My new book - Dumbing Down the Courts: How Politics Keeps the Smartest Judges Off the Bench, You can click on the above picture to be linked to Amazon.
Welcome! Follow me on twitter at @johnrlottjr . Please e-mail questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Department of Energy Rushes through another $5 billion in so-called "Green-energy" loan guarantees
Well, so much for Solyndra getting the government to rethink their ability to give out loans. From Politico:
The Energy Department's clean-energy loan guarantee program went out with a nearly $5 billion flourish Friday. And it's not over yet.
The embattled department announced approvals for a total of more than $4.7 billion in guarantees Friday — acting hours before the program's congressional authorization was set to expire, and seeming not at all like an agency cowed by the furor over its troubled $535 million loan guarantee to Solyndra.
The frenzy set off even more financial dealing, as three of the DOE-backed projects were immediately snapped up in announced acquisitions by NextEra Energy, NRG Energy and Exelon Corp.
As of 6 p.m., DOE had yet to announce whether it was approving or rejecting two more conditional loan guarantees on which it must act before midnight.
Among the day's developments, DOE awarded:
* A total of $2.1 billion in guarantees for two California projects developed by First Solar Inc., which promptly announced it was selling both ventures — one to Exelon, one to NextEra.
* A $1.2 billion guarantee for a California photovoltaic solar plant under construction by SunPower Corp. NRG immediately announced it was buying that project, although NRG said the acquisition occurred “immediately prior” to the closing of the guarantee.
* A $1.4 billion guarantee for Project Amp, an effort to put solar panels on warehouse rooftops in up to 28 states and the District of Columbia.
Friday's total is in addition to more than $1.2 billion in guarantees that the department issued earlier in the week. . . .
The new Alabama law shows that illegals respond to incentives. Will the schools look at those who started not showing up to school after the judge's decision? From the Associated Press:
Education officials say scores of immigrant families have withdrawn their children from classes or kept them home this week, afraid that sending the kids to school would draw attention from authorities. There are no precise statewide numbers. But several districts with large immigrant enrollments -- from small towns to large urban districts -- reported a sudden exodus of children of Hispanic parents, some of whom told officials they planned to leave the state to avoid trouble with the law, which requires schools to check students' immigration status. The anxiety has become so intense that the superintendent in one of the state's largest cities, Huntsville, went on a Spanish-language television show Thursday to try to calm widespread worries. . . .
Murder and violent crime rates were supposed to soar after the Supreme Court struck down gun control laws in Chicago and Washington, D.C. Politicians predicted disaster. "More handguns in the District of Columbia will only lead to more handgun violence," Washington’s Mayor Adrian Fenty warned the day the court made its decision.
Chicago’s Mayor Daley predicted that we would "go back to the Old West, you have a gun and I have a gun and we'll settle it in the streets . . . ." The New York Times even editorialized this month about the Supreme Court's "unwise" decision that there is a right for people "to keep guns in the home."
But Armageddon never happened. . . .
UPDATE: Still getting read by late Sunday afternoon. UPDATE: Very early Wednesday morning the piece was still generating traffic.
Solyndra got more money even when it was in bankruptcy
Is there a pattern here? Last year the Obama administration gave Solyndra more money even when they were technically bankrupt. This year they get more money even when they are bankrupt. From the Washington Post:
Energy Secretary Steven Chu acknowledged Thursday making the final decision to allow a struggling solar company to continue receiving taxpayer money after it had technically defaulted on a $535 million federal loan guaranteed by his agency.
Chu spokesman Damien LaVera said in a statement that the secretary approved the restructuring agreement for Solyndra because it gave the company “the best possible chance to succeed in a very competitive marketplace and put the company in a better position to repay the loan.”
Also Thursday, a law enforcement official confirmed that the criminal probe of Solyndra is focused on whether the company and its officers misrepresented the firm’s finances to the government in seeking the loan or engaged in accounting fraud. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the probe.
On the political front, Chu’s admission came as some members of Congress were asking whether Chu went too far in trying to help the company before it went into bankruptcy, leaving taxpayers on the hook for the loan.
