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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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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Why So Many Americans Defend the Failed Capitalist Experiment

Paul Buchheit

Paul Buchheit Author, editor, expert on income inequality

Why So Many Americans Defend the Failed Capitalist Experiment

Capitalism has worked for big business and for the people with stocks and estates. But for the past 35 years our economic system, stripped of sensible regulations, has poisoned the nation with deadly inequality and driven much of middle America to an ever-widening lower class. 

Yet for much of the nation the delusion persists, against all common sense, that deregulated free-market capitalism works, that it equates to true Americanism, and that people have only themselves to blame for their failure to thrive in this expanding world of wealth. The reasons for this delusion are not hard to determine. 

1. The Rich are Easy to Understand: Capitalism Justifies Selfishness 

Studies have consistently shown that increased wealth causes people to turn inward, to believe more in their own "superior" traits, and to care less about the feelings and needs of others. This anti-social attitude blends well with the Ayn-Randish "greed is good" message of unregulated capitalism. 

Other studies have determined that money pushes people further to the right, making them less egalitarian, less willing to provide broad educational opportunities to all members of society, and certainly part of the reason that our investment in public infrastructure as a component of GDP dropped by 60 percent from 1968 to 2011.

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The GOP: Always Pandering to the Wealthy

The GOP: Always Pandering to the Wealthy

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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