[Bleeding Heartland Logo]

About
Bleeding Heartland is a community blog about Iowa politics: campaigns and elections, state government, social and environmental issues. Bleeding Heartland also weighs in on presidential policies and campaigns, federal legislation and what the Iowans in Congress are up to. Join our community, post your thoughts as comments or diaries, help keep our leaders honest and hold them accountable.
Author
- desmoinesdem
Highlights
- Iowa politics in 2008
- Iowa politics in 2009 (1)
- Iowa politics in 2009 (2)
- National politics in 2009 (1)
- National politics in 2009 (2)
- Iowa 2012 election coverage
- Who's who in the Iowa House for 2013
- Who's who in the Iowa Senate for 2013
- Iowa wildflowers
2014 Election Coverage
- IA-Sen
- IA-Gov
- IA-01
- IA-02
- IA-03
- IA-04
- Secretary of Agriculture
- Secretary of State
- State Auditor
- Iowa Senate overview
- Iowa House overview
- Senate district 5
- Senate district 7
- Senate district 9
- Senate district 13
- Senate district 15
- Senate district 17
- Senate district 27
- Senate district 39
- Senate district 41
- Senate district 47
- Senate district 49
- House district 25
- House district 28
- House district 33 (2013)
- House district 40
- House district 51
- House district 60
- House district 65
- House district 68
- House district 73
- House district 91
- House district 92
- House district 95
- House district 99
Search




Advanced Search


Paid Advertising


Bleeding Heartland
It's what plants crave.
Employee Free Choice Act

Workers' Victory Shows Need For Labor Law Reform

by: The Electrical Worker

Tue Aug 17, 2010 at 07:37:24 AM CDT

(Thanks for the diary--I hadn't seen this story. When the Newton Daily News previewed the vote last week, Trinity Structural Towers declined to comment. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

Workers at Iowa's leading manufacturer of wind turbine towers successfully took on company intimidation and two union-busting firms to express their right to join a union.
There's More... :: (1 Comments, 457 words in story)

Year in review: national politics in 2009 (part 2)

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jan 07, 2010 at 14:56:38 PM CST

Following up on the diary I posted this morning, this post compiles links to Bleeding Heartland's coverage of national politics from July through December 2009. Health care reform was again the number one topic. I wish there had been a happy ending.
There's More... :: (0 Comments, 3389 words in story)

Year in review: national politics in 2009 (part 1)

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jan 07, 2010 at 07:52:32 AM CST

It took me a week longer than I anticipated, but I finally finished compiling links to Bleeding Heartland's coverage from last year. This post and part 2, coming later today, include stories on national politics, mostly relating to Congress and Barack Obama's administration. Diaries reviewing Iowa politics in 2009 will come soon.

One thing struck me while compiling this post: on all of the House bills I covered here during 2009, Democrats Leonard Boswell, Bruce Braley and Dave Loebsack voted the same way. That was a big change from 2007 and 2008, when Blue Dog Boswell voted with Republicans and against the majority of the Democratic caucus on many key bills.

No federal policy issue inspired more posts last year than health care reform. Rereading my earlier, guardedly hopeful pieces was depressing in light of the mess the health care reform bill has become. I was never optimistic about getting a strong public health insurance option through Congress, but I thought we had a chance to pass a very good bill. If I had anticipated the magnitude of the Democratic sellout on so many aspects of reform in addition to the public option, I wouldn't have spent so many hours writing about this issue. I can't say I wasn't warned (and warned), though.

Links to stories from January through June 2009 are after the jump. Any thoughts about last year's political events are welcome in this thread.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 3702 words in story)

Recession Widens Gap Between Rich and Poor

by: RDemocrat

Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 21:48:28 PM CDT

(Click here for more on growing income inequality in the U.S., and note that the U.S. has now fallen behind Europe in terms of economic mobility. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

Crossposted from Hillbilly Report.

