The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on April 8 it has received enough H-1B applications to meet the congressionally mandated cap of 85,000 H-1B visas for fiscal year 2009. The H-1B visas are given to foreign workers in “specialty occupations” (science, engineering, law, medicine, computer programming, etc.) where U.S. employers have filed petitions claiming there are not qualified U.S. applicants to fill the jobs.
“The U.S. may suffer further job losses in the coming months” began the April 3 Bloomberg.com story on federal government reports that the U.S. economy shed an estimated 633,000 jobs in March. The same federal report also revised upward the estimate of job losses for January by nearly 100,000, to 741,000 (the earlier estimate for January was 655,000 jobs lost). The unemployment rate now stands at 8.5 percent, the highest in more than 25 years.
In a move heralding the Obama administration’s most aggressive intervention in the business sector to date, the federal government has forced GM CEO Rick Wagoner to step down. The change in leadership was announced by GM in a statement released in Wagoner’s name on Monday. In it, the former CEO said the government asked him to leave. “On Friday I was in Washington for a meeting with administration officials,” Wagoner begins. “In the course of that meeting, they requested that I ‘step aside’ as CEO of GM, and so I have.”
On February 4, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) introduced the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009 (H.R. 875) in the House. Its stated objective sounds rather benign — even beneficial: "To establish the Food Safety Administration within the Department of Health and Human Services to protect the public health by preventing food-borne illness, ensuring the safety of food, improving research on contaminants leading to food-borne illness, and improving security of food from intentional contamination, and for other purposes."
For the fourth time in six months, the federal government is giving billions of taxpayer dollars to AIG, following the latter’s announcement of a $61.7 billion fourth quarter loss — this despite the massive bailout shoveled AIG’s way by the Bush administration last September. By the terms of this latest lifeline (“life support” would be a more apt metaphor, since the patient has been clinically dead for many months), the federal government is extending an additional $30 billion in loans to the former insurance giant and allowing more lax repayment terms on an additional $38 billion credit line from the Federal Reserve.