NYS Governor Gives His Support for Long Island to Sign Deal for Offshore Windpower

Long Island activists rally for offshore windpower at LI Power Authority.
Long Island activists rally for offshore windpower at LI Power Authority.

 

Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

On January 25, activists who have been fighting for decades for clean, renewable energy in order to end our society’s dangerous addiction to fossil fuels, are hoping they will finally be able to pop the champagne corks when the Long Island Power Authority Board approves a power purchase agreement for off-shore wind power for the East End.

Indeed, just a week after the Block Island Wind Farm began producing power, New York labor unions, civic and environmental organizations and elected officials hosted a rally outside of Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) praising LIPA for expressing support of offshore wind power and its anticipated vote on Jan. 25 to move forward on the nation’s largest offshore wind project. Over 100 gathered in front of LIPA, in the largest show of Long Island’s support for offshore wind to date.

Located off the east end of Long Island, Deepwater Wind’s 90-megawatt, 15-turbine project will produce enough energy to power about 50,000 Long Island homes by 2022. This pivotal decision, opening a new era for Long Island’s energy economy, would eliminate the need for LIPA to build a new fossil fuel-fired plant to meet the region’s energy needs. Keep in mind that Long Island officials keep saying the impediment to businesses coming here are the high energy costs.

Now the activists are calling on LIPA to move forward on the Island-Wide renewable energy Request for Proposal in early 2017 which could include another 210 MW of offshore wind off of Long Island’s south fork. (Europe already generates 12,100 megawatts of off-shore wind energy).

Meanwhile, in the waning days of the Obama Administration (and not a moment too soon), the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), awarded Statoil Wind US LLC, a private company from Norway that specializes in oil and gas, the lease to develop an off-shore wind farm on 80,000 acres some 12 miles off of Long Island’s south shore. Statoil’s $42.5 million bid beat out NYSERDA, the New York State energy research development agency, which had wanted to win so it could be the lead agency and expedite development of off-shore windpower for New York.

The project could provide 800 megawatts of offshore wind power in an area 17 miles south of the Rockaway Peninsula.

Now that it will be the domain of a private company, New York customers- like LIPA and Con Ed – will likely have to compete with New Jersey and others. LIPA needs to lock in supply, with a Power Purchase Agreement and details on where the company can run its cables on to shore, and do so before the Trumpsters try to overturn the lease altogether. Recall this is the same area where a private company wanted to site the Port Ambrose Liquified Natural Gas facility, which would have shut down the possibility of any wind farm.

The incoming Trump Administration’s determination to reverse course on a transition to clean, renewable energy, and return us to dependency on fossil fuels – no matter the impact on climate, the environment and ecology, no matter how it basically indentures residents and businesses to ever higher prices for energy, no matter how it endangers national security –  means it will be up to the states to continue progress.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has set a goal of producing 50% of New York’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030 and 80% by 2050, with an ultimate goal of 100%. Developing offshore wind power – and a wholly new industry for Long Island – is essential for achieving those targets, along with solar, geothermal and hydro power sources (East Hampton has passed legislation that it would get 100 percent of its electricity from clean, renewable sources.)

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo in his State of the State address at SUNY Farmingdale, Long Island, declares his support to develop offshore windpower, beginning with 90 megawatts to serve the East End, and ultimately 2.4 gigawatts of offshore wind power in the Atlantic Ocean by 2030 © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo in his State of the State address at SUNY Farmingdale, Long Island, declares his support to develop offshore windpower, beginning with 90 megawatts to serve the East End, and ultimately 2.4 gigawatts of offshore wind power in the Atlantic Ocean by 2030 © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Governor Cuomo made major news during his State of the State message at SUNY Farmingdale on Long Island, announced that New York is committed to building 2,400 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind power by 2030 – enough to power 1.25 million homes. The Governor also pledged his support for New York’s first, and the nation’s largest, offshore wind project off the east end of Long Island.

“We have to start to do some big things, we have to do big things in renewable energy to get that cost to power down on Long Island,” he stated. “And we have wind power, we’ve had wind power for years. Offshore wind farms work. They can be done right, they can be done correctly, they don’t have to be an eyesore.

“I’m calling on LIPA to approve a 90 megawatt wind farm. It’s enough to support 50,000 homes. They will not be visible from the beach. They will be 30 miles southeast of Montauk. Not even Superman standing on Montauk Point could see these wind farms. But the upside is tremendous. It will be the largest offshore wind project in our nation’s history, not just in existence. It’s jobs. It’s clean energy and it’s inexpensive energy which then drives the economy. And we are not going to stop there. We have a mandate of 50 percent renewable power by the year 2030. We want to get 2.4 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2030 and we are not going to stop until we reach 100 percent renewable because that’s what a sustainable New York is really all about.”

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo in his State of the State address at SUNY Farmingdale, Long Island says the ultimate goal is generating 100% of the state’s energy needs from renewable sources © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo in his State of the State address at SUNY Farmingdale, Long Island says the ultimate goal is generating 100% of the state’s energy needs from renewable sources © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Offshore wind power is especially important in light of Cuomo’s pronouncement in his State of the State address that the Indian Point nuclear plant, which theoretically generates 2000 megawatts of energy, will be shut down by 2021.

The Atlantic waters off Long Island has some of the best conditions for off-shore windpower production in North America, if not the world. Dubbed the “Saudi Arabia of offshore wind” we could be the epicenter for a new American energy industry, already $20 billion globally. Scientists and engineers at SUNY Stony Brook are developing new battery storage systems and monitoring controls. Wind turbines need to be manufactured, installed, monitored and maintained, producing thousands of everlasting jobs along with the wind power.

And unlike fossil fuels, where the prices are unpredictable except they almost always go up (oil and gas, after all, are finite resources, costly to develop, process and deliver), wind power is a predictable, stable price that is on a trajectory to come down, not up.

“It’s been a marathon of work and effort to bring wind power to Long Island, but we are at the last mile and moving closer to the finish line,” Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment said at the Dec. 20 rally. “Long Islanders are ready for offshore wind. We have assessed the science, the economics and the societal benefits and we concluded that wind works as an important mainstream energy source. We can longer be fossil fools and deny the consequences of climate change.”

“With Donald Trump about to occupy the White House, it’s essential that states like New York take the lead in transitioning from dirty fossil fuels to renewable energy,” Eric Weltman, Senior Organizer, Food & Water Watch stated. “Climate change could be catastrophic to New York, but with the fossil fuel industry poised to set federal energy policy, we need Governor Cuomo to lead a clean energy revolution. Having banned fracking, a next crucial step is for New York to move forward with the nation’s largest offshore wind farm.”

Come out to the LIPA board meeting on January 25 to show your support.

If they build it, we will come.

To learn more about Reforming the Energy Vision, including the Governor’s $5 billion investment in clean energy technology and innovation, visit www.ny.gov/REV4NY and follow @Rev4NY.

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© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at  www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

 

 

Setting the Record Straight: 8 Years of Labor Market Progress under Obama

 

Eight Years of Labor Market Progress and the Employment Situation in December

WASHINGTON, DC – Jason Furman, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, issued the following statement  on the employment situation in December and reviewing eight years of job growth including the longest streak of total job growth on record, adding 15.8 million jobs.

Summary: The economy added 156,000 jobs in December, extending the longest streak of total job growth on record, with U.S. businesses adding 15.8 million jobs over the recovery.

Employment grew at a solid rate of 156,000 jobs in December as the longest streak of total job growth by far on record continued. Average hourly earnings for private employees increased 2.9 percent in 2016, the fastest twelve-month pace since the financial crisis. U.S. businesses have now added 15.8 million jobs since early 2010 amid the U.S. economy’s strong recovery from its worst crisis since the Great Depression. The unemployment rate—4.7 percent in December—has been cut by more than half since its peak, falling much faster and further than expected, and nearly all measures of labor underutilization have fallen below their pre-recession averages. Real wages have grown faster over the current business cycle than in any since the early 1970s, and in 2015 U.S. households saw the largest increase in real median income on record. Since 2010, the United States has put more people back to work than all other G-7 economies combined. Thanks in part to the forceful response to the crisis and policies throughout the eight years of the Obama Administration to promote robust, shared growth, the U.S. economy is stronger, more resilient, and better positioned for the 21st century than ever before. Even with this remarkable progress, it remains important to build on these efforts to support further job creation and real wage growth in the years ahead.

THIRTEEN KEY POINTS ON LABOR MARKET PROGRESS OVER THE LAST EIGHT YEARS

1. U.S. businesses have now added 15.8 million jobs since private-sector job growth turned positive in early 2010. Today, we learned that private employment rose by 144,000 jobs in December. Total nonfarm employment rose by 156,000 jobs, slightly below the monthly average for 2016 as a whole but substantially higher than the pace of about 80,000 jobs per month that CEA estimates is necessary to maintain a low and stable unemployment rate given the impact of demographic trends on labor force participation. The unemployment rate ticked up to 4.7 percent in December, less than half its peak during the recession, while the labor force participation rate—which has been largely unchanged over the past three years despite downward pressure from demographic trends—increased to 62.7 percent. Average hourly earnings for all private workers increased 2.9 percent over the past year, the fastest twelve-month pace since the end of the recession and above the pace of inflation in 2016.


2. Since job growth turned positive in October 2010, the U.S. economy has added jobs for 75 straight months—the longest streak of job growth on record and more than two years longer than the next-longest streak. Over this period, nonfarm employment growth has averaged a robust 199,000 jobs a month. On a calendar-year basis, the pace of job growth peaked at 251,000 jobs a month in 2014, the best year for job creation since the 1990s. In 2016, job growth remained strong, averaging 180,000 jobs a month. As of December 2016, total nonfarm employment exceeded its pre-recession peak by 6.9 million jobs. All of the net job creation in the current recovery has been in the private sector, as private-sector payroll employment exceeded its pre-recession peak by 7.0 million jobs as of December.

3. The unemployment rate has been cut by more than half since its peak in 2009, falling much faster and further than expected. After peaking at 10.0 percent in October 2009, the unemployment rate fell rapidly over the course of the recovery, and by mid-2015 had recovered fully to its pre-recession average. Since then, it has fallen even further, standing at 4.7 percent at the end of 2016. The rapid decline in the unemployment rate came far more quickly than most economists predicted: as recently as March 2014, private forecasters expected the unemployment rate to remain above 5.0 percent until at least 2020.

4. Real hourly wages have grown faster over the current business cycle than in any cycle since the early 1970s. In recent years, American workers have seen sustained real wage gains, as hourly earnings have grown faster than inflation. The chart below plots the average annual growth of real hourly earnings for private production and nonsupervisory workers—a group comprising about four-fifths of private nonfarm employment—over each business cycle, including both recessions and recoveries. (Economists prefer comparing across entire business cycles, as they generally represent economically comparable periods.) Since the beginning of the current business cycle in December 2007, real wages have grown at a rate of 0.8 percent a year, faster than in any other cycle since 1973.

5. Since the end of 2012, real wages for non-managerial workers have grown nearly 18 times faster than they did from 1980 to 2007. In fact, since the end of 2012, real wages for private production and nonsupervisory workers have grown over 5 percent cumulatively, more than double their 2.1-percent total growth from the business cycle peak in 1980 to the business cycle peak in 2007—a sign of the remarkable progress made by American families in the current recovery after years of slow growth in wages.

6. Robust real wage growth and strong employment growth have translated into rising real incomes for households, with the largest gains going to low- and middle-income families. From 2014 to 2015, real median household income increased by $2,800, or 5.2 percent, the largest annual increase on record. Gains were even larger in the lower half of the income distribution, ranging from an increase of 5.5 percent for households at the 40th percentile to an increase of nearly 8 percent for households at the 10th percentile. While households in the top half of the income distribution also saw increases, their gains were smaller, with an increase of 2.9 percent at the 90thpercentile of household income. Growth in both real wages and employment in 2016 point to continued gains in real incomes for American households.

7. On net, essentially all of the increase in employment over the recovery has been in full-time jobs. As measured by the household survey, U.S. employment reached a trough in December 2009. Since then, full-time employment has increased by 13.7 million. In contrast, part-time employment has increased by just 420,000 over the course of the recovery.

