The Politics of 2012 and Maybe 2016

Will Sarah Palin, Congressman Paul Ryan or Newt go under the bus? This is quite a polemic for our Republican brethren that have always made hay on their brilliant use of language while we Dems contemplated our sleepy intellectualism. Perhaps finally in the aftermath of the failed assassination attempt on Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, the President’s irrefutable victories, and the Arab spring — maybe the forces have finally aligned for the Democrats together with social media to counter balance the megaphone of the Right wing propaganda.
Given that language and propaganda are not working, who will be the first to be thrown under the bus for the greater good of the Republican Party? Will it be Sarah our old pal from the McCain campaign that has built a $25M industry around her 2008 candidacy to the chagrin of the Party elders? Or will it be the “real” Palin appropriately coined as such by the supporters of Michelle Bachman on national television? Or have the women folk run their course in Republican Land? And if so has the time come to “man-up” with a few good, old white conservative male Governors from Conservativeville – like Tim Pawlenty or Jon Huntsman? Or better yet will it be Newt who inappropriately danced on the head of Congressman Paul Ryan and his budget plan — only to refute it later? Sadly, for the Republicans all of this is off putting for guys like Mitt, or even Governor Chris Christie that appeal to the moderates of both parties.
Admittedly, any candidate, male or female, needs the proverbial brass cajoles, or other such accoutrements to challenge this sitting President after the take down of Osama bin Laden. This factoid together with Obama’s recent tough stance on the Middle East clearly levels the playing field. The scare tactics of the past cannot work at this rodeo particularly when bundled with the wholesale lunacy of the Republican leadership on the debt ceiling, Medicare and the budget. Vice President Biden in an LA Times piece summarizes well when referring to the Osama take-down as a “defining moment” for the Obama presidency. Certainly, this together with the broken Republican message machine is having an impact. Terms like “Mediscare” are not getting the same kind of traction as “ObamaCare” did just last year, or the coinage of the term “entitlement” used to pollute a whole generations’ thinking on Medicare and Social Security. Of course, Newt and his merry gang of language shapers keep trying to spin, but it is not sticking. Maybe in Newt’s case, folks have had enough of those that behave badly, pander family values, but live on the edge of exorbitant wealth. For him it appears that there is just no way to explain away things like the Tiffany’s account to the Middle Class. Further is there now cause to wonder if the day has come for Sarah, sweet Sarah, who walks the walk on reality television, but lives shall we say in Palin vernacular, high off the hog.
Indeed, the President and the Party are on the right side of the budget, Medicare, Social Security, national security, jobs and climate change. But can he and the Dems maintain this momentum when the banks, remember those pesky money men, continue to behave poorly. The reality is that folks are as fed up with these fat cats as they are with the empty threats of Right wing rhetoric and the bad behavior of men of a certain age and power whether they represent Hollywood, government or international politics.
Note to the Democratic Party: clean up the banks, the bankers and all of the bad behavior of their ilk and 2012 is a shoe-in, and maybe even 2016. Let’s think like Republicans and chart the waters for the next eight years.

