How many shopping events are happening from now through the weekend? If you guessed "one hundred billion kajillion," you are correct! It's borderline impossible to keep track of them all which is why, yet again, I've collected them in tidy order for you over in Sold Out.
However, they just keep coming, so be sure to supplement your strategizing by taking a look over on MOD, where we have also posted the late-breaking events that are also going down this weekend, and there are some serious contenders over there.
Good luck to you in your frozen, wet shopping quest!
The city's proposed new four-year contract with the Portland Police Association is finally expected to become official next week—later than initially expected, the Mercury has learned, after some last-minute heartburn over a new provision ending payouts for time off earned while working holidays.
Anna Kanwit, director of the Bureau of Human Resources, confirmed that city officials realized a potentially expensive loophole in that provision while parsing through the "tentative agreement" [part 1 (pdf); part 2 (pdf)] the two sides reached on the contract earlier this fall.
Starting January 1, Kanwit says, officers will no longer be able to cash out time off earned for working holiday absent a formal agreement with the city. And that time off will be capped at 60 hours. That's the easy part. The hard part is what happens to all the so-called "compensatory time" cops already have on the books. And that issue, if it breaks the wrong way for the city, could cost just shy of $1 million, Kanwit says.
The deal with the union attacks that time off in two ways: First off, anything over 60 hours will be automatically cashed out. That's a measurable, budgeted hit. The wild card, Kanwit says, is what officers do with the remaining 60 hours. Historically, just 39 percent of officers have cashed out their holiday time instead of banking it for vacations. But now that the other 61 percent know they're losing the option? They might all decide to cash in.
Both sides tentatively signed the deal in October. PPA members ratified the terms (77 percent of members who voted said yes) in late November. But Kanwit says that million-dollar gave everyone pause in the past few weeks since the union voted.
"Our discussion was if there was something we should do to mitigate it," she says, saying the answer was "no," that it didn't make sense to reopen the agreement. "It's a one-time hit."
PPA President Daryl Turner has not replied to requests for comment on the contract, saying he was "busy" the one time he did pick up the phone.
The provision for holiday time cash-outs—which cost the police bureau about $1.2 million a year, but with the promise that it could vary—was among the more important subjects in negotiations. The cash-outs were added in the last contract, approved in 2011, but they proved difficult to budget, Kanwit says. That was borne out by a budget review in 2012 that blamed the provision for a huge surge in surprise costs in the police budget.
Canada's postal service will phase out door-to-door delivery over the next five years. Citing the rise of digital communications and a projected loss of CAD$1 billion by 2020, Canada Post today outlined a series of actions that it would take to streamline its organization and reduce losses. In particular, cutting out direct to-door delivery — which is currently only used to service one-third of Canadian households — will "provide significant savings," Canada Post says. Mail will still be delivered to community, grouped, lobby, and rural mailboxes, which make up how the remaining two-thirds of Canadian households receive their mail.
The cuts will put somewhere between six and eight thousand Canadian postal employees out of work. Man, this is depressing. You're supposed to be our sensible, stable older sister, Canada! Don't you foresee a time in which a national delivery network might be a valuable thing to have? Can't you do a better job at this being-a-country thing than us? If we don't have you to look up to, Canada, who will provide an example for us?
I think Black Friday/weekend is going to lose its cred as the biggest shopping weekend of the year, because at least around here, the two weeks that follow are bonkers. This week's Sold Out column is part 1 of a 2-part series in which I shut my mouth and just give you the facts about the bazillions and bazillions of holiday-related shoppery being organized by your friendly local retailers. It was too much to cram it all in print, but the online edition is more extensive, plus we have added some more late-breaking announcements over here on MOD so you can fully strategize your evening. Betcha five bucks I have all my gift shopping done by Monday, you guys!
The Pope doesn't know anything about economics, argues a Fox News columnist, so Pope Francis really should shut his mouth about youth unemployment or income inequality. Currently digging through the columnist's archives to see if he objected to the previous pope commenting on abortion, birth control, adoption, and gay sex—also not areas of expertise for elderly celibates.
Raw Story's Travis Gettys says that prominent Virginia teabagger Jonathon Moseley took issue with Pope Francis's claims that unfettered capitalism is hurting the world. Moseley wrote an essay titled "Jesus Christ is a capitalist" that tries to take the Pope on using scripture.
Moseley, a Virginia business and criminal defense attorney, supports his claim with a verse from the Book of Luke in which Jesus declines to act as arbitrator when someone asks him to compel a brother to divide their family inheritance.
“In just one verse, we see that God rejects the left-wing ‘Jesus Christ supported socialism’ heresy,” Moseley writes. “When Jesus was asked to support redistribution of wealth — to tell one brother to share the family inheritance with the other — Jesus refused...Jesus Christ is weeping in heaven hearing Christians espouse a socialist philosophy that has created suffering and poverty around the world,” Moseley writes. “It is impossible to love one’s neighbor as yourself without fighting against socialism, meaning government meddling in private lives.”
As an atheist, I don't usually play this scripture game. But this is too easy:
...we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
But as for you, O man of God, flee these things.
I could go on. Meanwhile, other Republicans are arguing against Francis's comments by saying that unfettered capitalism doesn't exist. I don't know which argument is more divorced from reality.
I appreciate everybody taking to Facebook this weekend to tell their social network not to buy things. It's really sweet of you. On the other hand, we're all old enough to decide our own feelings on capitalism. I buy things. I buy things on normal days, I buy things on holidays. I buy things for regular price and on sale. And it's fine.
Unless you're reading this on a library computer, noshing on some dumpstered bagels, and wearing clothes you got from a thrift shop in exchange for hope, you buy things too. So what does it accomplish to not shop on Black Friday (or Good Friday or Friday the 13th)? Is it because you don't like people being trampled to death for a TV? I don't either. But stores aren't trampling people, it's customers. It's customer-on-customer trampling. If you don't like trampling, you should tell stores not to open on Black Friday because their customers might trample each other. Or maybe just tell people, "If you go shopping, try not to trample anybody on the head until they die. K? Thanks."
Aside from the trampling problem, most of the people posting in yelly capitals are taking this moment to speak out against "commercialism." The supremely vague notion that it's bad to want things or buy things or have things or sell things to other people who want things and buy things. Good luck with that. You might as well try to eradicate pessimism. That's just as ephemeral.
The strangest thing is that this weekend of "commercialism" is dedicated to buying things to give to people you love. If you really have a problem with the exchange of goods for currency, why would you pick gift giving as the prime example of evil capitalism? Christmas isn't a day where everybody goes out and buys something they don't need and then throws away the perfectly functional old version. That's called iPhone Release Day. Black Friday is about concentrated selfless capitalism (and trampling awareness on Youtube). Choose your battles more wisely, Facebook activists. And make sure your posts are short because I'm reading them in line at the mall.
This time around, Jim Francesconi says he's treading lightly.
When he lost a bid for mayor in 2004, the attorney and former city commissioner says, people were suspicious of the money he raked in from downtown businesses. He told the Mercury he'll go out of his way to avoid that impression in the race for Jeff Cogen's vacated seat atop Multnomah County.
But political races cost money—Francesconi's chief opponent, former county commissioner Deborah Kafoury, has already raised nearly $30,000— and now we have our first look at the candidates fundraising efforts.
It's coming, mostly, from downtown.
Francesconi's announced more than $1,800 in contributions, many from his fellow attorneys. There are also contributions from Oregon politico Tim Nesbitt—who writes a column for the Oregonian and was recently hired to work on one of Francesconi's pet projects, the higher-education-focused Oregon Idea—and Kevin Gail, executive director of the Portland Workforce Alliance.
Francesconi's donations are all $500 or under, so far. Kafoury's snagged contributions of up to $2,500.
The election to fill Cogen's seat isn't until May, but both of the race's most credible candidates have trumpeted support in recent days—Kafoury from local and state politicos, Francesconi from the Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters.
