Wednesday wrap

Obama admits his early 'mistakes' hurt economy ... President Barack Obama is comparing the stock market to the daily tracking polls used during campaigns, saying that paying too close attention to Wall Street's "fits and starts" could lead to bad long-term policy. Obama spoke to reporters Tuesday after meeting in the Oval Office with visiting British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Obama said he is not measuring policies against "the day-to-day gyrations of the stock market," but by whether lending is flowing more freely, businesses are investing and the unemployed are going back to work. He said he is "absolutely confident" that those things will happen. But the president also said it will take time for the mistakes of the past to work their way through the system. (dcexaminer.com)

Geithner: Obama inherits train wreck from Reid, Pelosi ... President Barack Obama's Treasury secretary says the administration has inherited "the worst fiscal situation in American history." Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told the House Ways and Means Committee Tuesday that Obama entered office facing a $1.3 trillion deficit - about 10 percent of the nation's economic output. Republicans have complained that Obama's budget proposal would balloon the deficit even higher, to $1.75 trillion. Geithner said that additional spending is necessary because the previous administration was unwilling to make long-term investments in health care, energy and education. (townhall.com)

U.S. suffers from destructive, anti-business politics ... President Obama on Tuesday said that despite an onslaught of bad economic news in recent weeks and months, there is more pain to come in the days ahead. "The economy's performance in the last quarter of 2008 was the worst in over 25 years. And frankly, the first quarter of this year holds out little promise for better returns," Mr. Obama said. Mr. Obama made his comments during a visit to the Department of Transportation, where he heralded the results of the $787 billion stimulus package passed by Congress last month. (washingtontimes.com)

Biden: The Card-Check Debate is Over ... With media reports indicating that Vice President Joe Biden will use his address before the AFL-CIO's winter meeting on Thursday to outline the Obama Administration's game plan on card check, the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW) urged the Vice President to consider the views of the overwhelming majority of union members who are opposed to card check. In polling conducted for CDW in January by McLaughlin & Associates, nearly three-quarters (74%) of union households were opposed to the card check provisions in the Employee Free Choice Act. An overwhelming 88% of union households believed that a worker's vote should be kept private during a union organizing election, and 85% of union households believed that a secret ballot election is the best way to protect the individual rights of workers when they are deciding whether to join a union. "The American people, including rank and file union members, are strongly opposed to card check because it will strip away worker privacy and put our economy at greater risk," said Brian Worth, the chairman of the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace. "The Obama Administration would be wise to rethink its support of card check instead of blindly following the wishes of Big Labor." (news.prnewswire.com)

Friedman smacks down Donahue

Cracking the Obama Code: 'Middle Class' really means 'Union-Only' ... President Obama thanks Big Labor for its help pushing through his economic stimulus package in a video message tonight to the AFL-CIO executive council gathering in Miami. "We have already started to change America on behalf of working people," the president says, according to remarks released by the White House. Obama extols what's in the stimulus plan for workers, and also bills he has signed into law on pay discrimination and an expansion of a children's health program. Unions provided millions of dollars and tens of thousands of volunteers during the campaign, and Obama says he's now repaying their trust. "I do not view the labor movement as part of the problem," he adds. "To me, and to my administration, labor unions are a big part of the solution. We need to level the playing field for workers and the unions that represent their interests – because we cannot have a strong middle class without a strong labor movement." (boston.com)

'Social justice' really means 'Punish the middle class' ... Connecticut teachers and state employee unions on Monday asked the legislative Finance Committee to approve a new progressive income-tax structure that makes the wealthy pay more. And first-year state Rep. Auden Grogins, D-Bridgeport, said the city needs a new law that would allow it to establish a local 1 percent tax on meals, alcoholic beverages and hotel occupancy. But Chuck Moran, president of the Connecticut Lodging Association, said raising the current tax by a percentage point could result in a 2 percent decline in revenue for hotels. Stephen Adair, chairman of the sociology department at Central Connecticut State University who was speaking as a private citizen, said that over the past 30 years, no state has seen such a rapid rate of income inequality as Connecticut. (stamfordadvocate.com)

SEIU spreads fear, intimidation

Don't be fooled by union thugs ... Virginia's small businesses are struggling right now because of the recession. They're struggling to get customers, pay bills, and keep the doors open. The last thing Virginia's family-owned businesses need is some bureaucrat dictating the wages and benefits they pay their employees. But that's exactly what the labor unions and some members of Congress want to see happen. Union bosses and their friends in Congress are trying to pass something called the "Employee Free Choice Act." This woefully misnamed bill would replace secret ballots with a process known as "card check." If the bill were to become law, unions could organize a workplace simply by "persuading" a majority of workers to sign authorization cards. There would be no subsequent secret-ballot election--and no chance for management to present their case as to what the ramifications might be for their employees' futures. Once the union had enough signatures, contract negotiations would begin. If the union couldn't come to terms with management within a set number of days, then a federal bureaucrat would step in and dictate wages and other benefits. The Employee Free Choice Act would open employees to union intimidation. Organizers could corner workers in the parking lot or even at home. Don't let the name fool you. This is the Employee Forced Choice Act. (fredericksburg.com)

Key Dem: Obama will not threaten U.S. overspending ... House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer Tuesday became the second leading congressional Democrat in a week to push back against President Obama's drive to curb member-directed earmarks on spending bills. Saying he was open to the president's "suggestions" about how to reform the spending process, the Maryland Democrat told reporters, "I don't think the White House has the ability to tell us what to. I hope you all got that down." His comments came a day after White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Mr. Obama was preparing new rules on earmarks as Congress puts the final touches on a omnibus spending bill for the remainder of the current fiscal year that includes thousands of targeted spending items inserted by lawmakers. (washingtontimes.com)

Disorganized Labor plagues U.S. ... A new joke is making the rounds in union circles: Organized labor is an oxymoron. Nationwide, unions are fighting among themselves at a time when they should be marshaling their forces to win their biggest priority since the Great Depression, card check. That’s shorthand for a process to make it easier for workers to organize, likely reversing labor’s decades-long decline. But union infighting — on the national, regional and local fronts — plays into toxic stereotypes long promoted by business and its Republican allies, threatening to derail the federal legislation. To be sure, the ranks of labor have a long and storied history of civil war leading to reorganizations. Just last week, tens of thousands of California health care workers signed a petition to decertify the Service Employees International Union as their collective bargaining representative, alleging threats and intimidation. (lasvegassun.com)

AFL-CIO big terms Andy Stern 'deplorable, arrogant' ... SEIU chief Andrew Stern's backing of a divorce for UNITE HERE, and his offer to merge with that union, has provoked off-record grumbling on the HERE side of the divided union. Today, it brought an an on-record shot from a division of the AFL-CIO, which SEIU and UNITE HERE left to form Change to Win. "A guiding principle of American trade unionism is and always has been that one union or federation of unions must not interfere in the democratic processes of another union or federation," said Building and Construction Trades Department President Mark Ayers in his memo. "The fact that one large international union has chosen to insert itself into the affairs of UNITE HERE is deplorable and arrogant." (politico.com)

Stern, Burger nabbed in malicious litigation, vote-fraud scheme ... The trustees of Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West filed a lawsuit Tuesday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco against Sal Rosselli and other former leaders of the local for alleged attempts to sabotage UHW’s representation of its members. The lawsuit seeks a court order to stop Rosselli and others from obstructing the trusteeship and using or destroying union property. It demands compensatory and punitive damages, attorneys fees and court costs. “The former officers of this local not only lost their way, they put the members on the path to ruin,” trustee Eliseo Medina said in a news statement. “They won’t get away with it.” Rosselli and John Borsos, a former vice president with UHW and one of the leaders named in the lawsuit, both described the lawsuit as a desperate attempt to hang onto its membership. “SEIU seems increasingly desperate, considering that in less than five weeks, 91,000 members have petitioned to get out of SEIU,” Borsos said. “They should just let people vote so we call all move forward.” (bizjournals.com)

Workers ashamed of USW strike-boss ... Striking workers at White Pigeon Paper Co. have offered to return to work and continue negotiating a new contract, a union official said this afternoon. About 80 company workers, represented by the United Steelworkers Union Local 1034, walked off the job Sunday after failing to secure a new labor pact with White Pigeon Paper. Michael Bolton, director of Michigan and Wisconsin for the United Steelworkers Union, said his union has made an "unconditional offer to return to work." Bolton said he expects union negotiators to set a date with the company to continuing working on a new contract. Bolton declined to comment on a reason for the offer. (blog.mlive.com)

Union organizers harass Catholic nurses ... Nurses at St. Agnes Medical Center, a Catholic hospital in Fresno, must vote again on whether they want the pro-abortion California Nurses Association to represent them, a federal administrative law judge has ruled. William L. Schmidt, an administrative law judge with the National Labor Relations Board, issued an eight-page ruling on Jan. 22, in which he concluded the May 2008 election in which St. Agnes nurses voted 452 to 327 against CNA representation should be nullified. Schmidt said hospital administrators failed to post a sufficient number of notices about the election and that some required notices were not posted “until several hours after 12:01 a.m., May 16…,” a deadline specified in NLRB regulations. A new election has been ordered for March 11-12, making the third time St. Agnes nurses have been asked to vote on whether they want CNA representation. They rejected the union in last year’s May 21-22 vote, and also in a 1998 election. (calcatholic.com)

SEIU leftists lose Rahmbo's House seat ... Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley has won the Democratic primary in the special election for White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel’s (D-Ill.) former House seat. He is a near-cinch to win the seat next month. Quigley led the two other frontrunners, state Reps. Sara Feigenholtz and John Fritchey, by more than 2,300 votes out of nearly 50,000 ballots cast. More than four-fifths of precincts are reporting. Quigley was first with 22 percent of the vote, while Fritchey and Feigenholtz were second and third, respectively, with both around 17 percent. Quigley had the endorsements of both major Chicago papers, The Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times. Feigenholtz led the money race and was backed by Emily’s List and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Fritchey was the favorite candidate of several other unions who weighed in the race. (thehill.com)

International Collectivism

Obama initiates 'Global War on Capitalism', tackles straw man ... The market has notably plunged since Mr. Obama introduced his budget last week, and that should be no surprise. The document was a declaration of hostility toward capitalists across the economy. Health-care stocks have dived on fears of new government mandates and price controls. Private lenders to students have been told they’re no longer wanted. Anyone who uses carbon energy has been warned to expect a huge tax increase from cap and trade. And every risk-taker and investor now knows that another tax increase will slam the economy in 2011, unless Mr. Obama lets Speaker Nancy Pelosi impose one even earlier. Meanwhile, Congress demands more bank lending even as it assails lenders and threatens to let judges rewrite mortgage contracts. The powers in Congress—unrebuked by Mr. Obama — are ridiculing and punishing the very capitalists who are essential to a sustainable recovery. The result has been a capital strike, and the return of the fear from last year that we could face a far deeper downturn. This is no way to nurture a wounded economy back to health. Listening to Mr. Obama and his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, on the weekend, we couldn’t help but wonder if they appreciate any of this. They seem preoccupied with going to the barricades against Republicans who wield little power, or picking a fight with Rush Limbaugh, as if this is the kind of economic leadership Americans want. (online.wsj.com)

U.S. sucks up to Daniel Ortega ... During the campaign, candidate Barack Obama's Web site stated that "George Bush's policy in the Americas has been negligent toward our friends, ineffective with our adversaries... creating a vacuum for demagogues to advance an anti-American agenda. As a member of the former administration, I'll admit there is some truth to this claim, which is why I wish the new secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, had made Latin America, not Asia, the focus of her first trip. Consider Nicaragua, where Daniel Ortega, like his friend Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, is using the trappings of democracy to impose more and more authoritarian control. Mr. Ortega's Soviet-backed regime ruled Nicaragua from 1979 to 1990. His Sandinista Party failed in comeback tries in 1996 and 2001, but, at age 60, he gained success two years ago, winning with just 37 percent in a disputed vote. Then, last November, his party won municipal elections with the help of millions of dollars from Mr. Chavez and what the Wall Street Journal called the use of "violence [as] a key campaign tactic." Nicaragua is a basket case, with GDP per capita barely above $1,000. The economy is propped up by loans from the International Monetary Fund, budget support from Europeans, oil from Mr. Chavez, and, surprisingly enough, significant help from U.S. taxpayers through the federal Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), whose funds are supposed to go to countries "based on their performance in governing justly, investing in their citizens, and encouraging economic freedom." (washingtontimes.com)

'Soft Porkulus' goes global, replaces U.S. military ... President Obama’s 2010 budget seeks to double U.S. aid payments to other countries despite a $1.75 trillion deficit and the worst recession in over a quarter of a century. Obama’s landmark proposal heralds a massive increase in the size of government, and “puts the United States on a path to double U.S. foreign assistance,” according to the White House budget overview. That would mean annual U.S. foreign assistance expenditures at over $50 billion a year, although it’s not clear yet how quickly Obama intends to attain that goal. The president also plans to rapidly expand the size of the State Department, in accordance with his strategy of substituting “soft” diplomatic power for the hard power of U.S. military might. (newsmax.com)
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