Thanks to the $30 billion small business lending fund signed into law
by President Barack Obama, the U.S. Treasury Department announced a $1.5
billion lending package to promote small business growth at the state level. Illinois will receive the forth largest amount of any state, $78.37 million.
President Obama, in town for an Alexi Giannoulias fundraiser
yesterday, had some kind words for the Democratic U.S. Senate nominee.
"He's comfortable in his own skin," the president told a group of
supporters. "He doesn't shift with the wind. He doesn't pretend to be
something that he's not."
The subtext, of course, is U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk's recent batch of flip-flops, whether it be on health care strategy, climate change, gay rights, or high-speed rail. It's becoming clear that the self-proclaimed "social moderate and fiscal conservative" throws his convictions out the window if he can gain some edge politically. Giannoulias' latest ad, called "More," hits the Republican hard for his votes on the deficit-busting Bush deficits. Watch it:
That's how many days Congress will have when it returns from the fall recess to reauthorize an emergency unemployment benefits program. It took the U.S. Senate 50 days to pass the last extension, which is set to expire November
30. Over 115,000 Illinois residents had exhausted their benefits when
Congress stepped in last time. Expect another big drop in consumer demand if folks in Washington don't come through once again.
Congressman Phil Hare, of the 17th District, recently introduced a bill that would create a new grant program within the Department of Labor. His office says the program will provide resources and assistance to workers centers, legal aid clinics, and other community-based organizations working to stop wage theft, a pervasive issue that hurts employees across the country. In her 2008 book about the topic, Kim Bobo,
executive director of Interfaith Worker Justice in Chicago, found that some 2 million workers are paid less than the minimum
wage, 3 million are wrongly classified as independent contractors
instead of employees, and millions more are illegally denied overtime
Hare has followed this issue closely; he co-sponsored legislation in July 2009 meant to provide additional enforcement power for investigators during wage theft inquiries. The issue has gained traction over the last two years in other venues as well. Department of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis launched a campaign last year to inform workers who've been bilked of their pay about the resources offered by the federal agency. At the state level, Gov. Quinn signed a bill in July that imposes penalities on employers who shortchange or fail to pay their employees.
If you are trying to figure out why the national unemployment rate is persistently high, do yourself a favor and read this series of posts from Washington Post
economics reporter Neil Irwin. "About 7 million working-age people and
5 percent of the nation’s industrial capacity are sitting idle," he
explained yesterday, "[and] not producing what they could." In other
words, the economy is still struggling because of a lack of consumer
demand. This graph clearly shows what Irwin calls the "output gap."
growth remains slow, Irwin estimates that unemployment won't return to
5 percent for another 10 years. The government does have a number of
tools at its disposal to kickstart demand, like boosting infrastructure spending or extending
unemployment benefits. But deficit hysteria and the Senate filibuster
make legislative action nearly impossible. Before the congressional
recess, a bill authored by U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) that would have added 20 weeks of benefits in states where the unemployment rate is above 7.5 percent was spiked. Congress may extend during the lame-duck session its current four tiers of emergency benefits, which are scheduled to expire at the end of November, but even that humane option is in question. No wonder the electorate are angry.
Newspaper editorial boards are starting to offer readers their two cents on which candidates they think are best suited for some of the offices up for election this November. Today, for instance, the Tribuneendorsed Independent Forrest Claypool for Cook County Assessor, arguing that Democratic candidate Joe Berrios "is a one-man conflict of interests" because of his roles as a member of the county's tax appeals board, head of the Cook County Democratic Party, and lobbyist. Over the weekend, the Tribune also endorsed Toni Preckwinkle, the Democratic candidate for Cook County Board President. Of the candidates looking to replace current Cook County Board President Todd Stroger, the Tribune thinks Preckwinkle is the most likely to take the steps they deem necessary to clean up county government:
His successor needs to repeal the remaining half of Stroger's sales
tax hike, modernize and consolidate fat bureaucracies, and enforce the
same headcount discipline that lets private-sector firms keep their
doors open (and keep paying high taxes to Cook County). Of the
candidates on the ballot, we think Preckwinkle has the best chance of
achieving those ends. Today the Tribune endorses her for County Board
president. If she does all she says she will, county government will
begin to earn back the taxpayer respect that previous administrations
The Sun-Times has endorsed Democrat Dan Seals over GOP candidate Bob Dold for the 10th Congressional District seat, citing his intellectual depth and thoughtful approach to governing as reasons for their approval. The paper also chose to endorse Republican Adam Kinzinger over freshman-incumbent Debbie Halvorson for the 11th Congressional District seat, even though they think he's dodging some issues and disagree with some of his views, like the fact that "he says he's not sold on the research on global warming."
It's been a bit of a bad week for Robert Dold, the Grand Old Party's candidate for the open 10th District congressional seat. First was the flap about how long the "life-long resident" of the 10th District actually lived along the North Shore and where he was voting when he lived in Chicago. Last night, WGN ran a story about the candidate's campaign fund record keeping, first noticed by an attorney (and 10th district resident) named Mary Stowell, who wrote to the Federal Elections Commission (FEC). Here's a clip from the television station featuring Stowell (watch the full story here):
The FEC then demanded answers from Dold, opening up an investigation. The Dold campaign proceeded to file amended reports showing about $22,000 in previously unreported debt, around $24,000 in previously unreported expenditures, and some $22,000 more in cash on hand. One expenditure left out by Dold in his original report was $17,500 for his campaign tour bus. "It would be really hard to say that a $17,000 miss was just sloppy bookkeeping. It looks a little funny," Burt Odelson, an election attorney who once represented President George W. Bush, told WGN. The Dold campaign is denying any wrongdoing, saying they hadn't recieved a bill for the bus.