It seems like the one constant that can be depended on in this country anymore in good times or bad is the fact that working folks are working harder and harder and simply are not getting ahead. Even before the Republican recession last year wages have stagnated for decades and the gap between rich and poor has only widened as our middle-class continues to shrink. New numbers show that while incomes across the board have fallen, the recession has once again hit middle and lower class working Americans the hardest.  

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 719 words in story)

Harkin committed to reforming student loans

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Sep 16, 2009 at 23:05:23 PM CDT

In his latest e-mail blast to constituents, Senator Tom Harkin touches on his priorities as the new chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. One point he mentioned hasn't been on my radar screen this year:

The full agenda of the Committee will focus on reforming federal student loan programs so that we can stop subsidizing private banks and instead focus on loans that the federal government can make more cheaply.  We can save $87 billion over 10 years in that effort, and use that money to increase Pell grants for low- and middle- income college bound students, and to fund other important education initiatives.  

I had forgotten about President Barack Obama's effort to reform the student loan system:

His plan is to do away with a system in which the Federal Government subsidizes banks and other private finance companies like Sallie Mae to lend money to students. The Administration essentially wants to cut such companies out of the game and run the system itself. Democrats claim the move will save $87 billion over 10 years, which can be used for a laundry list of education priorities, including increasing the maximum amount of Pell Grants, expanding Perkins Loans and investing in community colleges and other programs. [...]

Educational institutions currently have two ways to offer federal loans to students. In the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL, pronounced "fell") program, the government pays subsidies to banks and lenders to dole out money to borrowers and reimburses companies up to 97% of the cost of any loan that is not paid back. The second way is the direct-loan program, created in 1993 as an alternate option, in which the government cuts out the middle man, lends money directly and gets all the profits. If the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA) passes both houses of Congress, the approximately 4,500 colleges and universities that are currently signed up for FFEL will have to abandon the program and start using the direct-loan option by July 1, 2010.

Directing federal money toward programs that help needy students, such as Pell Grants, makes a lot more sense than subsidizing private banks to make student loans.

Finding 60 votes in the Senate for this proposal will be challenging, however. This is one banking bailout Republicans will fight hard to protect, and according to Time magazine, at least one Democrat (Ben Nelson of Nebraska) opposes the plan too. If this bill passes, it will probably be through the budget reconciliation process, which requires only 51 votes in the Senate.

Health care reform is sure to take up a lot of Harkin's time this fall, but I'm glad the HELP chairman will also focus on other bills that could change many lives for the better. Even if the health care project falls apart in the Senate, Harkin could accomplish a lot this year if he gets the student loan bill through and brokers a good compromise on the Employee Free Choice Act.

I see only one downside to Harkin becoming the HELP chairman, and that's Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas taking over the Agriculture Committee. Jill Richardson has been on this case at La Vida Locavore. I recommend reading her posts on industry lobbyists who used to work for Lincoln, Lincoln's strong support for corporate ag interests such as Arkansas-based Tyson Foods, and Lincoln's positions on trade, the climate change bill, and the Clean Water Act.

Discuss :: (3 Comments)

Harkin had the votes to pass Employee Free Choice Act

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Sep 11, 2009 at 07:58:39 AM CDT

I mentioned on Labor Day that I haven't heard much lately about Senator Tom Harkin's efforts to reach a compromise on the Employee Free Choice Act. The EFCA is one of the top legislative priorities for organized labor and needs 60 votes in the Senate to overcome a Republican filibuster. Several Democrats who supported the bill in 2007, knowing that President Bush would veto it, either oppose the bill or have dodged the question this year.

Harkin has been the lead Senate negotiator on EFCA and is replacing the late Senator Ted Kennedy as chairman of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Speaking to the American Rights at Work group yesterday, Harkin said he had 60 votes lined up behind a compromise this summer:

"As of July, I can tell you this openly and I know the press is all here but we had worked out a pretty good agreement. [...]"

Harkin said prominent labor leaders were on board with the deal, including AFL-CIO President John Sweeney and Andy Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union.

"That's when we needed 60 votes and that's when I called to get Sen. Kennedy down because we needed him for three days. That's when Dr. [Lawrence] Horowitz told me that he couldn't make it," Harkin said.

