Here’s what I found to be the important section of the post:
An American IBM employee sent me an e-mail chain among the employee, IBM hiring managers, and IBM HR that shows how IBM flagrantly violates the law in regard H-1B usage and immigration status discrimination.
First a little background. IBM has a built-in source to import foreign labor. IBM’s Indian subsidiary (IBM Global Services India) is one of the largest importers of foreign workers on H-1B visas.
When IBM is staffing projects in the United States it can hire locally or use imported labor on H-1B visas provided by IBM India.
Now let me set the stage for the e-mail chain. An American IBM employee in the United States had been working on a software development project for a customer that had recently ended. The employee needed to find another project to avoid being laid off, as it is easier to lay off people who are not working on projects.
The American IBM employee was on an internal IBM mailing list for employees who were available for a new project. The IBM employee received a timely mass e-mail through this list from IBM HR with a job description that started out:We are urgently seeking Business Analyst resources with Test experience for two positions on the Alcatel-Lucent account.
A lengthy job description and instructions on how to apply followed this introduction. (IBM uses the term “resource” throughout to refer to employees.) The job was located in the United States and the American IBM employee lived close to the project.
The American IBM employee responded to the job posting with a cover letter explaining how the employee’s qualifications matched the posted job requirements, the additional information requested in the job posting, and a resume.
This is the IBM hiring manager’s complete response to the American IBM employee’s application (The IBM employee provided translations of acronyms that I have indicated in square brackets.):
Thank you for your interest in the eBusiness Analyst position on the Alcatel-Lucent account. We are in the process of gathering resumes for this position and will send you a follow-up response once we have had an opportunity to review your qualifications.
Please understand the clients first preference is IGSI [IBM Global Services India] landed resource, then local US candidates, then remote, so these candidates will be in the second group to be considered. (sic)
This manager was forcing Americans to get in line for jobs behind “landed resources” from IBM India. In case you are wondering — yes, this is illegal. See 8 USC § 1324B.
So how can IBM so flagrantly violate the law?
The reason IBM can get away with this disgraceful behavior is that discrimination enforcement requires a complaint. An employee considering a complaint has to weigh the probability of the government prosecuting the case and winning adequate compensation against the risk of retaliation and damage to his or her career. Many companies make severance packages contingent upon employees signing away rights to file such a complaint.
IBM has no fear of the U.S. legal system.
This hearkens back to my last column about regulatory abuse. IBM has the largest internal legal department of any corporation anywhere. IBM has more lawyers on staff than most governments. And IBM’s legal department has been over the years a great profit center, especially through enforcing intellectual property rights. If you decide to sue IBM for violating your patent, you can be sure their first response will be to find half a dozen or more IBM patents that you might have infringed, too. Just the threat of protracted legal action is enough to make most such problems simply go away, IBM is so aggressive.
And so we’ve reached a point where, as this Miano post describes, IBM appears to not even pretend anymore to be in compliance with H-1B immigration law. Why should they?
Selected reader comments follow:
Investors' attraction to IBM has in part been a result of steady bottom line performance. It has consistently delivered earnings-per-share growth north of 10%, even through the recession. In part, that is thanks to continued improvement in profit margins as IBM has generated a bigger share of revenue from high-margin software sales.
But items below the operating-profit line have also stoked earnings growth. This past quarter, earnings were 7% higher due to an asset divestiture. Stock buybacks have provided a big boost as well. Last quarter, for instance, IBM spent nearly all of its free cash flow buying back shares. Though that added just 1% or so to EPS in the quarter, over time the boost has been significant. From 2006 to 2012, nearly 40% of IBM's projected earnings per share growth can be explained by its lower share count. ...
Meanwhile, as part of the road map, IBM says it can deliver $100 billion of free cash flow over five years, of which it will spend $20 billion on dividends and $50 billion on buybacks. Yet in the first two years of the road map, IBM is likely to average about $17 billion of free cash flow. So to hit its target, IBM will have to see a sizable increase in the next three years. If revenue growth doesn't pick up, IBM may feel pressure to cut costs more aggressively to make up the difference, argues ISI Group analyst Brian Marshall. That could undercut sales further.
Selected reader comments follow:
On IBM specifically: Where is the CEO? Why does she get a pass on not appearing in the media and taking questions? This is ridiculous. Shareholders and the media should be questioning the negative revenue growth trend
Mark Loughridge, IBM’s chief financial officer, blamed currency volatility for the fall.
However, he revealed that several contracts in the company’s otherwise strong software business had fallen through late in the quarter while the company had rejected some services contracts because it thought the profit margin too low. ...
However, the lacklustre performance in those areas surprised some analysts, raising concern over IBM’s strategic direction. “The era of the big deals has gone,” said Chris Ambrose, an analyst at Gartner. “There is a lot more multi-sourcing on contracts and a lot more competition out there.”
Selected reader comments follow:
IBM reserves the right, at its discretion, to amend, change or terminate any of its benefits plans, programs, practices or policies, as the company requires. Nothing contained in this summary shall be construed as creating an express or implied obligation on the part of IBM to maintain such benefits plans, programs, practices or policies. Your benefits at or after retirement may be different from those described herein due to changes made to the IBM Future Health Account or the termination of the plan.
