Archive for the ‘US Economy’ Category
BENTONVILLE, Ark. – As Wal-Mart Stores Inc. opens about 150 new or expanded stores in the U.S. in 2009, the company expects to hire about 22,000 people for new positions.
Those positions include plenty of cashiers and stock clerks, but the world’s largest retailer will also be adding store managers, pharmacists and personnel workers.
Wal-Mart is holding its annual shareholders meeting on Friday, and employees from its stores around the world are spending the week in Bentonville at company headquarters.
Wal-Mart, still the target of criticism from union-backed groups for its pay and benefits, has improved its health insurance coverage and opened it to full- and part-time employees. The company says 94 percent of its employees have health coverage, either through Wal-Mart or another family member.
“At Wal-Mart, we offer competitive pay and benefits and real opportunities for our associates to advance and build careers,” Wal-Mart Vice Chairman Eduardo Castro-Wright said. “Job creation is just one way in which we’re working hard every day to help people across this country live better.”
Other employee benefits include a 401(k) plan, stock purchases and discounts for workers making in-store purchases.
The company has touted its generic drugs program in which Wal-Mart is selling $4 prescriptions for many popular medicines. Competitors, such as Kroger Co., have matched the price for some prescriptions.
“During this difficult economic time, we’re proud to be able to create quality jobs for thousands of Americans this year,” Castro-Wright said.
Earlier this year, the company shared more than $2 billion with its workers through bonuses, profit sharing and payments into the company 401(k) plan.
Wal-Mart has more than 2.1 million employees in the U.S. and abroad. The company had sales last fiscal year of $401 billion.
Well at least we have jobs being made for some in this country.God Bless, The Truth Tracker Jason R. Bootie
Via(The Boston Globe)
WASHINGTON – Defense contractors, high-tech firms, and manufacturing plants are bracing for thousands of potential layoffs across New England resulting from the Obama administration’s plans to cancel or delay key weapons programs, according to company officials, union representatives, and members of Congress.
A metal works plant in North Grafton, Mass., that shapes titanium for use in the Air Force’s F-22 fighter jet stands to lose as much as one-fifth of its workforce if production is halted, while more than 2,000 jobs could be lost at divisions of United Technologies in Connecticut that build the jet’s engine and electrical power systems, officials say.
More than 2,000 employees at Raytheon Co. facilities in Tewksbury, Andover, and Portsmouth, R.I., are working on the combat and radar systems for the Navy’s Zumwalt class destroyer, another program widely expected to be cut. Many workers could lose their jobs or be transferred out of the area if construction of the warship is halted, according to the officials.
And firms large and small – including General Dynamics in Taunton and iRobot in Bedford – are keeping a close eye on the fate of the Army’s set of next-generation ground combat vehicles, which rely on a host of computer systems and communications developed in the Bay State, but are also on the chopping block.
“All the major programs that are being discussed would have a Massachusetts or New England impact,” said a Senate aide who is tracking the budget deliberations to gauge how they might effect the region’s economy, which is already struggling in the deepening recession.
The Obama administration is about to unveil a Pentagon spending plan that officials say will slash weapons programs identified as either too costly or not meeting the urgent needs of the military in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates stayed behind in Washington, even with President Obama attending a NATO summit starting today in France, to iron out the final details of what he calls a “strategic reshaping” of the Pentagon’s investment strategy.
Gates’s office has said that jobs will not be a factor in the Defense Department’s deliberations.
“It’s not the responsibility of this building to worry about the economic impact of budgetary decisions,” Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell told reporters recently. “It’s the responsibility of the secretary and this building to provide recommendations to the president about what’s in the best interest of our national security.”
But the economic impact of the cuts – especially at a time when the job market is already under strain – is clearly on the minds of company executives, workers, and their elected representatives in Washington. Yesterday, the Labor Department reported initial claims for unemployment insurance rose last week to 669,000 nationwide, the most in more than 26 years.The Truth Tracker Jason R. Bootie
By: Dick Morris
President Obama and his big spenders are moving quickly, to the relief of those who are facing foreclosure on their mortgages. But the program they are offering will do nothing for those most in need.
In the fine print, Obama’s plan provides no relief for any homeowner whose mortgage exceeds the total value of his home. But these folks are the ones who have been conned into taking sub-prime mortgages so loaded with brokerage commissions, interest rate subsidies, bank fees and lawyer and title-company charges that the amount of the mortgage has ballooned. These high mortgage amounts, coupled with declining property values, have turned about 20 percent of American mortgages upside down, so that the debt exceeds the value of the property.
By excluding these homeowners from help, Obama is guilty of a holier-than-thou hypocrisy. Was it not Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that encouraged such over-mortgaged properties? Was it not the Democrats in Congress who passed legislation urging Fannie and Freddie to weaken the standards to allow more low- and lower-middle-income families to buy homes?
How can Obama suddenly pretend to be so shocked — shocked — that about 20 percent of America’s home mortgages are now worth more than the property they finance? It was the insistence of liberal Democrats that made it so. When Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros demanded that Fannie and Freddie invest 42 percent of their assets in buying low- and lower-middle-income mortgages, and when his successor Andrew Cuomo raised the quota to 50 percent, what did they think would happen? When they explicitly told Fannie and Freddie not to insist on down payments in the mortgages they purchased, how did they think the purchase would be funded? Obviously, if you don’t require the borrower to put money down, the full purchase price must be covered by the mortgage. To now, piously, refuse to come to the rescue of those who fell for your party’s seeming generosity and bought homes on the terms it suggested is hypocritical at best.
