Drayton's Gazette discusses social and political issues happening around the globe through the eyes of the African American, minority and disaffected communities.

When Will We Stand by V. Lyn

Stand in Support of Wisconsin Employees

When will we stand against corporate domination of our political landscape. When will we as Americans once and for all stand up and realize that the real enemy is the agenda of those Republicans and libertarians like the Koch brothers who control the huge wealth and big corporations who are attempting to diminish the rights, benefits and pay of workers.  When will we wake up and realize that big corporations have an agenda and the agenda is globalization. Assuming global power and control through economic means. Their most recent foray was in the election of Republicans and Tea Baggers to the halls of Congress where their toadies could be put in place and carry out their agenda. Now they are making their next move in the state of Wisconsin. In Wisconsin the governor is attempting to bust the unions under the auspices of getting the budget in line but in reality it is at Corporate dictate.  It is in their interest to bust unions and they are using the Republicans to do it. The chosen methodology being used by republicans is to capitalized on the fear of  the “other” to implement policies that benefit the corporate agenda which boils down to the creation of a two class system. Sounds paranoid…but that doesn’t make it untrue.

Americans need to stand united in solidarity with our fellow citizens in Wisconsin. These men and women are the people who teach our children, the police, fire fighters we call when we need help, they are middle to lower income public workers who are trying to survive, some of whose husbands and wives may be currently unemployed and who are already trying to survive on a too small income. This is not an isolated incident it is a concerted plot to create a two class system in this country. .. rich and poor. And if his methods work in Wisconsin many other Republican governors may take similar stand it  has already happened in Ohio, Indianapolis and Tennessee all states with Republican Governors and remember Speaker John Boehner who wants to cut 61 billion dollars in deficit spending and said on the 16th of february so be it if thousands of government workers had to lose their jobs and join the ranks of the burgeoning ranks of the unemployed, this sentiment was supported by  Representative John Price who said “They found their way into public jobs they can find their way into private jobs”.  In a two class system guess on which side of the demarcation line most of us will fall. In case you are woefully unaware 10s of thousands of people are protesting the proposed extreme budget cuts and the plan which would deny state employees all collective bargaining rights. The new Republican Governor Scott Walker while cutting state workers pay and benefits has instead given tens of millions in direct tax benefits to the wealthy. He is accused of  falsifying figures in order to claim the cuts he’s pushing are intended to “balance the budget” a problem that he created by giving the wealthy a hefty tax break.  In case you don’t see how this action by the Governor of Wisconsin Scott Walker  affects you are are unaware of what unions have done to benefit ALL workers here is a list from a 2003 briefing from the Economic Policy Institute of how unions have impacted us:

(How unions help all workers
Lawrence Mishel Matthew Walters
August 26, 2003

August 2003 | EPI Briefing Paper #143

by Lawrence Mishel and Matthew Walters http://www.epi.org/publications/entry/briefingpapers_bp143/

Unions have a substantial impact on the compensation and work lives of both unionized and non-unionized workers. This report presents current data on unions’ effect on wages, fringe benefits, total compensation, pay inequality, and workplace protections.

Some of the conclusions are:

• Unions raise wages of unionized workers by roughly 20% and raise compensation, including both wages and benefits, by about 28%.

• Unions reduce wage inequality because they raise wages more for low- and middle-wage workers than for higher-wage workers, more for blue-collar than for white-collar workers, and more for workers who do not have a college degree.

• Strong unions set a pay standard that nonunion employers follow. For example, a high school graduate whose workplace is not unionized but whose industry is 25% unionized is paid 5% more than similar workers in less unionized industries.

• The impact of unions on total nonunion wages is almost as large as the impact on total union wages.

• The most sweeping advantage for unionized workers is in fringe benefits. Unionized workers are more likely than their nonunionized counterparts to receive paid leave, are approximately 18% to 28% more likely to have employer-provided health insurance, and are 23% to 54% more likely to be in employer-provided pension plans.

• Unionized workers receive more generous health benefits than nonunionized workers. They also pay 18% lower health care deductibles and a smaller share of the costs for family coverage. In retirement, unionized workers are 24% more likely to be covered by health insurance paid for by their employer.

• Unionized workers receive better pension plans. Not only are they more likely to have a guaranteed benefit in retirement, their employers contribute 28% more toward pensions.

