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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Inequality - "X" Marks the Spot - Dig here

Stan Sorscher

Stan Sorscher Labor Representative, Society for Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace

In 2002, I heard an economist characterizing this figure as containing a valuable economic insight. He wasn't sure what the insight was. I have my own answer.

Figure 1. Something happened in the mid-70's

The economist talked of the figure as a sort of treasure map, which would lead us to the insight. "X" marks the spot. Dig here.

This figure tells three stories. First, we see two distinct historic periods since World War II. In the first period, workers shared the gains from productivity. In the later period, a generation of workers gained little, even as productivity continued to rise.

The second message is the very abrupt transition from the post-war historic period to the current one. Something happened in the mid-70's to de-couple wages from productivity gains.

The third message is that workers' wages - accounting for inflation and all the lower prices from cheap imported goods - would be double what they are now, if workers still took their share of gains in productivity.

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Jeb Bush Quietly Suggests ‘Phasing Out’ Medicare

Tara Culp-Ressler

Tara Culp-Ressler Health Editor, Think Progress

Jeb Bush Quietly Suggests ‘Phasing Out’ Medicare

GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush suggested that the United States should figure out a way to “phase out” Medicare, the federal program that provides insurance to more than 50 million elderly and disabled people, at a political event on last week.

MSNBC reports that Bush was speaking at an event sponsored by Americans for Prosperity, a right-wing group backed by the billionaire Koch Brothers that has doggedly advocated against fully implementing the Affordable Care Act.

In his comments, Bush referenced Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) politically contentious plan to radically restructure the Medicare program — which independent analysts predicted would more than double health costs for the average 65-year-old — and criticized progressive lawmakers for failing to engage with Ryan’s proposals. Despite recent evidence that the program’s finances are secure, the former Florida governor suggested that Medicare isn’t solvent.

“I think a lot of people recognize that we need to make sure we fulfill the commitment to people that have already received the benefits, that are receiving the benefits. But that we need to figure out a way to phase out this program for others and move to a new system that allows them to have something — because they’re not going to have anything,” Bush said.

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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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Fund Education, Not Obliteration

Fund  Education, Not Obliteration

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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