8. Broader measures of labor underutilization have also steadily improved, and all but one are below their pre-recession averages. The headline unemployment rate, the U-3 rate, includes unemployed persons who have looked for work in the last four weeks. Broader measures of labor underutilization each include a progressively larger group of individuals: U-4 counts discouraged workers in addition to the unemployed, U-5 adds in others who are marginally attached to the labor force, and U-6 also includes people working part-time who would prefer a full-time job (“part-time for economic reasons”). Like the headline unemployment rate, all of these measures saw large increases during the recession, with the U-6 rate in particular reaching a record high. However, U-3, U-4, and U-5 all recovered fully to their respective pre-recession averages in the summer of 2015 and have fallen further since. As of December, the U-6 rate was just 0.1 percentage point above its pre-recession average.

9. Real average hourly wages have risen in every major industry over the current business cycle—and in nearly all, the pace of increase has been faster than in the previous cycle. Since the beginning of the current business cycle, real wages for non-managerial workers have grown at an average rate of 0.8 percent a year. However, this average masks considerable variation in real wage growth among workers in different industries. As the chart below shows, workers in all major sectors have seen real increases in their hourly earnings, ranging from average gains of 0.1 percent a year for workers in the transportation and warehousing industry to gains of 1.7 percent a year for workers in the financial activities sector. For nearly all major industries, real wage gains so far in the current business cycle have outpaced gains in the 2000s business cycle.

10. Unemployment rates for all major demographic groups have recovered to below their respective pre-recession averages, though more work remains to close longstanding disparities in the labor market. The unemployment rates for African Americans and Hispanic Americans peaked at 16.8 percent and 13.0 percent, respectively, after experiencing larger percentage-point increases from their pre-recession averages than the overall unemployment rate did. By mid-2015, both the African-American and Hispanic-American unemployment rates had recovered to their respective pre-recession averages. Similarly, the unemployment rates for white Americans and for Asian Americans, which have historically tended to be lower than the overall unemployment rate, have more than recovered to their pre-recession averages. Still, the fact that the unemployment rates for African Americans and Hispanic Americans are much higher than the overall unemployment rate is a reminder that much more work remains to ensure that the benefits of the strong labor market are shared among all Americans, including through efforts like the My Brother’s Keeper initiative.

11. Initial claims for unemployment insurance (UI) have been below 300,000 for 96 consecutive weeks, the longest such streak since 1970. During the Great Recession, claims for unemployment insurance—which are an important leading indicator of recessions—rose sharply to near-record highs. However, they have since declined to well below their pre-recession average, and average weekly initial claims in 2016 were the lowest of any calendar year since 1973. Still, the share of unemployed workers eligible for unemployment insurance has fallen in recent years, in part as a result of reductions in coverage within States’ UI programs. A number of reforms—including several in the President’s Fiscal Year 2017 Budget—would build on the strengths of the UI system to ensure that it both provides effective assistance for those who lose a job through no fault of their own and helps to stabilize the U.S. economy during future downturns.

12. Two-thirds of States have seen their unemployment rates fall below their pre-recession averages. There was extremely wide variation in the effect of the Great Recession on unemployment rates across States and the District of Columbia, with increases ranging from nearly 200 percent (Nevada) to just 13 percent (Alaska) of their respective pre-recession averages. As of November 2016, however, 34 States and the District of Columbia have seen their unemployment rates recover fully, with a number of States seeing unemployment rates substantially below their pre-recession averages. The sixteen States that still have elevated unemployment rates include the six that saw the largest percentage increases in their unemployment rates in the recession.

13. Since 2010, the United States has put more people back to work than all the other G-7 economies combined. The rebound of the U.S. economy from the Great Recession occurred much faster than in most other advanced economies and compares favorably with the historical record of countries recovering from systemic financial crises. As shown in the chart below, the United States has been responsible for a disproportionate share of employment growth in the G-7 economies during the recovery. Although the United States comprises about two-fifths of total employment in the G-7, it has been responsible for more than 55 percent of the net employment growth since 2010, a further sign of the strength and resilience of the U.S. economy and the importance of the policies of the last eight years in putting it on a sounder footing.

As the Administration stresses every month, the monthly employment and unemployment figures can be volatile, and payroll employment estimates can be subject to substantial revision. Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report, and it is informative to consider each report in the context of other data as they become available.

2.7 Million New Yorkers Would Lose Health Coverage if Republicans Repeal Obamacare

NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo warns that 2.7 million New Yorkers would lose health coverage if Republicans repeal Obamacare; the impact on the state’s budget would be $3.7 billion © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo warns that 2.7 million New Yorkers would lose health coverage if Republicans repeal Obamacare; the impact on the state’s budget would be $3.7 billion © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

If Republicans succeed in repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), an estimated 2.7 million New Yorkers would lose health coverage, New Yorkers would lose $250 million in Health Care Savings Tax Credits, and New York State would experience a direct state budget impact of $3.7 billion and a loss of nearly $600 million of federal funding that goes directly to counties, which they use to help lower property taxes.

“The cost of a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, to state and local budgets and to the New Yorkers who depend on its health care coverage, is simply too high to justify,” Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said. “Since its implementation, the Affordable Care Act has become a powerful tool to lower the cost of health insurance for local governments and New Yorkers, and it is essential that the federal government does not jeopardize the health and livelihoods of millions of working families.”

The NY State of Health exchange has successfully cut the percentage of uninsured New Yorkers in half, from 10 percent to 5 percent. It has also significantly expanded eligibility and access to health coverage, allowing hundreds of thousands of previously uninsured New Yorkers to achieve economic and healthcare security.

Based on current enrollment levels, the repeal of the Affordable Care Act would result in over 2.7 million New Yorkers losing health coverage. The estimated number of individuals at risk of losing coverage, based on current enrollment levels, is broken down by counties below:

County Individuals at Risk of Losing Coverage
Albany 25,552
Allegany 4,608
Bronx 300,012
Broome 20,231
Cattaraugus 8,310
Cayuga 7,665
Chautauqua 15,270
Chemung 9,160
Chenango 5,184
Clinton 7,787
Columbia 6,827
Cortland 4,606
Delaware 4,461
Dutchess 25,074
Erie 93,403
Essex 3,660
Franklin 5,110
Fulton 6,038
Genesee 5,074
Greene 4,971
Hamilton 522
Herkimer 6,932
Jefferson 10,955
Kings 540,320
Lewis 2,932
Livingston 4,972
Madison 5,861
Monroe 75,512
Montgomery 5,473
Nassau 133,324
New York 218,937
Niagara 21,287
Oneida 24,781
Onondaga 45,682
Ontario 9,355
Orange 37,851
Orleans 4,522
Oswego 12,568
Otsego 5,785
Putnam 7,006
Queens 493,058
Rensselaer 12,540
Richmond 56,882
Rockland 38,526
Saratoga 16,340
Schenectady 16,056
Schoharie 3,079
Schuyler 2,065
Seneca 3,145
St. Lawrence 11,063
Steuben 10,039
Suffolk 152,631
Sullivan 9,668
Tioga 4,560
Tompkins 7,827
Ulster 19,850
Warren 6,796
Washington 6,689
Wayne 9,354
Westchester 91,844
Wyoming 3,700
Yates 2,515
Total 2,715,807

The estimated direct state budget impact of the repeal is $3.7 billion. New York’s counties have been able to use the additional federal Medicaid funding through the Affordable Care Act, which goes to directly to counties and helps to lower property taxes. A repeal of the Affordable Care Act would result in a total loss of $595 million in funding. A county by county breakdown of the allocated annual funding that each county would lose is available below, based on the most recent year:

County 2016-17 Funding
Albany $4,738,862
Allegany $786,300
Broome $3,049,122
Cattaraugus $1,211,333
Cayuga $1,098,606
Chautauqua $2,443,709
Chemung $1,491,573
Chenango $686,373
Clinton $1,292,531
Columbia $833,957
Cortland $786,023
Delaware $666,830
Dutchess $2,974,044
Erie $17,149,148
Essex $400,176
Franklin $681,442
Fulton $879,897
Genesee $691,774
Greene $832,298
Hamilton $68,800
Herkimer $956,261
Jefferson $1,601,068
Lewis $294,378
Livingston $686,242
Madison $842,891
Monroe $13,023,431
Montgomery $797,695
Nassau $17,866,829
Niagara $3,849,704
Oneida $4,169,425
Onondaga $7,871,592
Ontario $1,042,122
Orange $5,021,173
Orleans $667,917
Oswego $2,281,144
Otsego $729,112
Putnam $561,094
Rensselaer $2,307,076
Rockland $3,867,080
St. Lawrence $1,564,073
Saratoga $1,864,638
Schenectady $2,462,377
Schoharie $475,760
Schuyler $312,126
Seneca $369,493
Steuben $1,514,370
Suffolk $18,310,813
Sullivan $1,439,822
Tioga $589,433
Tompkins $1,015,126
Ulster $2,935,566
Warren $787,632
Washington $746,252
Wayne $910,595
Westchester $15,243,258
Wyoming $382,781
Yates $282,426
Upstate Total $162,405,572
New York City Total $433,294,428
New York State Total $595,700,000

“New York’s healthcare workers see the positive impact of the Affordable Care Act every day,” George Gresham, President, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, said. “Our patients are able to access preventative care instead of coming to emergency rooms in states of advanced illness. Our employers have reduced losses from uncompensated care. Our friends and relatives are relieved of the fear that getting sick equals financial ruin. Repealing the Affordable Care Act without an adequate replacement would have immediate and devastating consequences for millions of our fellow New Yorkers and for state and local budgets. We applaud Governor Cuomo’s leadership in educating New Yorkers about costs and are proud to stand with him to advocate for the health all New Yorkers,”

Greater New York Hospital Association President Kenneth E. Raske said, “These deeply troubling numbers are only the tip of the iceberg if the Affordable Care Act is repealed. It will also severely harm the hospital community. 27 hospitals across New York State are on a ‘watch list’ for financial stress and many more both public and private face similar fiscal challenges. Repealing the Affordable Care Act without an immediate and adequate replacement plan will make things dramatically worse for safety net hospitals and the vulnerable communities they serve. I applaud Governor Cuomo for his leadership and look forward to working with the bipartisan members of the New York Congressional delegation to ensure that the health care of all New Yorkers is protected.”

“In addition to providing care to those in need, hospitals are major employers in communities all across the state,” stated Bea Grause, President of the Healthcare Association of New York. “Repeal of the ACA could have tremendous consequences for the delivery of healthcare and also in terms of jobs and economic activity. It’s imperative that Congress be mindful of this reality. I’m pleased to join the Governor in this important effort to protect New Yorkers.”

To Get to a More Perfect Union, Reform Electoral College, Promote Access to Ballot Box

Electoral College reform and a greater federal role in setting minimum national standards for access to the ballot box are necessary to insure that Americans get the president who reflects the will of the majority in a free and fair democratic election © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Electoral College reform and a greater federal role in setting minimum national standards for access to the ballot box are necessary to insure that Americans get the president who reflects the will of the majority in a free and fair democratic election © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

There is no question that the will of the majority was thwarted in the presidential Election of 2016 – but if ever there was a time when the Electoral College should have proved its purpose, it was this election.

Instead, the Electoral College demonstrated the worst of all anti-democratic worlds: denying the popular will while also enabling the exact sort of candidate that Alexander Hamilton described in justifying the Electoral College: so “that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications,” and to prevent a “desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils”. Trump fails on all accounts.

And here, you have not only Hillary Clinton receiving nearly 3 million more votes than Donald Trump – the most in history for any candidate who did not go on to win the presidency – but you have clear evidence of foreign manipulation (the Russian hacking, very possibly with collusion by the Trump campaign), fake news, not to mention voter suppression (interesting that every battleground state where Clinton lost was also where Republican legislators had imposed measures designed to suppress the vote of groups inclined to vote Democratic; in Wisconsin, 300,000 registered voters lacked the photo ID necessary to cast their ballots. Indeed, two weeks after the election, a federal court struck down Wisconsin’s legislative map as illegally partisan. And,  “on Election Day, there were 868 fewer polling places in states with a long history of voting discrimination, like Arizona, Texas, and North Carolina,” (www.thenation.com/…)

The result was that Democratic-leaning voters had hours-long waits which many could not afford. And then there was the call-out by Donald Trump for vigilantes to police “you know which” neighborhoods. Turnout was affected. Indeed, despite historic levels of engagement in Election 2016, the number of votes cast in Ohio was down 1.1% and down 4.0% in Wisconsin – more than the margin of victory for Trump. That’s the art and the science of voter suppression, which was the primary strategy for the Trump campaign.

But instead of serving properly as a check-and-balance, everything that is undemocratic and archaic about the Electoral College (devised to give disproportionate power to slave-holding states and small rural states) was in play. As a result, a single voter in Wyoming is worth 200 times a voter in California, rendering this country’s notion of “one person, one vote” and “equal justice” a fraud.

(Why is it that only rural, white Middle Americans are considered “Real Americans,” but coastal, urbanites, professionals, college-educated people are considered “elites” not deserving of a say in their governance?)

Its malfeasance justifies the rising calls to abolish the Electoral College altogether – which would require amending the Constitution which is unlikely. Instead, there are calls to dramatically reform it to more properly address 21st century America, through changes that the states can make to the regulations that bind their Electoral Voters, now termed “faithless” if they vote against their state’s popular vote.

The predominant reform is for states to join the National Popular Vote (NPV) compact would require participating states to award all their electoral votes to whichever presidential candidate wins the national popular vote. It wouldn’t take effect until enough states joined in to add up to the 270 electoral votes required to elect the president– ten states and the District of Columbia have already signed on, totaling 165 electoral votes.

If the compact were in place, Hillary Clinton, who received nearly 3 million more popular votes than Donald Trump, who only won the Electoral College by winning the slimmest of margins (less than 1%) in a few battleground states (amounting to about 70,000 votes altogether, the result of concerted voter suppression actions by Republicans), would have been President.

But this election also demonstrated how easily even a 21st century populace can be manipulated by fake news, social media and a populist snake-oil salesman, not to mention the possibility of hacking the election architecture. Indeed, it would seem that the Electoral College does have a purpose as envisioned by the founders of the Republic, as a check on populism.

Still, there are ways to make the Electoral College more democratically representative, while still functioning as a “check and balance.”

First, there needs to be an end to “winner take all” which basically erases the votes of millions of voters. Instead, states should apportion their electoral votes based on the popular vote in the state. That would be a much more representative method and more efficiently make each state and each person’s vote count.

During this election, we kept hearing how discouraged and disaffected those who would vote for third-party candidates, and their complaint that the two-party system is what is so detrimental to a true democracy. But multiple candidates virtually guarantee that the winner does not represent the majority, as is clear in 2016, where the scant votes for Jill Stein in Michigan gave the state to Trump, putting him over the Electoral top despite winning only 46% of the national popular vote.

So the second element is to allow the lowest vote-getting candidates to give their Electoral Votes to one of the top two candidates.

Another idea which would be very possible in the age of sophisticated electronic voting, is for “second choice” weighting, and if no candidate gets 50.1%, then a run off of the two top vote getters (as is the case in some primaries).

The end to “winner-takes-all” and allocation by popular vote in a state could not happen until virtually all the states (and not just Blue states or Red states which have voted for a Democratic president) have approved the policy.

Federal Government Needs to Guarantee Minimum Standards for Voting

It may surprise people to realize the federal government has no authority over elections, which are controlled by states – even within states, counties may have different rules (so much for Equal Protection). Indeed, the Constitution does not actually provide a right to vote at all, and the Roberts right wing Majority on the Supreme Court did its damage to remove what oversight the federal government had when it eviscerated the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

There needs to be a new Voting Rights Act that protects the essential principle of one-person, one vote and the federal government, under the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution, should have the ability to establish minimum standards for access to the ballot box. It should protect more than racial discrimination, but should acknowledge partisan discrimination as a threat to the spirit and essence of democracy.

What else is needed to reform a weakened election system in these days of technological sophistication, a sprawling and diverse voter population, and the huge stakes to controlling the political reins of power? Here are more ideas:

  • An end to partisan-control of drawing district lines; standards that affirm – as the Voting Rights Act did – that districts have to be contiguous and make sense
  • And end to partisan control of state elections (like Katherine Harris, Secretary of State in Florida 2000 and also the chair of George W Bush’s campaign who purged voting rolls of 20,000 people and did all she could to insure Gore never got a fair count)
  • Requiring notification to every voter before an election confirming their registration, voting place and hours, and if a voter has been removed or purged or changed for any reason, timely notification with a process to challenge
  • A standard to allow voters to vote where they were last registered
  • To address the very real possibility of hacked black-boxes, require a paper trail and mandatory audits of a certain number of voting places to confirm the veracity
  • Minimum national standards for where polling places can be designated, how many voting machines per voting-age population, minimal number of hours open, early voting days, including spreading voting to the weekend before Election Day, and making Election Day a national holiday
  • A requirement that if a voter moves and re-registers, that notice be sent back to the prior voting place to be removed
  • Clearer, more uniform regulations about where people can vote if they are in college or have moved (for example, allowing people to vote by absentee at the last previous registered place)
  • Automatic sending of voter registration materials upon 18th birthday
  • Establish criminal penalties for interfering with voting, whether fraudulently telling people the wrong date, time or place to vote, ripping up voter registrations or interfering with voter registration; penalties for states that impede voter registration such as failing to process registrations in a timely way
  • Restore reasonable controls on spending – by wealthy donors and corporations – eliminate SuperPacs, pass the DISCLOSE Act, overturn Citizens United
  • A new Voting Rights Act that goes beyond racial discrimination but includes any type of systematic discrimination to dilute “one-person, one-vote”
  • Constitutional amendment that affirms the right to vote (the Constitution doesn’t actually provide it now)

None of this will happen because the Republicans have realized they can keep power without ever having to worry about the demographic shifts and pesky things like needing a majority. Putting a gate at the ballot box has worked very well.

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© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at  www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

 

Newly Minted Democratic Congressman from Long Island Expresses Optimism in Bridging Partisan Divide to Work for ‘A Better World’

 

Newly sworn in Congressman Tom Suozzi with family and well-wishers Congressman Tom Suozzi with well wishers after being sworn in © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Newly sworn in Congressman Tom Suozzi with family and well-wishers Congressman Tom Suozzi with well wishers after being sworn in © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

The first thing I noticed on the bus from Christopher Morley Park in Roslyn, Long Island enroute to the Capitol Building in Washington DC to greet Tom Suozzi as a freshman Congressman representing Long Island, was how diverse our group was. This was even more pronounced when we gathered together with more than 100 for a reception.

Suozzi, a Democrat, moments after being officially sworn in on the House floor by reelected Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), noted as much himself in his good-natured way, pointing to the Pakistanis, the Indians (Sikhs, Hindus), Chinese, Jews, Latinos, Catholics, Italians., Irish, Polish, African-Americans (really too many to list) just in that tiny room.

The Capitol Building is “The People’s House” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
The Capitol Building is “The People’s House” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The observation was even more poignant after we had been treated to a tour of the Capitol Building, which begins with a film, “Out of One, Many” – E Pluribus Unum, the nation’s motto. The theme of the movie was how the Congress is organized to bring together representatives of a broad mosaic of Americans with different beliefs and perspectives, and how (and this is the part I thought was a quaint notion if ever it were true), Congress was designed for compromise. “Congress is where we can find common ground.”

Clearly the filmmakers and the nation’s founders, did not take into account the extreme partisanship that has taken hold of Washington since 1994, with Newt Gingrich’s Contract on America (yes I know it was titled, “Contract for America.”), before the speaker had to resign in disgrace (and pop up again in the Donald Trump campaign).

But Tom Suozzi campaigned on his intention and his ability to bridge the divide, to work with Republicans and Democrats to forge consensus. And he repeated that pledge in remarks to the well-wishers who crammed the room in the Cannon House office building.

Congressman Tom Suozzi poses with well wishers after being sworn in © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Congressman Tom Suozzi poses with well wishers after being sworn in © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“With all the differences that different people have, with all our different backgrounds, faiths, traditions, cultures, foods, customs, most of what we believe in is all the same,” he declared. “There are some things that divide us, but 99% of what we all believe in is all the same. And for me, that comes down to ‘Love thy neighbor.’ And love thy neighbor is about trying to help other people to make the world a better place to live in.

“Politics is the vehicle by which we try to do that in our country. It’s a wonderful tradition. It’s one of the most unique places in the world that has that tradition. And you being here to support me gives me the strength, and the courage and the ability to have this wonderful, unique opportunity that has only been shared by a few people throughout the whole course of history of the United States of America.”

Congressman Tom Suozzi and his “wall of heroes” in his new office  © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Congressman Tom Suozzi and his “wall of heroes” in his new office © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

He went back to a speech that he said he used to give all the time, but hadn’t during his campaign for Congress. “It’s the speech my grandfather used to give to the new couples.

“Life is like a marriage, is like a long journey with a lot of ups and a lot of downs. But that’s okay, because in life, you can’t have a rose without the thorns. You can’t have the beautiful things in life without the suffering as well, you couldn’t appreciate the good things in life without the tough times as well.

“We see things in newspapers, on TV, we see things happening in our communities, and we have things happening in our families that are so difficult and tragic.

“But today we are celebrating the roses of life.. the best part of life, with friends and family and Americans all get together to say, listen, Let’s work together to make things better for everyone, because there are too many problems we face.

Newly sworn in Congressman Tom Suozzi, Democrat from Long Island: “If we all work together, we can solve any problem in the world.” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Newly sworn in Congressman Tom Suozzi, Democrat from Long Island: “If we all work together, we can solve any problem in the world.” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“As Democrats and Republicans they all want to help the same people – there are too many people poor people, too many addicted to drugs, too many wars going on, too many refugees, too many worrying about losing health care, too many problems in the world, too much suffering.

“But if we all work together, and we remember the values that we all share among all faiths, and all our traditions, and all the things we all believe in, then we can solve any problem in the world and with your help, we can do it.”

Ryan, Pelosi Make Pledges

Just minutes earlier on the floor of the House when he was handed the gavel and before issuing the oath to Suozzi and the other Congressmembers, Speaker Ryan had made the same appeal to work together, though it remains to be seen whether it was just the rhetorical flourish of the historic moment, or to opportunistically chide Democrats not to do to Donald Trump what the Republicans did to Barack Obama, when Republicans declared on his first day that their primary mission, their Job #1, instead of saving jobs, homes, health care, college funds and retirement savings, was to make Obama a failed president (Senator Charles Schumer, D-NY, newly elected Minority Leader, said that Democrats would look for compromise and to work with Trump and the Republicans on those issues that did not involve abandoning the party’s values).

Members of the 115th Congress take oath © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Members of the 115th Congress take oath © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

We were able to watch Ryan and the swearing in on a TV monitor, and hear Ryan say, “There’s no sense of foreboding today. There’s only a sense of potential… But there’s another reason for optimism…Just months ago, our country held a great, electoral contest…. The clash of opinions . . . the hue and cry of campaigns . . . the rancor and the dissension . . . in the end, they all dissolve in the silent and peaceful transfer of power.

“And so in just a few weeks’ time we will welcome a new president . . . who offers us yet another new beginning—a new chance to work toward that more perfect union.

“For all our arguments and all our differences, we are all united by a deep, abiding love of our country. It is the slender but sturdy thread that holds us together. We always forget about it. But it has never failed us. That is why when the votes are counted and the people have spoken, all of us accept the verdict. We come back from the campaign trail. We put away the yard signs. And today, as one body, we pledge allegiance to one flag: the red, white, and blue.

“I don’t care what your party is. Find one person in this House who doesn’t want the best for America. Find one person who doesn’t want to help the unemployed, or care for the sick, or educate the young, or honor our troops. Who here among us does not want to open wide the door to opportunity? Who here among us does not want every American—of every creed and every color—to cross the threshold? You can’t find one person—not a one. And that is a true cause for celebration.

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) administers oath to members of the 115th Congress © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) administers oath to members of the 115th Congress © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“That being said, this is no time to rest on our laurels, but to redouble our efforts. It’s no secret that millions of Americans across the country are deeply dissatisfied with their current situation. They’ve looked to Washington for leadership, and all they’ve gotten is condescension. For years, they’ve suffered quietly—amid shuttered factories and shattered lives. But now they’ve let out a great roar. Now, we, their elected representatives, must listen. And so I want to say to the American people, “We hear you. We will do right by you. And we will deliver.”

“It is not enough to say that the condition of your birth should not determine the outcome of your life—no matter how much we mean it. In a few years’ time, I hope people will say of the 115th Congress that we didn’t just pay lip service to this beautiful American Idea; we made it a reality. We are not here to be; we are here to do. We are here to improve people’s lives. Grow our economy. Keep us safe. Improve our health care and our infrastructure. Fight poverty. Restore self-government. We’ve got our work cut out for us. And as your speaker, I intend to keep this place running at full speed.”

In a statement that suggests what kind of challenge Suozzi will face as a newly minted Congressman, Ryan promised to let the Minority party have a voice (but apparently, no actual say).

“And so to the minority, I want to say, ‘We’ve never shied away from our disagreements. And I do not expect anyone to do so now. But however bright of a contrast we draw between us, it must never blind us to the common ground we share. We must never shy away from making progress for the American people, wherever we can. And so, as your speaker, I promise to uphold the rights of the minority. I promise to hear you out, and let you have your say. If I had to sum up my approach, it would be, ‘Agreement whenever possible, but at all times respect.’

“And to the majority, especially to our returning members, I want to say, ‘This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.’ This is the kind of thing that most of us only dream about. I know—because I used to dream about it. The people have given us unified government. And it wasn’t because they were feeling generous. It’s because they wanted results. How could we live with ourselves if we let them down? How could we let ourselves down? I have for many months been asking our members to raise their gaze and aim high. Now, let us not be timid, but rather reach for that brighter horizon.”

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi passes gavel to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan at the opening of the 115th Congress © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi passes gavel to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan at the opening of the 115th Congress © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) also called for working on behalf of the American people, but she also declared, “We will stand our ground.”

“In that spirit, in order to meet the needs of the American people, House Democrats pledge to seek common ground wherever we can: To forge a bipartisan path forward on job-creating infrastructure, to make taxes and foreign trade fair to American workers, to help Americans balance work and family life, and to ‘drain the swamp’ of big money from our campaigns, all of these provisions, President-elect Trump has pledged.

“We will seek common ground.  But we will stand our ground wherever in good conscience we must.

“If there is an attempt to destroy the guarantee of Medicare, harm [Medicaid], Social Security, or the Affordable Care Act, Democrats will stand our ground.

“If there is an assault on clean air and clean water; on civil rights, women’s rights, or LGBT rights; if DREAMers and their immigrant families face the nightmare of deportation, Democrats will stand our ground.

“And if there is an attempt to silence our voices for common sense gun violence prevention, with Gabby Giffords here in the chamber as our witness — Democrats will stand our ground.”

_______________

© 2016 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at  www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

 

 

Obama Levels Sanctions at Russia in Response to Interfering in Election, Harassing Diplomats

Russian President Vladimir Putin, at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. The US has evidence that Putin was directly involved in orchestrating cyber attacks and information dissemination intended to tilt the US election toward Donald Trump’s victory. Trump has dismissed the unified analysis of more than a dozen US intelligence agencies and has indicated he would be a close ally of Putin or as Hillary Clinton put it during the campaign, “Putin’s Puppet.”© 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Russian President Vladimir Putin, at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. The US has evidence that Putin was directly involved in orchestrating cyber attacks and information dissemination intended to tilt the US election toward Donald Trump’s victory. Trump has dismissed the unified analysis of more than a dozen US intelligence agencies and has indicated he would be a close ally of Putin or as Hillary Clinton put it during the campaign, “Putin’s Puppet.”© 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

Today, President Obama authorized a number of actions in response to the Russian government’s aggressive harassment of U.S. officials and cyber operations aimed at the U.S. election in 2016.  “Russia’s cyber activities were intended to influence the election, erode faith in U.S. democratic institutions, sow doubt about the integrity of our electoral process, and undermine confidence in the institutions of the U.S. government.  These actions are unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” the White House stated.

“Today, I have ordered a number of actions in response to the Russian government’s aggressive harassment of U.S. officials and cyber operations aimed at the U.S. election,” President Obama stated . These actions follow repeated private and public warnings that we have issued to the Russian government, and are a necessary and appropriate response to efforts to harm U.S. interests in violation of established international norms of behavior.

“All Americans should be alarmed by Russia’s actions. In October, my Administration publicized our assessment that Russia took actions intended to interfere with the U.S. election process.  These data theft and disclosure activities could only have been directed by the highest levels of the Russian government. Moreover, our diplomats have experienced an unacceptable level of harassment in Moscow by Russian security services and police over the last year.  Such activities have consequences.  Today, I have ordered a number of actions in response.”

The President issued an executive order that expands upon his authority to respond to certain cyber activity that seeks to interfere with or undermine our election processes and institutions, or those of our allies or partners.

Using this new authority, Obama sanctioned nine entities and individuals:  the GRU and the FSB, two Russian intelligence services; four individual officers of the GRU; and three companies that provided material support to the GRU’s cyber operations.  In addition, the Secretary of the Treasury is designating two Russian individuals for using cyber-enabled means to cause misappropriation of funds and personal identifying information.  The State Department is also shutting down two Russian compounds, in Maryland and New York, that the government charges were being used by Russian personnel for intelligence-related purposes. Also, the State Department is declaring “persona non grata” 35 Russian intelligence operatives who will have to leave the US within 72 hours.

Finally, the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are releasing declassified technical information on Russian civilian and military intelligence service cyber activity –including the codes and IP addresses – to help network defenders in the United States and abroad identify, detect, and disrupt Russia’s global campaign of malicious cyber activities.

“These actions are not the sum total of our response to Russia’s aggressive activities,” the President added. “We will continue to take a variety of actions at a time and place of our choosing, some of which will not be publicized. In addition to holding Russia accountable for what it has done, the United States and friends and allies around the world must work together to oppose Russia’s efforts to undermine established international norms of behavior, and interfere with democratic governance. To that end, my Administration will be providing a report to Congress in the coming days about Russia’s efforts to interfere in our election, as well as malicious cyber activity related to our election cycle in previous elections.”

As for the timeline, senior administration officials, answering journalists’ questions, stated:

“Our first priority was publicly disclosing the information – it was most important to make public what we knew – and we did that October 7. That was a unique if not unprecedented step to come out with the common view of US intelligence agencies that a foreign power was influencing our election. We also wanted to give warning directly to the Russians, in public and in private, numerous times, that we knew what they were doing and were preparing a response. We wanted them to absorb that message and have that affect their behavior. We were concerned about securing the election – and there is no evidence that the Russians tampered with the vote. The priority for our cybersecurity efforts was to make sure our election was secure. But the material that had been hacked and was being released – it was not like that genie could be put back in the bottle. We were putting this together in context with [hacked] information being shared, publicly released and reported on by the news media. We wanted to do [respond] as methodically as possible: what we could do with sanctions, with diplomats, with the Joint Analysis Report (JAR), and preparing other elements.”

They added that it takes considerable time to put together a package of sanctions – you need to have the evidence sufficient to stand up in court to justify the actions.

“Sanctions packages are time consuming – establishing the basis, then finding the target list. JAR itself is complex procedure as putting together info we can share publicly that provides the best possible guidance about what we know – and response to harassment [of our diplomats] is something focusing on for some time.”

The incoming administration, under Donald Trump, has dismissed the allegations. Trump stated that “we should just get on with our lives,” and signaled he would undo sanctions leveled against Putin, including the sanctions that were put into place after Russia annexed Crimea and engaged in hostilities intended to overthrow the Ukrainian government.

But the Administration officials, pointing to “flagrant violation of norms” that have also seen in interference in our election as well as a level of harassment of US diplomats in Russia – one even being assaulted by a Russian police officer – along with malicious cyber attacks that have been leveled against critical American infrastructure and American companies. to a level that is unprecedented during in the post-Cold War era and has been developing over a period of years,” threaten national security and democratic regimes.

“There is no debate in the US administration: it is a fact that Russia interfered in our democratic election. We have established that to our satisfaction. We would never expect Russia to acknowledge what they did, don’t do it; still deny they are interfering in Ukraine. We say to journalists, look at what they say and what they do. This is a country that has intervened in sovereign country even though can see – bombed civilians, but they deny it. It is not a ‘he said/she said’ situation.  There are facts.”

“We have one president at a time. President Obama will execute the duties of his office until January 20. He’s acting on what he believes is in best interest of the United States.”

There are any number of actions that we’re taking that will [fall to next administration]. .When a new administration takes office, entirely in their judgment a to whether to continue the course we set in number of areas.

“But Russian actions have been sustained over an extended period of time, and by any definition, are against our national interest, not just the interests of this president – harassment of our diplomats is a direct threat of ability of US to conduct diplomacy. Interference with our election is a pattern we see in other western democracies, including some of our closest allies. Malicious cyber targeting of American critical infrastructure would be of concern to future administrations.

“We know from our own consultations this is of concern to American business, and we would expect future administrations to be concerned about the impact on the American economy of Russian cyber activity.  We are taking these actions because of pattern of behavior of period of time, replicated in other countries. We believe is the right approach to take.

“We’re taking these actions consistent with our assessment of what Russia has done – they have been interfering in both the American democratic process and in the conduct of American diplomacy. That should concern all Americans and members of both parties – a sustained effort to both harass our diplomatic personnel and interfere in our democratic process. We have no reason to believe that Russia’s activities will cease – they have been engaged in malicious cyber activity not just here in the United States but in other democratic countries. One reason to sustain [these] activities is that there is every reason that Russia will continue to interfere… These are executive actions. If a future president decided to allow in Russian intelligence agents, reopen those diplomatic compounds that are being used for intelligence, that compromises US national security.”

Here are the details from the White House:

Sanctioning Malicious Russian Cyber Activity

In response to the threat to U.S. national security posed by Russian interference in our elections, the President has approved an amendment to Executive Order 13964.  As originally issued in April 2015, this Executive Order created a new, targeted authority for the U.S. government to respond more effectively to the most significant of cyber threats, particularly in situations where malicious cyber actors operate beyond the reach of existing authorities.  The original Executive Order focused on cyber-enabled malicious activities that:

  • Harm or significantly compromise the provision of services by entities in a critical infrastructure sector;
  • Significantly disrupt the availability of a computer or network of computers (for example, through a distributed denial-of-service attack); or
  • Cause a significant misappropriation of funds or economic resources, trade secrets, personal identifiers, or financial information for commercial or competitive advantage or private financial gain (for example, by stealing large quantities of credit card information, trade secrets, or sensitive information).

The increasing use of cyber-enabled means to undermine democratic processes at home and abroad, as exemplified by Russia’s recent activities, has made clear that a tool explicitly targeting attempts to interfere with elections is also warranted.  As such, the President has approved amending Executive Order 13964 to authorize sanctions on those who:

  • Tamper with, alter, or cause a misappropriation of information with the purpose or effect of interfering with or undermining election processes or institutions.

Using this new authority, the President has sanctioned nine entities and individuals:  two Russian intelligence services (the GRU and the FSB); four individual officers of the GRU; and three companies that provided material support to the GRU’s cyber operations.

  • The Main Intelligence Directorate (a.k.a. Glavnoe Razvedyvatel’noe Upravlenie) (a.k.a. GRU) is involved in external collection using human intelligence officers and a variety of technical tools, and is designated for tampering, altering, or causing a misappropriation of information with the purpose or effect of interfering with the 2016 U.S. election processes.
  • The Federal Security Service (a.k.a. Federalnaya Sluzhba Bezopasnosti) (a.k.a FSB) assisted the GRU in conducting the activities described above.
  • The three other entities include the Special Technology Center (a.k.a. STLC, Ltd. Special Technology Center St. Petersburg) assisted the GRU in conducting signals intelligence operations; Zorsecurity (a.k.a. Esage Lab) provided the GRU with technical research and development; and the Autonomous Noncommercial Organization “Professional Association of Designers of Data Processing Systems” (a.k.a. ANO PO KSI) provided specialized training to the GRU. 
  • Sanctioned individuals include Igor Valentinovich Korobov, the current Chief of the GRU; Sergey Aleksandrovich Gizunov, Deputy Chief of the GRU; Igor Olegovich Kostyukov, a First Deputy Chief of the GRU; and Vladimir Stepanovich Alexseyev, also a First Deputy Chief of the GRU.

In addition, the Department of the Treasury is designating two Russian individuals,Evgeniy Bogachev and Aleksey Belan, under a pre-existing portion of the Executive Order for using cyber-enabled means to cause misappropriation of funds and personal identifying information.

  • Evgeniy Mikhailovich Bogachev is designated today for having engaged in significant malicious cyber-enabled misappropriation of financial information for private financial gain.  Bogachev and his cybercriminal associates are responsible for the theft of over $100 million from U.S. financial institutions, Fortune 500 firms, universities, and government agencies.
  • Aleksey Alekseyevich Belan engaged in the significant malicious cyber-enabled misappropriation of personal identifiers for private financial gain.  Belan compromised the computer networks of at least three major United States-based e-commerce companies.

Responding to Russian Harassment of U.S. Personnel 

Over the past two years, harassment of our diplomatic personnel in Russia by security personnel and police has increased significantly and gone far beyond international diplomatic norms of behavior.  Other Western Embassies have reported similar concerns.  In response to this harassment, the President has authorized the following actions:

  • Today the State Department declared 35 Russian government officials from the Russian Embassy in Washington and the Russian Consulate in San Francisco “persona non grata.”  They were acting in a manner inconsistent with their diplomatic status. Those individuals and their families were given 72 hours to leave the United States.
  • In addition to this action, the Department of State has provided notice that as of noon on Friday, December 30, Russian access will be denied to two Russian government-owned compounds, one in Maryland and one in New York.

Raising Awareness About Russian Malicious Cyber Activity

The Department of Homeland Security and Federal Bureau of Investigation are releasing a Joint Analysis Report (JAR) that contains declassified technical information on Russian civilian and military intelligence services’ malicious cyber activity, to better help network defenders in the United States and abroad identify, detect, and disrupt Russia’s global campaign of malicious cyber activities.

  • The JAR includes information on computers around the world that Russian intelligence services have co-opted without the knowledge of their owners in order to conduct their malicious activity in a way that makes it difficult to trace back to Russia. In some cases, the cybersecurity community was aware of this infrastructure, in other cases, this information is newly declassified by the U.S. government.
  • The report also includes data that enables cybersecurity firms and other network defenders to identify certain malware that the Russian intelligence services use.  Network defenders can use this information to identify and block Russian malware, forcing the Russian intelligence services to re-engineer their malware.  This information is newly de-classified.
  • Finally, the JAR includes information on how Russian intelligence services typically conduct their activities.  This information can help network defenders better identify new tactics or techniques that a malicious actor might deploy or detect and disrupt an ongoing intrusion.

This information will allow network defenders to take specific steps that can often block new activity or disrupt on-going intrusions by Russian intelligence services.  DHS and FBI are encouraging security companies and private sector owners and operators to use this JAR and look back within their network traffic for signs of malicious activity. DHS and FBI are also encouraging security companies and private sector owners and operators to leverage these indicators in proactive defense efforts to block malicious cyber activity before it occurs. DHS has already added these indicators to their Automated Indicator Sharing service.

“Cyber threats pose one of the most serious economic and national security challenges the United States faces today.  For the last eight years, this Administration has pursued a comprehensive strategy to confront these threats.  And as we have demonstrated by these actions today, we intend to continue to employ the full range of authorities and tools, including diplomatic engagement, trade policy tools, and law enforcement mechanisms, to counter the threat posed by malicious cyber actors, regardless of their country of origin, to protect the national security of the United States,” the White House stated.

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© 2016 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at  www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

 

Why Obama Administration Abstained from UN Vote on Israeli Settlements: To Preserve 2-State Solution

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an audacious appearance before a joint session of Congress, lobbies against the Iran nuclear agreement. Vice President Joe Biden did not attend. Netanyahu has made no secret of cheering Obama’s exit and Donald Trump’s ascendency to the presidency © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an audacious appearance before a joint session of Congress, lobbies against the Iran nuclear agreement. Vice President Joe Biden did not attend. Netanyahu has made no secret of cheering Obama’s exit and Donald Trump’s ascendency to the presidency © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

There are those who will regard the US decision to abstain from the United Nations vote condemning Israeli settlement building as a betrayal. There have been many such resolutions in the UN Security Council and the US had consistently used its veto power to cause them to fail, including every single one during Obama’s eight years in office.

But this was different. And the rage being pointed at Obama is misplaced.

In essence, if you believe in a two-state solution as the only way toward Israel-Palestinian peace which preserves Israel as both democratic and a Jewish state, you would understand why the US took this course. If you believe, as Obama and 99.9% of the international community believes, that the two-state solution is the only viable path to peace for Israel with Palestinians and its Arab neighbors, you would understand why Obama took this extraordinary step.

The way I understand the resolution, it addresses future settlements and does not impose a final status or set borders – which the US would have vetoed. That means that the hysteria (not unlike the hysteria fomented with misinformation over the Iran nuclear agreement), that Jerusalem is “occupied territory” that would be returned, that the land the Hebrew University sits on would have to be returned, is unjustified. And if the resolution went this far, the US would have vetoed it.

But first consider the context:

One may wonder why, with the atrocities being committed by the Syrian Government, Russia and Iran, the United Nations takes up action against Israel, which happens to be a country that is helping to heal Syrian victims in its hospitals, instead of hold a war crimes tribunal of Assad and Putin.

Why now? I believe there were two provocations: the US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Powers had just delivered a scathing attack on the United Nations for failing to intervene in Syria and stop the vicious assault on civilians, on hospitals, on schools. (I believe Assad and Putin should be charged with war crimes for the atrocities they have committed.)

Second: Donald Trump stated that he would the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem – a clear provocation – and named as his nominee for Ambassador to Israel , David Friedman, a man who is encouraging settlement building, who opposes the two-state solution, and who has likened liberal American Jews to “kapos” in the Nazi concentration camps.

Recall also that during his reelection campaign, Netanyahu made derogatory statements about Israeli Arabs and said (briefly, until he had to walk it back), that he was no longer interested in pursuing a two-state solution.

Netanyahu actually got on the phone with Donald Trump to get him to push the US to veto the resolution– which along with his extraordinary appearance in front of a joint session of Congress to lobby for the defeat of the Iran nuclear agreement, was an enormous snub to Obama and the US. Trump, delighted to be in the limelight, tweeted his foreign policy: “Things will change after Jan. 20th.”

Consider this context: Israel was actually making headway in tamping down the aggressive stance from its Arab neighbors. Israel , has an important role to play in the counter offensive to radical Islamic fundamentalists generally and ISIS in particular which is a threat to Israel’s Arab “neighborhood.” On a recent “60 Minutes,” Netanyahu was boasting about its biotech industry, its commercial deals with Arab countries.

Now, Netanyahu’s rage – lashing out at Obama and promising retribution against the nations that voted for the resolution – will undo the progress in tamping down hostility to Israel as the Arab world focused more on countering radical jihadism.  Because for awhile, Israel was not solely seen in context of Israel-Palestinian conflict, but as a key player on the right side of a global conflict.

The White House got on the phone with journalists to give a fuller explanation beyond the headlines.

“This is consistent with longstanding bipartisan U.S. policy as it relates to settlements, as it relates to our opposition to Israeli settlements, as it relates to our opposition to, and condemnation of, incitement and violence and terrorism, and, above all, about our affirmative support for a two-state solution,” stated Ben Rhodes, deputy national security advisor for strategic communications.

“And one of our grave concerns is that the continued pace of settlement activity — which has accelerated in recent years, which has accelerated significantly since 2011, when we vetoed the U.N. Security Council resolution that condemns settlements — puts at risk the two-state solution, as does any continued incitement to violence.  And we’ve been very concerned that these accelerating trends are putting the very viability of a two-state solution at risk.  And in that context, we therefore thought that we could not in good conscience veto a resolution that expressed concerns about the very trends that are eroding the foundation for a two-state solution.

“We exhausted every effort to pursue a two-state solution through negotiations, through direct discussions, through proximity discussions, through confidence-building measures, through a lengthy and exhaustive effort undertaken by Secretary Kerry earlier in the President’s second term.  We gave every effort that we could to supporting the parties coming to the table.”

Rhodes noted, however, that this resolution – versus countless ones before which the US vetoed – is more “balanced” in that it also condemns incitement, violence and terrorism against Israel, and does not impose final status, which the US would have vetoed.

As for the propaganda that Obama is anti-Israel or even anti-Semitic, these are the facts:

“President Obama has done more for Israel and its security than any previous U.S. President.  We just recently signed with Israel the single largest U.S. military assistance package in history — $38 billion over the coming decade.  That comes after an administration in which we provided lifesaving assistance for the Iron Dome Missile Defense System.  We’ve achieved what Prime Minister Netanyahu himself has described as unprecedented security cooperation between our military and intelligence officials.  We have repeatedly stood up for Israel in international fora in a variety of different ways, whether it was opposing efforts to address final status issues through the United Nations, or supporting greater Israeli integration into international fora.

“So I believe that despite what has at times been very strident Israeli government criticism of U.S. policies that President Obama has always made Israel and its security sacrosanct in his approach to these issues.  In fact, we’ve always said that our pursuit of a two-state solution is guided in part by our belief that that is the only way to preserve and strengthen Israel’s security in the long run, and to achieve the goal that we share with the Israeli people of having a state of Israel that is both Jewish and democratic in nature.

“All of that said, with this criticism it seems like the Israeli government wants the conversation to be about anything other than the settlement activity.  And the fact of the matter is, as you heard Samantha say, since 2009, the number of Israeli settlers in the West Bank has increased by more than 100,000 to nearly 400,000…

“So this is not simply a matter of construction within the so-called blocks, within what has long been considered the likely borders of a future — within a future peace agreement.  We have acknowledged publicly that there will have to be an acknowledgement of the growth since the 1967 lines were established as a part of any future peace agreement.  But in fact, what we’ve seen is much more accelerated settlement construction.  And now the total settler population in the West Bank and East Jerusalem exceeds 590,000.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu recently described his own government as ‘more committed to settlements than any in Israel’s history.’  Those are his words.  And we’re concerned about these trends.  We were concerned after our election, when one of his leading coalition partners, Naftali Bennett, declared that ‘the era of the two-state solution is over.’

“So, for us, the question here has always been about what is the best way to pursue the security that the Israeli people deserve.  And we cannot simply have a two-state solution be a slogan while the trend lines on the ground are such that a two-state solution is becoming less and less viable.

“I would add that we’ve repeatedly condemned incitement to violence by Palestinians.  We’ve repeatedly condemned Palestinian terrorism.  We have stood up for Israel’s right to defend itself against rocket fire from Gaza, even when we were one of the only countries in the world that was taking that position.  So we’ve been willing time and again to support Israel in international fora, just as we’ve supported Israel’s right to defend itself, by itself, and just as we’ve ensured through our assistance that Israel will maintain its qualitative military edge for the enduring future.

“So, again, President Obama’s track record on Israel’s security is clear.  Anybody can review it.  But, in fact, I’d take umbrage at language that suggests that this was our preferred course of action and that we initiated it.  The fact of the matter is, we’d been warning — President Obama and Secretary Kerry publicly and privately for years — that the trend line of settlement construction and settlement activity was just increasing Israel’s international isolation.  This is not a new position for us; we’ve been saying that for many, many, many years.  Secretary Kerry, as Frank can attest to, has had hundreds of conversations with Prime Minister Netanyahu.  We’ve made precisely this point.”

Rhodes also explained why the US abstained, versus voted in favor:

“..the United Nations, we continue to believe, is a flawed venue for this issue in that it has frequently been used to single out Israel, often through completely over-the-top exercises, that — again, when it comes to final status issues, we believe that those should be negotiated between the parties.

“We would have vetoed any resolution that we thought sought to impose a solution that sought to impose a view on the final status issue…

“On the narrow question of the resolution that was put in front of us, we saw a resolution that in large part was consistent with U.S. policy…

“We also abstained because while there was balance, as I discussed, in that the resolution addressed and condemned violence and incitement of violence, we thought that that could have been more prominent in the resolution…it was not sufficiently elevating at length the issues that we care very deeply about.  We’re pleased that that was included, but again, when you see horrifying knife attacks, when you see continued incitement to violence, you see continued anti-Israeli or anti-Semitic slogans and calls for violence from with the Palestinian Territories, that gravely concerns us.  And that’s an enormous obstacle to peace, of course.

“So again, that explains that abstention, those two issues — the U.N. as a future venue for final status issues, given its history, and the emphasis in this resolution being more focused on Israeli activity than some of the concerning activities that are addressed in the resolution with respect to the Palestinians but I think could have been addressed at greater length…..

“Prime Minister Netanyahu had the opportunity to pursue policies that would have led to a different outcome today.  Absent this acceleration of settlement activity, absent the type of rhetoric we’ve seen out of the current Israeli government, I think the United States likely would have taken a different view, because our preference is for there to be a credible peace process underway.

“So, again, it’s very important that this — the fact that this is happening towards the end of our eight years indicates that this is not our preferred course of action and that we’ve given years and years and years of opportunities to address issues related to the settlements or to address issues related to the peace process that, frankly, we believe could have been more productive.  And, frankly, President Obama, if you look at speech after speech that he gave, kept warning that the trends in the conflict were going to lead to greater international efforts to apply pressure in Israel; that the settlement activity was going to lead to greater national efforts to apply pressure to Israel.

“There’s a huge record on this, and I think it’s very unfair and inaccurate to suggest that somehow this was an outcome that we sought.  If it was an outcome that we sought, we would have done this long ago.  But the fact is, we were compelled to because of the choices that have been made over years by the Israeli government in building settlements and not taking different opportunities that were presented for a credible peace process.

“I should add that the Palestinians also failed to take opportunities.  As Frank and Rob know well, Secretary Kerry’s effort did not move forward because of the decisions by both Israelis and Palestinians.  So I just want to be very clear here that the Palestinians have missed plenty of opportunities under this administration as well….

“We’ve tried everything.  We’ve tried proximity talks, we’ve tried direct talks, we’ve tried the Secretary of State who dove into this and made it an enormous priority for a long period of time.  We’ve tried to step back.  And the one consistent outcome was that it didn’t work.  We can go back and look at what we did differently, but at the end of the day, precisely because we believe this can only be resolved in negotiations, it’s up to the parties to show that they’re serious about those negotiations and that talking about a peace process isn’t just a phrase — it’s an actual, meaningful, diplomatic effort to try to achieve a resolution.

“….We hear the words about a two-state solution, and then we see the actions that are making a two-state solution far less likely, if not out of reach.  And at a certain point, the words and the actions become irreconcilable.  And that’s what we’re concerned about.  And we believe that that would be not in the best interest of Israel.  And precisely because President Obama cares so deeply about Israel and its security, he would like to see a return to a meaningful effort to pursue peace.”

Of all the US presidents, Obama has shown the greatest empathy and respect for Israel and American Jews.

During one of the Hanukkah celebrations at the White House (which he has conducted every year), Obama said, “We recall Hanukkah’s many lessons:  How a small group can make a big difference.  That’s the story of the Maccabees’ unlikely military victory, and of great moral movements around the globe and across time.  How a little bit can go a long way, like the small measure of oil that outlasted every expectation.  It reminds us that even when our resources seem limited, our faith can help us make the most of what little we have.  The small State of Israel and the relatively small Jewish population of this country have punched far above their weight in their contributions to the world.  So the Festival of Lights is also a reminder of how Isaiah saw the Jewish people, as a light unto the nations.”

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© 2016 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email news-photos-features.com. Blogging at  www.dailykos.com/….  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/…, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Nailing Down Obama’s Legacy: Report Documents Advancing Equity for Women and Girls of Color

President Obama has made women’s equality a centerpiece of his administration, and First Lady Michelle Obama embraced Girls Learn, promoting access to education for girls around the world, as one of her major initiatives. The First Lady, an inspiration to girls and women, came to New York City to discuss Girls Learn © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
President Obama has made women’s equality a centerpiece of his administration, and First Lady Michelle Obama embraced Girls Learn, promoting access to education for girls around the world, as one of her major initiatives. The First Lady, an inspiration to girls and women, came to New York City to discuss Girls Learn © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

In light of the likelihood of the incoming Donald Trump Administration to erase all the progress of the Obama Administration, especially in reversing women’s rights – to health care, reproductive freedom, voting, pay equity, health security – it is important to keep track of what Obama accomplished during his term, not only for history, but also, because his actions could provide a template for a future Administration to put the nation back on track toward a “more perfect union”. – Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features 

WASHINGTON, DC – On Dec. 16, the White House Council on Women and Girls released a report and hosted a forum on the Administration’s work to advance equity for women and girls of color and highlight the innovative solutions and exciting place-based work that is happening throughout the country.  The forum brought together a range of stakeholders from the academic, private, government and philanthropic sectors to discuss ways that we can break down barriers to success and create more ladders of opportunity for all Americans, including women and girls of color.  The event was live streamed at www.whitehouse.gov/live and the full report is available HERE.

The Council on Women and Girls, since its inception, has focused on the needs and challenges of all women and girls. In 2014, as part of the effort to take into account the distinctive concerns of women and girls, the Council on Women and Girls launched a specific work stream called “Advancing Equity” to ensure that policies and programs across the federal government take into account the unique obstacles faced by women and girls, including women and girls of color and women and girls from marginalized communities.

In November 2014, the Council on Women and Girls released a report titled “Women and Girls of Color: Addressing Challenges and Expanding Opportunities” to identify barriers and disparities facing women and girls of color. This report addressed work done over the first six years of the Administration to improve the lives of women and girls of color. It discussed important issues, such as educational attainment, economic security, health and safety, violence against women, and criminal and juvenile justice. It also included a call to action for the establishment of a federal interagency working group to develop opportunities for advancement, which commenced in March of 2015.

One year later, in November 2015, the Council released a new report “Advancing Equity for Women and Girls of Color” to highlight some of the additional steps taken by the Administration on issues faced by women and girls of color from 2014 through 2015.[i] In that report, the Council on Women and Girls identified five data-driven issue areas where interventions can promote opportunities for success at school, work, and in the community for women and girls of color. The five issues included:

  1. Fostering school success and reducing unnecessary exclusionary school discipline by implementing supportive school discipline strategies and policies, including through public awareness of the impact on girls of color;
  2. Meeting the needs of vulnerable and striving youth by recognizing and responding appropriately to the finding that many girls enter intervening public systems through a route that begins with sexual abuse and trauma;
  3. Increasing access to inclusive STEM education to meet 21st century workforce demands and reducing opportunity gaps that affect women broadly in science, technology, engineering and math education and fields, but often affect women and girls of color the most;
  4. Sustaining reduced rates of teen pregnancy and building on success through expanded access to knowledge about birth control and preventive health services;
  5. Expanding pathways to economic prosperity through opportunities for job mobility and investments in fair, equitable workplace policies.

This updated report serves as a follow-up to the 2014 and 2015 reports, and as the culmination of the Advancing Equity work stream of this Administration. The Obama Administration has taken important steps forward in elevating, and addressing, key issues that cause disparities for women and girls of color, and women and girls from marginalized and under-served populations. Moreover, the call to action around this work has inspired philanthropic leaders, academic institutions, and non-profit organizations to continue efforts that sustain and build upon the successes achieved in improved life outcomes for women and girls of color and their peers.

Obama Legacy: Eight Years of Economic Progress

Donald Trump has made it clear he intends to erase Obama’s legacy. The policies Trump is prescribing – tax cuts for the richest 1% and corporations, elimination of mortgage deductions that will steal the American Dream from middle class Americans, overturning clean energy, trade wars instead of promoting 21st century manufacturing, and policies sure to balloon the national debt, overturning Obama executive orders on overtime rules, raising the federal minimum wage, paid parental leave, overturning Dodd-Frank financial protections to prevent another overheated meltdown – will reverse the progress. So it is important to have a measure. Saving the US economy from collapse, saving Americans from another Great Depression, was one of the most significant successes of Obama’s presidency. Eight years after that uncertainty and insecurity, Americans seem to have forgotten. They take for granted what Obama accomplished in face of a Republican leadership determined to make his presidency fail, rather than rescue Americans losing their jobs, homes, health care, retirement and college funds.  Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features 

Here is a report on eight years of economic progress:

Eight Years of Macroeconomic Progress and the Third Estimate of Gross Domestic Product for the Third Quarter of 2016

WASHINGTON, DC – Jason Furman, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, issued the following statement today on eight years of macroeconomic progress and the third estimate of Gross Domestic Product for the third quarter of 2016. You can view the statement HERE.

Summary: Real GDP grew 3.5 percent at an annual rate in the third quarter, with the U.S. economy now 11.6 percent larger than at its peak before the crisis.

Third-quarter economic growth was revised up 0.3 percentage point to 3.5 percent at an annual rate, the fastest quarterly growth since 2014. The U.S. economy is now 11.6 percent larger than its pre-crisis peak in 2007 amid its strong recovery since the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Rising incomes, improved household balance sheets, and high levels of consumer confidence have supported robust consumer spending growth over the recovery. Meanwhile, the housing sector has continued to recover from the crisis and shows further potential for expansion. However, economic growth has faced a number of headwinds in the current recovery, including contractions in State and local government spending, weak foreign growth (which has weighed on both exports and investment), and the demographic effects of the aging U.S. population. More work remains to further strengthen growth and to ensure that it is broadly shared, including promoting greater competition across the economy; supporting innovation; increasing investments in infrastructure; and opening new markets to U.S. exports.

SEVEN KEY POINTS ON MACROECONOMIC PROGRESS OVER THE LAST EIGHT YEARS

1. According to BEA’s third estimate, real gross domestic product (GDP) increased 3.5 percent at an annual rate in the third quarter of 2016, an upward revision of 0.3 percentage point (p.p.) from the second estimate. Real consumer spending grew a strong 3.0 percent in the third quarter following robust growth in the second quarter. Inventory investment—one of the most volatile components of GDP—added 0.5 percentage point to GDP growth in the third quarter after subtracting 1.2 percentage points in the second quarter. Residential investment declined for the second quarter in a row, though at a slower pace in the third quarter than in the second. Notably, exports grew 10.0 percent at an annual rate in the third quarter, their fastest quarterly growth since late 2013, boosted by a likely transitory jump in agricultural exports.

Real gross domestic income (GDI)—an alternative measure of output—increased 4.8 percent at an annual rate in the third quarter. (In theory, GDP and GDI should be equal, but in practice they usually differ because they use different data sources and methods.) The average of real GDP and real GDI, which CEA refers to as real gross domestic output (GDO), increased 4.1 percent at an annual rate in the third quarter. CEA research suggests that GDO is a better measure of economic activity than GDP (though not typically stronger or weaker).

The 0.3-p.p. upward revision to GDP growth was more than accounted for by upward revisions to consumer spending, business fixed investment, and State and local government spending. However, the overall contour of third-quarter growth was largely unchanged from last month’s second estimate.

2. Strong consumer spending growth over the current recovery has been supported by growth in real incomes, improvements in household balance sheets, and high levels of consumer confidence. Consumer spending accounts for over two-thirds of GDP, and has contributed disproportionately to overall real GDP growth in recent years. This strength in domestic demand reflects improved economic conditions for American households across a wide range of measures. Real wages have grown faster over the current business cycle than in any since the early 1970s (measured peak to peak), and from 2014 to 2015 real median household income increased 5.2 percent, the fastest growth on record. Meanwhile, as a share of disposable income, household debt service—the amount that households must spend on interest and principal payments for their outstanding debt—has fallen sharply in recent years, driven both by low interest rates and by sharp reductions in outstanding household debt relative to income. Taken together, these factors have left households with more disposable income available for consumer purchases. Finally, consumers have been increasingly confident in recent years. As the chart below shows, the University of Michigan index of consumer sentiment—which tends to closely track real consumer spending growth—is close to its highest level in ten years.

3. The recent slowdown in real business fixed investment growth can be explained largely by changes in the rate of U.S. and foreign GDP growth, as discussed in Chapter 2 of the 2017 Economic Report of the President. While business fixed investment—private spending on structures and equipment, as well as expenditures on intellectual property products such as software and research and development (R&D)—constitutes just 12 percent of GDP, it is crucial to long-run growth because it provides workers with more capital and improves technology, thus contributing to productivity growth. Business fixed investment growth has slowed since 2014; while oil-related investment has dragged on overall investment growth due to low oil prices, non-oil related investment growth has slowed somewhat as well. CEA analysis finds that much of the slowdown in investment growth can be explained using an “accelerator model,” which assumes that businesses invest if they expect rising demand growth for their products, meaning that rising GDP growth rates will lead to faster investment growth. The analysis also finds that several factors that have historically impacted investment growth—including credit constraints and other financial stress—have little explanatory power in understanding the recent slowdown. However, because the model predicts that investment follows changes in the rate of GDP growth, it predicts a rebound in the future, since U.S. and global output growth are expected to stabilize or pick up slightly in the years ahead.

4. Ten years after the first signs of decline in the U.S. housing market, housing activity and investment have gradually recovered, with room for future expansion. Recovery in the housing sector has been supported by strong job growth, rising real wages, and low mortgage rates, with growth in real residential investment outpacing overall real GDP growth over the course of the recovery from the Great Recession. Even with the solid growth in recent years, there is room for further expansion in residential construction. As the chart below shows, housing starts remain well below the level needed to keep pace with population growth, household formation, and typical rates of housing stock replacement. CEA analysis suggests that excess housing supply from overbuilding during the 2000s has been more than offset by underbuilding in recent years. Low household formation, particularly among young adults, may be playing a role in reducing demand for housing. On the supply side, local barriers to housing development in high-demand areas may also be one factor holding back new residential construction. Still, residential investment has further room to grow in future quarters, presenting upside potential for domestic demand in the near-to-medium term.

5. Trends in real State and local government purchases have differed sharply from prior business cycles, with meaningful contractions amid budgetary cuts. Although in a typical recovery State and local spending tends to grow quickly and at a similar pace as in the pre-recession period, State and local spending contracted sharply in the current business cycle and, after seven years, has still not rebounded to its pre-crisis levels. During the four quarters of 2010, State and local purchases subtracted 0.5 percentage point from GDP growth and then subtracted about another 0.3 percentage point in both 2011 and 2012. Spending in this sector stabilized in 2013, added modestly to GDP growth during the four quarters of 2014 and 2015, and had a negligible impact on GDP during the first three quarters of 2016. Real State and local government purchases, as well as State and local government employment, remain below their respective pre-crisis levels. If State and local government purchases had increased at the average rate of expansions excluding the current cycle (as shown in the chart below), real GDP growth would have been approximately 0.4 percentage point faster per year on average in the current recovery. Due in part to contractions in State and local government spending, total real government purchases are below their level at the business cycle peak in 2007; in other words, all of the growth in real GDP in the current business cycle is attributable to the private sector.

6. Growth in U.S. exports closely tracks global demand, with slowing global growth creating key headwinds to U.S. growth in recent years. The volume of U.S. exports to foreign countries is sensitive to foreign GDP growth, and, as shown in the chart below, four-quarter foreign GDP growth—when weighting countries by their relative importance to U.S. trade—explains much of the variance in U.S. export growth. Over the last five years, global growth has consistently underperformed relative to forecasts, and in its October World Economic Outlook, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) revised down its forecast of global growth for the four quarters of 2016. Still, the IMF currently forecasts global growth to pick up in 2017, suggesting less downward pressure on U.S. export growth—and on the manufacturing sector, which tends to be more export-oriented than other industries—from weak foreign demand going forward.

7. The aging of the U.S. population, a trend that will continue in the coming years, has placed constraints on growth in potential real GDP. The growth of the working-age (15-64) population in the United States has slowed notably in recent decades, putting downward pressure on labor force participation and real GDP growth. The working-age population grew 1.4 percent at an annual rate in the 1960s through the 1980s, but just 0.6 percent during the current business cycle. (The rate of growth of the prime-age [25-54] population has declined even more steeply, and the prime-age population even contracted between 2012 and 2015.) The decline in the growth rate of the working-age population is expected to continue through 2028, suggesting continued demographic headwinds to overall growth for at least the next decade. As noted in Chapter 2 of the 2017 Economic Report of the President, research has found that demographic shifts towards an older workforce may have also reduced productivity growth in recent years, though projections of the composition of the labor force suggest that the drag on productivity from demographics may soon abate. Still, slowing productivity growth remains a key structural challenge that the United States shares with all other major advanced economies.

As the Administration stresses every quarter, GDP figures can be volatile and are subject to substantial revision. Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any single report, and it is informative to consider each report in the context of other data as they become available.

Want a Manufacturing Job? Obama Administration Creates Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute, 3rd Institute in 3 Weeks

President Obama has devised an innovative solution to promoting 21st century manufacturing jobs: Manufacturing USA Institutes. After a decade of decline from 2000 to 2009, the U.S. manufacturing sector has added over 800,000 jobs since early 2010. © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
President Obama has devised an innovative solution to promoting 21st century manufacturing jobs: Manufacturing USA Institutes. After a decade of decline from 2000 to 2009, the U.S. manufacturing sector has added over 800,000 jobs since early 2010. © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

 

Donald Trump made hyperbolic statements during the campaign promising to Make America Great Again and bring back lost factory jobs. But the Obama Administration has actually done it. In these waning days of Obama’s presidency, the administration is trying to get as much done as possible. Trump won’t succeed in restoring manufacturing by threatening companies with a 35% tax, or promising coal miners that their jobs (and black lung disease) will be restored. But the good news is that Obama has created a template for creating jobs – and particularly, manufacturing jobs – in a new economy shaped by emerging technology and yes, globalization. Need a job, want a job? This is where the jobs are. – Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features 

Here is a Fact Sheet announcing on December 21 the third Manufacturing USA Institute awarded in three weeks: 

The Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute (ARMI), Inc., headquartered in Manchester, NH, brings nearly $300 million in public-private investment from leading manufacturers and universities to develop the cells, tissues, and organs that may one day restore form and function to wounded warriors and civilians. 

Today, the Department of Defense is awarding the new Advanced Tissue Biofabrication Manufacturing USA institute, which brings together a consortium of 87 partners from across industry, academia, and government to develop the manufacturing technologies for life-saving cells, tissues, and organs. The winning coalition, led by ARMI, Inc. and headquartered in Manchester, NH will develop next-generation manufacturing techniques for repairing and replacing cells and tissues, which may one day lead to the ability to manufacture new skin for soldiers scarred from combat or develop organ-preserving technologies to benefit Americans waiting for an organ transplant.

The Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute being announced today is the twelfth manufacturing hub awarded by the Obama Administration, and follows on the heels of two other hubs announced in the last two weeks—the National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals, the first open-topic institute and the first institute awarded by the Department of Commerce, headquartered in Newark, DE; and the Rapid Advancement in Process Intensification Deployment Institute, awarded by the Department of Energy, headquartered in New York, NY.

Today at the White House, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendall will announce the winning consortium before an audience of stakeholders from industry, academia, and government, including senior leaders from the White House, Department of Commerce, Department of Energy, and representatives from many of the existing Manufacturing USA institutes.

In the four years since its establishment, Manufacturing USA has grown from one institute with 65 members to a network of now 12 institutes with nearly 1,000 members.  The institutes are already attracting new business investment to their regions, developing the cutting-edge technologies to drive American leadership, and training the workforce that will apply new skills to our manufacturing sector.  Across the Manufacturing USA institutes, the Federal government has committed over $850 million, which has been matched by more than $1.8 billion in non-Federal investment. Today’s progress builds on important bipartisan action from Congress, which in 2015 passed the bipartisan Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation to formally authorize the program, proving that strengthening American manufacturing is a goal on which we can all agree.

After a decade of decline from 2000 to 2009, the U.S. manufacturing sector has added over 800,000 jobs since early 2010.  Despite recent headwinds, the foundation for U.S. manufacturing is stronger than it has been in decades. Just this year, a new report on global manufacturing competitiveness found that manufacturing executives view the United States as the best location in the world for manufacturing in the years ahead.

The New Manufacturing USA Institute Awards

Manufacturing USA connects people, ideas, and technology to solve industry-relevant advanced manufacturing challenges, enhancing industrial competitiveness and economic growth and strengthening our national security. Each manufacturing institute is designed to build U.S. leadership and regional excellence in critical emerging manufacturing technologies by bridging the gap between early research and product development; bringing together companies, universities, and other academic and training institutions, and Federal agencies to co-invest in key technology areas that can encourage investment and production in the United States while serving as a ‘teaching factory’ for workers, small businesses, and entrepreneurs looking to develop new skills or prototype new products and processes.

Repairing and replacing cells, tissues, and organs. Announced today, the Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute is poised to develop next-generation manufacturing techniques for repairing and replacing cells and tissues, which may one day lead to the ability to manufacture new skin for soldiers scarred from combat or develop organ-preserving technologies to benefit Americans stuck on organ transplant waiting lists. Headquartered in Manchester, NH, ARMI will focus on solving the cross-cutting manufacturing challenges that stand in the way of producing new synthetic tissues and organs—such as improving the availability, reproducibility, accessibility, and standardization of manufacturing materials, technologies, and processes to create tissue and organ products. ARMI will convene leaders from a multitude of disciplines, from cell biology and bioengineering to materials science and computer modeling. The partners will work to develop high-throughput culture and 3D biofabication techniques to non-invasive, real-time testing and sensing to measure the viability of engineered tissue constructs.

Industry Partners: Abbott, Autodesk, Becton Dickinson, Celularity, DEKA Research & Development, GenCure, Humacyte, Lonza, Medtronic, Rockwell Automation, and United Therapeutics

Government and non-profit organizations: FIRST, the State of New Hampshire, and Manufacturing Extension Partnerships in multiple states

Universities and Other Schools: Arizona State University, Boston University, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Rutgers, Stanford University, the University of Florida, the University of Minnesota, the University of New Hampshire, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and Yale University

Life-saving bio-therapies. On December 16, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker announced the winner of the Department of Commerce’s first institute and the first open-topic institute competition: the National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals (NIIMBL). NIIBML will be led by USA Bio Consortium, a team of more than 150 partners representing all of the elements required to make biopharmaceutical drugs—from the equipment makers and suppliers of raw materials, to the companies developing new treatments and readying them for clinical trials and regulatory approval, to the clinics treating patients. NIIMBL will work to accelerate the transition of disease-treating biopharmaceuticals from the lab to the market, with the aim to make these live-saving therapies more accessible to patients. NIIMBL will also help rapidly scale up manufacture of these advanced treatments to respond to pandemics and other biological threats, address drug shortages resulting from issues in manufacturing, and support precision medicine by exploring new processes and equipment to allow the cost-effective manufacture of single-batch biopharmaceutical exactly matched to an individual’s genetics or disease. Read more here, and how NIIMBL’s efforts will complement ARMI’s efforts here.

Companies and Non-Profit Organizations: Agilent Technologies, AIChE, Air Liquide, Altimmune, Amgen, Amgen Foundation, Artemis Biosystems, Association of University Research Parks, ASTM, BioFactura, Biogen, BioHealth Innovation, Biologics Modular, BioPhorum Operations Group, bioVolutions, BMC Corp, Boehringer Ingelheim Fremont, California Manufacturing Technology Consulting, Celgene Corp, Charles River Laboratories, ChromaTan, Cimetrics, Colorado BioScience Association, Commissioning Agents, Inc, Connecting Connecticut’s Science Community, Continuus Pharma, Corning Life Sciences, DelawareBio, DEMEP, DVIRC, Eli Lilly Research Labs, EMD Serono, FiberCell Systems, FloDesign Sonics, Fraunhofer CMB, Fraunhofer CESE, GBSI, GE Healthcare Life Sciences, Georgia Bio, Georgia Tech MEP, Grifols S.A., IBM, ILC Dover, ImmunoGen, Indiana Health Industry Forum, Institute for BioScience & Biotechnology Research, Intellia Therapeutics, IOWABio, Janssen Pharma, Juno Therapeutics, Kentucky Life Sciences Council, LakePharma, Lewa Process Technologies, Lonza Biologics Inc., Manex, MANTEC, MassBio, MassMep, MD MEP, MedImmune, MEPOL, MilliporeSigma, National Institute for Pharmaceutical Technology and Education, NC Bio, NC MEP, NEPIRC, NewYorkBIO, North Carolina Biotechnology Center, Novartis, Novo Nordisk, NYDSTI, Orochem, Pall Corp, Parental Drug Association, PBS Biotech, Pennsylvania Bio, Pfizer, Pharma Matrix, Pharyx Inc., Protein Sciences Corp, Purdue MEP, Regeneron Pharma, RepliGen, Rooster Bio, Sanofi Pasteur, SC MEP, Shire, Southwest Research Institute, SoyMeds, Stratosphere, Sudhin Biopharma, Tech Council of MD, Terumo BCT, THBI, Thrive Bioscience, University City Science Center, Unum Therapeutics, USP, Vericel Corp, Voyager Therapeutics, VWR, Waters

Universities, Colleges and Other Schools: Bio-Link (City College of San Francisco), Carnegie Mellon University, Clemson University, Delaware State University, Delaware Technical Community College, East Carolina University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Harvard University, IVY Tech Community College, Johns Hopkins University, MARBIONC: Marine Biotechnology in NC (UNC Wilmington), Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Memorial Sloan Kettering, MiraCosta College District, Montgomery College, Northeast Biomanufacturing Center and Collaborative, North Carolina Central University, North Carolina Community College’s BioNetwork System, North Carolina State University, Pennsylvania State University, Purdue University, Quincy College, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Solano Community College, The University of Texas at Austin, Tulane University, University of California Berkeley, University of Colorado Boulder, University of Connecticut, University of Delaware, University of Georgia, University of Iowa, University of Kansas, University of Kentucky, University of Maryland, University of Massachusetts, University of Minnesota, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Charlotte, University of Pennsylvania, University of Wisconsin

State Government and Regional Organizations: Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, State of Delaware, State of Maryland, State of Minnesota, State of North Carolina

States: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Washington, Washington D.C., Wisconsin

Ultra-efficient chemical manufacturing. On December 9, the Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy in the Department of Energy David Friedman announced that the American Institute of Chemical Engineers will lead the Rapid Advancement in Process Intensification Deployment (RAPID) Institute. With over 130 partners from universities, companies, local and state organizations, and other Manufacturing USA institutes, the RAPID institute will work to develop new modular technologies to enable customized factories, local manufacturing in remote locations, and greater utilization of U.S. raw materials for manufacturing, while training future U.S. workers in these advanced fields. The RAPID institute will work to advance manufacturing processes used for making chemicals, refining fuels, and producing other everyday products used across the U.S. economy. By optimizing manufacturing at the molecular level, technologies developed by this institute will aim to save energy with every chemical reaction. In addition to improving energy efficiency, these technologies can lead to big savings on the manufacturing floor, such as cutting operating costs, waste, and equipment footprint. In the chemical industry alone, these technologies have the potential to save more than $9 billion in process costs annually. For example, by simplifying and shrinking the physical space needed for manufacturing, this approach may enable natural gas refining directly at the wellhead, saving up to half of the energy lost in the ethylene cracking process today. Read more here. Initial partners include:

Industry partners: Alloy Surfaces, Arkema, AspenTech, ATI Specialty Alloys, Automation Solutions, Avatar Sustainables, Ayers Group, BASF, BgtL, Biodico, Cantrell Capital, CB&I, Cermatec, CF Technologies, Compact Membrane Systems, Convergent Catalysis, Corning, Cummins, Domtar, Dow, Dow Water Solutions, DuPont, Earth Energy Renewables, Eastman Chemical, Easy Energy Systems, EcoCatalytic Technologies, Emerson Process Management, Enginuity Worldwide, Environmental & Fuel Research LLC, Environmental Engineering Solutions, ExxonMobil, Fluor, Franklin International, Full Cycle Bioplastics, FutureCeuticals, GE Water and Process Technologies, Greenway Energy, H Quest Vanguard, i3D MFG, Intellectual Assets, IntraMicron Inc., Italmatch Chemicals, Kore Infrastructure, Lubrizol, Managed Technology Solutions Group, Matric, NatureWorks, NuScale Power, Onboard Dynamics, Pall Corp., Paul Weaver Construction Equipment, Petron Scientech, Pioneer Tank & Vessel, Portland General Electric, Praxair, Process Systems Enterprise, Reliance Industries, RnD Consulting, Roeslein Alternative Energy, Saint Gobain NorPro, Secat Inc., Shell, Sigma Innova, Solar Fuels & Chemicals, Solvay, Southern Company, Strategic Analysis, United Technologies Research Center, Vacuum Process Engineering, vanZoen, Waste Resource Recovery, Xcel Energy, Zaiput Flow, Zeachem, Zeton

Local and State Organizations: Alabama Department of Commerce, Iowa Economic Development, Iowa Energy Center, State of Oregon, Oregon Manufacturing Extension Partnership, South Carolina Department of Commerce, South Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership

Academic Partners and Research Institutions: Auburn University, Carnegie Mellon University, Case Western University, Clemson University, Drexel University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Iowa State University, Manhattan College, Michigan State University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, North Carolina State University, Oregon State University, Rutgers University, State University of New York, Texas A&M, Texas Tech University, University of Alabama, University of Arizona, University of California at Los Angeles, University of Delaware, University of Idaho, University of Illinois, University of Kentucky, University of Louisville, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, University of North Dakota, University of Pittsburgh, University of South Carolina, University of Southern California, University of Texas, University of Wyoming, Worchester Polytechnic Institute, West Virginia University.

Not for Profit and Independent Associations: American Chemistry Council, American Chemical Society, Agenda 2020, Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Institute, Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute, Gas Technology Institute, Glass Manufacturers Industry Council, Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation, National Society of Black Engineers, Research Triangle Institute, Society of Chemical Manufacturing and Affiliates, Southern Research Institute.

 

Laboratories: The Ames Laboratory, Idaho National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, National Energy Technology Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Savannah River National Laboratory, The Forest Products Laboratory (U.S. Forest Service), The National Risk Management Laboratory (EPA). 

Ongoing Institute Competitions 

In addition to the three institutes announced since December 9, other Manufacturing USA institute topics are now under competition in the areas of:

  • Sustainable materials manufacturing. In collaboration with the Department of Energy, the winner of the competition for the Reducing Embodied Energy and Decreasing Emissions (REMADE) in Materials Manufacturing Institute will focus on reducing the total lifetime use of energy in manufactured materials by developing new cradle-to-cradle technologies for the reuse, recycling, and remanufacturing of manmade materials. U.S. manufacturing consumes nearly a third of the nation’s total energy use annually, with much of that energy embodied in the physical products made in manufacturing. New technologies to better repurpose these materials could save U.S. manufacturers and the nation up to 1.6 quadrillion BTU of energy annually, equivalent to 280 million barrels of oil, or a month’s worth of domestic oil imports. Read more here.
  • Collaborative robotics. Together with the Department of Defense, the winner of the competition for the Robots in Manufacturing Environments Manufacturing USA Institute will focus on building U.S. leadership in smart collaborative robotics, where advanced robots work alongside humans seamlessly, safely, and intuitively to do the heavy lifting on an assembly line or handleintricate or dangerous tasks with precision. People collaborating with robots has the potential to change a broad swath of manufacturing sectors, from defense and space to automotive and health, enabling the reliable and efficient production of high-quality, customized products. Read more here.
  • Industry-proposed topic. Leveraging authorities from the Revitalizing American Manufacturing and Innovation Act with broad bipartisan support in Congress, the Department of Commerce has launched the first “open topic” institute competition. This competition is open to any topic proposed by industry not already addressed by a manufacturing innovation institute. In addition to NIIMBL, which is awarded using FY2016 funds, additional institutes may be awarded from this competition, subject to the availability of additional funds. The open topic competition design allows industry to propose technology areas seen as critical by leading manufacturers to the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing. Read more here.

Early Successes from Manufacturing USA

Together, the Manufacturing USA institutes are already enhancing U.S. competitiveness in advanced manufacturing—from helping Youngstown, OH attract over $90 million in new manufacturing investments to its region and train 14,000 workers in the fundamentals of 3D printing for businesses, to supporting companies like X-FAB in Lubbock, TX upgrade to next-generation power semiconductors and sustain hundreds of jobs. These public-private partnerships are bringing value to their members and regions by providing:

  • Technological Innovation: By accelerating the transition from design to Made in USA, the institutes are developing emerging manufacturing technologies—for example, America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute in Youngstown, OH enabled one of its founding members, Oxford Performance Materials, Inc., to become the first company to receive clearance from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration to manufacture 3D-printed polymer implants for use in surgical procedures in the United States.
  • Collaborative Constituencies: The institutes align pre-competitive industry priorities by combining the efforts of manufacturers across geographies and supply chains—for example, the American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics (AIM Photonics), the Integrated Photonics Institute in Rochester, NY, has members on both coasts that, collectively, comprise  the entire supply chain for integrated photonics, from microfabrication processing training and circuit design centers in Massachusetts; to wafer foundry, packaging, and assembly centers in New York; to integrated photonic device manufacturers in California.
  • Leveraged Investments: For companies, institute membership provides access to unique equipment and capabilities that are too costly for any one company to undertake—for example, Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA), the Revolutionary Fibers and Textiles institute in Cambridge, MA, is standing up a distributed, on-demand foundry to rapidly identify domestic manufacturing pathways within its membership to accelerate the design-to-product process.
  • Networked Expertise: Manufacturing USA is at its best when the institutes are working together— for example, to create a talent pipeline of multi-skilled manufacturing technicians. This cross-institute effort is designed to match talent demands from industry members with the best content from academia members, define promising career pathways, and align workforce investment resources across municipalities, states, and regions.
  • Customized Training: Institutes act as “teaching factories,” providing hands-on factory workforce training for the relevant technology– for example, NC State, the lead for Power America, has created a Master’s of Science concentration focused on wide band gap semiconductor power electronics. More than 200 graduate students at NC State and member universities of Power America are now studying power electronics each year. As a result, over 225 freshman engineering students have been introduced to wide band gap semiconductors, building a talent pipeline of future graduates.
  • Business Opportunities: By developing national expertise across their supply chains, the institutes are creating new reasons for companies to locate jobs and investment in their regions and the United States—for example, Leisure Pools, a polymer composite pool manufacturer originally from Australia, has relocated its facilities to be near the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI) in Knoxville, TN, as Leisure Pool moves into new areas to become an advanced manufacturer of carbon fiber composite material products and adds up to 1,000 jobs in Knoxville over the next decade.
  • Innovation Ecosystems: The institutes are creating trusted environments, knitting together technical expertise across supply chains to craft new business opportunities—for example, the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII) in Chicago, IL is providing space within its facilities for start-ups developing their business, facilitating relationships between young companies and large industrial members through collaborative projects.
  • Rejuvenated Neighborhoods: By anchoring regional manufacturing competitiveness, the institutes are breathing new life into the manufacturing regions where they are located—for example, Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow (LIFT), the lightweight and modern metals manufacturing institute in Detroit, MI, has transformed a former factory that was abandoned during the wave of offshoring in the early 2000s, rejuvenating one of Detroit’s oldest neighborhoods.

 

To learn more about the open competitions for these next manufacturing innovation institutes, please visit Manufacturing.gov. In addition to today’s announcement, the established manufacturing innovation institutes are:

  • America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (Youngstown, OH)
  • Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (Chicago, IL)
  • Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow (Detroit, MI)
  • Power America (Raleigh, NC)
  • Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (Knoxville, TN)
  • American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics (Rochester, NY)
  • Next Flex, the Flexible Hybrid Electronics Manufacturing Innovation Institute (San Jose, CA)
  • Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (Cambridge, MA)
  • Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Rapid Advancement in Process Intensification Deployment (New York, NY)
  • National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals (Newark, DE)