November 15, 2012
By KEN THOMAS
Labor leaders said Tuesday that President Barack Obama remains committed to preserving tax cuts for middle class families and ensuring the wealthy pay more in taxes, outlining plans for a public campaign to pressure Republican lawmakers.
The heads of several labor unions and Democratic-leaning interest groups emerged from an hour-long meeting with Obama saying they were united with the president on how to avert the so-called “fiscal cliff” and prevent more financial hardships next year.
“We are very, very committed to making sure that the middle class and workers don’t end up paying the tab for a party that we didn’t get to go to and the president is committed to that as well,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.
Labor leaders said they plan to mobilize their members in the coming weeks to press Republicans to support the extension of tax cuts for middle income families. Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union, said labor needs to remain “as engaged as we were in the election throughout the rest of this year to make sure we get the Republican House to say yes to tax cuts for the middle class.”
One participant in the meeting, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the private session, said the president told the group that he was not going to bend on letting tax cuts expire for top wage earners. The president said that the tax issue was clear during the election and that he had extended the Bush-era tax cuts once and would not do so again, the participant said.
According to participants, White House aides said the president intends to hold campaign-style events across the country after Thanksgiving to drum up support for his proposed solution to the fiscal cliff. It would build upon more than 100 rallies organized by labor unions last week urging members of Congress to avoid cuts to entitlement programs.
The president views his re-election as an affirmation of his belief that raising taxes on families earning more than $250,000 a year is what voters want. Republican House Speaker John Boehner has expressed a willingness to raise revenues but remains opposed to boosting tax rates, pointing instead to closing tax loopholes, lowering rates and fixing entitlement programs.
Both sides have voiced the potential for cooperation, but face a post-election confrontation over a series of expiring tax cuts approved during the George W. Bush presidency and tough, across-the-board spending cuts set to take place because lawmakers failed to reach a deal to reduce the federal debt.
Economists have warned the combination of the expiring tax cuts and reduced spending could hinder the economic recovery.
During Tuesday’s meeting, participants said the president reiterated his contention that the wealthy should pay more in taxes and that his views were vindicated by the election. They said the president showed no willingness to extend the Bush era tax cuts for the wealthy. “He’s standing firm on taxes, on the issue of raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans,” said Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress.
The labor and liberal organizations said they made clear their opposition to any benefit cuts to Medicare recipients or increasing the eligibility age. Max Richtman, president and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare, said after the meeting he was confident that “whatever savings come out of those programs would not come out of beneficiaries or citizens, it would be focused more on providers.”
November 08, 2012
By LAWT News Service
Council President Herb Wesson has announced that the Los Angeles Fire Department is now conducting its hiring campaign this fall. Hiring for the Fire Department was suspended three years ago because of the city’s budget crisis.
Over the next two years 300 firefighter positions have been funded and will be available for which applicants can compete. The Fire Department will be hiring the first 150 firefighters between 2013 and 2014.
“This is a great opportunity for someone with the necessary skills and level of physical ability,” said Wesson. “We need men and women of good character who have a strong desire to serve the community. I expect there will be thousands of people who have an interest.”
This will be an opportunity to improve the diversity of the Fire Department. Currently, women make up approximately 3 percent, Asian-Americans 7 percent, African-Americans 11 percent, and Hispanics 31 percent.
Those applying must take a written test, be in good physical condition and be able to pass the Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT), said LAFD personnel. Candidates are required to pay $150 to take the CPAT, which requires applicants to excel in timed trials climbing stairs, dragging hoses and tests strength and endurance.
The Fire Department offers free CPAT practice session. More detailed information can be accessed by contacting the department by phone at 855-552-LAFD, or at www.joinlafd.org.
By HANNAH DREIER and
California Gov. Jerry Brown took a big step toward delivering on a campaign promise he made two years ago to fix the state’s perpetual budget deficits and to raise taxes to do it only if voters agreed.
Brown said voters put their trust in his plan during the November 6 election by approving Proposition 30, which raises the statewide sales tax and boosts income taxes on the wealthy.
The changes will provide $6 billion to balance the state budget.
Brown, a Democrat, said Wednesday that Proposition 30 will put California on a course to fiscal stability after five years of battering by the recession. He characterized his victory as “a vote of confidence with some reservations.”
Now, he said, he must retain voters’ trust by avoiding spending binges.
“There are two things that I’m very skeptical about. One is mandates and the other is legacies,” he said. “So I'm just going to carry on.”
With Democrats poised to secure a two-thirds supermajority in both houses of the state Legislature, Brown should have an easier time pursuing his broader agenda.
That makeup would allow Democrats to pass budgets and make other spending decisions without any Republican support.