Chu, a Nobel laureate and physicist who came to the administration from academia, arrived in Washington with a mandate to push billions of dollars in stimulus funds into clean-energy companies and projects. With keen White House interest, Chu rode herd over an $80 billion showcase initiative that was supposed to spur a new “green” industry and economic growth.
Solyndra was the first company approved for a loan guarantee under the Obama administration; its application originated several years earlier during George W. Bush’s presidency. Early on, there were concerns about Solyndra’s finances, but the company was still endorsed by President Obama and received high-profile support from Chu. Both visited the firm at different press events. Chu flew to California to announce the loan approval at the groundbreaking for a $750 million factory that was built mostly with funds from the loan. . . .
Bernanke correctly upset about long-term unemployment a national crisis, but doesn't blame the right people for the problem
Bernanke is right that unemployment is a “national crisis." The 45 percent rate that he is concerned about has been true for a long time since March 2010. But he makes no mention of the role of very long term unemployment insurance in causing the problem. From the Washington Post:
Bernanke noted that about 45 percent of the unemployed have been out of work for at least six months. “This is unheard of,” he said in a question-and-answer session after a speech in Cleveland. “This has never happened in the post-war period in the United States. They are losing the skills they had, they are losing their connections, their attachment to the labor force.” He added: “The unemployment situation we have, the job situation, is really a national crisis.” Bernanke said the government needs to provide support to help the long-term unemployed retrain for jobs and find work. And he suggested that Congress should take more responsibility. Responding to a question, Bernanke said long-term unemployment, budgetary discipline and housing policy were the three most important areas where Congress could contribute to an economic recovery. . . .
“Employers are acting in their best interest” when they’re apprehensive about hiring someone with dated references, author Holland said. “Their job is to reduce their risk of hiring the wrong person,” he added. “The applicant has to convince the potential employer they are the right applicant.” . . .
Jobs cause a conflict between unions and environmentalists: recognizing that regulations cost jobs
This is one place where unions and environmentalists don't mix. Private sector unions have different interests than public sector unions, and it is somewhat surprising that the two groups haven't separated from each other. From Fox News:
Nebraska is the site of the the most intense debate over the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, a project so controversial, State Sen. Ken Haar stood Tuesday before State Department officials and said, “You don’t give a damn about Nebraska.” Haar was cheered loudly. TransCanada wants to build the 1,600-mile oil pipeline from the oil-rich Canadian province of Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast. The multibillion-dollar construction project will bring much more Canadian oil into the U.S., but more important to labor unions, it’ll bring jobs. “A lot of our members are losing houses," says Ron Kamininski, business manager of Laborers Local 1140. “They’re losing their vehicles. ... It’s a struggle to keep food on the table.” To Kaminski and so many other in the building trades, Keystone XL means work. "We’re ready to employ 13,000 Americans on the construction and employ 7,000 manufacturing workers,” TransCanada Vice President Robert Jones said. “The pumps are going to be made in Oregon. The motors are in Ohio. The pipe in Arkansas. So all of America is going to be impacted by this project.” This comes at a time when the national unemployment rate lingers above 9 percent, but not everyone thinks the pipeline is worth the environmental costs. . . .
Put this in the possibly irrelevant column: Christopher Christie’s views on guns in 1995
PolitickerNJ has this old article on Christie's views on one gun issue. It may not be relevant today given that he has hardly spoken out much on this issue since then. There are also other issues than guns.
One hint on U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie’s political ideology comes from his 1995 campaign for the State Assembly, when he attacked two other candidates, Anthony Bucco and Michael Patrick Carroll, for supporting a repeal of the ban on assault weapons. A reader sent PolitickerNJ.com a copy of the mailer from that campaign after Matt Friedman’s story on conservatives wanting to know where the federal prosecutor stands on some state issues.
Christie's position won't hurt him as a general election candidate in a state where polls over the last decade have constistently demonstrated support for an assault weapons ban. His exposure is in the GOP primary against former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan, a staunch advocate of the Second Amendment. . . .
Ryan cited the unintended consequences that employer-paid health care plans have delivered: "The system that shields us from the cost of services has actually left us paying much, much more."
