Any suggestions or strategies for the (Democrats) in this upcoming 2022 midterm election?

Real Music
Reply Fri 5 Aug, 2022 11:12 pm
US adds 528,000 jobs in July as market returns to pre-pandemic levels

Published August 5, 2022

The US added 528,000 jobs in July as the jobs market returned to pre-pandemic levels.

The US has now added 22m jobs since reaching a low in April 2020. The unemployment rate dipped to 3.5% in July, a half-century low and equal to its rate in February 2020 before the Covid-19 pandemic hit the US.

The far stronger than expected report comes a month after the labor department announced the economy added 398,000 jobs in June, 26,000 more than its first estimate.

Economists had been expecting jobs growth to slow in July and the latest figures from the labor department were far stronger than the average 388,000 jobs gained over the last four months.

Job growth was widespread, led by gains in leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, and healthcare.

Economists said the news was likely to spur the Federal Reserve’s determination to raise rates and cool the economy as it struggles to tame soaring inflation.

“The unexpected acceleration in non-farm payroll growth in July, together with the further decline in the unemployment rate and the renewed pick-up in wage pressures, suggests the economy is still a long way from recession,” said Michael Pearce, senior US economist at Capital Economics. “All the details support continued aggressive rate hikes from the Fed.”

While the US economy has slowed this year, reporting two quarters of negative growth in the first six months, the jobs market has remained buoyant. But there have been signs that it too is losing steam.

Friday’s jobs report comes days after the government reported that the number of job vacancies across the US had dropped by 605,000 to 10.7m by the end of June, a decline of 5.4%. Job openings hit a record high of 11.5m on the last day of March. But even with the latest fall, there are still 1.8 jobs open for every available worker.

There are other signs that the jobs market is weakening. On Thursday the labor department said the number of people filing for unemployment benefits rose to 260,000 last week, up from 254,000 the previous week.

The figure, known as initial jobless claims, is seen as a proxy for layoffs, and is now close to its 2022 peak and higher than the weekly average of 218,000 experienced before the pandemic. Employers including Walmart, Robinhood, Twitter and Ford have all recently announced layoff plans as economic conditions have tightened.

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Real Music
Reply Fri 5 Aug, 2022 11:30 pm
Chips bill advances to Biden's desk — Here's what's in the soon-to-be law

Published July 28, 2022

After more than a year of negotiations, Congress has passed a bill to alleviate the chip shortage and shore up U.S. competitiveness with China — in part by giving $50 billion to the semiconductor industry.

The House voted 243-187 on Thursday to send the “CHIPS+” bill to Biden's desk where he has promised to sign it. It cleared the Senate Wednesday in a vote of 64-33.

Thursday's final vote proved a bit closer than expected with some Republicans who had supported the effort voting no at the last minute to protest the expanded reconciliation bill announced last night by Democrats. Nevertheless, 24 Republicans voted for the package, and the bill passed relatively easily. One Democrat, Sara Jacobs of California, voted present Thursday with every other member of her party voting yes.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) recently said the effort will help "one of the most important struggles of this century."

"The 21st century will be won or lost on the battleground of technological innovation," he added.

The cost of the bill is still being tabulated. A preliminary analysis from the Congressional Budget Office assesses the bill will incur roughly $79 billion in new spending over the coming decade. The bill will also redirect existing government money to the effort; a fuller accounting is expected to be released soon but it likely to be much higher and spend a total of about $280 billion.

Lawmakers had previously passed a more ambitious version of the bill, and for a time legislators discussed a “slimmed down” version that would only include the direct inducements to the semiconductor industry. But in the end, lawmakers added a host of provisions back into the bill, ballooning the cost.

Here are the highlights from in the bill, which Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ) recently told Yahoo Finance “affects the costs for so many things for Americans” from your cellphone, to your vacuum cleaner, to the government weapon’s systems.

'America invented the semiconductor'

This week's votes came after a full court press from the Biden administration to restart the effort after months of fruitless negotiations.

"America invented the semiconductor — it’s time we bring it home,” President Joe Biden said at a virtual White House event on Monday.

Meanwhile, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo addressed criticism of the bill by stressing that it doesn't aim to make businesses more profitable but instead seeks to invest in the U.S. economy.

From the private sector, a host of companies descended on Washington this week to push the bill over the finish line. Gary Cohn, the former Director of the National Economic Council and a current vice-chairman of IBM (IBM), said his company alone was bringing over 60 executives to meet with lawmakers.