The Hill's Kevin Bogardus reported that Harkin refused to specify the terms of the compromise deal:

"I will not say because it was closely held, it never leaked out and it still hasn't," Harkin said. "I took it off the front-burner and put it on the back-burner so it is still on warm, OK?"

In May Harkin suggested that the "card check" provision might be dropped from the bill in favor of other changes to labor election procedures. He did not say anything about binding arbitration, which is also an important part of the EFCA.

If Massachusetts law is changed to allow Governor Deval Patrick to appoint a temporary replacement for Kennedy, then Harkin may be able to revive this compromise and pass the EFCA this fall. Democratic leaders in the House agreed earlier this year not to bring the EFCA up for a vote until the measure had passed the Senate. Getting the bill through the House should not be difficult, even if a substantial number of Blue Dog Democrats vote no.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Labor Day links and events coming up this week

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 10:52:10 AM CDT

Hope you've been enjoying the perfect Iowa weather during this holiday weekend. The U.S. Department of Labor and Blog for Iowa provide background on the history of Labor Day.

Organized labor doesn't have a lot to celebrate right now, with more job losses in the manufacturing sector and unemployment rising across the country (though Iowa's unemployment rate is significantly lower than the national average). The Iowa Policy Project finds that "the state of working Iowa" is not good. As in the previous recession, we are losing jobs with good benefits as wages stagnate for the people who still have jobs. We now rank 32nd in terms of median wages, and lower incomes mean less money for consumers to spend at other businesses. Click here for the full report, which also explains that "policy makers could do more to make work pay for low- and moderate-income working families and to insist upon job-quality requirements in economic development strategies."  

Iowa hasn't adopted most of organized labor's key legislative priorities in recent years, in part because of the "six-pack" of Iowa House Democrats that blocked those bills. On the plus side, Curt Hanson's victory in the House district 90 special election means we haven't lost any ground on this front. We only need to persuade one or two "six-pack members" (or defeat them in Democratic primaries) to find the 51st vote for "prevailing wage," for instance.

I haven't heard much lately about Senator Tom Harkin's efforts to find a compromise on the Employee Free Choice Act. Getting 60 votes in the Senate for anything meaningful is likely to be quite difficult. The Service Employees International Union has some news related to the EFCA here.

Two years ago I attended the Solidarity Fest Labor Day celebration in Des Moines, featuring John Edwards and Hillary Clinton. The same event, sponsored by the South Central Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, takes place today in the 4-H building at the State Fairgrounds from noon to 2 pm. Later today, the Friends of Iowa Midwives are having a family-friendly potluck picnic at Raccoon River park in West Des Moines (4 to 8 pm, suggested donation $5).

After the jump I've posted details for lots of other events coming up this week.

There's More... :: (5 Comments, 1528 words in story)

Senator Franken making us proud already

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 09:47:45 AM CDT

The first bill Senator Al Franken co-sponsored after being sworn in yesterday was the Employee Free Choice Act. It's a cause Paul Wellstone would have supported strongly. (Click here for background on the EFCA.)

The Hill reported yesterday,

As expected, Franken has been assigned to the Judiciary Committee, Indian Affairs Committee and Aging Committee. He will also sit on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee once the panel finishes marking up the healthcare reform legislation.

I don't understand the logic of making Franken wait until after the health care bill markup before joining the HELP Committee, but at least he will be there when the Employee Free Choice Act is debated.

Getting to 60 votes on the EFCA will be a challenge, but Senator Tom Harkin has been working on a compromise since March. He told Bloomberg News in May that the "card check" provision may have to be dropped from the EFCA in order to get the bill through the Senate. "Card check" means that workers could form a union if a majority sign a document stating that they would like to join a union. Harkin suggested that a compromise bill might incorporate other changes to the election process and procedures for forming a labor union.

In that interview, Harkin did not mention whether binding arbitration would be a part of a workable compromise. Some people consider binding arbitration provisions to be as important a part of the EFCA as card check.

