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TechNet endorses Trans Pacific Partnership

Silicon Valley’s bipartisan political action committee endorsed the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement Monday – a pact on which Rep. Mike Honda has not yet taken a final position, and which his Democratic challenger, Ro Khanna, opposes.

TechNet, a policy and political network of tech CEOs and senior executives, endorsed the free-trade pact Monday and urged Congress to approve it.

“The U.S. technology sector has grown into a leading force in the U.S. economy, fueled by an unparalleled commitment to innovation and an unprecedented investment in research and development,” President and CEO Linda Moore said in a news release. “The statistics are staggering: the U.S. innovation economy now supports more than 30 percent of U.S. GDP and employs more than 6.5 million Americans. It’s being driven by the incredible new technologies developed in Silicon Valley, Seattle, Austin, Boston, and beyond, and it’s been accelerated by international trade.”

“Yet, our nation’s ability to continue to lead in this sector is dependent on access to the fastest growing markets in the world and the uninhibited flow of data across borders,” she continued. “This agreement supports U.S. technology leadership around the globe, and will drive economic growth and job creation here at home.”

President Obama is likely to call for the TPP’s passage during his State of the Union address to Congress on Tuesday night. But Honda, D-San Jose, has not yet taken a position on the agreement negotiated between the United States and 11 Pacific Rim trading partners, Chief of Staff Jennifer Van der Heide said Monday.

He did vote last year against the Trade Promotion Authority that allowed the Obama administration to fast-track this trade pact, calling for Congress to have a bigger role in its drafting. And he has spoken about making sure agreements like this include strong, clear and enforceable labor, environmental and human rights standards.

Khanna said Monday he would vote against the Trans Pacific Partnership.

“First, the tribunals that have been set up to adjudicate give too much power to corporations and don’t take labor, environmental and human rights stakeholders into consideration,” he said via email. “Second, there is too much of an IP and data exclusivity giveaway to pharmaceuticals that would deprive many people around the world of access to drugs.”

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Brace for Dungeness crab disaster, lawmakers urge

Four of California’s coastal congressmembers are urging Gov. Jerry Brown to be ready to ask the federal government for an economic disaster declaration if the Dungeness crab fishery remains closed for the season.

Reps. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael; Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough; Sam Farr, D-Carmel; and Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, wrote to Brown on Tuesday asking him to closely monitor domoic acid levels in Dungeness crab.

Dungeness crabCrabs off the California coast have abnormally high levels of this toxic acid in their bodies due to an unusually big algae bloom, due in turn to abnormally high water temperatures in the Pacific. Officials have delayed the start of the recreational and commercial crab fishing seasons until the acid decreases to safe levels.

But every passing day is a blow not only to Californians craving the delicacy for their holiday tables, but to coastal communities relying on a commercial fishery valued at $60 million last year.

“The closure of the Dungeness crab fishery would not only make the holidays a little less bright, it would deal a hard blow for North coast fishermen, who have already been impacted by a poor year for salmon landings,” Huffman said in a news release. “While Californians’ Thanksgiving celebrations may not feature Dungeness crab this year, we can at least provide the assurance that federal disaster relief will be available to fishermen and affected communities and businesses if we lose the fishery.”

Huffman said the lawmakers are keeping their fingers crossed for better conditions next month, “ but in the meantime we will be working closely with our state and federal partners — from the Governor’s office to the White House — so that we can respond quickly in the event of a total closure.”

Speier noted some fisherman rely on the crab season for half their annual income, yet still must pay for licenses and boat maintenance. “If the season doesn’t open soon, these men and women deserve a financial lifeline. I urge the governor to start preparing for a disaster declaration now.”

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George Miller rips into Jeb Bush

Former Rep. George Miller, often known for his fiery House-floor oratory in defense of liberal policy, lit into Republican presidential candidate and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on Thursday.

Bush on Wednesday told the Manchester, N.H. Union Leader – in an interview live-streamed on the Periscope app – that Americans need to work longer hours.

“My aspiration for the country, and I believe we can achieve it, is 4 percent growth as far as the eye can see,” Bush said. “Which means we have to be a lot more productive, workforce participation has to rise from its all-time modern lows. It means that people need to work longer hours and, through their productivity, gain more income for their families. That’s the only way we’re going to get out of this rut that we’re in.”

Bush’s campaign claims this was a reference to underemployed, part-time workers, but Democrats see it as a Mitt Romney-esque “47 percent” kind of moment.

Americans United for Change, a labor-funded liberal advocacy group, organized a conference call with reporters Thursday with Miller, Economic Policy Institute President Larry Mishel, and author and former low-wage worker Linda Tirado. They noted that a 2014 Gallup Poll found many Americans employed full-time report working 47 hours a week on average, while nearly 4 in 10 say they work at least 50 hours a week.

Bush’s comment “shows just such an incredible lack of understanding of what the American families and American workers have been going through since the recession,” said Miller, of Martinez, who retired this year after 40 years in the House. “People who have had their livelihoods put at great risk, people who have had their homeownership put at great risk. These very same workers and families have been searching for more hours and better pay since the beginning of the recession.”

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Florida buys ad blitz before Rick Scott’s LA visit

Florida Ports adFlorida Gov. Rick Scott is softening up southern California with an ad blitz in advance of his visit next week to poach California port jobs.

