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Tags: Construction-Jobs | Lost | Under | Obama | battery plant | Bush tax cuts | nuclear Iran

1,035,000 Construction Jobs Lost Under Obama

By    |   Sunday, 14 October 2012 03:05 PM EDT

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Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Obama-Backed Battery Plant Furloughing Workers
2. Most in Higher Tax Bracket for 2013 if Bush Cuts Expire
3. Report: Nuclear Iran Means Double Oil Prices
4. Immigrant Population at an All-Time High
5. 1,035,000 Construction Jobs Lost Under Obama

1. Obama-Backed Battery Plant Furloughing Workers

Two years after a groundbreaking ceremony attended by President Obama, a Michigan plant built with $150 million in taxpayer funds to make batteries for hybrid vehicles is putting workers on furlough — before a single battery has been produced.

Employees at the Compact Power manufacturing plant in Holland, Mich., are working only three weeks a month due to a lack of demand for lithium-ion cells.

The plant — run by LG Chem, a South Korean company — was opened in July 2010 to make batteries for the Chevrolet Volt, a plug-in hybrid vehicle built by GM. But the car has seen sluggish sales, despite a $7,500 federal tax credit for each vehicle, and fewer than 25,000 Volts had been sold by September. Production of the car has been plagued by several plant shutdowns.

"Considering the lack of demand for electric vehicles, despite billions of dollars from the Obama administration that were supposed to stimulate it, it's not surprising what has happened with LG Chem," Paul Chesser, an associate fellow with the National Legal and Policy Center, told Fox News.

"Just because a ton of money is poured into a product does not mean that people will buy it."

The $300 million plant was supposed to produce 15,000 batteries per year and create hundreds of new jobs. But so far just 200 workers are employed at the plant, and batteries for the Volts are instead being made by an LG Chem plant in South Korea.

The Michigan plant has spent the past two years building infrastructure and conducting pre-production "test runs," Fox reported.

The factory was partly funded by a $150 million grant from the U.S. Energy Department, and received tax breaks from the local government worth nearly $50 million over 15 years in property taxes and $2.5 million a year in business taxes.

Obama told workers at the groundbreaking ceremony: "You are leading the way in showing how manufacturing jobs are coming right back here to the United States."

But former congressman and 2012 Senate candidate Pete Hoekstra, whose House district included Holland, said the stimulus plan that provided funds for the plant "was designed to create jobs in the short term. It doesn't exactly meet the criteria of stimulus for me."

And Kelsey Knight, a spokeswoman for the Mitt Romney presidential campaign in Michigan, said in a statement reported by the Holland Sentinel that "a factory that produces nothing and furloughs workers is a symbol of where American is going under [Obama's] failed policies."

Footnote: An LG Chem spokesman said workers who are on furloughs one week a month are eligible to collect unemployment benefits for that week.

Editor's Note:

2. Most in Higher Tax Bracket for 2013 if Bush Cuts Expire

The expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts would have a significant effect on taxpayers at all income levels — including the lowest-earning Americans.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released its August 2012 consumer price index figure, typically the final piece of information required to determine next year's federal income tax brackets, the Tax Foundation explained.

"Projecting 2013's brackets is more complicated than usual given the uncertainty surrounding the potential expiration of the Bush cuts, originally enacted in 2001 and 2003, and more recent stimulus bill tax cuts originally passed in 2009," the Foundation observes.

"But since tax parameters are adjusted for inflation in more or less the same way, the Tax Foundation can project next year's parameters under a variety of scenarios with a high degree of certainty."

With the Bush cuts in place, lower-income married joint filers pay a rate of 10 percent up to earnings of $17,900. But if the cuts expire, they would be boosted into the 15 percent bracket, which extends all the way to earnings of $60,550.

Taxpayers earning from $72,500 to $146,400 currently pay at a rate of 25 percent. Without the Bush cuts, earnings up to $146,400 will be taxed at the rate of 28 percent.