The key provision in the bill is the $50 billion for chipmakers. Of those funds, $39 billion are earmarked to “build, expand, or modernize domestic facilities” for chip-making.

The remainder — $11 billion — is set aside for research and development. This money appears designed to alleviate a rift that had been developing between semiconductor companies like Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), Qualcomm (QCOM) and Nvidia (NVDA), which had focused on designing — but not manufacturing — these crucial chips and were worried about being left out.

In any case, Intel (INTC) will be a key recipient of the funds. The company recently postponed the groundbreaking on an Ohio factory because of delays with the bill but promised to move ahead if it becomes law.

Other companies that appear likely to receive funds include Texas Instruments (TXN), Micron Technology (MU), Global Foundries (GFS), and Samsung.

A new investment tax credit

Elsewhere in the bill, another $4.2 billion will help fund other areas of the industry like workforce training, defense initiatives, future innovation, and for the U.S. mobile broadband market. The money for broadband focuses on “leap-ahead technologies,” including an effort to promote non-Chinese 5G equipment manufacturing.

Another portion is a new “Advanced Manufacturing Investment Credit,” which creates a new 25% tax benefit for semiconductor manufacturing. It’s part of a suite of efforts that, advocates say, will allow the U.S. to catch up in the global semiconductor manufacturing race.

The U.S. role in semiconductor manufacturing has fallen from nearly 40% in 1990 to 12% today, according to a recent report from the Semiconductor Industry Association. The situation is even worse with the world’s most advanced logic semiconductors, 100% of which were manufactured overseas in 2019. The group has applauded progress on the bill.

Daniel Clifton, head of Washington research at Strategas, told Yahoo Finance recently that many view semiconductors as "the new oil." If a nation can “control oil and chips, you start to control the production of just about anything that's going to happen in the economy and we could see that that's where the long-term trend is,” he said.

Other ‘guardrails’ aimed at China

The bill is also set to restrict semiconductor companies' activities, banning new work “in specific countries that present a national security threat to the United States.” The language is clearly aimed at China, which has been moving to bolster its semiconductor industry, as well.

The provision is designed to ensure that China doesn’t receive any benefits from the new U.S. government funds. “We're not going to have to worry so much about the actions of an adversary, meaning China, when it comes to our supply of semiconductor chips,” Sen. Kelly said.

On Monday, Biden also noted that the guardrails mean “we’re not going to allow these companies to use these funds to buy back stock or issue dividends.”

The bill also includes billions to beef up science training efforts to help the U.S. compete against China. In total, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Commerce, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology will divvy up $52 billion in funding increases over the coming years for initiatives aimed at shoring up U.S. competitiveness in areas like building a “STEM workforce”

The bipartisan effort has engendered opposition from a swath of Republicans but also one of Biden's own allies. Sen Bernie Sanders (I-VT) called the bill a blank check "at a time when semiconductor companies are making tens of billions of dollars in profits and paying their executives exorbitant compensation packages."

He also savaged the "guardrails" in the package, noting that companies would still be able to outsource some jobs abroad and also use their profits to make stock buybacks if they want.

Some conservative House Republicans also tried to stop the bill, calling it a “fake” China bill. However, the bill ended up passing with relative ease after the long delay.

Many advocates immediately hailed the news. IBM Chairman and CEO Arvind Krishna hailed the House passage as marking" a historic investment in our economy here at home, boosts our global competitiveness, and strengthens our national security."

0 Replies
Real Music
Reply Fri 5 Aug, 2022 11:50 pm
What's in the Senate Democrats' landmark
'Inflation Reduction Act'?

Published August 5, 2022

With the Senate Democrats' last remaining holdout -- Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema -- tentatively signing onto a $739 billion modified reconciliation deal, her party leaders are looking forward to a first procedural vote on their historic tax, climate and drug-pricing bill as early as Saturday.

The Senate is expected to eventually pass The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 through using a fast-track budget process known as reconciliation as early as this weekend. If all Democrats stick together, they'll be able to clear the hefty legislative package by their razor-thin majority and avoid a Republican threat of a filibuster.

In a surprise move in late July, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin announced he had brokered a deal on a revised version of a Democrat-only spending bill with Majority Leader Chuck Schumer after it seemed the door was closed on negotiations.

