Friday, November 11, 2011

More than 1 in 4 homeowners 'underwater' as U.S. housing market continues to sink | Mail Online

More than 1 in 4 homeowners 'underwater' as U.S. housing market continues to sink | Mail Online:

By MICHAEL ZENNIE, The Daily Mail, 11/8/11

Nearly 30 percent of American homeowners owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth, according to a new report from the real estate website Zillow

Defaults and foreclosures are likely to increase as homeowners decide to walk away from their houses, rather than continuing to make mortgage payments on property they can't sell or refinance, analysts said.

Forecloses are already twice what they were this time last year and the number of homeowners who haven't made a mortgage payment in at least two months rose for the first time since 2009.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pending Job Creation Legislation (Nov 3, 2011)

Box 96, Lynbrook, NY 11563

Representative John Conyers (D-MI) has introduced H.R. 870, the Humphrey-Hawkins 21st Century Full Employment & Training Act with 19 cosponsors. This is a comprehensive and innovative federal and local government job creation and training bill that would create millions of new jobs for the nation’s unemployed.  The Act’s Full Employment Trust Fund would provide federal funding for local community-based job creation and training initiatives until full employment is reached in the United States. The Act is deficit neutral and fully funded through a modest tax on Wall Street stock and bond transactions.

HR 2914, the Emergency Jobs to Restore the American Dream Act, introduced by Rep. Jan Schakowsky and 48 cosponsors, would create 2.2 million jobs over two years, to meet critical needs and strengthen communities.  The bill creates a national School Improvement Corps to rehabilitate school buildings; a Park Improvement Corps for youth between the ages of 16 and 25; a Student Job Corps for college students; a Neighborhood Heroes Corps to hire teachers, police officers and firefighters; a Health Corps to expand access to care in underserved neighborhoods; a Child Care Corps; and a Community Corps to rehabilitate and weatherize homes and promote recycling and rural conservation..  The legislation gives the unemployed priority for jobs, particularly those who have exhausted their unemployment benefits (the “99ers”), and veterans.   The $227 billion cost of the Act would be paid for through separate legislation to create higher tax brackets for millionaires and billionaires, and by eliminating  subsidies for Big Oil and tax loopholes for corporations that send American jobs overseas.  

HR 402, the National Infrastructure Development Bank Act of 2011, has been introduced by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) with 70 cosponsors.  The legislation establishes a National Infrastructure Development Bank, an independent body designed to evaluate and finance infrastructure projects of substantial regional and national significance.  Eligible infrastructure projects would include transportation (including highways, transit, inland waterways, rail and air travel), the environment (including development of drinking and wastewater facilities); energy (including renewable energy transmission and building efficiency); and telecommunications and broadband development.  The Bank would be capitalized with authorized appropriations of $5 billion a year for 5 years as paid in capital and would sunset 15 years after it is signed into law.   A similar bill, S. 652, the Senate BUILD Act, introduced by Sen. John Kerry with 10 cosponsors, would establish an American Infrastructure Financing Authority (AIFA), a type of national infrastructure bank, an independent body designed to evaluate and finance infrastructure projects of substantial regional and national significance.
HR 494, the 21st Century Civilian Conservation Corps Act, introduced by Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) with 19 cosponsors, would establish a Civilian Conservation Corps to employ unemployed or underemployed U.S. citizens in the construction, maintenance, and improvement projects related to parks and natural resources, including forestation of U.S. and state lands, prevention of forest fires, floods, and soil erosion, and construction and repair of National Park System paths and trails.  The bill would be funded at a level of $16 billion a year from fiscal year 2012 through fiscal year 2015.
HR 724/S 591, The Security in Energy and Manufacturing (SEAM) Act, introduced by Rep. Steven Rothman (D-NJ) with 17 cosponsors and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) with 5 cosponsors, would renew the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit program, also known as 48C, which provides investment tax credits of 30% for facilities that manufacture energy equipment. Currently, 70 percent of clean energy components are manufactured outside of the United States.

