Another listen to 'the speech,' the airport cart capital of the world, the presidential intersect, the music man of Grand Rapids, and can boomers retire?
Eighth District Congressman Chip Cravaack has apparently signed on to Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan's budget-cutting plan that constitutes the line in the sand some Republicans are drawing in Washington.
Ryan unveiled his proposal in a Wall Street Journal column this morning (and a very spiffy Web site here), calling for cuts in domestic spending, Social Security (it's called reform, however), welfare, Medicare, the health care law, alternative energy programs etc.
A study just released by the Heritage Center for Data Analysis projects that The Path to Prosperity will help create nearly one million new private-sector jobs next year, bring the unemployment rate down to 4% by 2015, and result in 2.5 million additional private-sector jobs in the last year of the decade. It spurs economic growth, with $1.5 trillion in additional real GDP over the decade. According to Heritage's analysis, it would result in $1.1 trillion in higher wages and an average of $1,000 in additional family income each year.
It also says the unemployment rate will be 2.8% by the next decade. "It's an assumption, in other words, that's unrealistic enough to be considered somewhat bizarre," The Economist says. "Everyone puts a positive spin on their policy proposals. But fundamentally worthy policies shouldn't need to promise laughably overoptimistic outcomes to win support."
For the record, the unemployment rate has only been that low once -- 1953.
The study is not from a non-partial source. It's from the Heritage Foundation, "whose mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense."
The Economic Policy Institute leans in the other direction and -- funny -- has a different view:
"This budget is impressive in its ability to not only inflict maximum harm on the economy, but to concentrate that harm on those most in need," its director, John Irons, said today. "This will not only cost the economy hundreds of thousands (and perhaps millions) of jobs over the next five years, it will also destroy the social safety net and undermine policies that support the middle class."
It's just the kind of debate that demands the curmudgeonly hand of CNBC's Mark Haines(2 Comments)
Because the Twins are making their first and only visit to New York this week, we're required by the Blogging Code to point out at least one aspect of New York that clearly highlights Minnesota's superiority. Generally, our baseball squad doesn't qualify.
But this does:
She owns two plates, one knife, fork and spoon.(2 Comments)
The government is making plans for a government shutdown if negotiations on a federal budget for the last six months of the fiscal year don't lead to a settlement. President Obama met this morning at the White House with House Speaker John Boehner,R-Ohio, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and the chairmen of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. No deal was reached.
What happens if the government shuts down? The Office of Management and Budget already has the plans, it's just not revealing what they are. But based on previous shutdowns, here are the likely answers to questions about it:
Q: Will I get my Social Security payment?
A: Yes. But there is some dispute over how many Social Security workers would stay on the job. Some say the Social Security Administration is not part of an appropriation, so its workers wouldn't be affected, but the Office of Management and Budget is commenting on this so we don't know what would happen, say, if you wanted to apply for disability payments via Social Security. But that's a process that can drag on for a year or more, anyway.
Q: What is the most obvious effect of the shutdown?
A: Plan on seeing TV news footage of families who've been saving up for a vacation in Washington, turned away from a locked Smithsonian or Washington Monument. Or any other government-run museum or attraction, including the national parks. In Minnesota, this would obviously include Voyageurs.
For people who operate restaurants and businesses in areas where there are lots of federal workers, the shutdown will likely cost them dearly.
It would be a bad time for one of those salmonella outbreaks or mysterious illnesses to occur. The Centers for Disease Control will stop tracking them during a shutdown. But Team Diarrhea would still be on the case. Heck, they do a lot of the work, anyway.
Q: Would the VA facilities close?
A: No. Medical employees who provide inpatient and emergency care are considered essential. But outpatient treatment would likely be curtailed.
Q: Would federal courts close?
A: Bad news, white-collar criminals. They stay open.
Q: Would it be safe to fly?
A: Air traffic controllers are considered essential so there would be no disruption in ATC activities. Metal fatigue in aging aircraft, however, don't know when the government is operating and when it isn't.
Q: If the Red River flooding requires federal aid and response, will residents get it?
A: Yes. Disaster response is not affected in a shutdown.
Q: Will I still have to pay taxes by April 18?