After reviewing the legislation, Sinema on Thursday evening offered her essential but still conditional support for the bill. Her support was conditioned upon Democrats stripping from the bill a tax break favoring wealthy hedge-fund managers called the "carried interest loophole," while adding instead a new excise tax on stock buybacks.

The current proposed text aims to increase job creation, raise taxes on large corporations and the mega-wealthy, allows the government to negotiate prices of prescription drugs to lower costs, expands the Affordable Care Act health care program and invests in addressing climate change with measure such as extending tax credits for clean energy initiatives.

Together, the climate and ACA provisions would cost the government roughly $433 billion, and Democrats plan to put at least $300 billion of that toward deficit reduction. The tax provisions, prescription drug-pricing reform and increased IRS tax enforcement would raise the estimated revenue the bill would produce to $739 billion.

Republicans have bashed the proposal, saying that any tax increases or spending package while the nation is falling into an economic recession is irresponsible.

"This is not about inflation reduction, this is all about Democrats spending on things they want to spend money on. I'm not going to support it. I don't think any Republicans are going to support it. Why is that? Well, it's another taxing and spending bill," said Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah in response to the bill.

Tax analysts argue that the legislation would help American families who make less than $400,000. Democrats say it would reduce inflation at least in part by lowering the deficit, a key priority for Manchin.

The bill would reduce federal budget deficits by $102 billion over 10 years, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

"The legislation would either reduce or have no effect on the taxes due or paid by any family with income less than $400,000 and is fully consistent with the President's pledge. In fact, the clean energy tax credits and the expanded premium tax credit will cut taxes for millions of Americans," Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen wrote in a letter to congressional leadership.

Sinema said she is still waiting to see the results of a scrub by the Senate's non-partisan rule keeper before signing off, but if Schumer can keep his caucus together and pass this bill, it will be a big win for democratic leaders ahead of a hotly-contested upcoming midterm cycle.

"We have agreed to remove the carried interest tax provision, protect advanced manufacturing, and boost our clean energy economy in the Senate's budget reconciliation legislation," the Arizona senator said in a statement. "Subject to the Parliamentarian's review, I'll move forward."

Details of the reconciliation bill were highlighted further Thursday as lawmakers continued to comb through the 700-plus pages of legislation ahead of this weekend's votes. Once the Senate votes to begin debate on the bill, lawmakers will have the opportunity to offer an unlimited number of amendments, a cumbersome and time-consuming process.

Here's what's in the bill from the Democrats' top-line priorities: the economy, the environment and health care.


The new proposal will invest $300 billion in "deficit reduction," backers say, by making the "biggest corporations and ultra-wealthy pay their fair share," and by providing funds to enhance IRS tax enforcement.

But some of Democrats' most ambitious efforts to tax the ultra wealthy were sidelined by Sinema's insistence that so-called "carried interest" tax breaks for wealthy hedge fund managers and private equity executives be retained.

The original bill aimed to close this carried interest loophole by extending the holding period and therefore forcing investors to hold onto assets for longer -- a move Wall Street has adamantly fought.

Sinema sought changes to the Inflation Reduction Act specifically for the removal of the "carried interest" loophole provision.

"Sen. Sinema said she would not vote for the bill, not even move to proceed, unless we took it out. So we had no choice," Schumer said during a press conference on Friday.

In her statement Thursday evening, Sinema left the door open to future discussions on modifying the carried interest tax.

"Following this effort, I look forward to working with Senator [Mark] Warner to enact carried interest tax reforms, protecting investments in America's economy and encouraging continued growth while closing the most egregious loopholes that some abuse to avoid paying taxes," she said in a statement Thursday night.

Changes to secure Sinema's backing also included the lessening of a proposed 15% corporate minimum tax by preserving the ability of manufacturers to quickly deduct capital purchases. Proposed changes to depreciation policies had some Republicans concerned that the IRA would disproportionately hit manufactures.

"We remain skeptical and will be reviewing the revised legislation carefully," National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons said in a statement. "We cannot afford to undermine manufacturing competitiveness."

The proposed corporate minimum tax still apply only to large corporations.

But while Democrats took a loss in revenue to meet Sinema's demands, they made up for it with the addition of a provision aimed at investors -- a new 1% excise tax on stock buybacks that would make companies pay on the amount of stock that they repurchase.

Schumer has said that this excise tax would ensure that the package still reduces the federal deficit by as much as $300 billion, the same amount Democrats aimed for in the original deal and a key priority for Manchin.

