"It's time to apply the same rules from top to bottom: No bailouts, no handouts and no cop-outs. An America built to last insists on responsibility from everybody." Thus President Obama laid down the gauntlet in his recent State of the Union address. Yet he remains committed to subsidizing industries. And mortgage lending is high on his priority list. In his speech, he announced a plan that "gives every responsible homeowner the chance to save about $3,000 a year on their mortgage, by refinancing at historically low rates...A small fee on the largest institutions will ensure that it won't add to the deficit, and will give banks that were rescued by taxpayers a chance to repay a deficit of trust."
Republican objections to President Obama's temporary appointments last week to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) haven't been unexpected. The board, by custom, must consist of three members of one major party and two of the other. And so long as he remains in the White House, Democrats will enjoy an automatic majority. But at least two appointments may also be unconstitutional, say critics. That's because the president's referrals to the Senate of the two Democratic nominees, Sharon Block and Richard Griffin, were made during a period in which senators were not on official recess.
Unions for many years have been a highly reliable segment of the Democratic Party Left. Yet this perhaps no more was this true than in 2011 - and with good reason. The year began with the Republicans holding a nearly 50-seat edge in the House of Representatives following the GOP's smashing wins in the November 2010 midterm elections. Avoiding legislative process became a top priority for organized labor.
If the Democratic-majority National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) under the Obama administration has become a de facto union law firm, then its proposed rule mandating "fast-track" or "ambush" elections loomed as its crowning achievement. Two days ago, on Tuesday, December 20, that proposal became final. By a 2-to-1 margin, the board approved a regulation it had unveiled this June ostensibly to speed up union representation election campaigns and avoid frivolous litigation.
For organized labor, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) during the Obama years has become a de facto legislative body, issuing rules and rulings to give unions extra advantages in organizing and bargaining that Congress won't enact. Not surprisingly, union officials are dismayed over a vote in Congress last week to block a proposed NLRB regulation to shorten the time frame for holding representation elections and a board ruling expanding the leeway for forming workplace "micro-unions." Last Wednesday, on November 30, the House of Representatives by 235-188 passed the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act (H.R. 3094), which, among other things, would counteract a "quickie" or "ambush" election rule unveiled by the NLRB in mid-year. Meanwhile, the Senate has come out with a similar bill focusing on the micro-union issue.
It’s another day, and another round of layoffs by a recipient of millions of dollars under the Obama Administration’s renewable energy initiatives, administered by the mismanagedDepartment of Energy.
This time the Recovery Act largesse – taken out of the hide of taxpayers – went to A123 Systems, Inc. The Massachusetts-based energy storage company was given $249.1 million to help launch two battery-manufacturing plants in Michigan. A123 also received grants and tax credits from the state that could total more than $135 million. In a separate federal grant as a subcontractor for another grantee, A123 received nearly $30 million for a wind energy storage project.
NLPC has piled pixels in reporting the crony capitalism and gaming of government regulations by Duke Energy CEO James Rogers, who has favored a political engagement approach to the conduct of business rather than the delivery of services to consumers at affordable prices. That’s how the electricity business works: when you have monopoly control and are guaranteed a profit by your regulators, then you don’t have to worry about besting your competition to earn your customers.
In March NLPC reported that Duke Energy guaranteed a $10 million loan to the Democratic National Committee to host its 2012 convention in Charlotte, NC – the utility’s hometown. Now Duke CEO James Rogers – who heads the fundraising effort as co-chair of the DNC host committee for the convention – is silent about how much money has been brought in so far.
The Democratic National Convention early next September will be held in Charlotte. It's a city without a single union hotel. And it's located in Right to Work North Carolina. Union officials and partisans don't like this. The party's choice of convention site, then, can be seen as a symbol of a growing rift between the party and the unions. Union leaders, for all practical purposes, have nowhere else to go. And most rank and file still vote reliably Democratic. A schism is almost out of the question.