I'm a second-choicer, prepared relatively well, and expect to weather financial storms but I know that I was fortunate (blessed). I didn't have a health problem or unexpected family crisis which no level of preparation could prevent bankruptcy. Therefore, I got (most of) mine but I do give a $%#£ about those who were hurt even more than I was. I'm wired that way and realize there are many people who are not. Not all of them are managers. Beryl.
I know that I for one, never really planned well. Yes I have a 401k, something of a pension, but I spent my money as you will on the SUV's, the new TV's, etc. It was my choice to spend my money that way and in the end I will pay for it one way or another in my old age. I have friends in IBM who did things differently, made less money than I did and spent lots less. They own their homes, their 401K are triple the size of mine, and they have no other debts. They can walk out the door anytime and be happy if they like.
My decisions have caused me to be in a different boat.
And I do not blame IBM, the politicians, the economy for it. It is my fault.
I will have 8 years to get to 65 so obviously my goal is to stretch FHA. The big fat variable is PPACA(Obamacare) and how it may affect we retirees. Does anyone have any idea whether we'll know anything in regards to PPACA effects by March 2013 in order for pre-65, ibm retirees to make a more informed decision? Paying for 6 months of Cobra will likely be expensive and I'm unsure if it's really worth it to get me just 6 months closer to 65. Thank you all.
If nothing changes with Obamacare, I don't think you will have access to any other coverage. My interpretation of the health care exchange option is that it would only be available if you have no access to other coverage. In your case, the FHA would provide that access. (Editor's note: The poster is incorrect. Search through archives of this site and you'll see that even though you are eligible to buy health insurance through IBM as a retiree, you will still be eligible to take advantage of Obamacare health care exchanges.)
If Romney wins and follows through on his promise to repeal Obamacare, I don't see where anything he would do would provide any other options.
“These employers are looking to cut costs and reduce long-term liabilities to make their companies more attractive to investors, but ‘de-risking’ can be risky for workers and retirees,” said Karen Friedman, the Center’s executive vice president and policy director. “Insurance company annuities backed by State Guaranty Associations could leave retirees with less protection than the pensions provided by their companies backed by the insurance provided by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. Also, lump sums place the burden on individuals to ensure that the money lasts throughout retirement. We need to stop, take a breath, and make sure that the retirement security of the people affected by these moves is fully protected.”
The Center plans to ask Congress to take steps to put a temporary stop to pension offloading and lump-sum buyouts to give policymakers time to examine whether these strategies could result in sellouts of retirement security.
Cons: The company has changed over the years. It used to reward its employees with trips, motivational awards, company outings etc. This has all but stopped completely. Quotas were challenging but attainable, allowing one to earn a really good income. That has all but stopped and the environment as of late has been driving employees to meet unrealistic quotas. Lots of pressure on employees. Junior employees are micro-managed with all actions tracked. Top-performing senior sales people are not adequately paid. Job satisfaction has dropped among my colleagues. The famous IBM culture is not the same as before, sadly.
Advice to Senior Management: I don't think management cares.
Cons: Too many required conference calls, slim resources through management for training, unrealistic annual goals, too many re-orgs and down-sizings only to re-hire again. Management is aloof and doesn't engage with reports, hard to get internal information, have to rely on the rumor mill. IBM thinks when you walk in the client's door for the first time the sale is 50% over on name recognition. Discontinuing products without fair warning to sales team.
Advice to Senior Management: Clean some of the old guard who aren't producing but work the system to stay employed. Move them to challenging positions so they can't snooze on the job. Develop a better employee review process beyond 1 person's view. Ease travel restrictions for professionals, too much accounting time in expense reports. Get better control of HELP desk for communication equipment issues.
Specialization makes for economic efficiency. We do not all know how to wire our homes for electricity or plumb them to carry fresh water in and wastewater out without spilling a drop. Using self-directed investment through 401(k)-type plans is the economic equivalent of expecting every worker to be her own roofer and surgeon.
Most people lack the necessary time, knowledge and highly specialized skills to manage investments and time in order to accumulate enough wealth to sustain them from the day they stop working until they die. The result of creating a population of financial do-it-yourselfers is proving to be shocking and painful, leaving people worse off than need be.
Look at it this way: if investing was something just anybody can do, the average job on Wall Street would pay average wages. But stockbrokers, investment advisers and others who become expert at subtle concepts like the time value of money, asset allocation and risk and opportunity costs make more than most people because those skills add value by reducing inefficiency and increasing returns.
The Labor Department publishes data going back to 1989 comparing investment returns of traditional pensions and 401(k) plans through 2008. The professional managers of traditional pensions performed better than individuals in their 401(k) plans in fifteen of twenty years. In every year when the stock market was down, the pension plans lost less than the 401(k) plans, numbers that reflect the steady hand of professional money managers as opposed to the less informed and sometimes panicked hands of individual amateur investors.
What do we know about the people who retire at 62? On average, they have a shorter life expectancy and lower earnings than people retiring at later ages. If anyone stood up and said, ‘Instead of doing uniform across the board cuts, let’s make them a little worse for people who have shorter life expectancies and lower earnings,’ they’d be laughed at.