"We're adding in an excise tax on stock buy backs that will bring in $74 billion," Schumer said.

Chuck Marr, the Vice President of Federal Tax Policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, in a Twitter thread called the tax an "excellent policy," designed to correct tax policy inefficiency and "raises $125 billion over ten years."


Most of the $369 billion the Inflation Reduction Act would spend on climate would go to renewable energy tax credits that would prop up clean energy technology such as carbon capture, hydrogen, renewables and energy storage. The climate provisions would also provide consumer tax credits for "home energy efficiency improvements" and for the purchase of clean vehicles.

Backers say the package would cut about 40% of the country's carbon emissions by 2030.

The bill includes a methane emissions reduction program, an array of reforms that would have a dramatic impact on both the onshore and offshore federal oil and gas royalty rates and undo a 10-year moratorium on offshore wind leasing established by former President Donald Trump, among other provisions.

Democrats are also excited about the bill's hefty funding initiative -- $60 billion overall -- for environmental justice projects.

Sinema sought a $5 billion boost to the bill's spending on drought resiliency funding in addition to the $575 million already written in the bill that would go to the Bureau of Reclamation for drought response and preparedness and $13 million for drought relief for tribes.

On Friday, Sinema's Arizona colleague Mark Kelly announced a deal to include $4 billion in resources to combat draught in the western U.S. in the bill.

Health care, prescription drug prices

Aside from climate spending, the reconciliation bill also would allocate $64 billion to extend expiring Affordable Care Act subsidies by three years, through 2025.

It also aims to chip away at a long-held Democratic goal of lowering prescription drug prices for seniors by allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices directly.

"The new negotiation policy will ensure that patients with Medicare get the best deal possible on high-priced drugs and pay cost-sharing for those drugs based on the Medicare negotiated price," according to the bill's summary.

The bill would also cap out-of-pocket costs at $2,000 for those who use Medicare drug plans, with the option to break that amount into affordable monthly payments. Currently, no cap exists.

It would also impose penalties on drug companies if they increase their prices faster than inflation, which would incentivize them to keep prices down and expand premium and co-pay assistance on prescription drugs for low-income individuals.

"While we're not there yet, we're on the cusp of passing the most important step we can pass to take -- help Congress to help us lower inflation, the Inflation Reduction Act," Biden said in remarks at the White House on Friday, touting healthcare wins for Democrats, among the other climate and tax victories.

0 Replies
Real Music
Reply Sat 6 Aug, 2022 12:01 am
What are burn pits and why were they central to a Senate showdown?

Published August 5, 2022

Then Senate voted 86-11 on Tuesday to pass a bill expanding healthcare benefits for veterans exposed to toxic fumes from burning trash pits. Here's everything you need to know:

What are burn pits?

U.S. troops on bases in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere routinely burned their garbage, which could include plastics, tires, batteries, jet fuel, and medical waste. A 2020 survey found that some 86 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans said they were exposed to burn pit fumes or other toxins during their deployments.

"It turns out when you invade a country, they don't tell you when trash day is," comedian Jon Stewart quipped on his Apple TV+ show The Problem with Jon Stewart. He described the issue as "our generation's Agent Orange," referring to a defoliant used during the Vietnam War that produced increased rates of cancer and birth defects in the Americans, Vietnamese, Laotians, and Cambodians exposed to it.

Kelley Vlahos, a senior adviser at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, wrote last week that veterans exposed to fumes from these burn pits are "suffering from myriad illnesses ... which include everything from irreversible respiratory conditions to cancer."

The most famous person whose illness could be linked to the pits is probably Beau Biden, the president's eldest son, who was exposed to toxins from burn pits during deployments in Kosovo and Iraq. He died of brain cancer in 2015 at the age of 46.

President Biden said in 2018 that he was not aware of "any direct scientific evidence" of a link between the burn pits and his son's cancer. By 2022, he seemed surer, announcing in his State of the Union address that "[o]ne of those soldiers" who was "never the same" after breathing "toxic smoke" from the pits "was my son, Maj. Beau Biden."

What does the bill do?

Vlahos notes that veterans' groups "have been fighting for recognition for their maladies ... for some 15 years." The Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs claimed that there wasn't enough scientific evidence to tie those illnesses to the burn pits and that, therefore, the suffering veterans were not eligible for health benefits.