Greedy retailers are ruining Thanksgiving for low-wage employees by forcing them to work on the one goddamned American holiday that isn't about the buying and selling of plastic bullshit shipped in from China. ThinkProgress has smartly decided to call this phenomenon The War on Thanksgiving. I wholeheartedly approve of this move.
They've compiled a list of chain retailers who are forcing their employees to come in and work on Thanksgiving Day. They've also compiled a list of chain retailers who are letting their employees have one fucking day to live like human beings without the threat of being berated by some asshole because the product they wanted isn't in stock. If you're going out this weekend, you should give your business to the stores that are treating their employees with dignity.
In addition to that list, I'd like to add the fact that there are a ton of local businesses that aren't forcing their employees to work on Thanksgiving, so their employees can enjoy time with their friends and family. You should thank them with your dollars.
McDonald’s McResource Line, a dedicated website run by the world’s largest fast-food chain to provide its 1.8 million employees with financial and health-related tips, offers a full page of advice for “Digging Out From Holiday Debt.” Among their helpful holiday tips: “Selling some of your unwanted possessions on eBay or Craigslist could bring in some quick cash.”
Elsewhere on the site, McDonald’s encourages its employees to break apart food when they eat meals, as “breaking food into pieces often results in eating less and still feeling full.” And if they are struggling to stock their shelves with food in the first place, the company offers assistance for workers applying for food stamps.
These latest incidents of backhanded corporate "charity" are so fucking inhumane that it's practically Swiftian.
Remember a few years ago when the Design*Sponge-associated Portland Bazaar first came to Portland and a bunch of people got all freaked out and protective because it was scheduled on the same weekend as Crafty Wonderland? Ha! That was embarrassing. Anyway, in keeping with my vow to only bring special attention to the very most exciting holiday-season pop-ups, the Bazaar is worth mentioning, and noting in one's calendar device of choice:
This year it will be held December 6, 7, and 8, with the evening of the 6th (5-9 pm) doubling as a VIP preview. You can go, but you will need to pay $10 (which includes a drink ticket for a House Spirits cocktail) for the privilege of first dibs and an uncrowded shopping environment. Or you can join the hoi polloi from 9 am-4 pm on Saturday and Sunday for a mostly-local array of vendors (OLO, Bridge & Burn, Boys Fort, Pendleton... peep the whole long list here. If you are looking for that all-in-one opportunity tp cross everything off your list, this is a good one.
Portland commissioners this morning finally made speeches and went on the record with occasionally reticent votes that carved up much of the city's $14.1 million surplus and also swallowed up most of the city's $3 million contingency fund for good measure.
We previewed some of that spending in September, breaking the news about the surplus and brewing plans for how to spend it. Much of that supposition has held up.
• The city today approved $1.7 million in new one-time money for homelessness programs—drawing from its contingency cash—to fulfill part of Commissioner Dan Saltzman's answer to heavy political criticism over Mayor Charlie Hales' camping sweeps this summer.
Suggesting some friction behind the scenes, Saltzman made clear he saw this merely as a one-time request and that he wasn't introducing a Trojan Horse for more ongoing cash. Saltzman's funding plan (pdf)prioritizes families and "vulnerable" people, directing nonprofits to work with cops and others to scour hotspots where people gather.
"We commend the city for making it a priority right now," says Israel Bayer, executive director of Street Roots and a member of the panel that helped Saltzman craft his request. "But there are still questions on the horizon over how we fund this stuff long term."
• About $8 million from the surplus was set aside to pay off two old debts—a computer system and the old city hall remodeling—freeing up $3.5 million in new ongoing money for other priorities next year.
• The council also agreed to tap that new ongoing money to bump up the threshold, to $100,000, before small business owners have to pay taxes on their income. That political sop, pushed by Nick Fish and praised by Amanda Fritz, will cost $865,000 a year. But don't kid yourself about the economic development claims being bandied around. Because guess how much money that gift will stuff back into a business owner's pocket?
