Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

Obamacare Reconciliation

Obamacare Reconciliation
Photo by Victoria Pickering on Flickr.

The Supreme Court last week ensured millions of Americans retained their health insurance. Those who kept their coverage sighed with relief. Democrats cheered.

Republicans reacted with vitriol and recrimination. Even the GOP dissenters on the Supreme Court couldn’t stop themselves from responding with bitter sarcasm. Weirdly too, with language like “jiggery-pokery.”

For the entire five years since Democrats passed the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Republicans have relentlessly attempted to kill it – along with some of its most vulnerable beneficiaries who’d lack life-saving health care if the GOP succeeded. Some Republican legislatures and governors have jubilantly exploited a provision in a previous Supreme Court decision to deny the working poor in their states access to the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid. But the GOP has lost the bulk of two appeals to the Supreme Court. And Republicans have failed at 67 attempts to repeal all or part of the ACA. They need to call off their war on health care now. Declare a ceasefire. Stop trying to slaughter a law that’s helping millions.  

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Turn Left on Main Street

Bill Moyers Author, Television Documentary Journalist

Turn Left on Main Street

Congressman John K. Delaney, what the hell are you talking about?

In a recent Washington Post op-ed piece, headlined, “The last thing America needs? A left-wing version of the Tea Party,” the Democratic congressman from Maryland scolds progressives and expresses his worry “about where some of the loudest voices in the room could take the Democratic Party.”

He writes, “Rejecting a trade agreement with Asia, expanding entitlement programs that crowd out other priorities and a desire to relitigate the financial crisis are becoming dominant positions among Democrats. Although these subjects may make for good partisan talking points, they do not provide the building blocks for a positive and bold agenda to create jobs and improve the lives of Americans.”

Rep. Delaney even implies that a freewheeling, open discussion of “these subjects” could lead to the election of a Republican president.

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State Employees Are Having A Hard Time Explaining Scott Walker’s New Voting Restrictions

Alice Ollstein Political Reporter, Think Progress

State Employees Are Having A Hard Time Explaining Scott Walker’s New Voting Restrictions

When Hillary Clinton issued a sweeping call for expanding and protecting voting rights, and called out Wisconsin and other states for passing discriminatory laws, Governor Scott Walker responded by blasting her views as “extreme” and “far outside the mainstream.” He defended his own record of cutting early voting days and implementing a strict voter ID law, saying these changes “make it easier to vote and harder to cheat.”

But at a workshop held in Milwaukee in early June, state government employees struggled to explain the byzantine voting restrictions to a crowd of poll workers and community activists.

Under Wisconsin’s voter ID law, which was blocked by courts until this March, you can vote with an expired military ID, but naturalization papers and student IDs must be current. Students must bring additional proof of enrollment, such as a class schedule. All Wisconsin residents can obtain a free state ID from any DMV, but only if they have no drivers license from any state. For 18-year-olds registering to vote for the first time, a public high school ID counts, but a private one doesn’t. A bank statement can serve as proof of residence, but not a credit card statement.

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Santorum: I’m More Qualified Than Pope Francis To Talk About Climate Change Because I’m A Politician

Natasha Geiling

Natasha Geiling

Santorum: I’m More Qualified Than Pope Francis To Talk About Climate Change Because I’m A Politician

In an interview with Fox News Sunday, former Pennsylvania senator and current GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum tried to explain why he is more qualified than the Pope to discuss climate change. Santorum caused a stir earlier this week when he told a Philadelphia radio station that Pope Francis should “leave science to the scientists” and focus on things like “theology and morality” instead of climate change.

“If he’s not a scientist — and in fact, he does have a degree in chemistry — neither are you?” host Chris Wallace asked Santorum Sunday. “So, I guess the question would be, if he shouldn’t talk about it, should you?”

Santorum defended his discussions about climate change by distinguishing politicians from church leaders. “Politicians, whether we like it or not, people in government have to make decision with regard to public policy that affect American workers,” Santorum said, adding that while “the pope can talk about whatever he wants to talk about,” he questions the Pope’s use of his moral authority to combat the issue of climate change.

“I’m saying, what should the pope use his moral authority for?” Santorum asked. “I think there are more pressing problems confronting the earth than climate change.”

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With Obamacare Ruling, It’s Time For GOP Governors to Expand Medicaid

Terrance Heath

Terrance Heath Online Producer, Campaign for America’s Future

Now that the Supreme Court has one again upheld the Affordable Care Act, it’s time for Republican governors to stop denying coverage to millions and expand their Medicaid programs.

The Supreme Court’s 6–3 decision upholding federal subsidies in the Affordable Care Act doesn’t change anything. It just means that 6.4 million people who depend on federal and state health insurance exchanges for coverage won’t lose their benefits. All of the other provisions of the ACA remain in effect. The ruling represents an unqualified victory for health care reform, and peace of mind for nearly two-thirds of the more than 10 million beneficiaries of health care reform.

What has changed is that, as President Obama said in his reaction to the ruling, “the Affordable Care Act is here to stay. … This is not an abstract thing anymore. This is not a set of political talking points,” Obama said. “This is reality.”

It’s also reality that the Supreme Court’s decision doesn’t change anything for the 4.3 million Americans who are currently prohibited from gaining coverage under the ACA. According to a White House infographic, the 22 states refusing to expand Medicaid will leave 4.3 million Americans uninsured.

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It's Past Time for Overtime

It's Past Time for Overtime

Union Matters

Mandated Paid Leave Expands Again

Angela Colaizzi

Last week, Oregon joined Connecticut, California, and Massachusetts as the fourth state to mandate that most employers provide paid sick leave.

Specifically, Oregon will require beginning Jan. 1 that Portland-based employers with six or more full-time workers anywhere in the state provide 40 hours of paid leave a year. Employers based outside Portland with 10 or more workers must provide 40 hours of paid sick leave a year beginning Jan. 1.

The new statewide law will supersede municipal paid leave ordinances in Portland and Eugene. 

The United States is the only industrialized nation that does not guarantee paid sick or maternity leave. In fact, the United States does not even prohibit employers from firing workers for missing one day because of illness.  In the absence of federal protections, states and cities are taking action.

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