Dems Should Vote For Clean Debt Limit Bill

The House is voting on a “clean” debt ceiling bill today — a bill to raise the debt ceiling without any “hostage-taking” conditions. This is the right thing to do for the country and every Democrat should vote for this. Voting for a clean bill will draw the contrast for the public between those who are doing the right thing, and those willing to hold the world’s economy hostage to a make-the-rich-richer plutocracy agenda. Democrats who do not vote for a clean bill should lose committee assignments, parking places, even bathroom keys.
The Debt Ceiling
The country’s “debt ceiling” has been reached. This means that the government’s authority to borrow money has reached its limit. The Treasury Department is engaging in gimmicks and schemes to keep the country going but time is running out. The Congress must extend this limit, or the government will default on its bonds.
If our government defaults on its bonds it would initiate a worldwide financial crisis that dwarfs the Wall Street meltdown of a few years ago.
WHY We Have This Debt
In 1981 the Reagan administration dramatically changed the course of the country. They defunded government by passing huge tax cuts for the rich and massively increasing military spending, and began cutting back on the things We, the People (government) do for each other. The country cut back on maintaining — never mind modernizing — our infrastructure, our schools, colleges and universities, scientific research and other things that make us competitive in world markets. We began cashing in our factories and moving the jobs out of the country. As a result of Reagan-era changes our trade deficits soared, wages stagnated, pensions disappeared, and a few extremely wealthy started getting much, much richer.
One major result of these changes, of course, was the huge budget deficits that accumulated into today’s massive debt. This was the plan from the start, to “starve the beast” by defunding government and forcing the debt to reach a level where there was no choice but to cut back on democratic government’s protections for the people, unleashing plutocracy.
Hostage-Taking Enabled: The Tax Cut Extension
This debate over the debt ceiling and hostage-taking follows the recent extension of the Bush tax cuts — another product of hostage-taking. At the end of the last Congress unemployment benefits for the millions of unemployed were running out. Republicans — having filibustered much of the legislation of the prior two years — held the extension of benefits “hostage” saying they would not let it pass unless the deficit-creating Bush tax cuts were extended.
Enough Democrats caved and passed an extension of the Bush tax cuts. This validated hostage-taking as a successful tactic while making the deficit much worse, setting the stage for today’s debt-ceiling fight.
The Vote Is A Trick
Today’s vote has been scheduled by the Republican leadership as a trap, trying to get some Democrats to vote with Republicans to support their hostage-taking agenda and create the appearance of bipartisan support for plutocracy. If the Republican position gets the support of enough Democratic members, Republicans can then demand deep cuts in Medicare and other programs that help people and hold corporate power in check, in exchange for their votes to allow the world’s economy to continue to operate.
From TPM: First Debt Limit Vote Today As GOP Looks To Divide Dems,

The vote is intended to expose fault lines within the Democratic caucus, with Republicans counting on sizable number of Democrats to side with them and bolster their case that Democrats need to agree to deep spending cuts as a condition to raising the debt limit.

Vote For A Clean Debt-Ceiling Bill
Voting for a clean bill stops government-by-hostage-in its tracks. Voting for a clean bill saves the world’s economy. Voting for a clean bill fights the plutocracy agenda. Voting for a clean bill saves Medicare, Social Security and the things We, the People do for each other. Voting for a clean bill is the right thing to do and doing the right thing is the right thing politically.
Call your member of Congress NOW and demand a vote for a clean debt-ceiling bill.

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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Republicans Announce Jobs Plan — This Time It’s Different

Republicans announced something they called a “jobs plan” today. This time it’s different. It really is. This time it really will create jobs instead of just handing even more money to a few at the top at the expense of the rest of us. You might not believe this because Republicans sell everything by calling it a jobs plan. And what they sell is always tax cuts for the wealthy while cutting the things We, the People do for each other. And it always ends up messing everything up for most of us. But this time it’s different.
But This Time It’s Different
Republicans always offer something called a “jobs plan” and the plan is always tax cuts for the rich while gutting the things We, the People — a.k.a. government — do for each other. Their “jobs plans” always end up enriching the already-wealthy while messing things up really bad for us.
But this time is different because this time they actually offered something that is called a “jobs plan.” So there you go! And this time the plan is different because this time the plan is to cut taxes for the wealthy and giant corporations, cut government protections for working people and the environment, but also opening our borders to let in goods made in countries unhampered by democracy’s protections while cutting taxes on companies that offshore jobs. So Bob’s your uncle.
It will work. Republicans always promise their plan will work, and then it messes things up for most of us, but this time it’s different because this time they say the plan will work. So this time it is different.
The “Plan”
You can look over the official Republican job plan here (PDF): The Republican Plan for America’s Job Creators. Here is a summary of the points: (summary: cut taxes for the rich, cut the things We, the People do for each other, send factories out of the country.)