A measly $209 on average, according to a review from the city budget office obtained by the Mercury this afternoon.
And as Steve Novick pointed out, reluctantly, also ruing that earthquake preparedness got zero dollars despite the unprecedented surplus, $865,000 is hardly chump change. "That's more than four times the budget for the Buckman Pool," he said, invoking a popular municipal offering that's been on the chopping block every year, only to be rescued magically in the face of outcry from hundreds.
So what didn't hold up? Or what was new?
• The budget adjustment offered some temporary clarity on a flareup first reported by the Mercury: How to pay for streetcar fixes near Portland State University—something that was in danger after the Portland Development Commission warned it might not have money available from its urban renewal area around Portland State University.
Now that Halloween is out of the way, I think it's safe to start hyperventilating about you know what. The third annual Little Boxes indie Black Friday sale is back (it's actually two days, on the 29th and 30th), and this time they have an app! This is super-useful considering that nearly 200 local independent retailers are participating, banding together to lure lazybones out of the mall. The sheer number of retailers involved has always made LB a little overwhelming, but now... there's an app for that! So you can find out who's playing, and where they are in relation to you. The message here is pretty simple: buy local, support your community economy, and eewww the mall. Got it?
One more thing: This year they are also hosting a raffle: "Little Boxes will be raffling off a grand prize of airfare and hotel accommodations for two to Waikiki, San Diego, or San Francisco. Another top prize is the 16 gigabyte iPad 4Gen with Retina Display and Grove Bamboo case from The Mac Store. Shopping sprees in amounts of $600, $400, and $200 are raffled off as well, with winners having their choice of little box stores as the site of their spree. Additionally, Zama Massage has contributed over $500 worth of spa services to the raffle, as well as other prizes from Hotel Deluxe, Living Room Theaters, nwFilmCenter, Elements Therapeutic Massage, and many other donors." Well then.
It's heartening that the living wage discussion is finally inspiring Democrats to fight on behalf of the American worker. Salon's Josh Eidelson says:
A slide from Wal-Mart’s U.S. CEO’s presentation to Goldman Sachs’ retail conference boasts that “Over 475K” U.S. employees earned more than $25,000 last year. Activist workers and members of Congress seized on that statistic at a Wednesday press event, arguing it amounts to an admission that annual pay for the majority of Walmart’s 1.3 million-member US workforce falls below $25,000.
“Low-income people, poor people, have been demonized for being the ‘takers,’” Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky told reporters at a D.C. press conference. But because “taxpayers are the ones that are subsidizing Wal-Mart right now,” she contended, Wal-Mart elites are the true “welfare kings in this country.”
Thank you! Thank you! More like this, please!
Katrina Scotto di Carlo (co-founder of Supportland, board member of Portland Made, and one of Portland's best advocates for the local economy) spoke at Creative Mornings a few weeks ago, something that got lost in the crush of too many events on the calendar. Luckily, CM documents all of its speakers in a video archive, and if you haven't already watched it (the mere 102 views on YouTube leads me to believe that most of you haven't), you really should, especially if you're still skeptical that the whole "buy local" movement is about elitism. Perfect lunch break brain food:
Mayor Charlie Hales has offered some relatively good news to beleaguered city workers this week.
After last year's big budget cuts (and in light of this fall's sizable surplus), bureaus for the first time in several years won't be asked to contemplate any cuts when preparing their spending proposals for next summer.
But Hales declaration comes with an important catch.
Despite dropping major hints that the city will see substantial new revenues in next year's budget, Hales is pitching what he calls a "stabilization budget." Just because new money is coming in, the mayor is urging bureaus to "maintain fiscal discipline" and avoid asking for big sums of money that might restore lost jobs or beef up slashed programs.
Hales offered his thoughts in a letter (pdf) sent to bureaus on Thursday.
The two-page letter, obtained by the Mercury today, also hints at Hales' hopes for some major and minor structural changes in city government.