Of course, those who say we should raise the Social Security retirement age — either the age of eligibility or the age for full benefits — don’t get laughed at. It’s considered a very thoughtful, courageous effort to deal with our entitlement programs. People who mention it often make a joke of how brave they’re being. For instance, here’s New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) at an American Enterprise Institute event:
You are going to have to raise the retirement age for Social Security! Whoa! I just said it and I am still standing here. I did not vaporize into the carpeting.
Big applause, of course.
This is one of Washington, D.C.’s more disagreeable conceits. The people wandering around calling for a higher retirement age will never feel the bite of the policy. Think tankers and politicians and columnists don’t retire at age 62, or even age 65. They love their work, which mostly requires sitting down in air-conditioned rooms. They stick around pretty much until they’re about to die. ...
Meanwhile, you could do more to erase Social Security’s shortfall by simply lifting the payroll tax cap. A lot more. According to the Congressional Budget Office, raising the federal retirement age to 70 would solve about half of Social Security funding problem, while lifting the payroll tax cap would solve all of it.
Reverse mortgages, which allow homeowners 62 and older to borrow money against the value of their homes and not pay it back until they move out or die, have long been fraught with problems. But federal and state regulators are documenting new instances of abuse as smaller mortgage brokers, including former subprime lenders, flood the market after the recent exit of big banks and as defaults on the loans hit record rates.
Some lenders are aggressively pitching loans to seniors who cannot afford the fees associated with them, not to mention the property taxes and maintenance. Others are wooing seniors with promises that the loans are free money that can be used to finance long-coveted cruises, without clearly explaining the risks. Some widows are facing eviction after they say they were pressured to keep their name off the deed without being told that they could be left facing foreclosure after their husbands died.
Changing the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) would have a detrimental impact on the economic wellbeing of older and disabled Americans and their family members who receive benefits from Social Security. Small reductions to the annual COLA will accumulate over time so that the largest reductions in benefits will be on the oldest beneficiaries and the long-term disabled. For example, 92- year-old beneficiaries who were on the program for 30 years would see an 8.4% cut in benefits. Disabled children could face even larger benefit cuts over their lifetime. Oldest Americans are the least able to absorb cuts to their benefits as they are more reliant on Social Security for their income and have higher out-of-pocket medical spending and a higher poverty rate than younger Americans.
Their chapter on retirement chronicles the heist of the American Dream's secure retirement by the financial elite and is a very important section of the book, said Steele, who spoke with the AFL-CIO about the retirement crisis.
Steele said there is another number we should pay attention to: $17,686. That's the median value of 401(k) accounts in 2011. For most working people, the amount in their 401(k) account would pay them less than $80 a month for life.
"What's happening with retirement is almost parallel to what you see happening in other parts of the economy," he said.
“The elite has its agenda to eliminate pensions with the shift to 401(k)s, which cost companies less,” he noted. “Now, there's a revenue stream for Wall Street and an obligation shift to people with little or no experience understanding how to deal with their own retirement issues....This is typical of all the other things the economy elite has been doing for decades with deregulation, unrestricted free trade and tax cuts—these things are all related.
Verizon was the latest corporation to hop on the de-risking bandwagon, prompting calls from a leading pension advocacy group to halt such actions until Congress can review the impact on workers and retirees.
“These employers are looking to cut costs and reduce long-term liabilities to make their companies more attractive to investors, but 'de-risking' can be risky for workers and retirees,” said Karen Friedman, policy director of the Pension Rights Center in Washington. ...
The Pension Rights Center has fact sheets on its website (www.pensionrights.org) about what happens when a pension is transferred to an insurance company and on deciding between a lump sum or an annuity . In addition, the Pension Benefits Guaranty Corporation has a list of frequently asked questions on plan terminations under the “workers and retirees” section of its website (www.pbgc.gov).
Mitt Romney has supported privatization in the past (see his book, "No Apology"), and running mate Paul Ryan argued for it as recently as last week's vice presidential debate: "Let younger Americans have a voluntary choice of making their money work faster for them within the Social Security system."
Could workers make their money grow more quickly with personal accounts? The actuaries at the Social Security Administration (SSA) ran an analysis recently that simulated real (after inflation) annual rates of return on payroll tax contributions for beneficiaries who were born between 1920 and 2004.
It showed that some workers might beat Social Security's returns in some years if they took risks in the stock market. But over a lifetime, Social Security's consistent, risk-free and inflation-adjusted returns would be very tough to beat.
These are remarkable statements. They clearly demonstrate that Mr. Romney has no idea what life (and death) are like for those less fortunate than himself.
Even the idea that everyone gets urgent care when needed from emergency rooms is false. Yes, hospitals are required by law to treat people in dire need, whether or not they can pay. But that care isn’t free — on the contrary, if you go to an emergency room you will be billed, and the size of that bill can be shockingly high. Some people can’t or won’t pay, but fear of huge bills can deter the uninsured from visiting the emergency room even when they should. And sometimes they die as a result.