The legislation passed by the Senate, which The New York Times described as "the biggest expansion of veterans' benefits since the Agent Orange Act of 1991," would allocate some $280 billion over the next 10 years to treat veterans suffering from maladies linked to burn pit exposure. It also requires the VA to presume that certain illnesses are linked to burn pit toxins, making it easier for veterans to access care.

How was the bill passed?

The Honoring our PACT Act — "PACT" stands for "Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics" — was introduced in the House last summer but got a major boost when Biden named it as a top priority during his State of the Union Address. Biden evoked the suffering of veterans exposed to the burn pits, citing "headaches, numbness, dizziness, a cancer that would put them in a flag-draped coffin," at which point he was interrupted by Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.). "You put them in, 13 of them!" Boebert yelled, referring to the 13 U.S. troops killed in a bombing during the Afghanistan withdrawal.

In March, the bill passed the House 256-174, with all Democrats and 34 Republicans voting in favor. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Iowa), a U.S. Army veteran, described the legislation as "fiscally irresponsible."

The Senate passed the bill 84-14 in June — all 14 nays and both abstentions were Republicans — "but a do-over was required to make a technical fix," PBS reported. That do-over was supposed to be a mere formality. Instead, it hit a serious snag. Last week, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Penn.) joined with 40 other Republicans to block cloture on the bill. Toomey accused Democrats of pulling "the oldest trick in Washington" by inserting $400 billion in unrelated spending and then relying on public sentiment to ram the bill through. Stewart dismissed Toomey's claim as "bulls--t."

Soon, though, things were back on track. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Sunday that he would hold another vote on the bill and give Toomey a chance to propose an amendment. Toomey's proposals — "to cap the amount of money that could be put into the fund every year" and to shift the fund "into so-called discretionary spending after a decade" — both failed, the Times reported. Toomey voted against the bill, but he no longer had enough allies to block it. The Honoring our PACT Act passed 86-11. Biden, who has described the bill as part of "our sacred obligation" to veterans, is certain to sign it.

What about optics?

For Republicans, they haven't been great. CNN's Chris Cillizza called Boebert's State of the Union outburst "a new low — even for her." Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) called it a "national disgrace." Even Republicans weren't thrilled. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) averted his eyes and muttered to himself. Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) said the State of the Union was "not a time for theater."

When most House Republicans opposed the bill in March, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) heaped scorn on them. "Oh really? You just gave tax cuts in 2017 to the richest people in America," she said. "Tax cuts for the rich. Cancer for our veterans."

Then came last week's vote to block the bill in the Senate. Stewart launched into a tirade against the "cruelty" and "hypocrisy" of the GOP "motherf--ckers" who voted to block the bill. Vlahos wrote that Republicans had "really stepped in it" and had "all but ceded pro-veteran issues to the Democrats." It was, she wrote, "the wrong time" for Senate Republicans "to stiffen their backbones on an issue of fiduciary responsibility."

0 Replies
Reply Sun 7 Aug, 2022 07:08 am
Democratic ads boosted extremists in Republican primaries. Was that wise?

I guess my question is, assuming the tactic is successful; does the end justify the means?
Reply Sun 7 Aug, 2022 07:16 am
Didn't work for Hillary.
Reply Sun 7 Aug, 2022 10:29 am
You know what? I'm not even going to go there.

On the subject, assuming it does work; I can't decide if it is ethically good to do.
Reply Sun 7 Aug, 2022 11:37 am
I don't like it, it seems dishonest. However, honesty disappeared a long time ago.......I wish we could get it back.
0 Replies
Reply Sun 7 Aug, 2022 03:46 pm
Aug 5
how does the democrats lowering the price of 20 drugs by 2029 help you afford healthcare today
0 Replies
Real Music
Reply Sun 7 Aug, 2022 11:38 pm
Senate Democrats pass (Inflation Reduction Act) without a single vote from Republican Senators.

Republicans blocked a 35-dollar cap for insulin for people with private insurance.

Senate Democrats passes sweeping Climate, Health, and Tax package.

Published August 7, 2022

0 Replies
Real Music
Reply Mon 8 Aug, 2022 12:13 am
Democrat Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says (Inflation Reduction Act)
passed ‘without single vote to spare’

Senate Democrats passes landmark Reconciliation Package.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., spoke after the Senate passed the (Inflation Reduction Act). The bill will fight climate change and take on Big Pharma. Schumer said, we have now “passed the most significant bill to fight the climate crisis ever.”

Published August 7, 2022

0 Replies

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