THREE QUESTIONS FOR PENNSYLVANIA’S CANDIDATES

The Scranton Times Tribune ran a news story today (10/18/10) entitled “Nonprofits fear winter coupled with high unemployment.” Leaders of nonprofits and charities in Northeast Pennsylvania announced that the coming winter coupled with growing unemployment will push the limits of their organizations. That they lack money and capacity to meet the needs of their communities is not a matter of poor management. These are sophisticated organizations. It’s the economy. Pennsylvania’s social safety net is in serious jeopardy, because unemployment is rising, new jobs are not being created, and personal wealth is barely growing for Pennsylvanians- if at all.

2010 is a critical election year in Pennsylvania. Our Governor, Lieutenant Governor, 26 State Senators, and all 203 State Representatives are up for election, as well as Pennsylvania’s 19 Congressional seats. At stake is nothing less than majority control in Harrisburg and perhaps in Washington too. At the top of ticket, Pennsylvania is a battleground for the US Senate seat formerly held by Arlen Specter. The two candidates are Joe Sestak (D) and Pat Toomey (R) and by some accounts, are racing neck-and-neck.

With only 9 days until the November 2 general election, Pennsylvanians have decisions to make — big decisions with big consequences. Whether the issue is the economy, foreign trade, the social safety net, or campaign finance reform, the candidates have positions. Some have posted their positions on their websites; others have not. One thing they all have in common. They have not provided details on HOW THEY PLAN TO ACHIEVE THEIR GOALS. Without a plan, their goals are just empty campaign promises. So the real question is…. IF YOU ASK THEM HOW THEY PLAN TO ACHIEVE THEIR GOALS, WILL THEY TELL YOU?

That’s exactly what I did. I asked them. I have spent the past 6 years identifying socio-economic problems, and working with partners (building coalitions) to develop solutions and implement those solutions. Drawing from this experience, I drafted the three questions pasted below. I have shared it with them and will continue to share it with as many people as is possible… until I get a response. Then I will post their responses so we will all know whether they really have a plan or whether it’s all hype.

SO PLEASE READ THE THREE QUESTIONS BELOW. Feel free to SEND THE QUESTIONS TO YOUR LAWMAKERS. Between tourism, nonprofits and manufacturing, we can identify solutions to improve one-third of Pennsylvania’s economy– or at least know where the candidates stand.

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(1) MANUFACTURING SECTOR

In 2008, manufacturing accounted for 14% of the Pennsylvania’s total GDP (down from 21% in 1997). In 2009, manufactured goods accounted for more than 90% of Pennsylvania’s exports (down from 95% in 2002). China is our third largest export market (up from 16th in 1999). Currently, manufacturing accounts for just 10% of Pennsylvania’s total workforce (down 40% since 1990). During this same time (20 years), overall nonfarm employment in PA increased by 8%.

Some say it would be impossible to restore Pennsylvania’s manufacturing capacity. Others say that if we do not rebuild our factories, Pennsylvania’s economy will never recover. Considering that 600,000 Pennsylvanians are unemployed, I believe that restoring Pennsylvania’s factories is critical to Pennsylvania’s future.

America needs a comprehensive plan to rebuild our domestic manufacturing capacity, starting here in Pennsylvania, and starting today. American manufacturing is critical to the long-term health of our economy, to the welfare of our people, and ultimately to the survival of our nation.

Q1: If elected to the US Senate, in what three (3) specific ways would you partner with the manufacturing sector to prevent the loss of skilled manufacturing jobs in Pennsylvania and attract new skilled manufacturing jobs to Pennsylvania?

(2) NONPROFIT SECTOR

Pennsylvania is home to nearly 58,000 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit organizations. From hospitals, colleges, daycare centers and clinics, to soup kitchens, social service providers and foundations, Pennsylvania’s nonprofit sector employs about 600,000 FTE workers (or 11% of the workforce in PA). Together these workers earned over $21.1 billion in wages in 2003 (or 10% percent of total wages paid in Pennsylvania). For many communities, nonprofits are also an economic engine for growth and development.

Since the recession began however, Pennsylvania’s nonprofits are facing declining contributions, decreasing revenue, and losses of government and foundation funding. Resources are dwindling, but the community’s need for the services that nonprofits provide continues to grow.

Q2: If elected to the US Senate, in what three (3) specific ways would you partner with and strengthen the nonprofit sector to achieve the goals of your campaign and improve the quality of life in our Commonwealth?