More important, going to the emergency room when you’re very sick is no substitute for regular care, especially if you have chronic health problems. When such problems are left untreated — as they often are among uninsured Americans — a trip to the emergency room can all too easily come too late to save a life. ...
How many deaths are we talking about? That’s not an easy question to answer, and conservatives love to cite the handful of studies that fail to find clear evidence that insurance saves lives. The overwhelming evidence, however, is that insurance is indeed a lifesaver, and lack of insurance a killer. For example, states that expand their Medicaid coverage, and hence provide health insurance to more people, consistently show a significant drop in mortality compared with neighboring states that don’t expand coverage. ...
So there’s no real question that lack of insurance is responsible for thousands, and probably tens of thousands, of excess deaths of Americans each year. But that’s not a fact Mr. Romney wants to admit, because he and his running mate want to repeal Obamacare and slash funding for Medicaid — actions that would take insurance away from some 45 million nonelderly Americans, causing thousands of people to suffer premature death. And their longer-term plans to convert Medicare into Vouchercare would deprive many seniors of adequate coverage, too, leading to still more unnecessary mortality. ...
So let’s be brutally honest here. The Romney-Ryan position on health care is that many millions of Americans must be denied health insurance, and millions more deprived of the security Medicare now provides, in order to save money. At the same time, of course, Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan are proposing trillions of dollars in tax cuts for the wealthy. So a literal description of their plan is that they want to expose many Americans to financial insecurity, and let some of them die, so that a handful of already wealthy people can have a higher after-tax income.
If you're debating whether to participate in a high-deductible plan--or if that's the only option you have--the thread is a must read.
In 2013, workers will see an increase, but it will be a smaller bump up front than usual for most: an average 4 percent annual increase versus 10 percent or more each year in the past decade. The Employer Health Benefits Survey has been taken every year since 1999 by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research & Educational Trust. ...
An estimated 149 million Americans who are 64 and younger are enrolled in private-insurance plans at employers large and small. On average, families paid $15,745 in annual premiums in 2012 for coverage. Individuals spent $5,615, according to the Employer Health Benefits Survey.
Ryan, the Republican vice presidential nominee, wants to transform Medicare into a “premium support” system in which beneficiaries get a fixed payment from the government for their insurance, rather than guaranteed benefits. Such a plan would lead to wide variations in Medicare costs across the country, according to the study today by the nonprofit Kaiser group.
But a move by some employers is softening the blow. They are contracting with companies that operate insurance marketplaces, called exchanges, where Medicare-eligible retirees can enroll in plans to replace what they used to get from the employer. Working with a counselor, retirees can figure out what coverage best meets their needs — determining, for example, whether to buy Medigap and prescription drug plans or to join a Medicare Advantage plan. (Counselors typically rely on salary but sometimes other sales incentives may factor in their compensation.)
Medicare began in 1966. And now, thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), its health coverage is better than before. Under the ACA, savings from cutting wasteful spending and fraud will extend the solvency of the Medicare trust fund by an additional eight years.
A lot has changed since Medicare went into effect. New technologies have developed that keep Americans healthier and help them live longer. Medicine has changed. But one thing hasn't: seniors need affordable care. In fact, the rising cost of health care today means seniors need Medicare's protection more than ever. ...
Keeping quality health care affordable was one of our top goals in writing the Affordable Care Act in Congress. Since it passed in 2010, Medicare Advantage premiums have fallen by 10 percent and enrollment has increased by 28 percent. ...
Turning Medicare into a voucher program, as Congressman Ryan proposes, would increase premiums for most seniors, according to a nonpartisan study released today by the Kaiser Family Foundation. By 2022, the Congressional Budget Office estimates his plan would cost seniors an extra $6,400, on average, for health care.
The Kaiser Family Foundation used the third and most generous premium-support proposal offered by the Republican Party’s vice presidential candidate, which was co-authored by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). Under premium support, the government gives seniors a fixed amount of cash to buy insurance policies on the private market. ...
The analysis showed that premium support would have far different results in different parts of the country, with some areas seeing sharply higher rates for most seniors, while others would have similar or even lower rates. In 29 states and the District of Columbia, less than 15 percent of beneficiaries would pay $100 or more in additional monthly premiums. But in states like California, Florida, New Jersey and Connecticut, which have higher costs than other parts of the country, the figure was much different: More than 45 percent of beneficiaries would pay at least $100 more in Medicare monthly premiums than they do now.
In a HCFO-funded study, Patricia Ketsche, Ph.D., associate professor at the Institute of Health Administration at Georgia State University, E. Kathleen Adams, Ph.D., professor at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health, and colleagues explored whether the individual burden of health care spending was equally distributed to families across income groups. Within the tax literature equity studies measure the burden of payment relative to ability to pay. A vertically equitable tax system requires that low-income families pay a smaller share of their incomes in taxes than do higher-income families. Taxes that impose a heavier burden on low income families are considered “regressive,” – that is, the share of income paid in taxes decreases as income increases. Taxes that are “progressive” require a greater share of income paid as income increases. In their study, Ketsche and colleagues sought to evaluate the health care financing system in total to determine who truly pays for health care across the public and private funding streams and whether this financing system is equitable.