A: Yes, but you may have to wait longer to get a refund.
Q: If the government shuts down, who will bring me my daily supply of credit card offers?
A: No problem. The mail will still be delivered.
Q: What are some less obvious effects of the shutdown?
A: From the Boston Globe: "(In the 1995 shutdown) ...the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stopped tracking the spread of diseases such as AIDS and the flu; toxic waste removal at 609 sites was suspended. Work on more than 3,500 bankruptcy cases ceased, and investigations into delinquent child support cases were put on hold."
Q: What if I need a visa or passport?
A: In 1995, 20,000-30,000 foreign visa applications per day went unprocessed, as did an estimated total of 200,000 U.S. passport applications, according to PBS.
Q: I work for the federal government. Will I have to go to work?
A: From Federal Computer Week: There are two types of shutdowns. In a "soft shutdown," federal employees would come to work but could not do anything "productive," that is, anything to carry out the central duties of the agency. They could clean up their desks.
A "hard shutdown" would mean employees are furloughed from work. Only those few exempt employee would come in.
The soft shutdown would only occur if the president believes there's a chance for a rapid compromise with Congress. Hard shutdowns would signal a bleaker picture.
Q: How many federal workers would be furloughed?
A: In the last shutdown -- 1995 -- about 800,000 government workers were furloughed. Back then, there were 2,920,000 federal employees, excluding the military. Now, there are 2,839,000 federal employees, excluding uniformed military.
Q: Will I be paid during the furlough?
A: In the last shutdown, workers were paid retroactively. So the government doesn't save on salaries during a shutdown. However, people who work under contract with the federal government would not likely be paid. At all.
There is a growing chorus, however, that is saying government workers shouldn't be paid if they're not going to work. That will probably be the first debate that will get all the attention after the shutdown crisis itself is solved.
Q: What if I want to work unpaid?
A: You can't. Federal law prohibits the government from accepting volunteer work.
Q: Will soldiers be paid?
A: A Pentagon spokesman said today the Department of Defense has not yet decided. It's a safe bet, however, that even Washington understands the public relations nightmare that comes with not giving a soldier at war his check.
Q: How long will it last?
A: If history is any guide, a few days. The longest shutdown lasted less about three weeks.
Q: How much will the government save during the shutdown.
A: Nothing. Current estimates, which some consider low, suggest it could cost the government $100 million a day.(11 Comments)
Being fired for making an inadvertent mistake at work is not a reason for losing the right to unemployment benefits, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled today.
The court settled the case of Joan Dourney, who was fired from Panino's Restaurant in Shoreview, where she'd worked for 11 years, because she served alcohol to a minor (see update below). Dourney said she thought a woman, who was accompanying a man she knew was over 21, was old enough to drink.
Her boss ordered her to card the woman, Dourney removed the drink, and then she was fired. But the restaurant objected to her unemployment claim , saying she was guilty of employment misconduct and, therefore, ineligible for unemployment benefits.It appealed the unemployment claim that was approved by the state.
Today, the court said "even if a reasonable person would have carded the customer whom Dourney failed to card and Dourney's conduct could be considered negligent, (state law) expressly provides that inadvertence is not employment misconduct... Because Dourney's forgetting to card the customer was conduct marked by unintentional lack of care, the conduct was inadvertence." (Decision here)
The case, however, shows the extent to which a worker occasionally has to go to get unemployment
Update 10:29 a.m. 4/11 - The Department of Employment and Economic Development disputes two items in this post. Lee Nelson, an attorney for the department writes.
(1) The applicant, Joan Dourney, did not serve alcohol to a minor. A Department Unemployment Law Judge found, adn the Court of Appeals agreed on page six of its decision, that "We have no evidence that the individual was actually too young [to drink]." This would have been a very different case indeed had Dourney served a minor, and certainly a more sensational one, particular in light of the recent "Wally the Beer Man" verdict. But by all accounts the woman that Dourney served was at least 23 years old, and Dourney broke no law by serving her.
The "Wally the Beer Man" story is irrelevant to the context of the case regardless of whether Ms. Dourney did or did not serve a minor. The assertion that the woman was a minor was based on the reading that the server removed the drinks. I neglected to note that it was because the woman could not produce identification.