(3) TRAVEL, TOURISM AND HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY

Pennsylvania tourism is the state’s second-largest industry. Together, PA hotels, amusement parks, restaurants, ski areas, stadiums, and attractions of all types, generate $28 billion in revenue each year and pay $10 billion in wages and benefits to over 400,000 workers (or about 7% of Pennsylvania’s workforce). While these are certainly impressive numbers, tourism in Pennsylvania has room to grow. Understanding what motivates people to visit PA or employers to relocate to PA, and coordinating economic development to enhance PA tourism would improve Pennsylvania’s business climate over the long term.

Q3: If elected to the US Senate, in what three (3) specific ways would you partner with the tourism industry to improve economic growth and development?

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US Senate Candidate Joe Sestak Speaks on National Security

Monday, October 4 marks the nine-year anniversary of the US invasion into Afghanistan. Joe Sestak, candidate for US Senate, will deliver a National Security Speech on the current situation in Afghanistan and what steps the US must take to confront the evolving global threats of the 21st century. The event begins at 1:pm EST in the East Wing Rotunda of the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg. Sestak is a current PA Congressman, a Harvard PhD, a former US Navy 3-Star Admiral, a former Director for Defense Policy for the National Security Council, and the first head of the Navy’s “Deep Blue” anti-terrorism unit.

I’ll BE THERE BLOGGING. You could be there too. Just call their Harrisburg office at 717-609-1392.

Read my blog at www.davidarossandassociates.wordpress.com, and share this link with others.

View Sestak’s News Releases at http://JoeSestak.com/Home/Archive.
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UPDATE: Here is video of the last half of Joe Sestak’s 10/4/10 Senate Campaign speech that I posted on YouTube. I apologize for the low quality of the clips and for dividing them into 2 separate compilation videos.

Joe Sestak Speech A – (10/4/10) State Capitol Rotunda, Harrisburg, PA [clips 1-4 of 7] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OV87EupEkxA

Joe Sestak Speech B – (10/4/10) State Capitol Rotunda, Harrisburg, PA [clips 5-7 of 7] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWpmihx7rlE

The transcript of Joe’s speech “A New Era of Engagement” is posted at http://joesestak.com/Home/Entries/2010/10/4_Joes_Speech__A_New_Era_of_Engagement.html

Is the Wall Street Journal Reading Your Blog? Is Obama Losing Control of the Economy?

Is the Wall Street Journal Reading Your Blog?

Last week (8/13/10) David A. Ross, J.D. posted on Facebook the following “In the 1980’s, economists said that if you want to live in a country where parents have no illusions that their children will be better-off than they were, move to England. Today, England’s future is brighter with the EU. Not so for America. Ask yourself whether your children will have it better than you did? Now ask why, and what can be done about it?” The rest of my article went on to mention how America incorrectly measured the strength of the Chinese economy.

In yesterday’s (8/16/10) Wall Street Journal, Mort Zuckerman wrote “With a historically weak recovery and high unemployment rate, we hear people beginning to question the long-held assumption that their children will have it better than they.” The rest of his article went on to address the problems in the US economy.

Just remember, on the issue of American optimism, you heard it here first.

Now I ask the question: Is Obama Losing Control of the Economy?

Here are the highlights of Zuckerman’s very astute article The End of American Optimism:

1) Obama’s Broken Promise: The Obama administration’s projection that the unemployment rate will drop to 8.7% by the end of next year and 6.8% by 2013 is totally unrealistic. The economy would have to add nearly 300,000 jobs each month over the next three years to make up the 2.5 million jobs that the Obama administration promised, thereby returning the unemployment rate to under 8%. “At the rate we are going, it will take from six to nine years to climb out of this hole.”

2) Nearly No New Jobs Were Created: The Obama administration created virtually no new jobs this year. The 600,000 jobs supposedly created do not exist. They were a mathematical error caused last year by economic modeling that assumed a steady rate of new businesses creating new jobs. 550,000 of these phantom jobs were kept on the books at the US Department of Labor since April of this year. The Administration is playing with the numbers.

3) Real Unemployment is Higher: Real unemployment today is well above the reported 9.5%. That number held steady only because over a million people gave up hope of finding work and left the labor force within the past three months. Taking that into account, the unemployment rate is actually 10.4%.

4) Long Term Unemployment Persists: There are at least 14.5 million Americans still searching for work: 1.4 million of them have been jobless for more than 99 weeks, 6.5 million have been jobless for over 27 weeks. And there is little hope of ever restoring those jobs.

5) Traditional Fixes Aren’t Working: “Tons of money have been shoveled in to rescue reckless banks and fill the huge hole in the economy, but nothing is working the way it normally had in all our previous crises.” The Administration has tried encouraging people to buy cars, homes, weatherization kits, and even solar panels, yet the economy limps along at a nearly 2.4% growth rate (which is just above inflation).