The tempered expectations show Hales walking an interesting line. Contract talks with one of the city's larger labor partners, the District Council of Trade Unions, have lasted far longer than both sides had hoped—foundering over proposals on subcontracting and seniority. Hales wants to send positive signals. But his office, and the council, also realize that good news might threaten some of the city's leverage at the bargaining table.
A fuller financial picture will emerge next month. And Hales wants council to talk about the budget, and the city itself, in a hearing in several weeks.
In what might be considered the most hilariously stupid story of the day, terribly awful company Exxon is suing not-awful-but-rather-redundant new TV network FXX for stealing their extra X. From Deadline:
ExxonMobil Corp has sued FX Networks over its use of the second “X” in its new, comedy-centric network which, the oil company says, infringes on its interlocking XX’s. This double-cross brawl may come as a surprise to Dos Equis (that’s Spanish for “Two X”), which also has a double-X logo, and we assume the legal wrangling will be be watched with considerable interest by the XX chromosome, and the roman numeral for 20.
Ha! Good one, Deadline. BUT SERIOUSLY. Take a look at these two logos, and judge for yourself: DOES EXXON HAVE A CASE?
So! The first government shutdown in 17 years? Sounds like fun, right? The New York Times has a helpful guide to exactly what the fuck's going on. The short version is that everyone is terrible and we're all doomed:
With Democrats controlling the White House and the Senate, the Republicans who control the House, tugged rightward by a vocal core of Tea Party conservatives, have begun using budget deadlines and the need for periodic debt limit increases as leverage to press for concessions. A favorite target, and the one at the center of the current dispute, is the health care overhaul passed by Congress and signed into law by Mr. Obama in 2010 over vigorous Tea Party opposition.
Given this poisoned political relationship, Congress has been unable to pass a budget in the normal way. To keep the government operating in March, it passed a temporary spending measure. But that expires at midnight Monday, and House Republicans say they will not vote for new spending unless the president’s health care law is delayed and its funding cut. (Via.)
That's not all: Republicans are also demanding "a rollback of environmental regulations," "approval of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline," and "lunch at Quiznos for everybody, including cookies" because fuck it, if you're holding your own government hostage, why not ask for whatever strikes your fancy. Secretary of Defense/former Republican senator Chuck Hagel probably put it best when he pointed out that “This is an astoundingly irresponsible way to govern,” but that doesn't seem to be upsetting Republicans too much. (Republicans don't listen to John McCain anymore either, especially when he matter-of-factly tries to remind them that [SPOILER ALERT] Obamacare already passed. "We fought as hard as we could in a fair and honest manner and we lost," McCain said a few days ago, exhibiting a pragmatism—a grumpy sort of pragmatism, true, but a pragmatism!—that simply will not stand in today's House.)
On the depressing downside, Hagel's right, but on the hilarious upside, this bullshit brinksmanship also leads to some fantastic theater—like when CNN host Ashleigh Banfield asked two Republican representatives, California's Dana Rohrabacher and Tennessee's Marsha Blackburn, if they'd be cool with their $174,000/year paychecks being some of the ones that wouldn't be issued if the shutdown happens. They... they do not like that idea. (Thanks for the clip, ThinkProgress.)
Haha, no! Of course not, you ignorant rube! I mean, there was an option for Wal-Mart to start paying its Washington, DC employees reasonably—and if that DC plan had passed, it likely would've encouraged other parts of the country make their Wal-Marts start paying those employees reasonably, too. But it isn't going to happen. Because it wasn't ever going to happen. Because Wal-Mart threw a hissy fit at the idea of pulling their own weight, as corporations are wont to do. Take it away, Washington Post!
District Mayor Vincent C. Gray vetoed legislation Thursday that would force the city’s largest retailers to pay a super-minimum wage to their workers, ending two months of uncertainty over the controversial bill’s fate and setting up a decisive override vote at the D.C. Council as early as Tuesday.