But it is not only the over-mortgaged whom Obama will ignore, but those who have lost their jobs! If you do not make enough money such that your mortgage payments come to 31 percent of your income, you can’t get your mortgage refinanced. If your income has dropped to a point where your monthly payments on your loan consume a greater part of your earnings than 31 percent, you are stuck.
So we have Obama rushing to the aid of those who have been hurt in this bad economy, but exempting from his proposed relief anyone who has lost his job and seen a cut in income or whose property values have dropped below the amount of his mortgage. In other words, he’ll help anyone but those most in need.
And, once again, Obama would limit his aid to those who make below $200,000 a year. While he doesn’t specify this limit in his proposal, he does limit his intervention to mortgages of less than $720,000. At standard mortgage interest rates, such a loan would call for $60,000 or so in payments a year. To qualify for relief, your mortgage payment can’t be larger than 31 percent of your income — or about $200,000. Once more, Obama makes it clear that he is not the president of anyone who makes that much money or more. He is only the president of the other people.
Obama, of course, forgets — or doesn’t care — that those making over $200,000 account for almost a third of the total national spending and that you cannot stimulate an economy while constantly cutting off those people from any consideration in any government program. But Obama is determined to try.
Morris, a former adviser to Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and President Bill Clinton, is the author of Outrage. To get all of Dick Morris’s and Eileen McGann’s columns for free by e-mail or to order a signed copy of their new best-selling book, Fleeced, go to dickmorris.com.God Bless, The Truth Tracker Jason R. Bootie
Take everything they earn, and it still won’t be enough.
President Obama has laid out the most ambitious and expensive domestic agenda since LBJ, and now all he has to do is figure out how to pay for it. On Tuesday, he left the impression that we need merely end “tax breaks for the wealthiest 2% of Americans,” and he promised that households earning less than $250,000 won’t see their taxes increased by “one single dime.”
This is going to be some trick. Even the most basic inspection of the IRS income tax statistics shows that raising taxes on the salaries, dividends and capital gains of those making more than $250,000 can’t possibly raise enough revenue to fund Mr. Obama’s new spending ambitions.
Consider the IRS data for 2006, the most recent year that such tax data are available and a good year for the economy and “the wealthiest 2%.” Roughly 3.8 million filers had adjusted gross incomes above $200,000 in 2006. (That’s about 7% of all returns; the data aren’t broken down at the $250,000 point.) These people paid about $522 billion in income taxes, or roughly 62% of all federal individual income receipts. The richest 1% — about 1.65 million filers making above $388,806 — paid some $408 billion, or 39.9% of all income tax revenues, while earning about 22% of all reported U.S. income.
Note that federal income taxes are already “progressive” with a 35% top marginal rate, and that Mr. Obama is (so far) proposing to raise it only to 39.6%, plus another two percentage points in hidden deduction phase-outs. He’d also raise capital gains and dividend rates, but those both yield far less revenue than the income tax. These combined increases won’t come close to raising the hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue that Mr. Obama is going to need.
But let’s not stop at a 42% top rate; as a thought experiment, let’s go all the way. A tax policy that confiscated 100% of the taxable income of everyone in America earning over $500,000 in 2006 would only have given Congress an extra $1.3 trillion in revenue. That’s less than half the 2006 federal budget of $2.7 trillion and looks tiny compared to the more than $4 trillion Congress will spend in fiscal 2010. Even taking every taxable “dime” of everyone earning more than $75,000 in 2006 would have barely yielded enough to cover that $4 trillion.
Fast forward to this year (and 2010) when the Wall Street meltdown and recession are going to mean far few taxpayers earning more than $500,000. Profits are plunging, businesses are cutting or eliminating dividends, hedge funds are rolling up, and, most of all, capital nationwide is on strike. Raising taxes now will thus yield far less revenue than it would have in 2006.
Mr. Obama is of course counting on an economic recovery. And he’s also assuming along with the new liberal economic consensus that taxes don’t matter to growth or job creation. The truth, though, is that they do. Small- and medium-sized businesses are the nation’s primary employers, and lower individual tax rates have induced thousands of them to shift from filing under the corporate tax system to the individual system, often as limited liability companies or Subchapter S corporations. The Tax Foundation calculates that merely restoring the higher, Clinton-era tax rates on the top two brackets would hit 45% to 55% of small-business income, depending on how inclusively “small business” is defined. These owners will find a way to declare less taxable income.
The bottom line is that Mr. Obama is selling the country on a 2% illusion. Unwinding the U.S. commitment in Iraq and allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire can’t possibly pay for his agenda. Taxes on the not-so-rich will need to rise as well.
On that point, by the way, it’s unclear why Mr. Obama thinks his climate-change scheme won’t hit all Americans with higher taxes. Selling the right to emit greenhouse gases amounts to a steep new tax on most types of energy and, therefore, on all Americans who use energy. There’s a reason that Charlie Rangel’s Ways and Means panel, which writes tax law, is holding hearings this week on cap-and-trade regulation.
Mr. Obama is very good at portraying his agenda as nothing more than center-left pragmatism. But pragmatists don’t ignore the data. And the reality is that the only way to pay for Mr. Obama’s ambitions is to reach ever deeper into the pockets of the American middle class.God Bless, The Truth Tracker Jason R. Bootie