In kicking off the New Year, Washington has become the first state with a minimum wage of more than $9 an hour, as it joined seven other states in similar measures that index their minimum wage rates to inflation. Including workers in all industries, Washington’s minimum wage increased 37 cents to a record high of $9.04 an hour (the rate for workers who are 14 or 15 years old is $7.68), which went into effect the first day of the New Year.
As the U.S. economy suspends in a prolonged, comatose state, high joblessness and uncertainty among young Americans have incited youth discontent with the federal government’s fiscal and economic blunders. A new poll conducted by Generation Opportunity, a non-profit organization that educates young Americans on the nation’s current political and economic affairs, surveyed individuals between the ages of 18 and 29 on issues such as government spending, national security, and Washington leadership.
Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska, left) plans to introduce a controversial bill that would abolish every federal regulation enacted in the past two decades, including restrictions on banking, oil drilling, healthcare, and food and drug safety. "My bill is very simple, I just null and void any regulations passed in the last 20 years," Young announced to a crowd at the Anchorage Downtown Rotary Club. "I picked 20 years ago because it crossed party lines and also we were prosperous at that time. And no new regulations until they can justify them."
As President Obama’s new jobs proposal soon approaches, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has prepared its own plan for expanding U.S. employment. In an open letter to Congress and the White House, the Chamber called for an array of measures to promote employment, ranging from easing restrictions on oil drilling, providing temporary corporate tax breaks, and increasing spending on public infrastructure.
California Governor Jerry Brown proposed a new tax plan to the state legislature Thursday that would boost levies on large corporations located outside of California. Brown’s request to state lawmakers is to revert the sales tax structure back to the formula adopted before 2009, which would require multi-state corporations, which employ few California workers, to pay higher sales taxes for goods they sell within state boundaries.
While U.S. lawmakers wrestle with high unemployment and a mounting federal deficit, 80 percent of them have no academic background in business or economics, according to a new study by the Employment Policies Institute (EPI). The study found that only 8.4 percent of U.S. lawmakers majored in economics, while 13.7 percent studied subjects related to business or accounting. The majority of Congress — 55.7 percent — studied law, government, or humanities.
President Obama’s pledge to recover the economy has taken a long and winding detour, but his 2008 campaign pledge to regulate corporate America is right on course — despite the fact that in January, the White House issued an executive order to review regulations for all federal agencies, with the intent to root out oppressive regulations on American businesses.
President Obama commenced his weekly address on Saturday by subtly blaming sluggish economic growth and high unemployment on his predecessor — the Bush administration. In prototypical Obama fashion, he reminded the American public that the economic plunders of today did not strike on his watch, and that his administration inherited "the worst recession since the Great Depression."
"I wish I could tell you there was a quick fix to our economic problems," the President lamented in his weekend dialogue. "But the truth is, we didn't get into this mess overnight, and we won't get out of it overnight. It's going to take time."
The Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD) is doling out $42 million in federal funding for housing counseling grants to 468 local, regional, and national organizations. Intended to prevent foreclosures and assist new home buyers, the grants will offer free assistance on foreclosure avoidance as well as educate buyers on how to rent or purchase a home. HUD alleges that beneficiaries of these services will help combat predatory lending practices, because buyers will be equipped with information to help them evade mortgage scams, high interest rates, and unreasonably high appraisals.
Freddie Mac has again entered the spotlight as a new report claims the government-sponsored enterprise betrayed American homeowners after placing multibillion-dollar bets that will pay off if homeowners remain shackled by costly mortgages with interest rates well above current rates. In a scathing new revelation of their investigation, National Public Radio (NPR) and ProPublica, an independent investigative news service, uncovered multibillion-dollar investments made by Freddie in late 2010 that will pay off only if homeowners remain trapped in high-interest mortgages.