Thursday, November 17, 2011

Jobs Agenda my Ass

Alabama's House Speaker Mike Hubbard and Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh have just released their "Jobs Agenda" for the 2012 session.  It's essentially the same slop slung from right wing and centrist weenie politicians in the last three plus decades.  Seriously, it's disaster capitalism in many respects as the economic crisis provides an opportunity to push through the usual tax cuts for the swells and deregulation.  It's  corporate welfare couched in crumbs for the proletariat. I'll take it just like they released it and hope to raise some decent questions.  Here goes:

Streamlined Tax Incentives to Recruit and Retain Jobs  
This constitutional amendment would give the Alabama Development Office and the Governor more flexibility in offering tax incentives to land major economic development projects, and retain those companies that might otherwise relocate outside Alabama
Should we just go straight to a dictator of a fascist persuasion to suit these rascals? Handing out incentives to often incredibly profitable businesses needs to be even easier according to these super successful and thoroughly team oriented politicians? To better bypass the pesky citizenry and what passes for the press in this benighted state is labeled as "flexibility" but it's essentially a blank check isn't it?  Given all the shenanigans of the Riley administration getting Abramoff funny money, his picking a real ladies man to head some sort of small business consortium which is currently the subject of a federal trial even now, and of course his infamous $13 million Paragon Source dealings, I'm surely soothed that a Governor can be looser with his or her largess.  And hell, all an established outfit has to do is threaten to bolt Alabama and that's all the Guv needs to start handing out the concessions I suppose.
“Made in Alabama” Job Incentives Act 
* Recommended by the Speaker’s Commission on Job Creation and passed into law in the 2011 Regular Session, this measure allows the state to offer temporary state income tax incentives to offset build-up phase tariff costs for international companies bringing jobs to the state.
* As a direct result of this legislation, literally hundreds of foreign-based companies representing thousands of jobs expressed interest in locating their North American facilities in Alabama.
* Unfortunately, the Alabama Education Association is suing to block the law, creating uncertainty for businesses that could take advantage of the incentive.
To ask Alabama taxpayers to pay the fines which trade cheats get from dumping their products to destroy American made competitors seems a bit ballsy even for Hubbard or Marsh.  I suppose there's a bonus in getting in a swipe at AEA but paying duties placed on  foreign firms who've demonstrated a willingness to cheat might strike people solidly on their team as wrong.  I suppose there's enough desperation out there for working folks to accept much but this one strikes me as surely a bridge too far.  I suppose time will tell but I still bet Joe and Jill Sixpack will see this one as rather poor policy if it's clearly covered by our compliant media.  For me, this "pay the trade cheats" is more of a race to the bottom than anything I've ever witnessed.  While we've long attracted industry via limited regulation, low wages, and docile labor, to go this far reveals much.
Data Processing Center Economic Incentive Enhancement 
* Data processing centers are unique components of a 21st century economy.  These centers employ a skilled workforce, provide high-paying jobs, and have a low environmental footprint.  This proposal would expand the scope of certain tax incentives in order to focus on recruiting more data processing centers to Alabama.
That "a low environmental footprint" matters for these two is interesting.  However, I'm lost on how call centers need special corporate welfare.  At least subsidized industry, as opposed to retail especially, might spawn second and third tier plants.  I don't see much spinoff from call centers.  We shall see I suppose.
Tax Incentives for Hiring Veterans Returning from War 
* With wars winding down in Iraq and Afghanistan, thousands of Alabama veterans will soon return home to a stagnant economy in which it is difficult to find a job.
* This proposal would offer Alabama businesses a $1000-$2000 tax credit for hiring a veteran recently returned from war.
Isn't this somewhat like the limited proposal President Obama pushed but the GOP US House long resisted?  Whatever the case, why did the economy crash and burn Mike and Del?  Might it have something to do with unfettered capitalism and the deregulation fetish that makes up the current GOP?  We've had three plus decades of neo-liberalism and you yahoos want to just try more of the same?  And y'all will create yet one more give away for business via the young men and women that Cheney, Rumsfeld, Feith, and ... sent on their misadventures? Bless their hearts! 
Making Workforce Development Work for the Unemployed 