The 28 percent bracket currently covers married joint filers earning from $146,400 to $223,050. Without the cuts, their rate will rise to 31 percent.

Similarly, the current 33 percent bracket will increase to 36 percent without the Bush cuts, and the top bracket, 35 percent, will rise to 39.6 percent for those earning $398,350 or more.

Single filers and head of household filers will see comparable tax increases if the Bush-era cuts are allowed to expire next year.

Under President Obama's 2013 budget, the cuts would expire only for those earning $247,000 or more.

Expiration of the cuts would also affect the standard deduction for married filers and the Earned Income Tax Credit, among other factors.

Editor's Note:

3. Report: Nuclear Iran Means Double Oil Prices

Oil prices could nearly double, costing the United States millions of jobs, if Iran is permitted to obtain a nuclear weapon — even if the Iranians don't use the weapon, a new report warns.

The Bipartisan Policy Center's report says that gasoline prices could increase by more than 70 percent, by up to $2.75 per gallon, sending inflation skyrocketing, driving America "into a severe recession," and costing the country "more than five million jobs."

The report was written by a team of former military leaders, economists, and lawmakers. It states: "Our analysis suggests that a nuclear Iran would heighten expectation of potential future disruptions, which should translate, if understood properly, into an increased risk premium added onto oil prices for as long as the concerns and tensions remain.

"In other words, anticipation of future energy oil disruption would be priced into the market, leading to higher oil and gasoline prices."

The report's authors "think that the expectation alone of instability and conflict that a nuclear Iran could trigger" could increase the price of oil, said Michael Makovsky, director of the Bipartisan Policy Center's Foreign Policy Project, speaking to reporters on Wednesday during a discussion about the report.

Former Democratic Sen. Charles Robb told the audience that while much attention has been given to the costs of preventive military action against Iran, "inaction also poses economic risks. Heightened expectation and instability triggered by the consequences of a nuclear Iran would cause the price of oil to go much higher and remain high, significantly impacting the U.S. economy."

In the short term, oil prices could rise by $11 to $27 a barrel after Iran announces it has a working nuclear bomb, according to the report. And prices could soar by up to $55 a barrel in the following three years.

A nuclear-armed Iran could easily disrupt the flow of oil by closing the Strait of Hormuz, cutting off the supply of Saudi Arabian oil — and leading the Saudis to seek nuclear weapons as well, according to the Center's analysis, which was reported by the Washington Free Beacon.

The Center's report adds: "If any of the conflicts or energy disruptions that become more likely from a nuclear Iran actually occur, the energy impact and economic consequences would be more severe."

And Dennis Ross, a former Middle East adviser to President Obama, warns: "It's hard to imagine Iran with nuclear weapons behaving more responsibly than they are today."

Editor's Note:

4. Immigrant Population at an All-Time High

The number of immigrants both legal and illegal in the United States hit a new record of 40 million in 2010, a 28 percent increase from 2000, a wide-ranging new report reveals.

And the number of immigrants plus their children born in this country now stands at around 50 million, accounting for about one-sixth of the U.S. population, according to Steven A. Camarota, director of research for the Center for Immigration Studies. His report — "Immigrants in the United States, 2010: A Profile of America's Foreign-Born Population" — is based on U.S. Census Bureau data from 2010 and 2011.

"One of the most important findings is that immigration has dramatically increased the size of the nation's low-income population," Camarota writes, adding that even immigrants who have been in the country for 20 years are much more likely to live in poverty, lack health insurance, and take advantage of welfare benefits than are native-born Americans.

The all-time high of 40 million immigrants is up sharply from 9.6 million in 1970, although the immigrant share of the population, 12.9 percent, is lower than it was in 1910 — 14.7 percent.

New immigration both legal and illegal plus births to immigrants added 22.5 million residents over the last decade, accounting for 80 percent of the total U.S. population growth.