• Unionized workers receive 26% more vacation time and 14% more total paid leave (vacations and holidays).

Unions play a pivotal role both in securing legislated labor protections and rights such as safety and health, overtime, and family/medical leave and in enforcing those rights on the job. Because unionized workers are more informed, they are more likely to benefit from social insurance programs such as unemployment insurance and workers compensation. Unions are thus an intermediary institution that provides a necessary complement to legislated benefits and protections.)

 

 

 

So my question is when will we Americans stand unified against the interest of the Koch brothers, big Corporations and the republicans puppets, and stand for our own, our children, and future generations. When will we  make a concerted show of strength against policies that adversely touch our lives. When will we tell the repubs to cut their  in house Congressional health care program, cut their won salaires and pension plan that gives them 80% of their salary for life after only 5 years vested, why don’t they cut their COLA allowance (cost of living allowance).  The current salary (2011) for rank-and-file members of the House and Senate is $174,000 per year plus their COLA allowance and yet some freshmen congressmen say they have to live in their offices because they can not afford to live in Washington DC yet they think that the average worker should be able to survive on air since they seem to think that minimum wage is ample and that we should pay for our own police and other social services.

As the deficit sky rockets both political parties agree that something needs to be done to get the deficit in line. Where Republicans and Democrats disagree is where those spending cuts ultimately need to be made and how deep those subsequent cuts should be. The proposed cuts by the Obama Administration  are deep and  will adversely affect the poorest and those least able to adjust, children, elderly and of course minorities but they are small and by far the lesser of two evils in comparison to what the Republicans and Tea Baggers desire . The Repubs are playing a manipulative game they want to cut benefits for the American workers, substantially cut funding to education and callously talk about cutting government jobs as Speaker Boehner did when he said ” So be it” and health care for Americans why don’t they start cutting the 43 BILLION dollars in tax breaks to the oil industry can anyone say Koch Brothers.  As a recent New york Times report finds;

“Wichita-based Koch Industries and its employees formed the largest single oil and gas donor to members of the panel, ahead of giants like Exxon Mobil, contributing $279,500 to 22 of the committee’s 31 Republicans, and $32,000 to five Democrats,” the Times reports. Read more of this illuminating article at http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-koch-brothers-20110206,0,4692342,full.story.

While the unemployment rate for America has edged down slightly it is still however  at 9%  and for African Americans it is at an  inconceivable 16%; keep in mind that those stats do not reflect those who have fallen out of the systems radar nor does it reflect the under employed. The poor and many elderly who subsist on social security are continuing to struggle, stretching out their meager pennies for food, housing, prescriptions and transportation, now Middle class American are getting a taste of what many impoverished Americans have experienced and for many on both sides of the economic spectrum due to no fault of their own. Middle class Americans are struggling to survive, threatened by the potential loss of a job, or continued unemployment, rising prices of gas, food, clothing and foreclosures continue; the poor who are often minorities, single parent households, children and the elderly are finding their already dire circumstances have become bleaker. Repubs believe if the poor and unemployed were smarter with their cash, pinched a few dollars here and there they could survive or pay for their needed services, and that those who are currently unemployed would stop sitting back on their lavish unemployment checks they could find a job, (personally I do not think that many people feel that it is a boon to collect the 1440.00 a month that is the monthy unemployment stipend which is the money they have paid in to the government for just this type of difficult economic time). It is an insult to those 99ers, the critically unemployed or under employed, and those who are attempting to drag themselves and their children out of poverty by working menial jobs for minimum wage with few if any benefits to hear the pervasive arrogance and condemnation  from the repubs that had they worked harder, smarter, been less lazy, cut back on their basic living expenses that they would be able to do with out those entitlements that they have worked and paid into. Keep in mind that when you are existing at or below poverty levels there is nothing to pinch. Many of these elderly people have worked their whole lives building America and this is how the repubs and tea baggers want to repay them. In what they choose to call the greatest country in the world…truly great societies do not treat those who are least able to fend for themselves as disposable while taking care of the super rich, at least not while they want to remain great and not fall like all other empires. while advocating for cuts on programs that would assist those in  our society who are not the top 2% The repubs have year after year voted for an additional engine in military planes that the military itself does not want at  the cost of 25 million, ( to read more on this see http://www.f135engine.com/) an engine solely who benefits from this second unwanted engine not the military as each year they request that congress does not budget the money for these engines, so who benefits why are they forced to take engines that they do not want well the state Mccollum represents. Yet the repubs and tea baggers want to cut funding to education in a nation that is already lagging FAR behind many other industrialized countries in education. When even our college students graduate without critical thinking abilities, yet the rich and corporations need tax cuts and tax loopholes because it will generate employment, which has not manifested itself since the Repubulicans and Tea Baggers at corporate bidding pressured Obama into capitulating.

For African Americans because of social stratification and bad economic and purchasing choices are finding themselves sliding out of the ranks of middle class and into the ranks of the poor. A recent program on CNN and reported by Soledad O’Brien  in her on going and revealing  series of programs on Black in America which opens a doorway into the lives of Blacks in America and the issues that afflict us from our point of view stated “One of every three Black families is at risk of falling out of the middle class due to job loss, overspending, unexpected financial crises or other issues.  African Americans lead in every negative economic indicator – including unemployment figures, foreclosure rates, income, debt and other categories.  Although these indicators have worsened for African Americans during the global economic crisis, a recent nationwide Pew Research Center survey on race revealed that African American assessments about the state of Black progress have improved, despite the poor economy.”  As we are often classified middle class simple based on the income we make as noted in the program, and not on the wealth we have, when we lose our jobs we lose our wealth because it is not built on stocks, savings,  or even the equity we have in our homes since they were not passed down to us or we did not have the initial down payment as those in the white race may have the benefit of. When we lose our job for African Americans it is even more devastating and often something we are hard pressed to recovery from, when we lose our jobs we tend to lose everything including our middle class status. Now with the new cuts proposed by the President which would cut over 3 trillion dollars from many programs that help those most in need, the American Dream seems as  elusive as it was in the early years after emancipation. Still sacrifices need to be made to get the deficit under control, yet the ones who seem to have the greatest burden of sacrifice are those who have the least to begin with.  However under the proposed budget cuts by the repubs the wealthy 2%  would continue to benefit by the tax cuts and gaping loopholes that the lobbyist spend millions of dollars a year to repubs to make sure they stay in place. The budget cut that the repubs and tea baggers want to include are the CDC (Center for Disease Control), NNSA (National Nuclear Security Administration), Teach for America, FBI, FAA, Teach for America and Americorp to name a few. What they don’t want to cut is CONGRESSIONAL ENTITLEMENT,- (from Wikipedia) Congressional pension is a pension made available to members of the United States Congress. Members who participated in the congressional pension system are vested after five (5) years of service. A full pension is available to Members 62 years of age with 5 years of service; 50 years or older with 20 years of service; or 25 years of service at any age- and they also do not want to end their OWN CONGRESSIONAL HEALTH CARE. Here is a look at the Congressional Health care benefits if only we had it so good!!! From a  Los Angeles Times article on August 02, 2009| by Mark Z. Barabak and Faye Fiore:

Among the advantages: a choice of 10 healthcare plans that provide access to a national network of doctors, as well as several HMOs that serve each member’s home state. By contrast, 85% of private companies offering health coverage provide their employees one type of plan — take it or leave it.

Lawmakers also get special treatment at Washington’s federal medical facilities and, for a few hundred dollars a month, access to their own pharmacy and doctors, nurses and medical technicians standing by in an office conveniently located between the House and Senate chambers.

In all, taxpayers spent about $15 billion last year to insure 8.5 million federal workers and their dependents, including postal service employees, according to the Office of Personnel Management.

Generous plans are available in private industry. But the federal coverage far surpasses that enjoyed by 70 million Americans who are underinsured and at financial risk in the event of a major health crisis — not to mention the estimated 46 million who have no medical insurance.

“For the average worker, the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan would probably look quite attractive,” said Pete Sepp, a spokesman for the National Taxpayers Union, a pinch-penny advocacy group.

Indeed, a question often surfaces: Why can’t everyone enjoy the same benefits as members of Congress? The answer: The country probably couldn’t afford it — not without reforms to bring costs way, way down.

Given their choices, lawmakers can tailor coverage in a way most Americans cannot. If a child has asthma, for instance, a federal employee might opt for coverage that costs a little more but has a bigger doctor network and lower office-visit fees.

The plan most favored by federal workers is Blue Cross Blue Shield, which covers a family for about $1,030 a month. Taxpayers kick in $700, and employees pay the rest. Seeing a doctor costs $20. Generic prescriptions cost $10. Immunizations are free. There is no coverage limit.

So America I ask once again what exactly will it take for us to stand united?

http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/all/modules/swftools/shared/flash_media_player/player5x2.swf

From The President Budget 2012 http://my.barackobama.com/page/content/president-obamas-2012-budget?gclid=CMf49t3liqcCFRxqgwodCCcVeg

With the worst recession in generations behind us, President Obama has put forward a plan to rebuild our economy and win the future by out-innovating, out-educating, and out-building the rest of the world. But we cannot win the future if we pass a mountain of debt on to our children and our grandchildren.

That’s why the President’s 2012 federal budget takes responsibility for our deficits and puts the nation on a path to live within its means. It’s a responsible approach that cuts wasteful spending and, as so many American families must do every day, it makes tough choices on things we can’t afford. This plan institutes a five-year spending freeze that will reduce domestic spending to its lowest level since the Eisenhower administration.

Over the next decade, it reduces the deficit by more than $1 trillion — two-thirds of it from spending cuts. Through this budget, the President meets his pledge to cut the deficit he inherited in half by the end of his first term.

In addition to responsible spending cuts, the President¹s budget makes targeted investments in America’s incubators of growth: education, innovation, clean energy, and infrastructure. It reforms how Washington does business, putting more federal funding up for competition and reforming government to make it smarter, more effective and better prepared to meet the needs of the 21st century.

President’s 2012 Post:  The President’s 2012 federal budget restores responsibility to government and spending, while still working to help spur private-sector job creation and grow the economy for the long run. Please read below or visit WhiteHouse.gov for more information.

EDUCATION

“When a child walks into a classroom, it should be a place of high expectations and high performance.”
– President Barack Obama
State of the Union address
January 25, 2011
President Obama is committed to improving America’s schools and providing the opportunity of higher educationto any student who wants it. The President’s plan:

  • Continues the maximum Pell Grant award that will help 9 million students afford college.
  • Reforms funding for K-12 schools by raising standards, encouraging innovative teaching techniques, and rewarding success.
  • Expands the Race to the Top concept to encourage competition for success in early-childhood education, school districts, university funding, and education-job training.
  • Trains 100,000 new science, technology, engineering, and math teachers.

INNOVATION

“We’re the nation that put cars in driveways and computers in offices; the nation of Edison and the Wright brothers; of Google and Facebook. In America, innovation doesn’t just change our lives. It is how we make our living.”
– President Barack Obama
State of the Union address
January 25, 2011
Innovation has always been the heartbeat of American industry — and President Obama is committed to strengthening that trend. The President’s plan:

  • Invests $148 billion in research and development and biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health — and more than doubles energy efficiency research and development.
  • Works to put one million electric cars on the road by 2015, double the current share of clean-energy electricity by 2035, and reduce the costs to power buildings. To pay for this, the President is eliminating 12 tax breaks to oil, gas, and coal companies.
  • Simplifies, expands, and makes permanent the research and development tax credit.
  • Creates 20 new Economic Growth Zones, which provide tax incentives to economically-depressed areas to help jump-start investment and employment.

INFRASTRUCTURE

“America is the nation that built the transcontinental railroad, brought electricity to rural communities, constructed the Interstate Highway System. The jobs created by these projects didn’t just come from laying down track or pavement. They came from businesses that opened near a town’s new train station or the new off-ramp.”
– President Barack Obama
State of the Union address
January 25, 2011
President Obama’s plan details his commitment to helping rebuild America— to improving roads, bridges, trains, buildings, high-speech Internet access, and the crucial types of infrastructure that enable economic growth. His plan:

  • Creates jobs in the short term with a $50 billion investment to establish a National Infrastructure Bank to support important building projects and bring high-speed rail to 80 percent of Americans in the next 25 years.
  • Builds a wireless broadband network that will bring high-speed Internet to 98 percent of Americans, and establishes a network for public safety.

FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY

“I’m willing to eliminate whatever we can honestly afford to do without. But let’s make sure that we’re not doing it on the backs of our most vulnerable citizens. And let’s make sure that what we’re cutting is really excess weight. Cutting the deficit by gutting our investments in innovation and education is like lightening an overloaded airplane by removing its engine.”
– President Barack Obama
State of the Union address
January 25, 2011
Having inherited a massive budget deficit, President Obama is dedicated to finally balancing the government’s checkbook. The President’s budget:

  • Freezes non-security discretionary spending for five years to reduce the deficit by over $400 billion and bring spending to its lowest level since President Eisenhower.
  • Cuts government infrastructure programs with an uncertain record of success and those programs the government simply can no longer afford.
  • Reduces Pentagon spending over the next five years, bringing defense spending down to zero real growth — including spending related to Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • Patches the Alternative Minimum Tax for three years so that middle-class families aren’t hit with a crippling tax increase. This is paid for by limiting deductions for high-income earners.
  • Works with Congress to simplify the tax system, eliminate special-interest loopholes, level the playing field, and reduce corporate taxes for the first time in 25 years — all without adding to the deficit.

From Climate Progress Blog http://climateprogress.org/category/clean-energy-jobs-bill/

GOVERNMENT REFORM

“Government has a responsibility to spend the peoples’ money wisely, and to serve the people effectively. I will work every single day that I am President to live up to that responsibility, and to transform our government so that is held to a higher standard of performance on behalf of the American people.”
– President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
April 25, 2009
From

Cutting where we should be investing

This cross-post is by CAPAF’s Daniel J. Weiss and Kate Gordon.

President Barack Obama’s State of the Union on January 25, 2011, waved the green flag for innovation and competition in the clean-tech sector. He proposed a number of programs to speed the development and manufacturing of domestic energy efficiency and renewable energy sectors to help American businesses race with their Chinese, German, and other competitors.

But before the president’s proposals had completed their initial laps in Congress, the Republicans’ proposed House “continuing resolution” (or spending bill) for the remainder of fiscal year 2011 waves the yellow caution flag that they would slow down—if not outright halt—the promise of America’s clean-tech revolution and all the ensuing companies and jobs it would create.

 The proposed bill would slash clean-tech and energy investments by nearly 30 percent, devastating this growing but immature industry that struggled during the Great Recession. The House Appropriations Committee majority brags that it “cuts climate change funding bill-wide by $107 million, or 29%, from the fiscal year 2010 enacted level.” The proposed budget includes many other cuts that would harm innovation, the economy, and public health (see table).

The previous 111th Congress passed a continuing resolution that would fund nearly all of the federal government through March 4, 2011. The proposed House GOP spending bill would fund the government for the remainder of FY2011, which ends September 30, 2011. The House Appropriations Committee majority claims its bill would cut spending by more than $100 billion between now and October 1. And clean energy, one of the great hopes for American global competitiveness, is one of its biggest targets.

The proposed budget bulldozes the building blocks of clean-tech innovation and economic growth. It would slash spending for science, information, research and development, infrastructure, job training, efficiency, domestic manufacturing, solar and wind power, and transit options that could help reduce our oil dependence. Here are the details.

Science: The truth is out there but we’re not going to look

The proposed budget would slash funding for scientific study of our atmosphere and the consequences of the past 150 years of massive carbon-dioxide pollution on our climate. Some representatives seek a $379 million cut in NASA’s programs to study climate change from space that would deprive scientists of essential knowledge about our increasingly chaotic climate. The bill would also devastate America’s clean energy and other scientific research by cutting the Department of Energy’s Office of Science by 18 percent.

Information: Ignorance is bliss

In addition to flattening funding for scientific investigation, the House Republicans’ proposed spending bill would devastate the federal government’s ability to study, understand, and communicate vital information about our changing energy sector. It would cut the Department of Energy’s independent Energy Information Agency by nearly one-sixth. EIA is the preeminent collector and disseminator of vital statistics and projections of energy production, consumption, and pollution.

The budget also would wipe out the “Greenhouse Gas Registry” that collects data on companies’ carbon-dioxide pollution. These two cuts would save a paltry $25 million. For comparison, this is just one-twentieth of the $500 million spent on military bands in 2010. The large congressional climate science denier caucus clearly believes that ignoring the problem will make it go away.

Research and development: Keep inventors in their garages

Venture capitalist John Doerr, an early investor in Google Inc. and other companies, worries we are falling behind in the clean energy race because investments in R&D are completely inadequate to drive innovation and growth:

America spends only about $5 billion—about half a percent—per year on new energy R&D. … America spends more on potato chips than we do on our new energy R&D.

