Tag Archive for: earmarks


Top 3 reasons Americans are quitting jobs: Bad pay, bad bosses, bad prospects. House passes $1.5 trillion omnibus. Russia-Ukraine talks yield no progress.




Top 3 reasons Americans are quitting jobs in droves: Bad pay, bad bosses, bad prospects

The latest jobs report shows that slightly more Americans filed for unemployment last week than the previous week. Even with hiring up and firings and layoffs down, new unemployment claims have continued a steady upward trend since last year. In January, more than 4.3 million people quit their jobs.

Economists have called it the “Great Resignation” and have attributed it to tight labor market. Many workers left jobs last year and a significant percentage has dropped out of the labor market entirely in recent months. A recent Pew poll asked resigning workers themselves about their reasons for quitting. The top three reasons workers cited for leaving their workplaces were low pay, bad bosses and a lack of opportunities for advancement.

Companies in nearly all sectors of the economy are now in the position of competing for workers. Offers of better pay and benefits, more flexibility and other perks are luring workers towards greener pastures. Many of the poll’s respondents also pointed to more intangible reasons for quitting, including feeling disrespected or undervalued at work.


House passes $1.5 trillion omnibus bill, but few lawmakers know what’s in it

The House has passed an omnibus government funding bill totaling about $1.5 trillion, which will now advance to the Senate. The bill contains funding to keep the federal government running until September. The bill is split into two parts. The first sets aside $780 billion for defense spending, including an 11% rise in spending for the Department of Homeland Security; this portion also includes about $14 billion in humanitarian, security and economic assistance for Ukraine. This portion passed with broad bipartisan support with a 361-69 vote. The second portion contains domestic spending, and passed closer to party lines with a 260-171 vote.

What did not make it into the bill was $22 billion the White House had requested for COVID control funding. According to a White House official, the results of not appropriating this funding could be “dire”. Without the funding, “In March, testing capacity will decline. In April, the uninsured fund — which offers coverage of testing and treatments for tens of millions of Americans who lack health insurance — will run out of money. And in May, America’s supply of monoclonal antibodies will run out”, the official said. “Simply put, failing to take action now will have severe consequences for the American people”.

Pork and earmarks

Members of both parties have expressed misgivings about the bill for another reason, namely that many lawmakers do not know what’s in it. This is especially true of the “domestic” spending portion. The omnibus totaling 2,741 pages was only published on Wednesday, and the Senate leadership hopes to have it passed by Friday.

Republican lawmakers have complained that Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, have secured a huge number of earmarks for spending in their districts. But some Republican lawmakers, notably Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, have gotten in on the act as well. The earmarks include spending on housing, communities and infrastructure projects, all of which will help bolster their sponsors’ chances in the mid-terms.

Some lawmakers view this as an opportunity to secure funding for their districts that might otherwise have come from the now-defunct $1.75 trillion Build Back Better Plan. Progressives in the House also voiced frustrations that the winners and losers of this stimulus spending have been decided in backroom deals. This is in contrast to Build Back Better, which offered a more inclusive and holistic nationwide blueprint for stimulus spending.



Ukraine: No progress towards ceasefire, but Zelensky hopeful

Talks between the foreign ministers of Ukraine and Russia haven’t produced any new prospects for an end to hostilities. Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba says the terms offered by Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov amounted to unconditional surrender. Regardless, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he believes that Putin will soon negotiate to end the war. Zelensky said he believed that Putin did not anticipate the strong resistance in Ukraine and that this would soon force him back to the negotiating table. This is likely wishful thinking on Zelensky’s part and a signal to rally his troops and beleaguered countrymen.

Meanwhile in Washington, the White House raised alarms about a possible chemical attack by Russia. Citing Kremlin accusations about US biological weapon labs and chemical weapon development in Ukraine, Press Sec. Jen Psaki said this may be a pre-justification for Russia to deploy chemical weapons in Ukraine.

The US has also nixed a Polish plan to supply some of its Soviet-era war planes through a US base in Germany. The Pentagon says this proposal as “not tenable”, since it would likely spark a broader conflict.  


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Police: Atlanta shooter fueled by sex shame. Dems tempt GOP with $billions to back infrastructure. Putin on Biden’s “killer” comment: “Takes one to know one”. US, Russia in Afghan peace push.


Police: Atlanta shooter fueled by sex shame

The motivations behind the spree of massage parlor shootings in Atlanta that left 8 dead, including 6 Asian woman, are proving to be more complex than many first imagined. Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds says suspect Robert Aaron Long, 21, denies his crimes were racially motivated. “We asked him that specifically and the answer was no,” Reynolds said.

Instead, what is emerging is that the deeply religious Long was ashamed of his sex addiction for which he frequently sought relief in massage parlors. Long’s former roommate in a halfway house for recovering addicts has attested to this.

Nevertheless, given a recent uptick in hate crimes against Asian-Americans across the country, some say the two motivations cannot necessarily be divorced from one another. Asian women have reported more than twice the number of hate incidents, ranging from name-calling to violence, compared to men. Activists say Long’s decision to scapegoat these women for his own shame is linked to a widespread perception that Asian women working in massage parlors are de-facto sex workers, whether or not they provide sexual services.

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Dems tempt GOP with earmarks to back infrastructure

Following last week’s announcement of an upcoming $multi-trillion infrastructure bill, Democrats in Congress are banking on $billions in earmarks to lure Republicans to the negotiating table. Senate Appropriations Committee Patrick Leahy (D-VT) says, “I’m perfectly willing to divide it equally between Republicans and Democrats, and so it will be up to them if they want it. If they don’t, we’ll just have it on the Democratic side. But I think enough of them would like to have it on both sides”.

Deficit hawks on the Republican side, including Sen. Mitt Romney, argue that earmarks are not necessarily in the national interest. It largely comes down to seniority when it comes to Senators winning lucrative and job-creating earmarks for their districts. Nevertheless, Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) estimates that 60% of his Congressional colleagues overall support bringing back earmarks.

The Democrats are billing the infrastructure bill as a further stimulus, in addition to the predicted $2 trillion in COVID stimulus that will likely come with it. Last week, Nancy Pelosi said she hoped the bill would bring “jobs to every zip code”.

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Putin responds to Biden’s “killer” comment: “Takes one to know one”

President Biden ruffled some feathers in Moscow yesterday when he characterized Russian President Vladimir Putin as “a killer”. Moscow-Washington tensions have escalated further in recent days over allegations of that Russian meddling in the 2020 US elections and the attempted murder and subsequent imprisonment of Putin critic Alexei Navalny.

Responding to Biden’s comments, Putin retorted, “I remember, in my childhood, when we argued in the courtyard, we used to say: ‘It takes one to know one’.”

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Strange bedfellows Russia, US push for peace in Afghanistan

Three decades after their proxy-war in the country, Russian and US envoys are pushing Afghanistan’s warring factions to get their acts together for peace. At two upcoming summits in Moscow and Turkey, representatives from Afghanistan and its neighbors will meet to discuss the next step in bringing a now-decades old conflict to an end.

Russian and US envoys are pushing for the Afghan government and representatives of the Taliban to form an interim government. The US has already increased pressure on the Afghan government by refusing to confirm whether or not the US will move ahead on its planned May 1 troop withdrawal. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has warned that the Taliban may make territorial gains in spring fighting if the Afghan government does not take the opportunity for a political solution.

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