July 27, 2011
THE MIDWEEK ROUNDUP
The top five posts from the Progressive Policy Institute
America's Coming Infrastructure Crash - Michael Mandel
When President Obama took office in January 2009, he promised that ” to lay a new foundation for growth….we will build the roads and bridges.” And in his 2011 State of the Union address, he promised to “put more Americans to work repairing crumbling roads and bridges.”
But as all attention is focused on the debt ceiling battle, here’s what’s happening on the infrastructure front. Highway, street, and bridge construction jobs through the first five months of 2011 are running 18% below 2007 levels, and the stimulus money is fading. House Republicans are proposing to cut future federal infrastructure funding by roughly one-third. And any defaults among state and local governments would raise borrowing costs for infrastructure bonds across the country and in some cases make the bonds unsellable. Read More...
No Bargain for America - Will Marshall
When you compromise between a good plan and a bad plan, you get a less good plan. So what happens when you compromise between two bad plans? We’re about to find out, as Congress this week tries to reconcile deficit reduction blueprints drawn up by House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
That we are now reduced to fallback House and Senate plans reflects the failure of the nation’s political leadership to rise to the occasion and forge a common approach to solving the debt crisis. Read more…
Like most politically active Americans, the residents of Wingnut World are heavily focused on the debt limit negotiations. Unlike many politically active Americans, hard-core conservatives by and large are just fine with a failure to reach any agreement. In some cases, it’s because they don’t buy the idea that failure to raise the debt limit will cause a default on federal government obligations. The “Full Faith and Credit Act”, introduced some time back by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Club for Growth) and backed by most Tea Party groups, is designed to bolster that case by directing the Treasury to pay creditors, the armed services, and Social Security recipients first if the debt limit is reached (this approach, of dubious legality, would virtually guarantee a major shutdown of unprotected federal programs). Read more…
Gas vs. Gasoline - Bill Budinger
America has a serious oil deficit. We consume almost three times as much oil as we produce. As a result, we send more than $250 billion a year offshore (mostly to our enemies and other bad guys) to import oil so we can keep our trains, planes, and automobiles running.
On the other hand, America now has a huge surplus of natural gas, enough to last us for 100 years or more. If we replaced the oil we import with domestic gas, we could end our energy dependence and stop enriching U.S. adversaries. But rather than convert from oil to gas, plans are afoot to export the gas! Read more…
Misinterpreting Data: How the WSJ Got the Wireless Jobs Story Wrong - Michael Mandel
On July 17 the online edition of the WSJ published a widely-cited story entitled Wireless Jobs Evaporate Even As Industry Expands. The main point of the story (my emphasis):
In May, on the heels of a record year for industry revenue, employment at U.S. wireless carriers hit a 12-year low of 166,600, according to U.S. Labor Department figures released earlier this month. That’s about 20,000 fewer jobs than when the recession ended in June 2009 and 2,000 fewer than a year ago. While the industry’s revenue has grown 28% since 2006, when wireless employment peaked at 207,000 workers, its mostly nonunion work force has shrunk about 20%.”
In addition, the Journal digs further into the official data and claims that:
The number of customer-service workers at wireless carriers dropped to 33,580 last year from 55,930 in 2007, according to the Labor Department
Seems like a pretty straightforward story, doesn’t it? Read more…