Connect with us

Latest

Can Biden save democracy one US factory job at a time?

Avatar photo

Published

on

Can Biden save democracy one US factory job at a time?

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is working to create a manufacturing revival — even helping to put factory jobs in Republican territory under the belief it can restore faith in U.S. democracy.

The latest development came Tuesday, when chipmaker Micron announced an investment of up to $100 billion over the next 20-plus years to build a plant in upstate New York that could create 9,000 factory jobs. It’s a commitment made in a GOP congressional district that Biden and the company credited to the recently enacted $280 billion CHIPS and Science Act.

“Today is another win for America, and another massive new investment in America spurred by my economic plan,” Biden said in a statement. “Together, we are building an economy from the bottom up and the middle out, where we lower costs for our families and make it right here in America.”

Biden has staked his presidency on what he has called “a historic manufacturing boom,” hoping to succeed where past presidents, governors and hordes of other politicians have struggled for a half-century. His goal is to keep opening new factories in states such as Ohio, Idaho, North Carolina and Georgia — where Democrats’ footholds are shaky at best. Administration officials say they want to spread the prosperity across the entire country, rather than let it cluster in centers of extreme wealth, in a bid to renew the middle class and a sense of pride in the country itself.

The push comes at a precarious moment for the global economy. High inflation in the U.S. has hurt Biden’s popularity and prompted recession concerns. Much of Europe faces a possible downturn due to the jump in energy prices after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, while the International Monetary Fund just downgraded growth in China. The world economy is defined by uncertainty just as Biden has called for investments in clean energy and technology that could take years to pay off.

The president is hopeful that whatever good manufacturing can do for the U.S. economy also turns out to yield political benefits for himself and other Democrats in 2022 and beyond. He told Democratic donors on Friday that the manufacturing and technology investments mean “we have an opportunity” to strengthen the U.S. if Democratic governors and lawmakers are elected this year.

Going into the midterm elections, Biden is telling voters that a factory renaissance has already started because of him. The administration sees its infrastructure spending, computer chip investments and clean-energy incentives as helping domestic manufacturing in unprecedented ways.

Recent academic studies suggest that decades of layoffs due to offshoring contributed to the rise of Republican Donald Trump, with his opposition to immigration and global trade. But many of the authors of the studies doubt that Biden can make these demographic trends disappear through the promise of jobs for skilled workers.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna of California would like to see the president make a national tour of factory openings, so that his policies could stick better in voters’ minds. Khanna recently attended the groundbreaking of a $20 billion Intel plant in Ohio and laid out his belief that factory job losses helped cause today’s political schisms.

The Silicon Valley congressman reasons that too many Americans have lost faith in a government that seemed indifferent to their own well-being, leading them to embrace hucksters and authoritarians who thrive by exploiting and widening divisions in society.

“How do you get rid of people’s jobs and expect them to believe in democracy?” Khanna asks.

Factory jobs have risen during Biden’s tenure to the most since 2008 at 12.85 million, yet the task of steadying the country’s middle class and its democratic institutions is far from complete. The industrial Midwest has yet to recover the factory jobs shed in the pandemic, let alone decades of layoffs in which the economic challenges evolved into political tensions.

Labor Department data show that Ohio is still 10,000 factory jobs shy of its pre-pandemic level and 350,000 jobs below its total in 2000. The numbers are similarly bad in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — three states that were key to Biden’s 2020 victory and could help decide control of Congress in November’s elections.

The White House says Biden eschews thinking about Americans solely as consumers interested only in the cheapest prices and thus promoting outsourcing. Instead, his speeches are woven with talk about people as workers and the identity that working gives them.

What Biden can show with this year’s factory groundbreakings is progress, even if the total number of manufacturing jobs is unlikely to return to the 1979 peak of 19.55 million. Intel’s computer chip plant being built in New Albany, Ohio, would add 3,000 jobs. Hyundai would add 8,100 jobs with its electric vehicle plant in Georgia. Wolfspeed, with plans to produce silicon carbide wafers in North Carolina, would add 1,800 jobs.

Jay Timmons, CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, said the gains in factory jobs reflect five years of effort, starting with the 2017 tax cuts by Trump and including Biden’s investments in infrastructure and computer chips as well as efforts to return jobs to the U.S. after global supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic.

“There’s a commitment by government at all levels to do more here and a desire by manufacturers to do more here,” Timmons said.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist Daron Acemoglu applauded the president’s plans for spreading factory work across the country. It’s too soon to tell if the administration is succeeding, he said, but Biden is challenging what was once conventional wisdom among economists that little could be done to expand factory work in the U.S.

“I believe the president is right,” said Acemoglu, the co-author of the book “Why Nations Fail.” “‘Good jobs,’ which pay decent wages, have job stability, offer career-addressing opportunities, and endow a sense of accomplishment and dignity, are important for the middle class and social cohesion.”

New academic research released in September suggests that the offshoring of factory jobs led white men to feel like victims and gave way to the rise of grievance politics that helped fuel Trump’s ascendancy among Republican voters. That movement in turn spawned election denialism and political violence that Biden has repeatedly said is “a dagger to the throat of our democracy.”

The research covering 3,500 U.S. citizens finds that factory job losses due to automation are less controversial among voters than the offshoring, which triggered a “self-victimization bias” for whites who were more likely to “view offshoring as leading to greater total harm to the American economy, and to the U.S. position in the world.”

One of the study’s authors, Leonardo Baccini of McGill University, still expects factory job totals to shrink, though a decline primarily due to automation would be less harmful to Democratic candidates. He still anticipates factory job losses over the long term as advanced economies focus more on productive services to sustain growth.

“From an economic standpoint, the decline of U.S. manufacturing is inevitable and it is actually a good thing,” Baccini said. “Any attempt to stop this structural transformation with protectionism and government subsidies is likely to backfire.”

J. Lawrence Broz, a political scientist at the University of California San Diego, co-wrote a 2019 research paper that found populist support was strongest in communities that endured long-term economic and social decline, a contrast to the superstar cities where technology, finance and a highly educated workforce were magnets for wealth.

“It is unlikely that recent efforts to re-shore manufacturing jobs will produce the intended effects, either economically or politically,” Broz said. “The new factories won’t employ large numbers of less-skilled workers, leaving white industrial workers just as angry as they are now.”

That means the underlying test of Biden’s agenda might be whether enough workers can be educated to meet the needs of a manufacturing sector with higher standards than during the heights of its dominance in the 20th century.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

Read More

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Austin Local News

Remember last year’s Memorial Day travel jams? Chances are they will be much worse this year

Avatar photo

Published

on

Remember last year’s Memorial Day travel jams? Chances are they will be much worse this year

The patience of Memorial Day weekend travelers was tested Thursday by widespread delays across the country, but there were relatively few canceled flights, raising hopes that airlines can handle bigger crowds expected Friday.

By early evening on the East Coast, more than 6,000 flights had been delayed Thursday, with the biggest backups at the three major airports in the New York City area and Dallas-Fort Worth International.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pasha Pidlubniak waits for a domestic flight at Miami International Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Miami. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

 

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback
Pasha Pidlubniak waits for a domestic flight at Miami International Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Miami. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

 

The Transportation Security Administration predicted that Friday will be the busiest day for air travel over the holiday weekend, with nearly 3 million people expected to pass through airport checkpoints. It could rival the record of 2.9 million, set on the Sunday after Thanksgiving last year.

“Airports are going to be more packed than we have seen in 20 years,” said Aixa Diaz, a spokesperson for AAA.

When they aren’t waiting out flight delays, travelers are reporting sticker shock at the prices.

At Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, Larisa Latimer of New Lenox, Illinois, said her airfare was reasonable but other expenses for a getaway to New Orleans were not.

 

 

 

 

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

 

 

Motorists travel along Interstate 24 near the Interstate 40 interchange Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. A record number of Americans are expected to hit the pavement over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

 

Motorists travel along Interstate 24 near the Interstate 40 interchange Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. A record number of Americans are expected to hit the pavement over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

 

“I just have to make the accommodation,” she said. “The rental car is up … this year, the hotel accommodations were very unusually expensive.”

Kathy Larko of Fort Meyers, Florida, used frequent-flyer miles — and some flexible scheduling — to pay for her trip to Chicago.

“I’m really conscious of looking at the cost of the entire trip. We’re staying a little farther out than we normally would” to get a lower hotel rate, she said. “We’re also flying back a day later, because we could get cheaper miles.”

More travelers will be on the road. AAA estimates that 43.8 million people will venture at least 50 miles (80 kilometers) from home between Thursday and Monday, with 38 million of them taking vehicles.

 
Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

 

 

 

 

 

Travelers wait at a TSA checkpoint at the Los Angeles International Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Los Angeles. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

 

Travelers wait at a TSA checkpoint at the Los Angeles International Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Los Angeles. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

 

Airport unions are using the holiday weekend to highlight their demands.

About 100 workers who clean airplane cabins and drive trash trucks at the airport in Charlotte, North Carolina, started a 24-hour strike Thursday, demanding better pay and healthcare, according to the Service Employees International Union. About 15% of flights were delayed, but it was unclear whether the strike played any role.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

A planned strike at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York was averted, however. Teamsters Local 553, which represents about 300 workers who refuel passenger and cargo jets at JFK, said that it reached a settlement with Allied Aviation Services and called off a walkout planned for Friday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

George Ridley, 4, left, rides on a suitcase as he and his father Chris Ridley make their way through the Nashville international Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

 

George Ridley, 4, left, rides on a suitcase as he and his father Chris Ridley make their way through the Nashville international Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

 

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

“We are happy an agreement has been reached, a need for a strike averted, and we are hopeful that the deal will be ratified by our members,” said Demos Demopoulos, the secretary-treasurer of the local.

___

Associated Press video journalist Melissa Perez Winder in Chicago and Associated Press radio reporter Shelley Adler in Washington contributed to this report.

Read More

Continue Reading

Austin Local News

Texas health department appoints anti-abortion OB-GYN to maternal mortality committee

Avatar photo

Published

on

Texas health department appoints anti-abortion OB-GYN to maternal mortality committee

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas’ health department has appointed an outspoken anti-abortion OB-GYN to a committee that reviews pregnancy-related deaths as doctors have been warning that the state’s restrictive abortion ban puts women’s lives at risk.

Dr. Ingrid Skop was among the new appointees to the Texas Maternal Morality and Morbidity Review Committee announced last week by the Texas Department of State Health Services. Her term starts June 1.

The committee, which compiles data on pregnancy-related deaths, makes recommendations to the Legislature on best practices and policy changes and is expected to assess the impact of abortion laws on maternal mortality.

Skop, who has worked as an OB-GYN for over three decades, is vice president and director of medical affairs for the Charlotte Lozier Institute, an anti-abortion research group. Skop will be the committee’s rural representative.

Skop, who has worked in San Antonio for most of her career, told the Houston Chronicle that she has “often cared for women traveling long distances from rural Texas maternity deserts, including women suffering complications from abortions.”

Texas has one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the U.S., and doctors have sought clarity on the state’s medical exemption, which allows an abortion to save a woman’s life or prevent the impairment of a major bodily function. Doctors have said the exemption is too vague, making it difficult to offer life-saving care for fear of repercussions. A doctor convicted of providing an illegal abortion in Texas can face up to 99 years in prison and a $100,000 fine and lose their medical license.