An essential element of innovation and competition is to nurture new technologies so they can be built and commercialized. Many inventions require continued investment across the technology innovation cycle—from invention at the federal labs and publicly sponsored universities, to public-private partnerships aimed at commercializing and licensing new technologies, to technical assistance to make our manufacturers the most advanced and efficient in the world. Finally, new technologies need market demand to help bring them to scale.

The House Republican spending bill slashes key elements of this invention support system, including the Economic Development Administration. One of its programs, the Energy Regional Innovation Cluster program, focuses on fostering regional partnerships to discover and develop breakthroughs in invention, commercialization, and deployment of clean energy technologies. Next fiscal year, the budget would also halt the low-carbon technology efforts of the DOE’s Loan Programs that are essential to support investment in clean energy technologies, including renewables and nuclear. In 2010, the Loan Programs Office was the world’s largest renewable energy projects financier. Without this office and the credit subsidies required to execute its mandate, many leading clean energy companies will struggle to overcome the industry’s “valley-of-death” financial gap to fully commercialize their technologies at scale.

In addition to these breakthrough programs, American prowess in innovation also depends on a strong advanced manufacturing sector to translate new ideas into marketable products. This leads to ongoing engineering improvements that generate second and third waves of innovation. The House Republicans’ budget undermines both sides of this innovation equation by slashing the budget of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which houses both the Technology Innovation Program and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership.

The first program fosters public-private partnerships to develop new technologies. The second program works with mostly small- and mid-sized manufacturers to help them become more energy efficient and to access new markets, including emerging clean energy markets. Without investments in research, development, commercialization, and manufacturing, the United States stands poised to become the clean energy consumer of the future, not its inventor, manufacturer, and exporter.

Infrastructure: Keep the lights on?

The American Society of Civil Engineers produced a 2009 “Report Card for America’s Infrastructure,” grading key infrastructure segments. Energy received a “D+,” partly due to our aging and inadequate transmission system. ASCE determined that:

The U.S. generation and transmission system is at a critical point requiring substantial investment in new generation, investment to improve efficiencies in existing generation, and investment in transmission and distribution systems.

The proposed House spending bill ignores these infirmities and instead cuts funding for “Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability” by one-fifth. This disinvestment in our electricity infrastructure will undermine performance and reliability.

Green job training: Who needs new jobs?

The worldwide clean-tech market should expand to $2.3 trillion by 2020. To compete in the global clean energy race, America must take a page from China’s playbook and begin to seriously train our workers in key skills like engineering and science, as well as in trades such as machining, welding, and pipefitting. This is critical for our future competitiveness, as well as essential if we are to keep our existing lights on and electricity flowing through the transmission grid. Fully half of America’s utility workforce is expected to retire in the next decade.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 made a down payment on the future competitiveness and job readiness of America’s workers by investing $500 million to train people for existing jobs in weatherization, retrofitting, and the utility trades, as well as investing in science, technology, engineering, and math education, and related training for the clean energy jobs of the future. The House Republican spending bill would slash all job-training funds in half, leaving us ill prepared to compete with workers in other nations, whether in clean energy sectors or in other growing industries such as health care and telecommunications.

Oil: Let’s import more foreign oil!

ASCE included passenger and freight rail in its report card and gave the rail system a “C-.” It concluded that new investments in rail systems could:

Alleviate growing freight and passenger congestion experienced by other modes of transportation. In addition, rail is a fuel efficient alternative for moving freight long distances.

Anticipated growth over the coming decades … will tax a rail system that is already reaching capacity in some critical bottlenecks. A substantial investment in rail infrastructure will maximize efficiencies and ultimately reap broad benefits.

Yet the proposed House spending bill would cut existing rail by slicing one-tenth of Amtrak’s budget. It would also zero out funds for high-speed rail, even though our global competitors in China and the European Union have invested heavily in high-speed passenger rail to move people quickly between cities, cut air pollution from air and car travel, and free up regular rail corridors for freight rail.

Energy efficiency: Waste not, watt not

Thrift used to be a conservative value but apparently that is no longer so. The proposed House GOP budget would decimate investments in energy efficiency, cutting funding for these vital programs by more than one-third. This is penny wise but pound foolish since investments in efficiency actually lower electricity bills and ultimately save more money than they cost.