Observers have said Brown’s desire for a lasting gubernatorial legacy was one of the chief reasons he sought the job again in 2010 after first serving as governor from 1975 to 1983, before voters approved term limits.
He has said he wanted to return to the governor’s office after nearly three decades to “get stuff done,” explaining he would lay out his best ideas and leave the choices to voters.
His broader agenda includes building a $68 billion high-speed rail line, streamlining the state’s environmental regulations, and building two giant underground tunnels to funnel water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the heart of the state’s water system.
Brown has strong support from labor unions that also were victorious Tuesday in fending off an initiative challenge to their political clout.
Proposition 30, which raises the statewide sales tax for four years and income taxes for seven years on those who make more than $250,000 a year, got an immediate nod of approval from the credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s. It called the measure “the linchpin to the governor’s broader, multiyear strategy for reversing the state’s negative budget position.”
Revenue from the initiative will help the state avoid deep cuts to public schools and more tuition hikes at California’s colleges.
Business groups that had feared a downward slide if the measure failed and forced huge education cuts, also cheered the win, despite higher tax bills for some Californians.
Brown had “done the near impossible” and given California “the temporary breathing room it needs to continue getting its fiscal house in order, restore our economy to health and avoid additional massive cuts to education and vital local public services,” Jim Wunderman, president and chief executive officer of the Bay Area Council, which represents businesses in the San Francisco Bay area, said in a statement.
In winning passage of his initiative, Brown overcame strong voter distrust of state government fueled by a stream of negative publicity over the summer.
Brown was aware of the challenges and did his best to tie the tax initiative to education funding, noted Mark Baldassare, president and CEO of the Public Policy Institute of California.
“All of this just reinforces just how knowledgeable the governor is about the political process as well as the policy process to make this happen, because it’s not easy,” Baldassare said.
School districts that were prepared to lay off teachers and cut as many as three weeks of classes were jubilant, as were leaders of the state’s university and college systems. The California State University system, which faced a $250 million mid-year budget cut if the initiative failed, was set to hand out $249 per-student tuition refunds for the current semester.
Exit polls showed Brown’s initiative did well with minority and younger voters, and that the poorest voters were the most likely to support it. A coalition of community groups that initially backed a separate millionaire's tax claimed credit for turning out some of the new and infrequent voters who they said helped push Brown’s initiative over the threshold.
“This coalition of community, interfaith and labor came together because we knew passing Prop 30 would be tough, and believed that a focus on turning out our base voters could be decisive,” said Anthony Thigpenn, chairman of a group California Calls.
Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) approved a record $1.24 billion in Small Business Administration (SBA) loans in federal fiscal year 2012 (Oct. 1, 2011 – Sept. 30, 2012) and for the fourth consecutive year is America’s leading SBA 7(a) lender in dollar volume. This is the second year in a row that Wells Fargo has approved more than $1 billion in SBA 7(a) loans to small business owners – the only lender to achieve this milestone, said WF reprentatives. An SBA preferred lender in all 50 states, Wells Fargo also is the second largest SBA lender in units extending 3,176 SBA 7(a) loans in fiscal 2012, they said.
“It is very rewarding to know that every SBA loan we extend is helping American small business owners build their businesses for the long term,” said David Rader, head of Wells Fargo’s SBA Lending Division.
“At Wells Fargo, we work hard to provide the financing that supports business growth and drives economic development and job creation in every community we serve. The fact that we approved more than $1 billion in SBA loans each of the last two years is a result of that hard work. While we take pride in our market leadership, we’re more proud that we provided the essential capital for thousands of customers across the country to start or invest in a small business.”
In addition to its national ranking, Wells Fargo is the No. 1 SBA 7(a) lender in dollars in 15 states – Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming – and the No.1 SBA 7(a) lender in number of loans (units) in 10 states: Alaska, California, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, South Carolina and Wyoming.
Among the 3,176 SBA 7(a) loans extended by Wells Fargo in 2012 was a loan that helped Bill Hoyt of Tampa, Fla., realize his dream of becoming a business owner. In September, Hoyt acquired Southern Pride Landscaping, a Lakeland, Fla., commercial landscaping firm with eight full-time employees. He financed the purchase with a Wells Fargo SBA 7(a) loan and secured an SBA Express line of credit for working capital.
“The entrepreneurial spirit has always been in my blood, but I needed to find the right opportunity to use my management experience and skills, and the right financing to make it possible,” says Hoyt, a former Navy helicopter pilot who more recently worked for a Florida real estate management company. “In Southern Pride, I found a solid business with strong customer relationships and a reputation for great landscaping service that I could build further as an owner. With Wells Fargo, I had a team of people who worked with me to secure an SBA loan, giving me confidence that I had the capital I needed to be successful from day one.”
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