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After Doug Jones, we need to elect more members who will secure Social Security
Social Security Disability

After Doug Jones, we need to elect more members who will secure Social Security

But come January, he will be one more crucial vote to protect our nation’s social safety net and earned benefits, which congressional leaders promise to target in 2018.
Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) to stabilize ObamaCare insurance markets.
That means no Medicaid.”
Jones’s public statements indicate that he will defend income security for seniors and the disabled, too.
Make no mistake: “reform” and “restructure” are code words for cut and privatize — asking beneficiaries to bear the full burden of keeping these programs financially sound for the future when there are modest and manageable alternatives for achieving the same goal.
His own 2018 spending plan calls for over $60 billion in cuts to Social Security Disability Insurance.
He supports the GOP tax bill which swells the federal debt, providing an excuse to slash earned benefits.
He endorsed the GOP budget resolution calling for nearly $500 billion in cuts to Medicare and more than $1 trillion to Medicaid.
After years of dreaming about cutting benefits for the poor, elderly, and disabled, Congressional leaders finally have the power to do so — despite the fact that polls show the public overwhelmingly supports these programs and doesn’t want to see them slashed.
Public support for Social Security and Medicare cuts across party lines.

Applications for US jobless aid drop by 11,000 to 225,000
Unemployment

Applications for US jobless aid drop by 11,000 to 225,000

WASHINGTON – The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell by 11,000 last week to 225,000, the lowest in nearly two months and another sign that U.S. workers are enjoying job security.
The Labor Department said Thursday that the less volatile four-week average also fell by 6,750 to 234,750.
Overall, 1.89 million Americans are collecting unemployment checks, down more than 7 percent from a year earlier and close to a four-decade low reached in November.
Unemployment claims are a proxy for layoffs.
They’ve been below 300,000 a week for nearly three years, the longest stretch in more than four decades.
The low levels reflect the strength of the job market and the overall economy.
The unemployment rate has fallen to a 17-year low of 4.1 percent.
Employers, who added 228,000 jobs last month, are holding onto workers and often struggling to find new ones.
The economy grew at a sprightly 3.3 percent annual pace from July through September, fastest in three years.

Greek unions strike as bailouts to end with austerity blitz
Unemployment

Greek unions strike as bailouts to end with austerity blitz

ATHENS, Greece – Greece’s workers walked off the job for a 24-hour general strike Thursday, as the country prepares to stop relying on European rescue loans but continues to pile more austerity measures on hard-hit taxpayers.
The strike halted ferry services to the islands, closed state schools, and left public hospitals accepting only emergency cases.
Airlines rescheduled and cancelled flights as some airport staff joined the labor action with a four-hour work stoppage, and public transport was operating only for certain hours during the day.
Thousands of people gathered in Athens for anti-government protests, while demonstrations were planned in more than 50 cities and towns across the country.
Greece has depended on international bailouts since 2010 but must return to bond markets next year when its third consecutive rescue program runs out in August.
The government’s borrowing rates have tumbled, and the country is on course to achieve modest economic growth in 2017.
But poverty rates continue to worsen after years of cuts.
Household incomes have fallen by about a third since the crisis started in 2009, according to World Bank data, and inequality has risen due to high long-term unemployment.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ left-led coalition government has also promised to help banks clear a mountain of bad loans, speeding up auctions of homes in mortgage default.
___ Follow Becatoros at http://www.twitter.com/ElenaBec and Gatopoulos at http://www.twitter.com/dgatopoulos

In this small Kentucky town, they aren’t waiting on Washington to fix things
Welfare

In this small Kentucky town, they aren’t waiting on Washington to fix things

Less than a third of its 6,580 residents are working.
CNNMoney first traveled to Beattyville in January, and found a town full of hope that an unconventional new president could bring positive change and believed Trump’s promises that he would create more jobs.
But is it gonna solve Eastern Kentucky’s problems? “Trump does need to get us work back here,” says Maggard, who voted for Trump and thinks he’s done a good job so far.
Beattyville is luckier than many Eastern Kentucky towns.
Larry Phillips owns an auto repair shop in Beattyville that used to get more business from the coal trucks that once rumbled through town.
He voted for and still supports Trump, who he thinks may still bring the coal industry back in time. “The one thing about here is we have to learn to support each other,” says Shouse. “The people that are the ones that’s working, we’re the needy ones,” says Shouse.
Regardless of what the tax proposals in Congress or the budget hold, Beattyville residents say they’re not waiting to find out what will happen in Washington.