On the same day, the Kaiser Family Foundation released a report that bolstered Ryan's argument. Over the past year, average annual cost for employer-sponsored health care plans rose 9 percent. Premiums have more than doubled since 2001. The average annual premium is now $15,073 per family -- and that doesn't include out-of-pocket payments.
With premiums rising higher than inflation, those numbers are biting into workers' paychecks. And there's little employers can do other than raise employee contributions from an average of $1,787 per family 10 years ago to $4,129 today.
The Affordable Care Act, signed by President Barack Obama, was supposed to rein in runaway health care costs. How's that going? Not as advertised. Even before the ACA takes full effect in 2014, today's mandates -- such as a requirement that employers offer coverage for adult children up to the age of 26 and that some plans provide free preventive care -- must be a factor in the cost spurt. The Kaiser report estimates that 2.3 million adult children were added to their parents' employer-sponsored plans because of the law.
Democrats complain about employers choosing to sit on their money and not hire. But their health care mandates serve as a tax on hiring workers.
It can only get worse. As providers consolidate, consumers' options decrease. Ryan told reporters after his talk that he sees a future in which, as with utilities, there are a mere "handful" of providers. That can't be good for consumers. . . .
The speed limit on Britain’s motorways looks set to increase to 80 miles per hour - the first time it has gone up since 1965. Philip Hammond, the Transport Secretary, will launch a consultation later this year, with the change likely to take place in 2013. The Government claims that as many as 49 per cent of drivers currently flout the 70mph limit, and they argue raising the limit to 80mph would mean that millions of otherwise law-abiding motorists would be brought back inside the boundary. The coalition argues that technological advances mean that cars are significantly safer than they were - contributing to a fall of more that 75 per cent in the number of people killed on British roads since 1965. Mr Hammond said: “Britain’s roads should be the arteries of a healthy economy and cars are a vital lifeline for many. Yet for years Labour’s shortsighted and misguided war on the motorist unfairly penalised drivers. “So it is time for action – which is why this Government has already scrapped the M4 bus lane, cut central government funding for money-making speed cameras and announced new measures to crack down on boy racers and reckless drivers while standing up for the decent majority. “Now it is time to put Britain back in the fast lane of global economies and look again at the motorway speed limit which is nearly 50 years old, and out of date thanks to huge advances in safety and motoring technology. “Increasing the motorway speed limit to 80 mph would generate economic benefits of hundreds of millions of pounds through shorter journey times. So we will consult later this year on raising the limit to get Britain moving.” . . .
Janeane Garofalo: Republicans support Herman Cain and Sarah Palin to hide their racist, anti-female views
This is actually pretty funny. Racist Republicans and Tea Party members support a black man BECAUSE they are racist.
Janeane Garofalo: "Herman Cain is probably well liked by some of the Republicans because it hides the racist elements of the Republican party. Conservative movement and tea party movement, one in the same.
"People like Karl Rove liked to keep the racism very covert. And so Herman Cain provides this great opportunity say you can say 'Look, this is not a racist, anti-immigrant, anti-female, anti-gay movement. Look we have a black man.'"
"African-Americans have been brainwashed into not being open minded, not even considering a conservative point of view. I have received some of that same vitriol simply because I am running for the Republican nomination as a conservative. So it's just brainwashing and people not being open minded, pure and simple," presidential candidate Herman Cain (R-GA) said on CNN.
The three federal courts of appeal that have issued decisions on the law so far have all reached different conclusions, with one upholding it, a second — the 11th Circuit— striking it down in part, and a third saying that threshold legal issues barred an immediate ruling. A fourth challenge to the law was heard last week by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
The views of the appeals court judges have not uniformly tracked the presumed views of the presidents who appointed them. Judge Jeffrey S. Sutton, appointed by President George W. Bush, joined the majority in a 2-to-1 decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in Cincinnati, which upheld the law. Judge Frank M. Hull of the 11th Circuit was appointed by President Bill Clinton and was an author of its majority opinion. . . .
My guess is that who appointed a Supreme Court Justice does a better job of predicting how they will vote than who appointed a Circuit Court judge. The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit case has two Republican appointees and one Democrat hearing it.
Obama administration restructured Solyndra's loan even though it was in technical default
The WSJ article here makes it sound as if the government might have an out here because Solyndra violated the terms of its agreement over the loan. The big problem is that the government apparently knew this and restructured the loan to keep Solyndra going even after it was in in technical default. Even worse, the restructuring the loan made it so that the government took a riskier position in the loan that it gave out. From the WSJ:
The failed solar-panel maker, which is under numerous criminal and congressional investigations, ran so short of cash in December 2010 that it was unable to satisfy certain terms of its U.S. loan agreement, these people said. The agreement required Solyndra to provide $5 million in equity to a subsidiary building its factory but cash-flow problems prevented those payments.
The Energy Department ultimately restructured the loan agreement to help keep the company afloat and Solyndra continued to draw money from its loan.
Solyndra's cash-flow problems in late 2010 had previously come to light but it was not known that the company technically defaulted on its loan and violated its agreement with the U.S. government.
The company's financial problems prompted the Energy Department early this year to allow it to reshuffle its debt. Under the arrangement, private investors agreed to provide a new $75 million loan and won the right to be paid ahead of the government if the company was liquidated.
The default is the latest indication of the serious financial troubles afflicting California-based Solyndra, which filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this month. It will likely add to questions surrounding the Obama administration's backing for the company even as its financial problems mounted. . . .
Sitting at the center of the Solyndra scandal is an off-balance-sheet bank at the Treasury Department that dates back to 1973. This little-known government bank, the Federal Financing Bank [FFB], had a zero balance in 2008 for green energy projects, but now, with little Congressional oversight, it is giving out billions of dollars in loans to White House pet projects often at dirt-cheap interest rates below 1%. In July alone, the government bank, which had $61 billion in assets, lent nearly three quarters of a billion dollars in taxpayer funds with no Congressional checks and balances. Plus the bank is funding the insolvent U.S. Post Office; the White House’s expensive green car projects at Ford Motor, Nissan and Tesla Motors; a $485 million loan to an expensive solar project that’s lost $160 million over the last three years that’s backed by Google . . . ; plus the FFB is funding the teetering HOPE housing bailout program, which gives delinquent mortgage borrowers breaks on their loans. And according to KPMG’s audit report of the bank, the FFB is losing billions of dollars in taxpayer money because it is forgoing collecting interest costs on already inexpensive loans that are financing projects at agencies like the Agriculture Dept. What’s scary for taxpayers is this: The FFB can borrow unlimited amounts of taxpayer money from the Treasury for these kinds of political pet projects. Under the 1973 “FFB Act, the bank may, with the approval of the Secretary, borrow without limit from the Treasury,” says the bank’s audited statements from KPMG. The Treasury Department’s inspector general is now investigating the bank over its $528 million loan to Solyndra. FFB’s chairman of the board is Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, and the bank’s board executives are Treasury officials. Who is getting the FFB’s green energy money? . . . . . . Solyndra was still getting loans from the FFB up until it filed for bankruptcy. It got $3 million in loans at a 0.89% rate just a month and a half before it filed for bankruptcy protection. The FFB is also giving loans to risky solar companies as well as to a money-losing solar energy outfit backed by companies such as Google . . . that has spilled $160 million in red ink for the last three years. In the month of July alone, the FFB gave a $12.5 million loan to Abound Solar; 60% of Abound's balance sheet will come from federal taxpayers, or $400 million in guaranteed federal loans. FFB also gave a $117,330 loan to the struggling Kahuku Wind Power and more than $77 million to the Solar Partners companies, which are due $485 million in White House approved loans. The Solar Partners companies are units of BrightSource Energy, which is building a massive solar-powered energy plant near the Mojave Desert in San Bernardino, California. BrightSource lost $45 million in 2008, $44 million in 2009, and $72 million in 2010, even though it has rich backers that include Google . . . . Besides the green energy projects, the FFB provides a backdoor government bailout of the US Post Office, which has been spilling red ink. The FFB has lent the US Post Office so far $12.6 billion. The Post Office faces an estimated $10 billion shortfall this year . . . And the government bank gave loans to car and car parts manufacturers to retrofit their plants to make green cars. The FFB lent Ford Motor $163 million for its green car programs. The FFB is now financing projects at Fisker Automotive, Nissan North America and Tesla Motors, with $528.6 million, $1.4 billion and $465 million in federal loans, respectively. . . .