The debate over the bill, the Large Retailer Accountability Act, has polarized local leaders while garnering national attention and putting focus on the low wages many retail chains pay their workers. (Via.)
The bill was a pretty good one! Sensible, even! It only applied to businesses that can afford to pay their workers more, it gave leeway for unions to negotiate lower wages, and it gave everybody plenty of time to get used to the mind-blowing idea of employees earning a living wage.
The bill would require retailers with corporate sales of $1 billion or more and operating District stores of at least 75,000 square feet to pay their employees a “living wage”—no less than $12.50 an hour in combined wages and benefits. The proposal includes an exception for employers who collectively bargain with their employees, and existing employers have four years to come into compliance under the law.
The city’s existing minimum wage is $8.25 an hour. The bill would raise the annual earnings of a full-time employee making the lowest legally permissible wage from about $17,000 to $26,000. (Via.)
With Wal-Mart threatening that if the bill passed they wouldn't open any of their six planned stores for the DC area, Gray got to vetoin'. That's a short-sighted, moderately insane decision, but hardly a surprising one, given that policy makers seem happy to bend over backwards for Wal-Mart—even when the political and practical benefits of doing so are limited to short-term growth of low-paying jobs. (Once the things are built, it's up to taxpayers to subsidize the business, with (PDF) "public benefit programs [making] up the difference between Wal-Mart's low wages and the costs of subsistence.")
Word of this came through at the last minute, but if you're sitting at a desk wishing you were working for yourself instead of someone else, or if you just wish you were working period, you may want to alter your happy hour plans. The Oregon Entrepreneur’s Network is hosting a panel discussion from 5:15-7 at Backspace this evening, specifically by and for female entrepreneurs. (Fun fact: Portland was rated the fifth best city in the nation for women entrepreneurs by the financial company with the cutest name, NerdWallet.)
They've got Ivo Lukas from the PR firm 24Notion; Jennifer Ferguson, who started the Handful sports bra company; and Pacific Light Technologies' Juanita Kurtin, with Chez Marie food company/Castor & Pollux pet company's Shelley Gunton moderating. It could be just the ticket if you're pondering your next career move, and besides Backspace has your wine and vittles, too.
Or, just watch the cute product video for Handful bras:
In a PDF, Emmanuel Saez of UC Berkeley writes:
From 2009 to 2012, average real income per family grew modestly by 6.0% (Table 1). Most of the gains happened in the last year when average incomes grew by 4.6% from 2011 to 2012.
However, the gains were very uneven. Top 1% incomes grew by 31.4% while bottom 99% incomes grew only by 0.4% from 2009 to 2012. Hence, the top 1% captured 95% of the income gains in the first three years of the recovery. From 2009 to 2010, top 1% grew fast and then stagnated from 2010 to 2011. Bottom 99% stagnated both from 2009 to 2010 and from 2010 to 2011. In 2012, top 1% incomes increased sharply by 19.6% while bottom 99% incomes grew only by 1.0%. In sum, top 1% incomes are close to full recovery while bottom 99% incomes have hardly started to recover.
And the gap between the 1% and the 99% is now the widest it's been since the 1920s, according to the AP.
At the end of every season, some of the city's most heavy hitting boutiques come together for what is not merely a sale but an event. If you only shop for clothing once or twice a year, now is an excellent time to do so, because prices will be slashed up to 80%. It's called the PDX Collective Sale, and it's taking over the Ace Hotel's Cleaners next weekend with men's and women's clothing, shoes, and accessories. Go early, and play nice.
More than a year after Amazon began collecting sales tax on sales in states like Texas and California, it’s mounting a legal offensive against a requirement to do the same thing in New York, taking its argument to the US Supreme Court. And the Financial Times writes that the company has hired one of Washington’s biggest lawyers, Ted Olson, to lead the charge. The company filed a petition late last week asking the court to rule on the New York tax department’s requirement that Amazon collect tax from its customers in the state.