Analysis: Morogoro conference – memorandums, wedge drivers and the saving of the ANC’s soul
Unemployment

Analysis: Morogoro conference – memorandums, wedge drivers and the saving of the ANC’s soul

A thread that runs all the way back to the ANC’s watershed consultative conference held in April 1969 in Morogoro in Tanzania darts through the ANC in its current embodiment in the Zuma era.
Watch his poisonous tongue.’ – Oliver Tambo closing address, Morogoro Consultative Conference “No one in the movement can be content with the present situation; all must be aware of the deepening malaise such as we have never known before.” That was SACP member Ben Turok, stationed in Dar es Salaam, who on 5 April 1969, three weeks before the ANC’s third consultative conference that took place in Morogoro, Tanzania, wrote a memorandum in support of an earlier scathing critique penned by MK leader Chris Hani and six others.
The Morogoro conference was a critical one, prompted by deep crisis, accusations of an out-of-touch leadership, authoritarianism, careerism and corruption among senior MK leaders in charge of a moribund and ill-equipped military wing.
“There has been little elective democracy in our movement for well over a decade… democracy must be seen to operate – the power of recall is basic to discipline and mutual respect between leaders and the led,” Turok set out.
And then there was the uncompromising “Hani Memorandum” – thought to have been written in January 1969 – signed by Chris Hani and six other MK members following the disaster of the Wankie and Sipolilo campaigns.
The Acting President [Oliver Tambo] ordered the dungeons to be closed, and convened a meeting of militants to consider our case.” The Hani Memorandum was an uncompromising critique of the ANC’s leadership in exile, particularly secretary-general Duma Nokwe and and the effectiveness of MK, especially its commander-in-chief, Joe Modise.
That’s already 500 more than in 2012, when we had our conference in Mangaung, Free State,” noted the Stalwarts.
And, to us probably the worst manifestation of the misuse of power: greed.” And it is greed that is the “most potent contrarian force we have had to face in our 23 years of freedom.
However, it ought to be constantly borne in mind that these requirements ought not to be an excuse for the emergence of an elite.” In 2017, the Year of OR Tambo, the ANC limps into its 54th elective conference deeply divided and imperilled by a mountain of court judgments against its current leader and President of the Republic of South Africa, Jacob Zuma.
The vigilant or the wedge drivers?

Why Do So Many People Claim Social Security at 62?
Social Security Disability

Why Do So Many People Claim Social Security at 62?

The most popular age in America to claim Social Security benefits is age 62, according to the Center for Retirement Research.
Since 62 is the youngest age at which these benefits can be claimed, it’s clear that more than 4 in 10 Americans can’t wait to get their hands on Social Security checks.
Unfortunately, for millions of retirees, benefits will be significantly lower if they claim benefits at 62 than if they wait until full retirement age (FRA).
For most people, however, claiming Social Security at 62 isn’t the result of a calculated plan to maximize money from Social Security.
A fundamental misunderstanding One big reason why many retirees claim Social Security at 62 is they simply don’t understand the rules for how Social Security works.
If you assume you can claim five years of benefits and then get your monthly payments bumped up on your birthday, it seems like a no-brainer to claim benefits ASAP.
Doing the math, it would take you almost 12 years to make up for the years of benefits you missed out on by waiting.
If you’ve claimed too early and are within your first 12 months of receiving benefits, you can withdraw your claim and be treated as if you hadn’t filed at all.
If you’re under FRA and earn above a certain threshold while receiving Social Security, benefits are withheld, and you’ll later receive credit for the months you went without getting payments.
Have a plan If you don’t make a plan to save for retirement, there’s a good chance you’ll be forced to claim Social Security benefits out of financial necessity, rather than waiting until the time is right.

Fed Predicts Modest Economic Growth From Tax Cut
Unemployment

Fed Predicts Modest Economic Growth From Tax Cut

WASHINGTON — The Federal Reserve, buoyed by a steadily strengthening economy, raised interest rates on Wednesday for a fifth time since the financial crisis and predicted that a proposed tax cut moving through Congress would modestly increase economic growth for the next few years without stoking inflation.
She said they expected the bill to provide “a modest lift.” Ms. Yellen spoke at a news conference after the Fed announced a widely expected decision to increase its benchmark interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point, to a range of 1.25 percent to 1.5 percent.
Wednesday’s increase is the third time this year that the Fed has raised rates, reflecting its confidence that the economy is in good health.
Some Fed officials, including Ms. Yellen, cautioned earlier this year that tax cuts could push the pace of growth to an unsustainable level, resulting in higher inflation, and that the Fed might respond by raising interest rates more quickly, to restrain growth and keep a lid on inflation.
A quarterly update of the Fed’s economic forecast showed that officials still expect to raise rates three times next year — unchanged from the last economic forecast.
Fed officials predicted that the economy would grow at a 2.5 percent pace next year; the previous forecast was 2.1 percent.
President Trump has predicted that the tax plan could deliver 4 percent growth or more.
They do not want the Fed to get in the way by raising rates.
It would be relatively easy for the Fed to respond if inflation does begin to climb.
Mr. Gonzalez noted that housing prices were rising, and he said that higher mortgage rates could worsen affordability problems in some markets.

Decade since recession: Thriving cities leave others behind
Unemployment

Decade since recession: Thriving cities leave others behind

With fewer people able to move to places with more jobs and higher pay, the national economy tends to suffer, economists say.
Among the nation’s 100 largest metro areas, San Francisco experienced the biggest gain in median household income in the decade after the recession began.
And the income gap between the 10 richest and 10 poorest metro areas has widened in the past decade, Moody’s data shows.
Data compiled by Brookings shows that 65 percent of Americans who live in urban areas — defined as cities with populations above 65,000 — live in places where the typical household income is still below its 1999 level.
Boston enjoyed the 11th-best income gain in the past decade, Moody’s data shows.
Versace launched Neurala in 2013, and it now has 36 employees, including eight with PhDs.
Jed Kolko, chief economist at Indeed, the job listings website, calculates that one quarter of tech job openings in the first half of this year were located in just eight tech hubs: Baltimore, Washington, Boston, San Jose, San Francisco, Seattle, Austin and Raleigh, North Carolina.
In the 10 cities with the fastest income growth, housing prices have soared by an average of 31.1 percent in the past decade, Trulia found.
A resident of San Francisco who bought a typical home, paying nearly $816,000 in the spring of 2007 — just as the housing market nationwide was collapsing — has gained $365,000 in the past decade.
About 61 percent of blue state residents have jobs, compared with roughly 59 percent in red states, Brooks found.

GOP says it’s got a deal on taxes; cuts coming for next year
Unemployment

GOP says it’s got a deal on taxes; cuts coming for next year

Middle- and low-income families would get smaller tax cuts, though Trump and GOP leaders have billed the package as a huge benefit for the middle class.
The legislation, which is still being finalized, would cut the top tax rate for the wealthy from 39.6 percent to 37 percent, slash the corporate income tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent and allow homeowners to deduct interest only on the first $750,000 of a new mortgage.
Details of the agreement were described by Republican senators and congressional aides.
Negotiators have removed several controversial provisions from the tax bill, including one that would have eliminated the deduction for interest on student loans and another deduction for medical expenses, said two congressional aides.
The tax bill would scale back the deduction for state and local taxes, allowing families to deduct only up to a total of $10,000 in property and income taxes.
Business owners who report business income on their personal tax returns would be able to deduct 20 percent of that income.
Scrapping the individual mandate would provide them with more than $300 billion for deeper tax cuts while undermining the law.
Senate leaders plan to vote on the package Tuesday.
The committee is charged with blending the tax bills passed by the House and Senate, though Republicans have done all of their negotiations behind closed doors.
Once the plan is signed into law, workers could start seeing changes in the amount of taxes withheld from their paychecks early next year, lawmakers said — though taxpayers won’t file their 2018 returns until the following year.

Australian employment surges again
Unemployment

Australian employment surges again

The ABS said the largest increase was in Victoria where employment increased by 32,900, outpacing gains of 28,500 and 8,500 in New South Wales and Western Australia.
Reflective of the strong lift in employment, the total number of hours worked by all Australians increased by 9.8 million hours, or 0.6%, to 1.7409 billion hours in seasonally adjusted terms.
Indeed, over the year, full-time employment increased by 304,600, far outpacing a 78,700 increase in part-time employment.
Despite the surge in employment in November, the unemployment rate held steady at 5.4% courtesy of a massive lift in labour force participation which jumped 0.3 percentage points to 65.5%, leaving it at the highest level since September 2011.
With more Australians entering the labour market, an outcome likely reflecting improved job opportunities, the total number of unemployed Australians increased despite strong employment growth, rising by 4,100 to 707,700.
By state, unemployment fell in Victoria and Tasmania but rose in South Australia and Western Australia.
Adding to the stellar report card, the quarterly underemployment rate fell 0.2 percentage points to 8.3% in seasonally adjusted terms, an outcome that suggests the labour market is tightening.
The labour force underutilisation rate — combining both underemployment and unemployed Australians — also fell, dropping to 13.7% in seasonally adjusted terms, a decrease of 0.3 percentage points.
While an encouraging sign for workers, Kate Hickie, Australia and New Zealand Economist at Capital Economics, said that more progress in lowering labour market underutilisation will be required in order to deliver a meaningful lift in wage pressures.
“That would be well below the pre-crisis average of 3.5%, and is a key reason we expect inflation to remain low for longer than the RBA currently expects.” However, while Hickie isn’t expecting a strong lift in wages in the near-term, she says that the overall jobs report “leaves little doubt about the current health of the labour market”.