Posts from the ‘Education’ Category

Thousands in Spain protest to defend pensions



Thousands in Spain protest to defend pensions (via AFP)

Whistles blowing and horns honking, thousands of people demonstrated Monday in Madrid to defend their pensions from the austerity policies of the right-wing government of Mariano Rajoy. Spain's government broke a key election commitment in November by saying it would fail to raise pensions in line…

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The State Of Massachusetts Will Soon Allow Undocumented Immigrants Under Obama’s Plan Deferred Action Program To Pay Out State Tuition At Public Universities


By Annie-Rose Strasser on Nov 19, 2012 at 1:30 pm

The state of Massachusetts will soon allow undocumented immigrants protected under the President’s deferred action program to pay in-state tuition at public universities.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick (D) will direct the Board of Higher Education to grant in-state rates to any student who has obtained a work permit, a state official told the Boston Globe over the weekend. This applies to undocumented students who were given relief from the fear of deportationearlier this year, when the President announced a deferred action program to help such young people gain the right to work.

Patrick’s directive will take effect immediately, and will drastically lower the cost of higher education for young immigrant students:

Patrick’s announcement dramatically slashes the cost of a college education for immigrants who until now had to pay out-of-state rates.

For example, the flagship University of Massachusetts Amherst costs $26,645 this year for nonresidents, compared with $13,230 for residents, while Bunker Hill Community College costs $5,640 this year for residents, compared with $13,880 for nonresidents. And Framingham State costs $8,080 for residents this year, compared with $14,160 for nonresidents.

In the past, paying for college was exceptionally hard for undocumented students, since they were ineligible for federal student loans or programs such as Pell grants. In some states, that is likely to continue: While there are 12 states that allow undocumented students to pay an in-state rate, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, and Indiana have laws that specify such immigrants are not allowed to pay an in-state rate.

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Whites with No Diploma Live Shorter Lives – Truthdig


For White People Who Vote REPUBLICAN You Have Alot To Think About

Whites with No Diploma Live Shorter Lives – Truthdig.

Life expectancy for the least-educated Americans has shrunk by four years since 1990, a reminder that social inequality is not just a matter of having fewer things than those who are better off than you.

Exactly why the decline occurred isn’t understood, but a rise in prescription drug overdoses among white youths, higher rates of tobacco use, growing obesity and a lack of health insurance were offered by researchers as possible explanations.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

The New York Times:

The steepest declines were for white women without a high school diploma, who lost five years of life between 1990 and 2008, said S. Jay Olshansky, a public health professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the lead investigator on the study, published last month in Health Affairs. By 2008, life expectancy for black women without a high school diploma had surpassed that of white women of the same education level, the study found.

White men lacking a high school diploma lost three years of life. Life expectancy for both blacks and Hispanics of the same education level rose, the data showed. But blacks over all do not live as long as whites, while Hispanics live longer than both whites and blacks.

“We’re used to looking at groups and complaining that their mortality rates haven’t improved fast enough, but to actually go backward is deeply troubling,” said John G. Haaga, head of the Population and Social Processes Branch of the National Institute on Aging, who was not involved in the new study.

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Republicans Accidentally Vote To End Welfare-To-Work Requirements | Addicting Info


Republicans Accidentally Vote To End Welfare-To-Work Requirements | Addicting Info.

The Workforce Investment Improvement Act, a bill spearheaded by Republican Representatives Virginia Foxx (R-NC), Joseph J. Heck, (R-NV), and Buck McKeon (R-CA), would allow states to group state and federal employment/training programs, such as TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), into a single fund. However, this has an apparently unforeseen side effect–it would take away federally mandated requirements for the programs.

That is the result found, at least, by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service. The CRS is sometimes known as “Congress’ think tank” because of their nonpartisan policy and legal analysis services.

The funny thing here is that it is generally the conservatives in the government that are screaming about leftists all wanting a free lunch. By trying to accomplish their government-consolidation aims, they have, in effect, done exactly what they try to accuse President Barack Obama of. Talking Points Memo points out the irony:

“I don’t think the TANF work requirements were what they had in mind when they were working on the Foxx bill,” says Elizabeth Lower-Basch of the Center for Law and Social Policy. “But it is sort of a collateral consequence.”