HR 11, the Build America Bonds to Create Jobs Now Act, introduced by Rep.  Gerry Connolly (D-VA) with 18 cosponsors to spur job creation here at home. These bonds have been an effective tool in job creation, having helped finance $181 billion in critical infrastructure projects, such as schools, hospitals, roads, courthouses, public safety facilities and equipment, water and sewer projects, environmental projects, energy projects, public buildings, government housing projects and public utilities.
HR 1901, the “Saving America's Youth: the Youth Employment Act of 2011” (SAY YEA!),  introduced by Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) with 22 cosponsors, would create summer jobs for disconnected youth.  The bill would provide $6.5 billion dollars for youth employment while offering tax incentives for businesses that hire employees ages 16 to 21 years of age.  The bill funds a national public service employment program that focuses on jobs in parks, education and rebuilding infrastructure.   According to Rep. Rush, “…the unemployment rate for Americans between the ages of 16 and 19 had reached a Depression-era level of 25.5 percent.  That percentage, which translated into an estimated 1.5 million unemployed youth, was the highest level it had ever been in the 50-plus years that the U. S. Labor Department has been tracking those records.”
HR 1366/S 751, the National Manufacturing Strategy Act of 2011, introduced by Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-IL) with 41 cosponsors, and Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Mark Kirk (D-IL) in the Senate, expresses the sense of Congress that: (1) the U.S. government should promote policies related to the nation's manufacturing sector intended to promote growth, sustainability, and competitiveness, create well-paying jobs, enable innovation and investment, and support national security; and (2) the President and Congress should act promptly to pursue policies consistent with a National Manufacturing Strategy (Strategy).   The bill directs the President to submit a national manufacturing strategy to the Congress every four years. 


Energy Independence Plan: The Apollo Alliance has proposed a 10-year plan to get the U.S. to energy independence by investing in clean and renewable energy, including energy efficiency and conservation and green vehicles.  The plan would require an annual investment of $50 billion each year for 10 years, but it wouldactually pay for itself through public sector savings and avoiding costs of imported oil and fossil fuel consumption.   

Mass Transit Plan:  “Make it in America: The Apollo Clean Transportation Manufacturing Action Plan” calls for sustained investments to harness transit and clean vehicle building here in the U.S., investments that would result in 3.7 million jobs in the next 6 years. Of those new jobs, 600,000 alone would be in the manufacturing sector. 

Unemployed Workers:  HR 589, the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Expansion Act of 2011, introduced by Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Bobby Scott (D-VA), with 89 cosponsors, would add 14 weeks of benefits to the first "tier" of Emergency Unemployment Compensation, one of two programs that together give the unemployed up to 73 weeks of federally-funded benefits for workers who exhaust 26 weeks of state benefits. The full 73 weeks are available in states with unemployment above 8.5%.

Compiled by Chuck Bell, National Jobs for All Coalition, November 3, 2011

The American Dream Movement: It's Time for Solutions!!

Cross-posted from Huffington Post

It's Time for the Solutions: Hundreds of Thousands Support Big Plan to Fix Economy

by , President of and author of NY Times bestseller, "The Green-Collar Economy"

America and the world owe a great debt to Occupy Wall Street for making the problem of economic inequality impossible to ignore. The tiny spark that began in Zuccotti Park just six weeks ago has triggered a major shift in the national dialogue on inequality, our economy and our democracy.

Now it's time to begin a conversation about solutions -- solutions big enough to fit the scale of the problems that Occupy Wall Street has highlighted. Fortunately, the American Dream Movement spent this last summer taking on this very challenge. We are a vast, growing network of progressive organizations and individuals.

We are fighting to renew the American Dream and return our country to the principle of liberty and justice, for ALL (not for some).

We launched in June 2011, with the support of more than 70 national organizations, including, Planned Parenthood, Center for Community Change, Campaign for America's Future, SEIU and AFL-CIO. Since then, more than half a million people have joined our ranks and become members on We now have membership in every congressional district of the country.