6) Welcome to the New Normal: “We are in what a number of economists are referring to as the ‘new normal.'” The current recession could last indefinitely, because there have been NO FUNDAMENTAL CHANGES to the underlying economy.

CONCLUSION: At this point, I am thoroughly convinced that President Barack Obama has lost control of the American economy, has not a clue of what to do next, and fails to appreciate the urgency by which solutions must be found. While the administration waits out the storm, the storm is growing worse, day… by day… by day. And by now, President Obama’s advisors are probably telling him that he needs a foreign war to distract the American public’s attention from our disastrous domestic economy. Again, it has always worked in the past, but it will not work this time. America is facing a major crisis, but there is no sense of urgency in the White House.

It’s Time for Leadership

In today’s (8/11/10) Wall Street Journal, “The U.S. trade deficit widened unexpectedly to a 21-month high of $49.90 billion in June, as imports from the nation’s largest trading partners ballooned. U.S. exports contracted 1.3% in June from a month earlier, while imports increased 3.1%. The trade gap with China expanded to $26.15 billion in June — the widest level since October 2008.” http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704901104575423051863102666.html?mod=djemalertNEWS.

Meanwhile, “The yen hit a 15-year high against the dollar of 84.72 yen, breaking its 2010 peak set earlier Wednesday (8/11/10). U.S. currency has come under heavy selling pressure against the yen in European trading hours, following the U.S. Federal Reserve’s downgrade Tuesday (8/10/10) of its economic assessment and its decision to reinvest some expiring bond holdings.” (see below) http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704164904575422252831246966.html?mod=djemalertNEWS.

Yesterday (8/10/10), the Federal Reserve announced its decision to reinvest proceeds from expiring mortgage-backed securities into longer-term U.S. Treasurys in a bid to help the weakening U.S. economy by keeping mortgage rates low. In the closely watched statement that followed its policy meeting, the U.S. central bank acknowledged that the pace of the recovery had slowed in recent months. The Fed planned to release more details about the reinvestment operation later that day. The Fed also reiterated that it expected to keep benchmark short-term interest rates close to zero for an extended period due to low inflation and high unemployment.” (see below) http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704164904575421481861512518.html?mod=djemalertNEWS. Read the Fed’s statement at http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2010/08/10/fed-statement-following-august-meeting-2/.

Last week (8/6/10) the Wall Street Journal reported: “The U.S. economy shed more jobs than expected in July while the unemployment rate held steady at 9.5%, a further sign the economic recovery may be losing momentum. Nonfarm payrolls fell by 131,000 last month as the rise in private-sector employment was not enough to make up for the government jobs lost, the U.S. Labor Department said. Only 71,000 private-sector jobs were added last month while 143,000 temporary workers on the 2010 census were let go.” http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703309704575412990024153682.html?mod=djemalertNEWS.

So this is what is covered in the New York Times.  Are you seeing the trend?  The economy is underperforming. 15 million Americans are out of work. Wall Street remains guardedly optimistic; and the federal government has no idea how to repair the economy. The most they can say is that they think the free-fall has ended. It is time for American’s to ask “how is the President working with Congress, the private sector, and the nonprofit sector to repair the economy, to put people back to work and to move this nation forward.” It’s time for America to ask the question and demand an answer. It’s time to demand leadership.

China’s New Missile Challenges US Dominance in Pacific

China deploys new precision guided missile designed to kill America’s super-aircraft carriers at 7,600 mph from 900 miles away.

(8/5/10) The new Dong Feng 21D is expected to revolutionize China’s role in the Pacific balance of power and seriously weaken America’s ability to intervene in any potential conflict over Taiwan or North Korea. China could also deny U.S. ships safe access to international waters near China’s 11,000 mile coastline. U.S. ships have only twice been this vulnerable– against Japan during World War II and against Soviet bombers during the Cold War. Read the Associated Press news article, Chinese missile could shift Pacific power balance, by Eric Talmadge (8/5/10).

The message is clear. America’s dominance in the Pacific is ending, and we have no one to blame but ourselves. “The greatest generation” of Americans fought and died on foreign soil so we could squander their legacy on cheap Chinese consumer goods.

The world is witnessing the birth of a new global superpower. We allowed China’s super-growth by outsourcing our manufacturing to them over the past 25 years. In 2010, US gross domestic product (GDP) rose by only 2.7%, inflation rose by 1.1% and the jobless rate held at 9.5%. In China, the GDP cooled to 10.3% growth, inflation held at 2.9%, and the jobless rate (for a country of nearly 1.4 billion people) was only 4.2%. To put it another way, the US trade deficit with China in 2009 was nearly $227 Billion. It has been steadily climbing since 1985. In 2002, America’s trade deficit with China broke the $100 billion mark. By 2005, we broke $200 billion. By 2008, we were on our way toward $300 billion, nearly $1 billion every day, and then the recession hit. (US Census Data)

What is China doing with all this money? They are buying US dollars, artificially propping-up our economy, and building advanced new weapons systems to project their strength abroad. How long can America continue its current China policy? How long can the world afford it? The Chinese are willing to continue the current policy until they no longer need us. Ask yourself what our options will be then? (See U.S. No Longer World’s Largest Economy; U.S. Economy Produces Fewer of World’s Richest People; The U.S. Is Losing Its Competitive Edge)

UPDATE: (1/12/11)

Chinese Stealth Fighter Appears to Make First Test Flight, by Jeremy Page and Julian E. Barnes, The Wall Street Journal online (1/12/11).

Images and witness accounts posted online Tuesday (1/11/11) appeared to show that China’s J-20 stealth fighter prototype had made its first test flight, even as Robert Gates, the U.S. Defense Secretary who has downplayed China’s stealth aircraft capability, was meeting Chinese civilian leaders in Beijing. The J-20 looks very similar to the U.S. F-22 Raptor, the world’s only fully operational stealth fighter. Tuesday’s test confirms that China’s stealth program has reached the next stage of development. Military aviation experts say the images suggest that China is making faster-than-expected progress in developing a potential rival to the F-22 and the Russian T-50, which made its first test flight last year.

Every Chinese product we buy brings America one step closer to losing our technological and economic advantage. And with these go our safety and security. Wake up America. A new world order is born.

Federal Unemployment Extension Bill on Track for Passage

The American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010 (H.R.4213) passed the U.S. Senate yesterday (Tuesday, 7/20/10) by a vote of 60-40 just enough to overcome the Republican filibuster threat extending unemployment benefits for 2.5 million jobless Americans. The bill now goes back to the House for approval before it can be sent to the President for approval.

 The cost of the bill is estimated at $34 billion, less than half of the original $200 billion price tag, and as much as 70% being paid with offsets.

While the bill has many provisions to close tax loopholes affecting wealthy individuals and corporations, the bill extends for three month the closing deadline for first-time homebuyers looking to get the $8,000 tax credit, and also extends charitable tax incentives we lobbied for under the Pension Protection Act of 2006, such as the IRA rollover (sec.226) and the enhanced charitable deductions for contributions of food (sec.251), books (sec.252) or computers (sec.253).

H.R.4213.EAH would extend benefits for the next three months (until November) retroactive to the first week of June. What’s missing? The $25 per week Federal Additional Compensation (FAC) stimulus is missing, as is an extension of COBRA health insurance. It also includes drastic reductions in Medicaid, Medicare, and Tricare. All of this of course impact families that are already struggling to find gainful employment. American families are facing a crisis not witnessed in decades, joblessness, homelessness, lack of medical care, and even hunger. In Philadelphia at least, one third of those going hungry are children.

Extension of unemployment benefits is a critical step, but it is only the first step. This would be the eighth extension of unemployment benefits since July 2008, at a total cost of over $120 billion. WHERE IS THE PLAN TO FIX THE ECONOMY? Where is the plan to work with business and nonprofits to grow the workforce with well-paying jobs upon which a person can build a family?

–David A. Ross, J.D.

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Read more at:

(7/21/10) Unemployment benefits extension comes with mixed views, concerns, by David Bodenheimer, The Dispatch (Lexington, NC) http://www.the-dispatch.com/article/20100721/articles/100729982&tc=yahoo?tc=ar

(7/20/10) Filibuster broken, jobless benefits may flow soon. By a single vote, jobless benefits extension clears Senate hurdle, setting stage for passage, by Andrew Taylor, Associated Press. “The recovery from the nation’s long and deep recession has produced relatively few new jobs so far, and millions of people’s unemployment benefits began running out seven weeks ago as Congress bogged down in an impasse over whether the $34 billion cost of a fresh extension of benefits should be paid for with budget cuts or be added to the $13 trillion national debt.” http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Filibuster-broken-jobless-apf-1521010382.html?x=0&.v=24

(6/28/10) H.R. 4213 American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act | What’s Left, World news Vine. http://worldnewsvine.com/2010/06/h-r-4213-american-jobs-and-closing-tax-loopholes-act-whats-left/

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