Monday, March 22, 2010

Roll Call on the Healthcare Vote: (AKA: Who to vote out in the next election)

A "yes" vote is a vote to pass the bill.

Voting yes were 219 Democrats and 0 Republicans.

Voting no were 34 Democrats and 178 Republicans.

There are 4 vacancies in the 435-member House.

ALABAMA

Democrats - Bright, N; Davis, N.

Republicans - Aderholt, N; Bachus, N; Bonner, N; Griffith, N; Rogers, N.

ALASKA

Republicans - Young, N.

ARIZONA

Democrats - Giffords, Y; Grijalva, Y; Kirkpatrick, Y; Mitchell, Y; Pastor, Y.

Republicans - Flake, N; Franks, N; Shadegg, N.

ARKANSAS

Democrats - Berry, N; Ross, N; Snyder, Y.

Republicans - Boozman, N.

CALIFORNIA

Democrats - Baca, Y; Becerra, Y; Berman, Y; Capps, Y; Cardoza, Y; Chu, Y; Costa, Y; Davis, Y; Eshoo, Y; Farr, Y; Filner, Y; Garamendi, Y; Harman, Y; Honda, Y; Lee, Y; Lofgren, Zoe, Y; Matsui, Y; McNerney, Y; Miller, George, Y; Napolitano, Y; Pelosi, Y; Richardson, Y; Roybal-Allard, Y; Sanchez, Linda T., Y; Sanchez, Loretta, Y; Schiff, Y; Sherman, Y; Speier, Y; Stark, Y; Thompson, Y; Waters, Y; Watson, Y; Waxman, Y; Woolsey, Y.

Republicans - Bilbray, N; Bono Mack, N; Calvert, N; Campbell, N; Dreier, N; Gallegly, N; Herger, N; Hunter, N; Issa, N; Lewis, N; Lungren, Daniel E., N; McCarthy, N; McClintock, N; McKeon, N; Miller, Gary, N; Nunes, N; Radanovich, N; Rohrabacher, N; Royce, N.

COLORADO

Democrats - DeGette, Y; Markey, Y; Perlmutter, Y; Polis, Y; Salazar, Y.

Republicans - Coffman, N; Lamborn, N.

CONNECTICUT

Democrats - Courtney, Y; DeLauro, Y; Himes, Y; Larson, Y; Murphy, Y.

DELAWARE

Republicans - Castle, N.

FLORIDA

Democrats - Boyd, Y; Brown, Corrine, Y; Castor, Y; Grayson, Y; Hastings, Y; Klein, Y; Kosmas, Y; Meek, Y; Wasserman Schultz, Y.

Republicans - Bilirakis, N; Brown-Waite, Ginny, N; Buchanan, N; Crenshaw, N; Diaz-Balart, L., N; Diaz-Balart, M., N; Mack, N; Mica, N; Miller, N; Posey, N; Putnam, N; Rooney, N; Ros-Lehtinen, N; Stearns, N; Young, N.

GEORGIA

Democrats - Barrow, N; Bishop, Y; Johnson, Y; Lewis, Y; Marshall, N; Scott, Y.

Republicans - Broun, N; Deal, N; Gingrey, N; Kingston, N; Linder, N; Price, N; Westmoreland, N.

HAWAII

Democrats - Hirono, Y.

IDAHO

Democrats - Minnick, N.

Republicans - Simpson, N.

ILLINOIS

Democrats - Bean, Y; Costello, Y; Davis, Y; Foster, Y; Gutierrez, Y; Halvorson, Y; Hare, Y; Jackson, Y; Lipinski, N; Quigley, Y; Rush, Y; Schakowsky, Y.

Republicans - Biggert, N; Johnson, N; Kirk, N; Manzullo, N; Roskam, N; Schock, N; Shimkus, N.

INDIANA

Democrats - Carson, Y; Donnelly, Y; Ellsworth, Y; Hill, Y; Visclosky, Y.

Republicans - Burton, N; Buyer, N; Pence, N; Souder, N.

IOWA

Democrats - Boswell, Y; Braley, Y; Loebsack, Y.

Republicans - King, N; Latham, N.

KANSAS

Democrats - Moore, Y.

Republicans - Jenkins, N; Moran, N; Tiahrt, N.

KENTUCKY

Democrats - Chandler, N; Yarmuth, Y.

Republicans - Davis, N; Guthrie, N; Rogers, N; Whitfield, N.

LOUISIANA

Democrats - Melancon, N.

Republicans - Alexander, N; Boustany, N; Cao, N; Cassidy, N; Fleming, N; Scalise, N.

MAINE

Democrats - Michaud, Y; Pingree, Y.

MARYLAND

Democrats - Cummings, Y; Edwards, Y; Hoyer, Y; Kratovil, N; Ruppersberger, Y; Sarbanes, Y; Van Hollen, Y.

Republicans - Bartlett, N.

MASSACHUSETTS

Democrats - Capuano, Y; Delahunt, Y; Frank, Y; Lynch, N; Markey, Y; McGovern, Y; Neal, Y; Olver, Y; Tierney, Y; Tsongas, Y.

MICHIGAN

Democrats - Conyers, Y; Dingell, Y; Kildee, Y; Kilpatrick, Y; Levin, Y; Peters, Y; Schauer, Y; Stupak, Y.

Republicans - Camp, N; Ehlers, N; Hoekstra, N; McCotter, N; Miller, N; Rogers, N; Upton, N.

MINNESOTA

Democrats - Ellison, Y; McCollum, Y; Oberstar, Y; Peterson, N; Walz, Y.

Republicans - Bachmann, N; Kline, N; Paulsen, N.

MISSISSIPPI

Democrats - Childers, N; Taylor, N; Thompson, Y.

Republicans - Harper, N.

MISSOURI

Democrats - Carnahan, Y; Clay, Y; Cleaver, Y; Skelton, N.

Republicans - Akin, N; Blunt, N; Emerson, N; Graves, N; Luetkemeyer, N.

MONTANA

Republicans - Rehberg, N.

NEBRASKA

Republicans - Fortenberry, N; Smith, N; Terry, N.

NEVADA

Democrats - Berkley, Y; Titus, Y.

Republicans - Heller, N.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Democrats - Hodes, Y; Shea-Porter, Y.

NEW JERSEY

Democrats - Adler, N; Andrews, Y; Holt, Y; Pallone, Y; Pascrell, Y; Payne, Y; Rothman, Y; Sires, Y.

Republicans - Frelinghuysen, N; Garrett, N; Lance, N; LoBiondo, N; Smith, N.

NEW MEXICO

Democrats - Heinrich, Y; Lujan, Y; Teague, N.

NEW YORK

Democrats - Ackerman, Y; Arcuri, N; Bishop, Y; Clarke, Y; Crowley, Y; Engel, Y; Hall, Y; Higgins, Y; Hinchey, Y; Israel, Y; Lowey, Y; Maffei, Y; Maloney, Y; McCarthy, Y; McMahon, N; Meeks, Y; Murphy, Y; Nadler, Y; Owens, Y; Rangel, Y; Serrano, Y; Slaughter, Y; Tonko, Y; Towns, Y; Velazquez, Y; Weiner, Y.

Republicans - King, N; Lee, N.

NORTH CAROLINA

Democrats - Butterfield, Y; Etheridge, Y; Kissell, N; McIntyre, N; Miller, Y; Price, Y; Shuler, N; Watt, Y.

Republicans - Coble, N; Foxx, N; Jones, N; McHenry, N; Myrick, N.

NORTH DAKOTA

Democrats - Pomeroy, Y.

OHIO

Democrats - Boccieri, Y; Driehaus, Y; Fudge, Y; Kaptur, Y; Kilroy, Y; Kucinich, Y; Ryan, Y; Space, N; Sutton, Y; Wilson, Y.

Republicans - Austria, N; Boehner, N; Jordan, N; LaTourette, N; Latta, N; Schmidt, N; Tiberi, N; Turner, N.

OKLAHOMA

Democrats - Boren, N.

Republicans - Cole, N; Fallin, N; Lucas, N; Sullivan, N.

OREGON

Democrats - Blumenauer, Y; DeFazio, Y; Schrader, Y; Wu, Y.

Republicans - Walden, N.

PENNSYLVANIA

Democrats - Altmire, N; Brady, Y; Carney, Y; Dahlkemper, Y; Doyle, Y; Fattah, Y; Holden, N; Kanjorski, Y; Murphy, Patrick, Y; Schwartz, Y; Sestak, Y.

Republicans - Dent, N; Gerlach, N; Murphy, Tim, N; Pitts, N; Platts, N; Shuster, N; Thompson, N.

RHODE ISLAND

Democrats - Kennedy, Y; Langevin, Y.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Democrats - Clyburn, Y; Spratt, Y.

Republicans - Barrett, N; Brown, N; Inglis, N; Wilson, N.

SOUTH DAKOTA

Democrats - Herseth Sandlin, N.

TENNESSEE

Democrats - Cohen, Y; Cooper, Y; Davis, N; Gordon, Y; Tanner, N.

Republicans - Blackburn, N; Duncan, N; Roe, N; Wamp, N.

TEXAS

Democrats - Cuellar, Y; Doggett, Y; Edwards, N; Gonzalez, Y; Green, Al, Y; Green, Gene, Y; Hinojosa, Y; Jackson Lee, Y; Johnson, E. B., Y; Ortiz, Y; Reyes, Y; Rodriguez, Y.

Republicans - Barton, N; Brady, N; Burgess, N; Carter, N; Conaway, N; Culberson, N; Gohmert, N; Granger, N; Hall, N; Hensarling, N; Johnson, Sam, N; Marchant, N; McCaul, N; Neugebauer, N; Olson, N; Paul, N; Poe, N; Sessions, N; Smith, N; Thornberry, N.

UTAH

Democrats - Matheson, N.

Republicans - Bishop, N; Chaffetz, N.

VERMONT

Democrats - Welch, Y.

VIRGINIA

Democrats - Boucher, N; Connolly, Y; Moran, Y; Nye, N; Perriello, Y; Scott, Y.

Republicans - Cantor, N; Forbes, N; Goodlatte, N; Wittman, N; Wolf, N.

WASHINGTON

Democrats - Baird, Y; Dicks, Y; Inslee, Y; Larsen, Y; McDermott, Y; Smith, Y.

Republicans - Hastings, N; McMorris Rodgers, N; Reichert, N.

WEST VIRGINIA

Democrats - Mollohan, Y; Rahall, Y.

Republicans - Capito, N.

WISCONSIN

Democrats - Baldwin, Y; Kagen, Y; Kind, Y; Moore, Y; Obey, Y.

Republicans - Petri, N; Ryan, N; Sensenbrenner, N.

WYOMING

Republicans - Lummis, N.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

UK HEALTHCARE: Neglected by 'lazy' nurses, man, 22, dying of thirst rang the police to beg for water

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1255858/Neglected-lazy-nurses-Kane-Gorny-22-dying-thirst-rang-police-beg-water.html

By Emily Andrews

06th March 2010

A man of 22 died in agony of dehydration after three days in a leading teaching hospital.

Kane Gorny was so desperate for a drink that he rang police to beg for their help.

They arrived on the ward only to be told by doctors that everything was under control.

The next day his mother Rita Cronin found him delirious and he died within hours.

She said nurses had failed to give him vital drugs which controlled fluid levels in his body. 'He was totally dependent on the nurses to help him and they totally betrayed him.'

A coroner has such grave concerns about the case that it has been referred to police.

Sources say they are investigating the possibility of a corporate manslaughter charge against St George's Hospital in Tooting, South London.

Mr Gorny, from Balham, worked for Waitrose and had been a keen footballer and runner until he was diagnosed with a brain tumour the year before his death.

The medication he took caused his bones to weaken and he was admitted to St George's for a hip replacement in May last year. The operation left him immobile and unable to get out of bed.

His 50-year-old mother says that he needed to take drugs three times a day to regulate his hormones. Doctors had told him that without the drugs he would die.

Although he had stressed to staff how important his medication was, she said, no one gave him the drugs.

She said that two days after his hip operation, while Miss Cronin was at work, he became severely dehydrated but his requests for water were refused.

He became aggressive and nurses called in security guards to restrain him.

After they had left, he rang the police from his bed to demand their help.

Miss Cronin, who is divorced from her son's father Peter, said: 'The police told me he'd said, "Please help me. All I want is a drink and no one is helping me".

'By this time my son was confused due to his lack of medication and I think the nurses just ignored him because they thought he was just being badly behaved.

'They were lazy, careless and hadn't bothered to check his charts and see his medication was essential.'

That evening, Miss Cronin visited him. She said: 'I told Kane to behave himself because I thought he had been causing trouble - and I feel so bad about that now. I thought maybe he was having a bad reaction to the morphine he was on but in fact it was because he had not had his medication.'

The next morning she visited him before going to work. 'He was delirious and his mouth was open,' she said. 'I gave him a drink of Ribena.

'I told three nurses there was something wrong with my son and they said, "He's fine" and walked off. I started to cry and a locum doctor who was there told me not to worry.

'Eventually the ward doctor came round, took one look at Kane and started shouting for help.'

Miss Cronin was asked to leave her son's bedside. 'He died an hour later,' she said. 'I didn't even realise he was dying. I didn't even have a chance to say goodbye.'

The death certificate said Mr Gorny had died because of a 'water deficit' and 'hypernatraemia' - a medical term for dehydration.

His mother added: 'When I went back to the hospital I was told that all the nurses had been offered counselling as they were so traumatised, but nothing was offered to me.

'The whole thing is a disgrace. This hospital has a brilliant reputation and boasts of its excellent standards and safety record.

'But as soon as my son walked into that ward, his death warrant was signed. Of the 32 people who were involved in my son's care, every one made a mistake that ultimately led to his death, from the consultant to the care assistant.

'There has been an internal investigation but St George's never made it public and it was a whitewash-After his death the hospital never phoned me or wrote to me to apologise. How could this happen in the 21st century?'

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: 'Detectives from the Homicide and Serious Crime Command are investigating the death of Kane Gorny at St George's Hospital after this was referred to us by Westminster Coroner's Court.'

A spokesman for St George's Hospital said: 'We are extremely sorry about the death of Kane Gorny and understand the distress that this has caused to his family.

'A full investigation was carried out and new procedures introduced to ensure that such a case cannot happen in future.

'We have written to the family to explain the actions that have been taken and to answer their concerns about Mr Gorny's care. The family has also been invited to meet with trust staff to discuss the case in detail.'

The tragedy emerged a week after a report into hundreds of deaths at Stafford Hospital revealed the appalling quality of care given by many of the nurses.

This week a task force called on nurses to sign a public pledge that they will treat everyone with compassion and dignity.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Video: OBAMA FLASHBACK: DEMS SHOULD NOT PASS HEALTCARE WITH 50-PLUS-1...

'WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO HAVE A 60% MAJORITY IN SENATE AND HOUSE TO GET A BILL TO MY DESK'...

Video:
http://www.breitbart.tv/obama-american-agenda...-flashback-dems-should-not-pass-healthcare-with-a-50-plus-1-strategy

Restaurants now adding 'Health' charge to restaurant bills...

http://www.chicagotribune.com/travel/family/ct-trav-0228-health-charge-20100226,0,6658174.story

chicagotribune.com

New charge on dinner tab is in bad taste

The latest hidden mandatory add-on is a “health” charge added to restaurant bills. This scam cropped up first in San Francisco, but you can count on it to spread.

By Ed Perkins, Tribune Media Services

February 28, 2010

Nothing succeeds in the travel industry like a bad idea. The latest hidden mandatory add-on is a "health" charge added to restaurant bills. As far as I know, this scam cropped up first in San Francisco, but you can count on it to spread.

The rationale for this one is to cover the employers' mandatory contribution to the City's "Healthy San Francisco" health-coverage system. The charge actually is levied on employers, but at least some restaurants are adding a few dollars or percentage points to each customer's bill to cover this charge.

The restaurants' excuse for assessing this charge separately is to let customers know how much they're paying for employees' health coverage. That's the same excuse hotels use when they add "resort" or "housekeeping" fees to unsuspecting guests' room bills. It's the same excuse airlines would use to exclude fuel surcharges from their advertised fares if the Department of Transportation would allow them. And it's sheer nonsense. Employees' health insurance is no less of a cost of doing business than rent, property taxes, food costs, security services and all the other inputs businesses require to operate. To single out health care for a separate surcharge is unwarranted.

The restaurants adding this fee self-righteously proclaim, "It's not hidden; we print a notice on our menus." But that, too, is nonsense: Presumably, restaurants could apply that same rationale for extra fees to cover the cost of electricity, heat or linen service. I haven't seen any reports yet that San Francisco hotels are adding a similar charge. But hotels aren't shy about piling on other fees and charges.

So far, I haven't heard of "health" fees anywhere other than San Francisco. But, as noted, bad ideas travel fast, and I wouldn't be surprised to see it copied in one form or another by restaurants in other areas.

What can you do to avoid this fee? Presumably, not many of you would feel strongly enough about this minor scam to get up and walk out of a restaurant the minute you saw a notice about such a fee. And you probably wouldn't feel like making a fuss when you're paying your bill, either. But when you leave, you can certainly let the restaurant know that you resent this deception and that you won't be returning.

I've noted before — and you have undoubtedly found out firsthand — that hidden mandatory fees have become a bane of travelers and of consumers generally. The reason seems clear: As more and more of you use the Internet to compare prices, suppliers find it increasingly important to make their first-screen prices look as low as possible. As a result, they've taken to carving out part of what should be the true base price and instead adding it in only later — sometimes before you buy, sometimes not until later.

Currently, mandatory extra hotel fees are far more troublesome than restaurant fees. Trip-Advisor (tripadvisor.com) posts more than 72,000 traveler reports of unexpected hotel fees of various types. Although some of those reports obviously cover the same hotels, the number of hotels resorting to this deception has got to be in the thousands.

Normally I write about practical information travelers can use, and I avoid taking "there oughta be a law" soapbox positions. But it seems to me that hidden mandatory fees are becoming prevalent enough to warrant some sort of government action. The Federal Trade Commission has the authority to police deceptive advertising, but it moves at a glacially slow pace and even then gives wide latitude to miscreants. What consumers need is some sort of overall national "buyability" standard for advertised prices, along with robust enforcement authority. Certainly, such a requirement is workable; it works pretty well right now for airfares.

$7 gallon gas to meet Obama's targets for emissions?!

http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fdotearth.blogs.nytimes.com%2F2010%2F03%2F02%2Ffuel-taxes-must-rise-harvard-researchers-say%2F&h=b9dd710aa8b9ba415362bacfad27ad64

March 2, 2010, 6:35 pm

Fuel Taxes Must Rise, Harvard Researchers Say

By SINDYA N. BHANOO

To meet the Obama administration’s targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, some researchers say, Americans may have to experience a sobering reality: gas at $7 a gallon.

To reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the transportation sector 14 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, the cost of driving would simply have to increase, according to a report released Thursday by researchers at Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. The research also appears in the March edition of the journal Energy Policy.

The 14 percent target was set in the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget for fiscal 2010.

In their study, the researchers devised several combinations of steps that United States policymakers might take in trying to address the heat-trapping emissions by the nation’s transportation sector, which consumes 70 percent of the oil used in the United States.

Most of their models assumed an economy-wide carbon dioxide tax starting at $30 a ton in 2010 and escalating to $60 a ton in 2030. In some cases researchers also factored in tax credits for electric and hybrid vehicles, taxes on fuel or both.

In the modeling, it turned out that issuing tax credits could backfire, while taxes on fuel proved beneficial.

“Tax credits don’t address how much people use their cars,” said Ross Morrow, one of the report’s authors. “In reverse, they can make people drive more.”

Dr. Morrow, formerly a fellow at the Belfer Center, is a professor of mechanical engineering and economics at Iowa State University

Researchers said that vehicle miles traveled will increase by more than 30 percent between 2010 and 2030 unless policymakers increase fuel taxes.

[From Andy R.: March 4, 7:58 a.m. Update ] Rush Limbaugh weighed in on this post yesterday, as some may have surmised given the spike in comments, and the tenor of many. Some important points were raised by his audience, including a listener calling from his car in Nebraska to say how a gas tax would unfairly burden workers in sprawling states with no public transportation options. I’ll be posting more from the research team on some of this.

Obama Now Selling Judgeships for Health Care Votes

Obama names brother of undecided House Dem to Appeals Court...

'Whatever it takes to get healthcare done,'said Press Secretary Robert Gibbs...


http://weeklystandard.com/blogs/obama-now-selling-appeals-court-judgeships-health-care-votes
Published on The Weekly Standard (http://weeklystandard.com)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Obama Now Selling Judgeships for Health Care Votes?
BY John McCormack
March 3, 2010 6:15 PM

Tonight, Barack Obama will host ten House Democrats who voted against the health care bill in November at the White House; he's obviously trying to persuade them to switch their votes to yes. One of the ten is Jim Matheson of Utah. The White House just sent out a press release announcing that today President Obama nominated Matheson's brother Scott M. Matheson, Jr. to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

“Scott Matheson is a distinguished candidate for the Tenth Circuit court,” President Obama said. “Both his legal and academic credentials are impressive and his commitment to judicial integrity is unwavering. I am honored to nominate this lifelong Utahn to the federal bench.”

Scott M. Matheson, Jr.: Nominee for the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
Scott M. Matheson currently holds the Hugh B. Brown Presidential Endowed Chair at the S.J. Quinney College of Law, University of Utah, where he has been a member of the faculty since 1985. He served as Dean of the Law School from 1998 to 2006. He also taught First Amendment Law at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government from 1989 to 1990.

While on public service leave from the University of Utah from 1993 to 1997, Matheson served as United States Attorney for the District of Utah. In 2007, he was appointed by Governor Jon Huntsman to chair the Utah Mine Safety Commission. He also worked as a Deputy County Attorney for Salt Lake County from 1988 to 1989. Prior to joining the University faculty, Matheson was an associate attorney from 1981 to 1985 at Williams & Connolly LLP in Washington, D.C.

Matheson was born and raised in Utah and is a sixth generation Utahn. He received an A.B. from Stanford University in 1975, an M.A. from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar, and a J.D. from Yale Law School in 1980.

So, Scott Matheson appears to have the credentials to be a judge, but was his nomination used to buy off his brother's vote?

Consider Congressman Matheson's record on the health care bill. He voted against the bill in the Energy and Commerce Committee back in July and again when it passed the House in November. But now he's "undecided" on ramming the bill through Congress. "The Congressman is looking for development of bipartisan consensus," Matheson's press secretary Alyson Heyrend wrote to THE WEEKLY STANDARD on February 22. "It’s too early to know if that will occur." Asked if one could infer that if no Republican votes in favor of the bill (i.e. if a bipartisan consensus is not reached) then Rep. Matheson would vote no, Heyrend replied: "I would not infer anything. I’d wait to see what develops, starting with the health care summit on Thursday."

The timing of this nomination looks suspicious, especially in light of Democratic Congressman Joe Sestak's claim that he was offered a federal job not to run against Arlen Specter in the Pennsylvania primary. Many speculated that Sestak, a former admiral, was offered the Secretary of the Navy job.

Federal pay ahead of private industry...

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2010-03-04-federal-pay_N.htm

Federal pay ahead of private industry

Enlarge By Melissa Golden, Getty Images

Federal pay has become a hot political issue in recent months because of concerns over the federal budget deficit and recession-battered wages in the private sector.

PAYCHECK

The typical federal worker is paid 20% more than a private-sector worker in the same occupation. Median annual salary:

Federal Private Difference

$66,591 $55,500 $11,091

Sources: Bureau of Labor statistics, USA TODAY analysis

By Dennis Cauchon, USA TODAY

Federal employees earn higher average salaries than private-sector workers in more than eight out of 10 occupations, a USA TODAY analysis of federal data finds.

Accountants, nurses, chemists, surveyors, cooks, clerks and janitors are among the wide range of jobs that get paid more on average in the federal government than in the private sector.

Overall, federal workers earned an average salary of $67,691 in 2008 for occupations that exist both in government and the private sector, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. The average pay for the same mix of jobs in the private sector was $60,046 in 2008, the most recent data available.


CHART: Federal salaries compared to private-sector

These salary figures do not include the value of health, pension and other benefits, which averaged $40,785 per federal employee in 2008 vs. $9,882 per private worker, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Federal pay has become a hot political issue in recent months because of concerns over the federal budget deficit and recession-battered wages in the private sector.

Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., made federal pay an issue in his successful campaign to fill Edward Kennedy's seat and is fighting for a pay freeze.

The federal government spends about $125 billion annually on compensation for about 2 million civilian employees.

"The data flip the conventional wisdom on its head," says Cato Institute budget analyst Chris Edwards, a critic of federal pay policy. "Federal workers make substantially more than private workers, not less, in addition to having a large advantage in benefits."

But National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley says the comparison is faulty because it "compares apples and oranges." Federal accountants, for example, perform work that has more complexity and requires more skill than accounting work in the private sector, she says.

"When you look at the actual duties, you see that very few federal jobs align with those in the private sector," she says. She says federal employees are paid an average of 26% less than non-federal workers doing comparable work.

Office of Personnel Management spokeswoman Sedelta Verble, says higher pay also reflects the longevity and older age of federal workers.

USA TODAY used Bureau of Labor Statistics data to compare salaries in every federal job that had a private-sector equivalent. For example, the federal government's 57,000 registered nurses — working for the Veterans Administration and elsewhere — were paid an average of $74,460 a year, $10,680 more than the average for private-sector nurses.

The BLS reports that 216 occupations covering 1.1 million federal workers exist in both the federal government and the private sector. An additional 124 federal occupations covering 750,000 employees — air-traffic controllers, tax collectors and others — did not have direct equivalents, according to the BLS.

Federal jobs have more limited salary ranges than private-sector jobs, some of which have million-dollar payouts.