According to a brief written by CLASP, for the House Education and Workforce Committee hearing on the bill in June, the bill also “eliminates many of the requirements and mandates that governed the now consolidated streams.” The committee cleared the bill anyway.

That, of course, is exactly what Republicans are falsely claiming the Obama administration’s state waivers would do. In reality, those waivers are only on offer to states that can demonstrate that they have or will increase the number of people transitioning from welfare to work by at least 20 percent.

They go on to point out that, “The GOP’s legislation has no such safeguards. According to the Congressional Research Service analysis of the bill published this month, ‘[I]f TANF funds were consolidated into the [Workforce Investment Fund], TANF program requirements (e.g., work requirements) may no longer apply to that portion of funding because the TANF funding would not exist (i.e., it would be part of the WIF and thus subject to WIF program requirements).’”

A humorous situation indeed.

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‘You’re On Your Own’: Obama Readies Education Offensive Attacking Ryan Budget | TPM2012


‘You’re On Your Own’: Obama Readies Education Offensive Attacking Ryan Budget | TPM2012.

Pema Levy & Evan McMorris-Santoro August 21, 2012, 11:44 AM 511

Paul Ryan’s addition to the Republican presidential ticket unleashed a new back-and-forth over the future of Medicare. But Democrats believe Ryan also gives them an opening to talk about another seminal issue tied to the congressman’s controversial budget: education.

On Tuesday, President Obama will go on offense over education, an issue where the Romney-Ryan ticket is vulnerable because of the cuts to popular programs like Pell grants for college students under the Ryan budget.

Ryan’s education cuts will be central to Obama’s attacks Tuesday. Beginning with a speech at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, Tuesday, the president will hammer the massive cuts contained in Paul’s budget plan, including $115 billion cut from the Department of Education, and 2 million fewer children enrolled in Head Start, according to the Associated Press.

The president will also target the top of the ticket, highlighting Romney’s comments about shopping around for a cheap college and borrowing money from your parents.

“A few months ago, just up the road in Westerville, Gov. Romney said if you want to be successful, if you want to go to college or start a business, you can just ‘borrow money if you have to from your parents,’” Obama will say in Columbus, according to prepared remarks. “That’s it — that’s his plan. That’s his answer for a young person hoping to go to college — shop around, borrow money from your parents if you have to — but if they don’t have it, you’re on your own.”

Obama and Ryan’s visions for the education system “couldn’t be more distinct,” Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers union, which endorsed Obama in July, told TPM last week. “On the other side, we have the Ryan budget that came out of the House. … In order to pay for those tax cuts to the very wealthiest people, we have to cut Medicaid, we have to cut education, we have to throw kids out of Head Start, we have to eliminate Pell grants for thousands of kids.”

Van Roekel said the campaigns differ in fundamental ways: One considers education a right; the other, a privilege.

“[Obama] believes that every student ought to have all the education they can afford,” Van Roekel said, alluding to a Romney speech from June in which the candidate said America was great because students “get as much education as they can afford.”

“I just disagree with that, and so does President Obama. We believe that every student should have all the education they deserve,” Van Roekel said.

The president addressed education in his weekly YouTube address over the weekend. Previewing Obama’s remarks Friday, senior administration officials pointed to the education spending Obama included in his last jobs bill, which stalled in the GOP-controlled House. It was another veiled jab at Ryan, who Obama has made the face of the Republican House on the trail.

As Democrats begin their full-court education press, Obama’s attacks in Ohio — which he’ll follow up on Tuesday and Wednesday in Nevada — are echoed in a media push attacking Romney’s comments on paying for college. A new ad called “Get Real, Mitt,” touts the work Obama has done on the education front and pillories Romney’s suggestion that young Americans “borrow money if you have to from your parents” to finance their education.

The DNC, meanwhile, released a brutal video featuring Romney’s suggestion to a college student in Ohio during the primary that he just “shop around” in order to afford college. An online calculator from the campaign compares Obama and Romney’s education plans. “Higher education cannot be a luxury reserved just for a privileged few,” it says, above a list of reforms put in place under President Obama. Above a list of Romney’s education policies, the website reads, “Shop around, get a good price.”
Barack Obama, Education, Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan

(1) New High-Speed Rail Plan Runs Over Prop. 1A Mandates | Digg Politics


April 2, 2012

By Katy Grimes

As California politicians show more desperation to build any part of the California High-Speed Rail system in order to get their hands on $3.5 billion in federal stimulus money, the plan is looking more like a whack-a-mole game. But every hole that is plugged, every detail that is softened or tweaked, and every cost estimate that is changed causes a bigger problem. The cover-up is worse than the original crime.

It is important to remember that high-speed rail is not really about achieving sexy world-class transportation for the purpose of serious people moving. It’s just a pipeline project for grabbing big money. Because of the illegitimacy of the project’s intent, the mole could be permanently whacked, and leave California taxpayers holding the bill.

The most recent miracle cure was yesterday’s announcement of the newest revised business plan, in which the cost  of the project will be reduced to $68 billion from $98.6 billion by expanding the 130-mile line from Fresno to Bakersfield, to Merced to San Fernando Valley, for a 300-mile segment.

But there is quiet talk about electrifying only some of the track, and using pre-existing Amtrack rails. “Instead of building costly new raised viaducts and underground tunnels, the high-speed trains would run where possible on existing lines, such as Caltrain’s Peninsula infrastructure,” the San Francisco Examiner reported. But existing track cannot accommodate the 200 mph. The new business plan makes this just a train, not high-speed rail as was required by Proposition 1A, the 2008 ballot initiative authorizing the train.

Houston, we have a mandate

With politicians and High-Speed Rail Authority officials working all last year to smooth over the complex and conflicting details of the bulging $98 billion High-Speed Rail plan, oddly enough, they’ve created an even larger problem than the growing dissent by the voters. They are now violating important mandates in the 2008 law.

Proposition 1A, $9 billion in bonds for high-speed rail, included numerous mandates, none of which can be legally bypassed on the way to building the massive train system.

Top on the list is that the rail system must be high-speed. “Electric trains that are capable of sustained maximum revenue operating speeds of no less than 200 miles per hour,” the law states. However, much of the first segment between Fresno and Bakersfield is not high-speed; nor will high-speed be attainable in dense cities.

Rail Authority Chairman Dan Richard recently said at a legislative hearing that the Rail Authority “never intended, our business plan does not contemplate, that we would operate a high-speed rail system only in the Central Valley.”

Mandates

But his statement runs counter to Proposition 1A:

* Prop. 1A stipulates 11 requirements that must be met before funds can be released for the construction of a “corridor” or “usable segment.”  Specifically, some of these requirements include actual high-speed train service, ridership, revenue projections and planned passenger service.

* “The high-speed train system shall be planned and constructed in a manner that minimizes urban sprawl and impacts on the natural environment,” the law states. But the impact of the rail system may actually create suburban communities around train stations within reasonable distances from urban areas and higher employment areas.

The train system will also dissect both urban and rural communities which will be problematic, as well as a serious violation of the “natural environment.” The trains will travel through densely populated cities, but also through sensitive agricultural and natural areas in the state.

* The success of any legitimate transportation system must be based on connectivity. “For each corridor described in subdivision (b), passengers shall have the capability of traveling from any station on that corridor to any other station on that corridor without being required to change trains,” the law states. “Stations shall be located in areas with good access to local mass transit or other modes of transportation.”  This means that unless there are extensive connecting rail systems already in place in the high-speed rail destinations, cab companies, limo services and car rental companies should be lining up to rent space in the train stations. Commuters will not have the necessary train and bus systems to transfer to with the existing plan.

* The California High-Speed Rail Authority must have all of the the funding ahead of time, before any construction starts on a new segment.

* The high-speed train system must operate on its own entirely, and in the black. That means operating profitably, and includes caveats of no government subsidy. The plan relies heavily on a projection of 100 million users by 2030, a notion that was created with manipulated data, and is absurd.

Assemblywoman Diane Harkey, R-Dana Point, has railed consistently against the implementation of the plan. Even though voters were deceived by the ballot summary and language, Harkey has said that the entire project is lacking in private, public and debt funding to complete even the most minor operating segment.

In addition, Harkey has said the mandatory Environmental Impact Report for the system is not complete. Yet the law calls for certified EIR’s for each segment of the system. California already is running endemic budget deficits. Yet Gov. Jerry Brown is pushing for additional and higher taxes. State officials have been ignoring the state’s infrastructure needs and massive maintenance and repair.

