President Obama spoke at a Wal-Mart last week in Mountain View, California, to highlight the huge retailer’s role in advancing the cause of solar power. Wal-Mart is already the largest commercial customer of solar energy, according to the Solar Energy Industry Association and the U.S. Environmental Protection Associations, and plans on doubling the number of projects which generate this renewable energy source within the next six years. They hope to produce about seven billion kilowatt/hours of solar sourced power by 2020.
Obama said that there are over 300 companies and state and local governments who have already promised to make solar power a major source of energy. Obama also announced projects the White House is planning to undertake to improve energy efficiency with the main goal being to lower the US dependence on carbon-based fuels.
“The commitments we’re announcing today prove that there are cost-effective ways to tackle climate change and create jobs at the same time,” Obama stated in front of the giant Wal-Mart store, which gets 15 per cent of its power from solar.
According to Wal-Mart CEO Bill Simon renewable energy lowers expenses.
“We know from experience that investing in energy innovation allows us to save money, reduce carbon pollution, and create jobs. Every day, millions of Americans depend on us to watch every penny so that we can provide the best prices on products they love. Our customers can feel good that we’re watching out for both their wallets and their children’s future,” Simon said.
With more companies committing to the use of solar power every day, marketplace risk is reduced and initial costs drop. In a press release Wal-Mart stated that its greenhouse gas emissions have hardly gone up over recent years despite the fact that the company has continued to grow.
Nuestro déficit nacional ha estado proyectando sombras oscuras sobre el panorama político durante años, dando lugar a algunas medidas draconianas en los últimos tiempos, la mayoría en la forma de “embargos.” Ahora que el gobierno está experimentando un aumento en los ingresos tributarios y la deuda está retrocediendo ligeramente, los legisladores tienen que decidir ya sea: continuar con los recortes presupuestarios, terminar con ellos, o hacer algún otro cambio.
Los ingresos subieron hasta un 14 por ciento durante junio comparado con la misma época del año pasado. Se espera que esta corriente continúe. Los números de julio serán publicados la próxima semana, y la información para agosto será publicada el 12 de setiembre, solo tres días después que los legisladores regresen a trabajar después del receso de verano. En este entonces habrá presión viniendo de los legisladores conservadores para suspender el gobierno a partir del primero de octubre o enfrentar defalco de la deuda nacional solo unas semanas después, una amenaza para la economía de proporciones potencialmente desastrosas.
Desde que el gobierno ha visto aumentar los ingresos, los Republicanos en el Congreso han marcado aun más su oposición al aumento de impuestos a los adinerados, algo que el gobierno de Obama y sus compañeros demócratas han estado exigiendo.
“Este año el gobierno federal obtendrá más ganancias que en cualquier año de nuestra historia,” dijo el presidente de la cámara John Boehner de Ohio. “Tenemos un problema de gastos en Washington. Debe ser abordado.”
Pero Obama y los Demócratas que lo apoyan preferirían deshacerse de al menos algunos recortes de los gastos y están en contra de mayores recortes para ahorrar dinero y reducir el déficit, a menos que haya un aumento correspondiente a los ingresos a través de más impuestos.
“Los Demócratas saben que debemos hacer más para reducir el déficit,” dice el Jefe de la Mayoría del Senado Harry Reid de Nevada. “Creemos en un acercamiento balanceado que suma recortes del presupuesto con hacer que aquellos que pueden permitírselo paguen más.”
Our national deficit has been casting its black shadows over the political landscape for years, resulting in some draconian measures of late, mostly in the form of “sequestering.” Now that the government is experiencing a rise in tax revenue and the debt is ever so slightly receding lawmakers need to decide whether to: continue with budget cuts, end them, or make some other changes?
Revenue is up 14 percent through June as compared to the same time last year. Expectations are that this trend will continue. July’s numbers will be released next week, and data for August will be published on September 12, just three days after legislators return to work from their summer recess. At that time there will be pressure coming from many conservative lawmakers to close down the government as of October 1 or to face default on the national debt just a few weeks later, a threat to the economy of potentially disastrous proportions.
Since the government is seeing income rising Republicans in Congress have dug in their heels even more in their opposition to tax increases for the wealthy, something the Obama government and his fellow Democrats have been demanding.
“This year the federal government will bring more revenue in than in any year in our history,” says House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio. “We have a spending problem in Washington. It has to be addressed.”
But Obama and the Democrats who back him would prefer to get rid of at least some of the spending cuts and are set against any further cuts to save money and reduce the deficit, unless there is concomitant increase in revenue through more taxes.
“Democrats know we must do more to reduce the deficit,” says Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. “We believe in a balanced approach that pairs spending cuts with having those that can afford it pay more.”
Key leaders of organized labor were rejoicing at the end of election night, as exit polls showed that labor’s enormous voter turnout turned the tide in favor of Obama in the key battleground states of Ohio, Nevada and Wisconsin.
These leaders, such as AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka are hoping their president will present as a more liberal, union-friendly, leader who will push their agenda from the White House.
“There are things the president can do, and we’ll be expecting that leadership from President Obama,” Trumka told reporters after the election.
At the top of labor’s expectations is a definitive tax-hike for America’s wealthiest citizens. Labor leaders also hope that Obama will not make any deals with Republicans over the approaching “fiscal cliff” the country is scheduled to fall off of, when safety nets such as Social Security and Medicare experience across-the-board budget cuts.
Labor leaders have other issues on their agenda as well. They would like to see new rules that could help increase their shrinking membership lists, including new investment in infrastructure which would create more construction jobs for trade unions. More liberal requirements for immigrants to become citizens could pave the way for 11 million undocumented Latino workers to flood the ranks of the labor unions. Other reforms could also make it easier to organize unions in certain spheres.
It might not be so simple for organized labor to get their way, however. Business groups which are opposed to these changes will continue, as they have in the past, reforms that will help unions get new members.
“My primary concern is in the regulations,” said Randel Johnson, vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for labor issues. “We are afraid that on employment issues, the administration will stay firmly to the left and follow the lead of the unions.”
It is not uncommon for politicians to have a degree from Harvard Law School. For instance, President Obama has one. Some other public servants, like former President George W. Bush, graduated from Harvard Business School and earned an MBA. But it is not often that we see anyone with both degrees. Mitt Romney, the Republican contender for president, does indeed have both, and got both degrees simultaneously by attending a special program at Harvard which combines what should be a five year stretch of studying into only four years.
Harvard’s JD-MBA program began in 1969 and since then they have graduated about 12 people each year, with about 500 total graduates until now. There are a few other similar programs around the country, but so far the list of alumni from Harvard’s dual program reads like a who’s who of immensely successful professionals.
In addition to Romney, who attended Harvard from 1971 until 1975, are such notable graduates as C. James Koch, founder of the Boston Beer Company; and Theodore V. Wells Jr., one of the nation’s top trial lawyers; and Bruce Wasserstein, who ran the investment bank Lazard until he died in 2009.
The vast majority of graduates head towards the world of business and finance, rather than law, mostly for the financial rewards and easier working conditions. It is expected that as long as politics remains a relatively modestly paying venture with unreliable job security, most Harvard dual-program graduates will stay away from public service. That is one of the reasons Romney is attracting such attention; he is a truly rare breed.
As one alumnus of the program expressed it, “Who knows? Maybe we’ll be holding our next reunion at the White House.”