The budget would also eliminate funds for EPA’s “Energy Star” program that informs consumers about energy-efficient products and practices. In 2009 it helped consumers save nearly $17 billion on their utility bills.

Renewable energy: Out of the running?

The United States used to lead the pack in the invention and manufacturing of clean energy technologies such as pioneering breakthroughs in PVC solar. Over the past decade we were lapped by other nations due to their pro-renewable investment and energy policies. The United States ranks 11th among the G-20 nations in “clean energy investment intensity,” or clean energy investments per unit of gross domestic product. President Obama is determined to gain ground so we can compete with China, Germany, and other nations. To accomplish this goal, we invested billions of dollars in clean tech under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The GOP budget would dramatically disinvest in the solar, wind, wave, geothermal, and other renewable technologies that enabled the United States to get back in the clean energy race. It would cut funds for clean tech by nearly $800 million. Meanwhile, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke reports that China invests almost $12 billion monthly into its renewable-energy sector: “They’re doing this because they really want to be the world’s supplier of clean energy and they recognize this will support millions of jobs.”

EPA: Taking the health cops off the beat

The Environmental Protection Agency is the federal watchdog to protect Americans from air, water, and land pollution that threatens public health and the environment. In addition to designing such public health safeguards, it cooperates with states to enforce these laws. They are defenders of public health from cancer-causing and other hazardous pollutants spewed from industrial facilities.

The proposed House budget would devastate EPA’s ability to protect our health. It would remove public health cops from the beat while making it harder to adopt new protections too. It would also cut funds for states that help them enforce these health protections. The result of these huge cuts will be more violations, more pollution, and more illnesses. These cuts could spark massive environmental law breaking.

LIHEAP: Stay warm by shivering

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, is a lifeline for seniors and others who cannot afford high electricity bills. By providing this assistance, people in the dawn, dusk, or shadows of life do not have to choose between eating, taking medicine, or staying warm.

The House GOP budget would cut money for the LIHEAP emergency fund by $200 million, or one-third of current funding. This could force low-income families to make the horrible choices described above. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) made it clear that the GOP will proceed with steep cuts in this vital assistance. This is shameful for the richest nation in the world.

President Obama also proposed deep cuts in LIHEAP, which is a shameful act in the midst of the worst economy in 80 years.  Unfortunately, the President ignored Sen. John Kerry’s (D-MA) letter beseeching him to fund this vital service.

In the middle of a brutal, even historic, New England winter, home heating assistance is more critical than ever to the health and welfare of millions of Americans, especially senior citizens. … I request that the administration preserve LIHEAP funding at least to the Fiscal Year 2010 funding at $5.1 billion when it submits its FY12 budget proposal to Congress.

Conclusion

President Obama reminded Congress during his State of the Union that the United States faces a real innovation challenge from China, Germany, and other nations, much as it did in 1957 as the Soviet Union rocketed ahead of us in space exploration.

When the Soviets beat us into space with the launch of a satellite called Sputnik, we had no idea how we would beat them to the moon. The science wasn’t even there yet. NASA didn’t exist. But after investing in better research and education, we didn’t just surpass the Soviets; we unleashed a wave of innovation that created new industries and millions of new jobs.

This is our generation’s Sputnik moment. Two years ago, I said that we needed to reach a level of research and development we haven’t seen since the height of the Space Race. And in a few weeks, I will be sending a budget to Congress that helps us meet that goal. We’ll invest in biomedical research, information technology, and especially clean energy technology—an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people.

Instead of proposing a budget that invests in future clean-tech jobs, the proposed House Republican budget turns back the clock to the Bush administration era when there was relatively little investment in clean tech and other countries began to lap us. The proposed House GOP spending bill for the remainder of 2011 would strangle clean-tech innovation, competitiveness, and economic growth.

Their proposed disinvestments in energy efficiency and renewable technologies and their disruption of business assistance and job-training programs would wave the white flag of surrender in the international race to lead the clean-tech industry in the 21st century. Americans should know that House Republican leaders want to force our best innovators, business people, and investors into an endless pit stop while we watch another nation cross the finish line first.

 
 
 

http://appropriations.house.gov/_files/ProgramCutsFY2011ContinuingResolution.pdf

http://www.nytimes.com/packages/html/newsgraphics/2011/0119-budget/

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