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Task Force, Pro-Union Statements: Obama begins reversing Bush's rules

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The Swamp's Mark Silva has a piece online -- complete with a picture of Joe Biden at President Obama's elbow carrying a caption mocking the President's introduction of Biden -- describing the first steps the new President is taking in an effort to undo the damage of the last eight years to our economy. Go read that first. I'll wait.

Don't miss the way Silva undermines the unions in the opening graf, either.

President Barack Obama, creating a "Task Force on the Middle Class'' today, also signed executive orders aimed at strengthening labor unions - this on a day when the nation's Gross Domestic Product suffered its worst slide in three decades.

Oh, hai. You're back early. The M$M, the Corporate Media, the shills for big money, the cheap-labor conservatives' mouthpieces, will harp on this meme -- unions bad, corporations good -- until the world looks level. They're lying. You'll need to remember that.

No doubt that's one of the more spinnable statements of the young administration. But.
What if that's really what the men mean? What if this administration really sees organized labor as part of the solution?
That's such a huge turnaround, right there on its face, from the Reaganomics BS we've been force-fed since 1980 -- 28 years of slops -- that I'm nearly in tears with joy.
Meanwhile, I'm making a statement here of my own and backing it up with some fair use quotes -- from Silva and other sources, below the fold.

"This isn't just an economic concept,'' Obama said of the 3.8 percent decline in the GDP in the last quarter of 2008.
"This is a continuing disaster for America's families,'' Obama said in an address in the East Room of the White House, part of a series of addresses on the economy this week. "The recession is deepening and the urgency of our economic crisis is growing... Every day it seems there is another round of layoffs, and another round of families' lives turned upside down.''
In signing orders aimed at protecting access to federal contracts for companies with labor unions and informing workers of their rights to organize, the president said: "I also believe that we have to reverse some of the policies'' toward organized labor. "I don't see organized labor as part of the problem,'' the president said. "To me, it's part of the solution.''
The president, in creating the White House Task Force on Middle Class Working Families, has assigned Vice President Joe Biden to lead it - "he has never forgotten his roots as a working class kid from Scranton,'' the president said, with Biden by his side.
"When I talk about the middle class, I am talking about folks who are currently in the middle class, but also folks who are aspiring to be in the middle class,'' the president said. "You cannot have a strong middle class without a strong labor union.''
In the signing of executive orders, one prevents federal contract dollars from going to companies that try to prevent the formation of unions, one requires workers to be advised of rights.
Biden, introduced by Obama today as "the pride of Delaware,'' said the administration is sending "a very, very clear signal to everybody who goes to work in this country every day ... the folks who Teddy Roosevelt referred to as the doer of deeds... To this, the great American middle class,'' Biden said, "you've said, we're on your side again.''
In a White House that promotes its every step on the Internet, the administration has started a new Web-site -- - which will keep track of the task force's work.
The administration has assigned it these goals: "Expanding education and lifelong training opportunities, improving work and family balance, restoring labor standards, including workplace safety, helping to protect middle-class and working-family incomes, protecting retirement security
Members will include the secretaries of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Commerce, as well as the Directors of the National Economic Council, the Office of Management and Budget, the Domestic Policy Council, and the Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors.

From the AFL-CIO NOW website, another article details some of what Obama's pen strokes this 2nd Friday of his administration achieved:

President Barack Obama today reversed three Bush-era anti-worker executive orders and created a Cabinet-level task force to rebuild the nation’s middle class. In a White House ceremony this morning attended by AFL-CIO President John Sweeney and other union leaders, Obama signed three executive orders that reverse a series of orders by then-President George W. Bush, which govern the way federal contractors deal with unionized workers.
The three new executive orders:
* Require federal service contractors to offer jobs to current workers when contracts change.
* Reverse a Bush order requiring federal contractors to post notice that workers can limit financial support of unions serving as their exclusive bargaining representatives.
* Prevent federal contractors from being reimbursed for expenses meant to influence workers deciding whether to form a union and engage in collective bargaining.
Before signing the orders, Obama said:
"We cannot have a strong middle class without strong labor unions. We need to level the playing field for workers and the unions that represent their interests."

Unions are the reason some employers offered health care from the start, along with things like eight-hour shifts, shop safety rules, lunch breaks and disability/retirement funds.
Strong unions would be likelier to see the need for more -- not less -- health care for workers and their families, and less hassle in obtaining the actual care, based on what unions have historically attempted. Yes, there are a lot of media chatterers who will claim that unions foster a hostile environment between management and labor; foster is, I think, the wrong word. I think what they do is mediate -- and the reason the attitude is hostile is the same reason a slave is hostile toward his master, even if his master is not overly cruel. It sucks to be a slave. For me, that's what the economic collapse is all about, only on a massive scale. It sucks to be helpless financially, at the mercy of -- or more often denied by -- financial barriers to such simple things as shelter, medical care, mobility, and decent food.

I think Obama maybe gets this, even though he doesn't talk about it the same way I do. Now, do I think he gets the additional suckitude that arises in the lives of slaves who are also women? Um, no. In fact I think he's not merely oblivious but not above taking advantage of having it piled on, although he wants to not be seen to pile it on himself (he is a politician). Like Edwards, Clinton (pick yours), any Republican, Dodd, Kucinich, Kerry, any working Kennedy in public office -- he wants to avoid blame far more than he wants to risk actually advocating justice. Too much chance somebody'd remember, and use it against him later.

Hence the shadowy egg-walks on the prospect of actually, you know, investigating / indicting / trying Bush/Cheney / Bernanke/Rumsfeld / Rice/Powell (what, you don't think the good General Colin lied like a bad rug? Yeah he did!) Libby/Rove (although, actually, I'm a little scared to look too hard at those two, considering what happened to Don Siegelman and New York's nearly-righteous governor Spitzer) et al.

But whether Obama gets it or not ... I think Joe Biden does. Here's some more from that AFL-CIO site on what Biden's doing:

AFL-CIO President John Sweeney says: "The Task Force on Middle Class Working Families and the executive orders are the first step in a long road to restore balance between workers and corporations. As the weeks and months continue, we thank God that we have a president, vice president, and Congress who are determined to fix our economy so that it works for everyone."

Writing in USA Today, Biden says after the economy is jump-started by the new stimulus package, the top economic priority must be to rebuild the middle class.
On top of this urgent task, though, we have an important long-term task as well. Once this economy starts growing again, we need to make sure the benefits of that growth reach the people responsible for it. We can’t stand by and watch as that narrow sliver of the top of the income scale wins a bigger piece of the pie—while everyone else gets a smaller and smaller slice.
In government, as in life, you need clear goals to succeed. In the Obama/Biden administration, we have set a very clear goal: Our administration will have succeeded if the middle class once again starts to share in the economic success of this nation.
Biden announced that his chief economic adviser Jared Bernstein will serve as executive director of the task force. Bernstein, a 16-year veteran of the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), most recently served as director of EPI’s living standards program.

The middle class has to have some power, some support, or the parasitic upper class will destroy it. The working class, and the (yes, Virginia, there is a [huge, mistreated, US}) underclass, have to have some glimmer of hope -- yeah, I know; but how else are you going to describe the thing on which you pin your aspirations? -- that maybe tomorrow, or next year, or when by golly they're 67 years old and the damn scaffolding in the ice is just not worth climbing to wash another bank skyscraper's windows, they won't starve, won't freeze to death alone in a house where the power company didn't care that they could pay the bill if somebody would just have spoken to them, won't succumb to diseases because an entire nationwide bureaucracy profits from denying them basic medical care. No, Biden didn't use those words; but Edwards came close and the two of them, along with Kucinich, were most likely to see the divide between DC's ideas and reality on a number of financial matters dear to the heart of the non-elite, never-gonna-see-a-six-figure salary, US worker.
I heard Biden say this, in slightly different words, along the campaign trail -- both in his own short-lived bid for the top spot on the ticket and as he ran for VP. In that USA Today op-ed, he puts it far more elegantly than I have:

America's middle class is hurting. Trillions of dollars in home equity, retirement savings and college savings are gone. And every day, more and more Americans are losing their jobs.
For the backbone of the USA, it's insult on top of injury. Over the course of America's last economic expansion, the middle class participated in very few of the benefits. But now in the midst of this historic economic downturn, the middle class sure is participating in all of the pain. Something is seriously wrong when the economic engine of this nation — the great middle class — is treated this way.
President Obama and I are determined to change this. Quite simply, a strong middle class equals a strong America. We can't have one without the other.

What a difference between Reaganomics (1980-1992), Reaganomics-lite (1993-2000) and Reaganomics-on-steroids (2001-2008) this could be -- if we raise enough hell to keep them on the track they sure look like they've started down.

What, you thought just because a Democrat won, the fight was over?

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Submitted by lambert on

"... but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."

This stuff should be a baseline for any Democrat, but it's good to see anyhow.

Would be nice to see union membership ranks grow rapidly. And if the CIO in the 30s is any guide, they'll be trying to shove Obama left as hard as ever they can.

Submitted by lambert on

More like this, please! I love boring bullet points about policy, and we don't cover unions nearly enough.

Submitted by jawbone on

What, you thought just because a Democrat won, the fight was over?

Lots of us thought -- feared, really -- the fight was just beginning and would in some ways be more difficult with Obama, The One, as president. Too many Dems would just bow down or prostrate themselves to him. And we feared a basic conservatism, or some kind of conservatism, in Obama. I'm glad to see some signs of life among progrs and libs in the Congress.

Still, it's going to be very, very, very difficult to get Obama to move leftward.

But, t/u much for posting on the union increase. I really hadn't known that. An area which used to covered by the MCM and now not so much. Like not at all unless to criticize unions and union economic gains. What a media. Shudder. We need all the news we can get.

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Submitted by Davidson on

But I wonder if Obama is really serious about helping the middle class, unions, and the poor which he insists will be "front and center," why hasn't he pushed for true health care reform (i.e. single payer)? Rahm himself says we shouldn't waste any serious crisis and yet it looks like they will. Radical, fundamental change is necessary and it can be done right now when the public is most aware of how fucked up our current system is. At the very least, it increases his leverage and the likelihood the best possible solution becomes reality, even if it's not single payer. Instead, Obama compromises before meeting with Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats.

UPDATE: And I almost forgot: what the hell happened to HOLC? We need it. Bad.

It just reminds me of Obama smacking down Wall Street bonuses: it looked great, but he and Congressional Democrats could have done more about it and yet have chosen not to.

Oh, and I don't trust Biden (D-MBNA) when it comes to the middle class. And it's not just the '05 bankruptcy bill

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Submitted by Sarah on

this fast.
But I have a feeling (it's nothing more than that, okay? so I can't link to it yet) this is gonna be way more nearly a Clinton/Gore administration than a Bush/Cheney administration -- the VP is going to be doing stuff, kinda in the background but not completely, you know, from some ultra-super-secret hidden black operations headquarters -- that won't grab every headline around but will, at the end of the day, turn out to be useful. Make a difference.

And Davidson? I know about D-MBNA. I do. I used to say it some, too. Thing is, y'know, maybe it's harder to buy a Veep than a Senator. I'm willing to hide and watch. You?