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The Union Myth of Representing ‘Working People’ September 15, 2011

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Unions and their mouthpieces continually bombard us with the catch phrases about standing for “working people,” “working families,” and the poor, oppressed and exploited “working” classes. Truth is, unions represent a privileged minority, a politically connected class, the aristocrats of middle-class workers. And the mainstream of American workers, the real working people agree; it’s why only 6.9% of private sector workers are in unions and union membership overall has decreased from nearly one-third of all workers in the 1940s.

People understand that unions are about everything but work, because unions generally mean less work for everybody else. When unions go on strike, work stops, even for non-union workers. By demanding higher wages for less work they drive down productivity and the possibility of business growth and more jobs for everyone. Companies move to get out from under union pay scales that kill business – look at Detroit, the scene of Mr. Hoffa’s Labor Day rant and sadly, also the scene of the union movement’s greatest catastrophe, the dismantling of the American auto industry. Unions’ proclivities for killing jobs are illustrated their “concerns” that are holding up free trade agreements and could add 250,000 jobs to the economy. Additionally, Unions and their accomplices at the National Labor Relations Board are trying to kill thousands of  jobs under the dubious charges that Boeing broken the law by building non-union production lines in South Carolina.

Unions’ comfortable pay, sweet pensions, and gold-plated health plans are paid for by people – taxpayers in the case of public sector unions and consumers in the case of private sector unions – who in many cases do not enjoy the same pay and benefits that the union workers receive. Many true “working people” labor at two or sometimes three jobs, pay their own benefits, and get no pay for taking days off to protest or demonstrate.

Union members are in conflict with everyone and represent a narrow special interest that flourishes at the expenses of other workers and the economy at large. They are a monopolistic enterprise. They are adversaries to business-owners, other workers, consumers and taxpayers. Look at what has happened in states with traditions of strong unions and union support – Wisconsin voters have said enough to funding public-sector union workers who have better pay and benefits than their employers. Voters intuitively understand that unions are a drag on the economy and taxes; they benefit only themselves at everyone else’s expense.

Unions and Crony Capitalists: Joined at the Hip

It is particularly galling to hear union leaders like Hoffa and Trumka berating the so-called “Tea Party,” as enemies of the working class. As far as I understand the goals of people who call themselves Tea Party supporters are lower taxes, less government spending, less regulation and less government overall. How are these principles anti-middle class and anti-worker? There is also a rhetorical theme in the blustering of these union leaders that the Tea Party is somehow joined at the hip with Wall Street and corporate interests. This is a ridiculous assertion. If anything, the Tea Party is a movement empowered by populist, main street, small business and blue collar types that have nothing but disdain for the crony capitalists and the Wall Street firms who support and benefit from their allegiance to the unions’ best friend forever – President Obama. In fact, Democrats are the ones in bed with corporations. According to Rich Lowry,

in the 2008 election campaign, “Democrats garnered 73 percent of the political donations of Goldman Sachs, as well as the majority of donations from other financial giants such as UBS and Citigroup.”

When you look at unions and their political power structure, don’t they have a lot more in common with the crony capitalists than they do with the unrepresented working guy from whom the Tea Party gets its support? Union bosses Hoffa and Trumka have similar goals and the same political patrons as CEOs of Obama-friendly corporations. All have a vested interest in using government to regulate or tax their competitors (non-union labor and smaller businesses) into oblivion. All are strong supporters of the Democratic Party that enacts these policies. All benefit from government largesse in the form of stimulus packages, waivers from onerous regulations (Obamacare), bailouts, sweet tax breaks, and other political perks. I haven’t heard of a Tea Party guy with a dry cleaning business getting any stimulus funds or being exempted from Obamacare regulations like the some unions and their soul mates in corporate America.

The Tea Party and Republicans could make a lot of political points by positioning the unions and corporations as the bookend cronies of the Democrat power base, all united in their special interests in enriching a themselves at the expense of the real “working people.”

Source by Chris Gregor

Why Did Unionized Companies Get so Many Obamacare Waivers? September 14, 2011

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If you need evidence of the turmoil created by Barack Obama’s socialist health care overhaul, you could certainly look at the myriad of legal challenges currently working their way through the courts. (A date with the Supreme Court is a certainty.) Or you could look at the massive influx of applications from unions and companies scrambling to get out from under the law’s oppressive requirements by obtaining waivers from the Obama administration.

The Obama Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently announced an arbitrary September 2011 cutoff for waiver applications, but right up to this deadline these exemptions continue to proliferate. According to The Hill, 106 new waivers were granted in July, bringing the total to 1,472 unions and companies that have been granted exemptions from Obamacare. And yet, the Obama administration continues to be super secretive regarding just how these waiver applications are evaluated.

But here’s one thing we do know. Approximately 50% of the waivers granted cover employees of unions even though union workers represent about 12% of the total workforce according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics!

Why are unions seemingly getting a disproportionate number of waivers? That’s just one of many questions at the center of a Judicial Watch investigation.

Recently, for example, we obtained 3,497 pages of Obamacare documents from the Obama HHS pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed on January 4, 2011.

The records include internal HHS email correspondence and strategic documents, as well as email communications with Medicare and Medicaid, and with unions and companies applying for waivers. The records also include preliminary drafts and multiple versions of the health care plan itself, along with comments from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and other agencies with concerns and suggestions for revising the plan.

The majority of the email communications relate to the waivers granted by HHS exempting companies and unions from the minimum annual cap on the amount payable to an individual in benefits. (Many companies argue these caps will force them to either drop coverage or raise premiums.) The Obamacare waivers enable these companies and unions to keep their existing plans in place until January 1, 2014, when covered expenses will no longer be limited by a cap. (Just wait and see the chaos that occurs should Obamacare somehow withstand judicial scrutiny and become the law of the land.)