In July, the American Dream Movement created an inclusive process to forge a jobs agenda that would put the country back to work without hurting essential programs like Medicare and Medicaid. More than 131,000 people got involved, both online and in person (NOTE: That is nearly three times the number of people who helped craft the Tea Party's famous"Contract from America.") Participants generated more than 20,000 ideas, then rated and ranked them to identify the best ones.

The outcome was our 10-point program: the Contract for the American Dream.

The common sense remedies in the Contract are based on the fundamental idea that a functioning U.S. economy requires opportunity for all and responsibility from all. Here are the ten items:

I. Invest in America's Infrastructure - Rebuild our crumbling bridges, dams, levees, ports, water and sewer lines, railways, roads, and public transit. Invest in high-speed Internet and a modern, energy-saving electric grid. These investments will create good jobs and rebuild America.
II. Create 21st Century Energy Jobs - Invest in American businesses that can power our country with innovative technologies like wind turbines, solar panels, geothermal systems, hybrid and electric cars, and next-generation batteries. And put Americans to work making our homes and buildings energy efficient. We can create good, green jobs in America, address the climate crisis, and build the clean energy economy.
III. Invest in Public Education - Provide universal access to early childhood education, make school funding equitable, invest in high-quality teachers, and build safe, well-equipped school buildings for our students. This is critical for our future and can create badly needed jobs now.
IV. Offer Medicare for All - Expand Medicare so it's available to all Americans, and reform it to provide even more cost-effective, quality care. The Affordable Care Act is a start, but it's not enough. We can save trillions of dollars by joining every other industrialized country -- paying much less for health care while getting the same or better results.
V. Make Work Pay - Grant all Americans the right to fair minimum and living wages, to organize and collectively bargain, to enjoy equal opportunity, and to earn equal pay for equal work. Corporate assaults on these rights must be outlawed.
VI. Secure Social Security - Keep Social Security sound, and strengthen the retirement, disability, and survivors' protections Americans earn through their hard work. Pay for it by removing the cap on the Social Security tax, so that upper-income people pay into Social Security on all they make, just like the rest of us.
VII. Return to Fairer Tax Rates - End, once and for all, the Bush-era tax giveaways for the rich, which the rest of us -- or our kids -- must pay eventually. Outlaw corporate tax havens and tax breaks for shipping jobs overseas. And with millionaires and billionaires taking a growing share of our country's wealth, let's add new tax brackets for those making more than $1 million annually.
VIII. End the Wars and Invest at Home - Bring home our troops. They've done everything asked of them, and it's time to bring them home to good jobs. We're sending $3 billion each week overseas that we should be investing to rebuild America.
IX. Tax Wall Street Speculation - Make Wall Street pay. A tiny fee of a twentieth of 1% on each Wall Street trade could raise tens of billions of dollars annually with little impact on actual investment. This would reduce speculation, "flash trading," and outrageous bankers' bonuses.
X. Strengthen Democracy - Hold clean, fair elections -- where no one's right to vote can be taken away, and where money doesn't buy you your own member of Congress. We must ban anonymous political influence, slam shut the lobbyists' revolving door in D.C., and publicly finance elections. Immigrants who want to join in our democracy deserve a clear path to citizenship. We must stop giving corporations the rights of people when it comes to our elections. And we must ensure our judiciary's respect for the Constitution.

Many elements of the Contract are already under consideration in various forms in Congress, even as we speak. The idea of taxing Wall Street speculation at this moment in history should be a no-brainer. Let's bring all ten points through the political system.

There's always a danger that even mass protest will not result in concrete policy change or real-life improvements for ordinary Americans. The challenge we face is critical: It is time to turn this unleashed energy into power.

We must go beyond changing the conversation on inequality to also changing the conditions under which millions of Americans are suffering economically. Let's use this pivotal moment in history to make America work for the 99%
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