For Tesla, "It lost $55.7 million in 2009, $154.3 million in 2010, and $108 million for the first six months of 2011." The weaknesses behind pushing electric cars is discussed here.
So much for Obamacare controlling the price of health insurance
Insurance premiums have grown at a much faster rate after the reform changes have started to kick in. From the Financial Times:
Insurance premiums for family health benefits in 2011 jumped 9 per cent from a year ago to $15,073, according to a study released on Tuesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation. That represented a sharp acceleration from 2010, when premiums rose by a modest 3 per cent, and easily outpaced a 2 per cent rise in wages. “This year’s 9 per cent increase in premiums is especially painful for workers and employers struggling through a weak recovery,” said Drew Altman, Kaiser’s chief executive. Health insurance premiums have more than doubled during the past decade and, although the survey reveals some of the early impact of the law, it does not provide reasons for the increase. Kaiser said that it was beginning to see changes in preventative care benefits and many companies were enrolling young adults into corporate health plans plans because of the law. However, it said that most workers that were already enrolled in company plans are exempt from the law’s provisions. Matthew Borsch, healthcare analyst at Goldman Sachs, said the increase could be due to the high rate of increase in family coverage, due to a new provision allowing people up to the age of 26 to join their parents’ plan, creating additional costs. He also noted that some measures in the law that were intended to contain costs were watered down. . . .
Did Ford Motor pull an ad because of pressure from the Obama Administration?
I thought that it was a good ad. The Detroit News has this discussion by Daniel Howes:
As part of a campaign featuring "real people" explaining their decision to buy the Blue Oval, a guy named "Chris" says he "wasn't going to buy another car that was bailed out by our government," according the text of the ad, launched in early September. "I was going to buy from a manufacturer that's standing on their own: win, lose, or draw. That's what America is about is taking the chance to succeed and understanding when you fail that you gotta' pick yourself up and go back to work." That's what some of America is about, evidently. Because Ford pulled the ad after individuals inside the White House questioned whether the copy was publicly denigrating the controversial bailout policy CEO Alan Mulally repeatedly supported in the dark days of late 2008, in early '09 and again when the ad flap arose. And more. With President Barack Obama tuning his re-election campaign amid dismal economic conditions and simmering antipathy toward his stimulus spending and associated bailouts, the Ford ad carried the makings of a political liability when Team Obama can least afford yet another one. Can't have that. The ad, pulled in response to White House questions (and, presumably, carping from rival GM), threatened to rekindle the negative (if accurate) association just when the president wants credit for their positive results (GM and Chrysler are moving forward, making money and selling vehicles) and to distance himself from any public downside of his decision. . . .
The WP's Greg Sargent takes a denial by Ford and the Obama administration to be all that is needed to reject this story:
Apparently some right wing bloggers think they may have found their next big scandal: The White House may have pressured Ford Motor Company to yank a TV ad critical of Obama’s rescue of the auto companies! . . .
No, says the White House. “The Detroit News story is not true,” communications director Dan Pfeiffer emails.
Ford happens to agree. The company Tweeted:
we did not pull the ad due to pressure. the ad ran 4 weeks which is what the campaign called for . . .
Might a reporter with the Detroit News have a better inside line into what is happening at Ford Motor Company than a reporter who simply relies on statements from press secretaries?
But the Obama administration didn't care for the free market message and, as my Detroit News colleague Daniel Howes reported this week, the White House contacted Ford to discuss the ad and the company has now pulled the popular spot. While Howes quoted an industry source insisting that there was no pressure to take the ad down, any such inquiries from the White House represent coercion. . . . The most obvious reason [for the White House concern] relates to the president's re-election bid. . . .
