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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June Jobs: Continued, Solid Gains, but That 5.3% Unemployment Rate Makes the Job Market Look Tighter Than It Is

Jared Bernstein

Jared Bernstein Senior Fellow, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Today’s jobs report was a bit weaker than expected, and a bit weaker than it looked at first blush. While payrolls were up 223,000 in June, in line with expectations, and the unemployment rate fell to a record low in this recovery of 5.3%, mitigating factors include:

–downward revisions in payrolls for April and May of 60,000 combined;

–the fall in unemployment was exclusively due to people leaving the labor force, not jobseekers finding work;

–thus, the labor force participation rate ticked down a significant 0.3 percentage points to 62.6%, its lowest level since the late 1970s, though see below re this important trend;

–hourly wage growth was flat in June, and is up 2% over the past year, a slight deceleration from last month’s report;

–average weekly hours worked were also unchanged, so weekly earnings were also up 2%;

–factory employment growth remains weak, up 4,000 and little changed over the past five months (construction was also a weak spot in June, adding no net new jobs).

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Is Jeb’s Social Security Flub The Worst Bush Gaffe Yet?

Richard Eskow

Richard Eskow Writer, Host, "The Breakdown;" Senior Fellow, Campaign for America's Future

Is Jeb’s Social Security Flub The Worst Bush Gaffe Yet?

George W. Bush: His policies brought untold harm, but at least his gaffes offered some occasional lighthearted moments. Now his brother Jeb may have outdone him in the faux pas department – but there’s nothing funny about it.

The former Florida governor has been running on a platform that includes cutting Social Security benefits, so he’s been talking about raising the retirement age. But, as it happens, he doesn’t even know what the retirement age is.

When he was asked about it, Jeb responded in the tortured syntax characteristic of his clan: “We need to look over the horizon and begin to phase in, over an extended period of time, going from 65 to 68 or 70.”

Except that the retirement age isn’t 65, and hasn’t been for some time. The current retirement age is 66, and it will continue to rise. People born in 1959 won’t be able to retire until they are 67 years old.

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A Bank CEO Said Elizabeth Warren Doesn’t Understand Wall Street. Her Response Was Perfect.

Bryce Covert

Bryce Covert Economic Policy Editor, Think Progress

Last month, JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon said of Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren (D), “I don’t know if she fully understands the global banking system.”

By Thursday, Warren already had a response. Speaking on the Huffington Post’s “So, That Happened” podcast, she said, “The problem is not that I don’t understand the global banking system. The problem for these guys is that I fully understand the system and I understand how they make their money. And that’s what they don’t like about me.”

Warren’s résumé comes with nearly 20 years of experience teaching corporate law at Harvard University, publishing nine books, chairing the Congressional Oversight Panel that oversaw the bank bailouts in 2008 (of which JP Morgan was a beneficiary), and coming up with the idea for and helping to create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which has already helped consumers avoid numerous predatory lending schemes and recouped more than $4.8 billion through its enforcement actions.

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Workers Have the Right to Unionize

Workers Have the Right to Unionize

Union Matters

RTW (AKA Busting Unions)

The U.S. Supreme Court plans to hear a case that, should it be decided in favor of the plaintiffs, could do to unions what King v. Burwell sought to do to the Affordable Care Act.

The case in question involves public sector unions.  Specifically, a group of California teachers have petitioned the Court, claiming their First Amendment rights have been violated.  How so?  They cite having to pay fees to a union for services the union might perform on their behalf, whether or not want to join it, as the violation they allege.

Trouble is, a ruling in agreement with this position would overturn a legal precedent of almost four decades.  That precedent, set in 1977 in the case Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, established the principle that public workers can pay what are called "fair share" fees if they are represented by a union, even if they are not members.  The status of Abood as settled law has been upheld by both a federal district court, and by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.  But that may not be enough.  For instance, in a 5-4 opinion last year, Justice Samuel Alito called Abood questionable on several grounds, implying at least some support for the concept of right-to-work.

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