1. FRANCE WANTS NEW GLOBAL FINANCE SYSTEM
2. UK INFLATION RATE
3. GEITHNER QUIETLY TELLS OBAMA DEBT EXPENSE TO INCREASE TO RECORD
4. HOW INFLATION IS TURNING BREAKFAST INTO A LUXURY ITEM
Illinois is now looking to foreign Sovereign Wealth Funds to buy it's debt, which is reflective of the fact that the muni market is switching from a "safe" investment dominated by tax-oriented investors to those looking for more risk and higher yield
Illinois postpones $4bn bond sale
- The sale will occur next week instead of Thursday, said Kelly Kraft, a spokesperson for Pat Quinn, the governor. She said the delay was meant to allow prospective investors time to consider a budget address by the governor on Wednesday.
- cFor the last few weeks, Illinois has been pitching the bonds to a broad range of international and US investors, including sovereign wealth funds. The bond sale comes after steep state tax increases <http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/1288a472-1cdc-11e0-8c86-00144feab49a,dwp_uuid=ea77f440-94f2-11df-af3b-00144feab49a.html> earlier this year, which Illinois projects will reap about $10bn over the next two fiscal years.
- The state has an unfunded liability of about $83bn, meaning that it has funds to pay just 43 per cent of what it owes, according to projections in its bond offering documents. The SEC has launched an inquiry <http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/293fcc80-3885-11e0-959c-00144feabdc0.html> into statements the state has made about potential long-term savings from pension reform.
- After weeks of meetings in Asia and Europe, John Sinsheimer, Illinois’ director of capital markets, last week said he was “optimistic” about the bond offering.
- The bond sale comes amid turmoil in the $3,000bn municipal bond market where states, cities and other public bodies raise money, primarily for infrastructure. Investors have withdrawn record amounts from mutual funds that invest in this type of debt due to fears of rising defaults.
Illinois Union Ally Turns Critic
- Illinois, one of the nation's remaining union strongholds, has funded less than 50% of the pension benefits it owes retirees—the worst ratio of all U.S. states, according to Moody's Investors Service—and faces a $15 billion budget deficit.
- Last month, lawmakers—in a move championed by Mr. Madigan—raised the state income tax to 5% from 3%, retroactive to Jan. 1, and Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, is expected in his budget proposal this week to request to issue $8.7 billion in bonds to restructure its debt owed to schools, hospitals, social-service agencies and others.
- In his more than two decades as Illinois's top power broker, House Speaker Michael Madigan has been a stalwart backer of unions, regularly supporting public-pension benefits with long-term obligations. The unions have returned the favor in campaign donations and endorsements. Last week, Mr. Madigan floated, for the first time, the idea of cutting pension benefits for current state workers. The speaker said lawmakers were working on bills to reduce the pensions, but he declined to give details.
- The state’s Republican Party <http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/r/republican_party/index.html?inline=nyt-org> chairman, Pat Brady, on Saturday described the whole notion as “the latest example of life in Madiganville,” referring to the longtime speaker of the House, Michael J. Madigan, and introduced an online petition in which residents could urge lawmakers to thwart the tax increase.
- On a recent afternoon, Tom Cross, the Republican leader of the House, said he believed that the situation in Illinois could be “catastrophic” as early as May or June, then ticked down a four-page list of proposals that he says Republicans have tried to offer as ways to truly sort out Illinois’s mess. On the list: sell half of the state’s fleet of cars, require only one license plate on cars instead of two, combine the state treasurer’s and comptroller’s jobs, ban out-of-state travel for elected officials, and end the remodeling of state offices (carpet included).
- Mr. Madigan, who is also the state’s Democratic Party <http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/d/democratic_party/index.html?inline=nyt-org> chairman and, in the view of many, the state’s most powerful politician, has sent signals that more spending is not what he has in mind. He has pressed for two constitutional amendments that would make it more difficult to approve benefit increases for pensioners and would hold state spending growth to a level residents see in their salaries.
The comments by House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) set the stage for a contentious spring showdown in the Legislature with the state’s largest public-employee unions, who have vowed to go to the mat to protect retirement benefits for tens of thousands of existing government workers.
“I think we will take some action on the benefit level for state workers midstream,” Madigan said during an impromptu meeting with reporters on the House floor after his legislative chamber adjourned.
Last April, the Democratic-led Legislature and Gov. Quinn raised retirement ages and lessened benefits in a major pension-giveback package that pertained only to new state hires. It was estimated the move would save the state $220 billion in future pension outlays.
Since then, with the state’s five pension systems underfunded by more than $85 billion, statehouse Democrats have faced calls for deeper pension cuts from Republicans and business leaders who want to freeze existing pension benefits for existing state workers and transition them into an all-401(k)-type retirement program like many companies offer.
“You’ve already changed it going forward,” Madigan said of the pension changes for new hires. “But now we are working on bills that would change it midstream. A state worker would be told, ‘All right, you have a state benefit package up to today. Starting tomorrow, it’s going to be a different deal.’”
AFL-CIO ad against WI Budget Cuts
- SOT: For 50 years WI managers and workers solved problems together but there’s now a move underway by some politicians in Madison, to take away the rights of thousands of teachers, nurses and other public employees. It’s a bill to take away any say they have in the workplace and to eliminate their union. // It’s unnecessary and its unfair.
Walker Says National Guard could Respond to Unrest, as State Employees Learn of his Budget Proposal (Feb. 11, 2011)
- The governor revealed Friday that he wants the state Legislature to go into Special Session next week to take up his plan to close a budget deficit. His plan calls for workers to lose nearly all their collective bargaining rights. State employees also would be required to pay more for pension and health care benefits.
- The governor says he’s briefed the National Guard and other state agencies, to prepare them for any problems with workers, as they learn of Walker’s emergency budget plan.
Wisc. Gov. Briefs National Guard About Unrest After Unions Blast Emergency Budget
- This is a shocking development,” said Bryan Kennedy, president of AFT-Wisconsin, which represents 17,000 workers. “It ends collective bargaining for public employees in our state, after 50 years of management and workers solving problems together.”
- That led Walker on Friday to admit <http://www.wuwm.com/programs/news/view_news.php?articleid=7765> he briefed the National Guard about potential unrest should state workers take action, a possibility once workers realize the proposal is almost a sure thing. That’s because Democrats are powerless to stop it. Republicans control the Assembly 60-38-1 and the Senate 19-14.
- Walker said the changes are necessary to avoid up to 6,000 state employee layoffs and the removal of more than 200,000 children from the Medicaid program. The state faces a $137 million budget shortfall in the fiscal year that ends June 30.
- Under Walker’s immediate plan, all collective bargaining rights would be removed for state and local public employees starting July 1, except when it comes to wages. But any salary increase they seek could be no more than the consumer price index, unless voters in the affected jurisdiction approved a higher raise.
- Contracts would be limited to one year and wages would be frozen until the next contract is settled. Public employers would be prohibited from collecting union dues and members of collective bargaining units would not be required to pay dues.
- Walker’s plan also calls for state employees to contribute 5.8 percent of their salaries to their pensions starting April 1. They would have to contribute at least 12.6 percent toward their health care. Those two items would generate $30 million by July 1 and roughly $300 million over the next two years when combined with the other concessions.
Univ of Wisconsin Madison students marched on the capitol (Feb 14, 2011)
- MADISON (AP) — Hundreds of UW-Madison students and their teachers are telling Gov. Scott Walker to drop a bill that would strip most public workers of almost all their collective bargaining rights.
- Chanting “kill this bill” and brandishing signs with messages such as “From Cairo to Madison Workers Unite” the students and instructors jammed the corridor leading to Walker’s Capitol office. They poured valentines on the desk of Walker’s office guard that asked the governor not to break their hearts.
- UW-Madison law student Peter Rickman shouted through a bullhorn the protesters wanted to show their love for UW. After chanting and stomping the floor for a few more minutes, the protesters marched outside without incident.
A LOOK AT THE UNIONS, COMMUNITY ORGANIZERS, PROGRESSIVE GROUPS, PEOPLE WHO ARE ALL CALLING FOR AMERICANS TO TAKE TO THE STREET AND PROTEST (WHETHER IT IS FOR BETTER WAGES, MORE UNEMPLOYMENT, LOWER TUITION ETC…)
Statement from the Revolutionary Communist Party
- In the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal) our Party has set forth an inspiring vision, and concrete measures, for the building of a new society, a socialist society, aiming for the final goal of a communist world, where human beings everywhere would be free of relations of exploitation and oppression and destructive antagonistic conflicts, and could be fit caretakers of the earth. But to make this a reality, we need revolution.
- Many people insist, “there could never be a revolution in this country: the powers-that-be are too powerful, the people are too messed up and too caught up in going along with the way things are, the revolutionary forces are too small.” This is wrong—revolution is possible.
- Revolution will not be made by acting all crazy—trying to bring down this powerful system when there is not yet a basis for that—or by just waiting for “one fine day” when revolution will somehow magically become possible. Revolution requires consistent work building for revolution, based on a serious, scientific understanding of what it takes to actually get to the point of revolution, and how to have a real chance of winning.
- The potential for a revolutionary crisis lies within the very nature of this capitalist system itself—with its repeated economic convulsions, its unemployment and poverty, its profound inequalities, its discrimination and degradation, its brutality, torture and wars, its wanton destruction. All this causes great suffering. And at times it leads to crisis on one level or another—sudden jolts and breakdowns in the “normal functioning” of society, which compel many people to question and to resist what they usually accept. No one can say in advance exactly what will happen in these situations—how deep the crisis may go, in what ways and to what extent it might pose challenges to the system as a whole, and to what degree and in what ways it might call forth unrest and rebellion among people who are normally caught up in, or feel powerless to stand up against, what this system does.
- All along the way, both in more “normal times” and especially in times of sharp breaks with the “normal routine,” it is necessary to be working consistently to accumulate forces—to prepare minds and organize people in growing numbers—for revolution, among all those who can be rallied to the revolutionary cause. Among the millions and millions who catch hell in the hardest ways every day under this system. But also among many others who may not, on a daily basis, feel the hardest edge of this system’s oppression but are demeaned and degraded, are alienated and often outraged, by what this system does, the relations among people it promotes and enforces, the brutality this embodies.
Day of Rage (America) on Facebook
- We want everyone out there to stand with us, with the youth of America. We need our own day of rage. We have planned for this day on Saturday, March 12th. So stand with us and show the capitalists and imperialists that we mean business. No more destruction of our eco-system. Stand up for climate change. Stand up for Jobs. Stand up for Health Care. Stand up for peace and hope.
Saturday, March 19, 2011: Resist the War Machine!
- In Washington, D.C., on March 19 there will be an even larger veterans-led civil resistance at the White House initiated by Veterans for Peace. People from all over the country are joining together for a Noon Rally at Lafayette Park, followed by a march on the White House where the veterans-led civil resistance will take place.
- Many people coming to Washington, D.C., will be also participating in the Sunday, March 20 demonstration at the Quantico Marine Base in Virginia to support PFC Bradley Manning. Quantico is one hour from D.C. Manning is suspected of leaking Iraq and Afghan war logs to Wikileaks. For the last eight months, he has been held in solitary confinement, pre-trial punishment, rather than pre-trial detention.
- The ANSWER Coalition is fully mobilizing its east coast and near mid-west chapters and activist networks to be at the White House.
- Endorsed by (list in formation): ANSWER Coalition, CODEPINK, Courage to Resist, Delaware Valley Veterans for America, Iraq Veterans Against the War, March Forward!, Movement for a Democratic Society, National Assembly, Peace Action, Peace Action Montgomery, Peace of the Action, United for Peace and Justice, United National Antiwar Committee, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Voices for Creative Nonviolence, War Crimes Times, War Resisters League, Washington Peace Center, Witness Against Torture, World Can’t Wait
Frances Fox Piven, The Nation
- So where are the angry crowds, the demonstrations, sit-ins and unruly mobs? After all, the injustice is apparent. Working people are losing their homes and their pensions while robber-baron CEOs report renewed profits and windfall bonuses. Shouldn't the unemployed be on the march? Why aren't they demanding enhanced safety net protections and big initiatives to generate jobs?
- A loose and spontaneous movement of this sort could emerge. It is made more likely because unemployment rates are especially high among younger workers. Protests by the unemployed led by young workers and by students, who face a future of joblessness, just might become large enough and disruptive enough to have an impact in Washington.
- The out-of-work have to stop blaming themselves for the hard times and turn their anger on their bosses, the bureaucrats and the politicians who are in fact responsible
The Breakdown of Capitalism and the Fight for Socialism in the United States, World Socialist Website
- The reality of capitalism will provide workers with many reasons to fight for a fundamental and revolutionary change in the economic organization of society. The younger generations of working people—those born in the 1980s, 1990s, and the first decade of the twenty-first century—do not know, and never will know, capitalist “prosperity.” They are the first generation of Americans in modern times who cannot reasonably expect to achieve a living standard equal to, let alone better than, their parents’ generation.