"Former AMEX CEO Trashes Obama's 'Understanding Of Capitalism'"
Harvey Golub, former CEO Of American Express: "His understanding of capitalism and free markets and how free people operate in free markets is less than my oldest grandson’s. It is evident in almost everything he does."
Golub also has a good discussion of how incredibly stupid Obama is about tax free municipal bonds. "In his latest jobs plan, one of the things that he suggests is that high income people lose some of the benefit of municipal tax free bonds. He doesn't understand that the purpose of tax free bonds is to provide subsidies to the municipalities and states that issue these bonds. It is because they are tax free that they [pay a lower interest] rate. If the tax benefits went away, they would have to charge a higher rate, otherwise people wouldn't buy those bonds." He then goes on to say how nutty all this is because at the same time that Obama wants to eliminate the tax free nature of these bonds, he wants to increase other government subsidies to these very same municipalities and states.
To put it differently, because the bonds are tax free wealthy people will buy them, increasing their prices, until the after tax return on these bonds is the same as the after tax return on other investments. Yet, this isn't really right. The wealthy won't be indifferent from this tax change. First, for Obama who wants income redistribution, there will be a one time capital loss for the those who have been holding these bonds, and this might justify it to Obama. Thus, it doesn't necessarily represent stupidity by Obama. Second, this is really a statement about the marginal wealthy individual. With the tax free subsidy in place, the marginal wealthy person will buy the bonds, increasing their prices, until the after tax return on these bonds is the same as the after tax return on other investments. But there is a transfer to the infra marginal wealthy person (i.e., the wealthiest people who have the highest marginal tax rates). The marginal high income who buys these bonds will be indifferent between the low interest rate that is tax free and a higher interest rate that is taxable as regular income. But higher income individuals who face a higher marginal income tax rate will prefer the low interest rate that is tax free and a higher interest rate that is taxable as regular income.
Did American taxpayers pay for Solyndra's campaign donations to the Democratic Party?
If the California Democratic Party is listed as a creditor simply because Solyndra gave them a donation, it looks as if American taxpayers are the ones who actually made the donation. From Fox News:
Among the roughly 5,000 creditors named by Solyndra, a bankrupt solar energy company that is under investigation for losing a half billion dollars in federal loans, is the California Democratic Party, which says it doesn't know why. The bankruptcy filing doesn't say why the organization is listed as one of the creditors or how much money it is owed. The filing contains about 200 pages of creditors listed in alphabetical order with their address but not the amount owed. Tenoch Flores, the communications director for the California Democratic Party, told FoxNews.com that he wasn't sure why the organization was named a creditor since the California-based company didn't owe it any money. But he said there's likely a procedural explanation, such as Solyndra providing a list of all potential creditors, including organizations and companies that ever received a payment or contribution for any purpose. Solyndra did not respond to requests for comment. Solyndra gave $7,500 to the party last October, according to campaign-finance records reviewed by The Washington Times, which first reported the listing. . . .
Suppose that it costs you $200,000 to create a job that pays $50,000. Will that make the economy stronger? Hardly. If the job produces $50,000 worth of wealth but it costs you $200,000, that job will destroy $150,000 worth of wealth. The economy and the standard of living will be lower. Personally, I don't believe Feldstein's numbers for a second. From ABC News:
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner didn't dispute a Harvard economist's estimate that each job in the White House's jobs plan would cost $200,000, but said the pricetag is the wrong way to measure the bill's worth.
And he also pointed out, in an interview today with ABC News' David Muir, that there is no other option on the table for getting the economy moving and putting more people back to work.
"You've got to think about the costs of the alternatives," Geithner said when asked about Harvard economist Martin Feldstein's calculation that each job created by President Obama's American Jobs Act would cost taxpayers about $200,000.
"If government does nothing, it does nothing now because they're scared by politics or they want to debate what's perfect, then there will be fewer Americans back to work, the economy will be weaker," he said.
"We can borrow money for 10 years as the government of the United States because people have confidence in this country at less than 2 percent," he said. "The responsible path now is to take advantage of the unique position we're in as a country. People have a lot of confidence in us. Let's take advantage of that now to do things that help growth in the short-term." . . .