The Center estimates that 28 percent of immigrants are in the country illegally.

Camarota also points out that between 12 million and 15 million new immigrants, legal and illegal, are expected to settle in the United States in the next 20 years.

Other findings of the Center's study include:

  • In March 2011, 68 percent of immigrants aged 18 to 65 held a job, the same as for natives.
  • In 2010, 23 percent of immigrants and their U.S.-born children under age 18 lived in poverty, compared to 13.5 percent of natives and their children.
  • Among countries accounting for the most immigrants in the United States, poverty is highest for those from Mexico (35 percent), Honduras (34 percent), and Guatemala (31 percent), and lowest for Germany (7 percent) and India (6 percent).
  • 36 percent of immigrant-headed households used at least one major welfare program in 2010, primarily food assistance and Medicaid, compared to 23 percent of native households.
  • 29 percent of immigrants and their American-born children lacked health insurance that year, compared to 13.8 percent for natives.
  • 10.4 million students from immigrant households are in public schools, and 78 percent of them speak a language other than English at home.
  • Self-employment is highest among immigrants from Korea and Canada and lowest among those from Haiti and Honduras.
  • Of adult immigrants aged 25 to 65, 28 percent have not completed high school, compared to 7 percent of natives.
  • Immigrants account for 27.2 percent of the population in California, 22.2 percent in New York, and 21 percent in New Jersey, but just 1.2 percent in West Virginia.
  • The state showing the largest increase in immigrant population from 2000 to 2010 was Alabama, up 92.1 percent, followed by South Carolina (88.4 percent), and Tennessee (81.8 percent). New York was lowest (11.1 percent). Remarkably, the immigrant population in North Carolina rose a whopping 524 percent from 1990 to 2010.
  • Of those immigrants in the United States in 2010, the greatest number came from Mexico, 11.7 million, followed by China/Hong Kong/Taiwan (2.1 million), India (1.78 million), Philippines (1.77 million), and Vietnam (1.2 million).

Another interesting fact the report has brought to light: While many Americans believe immigrants dominate in a number of professions, the fact is that natives account for 52 percent of maids, 73 percent of janitors, and 66 percent of construction laborers. The only category where immigrants form a majority is "Farm Workers Non-Supervisors," at 53.5 percent.

Editor's Note:

5. 1,035,000 Construction Jobs Lost Under Obama

President Barack Obama vowed in February 2009 that the economic stimulus legislation he was signing would create construction jobs for 400,000 people building and rebuilding the nation's infrastructure.

But despite a price tag now estimated at $833 billion, there are 925,000 fewer construction jobs in the United States than in February 2009, and 1,035,000 fewer than when Obama was inaugurated, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

And there are even 484,000 fewer jobs than when the last recession officially ended in June 2009.

When Obama signed the stimulus bill in Denver, Colo., he told a crowd: "Because we know we can't build our economic future on the transportation and information networks of the past, we are remaking the American landscape with the largest new investment in our nation's infrastructure since Eisenhower built an Interstate Highway System in the 1950s.

"Because of this investment, nearly 400,000 men and women will go to work rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, repairing our faulty dams and levees, bringing critical broadband connections to businesses and homes in nearly every community in America, upgrading mass transit, building high-speed rail lines that will improve travel and commerce throughout our nation."

But in September 2012, according to the BLS, 5,523,000 Americans had jobs in the construction industry, down from 6,558,000 in January 2009, when Obama took office, and down from 6,448,000 in February 2009, when Obama signed the stimulus.

It is also down from 5,564,000 in January of this year, when Obama started the fourth year of his term.

Construction jobs in the United States peaked at 7,726,000 in April 2006.

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Editor's Note:

Editor's Notes:

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Construction-Jobs,Lost,Under,Obama,battery plant,Bush tax cuts,nuclear Iran,immigrant population
Sunday, 14 October 2012 03:05 PM
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