Teacher Layoffs Loom Nationwide, DC Restaurants Humming

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.
Some say that “government can’t create jobs.” Others respond “unemployed people can’t create votes.” Meanwhile, conservatives, whose policies put so many people out of work, now say unemployed people are lazy and should not be collecting unemployment benefits.
Washington, DC is the center of a strange Information Deficit Disorder. The restaurants in DC are humming, the median income is really high, the Pentagon contracts are flowing. Seriously, pick a DC-area zip code, say 22314, and go to this site: “Dollar Amount of Defense Contracts Awarded to Contractors in this Zip Code from 2000 to 2009: $7,086,397,848.” Even better, scroll down the page and look at some of the contracts and amounts awarded. So-and-so Consulting, $54,024, 204. So-and-so Associates, $1,698,274. Even better, see how many have the same address. This is just one zip code. There are pages and pages and pages like this for DC-area zip code after zip code. Clearly it is really, really good to be part of the military industry.
So from DC’s viewpoint things are doing mighty fine. One Representative from Pennsylvania actually said the other day, “businesses back home complain that they want to start hiring but are getting few applicants because Congress has repeatedly extended unemployment benefits.” Her district has 10% unemployment. There appear to be 14,900 people unemployed just in the city of Erie, which is in her district. Here are ALL 99 jobs advertised in the local paper.
Maybe this strange DC Information Deficit Disorder explains why hundreds of thousands of teachers are about to be laid off around the country because Congress isn’t interested in acting. Republicans, who want schools privatized, call it a “bailout.” Fox News, Teachers Seek $23b- Lifeline or Bailout?,

Education analyst Lindsey Burke of the Heritage Foundation … questions the wisdom of funneling federal taxpayer funds, in any amount, to the public school system as it is presently structured. [. . .] they dont need another bailout from Washington for public education.

Sen. Harkin’s $23 Billion Teacher Bailout Stalls

Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin’s $23 billion amendment to bailout 300,000 teachers who will otherwise lose their jobs has stalled. “I have no Republicans who want to vote for it,” he told Capitol News Connection. Meanwhile, in the House today, the Secretary of Education and top Democrats in the House struggle to drum up support for the same measure.

It isn’t so good to be part of the teaching profession right now. Or a parent, for that matter. In fact, these days it isn’t so good to be part of almost any profession except military or Wall Street.
I have been attaching the following paragraph to several posts about the jobs emergency:
President Obama has talked about a bold, large scale vision for a new direction for the country. But Congress and the President are getting trapped in austerity budget thinking that won’t allow them to go in the direction of stimulus and helping regular people. If there is to be no money because of an austerity budget then American competitiveness, the economy and the mood of the public can only get worse. Do the DC elites actually believe the public is going to reward this with votes?
NOTE: Part of the America’s Future Now conference in Washington D.C. from June 7-9 will be devoted to strategy on how the progressive movement can fight the deficit cutters. Speakers such as Van Jones, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Howard Dean, AFL CIO President Richard Trumka, Arianna Huffington will offer a build vision for how the progressive movement can rebuild America’s economy and put people back to work. Click here to attend.

Teachers Fired To Pay For Huge Corporate Tax Cut — Why?

This post originally appeared at Speak Out California
I’ve been asking around and it seems that most Californians don’t know that the budget deal that fires so many teachers also has a huge tax cut just for big, multi-state and multi-national corporations.
But it’s true. Last month’s budget deal that fires teachers, cuts essential government services, and guts the investments that bring future economic benefits also has a huge tax cut for the largest of corporations. While this part of the deal has been kept pretty quiet, the LA Times had a story, Business the big winner in California budget plan. From the story,

The average Californian’s taxes would shoot up five different ways in the state budget blueprint that lawmakers hope to vote on this weekend. But the bipartisan plan for wiping out the state’s giant deficit isn’t so bad for large corporations, many of which would receive a permanent windfall.
About $1 billion in corporate tax breaks — directed mostly at multi-state and multinational companies — is tucked into the proposal.

But wait, won’t a big corporate tax cut cause companies to come to California, creating jobs? No, they are already here and it will drive them away, because it is paid for by firing teachers.

A study by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California, released in 2005, found that most companies decide where to locate based not on tax breaks but on factors such as the availability of a highly educated workforce. California’s proposed plan would cut spending on higher education by hundreds of millions of dollars.

So how did this happen? This was part of the deal to get a few Republican votes. And why did the Republicans want this so bad? Because they understood who really elected them.
If you look at the independent expenditure reports for the 2008 California election you’ll see a massive amount of last-minute money. For example, in the 19th Senate District, a political action committee (PAC) named “Californians for Jobs and Education” put almost $1 million into just one race: $570,653 into defeating Democrat Hannah-Beth Jackson, and another $373,778 to help elect her opponent, Republican Tony Strickland. When you look this group up on ElectionTrack you learn that this money came from corporations like Arkansas’ Wal-Mart, Blue Cross of Ohio (Ohio?), Reliant Energy, major real estate companies, and from other PACs.
Now it gets interesting. Many of the contributions to that PAC came from other PACs, especially one called Jobs Pac. When you track down Jobs PAC you find that it is a conduit for huge, huge amounts of money coming from large corporations like Philip Morris, ATT, Chevron, Safeway, Sempra Energy, Verizon, big insurance companies, big pharmaceutical companies, big real estate companies … and other conduits like the Chamber of Commerce.
Why did these huge corporations put so much money into California state elections? Because we let them, and because of the return on investment they receive from tax cuts like the one that is forcing us to fire so many of our teachers.
There is a key lesson to learn from this. When it comes time to choose, that is when you can really see who is for or against something — where their priorities really are. And in this case, when push came to shove, in the end who did the conservatives come through for? The large corporations. They danced with the ones that brung them.
Click through to Speak Out California