Fortunately, voters are now suspicious about the rail system they approved in 2008.

With all of this information available, who or what keeps pushing for the already bankrupt rail system to begin construction?

Follow the money 

One need not look any further than the utility bills that come in the mail. Pacific Gas &Electric and Southern California Edison will be providing the electricity for high-speed rail, with estimates of additional demands for electricity already coming in at 1 percent to 5 percent of the state’s total energy usage, according to a Capitol staffer who asked to remain anonymous. “Even Cal ISO doesn’t have any estimates for the cost,” the staffer said. “High-speed rail has got to consume a great deal of power. Where will the power come from?”

Surprisingly, the California Independent System Operator  has no estimates for energy usage about high-speed rail on its website, as would be expected given the size and scope of the project.

But according to a July 2011 energy usage analysis prepared for the California High-Speed Rail Program Management Team, total electricity usage for the proposed rail system would be “8.32 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) per day,” and more than 3 billion kWh per year.

The average three-person household in California is about 6,000 kWh per year, or a little more than 2,000 KWh per person.

According to the California Public Utilities Commission, electricity customers in the state paid an average rate of about 15.2 cents per kWh.

At 15.2 cents per kWh, the total utility bill for high-speed rail would be nearly $1.26 million per day, and more than $460 million per year. And that’s probably a very conservative estimate.

Show me the money

Along with every imaginable labor union in the state, a report from “Follow the Money” shows that PG&E spent $20,000 in support of Prop. 1A in 2008.

Both PG&E and SCE also have given large campaign contributions to Gov. Jerry Brown, who actively campaigned on the high-speed rail issue when he ran for governor in 2010. Brown received $31,580 from PG&E during his gubernatorial campaign, and $25,000 from SCE.

While those investments seem relatively small for a $460 million per year payout, how many clients of PG&E and SCE currently use up to 5 percent of the state’s total electricity?

And who could forget the other big PG&E connection? Brown recently appointed High-Speed Rail Authority Chairman Dan Richard, a former senior vice president of public policy and governmental relations at PG&E.

Where will the power come from?

With California’s climate-change mantra of “no dirty coal,” “no natural gas,” no hydroelectricity” and “no nuclear power,” many wonder if the high-speed trains will be powered by windmills, solar panels and algae.

Remember that California passed the climate change law, AB 32, in 2006, and the Renewable Portfolio Standards mandate in 2011. Both greatly restrict energy usage, and force energy producers to get 33 percent of their electricity from renewable resources.

There isn’t enough wind, sun or algae in the Western Hemisphere to power a 200mph train up and down the state.

With the state taking the Klamath hydroelectric dam offline, cutting coal reliance, refusing to reinvest in nuclear power and essentially creating an energy shortage, when California has another inevitable blackout, what will be powered — our homes, or the high-speed train? Hospitals, or the high-speed train? Schools, or the high-speed train? Businesses, or the high-speed train?

The Legislature is creating a massive energy problem in California, and refusing to do anything about it. But maybe, just maybe, the law will rescue the voters this time.

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Comments(5)
  1. Beelzebub says:

    Be very careful out there, folks. Whether it’s high-speed rail, climate control or incarceration – the fascists are looking for more creative ways to put their hands into your wallets and separate you from what little wealth you may have accumulated in your lifetime.

    If you have a job, are productive or have a little nest egg that you labored for, in some counties you have become a biased target in favor of incarceration.

    You might want to think twice before you venture into Riverside County. However in the long run it probably doesn’t really matter, does it? Coming soon to a theater near you. ;)

    “Riverside County has a new motto: “If you do the crime, you’ll do the time, and now, you’ll also pay the dime.”

    “Supervisor Stone said Riverside will only collect the jail fee from inmates who are financially able to pay it, so indigent inmates will not be sent a bill.”

    http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/jail-cost-riverside-san-diego-134290613.html

    This is how they fill their budget holes created by years and years of fiscal mismanagement. Tyranny of the productive. Welcome to China.

    Keep voting, suckers! :D

  2. Beelzebub says:

    The answer is to be either filthy rich or poor as a church mouse.