The ACA is a direct descendant of the “procompetitive” reform strategy of the Reagan era, which also proposed to structure competition among private health plans to expand coverage and promote better value. After the ACA, as before, the vast majority of Americans younger than Medicare age will enroll in privately operated insurance plans and will receive care from private physicians and hospitals. The ACA will expand coverage from private insurers as well as under Medicaid and CHIP (which also rely heavily on private plans).
The ACA establishes new ground rules for insurance competition, similar to traditional practices of large employment groups, which require insurers to compete on efficiency, rather than on avoidance of risky or costly enrollees. Starting in 2014, competing private health plans will cover the previously uninsured, both under the new insurance-purchasing exchanges and under states’ Medicaid programs. Most already covered Americans will be largely unaffected, especially in large firms.
Reform operates mainly by structuring incentives for private actors and states and by giving them new information and coverage options rather than by imposing direct controls on behavior. As a result, the ACA does far more to expand personal choice and autonomy than to reduce them, most obviously for the tens of millions of Americans who are now either uninsured or offered only a single option for insurance coverage.
"But dependency on government has never been bad for the rich. The pretense of the laissez-faire people is that only the poor are dependent on government, while the rich take care of themselves. This argument manages to ignore all of modern history, which shows a consistent record of laissez-faire for the poor, but enormous government intervention for the rich." From Economic Justice: The American Class System, from the book Declarations of Independence by Howard Zinn.
Nine years ago, the company bought two camshaft factories that employed about 500 people in Michigan. By 2007 both were shut down. Now Asimco manufactures the same components in China on government-donated land in a coastal region that China has designated an export base, where companies are eligible for the sort of subsidies Mr. Romney says create an unfair trade imbalance.
But there is a twist to the Asimco story that would not fit neatly into a Romney stump speech: Since 2010, it has been owned by Bain Capital, the private equity firm founded by Mr. Romney, who has as much as $2.25 million invested in three Bain funds with large stakes in Asimco and at least seven other Chinese businesses, according to his 2012 candidate financial disclosure and other documents. ...
As a candidate, Mr. Romney uses China as a punching bag. He accuses Beijing of unfairly subsidizing Chinese exports, artificially holding down the value of its currency to keep exports cheap, stealing American technology and hacking into corporate and government computers.
“How is it China’s been so successful in taking away our jobs?” he asked recently. “Well, let me tell you how: by cheating.”
But his private equity dealings, both while he headed Bain and since, complicate that message. ...
Among the companies in which the Bain funds have invested is a global auto parts maker that is in the process of closing a factory in Illinois and moving most of the equipment and jobs to Jiangsu Province, where the Chinese government has built it a new plant; a Chinese electronics retailer accused by Microsoft of selling computers with pirated software; and a Hong Kong-based Chinese appliance maker that was sued for copying another company’s design for a deep-fat fryer.
The employees are continuing their efforts to call on Bain co-founder and former CEO and current Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to help save their jobs.
At the pig roast, workers raised concerns about Romney’s attempts to shift the blame for outsourcing to President Barack Obama (D), recent reports of Romney’s tax breaks on his personal Sensata stock, and newly-surfaced video of Romney from 1985 explaining how Bain Capital buys companies to “harvest profits.” ...
Sensata Technologies, which was created by Bain Capital in 2006, develops, manufactures, and sells sensors and controls for major auto manufacturers such as Ford and General Motors. The company is in the process of outsourcing 170 well-paying jobs from the remaining plant in Freeport, Ill., to China — despite record profits.
Tom Gaulrapp, who has worked at the Freeport Sensata Technologies plant for 33 years, said: “When I heard Mitt Romney say Bain Capital buys companies, runs them for a few years, and then harvests them for profits, it was like a slap in the face. People ask me why we are focusing on Mitt, and his comments show why: he’s the guy who created the model of harvesting profits by shipping good American jobs to China.”
The Sensata workers also demonstrated disgust at the news that Romney’s tax returns show significant personal investment in Sensata and a $350,000 tax break for transferring some of his Sensata stock to one of his foundations. Romney served as CEO of Bain from 1984 until 2002, according to SEC filings. Romney, however, has repeatedly said he left the company in 1999. ...
Bainport (visit http://bainport.com/) is a camp in Freeport Sensata workers set up Sept. 12 in protest of Bain’s decision to ship their jobs to China. The camp is at the Stephenson County Fairgrounds, across the street from the Sensata plant at 2520 S. Walnut, Freeport.
The class action, filed in New York, alleges that traders at 12 of the biggest banks in Europe and North America – including Barclays, Bank of America and UBS – were incentivised to manipulate the London interbank offered rate to a higher rate on certain dates on which adjustable mortgage interest rates were reset. This resulted in homeowners paying more between 2000 and 2009, according to the complaint.
The plaintiffs, who could number 100,000, have lost thousands of dollars each, says their Alabama-based attorney, John Sharbrough. He declined to give a figure on the total damages his clients are seeking. ...
“This can’t just be dismissed as a kooky lawsuit,” said Dominic Auld, a litigator at Labaton Sucharow, who is not involved in the suit. “Referencing CDOs and subprime mortgages ... really ties together Libor manipulation with the kinds of behaviour that caused the financial crisis in first place.”