Monster.com did this analysis of the jobs created by the Stimulus:
. . . Weatherization
“There are any number of buildings that need to be weatherized, and that employment will be there for a long time,” Shatkin says. “In this job, you install insulation either with equipment or by hand.” You need only a GED to do this work, and the pay is about $31,000 a year. Don’t apply if you’re claustrophobic because the work sometimes takes place in confined spaces.
Stimulus spending on road construction, upgrading telecommunication lines and infrastructure repairs will boost jobs for construction managers, welders, pavers and iron workers. The line workers who extend broadband access to rural areas earn about $47,000 a year.
Rail Track Layers
Some stimulus funding targets the repair and expansion of the rail network. While there’s plenty of long-term money in this field, you may work far from home as you follow the tracks. Average salary is $42,000 a year.
Several stimulus spending areas are creating work for electricians. They’re needed to repair highways, modernize schools and connect new solar power equipment. “If you specialize in solar power, you can get in on the ground floor and be one of the industry’s pioneers,” Shatkin says. While you can train to be an electrician at community colleges and trade schools, Shatkin recommends union apprenticeships, where you earn while you learn the craft. Average salary for electricians: $45,000.
If you like math and are willing to attend four years of college, civil engineering can be a great career path. The civil engineers who will make sure the stimulus-funded construction projects are built correctly earn an average of about $72,000.
Manufacturing may be on life support, but the stimulus will boost companies that support alternative energy. For example, steel wind turbines are too heavy to ship from overseas, so they’re manufactured as close as possible to where they go up, Shatkin says. “That will create jobs for structural steel workers and welders,” he says. “There’s also a big demand for computer-controlled machine tool operators, who earn about $32,000 a year.” Jobs will also open up for mechanical engineering technicians, who help design mechanical parts and devices and earn $47,000 with an associate’s degree.
Any industry that gets stimulus funding is going to need industrial engineers to help spend that money wisely. “They’re efficiency experts who apply the scientific method to optimize energy or work flow, and they earn $71,000 with a bachelor’s degree,” Shatkin says.
Classroom teachers get great pensions and time off every summer. If you already have a four-year degree, you may be able to gain certification in just over a year by going to school full-time. Some areas allow teachers to start with a bachelor’s in another field while they seek certification, Shatkin says. Preschool, one of the areas the stimulus targets for expansion, pays the least, averaging only $23,000. However, secondary-school teachers average $49,000.
Don’t like kids? Try teaching literacy, English as a second language or a GED class to adults. “There’s a lot of growth in this field because of immigration and the need for more basic skills as the economy becomes more technical,” Shatkin says. Average pay for adult educators is $45,000.
Physical or Respiratory Therapy Assistant
Armed with an associate’s degree, you’ll earn an average of $44,000 a year as a physical therapy assistant helping develop physical therapy plans, setting up equipment and assisting a physical therapist. Respiratory therapist assistants, who average $40,000 a year, help respiratory therapists treat breathing problems of patients in hospitals, specialty practices and nursing homes.
Medical Records Experts
The shift from printed to electronic medical records will create jobs for health information technicians who earn about $29,000 a year with an associate’s degree as well as systems analysts who make $70,000 a year with a four-year degree.
As the health, education, construction and alternative-energy fields grow from stimulus spending, they’ll need more managers to handle back-office functions such as accounting (average salary $57,000), as well as general managers and operations managers (average $89,000). To break into either field, you’ll need a four-year degree.
"Jews" and "janitors" are something that most people get confused all the time, right? Well, I personally don't put a lot of weight in misstatements, but the media is all over them when a Republican makes them. In addition, in this case, Obama corrected the mistake right away. Still, this is something that would get attention if a Republican said it. Andrew Malcolm is on the case here.
“'The most open Administration in history' barring reporters from Obama’s tech fundraisers"
With scandals surrounding the president over whether he might be interfering with the AT&T - T-Mobile merger to protect big corporate givers, one would think that Obama would be more careful about the appearance for these things. From the SF Chronicle.