* Thousands of unemployed Alabamians are able – but not trained – to enter into available good-paying skilled-labor jobs, such as construction, welding, plumbing and machine maintenance.
* We will make the necessary investments that afford our two-year college system the resources they need to meet Alabama’s jobless with Alabama jobs.
* It would also offer veterans a $1500 tax credit for starting their own business.
Investing in education?  Shut the front door!  In Alabama, we know better.  And we've a deficiency as to this sort of training?  Huh?  Something I read suggested Hubbard and Marsh wanted businesses to pretty much be able to dictate what technical training programs are offered by Alabama's community colleges.  That's fine I suppose up to a point but why not just fully pull down the facade of education simply for education's sake.  Worker bees do I guess need to be capable but again I'm guessing the most important trait your people want is that they'll work cheap and mind their place.
Alabama Regulatory Flexibility Act
* The Alabama Regulatory Flexibility Act would require each state agency to prepare an economic impact analysis as well as a regulatory flexibility analysis prior to the adoption of any proposed regulation that may have an adverse impact on small businesses.
Here's the serious meat for Representative Hubbard and Speaker Marsh.  If there's anything Alabama needs, it can't be less regulation.   And how might "small business" be defined?  We've already a state where industry and agriculture are among the biggest of the Big Mules.  Alabama has ADEM arguably fully captured by the agencies they supposedly control.   Y'all might as well say "We don't need no stinking regulation!"  Protections for citizens and consumers as to pollution, financial dealings, safety, ... are loathed by the interests Mike Hubbard and Del Marsh serve. 
Legislation Establishing a Small Business Financing Authority 
* One of the top inhibitors small business development and growth is access to capital. Loans are increasingly difficult to come by even for good candidates with solid business plans.
* A key recommendation of the Speaker’s Commission on Job Creation, this authority would assist small businesses with financing issues by making direct loans, helping small businesses attract more banking partners, and meeting a variety of credit-related needs.
* Other states have created small business financing authorities.  In Virginia, for example, the return on investment has been $5.81 for every state dollar loaned to a small business. Using that calculation, a one-time appropriation of $5 million would allow the state to assist more than 200 small businesses and generate $35 million in private equity and credit in the first year the loans are made.
Lord have mercy! And these are the ideologues who tell us repeatedly that the free market should just be loosened and all sorts of wonderful results will follow?  And again, what was it that killed many lending options for our small businesses?  Might it have been policies that favored Wall Street speculators and the investor class over the interests of Main Street?  Really, tell us Cons!  Y'all can't run from history and yet these ideologues just keep on pushing their ideology.  After all, for the true believers, conservatism never fails but it can only be failed.  They want to make it more pure and push on with the facts be damned.  A related fact would be that big banks and big biz are sitting on tons of cash.  The GOP has relied so long on supply side voodoo economics that they've forgotten demand perhaps.
Creation the Alabama Sales, Use, and Lease Tax Simplification Task Force 
* The Alabama Sales, Use and Lease Tax Simplification Task Force would be a twenty-member panel required to study the issue of streamlining and simplifying the administration and remittance of sales, use and lease taxes.
Bet you a beer that this panel will not touch Alabama taxing our poor more than any other state. And taxing food, fuhgetaboutit!  News just today revealed the same pattern of soaking the least among us for the thousandth time in just my lifetime.  No worries as to simplification I suppose but I bet that goes to more than just the biz whiz crowd interfacing with various state and local governments.

As for the summary, we already have big money landing some serious favor from what Alabama already does.  What Representative Hubbard and Senator Marsh want to do is just add to the long established pattern that so called "Business Progressives" have long worshiped.  Let's just fall in line with whatever business interests want and the rest will work out is I guess what the bosses have long wanted for Alabama.  Then again, it might just be that these two politicians are selling us a load of spit.  Truly, truly to favor business interests has long been the label applied to the GOP.  To wrap what they want to do for those who've brought them to the dance and call the tunes in some sort of "jobs agenda" is arguably as fine a selling setup as I've witnessed.  Respectfully, john gunn

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