In a general sense, Judicial Watch simply wants to know the criteria by which a company or union is granted one of these waivers. We want to know who got them and who didn’t. We want to know what conditions mandate approval and which mandate rejection. But HHS is mum on these questions. This first batch of 3,500 pages is, believe it or not, just the tip of the iceberg of the thousands of other documents the “transparent” Obama administration continues to withhold from us in contemptuous violation of the Freedom of Information Act.

Which is an especially troubling problem considering the fact that Big Labor seems to be getting big favors from HHS in the form of these waivers.

You may recall Judicial Watch previously obtained documents from HHS regarding closed-door health care meetings between Big Labor and Vice President Joe Biden, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and then-Obamacare Czar Nancy-Ann Min DeParle.

The documents include a list of all of the labor union leaders who attended a meeting with President Obama, along with brief biographical information on each participant. The list included: Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO; Andy Stern, President of the Service Employees International Union; and Jim Hoffa, President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, among other Big Labor leaders.

What assurances did the Obama administration give to labor leaders in exchange for their support of the plan? The documents we previously uncovered suggest that the key provisions of the Obamacare law were written solely to address the concerns of union interests. (And now we see Big Labor getting 50% of the waiver haul.)

Speaking over Labor Day Weekend, at a rally for organized labor attended by Barack Obama, Hoffa attacked the Tea Party and urged attendees to get out the vote for Democrats: “President Obama, this is your army…Everybody here has got to vote. If we go back and we keep the eye on the prize, let’s take these sons of bitches out and give America back to America where we belong.”

So the unions appear to be getting what they want, a reprieve from Obamacare. And the Obama campaign is getting what it wants, union cash and support. And where does this leave the rest of America? In the dark. The Obama administration continues to push forward with Obamacare under a veil of secrecy, especially the details of these Obamacare waivers.

Waiving the law for 3.4 million Americans is unfair and an affront to the rule of law. And it seems corrupt when political supporters in Big Labor are getting a disproportionate number of waivers from Obamacare. Unions helped write Obamacare and then get exempted from it! And now Big Labor is paying back these waiver favors with campaign support for Barack Obama. Judicial Watch is committed to bringing as much transparency as possible to the thoroughly corrupt Obamacare, especially this ongoing abuse of the “waiver” process.

Source by Tom Fitton

Record Number of Americans Living in Poverty, Census Reports September 13, 2011

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More Americans were living in poverty in 2010 than at any time since at least the 1950s, with the overall poverty rate climbing to 15.1 — a 6 percent jump in just one year — according to Census figures released Tuesday.

The Census Bureau’s annual report showed nearly 1 in 6 people in poverty, reflecting sustained long-term unemployment and the failure of the U.S. economy to kick into gear following a crippling recession.

The number of uninsured also edged up to 49.9 million, the highest in over two decades.

The figures cover 2010, and the jobless rate has not ticked down much since then. The unemployment rate stood at 9.1 percent in August. The report comes as President Obama tries anew to push legislation aimed at spurring job growth while providing government aid to those out of work.

According to the report, the number of people in poverty last year was 46.2 million, the largest number in the 52 years for which poverty estimates have been published. The overall poverty rate climbed to 15.1 percent up from 14.3 percent in 2009.

Based on percentages, it tied the poverty level in 1993 and was the highest since 1983.

Reflecting the lingering impact of the recession, the U.S. poverty rate from 2007-2010 has now risen faster than any three-year period since the early 1980s, when a crippling energy crisis amid government cutbacks contributed to inflation, spiraling interest rates and unemployment.

The situation has hit black populations the hardest, with their poverty rate rising from 25.8 percent to 27.4 percent. Child poverty rose from 20.7 percent to 22 percent.

The numbers show that a job is by no means a guarantee against falling into poverty. Among all American workers, the rate was 7 percent — and 15 percent among those working part-time, a rate little-changed from last year.

And in a hallmark of what the officials dubbed “the boomerang generation,” an estimated 5.9 million Americans between the ages of 25 to 34 resided at their parents’ homes in the spring of 2011, when the survey was conducted. That’s up 25 percent since 2007. Many of them would be living in poverty if they did not live with their parents, according to the Census Bureau.

The share of Americans without health coverage also rose from 16.1 percent to 16.3 percent — or 49.9 million people — after the Census Bureau made revisions to numbers of the uninsured.

That is due mostly because of continued losses of employer-provided health insurance in the weakened economy.

Congress passed a health overhaul last year to address rising numbers of the uninsured. While the main provisions don’t take effect until 2014, one aspect taking effect in late 2010 allowed young adults 26 and younger to be covered under their parents’ health insurance.

Brett O’Hara, chief of the Health and Disability Statistics branch at the Census Bureau, noted that the uninsured rate declined — from 29.3 percent to 27.2 percent — for adults ages 18 to 24 compared to some other age groups.

The median — or midpoint — household income was $49,445, down 2.3 percent from 2009.

Bruce Meyer, a public policy professor at the University of Chicago, cautioned that the worst may yet to come in poverty levels, citing in part continued rising demand for food stamps this year as well as “staggeringly high” numbers in those unemployed for more than 26 weeks. He noted that more than 6 million people now represent the so-called long-term unemployed, who are more likely to fall into poverty, accounting for than two out of five currently out of work.

James Rosen  (AP) contributed to this report.

NEVER FORGET September 11, 2011

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Original Fox News live broadcast of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 hosted by Jon Scott.

Remembering Those Who Perished on 9-11 September 10, 2011

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Capturing the Images From 9/11 That Became Symbols of Hope