In a week in which Silicon Valley is the focus of intense news coverage, the White House that promised the “most open administration in history” has made an unusual move — barring local reporters from covering a pair of high priced presidential fundraisers in the tech region Sunday. The President will star at two big Silicon Valley fundraisers Sunday, attending a $38,500 per person dinner at the Atherton home of COO Sheryl Sandberg, and starring at $2,500 and up fundraiser starring Bruce Hornsby at the Woodside home of Sandi and John Thompson.
But in a rare move — and a departure from the President’s previous trips to California – local media have been informed that the White House will not allow any of their representatives to act as a “pool” reporter and file reports from those events. Peter Scheer, who heads the First Amendment Coalition, said that “it’s their party and they can design that party list the way they want – but it shows, in my judgement, poor judgement for them to exclude the press. What goes on in a meeting where people pay this much to see the president is not trivial.” And by barring local reporters specifically, he adds, that means the journalists most likely to know personalities — and donors — present will be outside the doors.
“The public is more likely to get a full report of what transpires if there at least some journalists there who recognize and even know the people who have paid to get in,’’ he said. The donors are “not just ordinary citizens,” but CEOs and Silicon Valley insiders who have been given access to the president with their checks. . . .
Stimulus Wind Farm Beneficiary Raising Money for Obama
Let me say that this guy may very well raise money for Obama even without the large $107 million Stimulus grant, one would think that with the Solyndra scandal, the Obama administration would be sensitive to appearances here. That said, who got the money may have been related to whether they were strong Democrats. From Politico:
President Barack Obama will raise money in early October with a Missouri businessman whose company benefited from a $107 million federal tax credit to develop a wind power facility in his state.
Tom Carnahan, a scion of Missouri’s most prominent Democratic political family, is listed on Obama’s campaign website as a host of a $25,000-per-person fundraiser to be held in St. Louis on October 4.
His energy development firm, Wind Capital Group, was helped by a sizable credit authorized in the stimulus, for an energy project in northwest Missouri.
Republicans argue that it’s inappropriate for the Obama campaign to raise money from a donor who has benefited directly from the Recovery Act.
Missouri Republican Party executive director Lloyd Smith compared the situation to the Solyndra affair, in which the Obama administration reportedly rushed federal support to a green-energy firm that subsequently collapsed.
“At a time when Barack Obama is under fire for steering hundreds of millions of dollars in stimulus funds to a failed company linked to a major campaign donor, it is stunning that he would come to Missouri and raise money with another recipient of stimulus cash,” Smith said in a statement to POLITICO. “Sadly, Missourians have come to expect this kind of pay-to-play from the Obama administration. November 2012 can't come soon enough.” . . .
Republican judges wrestle constitutionality of Obamacare mandate
If it is something new that hasn't been previously approved by the Supreme Court, it seems like an easy decision. From the WSJ:
Judges on a federal appellate court suggested Friday that last year's health-care overhaul was an unprecedented assertion of power by the government, but they didn't clearly signal a readiness to strike down the law.
The court at times questioned whether it even had jurisdiction to consider the case, an issue that could delay an ultimate resolution on the law's constitutionality.
Judges Brett Kavanaugh and Laurence Silberman, conservative members of a three-judge panel that presided over two hours of oral argument, said they worried about the implications of allowing Congress to require that individuals either purchase health insurance or pay a penalty.
"In 220 years…Congress has never once mandated a purchase," Judge Kavanaugh said in proceedings at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. But he went on to concede that the health-care law's guarantee of insurance coverage for Americans "won't work without the mandate." . . .
Judges Kavanaugh and Silberman pressed the Justice Department, which is defending the law, to lay out a workable principle that would limit the ability of Congress to require citizens to make other types of purchases in the future.
Judge Kavanaugh, an appointee of President George W. Bush, said that if lawmakers could require citizens to maintain health insurance, logic would also suggest Congress could mandate that citizens invest in private retirement accounts to address a crisis in Social Security. . . .
Judge Silberman, a Reagan appointee, said the health-care law's challengers faced a high hurdle because of a 1942 Supreme Court ruling, Wickard v. Filburn, that allowed the federal government to regulate the wheat a farmer grew for personal use on his own farm.
"In a sense, that is a greater exercise of governmental power than this case," he said. . . .