  • Require congressional (anonymous corporate campaign donations) approval of any significant federal regulation (overriding scientists and experts in the executive branch).
  • Let companies bring overseas (offshoring jobs) profits into the US without paying US taxes.
  • Pass “free trade” (more offshoring of jobs) agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea.
  • Streamline the patent system.
  • Give more non-Americans visas to to take professional-level jobs here because “high-tech companies in America are struggling to hire qualified employees.”
  • Let the FDA approve drugs (Vioxx) and devices faster, with less testing.
  • Expand oil and coal exploration and production (Deepwater Horizon oil spill, climate change).
  • Cut government spending (Medicare, but don’t touch military) by almost $6 trillion over the next ten years.

(Note, regarding the phrase “job creators,” see Actually, “The Rich” Don’t “Create Jobs,” We Do.)
What’s New In This Plan?
But this time the plan is to cut taxes for the rich, cut the things We, the People do for each other and send more factories out of the country. This time it’s different from those other plans to cut taxes for the rich, cut the things We, the People do for each other and send more factories out of the country.
The Name Is The Game
It’s all in the name. Republicans think giving a plan a name is what matters, no matter what the plan actually does. Say whatever you need to say, but do what you wanted to do all along. They believe that people will be fooled into thinking something does a certain thing because the name says that is what it does, regardless of the actual details and results. For example, their budget plan cuts government “costs” by eliminating Medicare and replacing it with something entirely different, but since it is still named “Medicare” it still is Medicare.
So today they are recycling the usual stuff and naming it a “jobs plan,” are we are supposed to think therefore it means it is a plan that will create jobs. But really, it means sending even more money to a few at the top at the expense of the rest of us and of our country’s future.
Been There Done That — Made A Real Mess
Everything they are proposing has been tried, and tried again, and has not worked. After Reagan took office they cut taxes, deregulated & gutted government, etc. terrible debt, trade deficits, the S&L crisis, wage decline, etc. resulted. After George W Bush took office they again cut taxes, deregulated, stopped enforcing the remaining laws and regulations, privatized government and contracted the functions to cronies, expanded oil drilling and opened the borders to trade with countries that pay very little and have no environmental protections, and we saw what happened.
We are living through the nightmare that resulted. Worldwide financial collapse. Tens of thousands of American factories closed. Millions of jobs lost. Millions of lost homes. Wars. Climate change unaddressed and worse. Terrible concentration of income and wealth. Terrible trade deficits. Terrible debt. Pensions gone, savings gone, heath care benefits gone, government rampantly corrupt, unprosecuted corporate fraud common, oil spills, mountaintops removed, miners killed … a terrible, terrible list of bad results that just goes on and on and on and on and on…
Some Republicans fervently believe that doing these things will help, but the rest of them understand exactly what they are doing. These are not stupid people, and all you have to do is look around to see what actually happens in the real world when you do these things. They do them precisely because these are the results.
The Party Of Wall Street And Billionaires
Here is a fact: today when you hear from Republicans you are hearing from Wall Street, giant oil companies, huge multinational firms and a few billionaires, period. OK, maybe you also get a dose of religious right with your tax cuts, but really they just say that stuff to get those votes, too, but what they actually do is tax cuts and policies that enrich the already-wealthy at the expense of the rest of us. And the things they do always mess everything up.
But this time it’s different. It really is.
This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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They’re STILL Demonstrating in WI

The news might not tell you, but there a big demonstrations still going on in the states. Read this about WI today: Let it be known that the day Walker suppressed the vote, people yelled like hell. – blue cheddar blog

NY-26 Lesson: Don’t Mess With Medicare — Or Social Security!

In 2010 Republicans and corporate front groups ran ad after ad after ad after ad claiming that Democrats had “Cut 500 billion from Medicare.” Those ads brought them the senior vote, and they took the House. Confident in their ability to “create their own reality” they came out with a plan to privatize Medicare and told the public it would save Medicare. Well, last night’s win by Kathy Hochul in the NY-26 special election — with pretty high turnout in a Republican district — shows that the American people are smarter than they look, and figured out what was what. The lesson: don’t mess with Medicare.
Soundly Defeated
Yesterday’s NY-26 Congressional election turned on Medicare and the candidate who supported Medicare won. The candidate who supported the Republican plan to privatize Medicare was soundly defeated.
House Republicans voted to change Medicare from a single-payer plan to a private-insurance voucher plan as a measure to “cut government spending.” Republicans had talked themselves into believing the public hates government as much as they do and therefore gutting it is what the public wants. Instead of working to control health care costs they just shifted those costs away from the government into “personal responsibility” land. In plain non-propagandized English personal responsibility means each of us on our own, alone, instead of all of us watching out for and taking care of each other.
The public figured it out and voted to keep the Medicare-gutter out.
American Majority
The American Majority understands what is going on. They know that our budget problems come from tax cuts, military spending and the lack of jobs. Those are the things the public wants the Congress to fix.
Where the deficits come from:

What the public wants:

Gallup Poll, January 14-16, 2011

  • 64% oppose spending cuts to Medicare.

The Wall Street Journal/NBC News Poll, February 24-28, 2011

  • 54% believe it will not be necessary to cut spending on Medicare to reduce the national deficit.
  • 76% believe cutting Medicare to help reduce the budget deficit is mostly or totally unacceptable.
  • 60% oppose turning the Medicare system into a government-issued voucher program, which would require the beneficiary to purchase private health insurance.

First Focus and Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research Poll, April 13-18, 2011

  • 70% oppose cuts/changes to the Medicare system as described in the House Republican Budget.
  • 49% support not reducing funds to Medicare.
  • 53% believe replacing the current Medicare program with a voucher system in which retirees will receive vouchers to use to purchase subsidized insurance from private insurance companies for those 55 or older is totally or mostly unacceptable.

CBS News/The New York Times Poll, April 15-20, 2011

  • 61% believe that Medicare is currently “worth the costs.”
  • 76% think government has the responsibility to provide health care coverage to the elderly.
  • 49% believe higher-income beneficiaries should pay more in taxes.

Bloomberg News Poll, March 4-7, 2011

  • 54% oppose replacing Medicare with a system in which government vouchers would help participants pay for their own health insurance.
  • 76% oppose reducing benefits for Medicare.

Pulse Opinion Research for The Hill Poll, April 28, 2011

  • 53% said they would oppose a reduction in Medicare benefits in order to get the deficit/debt under control.

Pew Research Poll, March 8-14, 2011

  • 65% oppose changes to Social Security as a way to reduce the budget deficit.

More recent polling shows the public has moved to an even strong support for Medicare, and will remove from office anyone who votes to cut it.
Social Security The Same
Those polls don’t just test public support for Medicare, they test support for Social Security as well. The public feels just as strongly that politicians had best keep their hands off our Social Security.

In order to reduce the national debt, would you support or oppose cutting spending on Social Security, which is the retirement program for the elderly?
Ohio: 16% support, 80% oppose
Missouri: 17% support, 76% oppose
Montana: 20% support, 76% oppose
Minnesota: 23% support, 72% oppose

Reality Restored
During the Bush years the idea of a “reality-based community” circulated after an article by Ron Suskind about a meeting he had with “a senior advisor to Bush.” In the article he described how the aide scoffed at people who bother with reality:

The aide said that guys like me were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” … “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

Republicans and their corporate money tried to create a reality that let them gut Medicare without the public rising up to do something about it. It didn’t work.
Do The Right Thing
Well, reality is coming back. The public is figuring things out. Politicians should learn the lesson of NY-26: don’t mess with Medicare — or Social Security. To fix the deficit fix the causes of the deficit: invest in jobs through maintaining and modernizing our infrastructure, restore top tax rates to where they were before we had huge deficits and, by the way, the Soviet Union is long gone so cut military spending back to maybe only twice our nearest potential competitor.
This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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At The Deficit Table: Wingnuts, Wall Street & Wealthy But Not Women & Working People

In DC the elite are gathered around tables discussing budget cuts but not jobs to cure a deficit largely caused by a lack of jobs and by tax cuts. The last time these DC geniuses gathered around tables they extended tax cuts for the wealthy, dramatically worsening the deficits that are causing their fainting spells today. Not at the table: women, working people, the poor or any semblance of democracy.
Just ten years ago the country had huge budget surpluses. Then they cut taxes for the rich and dramatically increased military spending. They privatized (i.e. handed to cronies) as much of the government as they could get away with. They deregulated almost everything and stopped enforcing the laws and regulations that remained. They closed 50,000 factories, sending millions of jobs out of the country. This all came to a head, as it had to, and millions more jobs were lost, which exploded the already-huge deficits as unemployment, food stamps, etc. increased while tax revenues declined.
Now there is a deficit of jobs, causing the deficit of budget. At the same time there are millions of jobs that obviously need to be done, maintaining and modernizing our infrastructure, educating our people, moving us away from oil and coal and otherwise improving our health and our lives and out spirits. But these are not the issues being discussed at the table.
Wealthy And Wall Street At The Table
These negotiations going on behind the scenes do not represent the public.
Remember the deficit commission that was headed by a right-wingnut and a board member of a huge Wall Street firm? The two of them came up with a “serious” plan that cut taxes for the rich and cut the things government does for the rest of us.
Then there was a “Gang of 6” (now 5). Now there is the Biden Group described (see below) as an “Old Boys Club.”
At the table: a bunch of well-paid elites, many possibly even hoping to cash in later with big-money jobs on Wall Street or K Street (lobbying).
Not At The Table
Women are not at the table — especially not single mothers or older women. Working people are not at the table. The poor are not at the table. The retired are not at the table. The unemployed are not at the table. The open, transparent and accountable processes required by democracy are not at the table.
Restoring taxes on the wealthy and cutting the military fixes these problems, but these are not at the table.
Putting people to work maintaining and modernizing our infrastructure would fix these problems. But this is not at the table.
There is a People’s Budget from the Progressive Caucus that addresses these problems, but it is not at the table.
And jobs, infrastructure, the People’s Budget, cuts in the huge military budget, tax increases on the rich are what the public overwhelmingly wants done. But the public is not at the table.
No one at the table is speaking for the American People, for the American Majority that wants taxes restored on the wealthy.
Women And Working People Not At The Table
Where are the women? Where are the working people? Where are the unemployed? Why are they not at the table?
The Older Women’s Economic Security (OWES) Task Force has sent a letter to the President, asking that members of the administration with expertise on women’s issues be added to the White House’s advisory team discussing strategies to reduce deficit spending. From the letter,

“It is simply not enough to send a few privileged men to the table to ‘solve’ the nation’s budget problem,” states the letter from the OWES Task Force. “We welcome the opportunity to bring our voices and expertise to a discussion with you and your advisors, and we request that members of your administration with expertise on women’s issues, such as Secretary Hilda Solis and Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, be added to the White House’s advisory team working on these negotiations.”
… The old boys club meeting has consisted of Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), U.S. Senators John Kyl (R-AZ), Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Max Baucus (D-MT), Reps. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), who have convened for the budget negotiations with Vice President Biden, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, Budget Director Jack Lew, and economic adviser Gene Sperling.

Media Gives A Pass
The elite media say that the only “serious” approach to deficits is to cut back on the things We, the People (government) do for each other — budget cuts. Tax increases on the wealthy, taking rates back to where they were when we didn’t have these problems — that’s not “serious.” Investing in modernizing infrastructure, educating our people and efficient energy so our economy is more competitive is not “serious.” Taking on mercantilist trading partners who are grabbing jobs and markets is not “serious.” The People’s Budget especially is not “serious.”
The People And Democracy Demand To Be At The Table
A new round of polls is out, and the public is demanding a change in the DC elite approach. Even more than the last round of polls, these polls show that the public demands to be at the table.
Associated Press-GfK poll,

They’re not buying it. Most Americans say they don’t believe Medicare has to be cut to balance the federal budget, and ditto for Social Security, a new poll shows.

Public Policy Polling conducted a poll sponsored by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Democracy For America, and CREDO Action, which showed the following answer to the idea of cutting Social Security:

In order to reduce the national debt, would you support or oppose cutting spending on Social Security, which is the retirement program for the elderly?
Ohio: 16% support, 80% oppose
Missouri: 17% support, 76% oppose
Montana: 20% support, 76% oppose
Minnesota: 23% support, 72% oppose

A Daily Kos/SEIU State of the Nation Poll asked respondents to name their top issue, from a list of nine. Of course JOBS was #1:

Q: I’m going to name nine issues. Which of these is most important to you right now: education, Social Security, Medicare, jobs, national security, gas prices, taxes, immigration, or the federal budget deficit?
Jobs: 26
Federal budget deficit: 18
Education: 15
Social Security: 13
Gas prices: 10
Medicare: 5
National security: 5
Immigration: 3
Taxes: 3
Something else: 2

Take action: Tell President Obama to put the People’s Budget on the table.
This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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NLRB V Boeing – Corporations Fear Law Itself

The National Labor Relations Board is attempting to enforce our country’s laws and the corporate conservatives are going nuts – literally. They are challenging the concept of law itself, while making wild claims of conspiracies by government against business itself. Yikes!
The National Labor Relations Board has filed a complaint against Boeing for retaliating against employees for legitimate union activities. Boeing opened a 787 assembly line in “right-to-work” South Carolina that they had previously stated would go to Washington State, after repeatedly having to grant concessions to union workers in Washington State. Opening an assembly line is not illegal, of course, but doing so in retaliation for union activities or for the purpose of threatening a union is illegal.
The key to the NLRB action is that Boeing executives said repeatedly they were opening the South Carolina plant because of union activities. They boasted they were breaking the law, and finally someone has dared to enforce the law.
The International Associaltion of Machinists and Aerospace Workers complaint states that a Boeing executive stated Boeing was “diversifying Boeing’s labor pool” to South Carolina due to “strikes happening every three to four years.” The complaint cites several other instances of Boeing officials stating the reason for opening the South Carolina assembly line was because of union activities, as well as threatening the union with losing work in Washington state because of union activities.
The idea of the NLRB enforcing the nation’s laws again, after decades of Reagan/Bush/Bush non-enforcement, has caused corporate heads to explode. The corporate right says the NLRB complaint is an example of “the federal government dictating private business decisions.”
Yes, exactly. That is what law is: government dictating private business decisions.
What Is Law?
Law is “government dictating private business decisions.” That’s pretty much the definition of what law is. Telling a company they can’t dump toxic waste into rivers, can’t steal from customers, etc. are all examples of “government dictating private business decisions.”
Law is government — We, the People — telling people and companies what they can and cannot do. So by complaining about “government dictating private business decisions” it appears the Boeing and the corporate right have a problem with law and government itself. “Being told what they can and cannot do” is what government and law enforcement are for.
The right to form a union and engage in legitimate union activities without fear of retaliation or intimidation is the law in the US, and in every state.
This is now about integrity of the law enforcement process. Boeing and the corporate right are attacking law enforcement itself. And so we are treated with the spectacle of the lawbreakers getting headlines attacking the law-enforcement agency.
This crowd has gotten used to telling government what to do, and now here comes government actually daring to try to enforce a law — telling them what to do instead of the other way around — and they just can’t f&%king believe it! They clearly do not accept it.
What The Law Is
Congress enacted the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) in 1935. It’s the law.
Take a look at Section 1 of the NLRA. In summary, it says that lack of bargaining power by workers against corporations leads to Depressions (we call them recessions now) because of depressed purchasing power. And it leads to strikes, which disrupt commerce. Therefore, it is the policy of the United States to encourage collective bargaining.
According to NLRB :

The NLRA protects the rights of employees to:

  • Form or join a union
  • Bargain collectively for a contract that sets wages, benefits, hours, and other working conditions
  • Discuss wages, working conditions or union organizing with co-workers or a union
  • Act with co-workers to improve working conditions by raising complaints with an employer or a government agency
  • Strike and picket their employer, depending on the purpose or means of the action
  • Choose not to join a union or engage in union activities
  • Organize coworkers to decertify a union
    If employees choose a union as their bargaining representative, the union and employer must bargain in good faith in a genuine effort to reach a binding agreement setting out terms and conditions of employment. The union is required to fairly represent employees in bargaining and enforcing the agreement.
  • Employers may not:

  • Prohibit employees from discussing a union during non-work time, or from distributing union literature during non-work time in non-work areas, such as parking lots or break rooms
  • Question employees about their union support or activities in a manner that discourages them from engaging in that activity
  • Fire, demote, transfer, reduce hours or take other adverse action against employees who join or support a union or act with co-workers for mutual aid and protection, or who refuse to engage in such activity
  • Threaten to close their workplace if employees form or join a union
  • Promise or grant promotions, pay raises, or other benefits to discourage or encourage union support
  • Prohibit employees from wearing union hats, buttons, t-shirts, and pins in the workplace except under special circumstances
  • Spy on or videotape peaceful union activities and gatherings

  • Companies can not threated employees for trying to form a union, and companies cannot retaliate against employees for having a union. That. Is. The. Law.
    Corporate Right Going Nuts
    The big corporations have gotten used to having things their way. In response to having their unquestioned authority over government and law itself challenged by this NLRB action the corporate right is apoplectic.
    Not only is the corporate right challenging the very idea of law itself, complaining about “government dictating private business decisions,” but they are doubling down on the nutty stuff. The Heritage Foundation, in NLRB Comes to Big Labor’s Defense, for example, goes off the deep end, into Glenn Beck territory, claiming that the NLRB is engaged in a conspiracy to make companies “even harder to manage.”

    The Washington Examiner reports that a leaked NLRB memo “makes clear that President Obama and the radical labor advocates he put on it are embarked on a calculated campaign to make unionized firms even harder to manage.” The memo, which was obtained by the Heritage Foundation’s Hans von Spakovsky and James Sherk, “shows that the board seeks to elevate union officials to equal partners with executives in corporate boardrooms of all unionized firms.” The Examiner continues:

    The memo instructs NLRB regional operatives to flag all cases in which unionized firms made relocation decisions without submitting detailed economic justifications to their unions. The board plans “case-by-case” reviews, followed by prosecutions of selected cases. The intended consequence is that all major business decisions will become subject to approval by unions.

    Nutty, indeed, claiming that there is a conspiracy by government that has “embarked on a calculated campaign to make unionized firms even harder to manage.” That’s Glenn Beck territory.
    Who Is In Charge?
    This comes down to a simple question: who is in charge here? Is it We, the People, or the giant corporations who consider themselves above the law, and in control of the government?
    See also:
    Palin and Boeing CEO Tell Government Who The Boss Is
    Actual Enforcement Of Actual Laws? Is It Possible?
    Corporate/Conservative Heads Explode As NLRB Actually Enforces Law
    Does Government Know Who The Boss Is?
    This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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    See WHY Austerity Can’t Reduce The Deficit

    Austerity — cutting government benefits and services — is not the path to fixing deficits. In fact, economists warn that trying to fix a sluggish economy by cutting government spending will just make things worse. Worse yet, this approach can have damaging effects that last into the future. This can be easily shown with simple calculations.
    Economist Brad DeLong talks about Simple Deficit Reduction Arithmetic: A Comment on Kash Mansouri, commenting on Kash Mansouri’s post Some Simple Deficit Reduction Arithmetic.
    Start with Kash who sets it up with an easy-to-picture $100 economy.:

    Suppose we are in a country that is running a large budget deficit but, for whatever reason, decides that it needs to dramatically reduce it. Take your pick of examples, because there are plenty to choose from: Greece, the UK, the US…
    Suppose that the country – let’s call it Austerityland – has a GDP of $100/year, and a budget deficit of $10/yr, or 10% of GDP. And suppose that the government decides it wants to get the deficit down to 5% of GDP. How can it get there?
    No, the answer is not “cut spending by $5/yr”.

    OK, so we have a $100 GDP with $10 deficits and we want to cut that to $5. Kash explains that a $5 spending cut means (by definition) that GDP immediately drops $5, and this (by definition) $5 drop in consumer income makes tax revenue drop as well (as well as a further drop in GDP). After some calculations (go to the post) Kash shows that a $5 cut makes deficits drop to 7.4%, not 5%, but GDP also drops quite a bit – maybe 7 or 8%. Seriously, go see the calculations, they are not difficult.
    So much of our current deficit is because of the Great Recession. Obviously we don’t want to force the economy back into recession with budget cuts causing a big drop in GDP!
    (Note, if this spending cut happens at a time when interest rates are high, then the rates might fall as spending cuts reduce demand, which might help spur investment, but in the US interest rates are zero so this won’t happen. The only thing that will happen is demand is reduced and the economy slows.)
    Kash concludes,

    Why do people keep getting surprised that austerity doesn’t work as well as hoped to reach budget deficit targets? …
    But when basic Macro 101 both makes good theoretical sense and also fits what we actually observe, it’s really time to start looking for your handy Occam’s Razor.

    In the UK we observe that this effect is now proven as their austerity has forced a big drop in GDP. And the same is happening with Greece as their austerity forces their economy to slow.
    But Wait, It Gets Worse
    After linking to this post DeLong takes the warning a bit further, pointing out that if some of the “austerity-induced output decline turns into a permanent reduction in potential output” then the “spending cuts this year lowers future annual tax collections…” which means it hurts your ability to pay off debt. Or, in other words, “that austerity today worsens the debt burden.” Click through to see DeLong’s calculations.
    Got that? Harming the economy on purpose with spending cuts harms the economy in the future, too.
    The People’s Budget
    There’s only one deficit reduction proposal clearly backed by the American majority: the ” People’s Budget” from the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
    Take action: Tell President Obama to put the People’s Budget on the table.
    This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
    Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

    Appoint Elizabeth Warren Now!

    We Need Change: Give Elizabeth Warren a Recess Appointment

    We Need Change: Give Elizabeth Warren a Recess Appointment
    The Senate Republican minority has publicly announced it will filibuster any nominee to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, unless the President strips the new bureau of much of his ability to protect consumers and hold banks accountable. If Senate Republicans are going to unreasonably withhold their votes, the President has no obligation to cater to their demands. He can use his constitutional powers to make appointments while Congress is in recess after May 27, and nominate the best person for the job.
    Sign the petition below to urge the President to appoint the best: Elizabeth Warren.

    Click through to sign the petition.
    Petition Text:

    Mr. President, Appoint Elizabeth Warren To Lead The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
    We the undersigned urge you, President Barack Obama, to use your recess appointment powers, after the Senate adjourns on May 27, to name Elizabeth Warren to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Since the Senate Republicans have refused to consider any appointment without dismantling the bureau itself, there is no reason to subject any nominee to a confirmation process guaranteed to go nowhere.
    Elizabeth Warren is American’s greatest middle-class champion. She has done outstanding work in setting up the bureau. We cannot let Wall Street opposition and Republican obstruction block dynamic leadership for the new bureau.
    We in the middle-class need the best, and the best is Elizabeth Warren. It is time to act.