Economy

Delivering the Goods: A Labor of Love for UPS Driver Jay Valentin

7/28/14

Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the U.S. Department of Transportation's blog. See the original post here.

Like many Americans, when Jesus "Jay" Valentin – a UPS driver – goes to sleep at night in his New Jersey home, he's got a lot on his mind.

He thinks about tomorrow's deliveries and worries about what the traffic will be like and what the weather will mean for road conditions. He calculates how much next month's mortgage payment will leave his family – his wife Jenny and four kids – for savings. He wonders how he will pay for his daughter Tiffany’s college education – she’s 16 now and thinking toward the future.

Last Friday, I had the chance to meet Jay and some of his coworkers at the UPS hub in Secaucus, New Jersey. It was an eye-opener in many ways.

Secretary Anthony Foxx meets with UPS staff (1)

(Photo via the U.S. Department of Transportation)

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Boosting Our Global Competitiveness: It’s Time to Invest in America’s Roads, Rails, and Bridges

7/28/14

When it comes to investing in our infrastructure, the President’s message has been loud and clear: We must upgrade our roads and rails and bridges to grow our economy and create good American jobs. Over the last five decades, U.S. investments in transportation have fallen by nearly 50 percent as a percentage of GDP. So it is not surprising that in the most recent World Economic Forum rankings, the U.S. has fallen from 7th to 18th overall in the quality of our roads in less than a decade.

Earlier this month, we released a report that shows our transportation infrastructure system is in dire need of investment. The data tells an important story: 65 percent of America’s major roads are rated in less than good condition; one in four bridges require significant repair or cannot handle today’s traffic; and 45 percent of Americans lack access to transit.

We know what we need to do – and there are two compelling reasons for doing it right now. First, our global competiveness is directly linked to the strength of our infrastructure – investing in it can serve as a clear source of competitive advantage. Second, these investments will create jobs, help American businesses, and grow our economy. The President has put forth a long-term proposal that would make these investments and pay for them by closing unfair tax loopholes and making commonsense reforms to our business tax system. The President’s GROW AMERICA Act would support millions of jobs and position our economy for lasting growth. 

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Training a Workforce for Today’s and Tomorrow’s Jobs

7/28/14

It’s no secret that the American economy is changing, and some of the most in-demand skills today barely existed a generation ago. The average worker graduated high school around twenty years ago, when the personal computer was in its infancy, and only the most technical professions demanded a fluency in information technology (IT).

But times have changed, and some of the best ladders to well-paying, middle-class jobs are in IT fields across our economy. That’s because the average salary in a job that requires IT skills -- whether in manufacturing, advertising, hospitality, or banking -- is more than one and a half times higher than the average private-sector American job.

This week, the President and Vice President are announcing important reforms in the way Federal programs train and retrain workers. To meet the demand for IT and cybersecurity skills, we will also be kicking off a significant new effort focused on bridging the gap between workers, technology skills, and employers.

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Weekly Address: Closing Corporate Tax Loopholes

7/26/14
President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address in the Map Room of the White House, July 25, 2014.

President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address in the Map Room of the White House, July 25, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

In this week’s address, the President continued his call for our nation to rally around an economic patriotism that says rather than protecting wasteful tax loopholes for a few at the top, we should be investing in things like education and job training that grow the economy for everybody.

The President highlighted the need to close one of the most unfair tax loopholes that allows companies to avoid paying taxes here at home by shifting their residence for tax purposes out of the country. The President has put forth a budget that does just that, and he has called for business tax reform that makes investment in the United States attractive, and creates incentives for companies to invest and create jobs here at home. And while he will continue to make the case for tax reform, the President is calling on Congress to take action and close this loophole now.

Transcript | mp4 | mp3

West Wing Week 07/25/14 or, "The Irrefutable Rightness of Your Cause"

7/25/14

This week, the President introduced a historic Executive Action for LGBT rights, continued to address the ongoing conflicts in the Ukraine and Gaza, hosted a town hall in support of his My Brother's Keeper Initiative, and traveled to California to deliver his response to some very striking letters he'd received ... in person. 

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A Day in the Life: Deric from Baltimore

7/25/14

Meet Deric.

Deric Richardson had been out of work for over a year. He had a GED and a Microsoft Office certificate, but needed an opportunity to improve his skills. That opportunity came in the form of tuition-free training in laboratory skills provided by the nonprofit BioTechnical Institute of Maryland. Shortly after successfully completing the training, Deric was hired by Baltimore-based Paragon Bioservices in July 2010.

Today, Secretary of Labor Tom Perez is traveling to Baltimore to meet with him.

Deric’s story is just one great example of how job-driven training is working for Americans across the country. When we talk about "job-driven" training, we're talking about making sure we're providing people with the skills that employers are looking for right now to fill available jobs. Earlier this week, President Obama signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which will elevate more job-driven programs like BTI.

This is the second in a series of “day in the life” trips Secretary Perez -- in addition to other secretaries across the President's cabinet -- will be taking over the next few months. It's a chance to talk directly with the people the Labor Department works for every day.

We want to make sure you see what he sees, too. Follow along today to see live updates and highlights from Secretary Perez’s day.

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President Obama in L.A.: "You Are Why I Ran for President in the First Place"

7/24/14

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This afternoon, President Obama addressed an excited and energized crowd under sunny skies at the Los Angeles Trade-Technical College. 

