Friday, May 01, 2009

OH-GOV: Kasich Filing Today

According to the Chicago Tribune's political blog The Swamp, FAUX NEWS commentator John Kasich will file papers today to challenge Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland in the 2010 election.
In Ohio, Republican John Kasich, a former longtime congressman and also commentator for FOX News Channel, plans to file papers today for a bid for governor, according to a well-placed source.

Republicans wanted Kasich to run in 2006, he demurred, but has been planting the seeds for 2010 since them - in March 2008, he suggested that Ohio's income tax should be "phased out.'' He served last year as honorary chairman of "Recharge Ohio,'' a group committed to finding leaders who could "get our state back on track.'

Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland presides over a state that the Democrats were able to corral for the election of President Barack Obama last year, a state which nevertheless has undergone extreme pressure in the recession now underway even before it was a recognized recession. How Ohio plays in 2010 will speak volumes about what Ohioans make of the Democratic strategy for economic recovery.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

NPR: Souter to Retire

National Public Radio is reporting tonight that Supreme Court Justice David Souter has informed the White House this evening of his decision to retire at the end of the Supreme Court's current term. Souter, 69, has been rumored to be pining for retirement for a couple of years now. 

Though appointed by George Bush Sr., Souter has tended to vote with the court's four member liberal wing. So it's plausible that the election of President Obama and the Dems now having 60 seats in the Senate has finally prompted Souter to retire.

Early speculation is that President Obama will nominate a woman to fill Souter's seat.

4 Steps to GOP Epic Fail

Step 1: publish a post on the official blog of the Hamilton County GOP comparing a photo of cancer (and chemotherapy) stricken Sen. Arlen Specter to Dr. Evil from the Austin Powers flicks.

Step 2: When called out by the Ohio Democratic Party, replace the photo with a "censored" image

Step 3: Replace "censored" image with the photo of a frowning child

Step 4: Remove blog post due to negative publicity.

"It is just that kind of insensitivity to the plight of real people that is causing the Republican Party to lose so many of its previous followers." said ODP Online Communications Director Todd Hoffman.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Clinton CBO Chief: 98% of “Pay Gap” Is Attributable to Women’s Choices

Jump in the way back machine with me to 1997, if you will. Bill Clinton was sworn in for his second term as President. The Browns had moved to Baltimore 2 years earlier and it would be another 2 years before the “new Browns” would begin play. The Indians were right in the middle of their remarkable streak of selling out 455 consecutive home games, and would reach Game 7 of the World Series before blowing it. Dennis Kucinich was learning the lay of the land during his first term in Congress. Americans who had Internet access largely relied on slow dial-up connections. The Internet was in its infancy. The economy was booming.

1997 is the year that my collegiate career began as I set foot on the campus of Cleveland’s Case Western Reserve University. At the time, I thought I was a future engineer, and so Case, with its emphasis on study in the so-called STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) seemed a perfect fit. There was only one problem, as my 18-year-old self soon discovered: Case’s emphasis on the STEM fields meant that the campus was devoid of girls. The undergraduate student body was 65% male.

Soon, my fraternity brothers and I took to traveling to other campuses were the girls were. These other schools eschewed Case’s emphasis on STEM fields and instead specialized in the humanities and social sciences, which is why their student bodies were majority female.
I bring this up as part of this blog post in order to illustrate a point. Today is "Pay Equity Day", and the American Association of University Women is trying to use today to heighten awareness of the fact that, by their estimate, women on average, throughout the economy, earn roughly 78 cents for every dollar a man earns. To help illustrate this “pay gap”, Jill at WLST suggested on her Twitter feed Sunday night that bake sales should be held were women are charged 78 cents and men $1.00 for baked goods. In my opinion, however, the evidence suggests that almost the entire current pay gap has a lot less to do with sexism, and a lot more to do with the fact that women tend not to study STEM fields which lead to higher paying careers, then the AAUW or Jill probably thinks it does.

I’ll let this excerpt from Forbes magazine explain why:
June O'Neill, a certifiably female economist who served as director of the Congressional Budget Office under President Clinton, wrote a peer-reviewed paper for the American Economic Review (May 2003), trying to account for the pay gap. What she found was that women are much more likely over the course of their lives to cut back their hours or quit work altogether than men. That matters, because even though the BLS was comparing full-time workers, if you go part-time or take years out of the labor force, that has an effect on earnings down the line, due to loss of seniority or missed promotions.
More precisely, of women aged 25-44 with young children, more than a third were out of the labor force; of those women who did have jobs, 30% worked part-time. (The comparable numbers for men were 4% out of the labor force and 2% working part-time).
All told, women are more than twice as likely to work part-time as men and over the course of their lifetimes, work outside the home for 40% fewer years than men. That accounts for a significant chunk of the pay gap. Then there is a more subtle factor. Despite the many advances the women's movement has brought the U.S., what it hasn't done, thank heavens, is make men and women the same. The simple fact is - and there is nothing nasty or conspiratorial about it - the sexes continue to choose different avenues of study and different types of jobs.
Here's an illustrative example. The college majors with the top starting salaries, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, are: chemical engineering (almost $60,000), computer engineering, electrical engineering, industrial engineering, mechanical engineering. Men make up about 80% of engineering majors. Women predominate among liberal arts majors - whose salaries start at a little more than $30,000. Putting it all together, O¹Neill figures that these differences - in choice of work, years in the workforce, and hours of work - could account for as much as 97.5% of the differences in pay between men and women. "The unadjusted gender gap," she concludes, "can be explained to a large extent by non-discriminatory factors."
Does everyone have that? 97.5% of the pay gap can be attributed to non-discriminatory factors (a.k.a. women’s choices about their careers). Women spend less time in the workforce, more time working part-time, and freely choose lower-paying careers, and those reasons account for 97.5% of the pay gap.

Going back to that bake sale example, if you wanted to charge a price differential based only on the part of the pay gap that cannot be explained by “non-discriminatory factors,” instead of charging women 78 cents, you’d have to charge them 99.5 cents (to be precise, 99.45 cents).

In other words, a big part of the reason the pay gap exists today, is because my class at Case, and at other universities, had so few women studying STEM fields, which lead to higher paying careers in technology. In my opinion, studies like O’Neill’s indicate that almost all of the inequality has been wrung out of the system, and of course the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act will help to further reduce what inequality remains. But in the future, progress on narrowing the pay gap will depend not on passing new laws or more lawsuits, but instead on women choosing careers in the higher paying STEM fields, and choosing to spend more time in the workforce.

Fortunately, On the first measure, organizations such as the Society of Women Engineers has been on the case (no pun intended) since 1950, offering scholarships and support to women in engineering fields. In terms of public policy that would further close the pay gap, we need scholarships to encourage women to study STEM fields. In order to encourage women to remain in the work force longer, the United States needs to finally, belatedly, pass a law providing for mandatory maternity leave (we're one of what, maybe 5 countries that doesn't do this now?) and provide tax credits to companies that allow their workers to telecommute and work flexible schedules. These measures will, I think, be the most effective at closing the pay gap further.

WOW!!!! PA-Sen: Arlen Specter to Switch Parties!

Wow. From the Fix:
Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter will switch his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat and announced today that he will run in 2010 as a Democrat, according to a statement he released this morning.

Specter's decision would give Democrats a 60 seat filibuster proof majority in the Senate assuming Democrat Al Franken is eventually sworn in as the next Senator from Minnesota. (Former Sen. Norm Coleman is appealing Franken's victory in the state Supreme Court.)

"I have decided to run for re-election in 2010 in the Democratic primary," said Specter in a statement. "I am ready, willing and anxious to take on all comers and have my candidacy for re-election determined in a general election."

He added: "Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right. Last year, more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to become Democrats. I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans."

Specter as a Democrat would also fundamentally alter the 2010 calculus in Pennsylvania as he was expected to face a difficult primary challenge next year from former Rep. Pat Toomey. The only announced Democrat in the race is former National Constitution Center head Joe Torsella although several other candidates are looking at the race.

Consumer Confidence Soars

Looks like the stimulus plan is working:
WASHINGTON - A private research group said Tuesday that consumer confidence soared in April amid hopeful signs that the economy is starting to stabilize

The Conference Board said its Consumer Confidence Index rose 12 points to 39.2, up from a revised 26.9 in March. The reading marks the highest point since November and well surpasses economists' expectations for a level of 29.5.

The Expectations Index, which measures how shoppers feel about the economy over the next six months, skyrocketed to 49.5 from 30.2 in March.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Totally Non-Political: Cavs Spoof Heineken Walk-In Fridge Ad

And I don't care, cause this is AWESOME: