|By: dakine01 Thursday May 5, 2011 4:28 pm|
|By: David Swanson Saturday February 19, 2011 6:53 pm|
President Obama is expected to announce that the eternal war on the world will have an end.
He won’t say.
I too have an announcement. I promise my drinking problem will end some day.
I’m not saying. But the celebrations of the armistice in 1918 began when plans for it were announced, and the partying continued until it actually happened. Perhaps that is the best approach here. As an aid to your festivities, let me present the…
Afternoon Obama Murder Rap Drinking Game
(which I promise to stop playing soon)
1. The President is going to admit that he has a murder problem and propose to correct it by murdering less in certain countries. If examples occur to you of crimes you might commit that you could not continue committing by promising to limit your criminal activities in some countries but not in others, DRINK!
2. The President is going to claim to have targeted, or to have allowed an unnamed John Brennan to have targeted, only one U.S. citizen for murder but to have killed three by mistake, on top of three killed by President Bush by mistake. If you can think of outrages you might commit that you could not go on committing by claiming that 86% of them were accidental side effects, DRINK!
3. The President is going to claim that the one U.S. citizen he or his subordinate chose to murder was an imminent (meaning eventual theoretical) threat to violently attack the United States, that capture was infeasible (meaning the target was hiding following lots of death threats, but his location was known anyway), and that said citizen was a senior operational leader of al Qaeda (or an associated group or was an adherent or a backstage groupie who had once met a guy whose cousin knew where an al Qaeda meeting was held one time). If you understand what that means, DRINK!
4. The President is going to hope that nobody notices that laws against war and murder don’t include exceptions for people who invent lists of arcane criteria that they require themselves to meet before murdering. If you think you could invent and meet at least three qualifications before engaging in some immoral behavior, DRINK!
5. The President is going to hope nobody notices that he did not actually meet his own criteria before murdering Awlaki. Attorney General Eric Holder now says Awlaki was killed for actions, not words. Prior to the deed, Holder said it was the “hatred spewed” on Awlaki’s blog that put him “on the same list with bin Laden.” Asked if he wanted Awlaki captured or killed, Holder did not say “captured if feasible,” but evaded the question. Awlaki, as far as we know, was never a member of al Qaeda. Obama’s and Holder’s claims about Awlaki’s role in terrorist attacks are undocumented claims. No evidence has been presented and no charges were ever brought in court. If you think shouting “Whoever he is, and whatever he’s charged with, he did it!” would be a nifty way to get out of jury duty, DRINK!
6. The President is going to speed past the fact that over 99% of the people he’s murdered have not been U.S. citizens, and that the pretense of justification so lazily applied to U.S. citizens has not been bothered with at all in these cases. He’s not going to discuss “signature strikes” targeting unknown people and whoever’s near them, or the targeting of the rescuers of victims. He’s not going to discuss children, women, seniors. He’s not going to discuss the posthumous identification of males as “enemy combatants” — a non-legal term that adds insult to murder. He’s not going to discuss the many known cases in which the victims could quite feasibly have been captured, were clearly not involved with al Qaeda in any way, and lacked any capacity whatsoever to threaten the United States. He’s going to propose applying the fraudulent, meaningless, and illegal standards he applies to murdering U.S. citizens to murdering non-U.S. citizens in the future … in some countries. If you can think of some people who might not be satisfied with this reform, DRINK!
7. The President is going to claim to be moving some but not all drone kill operations from a secret agency technically lacking in Congressional oversight to a department Congress simply chooses not to oversee. If this falls short of what you can imagine when you hear “most transparent administration ever,” DRINK!
8. The President will not be speaking about how some 75 other nations with drones should begin applying his standards to their own behavior. If you think such matters are worth discussing, DRINK!
9. The President is going to brush over the question of where and how he will be ordering the murder of people by means other than missiles. If you can think of ways this might become seen as a problem down the road, DRINK!
10. The President is going to speed past the existence of a massive ongoing U.S. war on Afghanistan, larger now than when Obama moved into the White House, and expected to continue for many years after it “ends” in another year and a half. If his ability to get away with this strikes you as perhaps what he must love most about drones and how they change the conversation, DRINK!
11. If you have concerns that go unanswered about the global expansion of U.S. bases, threats to Syria, weapons provided to Israel, threats to Iran, or the gargantuan military budget, DRINK!
12. The President will leak a great deal of information about his kill list program in this speech, as he has done on some previous “I killed bin Laden!” occasions, and yet will fail to prosecute himself for espionage at the end of the speech. If you believe laws should be applied equally to all, DRINK!
|By: CTuttle Sunday February 24, 2013 1:34 pm|
Well, it’s official folks…
… Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) blasted members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Tuesday, which voted overwhelmingly to arm elements of the Syrian opposition in a bill co-sponsored by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN). “This is an important moment,” Paul said, addressing his Senate colleagues. “You will be funding, today, the allies of al Qaeda. It’s an irony you cannot overcome.”
The legislation, which would authorize the shipment of arms and military training to rebels “that have gone through a thorough vetting process,” passed in a bipartisan 15-3 vote. Paul offered an amendment that would strike the bill’s weapons provision, but it was rejected along with another Paul amendment ruling out the authorization of the use of military force in Syria. (Connecticut Democrat Chris Murphy was the only senator to join Paul in support of the weapons amendment.)
…The dispute centers on the issue of whether the United States could properly vet Syrian rebels so that weapons and body armor would not fall into the hands of extremist groups, such as the al Qaeda-aligned al-Nusra Front. The Pentagon’s top brass has vacillated about whether it’s logistically possible to keep track of weapons as they enter a conflict involving a complex mix of opposition groups, as the new bill would require…
As Antiwar’s John Glaser noted…
For more than a year, the CIA has been facilitating the delivery of arms from countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar to Syrian rebel groups, although the Obama administration has stopped short of a decision to directly arm the rebels. This bill is aimed at pushing the president in that direction.
“The evidence is mounting that Syria has become a magnet for Sunni extremists, including those operating under the banner of Al Qaeda,” The New York Times almost a year ago. And in the past year, that reality has metastasized, with Jabhat al-Nusra – categorized by the State Department as an official terrorist organization with ties to al-Qaeda – developing into the rebels’ main fighting force.
Rand Paul was evidently skeptical of claims that rebels receiving arms will be vetted to ensure extremists don’t receive them. And with good reason: the process is made up of untrustworthy, third-party sources and intelligence officials told the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times as far back as a year ago that the truth is that the U.S. doesn’t know who is getting the money and weapons…
Now, about those possible Peace Talks, in Geneva, once again…
The Syrian opposition said Wednesday it welcomes the promise of increased U.S. involvement in finding a solution to two years of war, but that it would not accept peace talks if top members of the regime of Bashar Assad are involved.
The stand of the country’s leading opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition, is in direct conflict with the peace talks that the Obama administration are seeking to help organize next month in Geneva…
…”We hope the U.S. will lead the international role to solving the conflict,” said Khaled Saleh, spokesman for the Syria National Coalition. “The coalition welcomes any solution as long as it meets the democratic aspirations of the Syrian people but it must start with the departure of Assad.”
Saleh repeated that the rebellion needs the United States and other Western nations to impose a no-fly zone over Syria to stop Assad’s warplanes as well as strategic military strikes on government positions. Kerry on Wednesday threatened to give non-lethal aid, such as medical kits and food, to the rebels if Assad did not join talks.
However, that was not the end of the Senate’s foreign f*ckery today…
The US Senate decided unanimously to support Israel should it pursue military actions to defend itself against the Iranian nuclear threat. The decision’s sponsors are the Foreign Affair Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D) and senior Senator Lindsay Graham (R).
According to the resolution, the US will furnish Israel with diplomatic, military and economic support to defend its territory, citizens and existence. The resolution also determines that the US policy is to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and take the necessary steps to pursue this policy.
Who’s defending against whom…?
Here’s a bonus clip with RT’s Abby Martin interviewing Dr. Noam Chomsky that was published yesterday…
|By: Angola 3 News Wednesday May 22, 2013 4:39 pm|
Abusing Prisoners Decreases Public Safety
–An interview with educator, author and former prisoner Shawn Griffith
By Angola 3 News
If given the attention it deserves, an important new book is certain to make significant contributions to the public discussions of US prison policy. The author, Shawn Griffith, was released last year from Florida’s prison system at the age of 41, after spending most of his life, almost 24 years, behind bars, including seven in solitary confinement. Facing the US PrisonProblem 2.3 Million Strong: An Ex-Con’s View of the Mistakes and the Solution was self-published just months after Griffith was released from what is the third largest state prison system in the US, after California and Texas.
This new book’s thoughtful analysis and chilling reflections on what author Shawn Griffith experienced while incarcerated is a remarkable illustration of why the US public must listen to the voices of current and former prisoners who have stories that only they can tell. Griffith writes that “by integrating my own personal experiences with statistics and examples from different corrections systems around the nation, I am attempting to discredit the general perception that the system is designed to enforce and protect justice for everyone. The U.S. criminal justice system is an economically and politically profitable enterprise for special interest groups in this country. The general taxpayer needs to understand how the abusive policies fostered by these groups worsen the U.S. prison problem and the debt crisis through wasted corrections expenditures.”
Florida’s state prisons are the book’s main focus because “the majority of prisoners are incarcerated in state institutions. As of 2010, the US incarcerated 1,404,053 prisoners in state correctional institutions. For that reason, and based on my own twenty years of experience… Florida serves as an especially relevant test case for the changes needed in the US correctional system for two reasons. First is the size of Florida’s prison population and some of the political causes of its growth… Second, Florida has enacted some of the toughest sentencing laws of any state, causing correctional budgets to soar while educational budgets have been cut repeatedly,” writes Griffith.
After reading about the many different ways prisoners are abused, the very notion that US prisons are designed to rehabilitate or improve public safety, can only be viewed as a sick joke. Griffith writes that “hidden behind the walls, huge numbers of human beings have their spirits broken daily. Secretly, many suffer false disciplinary reports, illegitimate confiscation or destruction of personal property, physical beatings, rape, and sometimes fraudulent criminal penalties. Substandard nutrition, indifference to serious medical needs, and policies that encourage laziness have also become common. These practices help to sustain rates of recidivism, which is defined as a return to prison within three years of release.”
“Indeed, the strongest factor in reducing the rate of criminal recidivism is education, especially higher education, the one correctional expenditure that federal and state politicians have slashed. This course must be reversed,’ writes Griffith, himself an example of the healing power of educational programs for prisoners. While incarcerated he began his long journey to full rehabilitation, gaining his GED and then taking over 40 accredited college correspondence courses with an emphasis on criminal justice, psychology, and marketing. He has a 3.5 GPA from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. As a teacher in prison, he helped hundreds of inmates gain their GEDs.
Since his release in 2012, Griffith has lived in Sarasota, Florida where he founded Speak Out Publishing to publish other works of non-fiction that focus on tackling some of societies’ most pressing issues. Copies of Facing the US Prison Problem 2.3 Million Strong can be purchased directly from Griffith, through his website: www.speakoutpublishing.com, by mail: Speak Out Publishing, LLC at P.O. Box 50484 Sarasota, Florida 34232, or by phone: 941-330-5979.
Angola 3 News: You write that this book “isn’t just a commentary on correctional problems and solutions…it is also to share the human side of the story.” Based on your experience of spending almost 24 years in a Florida prison, what is the human side of this story?
Shawn Griffith: Sometimes I think people forget that prisoners and their families are people. The prisoners have committed crimes, but many of them come to prison with serious psychological issues, and they still have feelings like every person in this world. Most prisoners are not sociopaths, but instead human beings with more pain and trauma in their pasts than the average citizen. Committing crimes, for the most part, is a direct sign of their mental instability.
A good example was a murderer with the moniker, Arkansas. Arkansas was a real stand-up guy in prison. He was someone who kept his word, minded his own business, but had a violent father who instilled violent teachings into his head repeatedly during childhood. He would give a friend the shirt off of his back, but if you tried to harm him or get over on him, his training went into effect. He had some serious psychological issues that I saw him struggle with every day.
|By: Jerry Waxman Wednesday May 22, 2013 6:05 pm|
“You don’t tug on Superman’s cape
You don’t spit into the wind
You don’t pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger
And you don’t mess around with HIM”
Secretary: “The directors of the Thatcher Memorial Library have asked me again to remind you Mr. Thompson,”
Reporter: “Yes, but……”
Secretary: “of the conditions under which you may inspect certain portions of Mr. Thatcher’s unabridged memoirs.”
Reporter: “I know, but…….”
Secretary: (into phone) “I’ll bring him right in. Under no circumstances are direct quotations from his manuscript to be used by you.”
Reporter: “I’m just looking for one…….”
Secretary: Mr. Thompson, you will be required to leave this room at 12:30 promptly. You will confine yourself, it is our understanding, to the chapters in Mr. Thatcher’s manuscript regarding Mr. Kane.
This little scene from Citizen Kane, largely overlooked, is a frightening reminder of the power that certain people have to restrict information from being put out to the general population. Information that can be vitally important yet reveal secrets that can be embarrassing.
On Saturday, May 18 Floridians Against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, along with Central Florida AFL-CIO and the Communication Workers of America held a forum to discuss the negative impact that the TPP would have across the region as well as the rest of the country and it’s not pretty. In my last article on the TPP, The Enemy Beneath, These dangers were well spelled out along with some compelling videos of speakers at the last gathering in Tampa. I need not repeat them here since the several speakers did an excellent job of representing their positions.
Lorraine Tuliano, head of Central Florida’s Central Labor Council for the AFL-CIO explained how the middle class and working families are affected by these “Investor State” trade deals. Marjorie Holt of the Sierra Club spoke about the effect that “Fracking” and other procedures would have on our fragile environment. Steve Wisniewski, President of CWA Local 3108 spoke about the lowering of standards that the TPP would allow for. Activists Jim Howe and Cherie Faircloth presented a statement from Public Citizen Global Trade Watch stating how harmful the TPP is as it is shaping up. Tim Murray of Organize now was a featured speaker admonishing the assembled group to become active because our elected officials need to hear from us constantly.
Special guest speaker of the evening was Congressman Alan Grayson of Florida’s 9th district, who is one of but a handful of legislators that are aware of the TPP and its potential damage as well as the Trans Atlantic Free Trade Agreement. He spoke off the cuff without notes for about twenty minutes in a very relaxed erudite manner about what is happening with these FTAs and what he and others are doing about it. That little scene at the Thatcher Memorial Library is a grim reminder of what he had to go through after several attempts were made by other members of Congress including Sen. Jeff Merkley to see documents referring to the TPP and were denied access. Grayson was successful in getting permission to see exactly one document in his office in early June with the provision that no one on his staff can be there and that he can’t take any notes and he only has a limited time in which to view the document. Obviously these people don’t know who they are dealing with. He is a fierce debater and doesn’t suffer fools at all. This was not the “Don’t get sick” bombastic Alan Grayson. This was the scholarly, surgical Alan Grayson that completely eviscerated conservative pundit P.J. O’Rourke nationally on Bill Maher’s Real Time.. He can also dust it up with the best of them. At a health care rally several years ago I witnessed him go head to head with a Tea Party activist who wisely chose not to duke it out physically. Good thing too because besides being deceptively tall he has an enormous reach that most heavyweight boxers would love to have. Here’s the complete video of his anti TPP speech. After the speeches there was a question and answer period where several of the topics discussed were more fully covered.
The sixteenth round of talks is underway in Lima, Peru going on from May 15 through May 24. It is too late to do anything about the current talks; however there will be more talks in the future. At the moment Japan is negotiating to join and my sources (who for the moment must remain unnamed) tell me that too many unions are leaning towards accepting the TPP. There are some political benefits to be had in the short term, so they are sacrificing the American worker and America’s loss of sovereignty for some selfish gains. That’s unconscionable.
|By: Other Worlds Wednesday May 22, 2013 8:45 am|
The Food Chain Workers Alliance has a goal of nothing less than full rights and fair wages for the 20 million workers who grow, harvest, process, pack, ship, cook, serve, and sell food in the US. Founded in 2009, the Alliance brings together 11 organizations representing workers throughout the food supply chain. It is organizing across sectors, building solidarity between workers in different industries. It is pushing for policy changes and educating and activating consumers so that we can all better align our food purchases with our principles. The Alliance also draws attention to the ways in which institutional racism in the US and around the world has produced a food system reliant on the exploitation of immigrants and people of color.
The Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) is one of the founding members of the Alliance. Started in New York City, the organization’s original aim was to help find new jobs for workers who had been employed at Windows on the World, the restaurant on the 107th floor of the World Trade Center that collapsed on September 11, 2001. This mission quickly expanded to changing working conditions throughout the entire restaurant industry. In 2008, a national office, ROC United, was launched, which has since helped replicate the model in eight other places: Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Michigan, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Houston.
“The restaurant industry is the largest private sector employer in the US,” said Jose Oliva, ROC’s national policy coordinator. “It is in the position of creating the conditions, setting the tone, setting the standard, for the entire sector, not just the service sector which has now become the core of our new economy, but for the entire private sector.” If food workers could exercise their power, added Jose, they could improve not only their own working conditions but also other aspects of the food system, from environmental impacts and animal rights to food quality for consumers.
ROC has won numerous campaigns against unjust restaurants, forcing them to change their practices. Their current campaign focuses on the world’s largest full-service restaurant group, Darden, which owns Capital Grille, Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse, and others. In 2012, ROC filed a lawsuit against the company for racial discrimination and wage theft. The organization is also leading a charge to raise the federal minimum wage for tipped workers, which has been frozen at $2.13 for more than 20 years. Over the years, ROC has led and won 13 campaigns against exploitation in high-profile restaurant companies, securing improvements in grievance procedures, raises, sexual harassment policies, sick days, job security, and anti-discrimination policies.
ROC is also making the public aware of what happens behind the scenes at restaurants. They have published in-depth reports and a new book, Behind the Kitchen Door, about working conditions, racism, and sexism in the industry.
Other compelling initiatives for food workers’ rights include:
* Dining workers are demanding better wages and working conditions on more than 100 college campuses in the US and Canada as well as at corporate cafeterias, airports, stadiums, event centers and other institutions. Part of the Real Food Real Jobs campaign of the union UNITE HERE, these food service workers are building union power across sectors and geographies. And, they are building bridges of solidarity with university students and faculty to add strength to their campaigns and win better contracts.
* The organization Just Harvest focuses on bridging the gap between the sustainable food movement and the farmworker rights movement. Just Harvest is reaching out to all those concerned about local and healthy food – including food co-ops, CSAs, farmers’ markets, organic producers and consumers – to bring forth the piece most often left out of the sustainability equation: labor wages and conditions for farmworkers. Just Harvest works to educate the public and mobilize support from different sectors such as students and consumers for food- and farm-worker justice campaigns. They are currently supporting the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) in their campaign targeting Wendy’s.
* A new certification, called Magen Tzedek or Seal of Justice, is now available to kosher producers that meet criteria regarding workers’ rights, environmental impact, and animal welfare. Kosher foods are those sanctioned by Jewish law, based on a set of standards for how they are processed and prepared. In 2006, after a report that the nation’s largest kosher meatpacker, Agriprocessors Inc., was violating workers’ rights, Jewish leaders began creating the new certification. “As concerned as we are about how an animal gets killed, we need to be equally concerned about how a worker lives,” says Rabbi Morris Allen, a leader in the certification effort. The kosher food industry has sales of $11.5 billion annually, so a shift in practices could have widespread ramifications on the entire food supply chain in the US.
* People are challenging the organic industry to step up to a higher standard in respecting workers’ rights. Organic certification in the US is regulated by the USDA and currently does not address labor rights. Organizations like the Agricultural Justice Project are creating domestic fair-trade labels, meaning the company or farm must meet standards regarding fair wages, freedom of association, workplace health and safety, and farmworker housing. Other groups like the Domestic Fair Trade Association and the Organic Consumer Association’s Fair World Project are playing a monitoring role, making sure certification programs uphold the standards that they profess.
* Immigrant farmworkers are, in some instances, starting up their own farming operations. Many have the necessary agricultural experience but lack the funds to buy or rent land, and are unfamiliar with US markets. A series of programs across the US are offering small pieces of land, “incubator farms,” on which immigrants can start their businesses. The programs provide access to training, loans, and equipment. The Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association (ALBA) in California and the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project in Massachusetts, as two examples, hold courses on the ins and outs of running a farm. Graduates of those classes can lease land far below market rate and get technical assistance.
Here are some ways you can support food, farm, and restaurant workers organizing for better working conditions:
• Stay in touch with the Food Chain Workers Alliance “Take Action” page at http://foodchainworkers.org/?page_id=289;
• Participate in the campaigns of the Restaurant Opportunities Council (ROC) for a higher minimum wage for tipped workers and for better working conditions. See their action alerts here: http://rocunited.org/action-center;
• Research how certain businesses, restaurants, and corporations treat their workers and choose your patronage accordingly. If you live in New York City, ROC has done your work for you; see their diners’ guide, If You Care, Eat Here, to learn about conditions in restaurants in the city;
* Join boycotts and hold solidarity protests for farmworkers rights. Check out the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, the United Farm Workers, and the Farm Labor Organizing Committee to learn about their current campaigns;
• Join efforts to bridge healthy and local-food movements with the farmworker rights movements. Just Harvest USA tells you how (www.justharvestusa.org/getinvolved.html); and
• Get to know the workers in your life. Offer respect and generous tips at restaurants. Find out how the institutions you are a part of treat their workers, and if workers are organizing, ask how you can support their efforts.
Download the Harvesting Justice pdf here, and find action items, resources, and a popular education curriculum on the Harvesting Justice website. Harvesting Justice was created for the US Food Sovereignty Alliance, check out their work here.
Copyleft Other Worlds. You may reprint this article in whole or in part. Please credit any text or original research you use to Tory Field and Beverly Bell, Other Worlds.
|By: Kay Tillow|
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010, also known as Obamacare, presents challenges to the multiemployer plans through which some unions bargain collectively to provide health care insurance for their members. These plans, often called Taft Hartley Plans, currently cover about 26 million workers, families, and retirees. Unless there is a major regulatory change made by Health and Human Services, these union negotiated plans will be struck a harsh blow once the exchanges go into effect in 2014.
A quiet effort by many unions to persuade the Obama administration to make this change is now becoming very public.
In an Op Ed published in The Hill, Joseph T. Hansen, President of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), said,
But as currently interpreted, the ACA would block these plans from the law’s benefits (such as the subsidy for lower-income individuals and families) while subjecting them to the law’s penalties (like the $63 per insured person to subsidize Big Insurance). This creates unstoppable incentives for employers to reduce weekly hours for workers currently on our plans and push them onto the exchanges where many will pay higher costs for poorer insurance with a more limited network of providers. In other words, they will be forced to change their coverage and quite possibly their doctor. Others will be channeled into Medicaid, where taxpayers must pick up the tab.
In addition, the ACA includes a fine for failing to cover full-time workers but includes no such penalty for part-timers (defined as working less than 30 hours a week). As a result, many employers are either reducing hours below 30 or discontinuing part-time health coverage altogether. This is a cut in pay and benefits workers simply cannot afford. For example, a worker making $10 an hour that has his or her schedule cut by six hours a week would lose $3,100 a year in income. With millions of workers impacted, this would have a devastating effect on our economy.
The effort of unions to persuade the Obama administration to change the regulations in order to resolve the problems was reported in the January 30, 2013, Wall St. Journal.
“Top officers at the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, theAFL-CIO and other large labor groups plan to keep pressing the Obama administration to expand the federal subsidies to these jointly run plans, warning that unionized employers may otherwise drop coverage.”
“We are going back to the administration to say that this is not acceptable,” said Ken Hall, general secretary-treasurer for the Teamsters, according to the WSJ article.
Many unions have been working through the National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plans (NCCMP) to find a solution. In a memorandum to the Department of Health and Human Services, the NCCMP stated:
If subsidies are available only for plans purchased through Exchanges, employers contributing to multiemployer plans will face tremendous economic pressure to stop contributing to multiemployer plans…. Many employers will feel the need to drop coverage and access the subsidies to remain competitive.
On April 16, 2013, the United Union of roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers International President Kinsey M. Robinson issued a statement calling for a repeal or complete reform of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA). He stated that the union has supported President Obama for both terms in office but that the union’s concerns “over certain provisions in the ACA have not been addressed, or in some instances, totally ignored.”
“In the rush to achieve its passage, many of the Act’s provisions were not fully conceived, resulting in unintended consequences that are inconsistent with the promise that those who were satisfied with their employer sponsored coverage could keep it. These provisions jeopardize our multi-employer health plans, have the potential to cause a loss of work for our members, create an unfair bidding advantage for those contractors who do not provide health coverage to their workers, and in the worst case, may cause our members and their families to lose the benefits they currently enjoy as participants in multi-employer health plans,” Robinson stated.
The Cornell University Industrial and Labor Relations School recently held a special workshop on The Affordable Care Act: Impact on Multiemployer Plans. The materials from that educational event are available here.
So far there is no adequate answer from the Obama administation to the efforts of unions to resolve the issues. The state exchanges must be in place by October of 2013 so that they are ready to go byJanuary 1, 2014.
Many of the unions involved contend that regulations for the ACA could be written to allow the employers that pay into these union negotiated plans to receive the same subsidies that employers will receive in the exchanges. So far, that has not happened.
This is one of many conundrums that face unions as the costs of health care in our corporate-controlled, profit-oriented system make the maintenance of health benefits increasingly difficult to achieve.
|By: WI Budget Project Wednesday May 22, 2013 8:12 am|
#1: The tax cut leaves out low-income taxpayers.
More than three-quarters of a million Wisconsin tax filers would not receive any benefit from the tax cut proposed by the Governor, including most people earning $30,000 a year or less.
Low-income Wisconsinites typically pay a higher share of their income in state and local taxes than do those with the highest incomes. Yet low-income taxpayers would receive little or no benefit from the income tax cut.
#2: Rolling back recent tax increases should be a higher priority.
The last state budget included two tax increases for low-income people:
- A cut in the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit, which resulted in higher taxes for modest-income working families with children; and
- A cut to the Homestead Credit, which helps make sure that seniors on fixed incomes and other people of modest means aren’t taxed out of their homes.
Before approving new tax cuts, the first priority of state policymakers should be to revisit recent tax increases, especially because those tax increases hit working families and seniors the hardest.
#3: The so-called “middle class” tax cut winds up mostly in the pockets of the most well-off.
Some policymakers have described this tax cut as being aimed at the middle class, but most of the benefit of the proposed cut goes to the highest earners. Half the benefit of the tax cut would go to the top 14% of tax filers.
#4: The tax cut would be likely to hurt, rather than help, the state economy.
Proponents of the tax cut say that it will boost the Wisconsin economy, but recent history in other states shows the opposite is more likely to be true. States that cut personal income taxes in the 1990s and 2000s lagged the rest of the country in economic growth. Cutting taxes is no substitute for public investments in high-quality schools, roads, and communities that attract business.
#5: It may create a large hole in the next budget.
The estimated cost of the tax cut is about $170 million a year. To put that amount in context, that is more than the state spends on the entire Wisconsin Technical College System per year.
In a March 28 paper, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) pointed out the proposed budget bill would put the state in a substantial hole at the start of the 2015-17 biennium. The good news is that the LFB recently raised its revenue projections, and that increase could be used to avoid the budget hole in the following biennium. The bad news is that much of that revenue growth is one-time money, so great care needs to be taken that it isn’t used for ongoing, unsustainable tax cuts. Using a short-term surplus for permanent tax cuts is a recipe for big fiscal problems in future years.