benefits For Millions

There’s plenty of talk about how sequestration is hurting some workers, like the government employees facing unpaid furlough days this year. But the cuts are hitting unemployed Americans hard as well, according to one employment rights organization.

A new analysis shows the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program – which provides benefits to long-term unemployed Americans – will be cut by $2.4 billion, impacting millions of unemployed Americans. The National Employment Law Project analysis finds that the EUC program provides an average weekly benefit of $289 before sequestration reductions. Sequestration will take $43, or nearly 15 percent, out of that average weekly check.

However, the monthly benefit cuts will be much steeper in some states, inching above $200 or even $300 per month. Among the states taking the largest chunk out of all long-term unemployed workers’ checks is Maryland, which starting June 30 cut weekly benefits to all recipients by 22.2 percent, or about $72 out of that state’s average benefit of $325. New Jersey also cut benefits by 22.2 percent, or $85 from its average benefit, as of June 30. Montana, meanwhile, cut benefits by 19.6 percent, or $51 per week, starting on May 5.

“[I]t is the workers who have benefited least from the economic recovery who are bearing the largest share of the burden of these domestic sequester reductions,” said the National Employment Law Project in a statement.

States administer their own unemployment insurance programs, providing benefits for up to 26 weeks per worker in most states. Once workers hit that point, they can start to draw on federal programs for long-term unemployed, which provides up to 47 additional weeks of federal benefits.

The reason for the differences in state cuts lies in when states started making the cuts to the federal benefit payments. Sequestration forced cuts to that EUC program, but the government left it up to the states to determine how and when to make those cuts.

In a March advisory to state workforce agencies, the Labor Department directed states to implement reductions quickly, but not every state did.

“The preferred method was the one that most states opted for, which was just to implement as quickly as possible and spread the reduction out over the entire population of individuals who were collecting EUC benefits,” explains George Wentworth, senior staff attorney for the NELP. “The later that the states implemented, that percentage [taken out of checks] increased.”

Though some states cut benefits for all workers, others chose different routes. Some implemented “non-paid weeks” for claimants, while others shortened the number of weeks that the unemployed can receive benefits. A few only cut benefits to new EUC beneficiaries.

Two haven’t done anything yet to make up the shortfall resulting from the sequester. Louisiana and Nevada have yet to cut benefits, which may mean that when they do, their cuts will be all the steeper.

North Carolina’s EUC program ended at the end of June, but those cuts were unrelated to sequestration. That state cut its weekly unemployment benefits, making it ineligible for federal EUC benefits.

While benefits are cut, long-term unemployment remains a persistent problem. Currently, nearly 4.4 million Americans have been unemployed for 27 weeks or longer. That is down significantly from an early 2010 peak of 6.7 million but is far higher than the levels of around 1.1 million seen in the mid-2000s.

 

By: Danielle Kurtzleben, U. S. News and World Report, July 3, 2013

July 8, 2013 Posted by | Sequester, Sequestration | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“More Extreme Weather, Decreasing Capabilities”: Sequester Forces NOAA Satellite Cuts To Save Weather Jobs

There has been mounting concern over the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s mandatory furloughs of National Weather Service employees amidst increasingly severe weather. As a result, NOAA has reportedly submitted a plan to Congress that would restore the jobs at the expense of its weather satellites.

This ‘pay one debt to incur another’ plan is the result of budget cuts mandated by sequestration, which severely threaten the agency’s ability to carry out its key mission by slashing $271 million from its 2013 budget, including a $50 million cut in its geostationary weather satellite program.

After the devastating tornadoes in Oklahoma and Missouri and in preparation for what’s predicted to be an extremely active hurricane season, NOAA’s acting administrator Dr. Kathryn Sullivan announced last week that the agency was cancelling its mandatory furloughs, but provided no details on how it would be offset.

On Sunday evening, Politico reported that the agency has proposed draining the funds from the promising COSMIC-2 satellite program in order to save weather jobs on the ground.

A joint initiative with Taiwan, the COSMIC program began with the launch of six satellites in 2006. As the initial fleet nears the end of its life, COSMIC-2 would launch 12 new satellites into orbit with the capacity to collect and transmit an enormous amount of data that enhance weather forecasts and climate models. According to the program’s website, more than 2373 researchers from 71 countries are registered users of COSMIC data, which are freely available to users in all countries, and 90% of COSMIC soundings are available within three hours of collection.

Whereas most satellites point down toward Earth, COSMIC satellites are unique in that they look across the horizon and monitor radio signals from the dozens of Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites. Since so many soundings are collected continually around the globe — including atmospheric density, pressure, moisture and temperature data from space — COSMIC provides a three-dimensional picture of the diurnal cycle in all types of weather.

This is particularly helpful in collecting data above the oceans, polar regions, and other hard-to-sample areas. According to Nature, COSMIC team members hoped to launch the first six COSMIC-2 satellites in 2016 “to orbit a narrow section of the tropics, gathering data that would reduce uncertainty in measurements of hurricane intensities by 25%, and in those of hurricane tracks by 25–50%”.