But the company also said it has no plans to take the ads down.
Civil rights and labor groups have denounced the billboards, which also feature a giant judge’s gavel and a warning of “up to 3 1/2 years and a $10,000 fine,” as an attempt to intimidate minority voters. The ads are appearing in Milwaukee as well, according to Clear Channel. ...
In a statement, AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker and Ohio AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer Pierrette “Petee” Talley called on Clear Channel to pull the ads.
“Every election year we see offensive, underhanded tactics by groups who don’t want everyone to have access to the voting booth,” they said. “This year, intimidating billboards that point out voter fraud are appearing in predominantly African American communities in Ohio, despite little to no evidence that voter fraud exists. … We urge Clear Channel to remove these billboards and replace them with information that will help voters exercise their fundamental right to vote in this year’s critical election.”
The corporate honchos are not expecting to convince the public that we should support cuts to Social Security and Medicare. They know this is a hopeless task. Huge majorities of people across the political spectrum strongly support these programs.
Instead they hope that they can use their power of persuasion, coupled with the power of campaign contributions and the power of high-paying jobs for defeated members of Congress, to get Congress to approve large cuts in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other key programs. This is the plan for a grand bargain that the corporate chieftains hope can be struck in the lame duck Congress. ...
To be specific, the reduction in Social Security benefits from the cut in the in the cost-of-living adjustment that is being pushed as part of a grand bargain would have more impact on most future retirees living standards than ending the Bush tax cuts on the richest 2 percent would have on their living standards. While the media have done endless pieces on the impact of this possible tax increase on the wealthy, they have done almost nothing on the impact of cutting the cost-of-living adjustment on the living standards of retirees.
Last month, the committee asked its staff what would happen if Congress repealed the biggest tax deductions and loopholes and used the new revenue to lower tax rates. The staff started adding it up: end all itemized deductions, tax capital gains and dividends as ordinary income, and tax the interest on state and local bonds, along with several other revenue-raisers.
Mitt Romney says he can lower tax rates by 20 percent and pay for it by ending deductions. The joint committee’s math makes it clear that that is impossible. ...
Even Fox News isn’t buying it. Ed Gillespie, a senior adviser to the Romney campaign, said on Fox News Sunday that Mr. Romney would work out those details later with Congress. As the program’s moderator, Chris Wallace, pointed out, that’s like offering voters the candy of a 20 percent tax cut without mentioning the spinach they will have to eat. ...
It is increasingly clear that the Romney tax “plan” is not really a plan at all but is instead simply a rhapsody based on old Republican themes that something can be had for nothing. For middle-class taxpayers without the benefit of expensive accountants, the bill always comes due a few years later.
The Taiwanese company, which also uses the trade name Foxconn Technology Group, said that it had employed interns as young as 14 at its campus in Yantai, in the northeastern Chinese province of Shandong, for approximately three weeks. Hon Hai said it took "immediate steps" to return the interns to their educational institutions. ...
Hon Hai has been under scrutiny by labor groups for its work practices. The company has defended its conduct, but earlier this year it agreed to change its labor practices after an outside audit of its Chinese factories found widespread breaches of work rules, including 60-hour workweeks and other health and safety violations.
The two vice presidential candidates met to debate both foreign and domestic topics at Centre College in Danville, Ky., Martha Raddatz, the senior foreign affairs correspondent of ABC News, moderating.
One of her questions: “Both Medicare and Social Security are going broke and taking a larger share of the budget in the process. Will benefits for Americans under these programs have to change for the programs to survive?
Here are the candidates’ responses (followed by a transcript of the entire segment):
The Pinocchio Test. This is a case of bait-and-switch. Romney, in his convention speech, spoke of his plan to create “12 million new jobs,” which the campaign’s white paper describes as a four-year goal.
But the candidate’s personal accounting for this figure in this campaign ad is based on different figures and long-range timelines stretching as long as a decade — which in two cases are based on studies that did not even evaluate Romney’s economic plan. The numbers may still add up to 12 million, but they aren’t the same thing — not by a long shot.
In many ways, this episode offers readers a peek behind a campaign wizard’s curtain — and a warning that job-creation claims by any campaign should not be accepted at face value. The white paper at least has the credibility of four well-known economists behind it, but the “new math” of this campaign ad does not add up.
As readers know, we tend to judge more harshly claims in prepared speeches or ads that were the result of considered discussion by political aides.
Clearly, some clever campaign staffer thought it would be nice to match up poll-tested themes such as “energy independence,” “tax reform” and “cracking down on China” with actual job numbers. We just find it puzzling that Romney agreed to personally utter these words without asking more questions about the math behind them.
This decision is not easy for any lifelong Republican. In 2008 I voted for Barack Obama, the first time I ever voted for a Democrat, because the Republican Party was drifting toward a dangerous path that put extreme party ideology above national interest. Mitt Romney heads a party remaining on that dangerous path, proving the emptiness of their praise as they abandon our service members, veterans and military families along the way.
What really set me off was Romney's reference to 47% of Americans to be written off -- including any veteran collecting disability like myself, as a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) veteran.