Skop has said medical associations are not giving doctors the proper guidance on the matter. She has also shared more controversial views, saying during a congressional hearing in 2021 that rape or incest victims as young as 9 or 10 could carry pregnancies to term.

Texas’ abortion ban has no exemption for cases of rape or incest.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which says abortion is “inherently tied to maternal health,” said in a statement that members of the Texas committee should be “unbiased, free of conflicts of interest and focused on the appropriate standards of care.” The organization noted that bias against abortion has already led to “compromised” analyses, citing a research articles co-authored by Skop and others affiliated with the Charlotte Lozier Institute.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

Earlier this year a medical journal retracted studies supported by the Charlotte Lozier Institute claiming to show harms of the abortion pill mifepristone, citing conflicts of interests by the authors and flaws in their research. Two of the studies were cited in a pivotal Texas court ruling that has threatened access to the drug.

Read More

Continue Reading

Business

Michigan farmworker diagnosed with bird flu, becoming 2nd US case tied to dairy cows

Avatar photo

Published

on

Michigan farmworker diagnosed with bird flu, becoming 2nd US case tied to dairy cows

A Michigan dairy worker has been diagnosed with bird flu — the second human case associated with an outbreak in U.S. dairy cows.

The male worker had been in contact with cows at a farm with infected animals. He experienced mild eye symptoms and has recovered, U.S. and Michigan health officials said in announcing the case Wednesday.

A nasal swab from the person tested negative for the virus, but an eye swab tested Tuesday was positive for bird flu, “indicating an eye infection,” U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials said.

The worker developed a “gritty feeling” in his eye earlier this month but it was a “very mild case,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, Michigan’s chief medical executive. He was not treated with oseltamivir, a medication advised for treating bird flu, she said.

The risk to the public remains low, but farmworkers exposed to infected animals are at higher risk, health officials said. They said those workers should be offered protective equipment, especially for their eyes.

Health officials say they do not know if the Michigan farmworker was wearing protective eyewear, but an investigation is continuing.

In late March, a farmworker in Texas was diagnosed in what officials called the first known instance globally of a person catching this version of bird flu from a mammal. That patient reported only eye inflammation and recovered.

Since 2020, a bird flu virus has been spreading among more animal species — including dogs, cats, skunks, bears and even seals and porpoises — in scores of countries.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

The detection in U.S. livestock earlier this year was an unexpected twist that sparked questions about food safety and whether it would start spreading among humans.

That hasn’t happened, although there’s been a steady increase of reported infections in cows. As of Wednesday, the virus had been confirmed in 51 dairy herds in nine states, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department. Fifteen of the herds were in Michigan.

The CDC’s Dr. Nirav Shah said the case was “not unexpected” and it’s possible more infections could be diagnosed in people who work around infected cows.

U.S. officials said they had tested 40 people since the first cow cases were discovered in late March. Michigan has tested 35 of them, Bagdasarian told The Associated Press in an interview.

Shah praised Michigan officials for actively monitoring farmworkers. He said health officials there have been sending daily text messages to workers exposed to infected cows asking about possible symptoms, and that the effort helped officials catch this infection. He said no other workers had reported symptoms.

That’s encouraging news, said Michael Osterholm, a University of Minnesota epidemiologist who has studied bird flu for decades. There’s no sign to date that the virus is causing flu-like illness or that it is spreading among people.

“If we had four or five people seriously ill with respiratory illness, we would be picking that up,” he said.

The virus has been found in high levels in the raw milk of infected cows, but government officials say pasteurized products sold in grocery stores are safe because heat treatment has been confirmed to kill the virus.

The new case marks the third time a person in the United States has been diagnosed with what’s known as Type A H5N1 virus. In 2022, a prison inmate in a work program picked it up while killing infected birds at a poultry farm in Montrose County, Colorado. His only symptom was fatigue, and he recovered. That predated the virus’s appearance in cows.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Read More

Continue Reading