Congratulations, good people: President Obama announced in his State of the Union address last night that good folks working for federal contractors be paid at least $10.10/hour. His Executive Order will only apply to new federal contracts (which I expected, contracts being, well, contracts), but will likely help more than half a million federal workers. But could his spokeshack please stop using phrases like "the unique powers of his office," though? Let's not mystify the process here -- he gets to issue Executive Orders because the Constitution and/or an act of Congress say so.
Finally, a mere four years after the Affordable Care Act passed, three Republican Senators finally have proposed an alternative, perhaps optimistically-titled the CARE Act. But if Republicans think they can attract good folks scared of the ACA with a bill that makes less sense than the ACA, then they're out of their damn minds -- no one wants to go back to letting health insurance corporations discriminate against folks with pre-existing conditions, and I can't imagine screwing up Medicaid will give anyone a V-8 moment, either. It has other problems, too, not least of which is that it repeals the ACA, thus forcing some 3 million new policyholders back into chaos.
State and federal agencies investigating the West Virginia chemical leak have been getting their budgets cut for years. WV state corrections spending has been spared the "we're broke" talk, of course, but we haven't really won if we've kept murderers off our streets but don't have water we can drink, bathe in, and wash clothes with, clean water being the single most important health care innovation of the last hundred years. And anyway, we're not broke, no matter what the politicians say -- we're just not getting enough tax revenue from the real takers of our society, the super-rich.
David Sirota makes "The Economic Case for Paid Leave Laws." None of it will surprise you -- paid leave laws help reduce employee turnover (since it costs money to train new employees) and lowers health care costs (since folks would actually take care of their illnesses on time off rather than exacerbate them by trying to buffalo through another work day). Furthermore, Connecticut has mandated paid sick days, and most businesses surveyed there reported zero or low cost hikes, as well as reduced illness and increased morale. None of that matters, of course, to the CEO who wants all-the-money-right-now, and those CEOs still seem to have more say in everything than the rest of us.
Retired Army General and Fox News "analyst" tells Arizona Tea Party group that he could lead a coup against our government -- because "(w)e all love a good fight if it’s worth it, right?" -- though he'd of course prefer to surround the White House and the Capitol with a quarter of a million Marines and "negotiate" that way. Mr. Vallely's been mouthing off about Barack Obama like your cranky uncle for a while; I wonder when Fox News will finally find him too much of an embarrassment to keep on. Let's do our part, and never speak of him again here.
Finally, Reuters blogger asks "Why Are U.S. Corporate Profits So High?" And promptly answers: "Because wages are so low." Well, you know what they say: "omit needless words." But n.b. how Reuters, like most mainstream news outlets, shoves all its economic populism onto its blogs, which you may not know exist, whereas its regular news stories (which you do know exist) tend to parrot whatever CEOs want heard.