Monday, July 1, 2013

Last Call For Unopposed Turtles

Mitch The Turtle finally has a challenger:  Democrat and current Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes announced her candidacy this afternoon for the US Senate.

Lundergan Grimes, 34, said she's "no stranger" to being an underdog and took a shot at McConnell over recent ads mocking her for taking her time to decide on a campaign bid. She said the five-term Republican's ads are "based out of fear" of losing his power in Washington.

She also drew a generational and gender distinction between herself and McConnell, 71, who was first elected to the Senate in 1984.

Lundergan Grimes stressed that she was Kentucky's "only female constitutional officer" and "the youngest secretary of state across the nation that is a female."

"Kentucky is tired of a senior senator who has lost touch with Kentucky issues, voters and their values," she said. 

If you're wondering about the date, it's July 1:  the beginning of a new political campaign fundraising quarter.   Very pragmatic, our Alison.  Very much the daughter of former KY Dem party boss Jerry Lundergan:  it's all about the big checks with the zeroes at the end.

On the other hand, Grimes is right about Mitch the Turtle:  he's been in the Senate for going on 30 years now, and it's time for him to go home.

"I am no stranger to being an underdog. His ads are based out of fear of losing his 30-year grip on power," Lundergan said when asked about McConnell's skills as a candidate. "This Kentucky woman does not believe that the voters of Kentucky will be fooled that easily."

Democrats believe McConnell to be vulnerable, citing polling that shows him to be unpopular in his home state. Facing a difficult Senate map for 2014, with few opportunities for offense, Democrats are touting Kentucky as a possible pickup.

It's going to be a long, ugly battle, but we need this seat.  I said months ago if Lundergan Grimes ran, she'd have my support, and so that point has been reached.  She's going to need the help:  corrupt Mitch the Turtle has $13 million in the bank ready to smear her.

New tag: Alison Lundergan Grimes.

The Company Store Of The 21st Century

Welcome to life as a wage slave in America, folks:  the newest indignity of wringing every buck out of those making the federal minimum wage is companies passing payroll costs for their own paychecks to the employee, by forcing them to get paid through bank-issued debit cards with expensive transaction fees.

For these largely hourly workers, paper paychecks and even direct deposit have been replaced by prepaid cards issued by their employers. Employees can use these cards, which work like debit cards, at an A.T.M. to withdraw their pay. 

But in the overwhelming majority of cases, using the card involves a fee. And those fees can quickly add up: one provider, for example, charges $1.75 to make a withdrawal from most A.T.M.’s, $2.95 for a paper statement and $6 to replace a card. Some users even have to pay $7 inactivity fees for not using their cards. 

These fees can take such a big bite out of paychecks that some employees end up making less than the minimum wage once the charges are taken into account, according to interviews with consumer lawyers, employees, and state and federal regulators. 

Devonte Yates, 21, who earns $7.25 an hour working a drive-through station at a McDonald’s in Milwaukee, says he spends $40 to $50 a month on fees associated with his JPMorgan Chase payroll card. 

“It’s pretty bad,” he said. “There’s a fee for literally everything you do.” 

Certain transactions with the Chase pay card are free, according to a fee schedule. 

Many employees say they have no choice but to use the cards: some companies no longer offer common payroll options like ordinary checks or direct deposit

So after taxes we're talking about people making $200 a week and then having to fork over about 5% to the bank for fees.   Even if you have a bank account, forcing employees to only be paid through these cards is an outright scam, and all it does is enrich the banks at the employee's expense.  Making these cards optional is one thing, but required?  That's awful.

Yet another way we rip off the Americans least able to afford it.  But let's cut taxes on the rich, i'm sure that will fix the problem, right?

The Kroog Versus The Dickensians

Paul Krugman reminds us that North Carolina dropping itself out of federal employment benefits because cuts to unemployment benefits were too steep to meet federal rules is just the latest example of the GOP theory that flogging the unemployed will magically create jobs.

So what’s going on here? Is it just cruelty? Well, the G.O.P., which believes that 47 percent of Americans are “takers” mooching off the job creators, which in many states is denying health care to the poor simply to spite President Obama, isn’t exactly overflowing with compassion. But the war on the unemployed isn’t motivated solely by cruelty; rather, it’s a case of meanspiritedness converging with bad economic analysis. 

In general, modern conservatives believe that our national character is being sapped by social programs that, in the memorable words of Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, “turn the safety net into a hammock that lulls able-bodied people to lives of dependency and complacency.” More specifically, they believe that unemployment insurance encourages jobless workers to stay unemployed, rather than taking available jobs. 

Is there anything to this belief? The average unemployment benefit in North Carolina is $299 a week, pretax; some hammock. So anyone who imagines that unemployed workers are deliberately choosing to live a life of leisure has no idea what the experience of unemployment, and especially long-term unemployment, is really like. Still, there is some evidence that unemployment benefits make workers a bit more choosy in their job search. When the economy is booming, this extra choosiness may raise the “non-accelerating-inflation” unemployment rate — the unemployment rate at which inflation starts to rise, inducing the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates and choke off economic expansion. 

All of this is, however, irrelevant to our current situation, in which inflation is not a concern and the Fed’s problem is that it can’t get interest rates low enough. While cutting unemployment benefits will make the unemployed even more desperate, it will do nothing to create more jobs — which means that even if some of those currently unemployed do manage to find work, they will do so only by taking jobs away from those currently employed

Ding ding ding!   Without actual job creation to make additional jobs for the unemployed to fill, it becomes a zero-sum game.  Republicans are well aware of this, for example, North Carolina's new unemployment laws means that until you are employed making at least the same income you were making when you initially received benefits before you are eligible again.  If you find a lower-paying job and then get laid off (even years later) you're screwed.

Republicans are basically making being poor such an impossible burden that people leave the state and become somebody else's problem.  It's a race to the bottom in the Austerity 500 and nobody wins.


Related Posts with Thumbnails