Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

GOP: No Bootstraps for You, Baby!

Last week, Scott Walker one-upped the gang of GOP presidential candidates all jostling for the coveted Republican title of Best Billionaire Bootlicker.

He accomplished that by announcing with pomp and fanfare that, unlike those other Republican pansies, a President Walker wouldn’t stop at crushing labor unions. No. That wouldn’t hamstring the middle class sufficiently for Walker. He’d also deny workers paid sick leave and compensation for overtime. Now those are some real anti-worker, middle-class-hatin’ chops!

In a GOP field filthy with candidates who kiss up to corporate bosses and systematically suppress workers’ wages, Walker was a standout – was because his low poll numbers forced him to drop out of the race yesterday. But the remaining motley GOP crew is just as determined as he was to do whatever it takes to deny workers and their children economic mobility.  Workers organize themselves into unions to obtain the clout they know is essential to persuade powerful multinational corporations to provide decent wages, benefits and working conditions. Unions are a method workers use to pull themselves and their families up economically. Walker and his GOP buddies want to deny workers and their children that bootstrap.

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Marco Rubio Questioned By Republican College Student On Climate And Energy Policy

Emily Atkin

Emily Atkin Reporter, Climate Progress

When Dan Herrera asked Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) about the environment at a town hall meeting in Iowa last week, it almost seemed like a set-up.

After all, environmental groups have been known to plant their advocates among the crowds of Republican candidates’ events across the country, attempting to pressure them on issues like clean air and climate change. And Herrera’s question was framed the way any good environmentalist would ask it — first, an appeal to Rubio’s Catholic faith, and then, a direct question about specific policy.

“Pope Francis in the past couple days said a lot about the environment,” the 20-year-old Herrera said, smiling into the brightly lit stage where Rubio stood. “What environmental policies, if any, will you implement if you’re president?”

As it turned out, Herrera was not a member of 350.org or NextGen Climate Action, but a member of the Augustana College Republicans. Located at Augustana College just across the Missisippi River, the group was is dedicated “to promoting the ideals and candidates of their party.”

The Republican party — at least in Washington, D.C. — has been roundly accused of being anti-environment. More than 56 percent of current Congressional Republicans deny climate change, and the chairman of the House Environment committee is a coal-loving climate science denier. Week after week, congressional Republicans hold hearings to decry the EPA’s proposed regulations on smog, coal ash, and drinking water, while calling other hearings to promote fracking, offshore drilling, and crude oil exports.

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America's Collapsing Trade Initiatives

Robert Kuttner

Robert Kuttner Co-Founder and Co-Editor, The American Prospect

America's Collapsing Trade Initiatives

Chinese president Xi Jinping will be in Washington this week on an official state visit. President Obama had hoped to impress Xi with an all but sealed trade deal with major Pacific nations called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to demonstrate that America is still a force to be reckoned with in China's backyard.

But Obama's trade policy is in tatters. The grand design, created by Obama's old friend and former Wall Street deal-maker, trade chief Mike Froman, comes in two parts -- a grand bargain with Pacific nations aimed at building a U.S.-led trading bloc to contain the influence of China, and an Atlantic agreement to cement economic relations with the European Union.

Both are on the verge of collapse from their own contradictory goals and incoherent logic.

This past June, the President, using every ounce of political capital, managed to get Congress to vote him negotiating authority (by the barest of margins) for these deals. Under the so-called fast-track procedure, there is a quick up-or-down vote on a trade agreement that can't be amended.

The assumption was that the Administration could deliver a deal backed by major trading partners. But our partners are not playing.

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Smell Something, Say Something: Obamacare, O’Reilly, and full-time jobs

Jared Bernstein

Jared Bernstein Senior Fellow, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

And Jon sayeth unto the multitudes: “The best defense against bullsh__ is vigilance. So if you smell something, say something.”

This admonition came to mind, if not to nose, when I heard Fox’s Bill O’Reilly claim that the Affordable Care Act “has made it more difficult to create full-time jobs in America,” (around 2:30 in the video). The figure below, which indexes both full-time and part-time jobs to 100 in 2010, belies his claim. As ACA measures have been introduced, most notably the arrival of the subsidized exchanges and the Medicaid expansion in 2014, there’s been no noticeable change and certainly no Obamacare-induced shift to part-time work. Other data show that the number of involuntary part-time workers is down 18 percent—1.4 million fewer workers—since 2013.

Source: BLS, my analysis

No one’s claiming that the ACA is having miraculous effects on job growth, or even that it’s responsible for the full-time job growth you see above. Such outcomes are based on all the usual factors that drive labor demand, most notably the strength of the recovery.

My point is that while Obamacare is having its intended effect of making coverage more affordable and thereby lowering the uninsured rate, I’ve not seen any data that would lead an objective person to conclude it’s having a meaningful impact on the job market one way or the other.

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Union Matters

Union Busting – Not a Smart Presidential Platform, Scott

Last week, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker abandoned his bid for the Republican nomination for president, prompting speculation about ways in which his campaign failed and how much Trump had to do with it.

NewsMax instantly labeled Walker a “casualty of the Donald Trump machine” due to the political outsider’s wild popularity and the Wisconsin governor’s dramatic decline in the polls, down from a 12 percent first-choice rating in early August to less than .5 percent after the second debate.  

Walker blamed Trump too, when he begged other candidates to drop out and leave voters with a strong conservative “alternative to the current front-runner (Donald Trump).”

It actually wasn’t Trump who brought on the demise of Scott Walker; Walker walked himself off the plank when he decided on a single-aspect platform: union busting. 

Walker levied a slew of criticisms at organized labor while he was systematically dismantling Wisconsin’s middle class, and this managed to get him into the national spotlight.

But once he was there, it became increasingly obvious that his war on unions was nothing more than an attempt to mask his own willingness to sell out Wisconsin’s workers to his billionaire campaign donors.

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