How is it Mitt Romney can be pretty much universally reviled for hiding his money from taxes, but Amazon fights as hard as it can across the country against fighting taxes and it's one of the most beloved companies on the internet*? Here's what Amazon is fighting against: Funding for schools, roads, parks, libraries, public transportation, fire fighters, police, and all the other programs people take for granted. What a brave, good company they are, fighting as hard as they can to not support those things.
* That's a rhetorical question. I already know the answer: People love cheap shit, and they will fight and justify almost anything for their right to it.
Perhaps with a flair for timing, law professor and erstwhile blogger Jack "Bojack" Bogdanski has made good on his promise to keep on battling Portland's arts tax.
City Attorney James Van Dyke, during this afternoon's work session on fixing the tax, announced that Bogdanski is appealing an Oregon Tax Court ruling that said it lacked jurisdiction over the $35-per-income-earner levy. But Van Dyke, noting the defeat of a separate court challenge casting the arts tax as an illegal head tax, was confident.
"I feel our position is incredibly solid," he crowed in spite of himself.
I'd already asked Bogdanski for comment before Van Dyke's announcement, after hearing him mutter to Revenue Bureau director Thomas Lannom, before the work session, about someone "filing today" unexpectedly and not at the end of a 60-day window. I'll update if I hear back from Bogdanski.
Van Dyke was joined by Commissioner Nick Fish in his optimism that the tax would continue to withstand legal challenges. (Van Dyke did also suggest that making the tax more progressive would help that cause.)
But Commissioner Steve Novick was quick with a potentially applicable bromide, noting how resounding victories in one court can sometimes turn into resounding defeats in higher courts:
"As Yogi said, 'It ain't over 'til it's over.'"
Update 3:15 PM: And for all you wonks out there, here's the 39-slide PDF that details the council's options. Check out the collections agency bits!
The full text of his speech can be found here (in the video his speech starts at the 49 minute mark). The crux of the speech is this:
With an endless parade of distractions, political posturing and phony scandals, Washington has taken its eye off the ball. And I am here to say this needs to stop. Short-term thinking and stale debates are not what this moment requires. Our focus must be on the basic economic issues that the matter most to you – the people we represent. And as Washington prepares to enter another budget debate, the stakes for our middle class could not be higher. The countries that are passive in the face of a global economy will lose the competition for good jobs and high living standards. That’s why America has to make the investments necessary to promote long-term growth and shared prosperity. Rebuilding our manufacturing base. Educating our workforce. Upgrading our transportation and information networks. That’s what we need to be talking about. That’s what Washington needs to be focused on.
And that’s why, over the next several weeks, in towns across this country, I will engage the American people in this debate. I will lay out my ideas for how we build on the cornerstones of what it means to be middle class in America, and what it takes to work your way into the middle class in America. Job security, with good wages and durable industries. A good education. A home to call your own. Affordable health care when you get sick. A secure retirement even if you’re not rich. Reducing poverty and inequality. Growing prosperity and opportunity.
Some of these ideas I’ve talked about before, and some will be new. Some will require Congress, and some I will pursue on my own. Some will benefit folks right away; some will take years to fully implement. But the key is to break through the tendency in Washington to careen from crisis to crisis. What we need isn’t a three-month plan, or even a three-year plan, but a long-term American strategy, based on steady, persistent effort, to reverse the forces that have conspired against the middle class for decades.
President Obama has given so many talks on the economy that it's hard to take him seriously this time. I like the focus on the middle class and poverty, and I appreciate the attempt to sketch out a long-term strategy. But most people could interpret it as being a little late in President Obama's time in office to start focusing on keeping Wall Street in line and making sure that prosperity belongs to the people, where it's always been when America has been at its strongest, financially.
Still, it's nice to hear President Obama speaking about these issues again in an energetic manner. It reminds me of the early days, when he was selling his stimulus package to the American people, but a lot of time has passed since those days, and the situation in Washington has only gotten worse. Can President Obama turn this ship around? Like most of you, I really want him to succeed, but probably like most of you, I haven't seen evidence that this kind of initiative can succeed.
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