As climate change increases the severity of extreme weather across the country, sequester was already jeopardizing NOAA’s ability to provide accurate and advance forecasting of extreme weather events by further delaying the launch of replacements for the agency’s aging geostationary satellites.

While NOAA has yet to make any statement on its plan to avoid furloughs, cutting the COSMIC-2 program to save forecasting jobs does not mean forecasting quality will stay the same — instead, sequester cuts just create more problems elsewhere by undermining the ability to predict and prepare for severe weather in the future.

As Michael Conathan, Director of Ocean Policy at the Center for American Progress explained, “This is not cutting spending to increase efficiency, it’s cutting spending that will decrease capabilities.”

 

By: Kiley Kroh, Think Progress, June 10, 2013

June 13, 2013 Posted by | Sequester | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Sequester Will Help The Economy”: Another Right-Wing Fairy Tale Debunks Itself

Remember all those fearless predictions by the usual grinning idiots on the right about how the sequester was going to work miracles for the economy? Well guess what? That never happened.

I know, I know. I’m trying to recover from the shock.

The sequester took effect on March 1, so we now have three months’ worth of jobs data that have been released in its aftermath. The results have been underwhelming, to say the least. As Brad DeLong observed this week, we are still in a depressed economy. And as Ed noted yesterday, the latest monthly jobs report was thoroughly mediocre.

I particularly wanted to highlight the point the New York Times’ Annie Lowrey made: that the report shows that the sequester is already, specifically beginning to have a negative impact on employment. Yesterday’s report shows that the federal workforce, which has suffered cutbacks due to the sequester, is shrinking at a dramatically accelerated rate:

Federal employment had been on a downward trend since the start of 2011, with the government shedding about 3,000 or 4,000 positions a month through February. Then sequestration hit on March 1. And in the last three months, the federal work force has shrunk by about 45,000 positions, including 14,000 in May alone.

Those newly unemployed federal workers, of course, now have less money to spend, which will also slow down the economy. In addition, the sequester is also causing cuts in programs like unemployment benefits and benefits to low-income people such as aid for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Benefits to the unemployed and low-income folks act not only as a social safety net, but also as stimulus, since poor people and the jobless are likely to spend every penny they’ve got. Now, less of that money will be going into the pockets of those people and thus into the economy at large. That will also hurt the economic recovery, such as it is.

So, for those of you keeping score at home? The right wing/free market fundamentalists/austerity caucus? They are wrong. Again. And once again, they are continuing to drive the economy, and the country, into the ground.

 

By: Kathleen Geier, Washington Monthly Political Animal, June 8, 2013

June 9, 2013 Posted by | Economy, Sequester | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Unmistakable Trend Lines”: Sequestration Can Be Bad For Your Political Health

Since it’s Furlough Friday, a day when by recent tradition conservatives get together to festively celebrate how little across-the-board budget cuts actually affect anyone who matters, some findings from last week’s WaPo/ABC poll, as explained by ABC’s Gary Langer, are perhaps in order:

The federal budget sequester may be dampening a rise in economic optimism: Nearly four in 10 Americans now say sequestration has hurt them personally, up substantially since it began in March – and they’re far less sanguine than others about the economy’s prospects overall.

Thirty-seven percent in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll say they’ve been negatively impacted by the budget cuts, up from 25 percent in March. As previously, about half of those affected say the harm has been “major.”

And as the effects of the sequester spread, the trend lines are unmistakable and cut across partisan and ideological lines:

More Americans continue to disapprove than approve of sequestration, now by 56-35 percent – again, a view influenced by experience of the cuts. Eight in 10 of those who report serious harm oppose the cuts, as do about two-thirds of those slightly harmed. But the majority, which has felt no impacts, divides exactly evenly – 46 percent favor the cuts, vs. 46 percent opposed.

Further, this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, finds that 39 percent overall “strongly” disapprove of the cuts – but that soars to 66 percent of those who say they’ve been harmed in a major way. (Just 16 percent overall strongly approve.) Experience of the cuts even trumps partisanship and ideology: Among Republicans, conservatives and Tea Party supporters who’ve been harmed by the cuts, most oppose them. Support is far higher among those in these groups who haven’t felt an impact of sequestration….

Ideology has an effect: Forty-seven percent of “very” conservative Americans approve of the cuts, as do 42 percent of those who call themselves “somewhat” conservative. It’s 36 percent among moderates and 24 percent among liberals. But again, impacts of the cuts are a bigger factor in views on the issue. Among conservatives hurt by the cuts, 65 percent disapprove of them; among those unhurt, just 34 percent disapprove.

This means, of course, that the strongest constituency for the sequester is “very conservative” voters who have not been personally affected by the cuts. If that sounds like the “conservative base” that exerts a particularly strong influence on Republican lawmakers, maybe we have an explanation for why so many of said lawmakers incautiously chortled about the whole thing being a nothingburger that proved government had plenty of excess fat to shed.

They might want to rethink that position.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, May 24, 2013

May 25, 2013 Posted by | Sequester, Sequestration | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: