Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

Anti-Presidential: Money Grubbing, Community Disdaining Candidates

Anti-Presidential: Money Grubbing, Community Disdaining Candidates
Art on Flickr by DonkeyHotey

Donald Trump says exactly what the GOP believes. It’s a simple axiom: personal wealth accumulation is everything. Republican Party officials believe individuals like The Donald attain riches through their own guts, glory and gumption with not an iota of aid from community, country or, frankly, inherited wealth. 

It’s just that when The Donald expresses their credo, he ignores the shinola and emphasizes the crass. Instead of going with the slick 2012 GOP convention theme, “I built that,” to aggrandize individual capitalist conquest, The Donald slammed a group of his primary competitors for serving their nation instead of themselves.

What The Donald failed to acknowledge is that some of them, like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, serve themselves through their so-called public service. This year, for example, Walker took a quarter billion dollars from Wisconsin higher education, gave it instead to a project by billionaire sports team owners to construct a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks, and now one of those rich guys, Jon Hammes, co-chairs Walker’s national campaign fund raising.

It’s a brilliant scam. The Donald, master of bankruptcies with four under his belt, really should be impressed. Walker is forcing the great majority of Wisconsin workers to pay taxes, not for projects they prize like schools or highways, but instead to further enrich millionaires who, in turn, fill Walker’s campaign pockets!  

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USW’s Gerard Argues For Keeping U.S. Crude Oil In The U.S.

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

Backed by letters and petitions from more than 10,000 U.S. oil refinery workers, Steelworkers President Leo Gerard argued strongly on July 28 for keeping U.S. crude oil in the U.S.

He ran into a buzzsaw of opposition, from the Senate’s ruling Republicans, Democrat Heidi Heitkamp of oil-rich North Dakota, and the other witnesses at the Senate Banking Committee hearing, called to discuss schemes to let the U.S. export its crude – and reimport refined oil.

The solons are considering proposals to lift the 1975 ban on export of crude oil produced in the U.S. The ban, enacted just after the 1973 OPEC oil embargo, was an attempt to help the U.S. become more energy self-sufficient. The other witnesses claim the ban failed.  

Those witnesses – two oil-state senators, an oil company executive, and a speaker for the right wing American Enterprise Institute -- all advocated the crude oil exports. So did an ex-GOP Bush administration Defense Department official. She said it would help national security.  

That left Gerard, with occasional help from Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Robert Menendez, D-N.J., standing up to the fusillade of pro-export testimony. 

“We’re not energy self-sufficient yet,” Gerard warned. “We need to take care of America first,” he declared.

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What You Need To Know About John Kasich

Terrance Heath

Terrance Heath Online Producer, Campaign for America’s Future

What You Need To Know About John Kasich

Ohio governor John Kasich, the 16th candidate for the GOP presidential nomination, is neither the moderate Republican nor the “compassionate conservative” he pretends to be, but he still won’t get the Republican nomination.

This isn’t Kasich’s first time at the rodeo. He served nine terms in the House of Representatives, rising to prominence as chair of the House Budget Committee in 1997. He made a bid for the White House in 2000, after brokering a deal that balanced the federal budget for the first time since 1969, but dropped out. In 2001, Kasich left Washington for New York City, where he spent a decade working as an investment banker at Lehman Brothers. In 2010, he staged a political comeback, by defeating incumbent Democrat Ted Strickland.

Upon considering his official campaign launch (his unofficial campaign launched somewhat earlier), Kasich seems to have gotten it backwards. Kasich made empathy for struggling Americans a central theme in his launch speech at Ohio State University (from which Kasich’s campaign allegedly disinvited several liberal OSU students the night before). Typically, Republican candidates run hard and fast to the right if they want to secure the nomination, and then spend the general election trying to get close enough to the center to convince voters they’re really not that bad. That’s because, as Ed Kilgore puts it, “the dominant conservative faction in the party just cannot tolerate leaders who don’t share The True Faith.”

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Labor Must Act to Stop Mass Incarceration

Richard L. Trumka

Richard L. Trumka President, AFL-CIO

In too many corners of our nation, black and brown Americans are suffering under the weight of a criminal justice system that disproportionately harms people of color. The AFL-CIO enthusiastically supports the efforts of President Obama to make our laws fairer and more effective.

When a nonviolent offender spends a decade or more of their life behind bars because of mandatory minimum sentencing, no one benefits. When those who have paid their debt to society cannot find housing or a job, the entire economy suffers. When a generation of young Americans advance through our prison system instead of our school system, our nation is weaker for it.

Simply put, mass incarceration is ineffective, racist, and morally bankrupt. It is up to all of us -- business and labor, Republican and Democrat, liberal and conservative -- to do something about it.

The numbers are staggering. Black Americans make up 13 percent of our population, yet 38 percent of those incarcerated. As President Obama pointed out, we imprison more people than the top 35 European countries combined. We have an epidemic on our hands.

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Why Social Security Beats All Rivals -- And the Case for Expanding It

Robert Kuttner

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

Why Social Security Beats All Rivals -- And the Case for Expanding It

This is the season when we hear calls to cut Social Security. That's because of the annual trustees report on the system's financial condition.

Last week, the trustees reported that Social Security can pay all of its projected obligations through about 2034. To keep faith with today's workers and tomorrow's retirees, Social Security will need additional funds, though the shortfall is entirely manageable if we act in the next few years.

The report prompted the usual rightwing blarney about cutting benefits or privatizing Social Security, as well as familiar bleatings from billionaire deficit-hawks about the need to delay the retirement age for people far less fortunate.

One part of the system, the disability insurance fund, needs additional resources by 2016 -- and of course Republicans are calling for cuts in benefits to some of society's most needy people.

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It’s Spelled B-O-L-O-G-N-A

It’s Spelled B-O-L-O-G-N-A

Union Matters

Protect Medicare as It Matures

Today, on the occasion of Medicare’s 50th anniversary, supporters of the venerated health plan will gather on Capitol Hill to lobby for its protection. 

It seems absurd that Medicare, which has helped millions of Americans and stands to help millions more, needs protection.

Yet, a half century after it was signed into law, Republicans in Congress continue to wage war on the social insurance program. 

Congressional Republicans like Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) made names for themselves attacking Medicare and other social programs, including Medicaid and Social Security. 

House Republicans used Ryan’s ideas in a proposed budget to try to privatize Medicare and repeal the Affordable Care Act. 

Now, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush is calling for an end to Medicare, saying that he wants to “phase-out this program, Medicare, for others and move to a new system…” 

Despite these attacks, the bottom line remains that older and disabled Americans need Medicare—and what is more, they’ve earned it.

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