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Nurses Oppose the KXL Pipeline – and All of Labor Should Too

by Deborah Burger

Noticeably absent from President Obama’s “fix-it-first” program for rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure, highlighted in his State of the Union speech, is, so far, the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline project. Let’s keep it that way.

There’s heavy pressure from the fossil fuel industry, the politicians they influence, conservative Canadian interests, and some construction unions in the U.S. for the pipeline. But it’s not just the President’s decision. It’s up to all of us to put the pipeline in mothballs and leave the heavy tar sands crude oil in the ground.

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Addressing Climate Change and Creating the Jobs We Need

by Dave Foster

Putting Americans back to work by addressing climate change should be a top priority for Congress, but politics have often gotten in the way of solutions that will both create jobs and reduce the carbon pollution causing climate change.  If anything, the stark need for our country to take climate change seriously hit home late last year when the East Coast was devastated by Hurricane Sandy. I know I’m not the only one that watched in shock as we saw subways underwater, people without power and heat for weeks on end, and our communications systems falling down when we needed them most.

Climate change — and the extreme weather like “super storms” and droughts that it will increasingly cause — is a huge problem for our country. It’s also an opportunity. Addressing climate change is a key component of any plan to keep our economy on track and get us back to full employment.

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Small Businesses Are Credit-Starved: Shouldn’t Even Republicans Care?

by Robert Pollin

The austerity debate is now returning to center stage in Washington economic policy circles, after having been briefly pushed to the sidelines by the “fiscal cliff” deal struck by Congress and President Obama at the very end of 2012. Whether to cut social and/or military spending, how much to cut, who takes the big budget hits, and, most basic of all, why the mainstream political debate is still fixated on the deficit rather than on mass unemployment, are all huge questions. Many sensible people, including my co-bloggers here, and I have discussed these issues many times, and will continue to examine them.

But before plunging into these specific matters yet again, I want to return to an equally important feature of austerity in the U.S. today which receives almost no attention (the outstanding blog post by Jane D’Arista here being one major exception). The issue is very simple: small businesses have been starved of credit since the onset of the Wall Street crisis at the end of 2007.

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Full Employment: Adding up the Numbers in Canada

by Jim Stanford

To me, the most appealing and effective aspect of Bob Pollin’s book Back to Full Employment is the fact that he puts hard numbers on the concrete economic and fiscal benefits of putting Americans back to work. At a time when politicians are consumed (disproportionately) with the issue of public deficits and debts, they have lost sight of the crucial economic challenge: facilitating productive work.

After all, the deficit was caused by financial crisis, recession, and unemployment; before then, budgets were in balance. In other words, it is obvious that a weak economy caused the deficit – not the other way around (as so many commentators assume). And so the solution to the deficit is obvious: put people back to work, paying taxes instead of receiving UI benefits, and the deficit will take care of itself.

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Great News: Obama Recommits to Clean Energy;
Terrible News: Obama Recommits to Dirty Energy

by Robert Pollin

In his State of the Union speech last night, President Obama offered strong support on behalf of major new investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy. In doing so, he echoed points he made in his inaugural address last month. This is all excellent news. Obama has of course been very strong on the environment in the past. In particular, the 2009 economic stimulus program—the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act—included $90 billion in funds for new investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy, a level of support that was orders of magnitude beyond anything that had been done previously in the U.S. Moreover, to a large extent, these investments have produced major gains toward a green economy that we desperately need. (Full disclosure: I worked as a consultant to the Department of Energy on implementing some of this program).

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