Behind closed doors with his donors, Romney made clear he'd write off half of America -- including service members and veterans -- because, as he said "I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility for their lives." But there's no greater personal responsibility than to wear your country's uniform and defend the rights we all enjoy as Americans. We don't sow division between "us" versus "them." The Commander-in-Chief sets the bar for all to follow and fight for the entire country. Mitt Romney fails that test. As a veteran I feel written off. ...
President Obama ended one war, is ending another and meeting our national security needs with support of our military leaders. He's laid out a clear plan that would reduce the deficit and prevent the mandatory military spending cuts that no one wants. But today's Republican Party, including Ryan who voted for the deal that would trigger the cuts, is willing to bring our country's defenses to the fiscal cliff -- just so a multimillionaire doesn't have to pay a single extra penny in taxes. And the real lack of leadership? Failing to own up to your role in racking up a record debt from two unpaid wars and two massive unpaid for tax cuts. Mitt Romney leads the party that fails this leadership test.
And as former member of the U.S. Senate Budget Committee, the Senate Finance Committee and Chairman of the then Commerce Committee, I came to know the federal budget in detail. I'm disappointed that just as our troops are returning home after a decade of war, Romney and Ryan might gut by up to 20 percent investments in the Department of Veterans Affairs -- and even suggest privatizing the veterans' health care. Again, they would short change our national security and the education, health care and employment benefits our veterans have earned and deserve just to cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans. ...
Meanwhile President Obama recognizes our sacred trust with those who serve starts when they take their oath and never ends. He's enacted tax credits to spur businesses to hire unemployed veterans and wounded warriors. He implemented and improved the post-9/11 GI Bill, the largest investment in veterans education since the original GI Bill over sixty years ago. He's proposing a Veterans Jobs Corps that would put returning service members to work as police officers, firefighters and first responders. As part of his achievable plan to keep moving our country forward, the President would use half the savings from ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to help pay down our debt and invest in nation building here at home, putting Americans back to work -- including our veterans -- fixing our roadways and runways, bridges and schools. ...
And something that hits close to home, President Obama also secured the largest increase in VA investments in decades so our veterans get the care and benefits they earned, like treatment for PTSD and traumatic brain injury. As someone with service-related PTSD, I meet with younger veterans weekly to help them through the treatment and transition to a productive civilian life. It makes a difference for them knowing their President has their back.
Obama, who, as president, has taken a tough stance against lobbyists in his rhetoric and policies, has not taken money from lobbyist-bundlers, according to records. He has voluntarily disclosed the names of everyone who has raised at least $50,000 for his re-election efforts. ...
Romney has rejected calls from good-government groups such as the Center for Responsive Politics, the Sunlight Foundation, the League of Women Voters and the Campaign Legal Center to release additional information about his top fundraisers, unlike former GOP presidential candidates George W. Bush and Sen. John McCain of Arizona. ...
Even as Romney has denied requests for increased transparency, he plans to list the names of all bundlers who raise at least $200,000 in a commemorative book after Election Day. Top supporters are also being offered special access to weekly strategy sessions, VIP retreats and signature apparel, according to Politico.
Those who raise at least $200,000 between the primary and general election will be honored at the “Stars” level, according to documents obtained by Politico, while those who bundle at least $400,000 enjoy “Stripes” level status.
That's because they're all Wall Street firms, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
The Goldman Sachs Group Inc. ($891,140), Bank of America Corp. ($668,139) JPMorgan Chase & Co. ($663,219), Morgan Stanley ($649,847), Credit Suisse Group AG ($554,066), Citigroup Inc. ($418,263), Wells Fargo & Co. ($414,750) and Barclays PLC ($403,800) are Mr. Romney's most generous supporters.
The firms themselves cannot donate directly to Mr. Romney's campaign. Rather, donations come from the companies' employees and political action committees.
About that misplaced optimism: In a now-notorious January 2009 forecast, economists working for the incoming administration predicted that by now most of the effects of the 2008 financial crisis would be behind us, and the unemployment rate would be below 6 percent. Obviously, that didn’t happen.
Why did the administration get it wrong? It wasn’t exaggerated faith in the power of its stimulus plan; the report predicted a fairly rapid recovery even without stimulus. Instead, President Obama’s people failed to appreciate something that is now common wisdom among economic analysts: severe financial crises inflict sustained economic damage, and it takes a long time to recover. ...
For leading Republicans have very much tied themselves to the view that slashing spending in a depressed economy — “fiscal consolidation,” in I.M.F.-speak — is good, not bad, for job creation. Soon after the midterm elections, the new Republican majority in the House of Representatives issued a manifesto on economic policy — titled, “Spend less, owe less, grow the economy” — that called for deep spending cuts right away and pooh-poohed the whole notion that fiscal consolidation (yes, it used the same term) might deepen the economy’s slump. “Non-Keynesian effects,” the manifesto declared, would make everything all right.
Well, that turns out not to be remotely true. What the monetary fund shows is that the countries pursing the biggest spending cuts are also the countries that have experienced the deepest economic slumps. Indeed, the evidence suggests that in brushing aside the standard view that spending cuts hurt the economy in the short run, the G.O.P. got it exactly wrong. Recent spending cuts appear to have done even more harm than most analysts — including those at the I.M.F. itself — expected. ...
If Mr. Obama wins, he’ll presumably go back to pushing for modest stimulus, aiming to convert the gradual recovery that seems to be under way into a more rapid return to full employment.
Republicans, however, are committed to an economic doctrine that has proved false, indeed disastrous, in other countries. Nor are they likely to change their views in the light of experience. After all, facts haven’t gotten in the way of Republican orthodoxy on any other aspect of economic policy. The party remains opposed to effective financial regulation despite the catastrophe of 2008; it remains obsessed with the dangers of inflation despite years of false alarms. So it’s not likely to give up its politically convenient views about job creation.
And here’s the thing: if Mitt Romney wins the election, the G.O.P. will surely consider its economic ideas vindicated. In other words, politically good things may be about to happen to very bad ideas. And if that’s how it plays out, the American people will pay the price.
The employees of Sensata Technologies were forced to train their Chinese replacements, and the American flag that long flew over the factory was reportedly removed while the Chinese engineers were visiting the site. A group of workers have set up camp across from the factory -- calling it “Bainport” -- and some supporters have tried to block the trucks hauling equipment out of the plant. According to Dave Johnson, there have been several arrests.
Sensata workers have asked to meet with Mitt Romney and hoped to enlist his help keeping their jobs in the United States, but he has refused, instead remaining on the campaign trail where he speaks often about “getting tough” with China.
The most important part of the story is that Sensata Technologies is profitable operating in Illinois. Net income last year was $355 million, up 16 percent from 2010. The company reported total revenues of $1.8 billion in 2011, up almost 19 percent from the year before. According to a company financial statement, “both 2011 net revenue and adjusted net income represent record levels for the company.”
So this has nothing to do with “making hard choices” in the process of turning around a failing business, which is how the Romney campaign describes Bain's corporate raiding. Bain's partners are looking for a modest boost in profits by locating the plant closer to the booming Asian automotive market (Sensata makes high-tech automotive parts). They'll get a small tax break for relocating the plant – the one Mitt Romney insisted did not exist during the first debate – and possibly defer taxes on some of the income the company generates.
During a telephone town hall with small-business owners, first reported by In These Times, Romney said President Barack Obama's policies have hurt employers, criticizing the president on trade, labor, and his signature health care law.
"It's an anti-business, anti-job agenda," Romney said.
At the end of the call, Romney urged business owners to relay their thoughts on the election to their employees.
"I hope you make it very clear to your employees what you believe is in the best interest of your enterprise and therefore their job and their future in the upcoming elections," Romney said. "And whether you agree with me or you agree with President Obama, or whatever your political view, I hope, I hope you pass those along to your employees."
Because, says the Wall Street Journal, the Goldman Sachs gang felt betrayed by President Obama’s modest attempts at financial reform. To discuss how the super-rich have willfully confused their self-interest with America’s interest, Bill is joined by Rolling Stone magazine’s Matt Taibbi, who regularly shines his spotlight on scandals involving big business and government, and journalist Chrystia Freeland, author of the new book Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else.
Full transcript of the interview below the video...
Taxpayers eventually recouped the aid, plus a profit. But perhaps more than any other institution, Citi — the original financial “supermarket” — epitomized the dilemma of “too big to fail.” The crowning irony was the recent suggestion by Sanford Weill — who first expanded Citi’s business to encompass investment banking and other risky activities — that banks “be broken up so that the taxpayer will never be at risk, the depositors won’t be at risk, the leverage of the banks will be something reasonable.” ...
As matters now stand, the assets of the six largest U.S. banks equal 62 percent of gross domestic product, compared to 18 percent in 1995. These banks service 56 percent of all mortgages and hold 35 percent of deposits. Given that their deposits are federally insured, it’s small wonder that no one quite believes the specter of “too big to fail” has been banished — and that the giants enjoy cheaper access to market funding as a result. At the second presidential debate, GOP candidate Mitt Romney made that very point.
The Mitt Romney of the second debate, to use Mike Huckabee’s memorable phrase, “looks like the guy who fires you.” He exposed, once again, his biggest fault: that he has no idea what it’s like to be middle-class and struggling in 2012 America.
To take just a couple of examples, here was Romney explaining the benefits of his tax program, the breaks that you’ll get on your stock dividends and mutual funds. As he outlined it with all the mercenary gusto of the visiting suit with a PowerPoint, Romney said, “Every middle-income taxpayer will no longer pay any tax on interest, dividends or capital gains.” And, a bit later, “If you’re getting a statement from a mutual fund or any other kind of investment you have, you don’t have to worry about filing taxes on that.”
No kidding. In Romney’s world, and throughout his own tax return, the money earned from money — as opposed to money earned from working — is the chief source of wealth. And it’s already taxed at a lower rate than middle-income earnings. Getting rid of those taxes altogether does nothing for the warehouse manager, schoolteacher or insurance sales person taking home a salary and being taxed at a full rate for making a living. But it’s great for someone living off mutual fund dividends.
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