(2) Dourney was not involved in the case pending before the Court of Appeals. While Dourney was a seconday respondent, the Department was the primary responding party to the case under Minn. State. 268.1056 subd. 7(e), as unemployment benefits are paid from state funds. The Department drafted the brief defending Dourney's receipts of benefits, and argued the case in front of the Court of Appeals. Dourney played no role at all in this process. The "extent" wo which Dourney had to go to get benefits was actually quite minimal; a year ago she filled out the questionnaires that the Department sent to her, and participated in a brief telephone hearing before an Unemployment Law Judge.
The characterization of the difficulty an employee often has to go to get unemployment is based on the assertions of the establishment, not the work the Department has to go to at the Court of Appeals. The initial post stated, in fact, that the department approved her unemployment claim.(3 Comments)
Yesterday, the Center for Public Integrity, run by a former MPR news director, made a big splash in journalism circles, when it announced it would start an investigative journalism Web site. Today, it dropped this bombshell: the FBI used a "mole" in ABC News who fed tips from a source (or sources) in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing.
But it didn't name the reporter:
ABC News told the Center for Public Integrity that it is not certain about the identity of the journalist involved in the 1995-96 episode, but does not believe he or she still works for the network. Spokesman Jeffrey Schneider said the FBI description of its interactions with the reporter raises serious concerns about intrusions on the First Amendment.
"If true, it would certainly be of grave concern to us that the FBI would have created an informant file based on information gleaned from a reporter," Schneider said. "It certainly would be very troubling for the FBI to recruit a news employee as a confidential source."
Former Star Tribune editor Tim McGuire, now a professor in Arizona, is not happy
"I mean, he's not only a rat, he's a really huge rat" says McGuire. "He's obviously decided that helping the government on an ongoing basis is more important than being a journalist... We're all endangered by him playing these silly games. I think when you're an agent for the government, you're putting your fellow journalists in harm's way."
Who was the "rat?"
Gawker reports that it's Christopher Isham, who is now the Washington bureau chief for CBS News.
He ran the investigative unit at ABC News, putting him in regular contact with counterterrorism officials. In 1998, according to his CBS News bio, he organized the first network interview with Osama bin Laden. And his relationship with the FBI went beyond the professional: He was "close friends" with former FBI counterterrorism chief John O'Neill, according to this interview Isham gave to Frontline. (O'Neill was killed in the World Trade Center on 9/11.)
This should embarrass ABC, of course, but it should also be an embarrassment to CBS, right? Isham declined to comment on the story (If you're not the snitch, wouldn't you just deny it?), but referred questions to a CBS spokeswoman in New York.
"This is a matter for ABC News." the CBS spokeswoman said.
For the record, the information that Isham had -- that Iraq was responsible for the Oklahoma City bombing -- was obviously bogus.
This hasn't been a really great day for the image CBS News. Writing for MPR News' commentary section today, Woodbury teacher Karen Morrill pulled he curtain back on the news division's flagship, 60 Minutes, which broadcast a segment on removing "the N word" from Huck Finn recently.
"Pitts and '60 Minutes' were not interested in my teaching philosophy," she wrote. "They were interested in why I would not speak a virulent racial epithet. In my two-hour interview with Pitts, I tried to discuss the complex ways Huck Finn deals with race. But he was interested in only that one simple word."
Not a good day, indeed.(6 Comments)
One fairly shudders to think what would have happened to Brian Bammert, a Minnesota State Patrol trooper, had he not apparently been built like a truck.
Thirty-eight state troopers have been hit by cars since December. Two of them are Trpr. Bammert. He was hit by a car a couple of weeks ago. Bammert, 30, of Golden Valley was also hurt in last February's snowstorm when he was hit in the leg by a car that had lost control on the ice at I-394 and Penn.
A year ago, about 14 state troopers were hit during the winter months. This year it's close to 40.
On Thursday, the State Patrol in the St. Cloud area will hold a crackdown on people who don't move over -- or slow down -- for emergency vehicles on the side of the road.
(Photo: Minnesota State Patrol)(5 Comments)