In his remarks, the President said that he was excited to be back in L.A., where he spent a few "good years" in college -- and quickly explained what he was there to talk about.

"I’m here because I am listening to Kati’s story," the President said. Kati Koster wrote a letter to the President a couple years ago about the effect of student loans. Kati introduced the President -- and the President sat down with Kati and three other Americans earlier in the day at Canter's Deli, to chat about the issues that matter to them.

I’m listening to Americans all across the country, everybody who works their tail off, is doing the right thing, who believes in the American Dream, just wants a chance to build a decent life for themselves and their family. You are why I ran for President in the first place.

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What Are "Inversions," and Why Should You Care?

7/24/14

Today, President Obama is heading to Los Angeles Trade Technical College, where he's calling for a kind of "economic patriotism" that's based on investing in the things that we know grow the economy for everyone (like education and job training) — not protecting wasteful loopholes for a few at the top.

And he's calling attention to one kind of corporate merger deal in particular — called an "inversion" — a word you might be seeing in a lot of news headlines lately.

It's not the most intuitive name for a corporate tax loophole, so we're going to break it down for you.

Q: So what exactly is an "inversion"?

A corporate "inversion" is what happens when a U.S.-based multinational with operations in other countries restructures itself so that the U.S. "parent" is replaced by a foreign corporation — and usually one that's in a country with a lower tax rate than the United States. As a result, on the whole, this means that corporate income tax that would otherwise be paid to the United States ends up going overseas.

In other words, right now, our tax code allows any American company to merge with a foreign company (so long as that company’s shareholders own 20% of the combined firm) — and then “relocate” or “invert” to another country for tax purposes. This maneuver — which changes nothing about the actual operations that continue in the U.S. — allows companies to dramatically reduce the taxes they owe in the U.S. by taking advantage of loopholes in our tax system.

Meanwhile, they would continue enjoying the benefits and protections of the American economy — provided by our tax dollars. It's a big loophole — and right now, it’s completely legal.

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The First Significant Legislative Reform of Our Job-Training System in a Number of Years:

7/22/14
President Barack Obama signs H.R. 803

President Barack Obama signs H.R. 803, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act after delivering remarks on job training, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building South Court Auditorium, July 22, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

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We need to make sure workers in America can find jobs that meet their skills, or get trained with the skills they need for a better job.

That's why, in this year's State of the Union address, President Obama tasked Vice President Biden with leading a review of our country's job-training programs to make sure that they have one mission: training our workers with the skills employers need, and matching them to good jobs that need to be filled right now.

The effort to make our federal training programs more job-driven was also bolstered by the bipartisan passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which President Obama signed into law this afternoon.

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A rival to the World Bank?

7/22/14

For more What in the World watch Sundays at 10 a.m. & 1 p.m. ET on CNN

By Global Public Square staff

World leaders came together in Brazil last week to celebrate. And no, this had nothing to do with the World Cup. We’re talking about the 6th annual BRICS summit.

The leaders of all the BRICS nations – that is Vladimir Putin, Narendra Modi, Dilma Rousseff, Xi Jinping and Jacob Zuma – all gathered in Fortaleza, Brazil. And on Tuesday they sent a shot across the bow by announcing a $50 billion bank meant to rival the World Bank, and a $100 billion crisis fund to replace the IMF.

It’s clear why they made this move.

You see, these five nations – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – now account for more than 40 percent of the world's population, almost 20 percent of the world's total GDP and 17 percent of global trade. Yes, growth in the emerging markets has slowed recently, but these countries have still become a large enough force in the global system that they want a seat at the table.

And that hasn't happened. Their influence in international institutions has lagged behind. Only two of the five BRICS countries have permanent seats at the U.N. Security Council. And their collective voice isn't heard much at all at international economic institutions like the International Monetary Fund (whose head the Europeans appoint) and the World Bank (whose leader is put forth by the United States).

As The Economist points out, China – the world’s largest economy by some measures – has less voting power in the IMF and World Bank than Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxemburg. Remember, China has 1.3 billion people to the less than 30 million people in those three European nations.

The BRICS leaders have complained about this unfair treatment for years. American administrations pushed to give them greater voices and votes. But the small European countries haggled and then the American Congress has been its usual obstructionist force.

Now, instead of continuing to change the old system from within, the BRICS leaders are trying to subvert it. And this subversion comes on the 70th anniversary of Bretton Woods. That was the agreement, signed at a U.N. conference in the wilds of New Hampshire, which spawned the World Bank and the IMF in the first place.

Of course, there is all sorts of squabbling and disagreement amongst the BRICS, but there is one very important thing that they seem to agree on: they envisage an economic future that is both anti-Western, in some sense, and anti-dollar.

Welcome to the new world order, where we have to accommodate the rise of the rest. If the United States and the West don't do that, others will create clubs of their own to counter the existing system.

The IMF has said it will collaborate with the new bank, but is that enough? Well, there’s one tangible thing the U.S. could do as soon as tomorrow: It could pass legislation to modernize and reform the IMF.

The reforms were negotiated in 2010. They are supported by almost all 188 IMF members, and just this April, the G20 gave Congress an ultimatum of sorts: pass the reforms to give emerging countries a greater say by year-end, or we will move forward without you.

Maybe the creation of this BRICS development bank will be just the wake-up call the United States Congress needs. But given that it is the United States Congress, we wouldn't bet on it.