    Anything inbetween and you’re screwed. :)

  3. nowsane says:

    When I owned a boat, the common phrase was that “a boat is a hole in the water surrounded by wood into which one pours the contents of your wallet” This article demonstrates why Proposition 1A is similarly a hole into which the entire state will empty it’s collective wallets for a lifetime! My thanks to Cal Watchdog for staying attuned to this crock of a project.

  4. nowsane says:

    Pete Peterson, writing in City Journal California, On Further Review, 13 Jan 2012, http://www.city-journal.org/2012/cjc0113pp.html , said “Experts are taking a second look at California’s rail and climate-change programs. Will Jerry Brown? “ very articulately and succinctly argues why both the High-Speed Rail Project, Prop 1A, and AB 32 should be ditched as soon as possible. Unfortunately, Moonbeam is further pushing the Climate Change BS, as well as pushing the “Train to Nowhere” and the voters have no refugee in CA Sen. Pres. Pro Tem Daniel S. Steinberg, or CA Assemblymember Speaker John Pérez to stop these ridiculous programs. Both are boondoggles of the highest order!

  5. CalWatchdog says:

    Nowsane – with Gov. Brown’s staunch support of high-speed rail, AB 32, and cap and trade carbon trading, solar, wind, electric cars, we are now calling him ‘Gov. Sunbeam.’

    – Katy

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(1) New High-Speed Rail Plan Runs Over Prop. 1A Mandates | Digg Politics.

Shocker: Paul Ryan’s budget means more big tax cuts for the rich. – CSMonitor.com


The tax cuts in Paul Ryan’s 2013 budget plan would result in huge benefits for high-income people and very modest—or no— benefits for low income working households. No surprise here.

By Guest blogger / March 24, 2012

House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., center, and others, leave a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, where he discussed his budget blueprint.

Jacquelyn Martin/AP

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No surprise here, but the tax cuts in Paul Ryan’s 2013 budget plan would result in huge benefits for high-income people and very modest—or no— benefits for low income working households, according to a new analysis by the Tax Policy Center.

Howard Gleckman is a resident fellow at The Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, the author of Caring for Our Parents, and former senior correspondent in the Washington bureau of Business Week. (http://taxvox.taxpolicycenter.org)

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TPC looked only at the tax reductions in Ryan’s plan, which also included offsetting–but unidentified–cuts in tax credits, exclusions, and deductions. TPC found that in 2015, relative to today’s tax system, those making $1 million or more would enjoy an average tax cut of $265,000 and see their after-tax income increase by 12.5 percent. By contrast, half of those making between $20,000 and $30,000 would get no tax cut at all. On average, people in that income group would get a tax reduction of $129. Ryan would raise their after-tax income by 0.5 percent.

Nearly all middle-income households (those making between $50,000 and $75,000) would see their taxes fall, by an average of roughly $1,000. Ryan would increase their after-tax income by about 2 percent.

Ryan would extend all of the 2001/2003 tax cuts, and then consolidate individual rates to just two—10 and 25 percent. In addition, he’d repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax, reduce the corporate rate from 35 percent to 25 percent, and kill the tax provisions of the 2010 health reform law.

Earlier this week, TPC projected the tax cuts in Ryan’s budget would add $4.6 trillion to the federal deficit over the next decade, even after extending the 2001/2003 tax cuts, which would add another $5.4 trillion to the deficit.

Ryan argues that eliminating or scaling back deductions, credits, and exclusions ought to be part of the GOP fiscal plan. But he won’t say how.

Cuts in those tax preferences could make a big difference in determining who wins and who loses from the tax portion of his budget. But until House Republicans describe which they’d cut, there is no way to estimate what those base-broadeners would mean.

In truth, unless Republicans raise taxes on capital gains and dividends, it is hard to imagine the highest income households getting anything other than a windfall from this budget. Other tax preferences, such as the mortgage interest deduction, are just not that valuable to them.

And since no high-profile Republicans want to raise taxes on gains and dividends (and many would cut investment taxes even further) this budget would likely result in a huge tax cut for those who need it least.  That’s not a great way to start an exercise whose stated goal is to eliminate the budget deficit.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best economy-related bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers’ own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger’s own site by clicking on taxvox.taxpolicycenter.org.

 

 

Shocker: Paul Ryan’s budget means more big tax cuts for the rich. – CSMonitor.com.