Thursday, January 20, 2011

NBC-Comcast Merger Approved (Everyone Paid Off Properly) Especially China!

Today's news from all over. From Open Secrets we get the inside scoop:

NBC/COMCAST MERGER APPROVED: Federal regulators approved the merger of Comcast and NBC Universal on Tuesday, but both companies will have to abide by multiple restrictions aimed at ensuring open competition. According to the Washington Post, the merger passed in the Federal Communications Commission by a 4-to-1 vote and the Department of Justice - it must also grant approval -allowed the deal to proceed. The decisions removed the last regulatory hurdle for both companies, and the merger process is expected to be completed by the end of January. General Electric - parent company of NBC Universal - and Comcast have maintained a regular presence in Washington, D.C., throughout the negotiation process. Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), who voiced their displeasure with the FCC's role in the approval process on Tuesday, both received $10,000 in campaign contributions from Comcast during the 2010 election cycle. Additionally, people and political action committees associated with General Electric and Comcast gave $221,500 and $394,550, respectively, to members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee during the 2010 election cycle. Through the first nine months of 2010, General Electric spent more than $32 million on federal lobbying efforts -- more than it has during any calendar year ever. The company is consistently one of the strongest lobbying forces in the United States, at the federal level. Comcast spent more than $8.7 million on lobbying during the same period. Though it is less than what the cable and Internet service provider spent during 2009 and 2008 - lobbying expenditures totaled around $12.5 million for both years - Comcast still ranks as the third largest lobbying force within the television, movie and music industry for the first nine months of 2010. The companies' joint venture will be subject to multiple requirements for the next seven years. Among them, Comcast must relinquish management rights within Web video service Hulu and expand outreach efforts for broadband penetration and local content. The company is also forbidden from retaliating in many areas where its role as a content owner and service provider might intersect.

OUTSIDE GROUPS SPEND $100 MILLION ON HCR REPEAL: Republican efforts to repeal health care reform have brought the issue back into the spotlight this week, but according to a report from liberal political organization People For The American Way, outside spending during the 2010 election cycle played a major role in electing candidates who opposed health care reform.

The report found that in the 36 House races in which representatives who supported health care reform were defeated in November, nine cents of every dollar spent - including spending by campaigns, parties, and outside groups - came from a small set of outside groups focused on repealing the health care reform law. About 21 percent of all of the money spent by or on behalf of successful anti-reform challengers was spent by those same groups.

Among these groups, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 60 Plus Association and the Coalition to Protect Seniors were found to have been given aid from the health care industry. Seventeen other organizations - including Americans For Tax Reform, American Crossroads and Revere America - aired advertisements that opposed health care reform, the report states.

Many of the groups named in the report have been prolific outside spenders during the 2010 election cycle. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent more than $32.8 million in electioneering communications -- the most among any special interest group during this time.

Similarly, the American Action Network, American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS each spent between $17 million to $26 million in the same period. All three organizations rank as having spent the second, third and fourth most, respectively, in total outside spending during the 2010 cycle.

The Real Economic Lesson China Could Teach Us

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Robert Reich

Highlighting today’s summit between Chinese President Hu Jintao and President Obama is China’s agreement to buy $45 billion of American exports. The President says this will create more American jobs. That’s not exactly right. It will create more profits for American companies but relatively few new jobs.

Nearly half of the deal is for two hundred Boeing aircraft whose parts come from all over the world. The rest involves agricultural commodities that don’t require much U.S. labor because American agribusiness is highly automated, and chemical and high-tech goods that are even less labor-intensive.

General Electric and other companies are signing up for deals with China involving energy and aviation manufacturing. But much of this will be done in China. GE’s joint venture with Aviation Industries of China, to develop new integrated avionics systems (which presumably will find their way into Boeing planes) will be based in Shanghai.

Here’s the real story. China has a national economic strategy designed to make it, and its people, the economic powerhouse of the future. They’re intent on learning as much as they can from us and then going beyond us (as they already are in solar and electric-battery technologies). They’re pouring money into basic research and education at all levels. In the last 12 years they’ve built twenty universities, each designed to be the equivalent of MIT.

Their goal is to make China Number one in power and prestige, and in high-wage jobs.

The United States doesn’t have a national economic strategy. Instead, we have global corporations that happen to be headquartered here. Their goal is to maximize profits, wherever they can make the most money. They’ll make things in America for export to China when that’s most profitable; they’ll make it in China and give the Chinese their know-how when that’s the best way to boost the bottom line. They’ll utilize research and development wherever around the world it will deliver the biggest bang for the dollar.

Meanwhile, Republicans and deficit hawks are cutting publicly-supported R&D. And cash-starved states are cutting K-12 education, and slashing the budgets of their great public research universities, such as the one I teach at.

No contest.

And no hyped-up trade deals are going to change this fundamental imbalance.

Some say all we need to do is put our currencies in better balance. But even if the Chinese upped the value of the yuan and the US (courtesy of the Fed) reduced the value of the dollar – so everything they bought from us was cheaper and everything we bought from them, far more expensive – they’d still win. We’d have more jobs than now because our exports would be more attractive in world markets, but those jobs would summon fewer goods from around the world. In other words, we’d be poorer.

Let’s get real. We’re losing ground. The U.S. labor force is now smaller than it was before the Great Recession began and most American families are worse off. December’s unemployment rate dropped to 9.4 percent from 9.8 percent but almost half the improvement was due to 260,000 people dropping out of the labor force.

Average hourly wages grew by three cents in December; weekly wages, by $1.02. And almost all the gains in income occurred at the top. The major assets of rich Americans are financial – whose values have increased as corporate profits have grown. The major assets of the middle-class asset are their homes, whose values continue to drop.

The President now says the answer is to help American business. “We can’t succeed unless American businesses succeed,” he said recently. “And I’m going to do everything I can to promote their ability to grow and prosper.” But the prosperity of America’s big businesses has become disconnected from the prosperity of most Americans.

Republicans say the answer is to reduce the size and scope of government. But without a government that’s focused on more and better jobs, we’re left with global corporations that don’t give a damn.

China is eating our lunch. Why? It has a national economic strategy designed to create more and better jobs. We have global corporations designed to make money for shareholders.

(Robert Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written thirteen books, including The Work of Nations, Locked in the Cabinet, Supercapitalism, and his most recent book, Aftershock. His "Marketplace" commentaries can be found on and iTunes.)

And shorter Obama-China report from Not Another Conspiracy: China US Corporations Get Richer, No Jobs Created And we are not supposed to notice?

That's how I read it. You may read it differently.

Supporting jobs and Creating jobs, as different as China and America. Well . . . maybe not as much any more. It's a new world order of global corporatism. US exports to China will include, energy, rail and aviation manufacturing, technology, and ... jobs. Previous posts on China US relations Here.

China has agreed to $45 billion in export deals with U.S. companies, with nearly half of the contracts a commitment to buy 200 Boeing aircraft costing $19 billion.

In advance of an official announcement, a senior White House official said on Wednesday the trade agreements would cover a broad range of manufacturing, chemical, agriculture and technology investments. The official said the deals would benefit 70 companies in 12 U.S. states and support 235,000 jobs.

As part of the agreement, China also said it would add another $3 billion in investments to Chinese firms in the U.S.News of the trade deals came as U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao opened a summit at the White House. While the two leaders face disagreements on human rights and currency valuation issues, the U.S. has also pushed to sharply narrow its significant trade gap with the world's most populous nation. China-U.S. trade totals more than $400 billion annually, but China's trading surplus might have reached $270 billion last year.

Mr. Obama has invited some of the top U.S. business leaders to meet with him and Mr. Hu in an effort to help promote American exports to China.Chief executives from such well-known U.S. companies as Microsoft, the Goldman Sachs Group, General Electric, Boeing and Coca-Cola are among 14 that Mr. Obama invited. Mr. Hu brought along four key business executives representing Chinese computer technology, home appliance, automotive parts and investment companies.

While the leaders mentioned ongoing policy differences between them during the official opening ceremony on the White House lawn, the U.S. has also cited the "important economic relationship" between the countries.

Creation of more U.S. jobs is particularly important to Mr. Obama, as the U.S. has struggled to reduce unemployment. Nine percent or more of the American workforce has been jobless for 20 straight months.

Numerous U.S. companies are seeking to increase their foothold in China, one of the key ones being General Electric. The international conglomerate is signing a number of deals with China this week involving energy, rail and aviation manufacturing, deals that GE thinks will boost its profits and save U.S. jobs.

Some U.S. firms say that their initial investments in China have proved difficult, complaining that Chinese government regulations favor China's firms and that protection of intellectual property laws is weak. As part of the new trade agreements, China says it will deal with foreign companies in a more even-handed manner and allow use of more imported technology.

Sounds nice doesn't it? A world in which we no longer matter. Suzan ______________


buelahman said...

I have already been considering down grading my internet connection to dial up (to save some money). Things like this may force me to discontinue all together.

This country is screwed and still too many fight the left/right battle of nothingness.

Suzan said...

Thanks for saying that, B.

As both you and I know there ain't no left and right in this country.

Only "ins" and "outs."

Mostly "outs."

What will it take to awaken the few "good" folk left?

Or would that be the "volk?"

Love ya,