Key findings:

• Federal. The federal pay premium cut across all job categories — white-collar, blue-collar, management, professional, technical and low-skill. In all, 180 jobs paid better average salaries in the federal government; 36 paid better in the private sector.

•Private. The private sector paid more on average in a select group of high-skill occupations, including lawyers, veterinarians and airline pilots. The government's 5,200 computer research scientists made an average of $95,190, about $10,000 less than the average in the corporate world.

•State and local. State government employees had an average salary of $47,231 in 2008, about 5% less than comparable jobs in the private sector. City and county workers earned an average of $43,589, about 2% more than private workers in similar jobs. State and local workers have higher total compensation than private workers when the value of benefits is included.

Job comparison

Average federal salaries exceed average private-sector pay in 83% of comparable occupations. A sampling of average annnual salaries in 2008, the most recent data:

Job Federal Private Difference
Airline pilot, copilot, flight engineer $93,690 $120,012 -$26,322

Broadcast technician $90,310 $49,265 $41,045

Budget analyst $73,140 $65,532 $7,608

Chemist $98,060 $72,120 $25,940

Civil engineer $85,970 $76,184 $9,786

Clergy $70,460 $39,247 $31,213

Computer, information systems manager $122,020 $115,705 $6,315

Computer support specialist $45,830 $54,875 -$9,045

Cook $38,400 $23,279 $15,121

Crane, tower operator $54,900 $44,044 $10,856

Dental assistant $36,170 $32,069 $4,101

Economist $101,020 $91,065 $9,955

Editors $42,210 $54,803 -$12,593

Electrical engineer $86,400 $84,653 $1,747

Financial analysts $87,400 $81,232 $6,168

Graphic designer $70,820 $46,565 $24,255

Highway maintenance worker $42,720 $31,376 $11,344

Janitor $30,110 $24,188 $5,922

Landscape architects $80,830 $58,380 $22,450

Laundry, dry-cleaning worker $33,100 $19,945 $13,155

Lawyer $123,660 $126,763 -$3,103

Librarian $76,110 $63,284 $12,826

Locomotive engineer $48,440 $63,125 -$14,685

Machinist $51,530 $44,315 $7,215

Mechanical engineer $88,690 $77,554 $11,136

Office clerk $34,260 $29,863 $4,397

Optometrist $61,530 $106,665 -$45,135

Paralegals $60,340 $48,890 $11,450

Pest control worker $48,670 $33,675 $14,995

Physicians, surgeons $176,050 $177,102 -$1,052

Physician assistant $77,770 $87,783 -$10,013

Procurement clerk $40,640 $34,082 $6,558

Public relations manager $132,410 $88,241 $44,169

Recreation worker $43,630 $21,671 $21,959

Registered nurse $74,460 $63,780 $10,680

Respiratory therapist $46,740 $50,443 -$3,703

Secretary $44,500 $33,829 $10,671

Sheet metal worker $49,700 $43,725 $5,975

Statistician $88,520 $78,065 $10,455

Surveyor $78,710 $67,336 $11,374


Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, USA TODAY analysis

Video: Harry Reid: "Only 36,000 Lost Their Jobs Today"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LC211h9AY-4

Monday, March 01, 2010

American reliance on government at all-time high

"for the first time since the Great Depression, Americans took more aid from the government than they paid in taxes."

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/mar/01/americans-reliance-on-government-at-all-time-high/

March 1, 2010

Patrice Hill

The so-called "Great Recession" has left Americans depending on the government dole like never before.

Without record levels of welfare, unemployment and other government benefits as well as tax cuts last year, the income of U.S. households would have plunged by an astonishing $723 billion — more than four times the record $167 billion drop reported last month by the Commerce Department.

Moreover, for the first time since the Great Depression, Americans took more aid from the government than they paid in taxes.

The figures show the devastating results of the massive job losses last year and indicate that the economic recovery that began last summer is tenuous and has a long way to go before many Americans resume life as normal, analysts said.

Economic growth typically depends on consumer spending, which is fed by wages, rents, interest and other forms of income. But the tentative revival of consumer spending in the second half of last year appears to have been fed largely by an extraordinary flood of government spending, as growth in other kinds of income has disappeared.

"Governmental support was critical in keeping the economy, particularly consumer spending, from completely collapsing during the crisis," said Harm Bandholz, an economist at Unicredit Markets. He said he is concerned that so much of the economic rebound is a result of government spending rather than a revival of private income and jobs. That situation is unsustainable, he said, because the government has had to borrow massively to prop up the economy and cannot continue that binge for long.

While wages and other job-related income fell by a record $206 billion last year to $7.84 trillion, transfer payments from the government such as unemployment checks and Social Security burgeoned by $231 billion to $2.1 trillion. Meanwhile, the amount of taxes that individual Americans paid plummeted by $325 billion to $2.1 trillion as a result of middle-class tax cuts and because nearly 6 million people were thrown out of work and are no longer paying payroll taxes.

Commerce economists said last year's unprecedented drop of $256 billion in private wages — the mainstay of consumers in ordinary times — was particularly dramatic, and was more than 40 times larger than the drop in wages during the entire 2001 recession.

Equally dramatic, a measure of income that closely tracks the ravages of the recession also plummeted by an unprecedented $384 billion. That measure excludes transfer payments and adjusts for inflation. It has stabilized at $9.1 trillion since the middle of last year, in a sign that the worst of the job and income losses are over.

While most of the government benefits — including Social Security, welfare, Medicaid, food stamps and regular unemployment benefits — are sent automatically to those who qualify, Congress is debating an extension of some benefits enacted as part of the stimulus package last year. Those include jobless benefits and health insurance subsidies for the unemployed.

The Senate on Friday failed to pass an extension of jobless benefits for up to 99 weeks for workers in states with high unemployment rates. Long-term jobless benefits expired Sunday, leaving many Americans dependent on those payments in limbo. With more than 8 million workers laid off during the recession, unemployment benefits have quadrupled from $34 billion in January 2008 to $124 billion at the end of last year.

"Millions of Americans are now relying on unemployment benefits as their only source of income other than food stamps," said Ross Eisenbrey, vice president of the Economic Policy Institute. "They are unable to find work because there are more than six job seekers for every opening. There is literally nothing that most of these workers can do to get a job today. Unemployment benefits are often the only way they can make ends meet for their families and keep a roof over their heads."

The proposed extension in long-term jobless aid was held up Friday by Sen. Jim Bunning, Kentucky Republican, who objected that it added $10 billion to the budget deficit. As a result of record U.S. government borrowing, total debt in the United States has soared to an all-time high of 370 percent of yearly economic output, far exceeding its peak of 300 percent during the Great Depression.

"If we cant find $10 billion somewhere for a bill that everybody in this body supports, we will never pay for anything," Mr. Bunning said.

Democrats vowed to renew the unemployment aid this week to minimize disruption for more than 1 million jobless people who would begin to exhaust their extended benefits on Monday.

"The simple fact of the matter is that this is an emergency situation and should be treated as such," said Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat. "The most vulnerable families in America are going to suffer because of this political decision by one senator. … We will be back, we will try to get this done. And to those families: Hang in there."

The massive shift into dependence on the government, while essential in promoting an economic revival last year, has postponed a reckoning for many consumers who went too far into debt to maintain their lifestyles during the boom years, Mr. Bandholz said.

While the government was lavishing aid, banks were cutting credit to consumers by a record $250 billion, nearly as much as the amount consumers gained from government transfer payments.

"This shift only postpones a solution to the problem" by substituting government debt for consumer debt, Mr. Bandholz said. "These elevated debt loads will at least result in sluggish growth rates for the time being — and if the problem is not tackled with determination, it might very well lead to another crisis."

Some economists say the big shift toward dependence on government spending and borrowing is only temporary.

"Sure, temporary government transfers played a role this past year. But that's OK," said Bernard Baumohl, chief global economist at the Economic Outlook Group. He noted that Americans also accumulated a record amount of savings last year as they stowed away funds out of fear of losing their jobs.

The increase in savings now enables many consumers to increase spending, while the 90 percent of workers who still have jobs can spend more because they are accumulating more income from overtime hours, he said.

"It's a combination and interaction of all these forces — not just one — that will promote more future spending by households and keep the economy going later without government aid," he said.

Jobless benefits and other welfare spending for the unemployed will start to decline when job growth returns. Many economists predict that employment will increase this spring or summer in the next stage of the recovery. Because of bleak job prospects during the recession, some people were forced to go more permanently on the government dole.

In particular, many workers who were nearing retirement age and got laid off started drawing Social Security benefits. The number of retirees taking Social Security at age 62 grew by a record 19 percent in the past year, helping to push up Social Security outlays by $100 billion. Analysts expect those spending levels to stay high and continue to increase as more baby boomers retire.