Enterprise Florida, the Sunshine State’s public-private economic development agency, this week rolled out a “Florida is Ready” ad campaign with an April 6 buy in the Journal of Commerce; the ad also will appear in the Los Angeles Times and in the nine-publication Los Angeles News Group (which is owned by the same parent company as the Bay Area News Group).

And on Thursday, Enterprise Florida released a radio ad which will run on Los Angeles stations in advance of Scott’s visit this coming Sunday and Monday. Here’s the script:

“This is breaking news from the state of Florida. Are you a business owner sick of high taxes? Are you facing burdensome regulations that are hindering your ability to compete and succeed globally? California has the nation’s highest personal income tax rate, the highest state sales tax, and one of the highest gas taxes. Florida Gov. Rick Scott is leading a delegation to California to meet with companies to tell them why Florida is the best place to do business. With no state income tax, no capital gains tax, a business tax that continues to drop and a business-friendly attitude, businesses can keep more of the money they make in Florida. If you’re looking to relocate and expand your business, look no further than the Sunshine State. Gov. Scott wants your company to succeed in Florida.”

“We are excited to travel to California next week to tell California companies why they should do business in Florida, including all of the great reasons for California shippers to consider sending their goods through Florida ports,” Scott said in a news release.

“With our low-tax, business friendly climate and our commitment to investing in our transportation infrastructure, Florida is ready to welcome more job creators to our state,” he added. “In comparison, California has some of the highest taxes in the country and is ranked 50th in regulatory freedom. Elected officials in California are not making it easier for businesses to succeed, and I look forward to meeting with California companies next week as we continue to work toward making Florida the global destination for jobs.”

Scott’s rhetoric aside, California led all other states in job creation in the 12 months ending Jan. 31. Texas, from which Gov. Rick Perry also has come to California seeking to poach jobs, and Florida ranked second and third, respectively.

Perhaps Scott is mostly just looking for a vacation from his worries. He took flak recently for banning state agencies from using the phrase “climate change,” and this week backed off his support of Medicaid expansion, an apparent flip from the previous flip he did on that issue two years ago.

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Florida Gov. Rick Scott aims to poach CA jobs

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is taking a page from Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s playbook – coming to California to try to poach some of the Golden State’s businesses, and take some potshots at Gov. Jerry Brown in the process.

Rick ScottScott will visit Los Angeles on April 12 and 13, leading a trade delegation and hosting a reception for shipping industry professionals. He sent a letter Thursday to shipping companies urging them to shift their business to Florida after a contract dispute disrupted labor recently at California’s ports. Florida is “on a mission to be the number one destination in the world for jobs,” he wrote.

“Our investment in port infrastructure means Florida’s ports are ready and have the capacity to immediately handle increased cargo that could come to Florida as a result of port congestion on the other side of the country,” he wrote, with more projects under way to increase container-handling capabilities.

“Florida’s low-tax, business friendly climate and our commitment to investing in our transportation infrastructure are great reasons for you to consider shipping your goods through Florida ports,” Scott continued. “In comparison, under Governor Jerry Brown’s tax and spend administration, California has the nation’s highest personal income tax, highest state sales tax, second highest gas tax, and has more than double the state debt per capita than Florida. And for ten straight years, CEOs have ranked California dead last for its business climate.”

Florida has no personal income tax, has paid down $7.5 billion in state debt in the last four years, and is second-ranked in the same business-climate index, he noted. “We’ve made job creation a priority while Governor Brown idly watches businesses flee California, which has the second highest unemployment rate of any state, only behind Mississippi.”

Brown spokesman Evan Westrup said it’s easy to understand why Scott wants to visit California.

“California has the 7th largest economy in the world, we lead the nation in manufacturing, technology and life sciences and we’re at the top of the Fortune 500 rankings,” Westrup said. “Our budget is balanced, our credit rating is up and we created more than a quarter of the nation’s jobs in January. We also believe in climate change. As one of the 60 million tourists expected to visit California this year, we hope the governor’s stay is both enjoyable and educational.”

Hmmm. Well, maybe there are some good opportunities at the Port of Orlando. What, Orlando is landlocked, you say? Maybe not for long! But don’t tell Rick Scott that – he doesn’t like hearing the words “cl—– ch—-.”

Sea Level Rise 6 meters

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Reactions to Obama’s line in the (tar) sand

The White House says President Barack Obama would veto legislation approving construction of the long-stalled Keystone XL oil pipeline, the AP reports.

From House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio:

John Boehner“On a bipartisan basis, the American people overwhelmingly support building the Keystone XL pipeline. After years of manufacturing every possible excuse, today President Obama was finally straight with the them about where he truly stands. His answer is no to more American infrastructure, no to more American energy, and no to more American jobs. Fringe extremists in the president’s party are the only ones who oppose Keystone, but the president has chosen to side with them instead of the American people and the government’s own scientific evidence that this project is safe for the environment. This is simply another sign that President Obama is hopelessly out of touch and has no plans to listen to the American people or champion their priorities.”

From U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.:

Barbara Boxer“The President should only sign bills that are good for America, but the Keystone tar sands pipeline does nothing for our country and everything for Canada. In addition, reports show the pipeline project will increase the price of gas, while the tar sands flowing through the pipeline will result in pollution that causes serious illnesses like asthma and increases in carbon pollution – the main cause of climate change. It is a puzzle to me that after a deep recession, Republicans turn to legislation that according to the State Department will only create 35 permanent jobs. Instead, Republican leadership should immediately take up the highway bill which supports millions of jobs and will run out of funding in four short months.”

More, after the jump…
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