Whatever compromise Harkin crafts, I'm glad to know that Franken will be a voice for strong labor reform on the HELP Committee. I can't wait to go hear Franken keynote Harkin's steak fry on September 13.

UPDATE: Harkin's communications director Kate Cyrul told Iowa Independent that Harkin is still working on this bill and expects the EFCA to pass this year.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Memo to Wall Street whiners

by: desmoinesdem

Wed May 27, 2009 at 22:31:55 PM CDT

The customer is always right.

As Ben Smith reported at Politico last week, several large labor unions are questioning investment fund managers about their stance on the Employee Free Choice Act:

"Has your company made any public statements in support or opposition to EFCA?" asks one of nine pointed questions in a polite, detailed four-page questionnaire.

"If 'Yes,' please explain."

The detailed questionnaire has three parts. The first asks about fund managers' public positions, lobbying and political contributions. The second asks managers to "disclose any relationships during the past five years between your company and any organization(s) opposing the passage" of EFCA. The form lists 14 organizations, from anti-EFCA organizations like the Workforce Fairness Institute to trade groups that oppose it, like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Roundtable.

Here's a pdf file of the questionnaire. More on the whining after the jump.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 449 words in story)

The week in Tom Harkin news

by: desmoinesdem

Thu May 07, 2009 at 08:44:57 AM CDT

I've been meaning to write up a few stories about Senator Tom Harkin this week. As you may recall, he has been working on a compromise for the Employee Free Choice Act, which would build the middle class by making it easier for workers to join a labor union. (Click here for background on the EFCA.)

On Monday Harkin told Bloomberg News that the "card check" provision may have to be dropped from the EFCA in order to get the bill through the Senate. "Card check" means that workers could form a union if a majority sign a document stating that they would like to join a union. Republicans and business groups are loudly complaining that this would destroy "secret ballot" elections on unions, ignoring the reality: "[t]he current process is not secret or democratic."

Anyway, Harkin told Bloomberg that he hopes to find a compromise

that will gain "maybe the grudging support of labor and maybe the grudging support of some businesses." [...]

A softened version of the bill may attract support from more lawmakers, Harkin said. "Many do feel there is an imbalance" in current laws that favors business over labor, Harkin said.

"They may not be for the card-check, but they are for changing election process and procedures and shortening the period of time for elections" to form unions in a company.

The Bloomberg piece didn't say anything about binding arbitration, which in my opinion is as important a part of EFCA as card check.

Also this week, Harkin told CNN that he supports appropriating funds to shut down the Guantanamo Bay detention complex this year, as President Barack Obama has promised to do.

In other news, I read at La Vida Locavore that Harkin just introduced a bill to amend the Child Nutrition Act of 1996. Jill Richardson writes that Harkin's bill

will update the rules on what's allowed to be served or sold in schools. Right now, almost everything is fair game to sell in schools. You just can't sell the worst junk in the cafeteria during lunch time. Outside of the cafeteria, anything goes. In the cafeteria when it's not time for lunch, anything goes.

Harkin's commitment to improving the health and nutrition of American children continually impresses me (see here, here and here).

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Harkin working on Employee Free Choice Act compromise

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Mar 30, 2009 at 06:26:50 AM CDT

I saw on Talking Points memo's DC Wire that Senator Tom Harkin is sounding out Republican colleagues on a potential compromise for the Employee Free Choice Act, according to Roll Call. The Republican leadership will certainly try to filibuster this bill, and Democrats do not currently have 60 votes in favor. Some weaselly Democrats who voted for the EFCA in 2007 (knowing President Bush would veto it) are hedging now. In addition, Republican Senator Arlen Specter, who has supported the EFCA in the past, has flipped on the issue in light of a primary challenge from the right.

CEOs from three companies (Costco, Whole Foods and Starbucks) proposed a compromise on the EFCA recently. Harkin and other leading Democrats are not willing to accept that proposal for various reasons. For one thing, it would not include binding arbitration.

Earlier this month, Harkin had an excellent response to Republican critics who say we can't afford to help labor unions now:

"In 1935, we passed the Wagner Act that promoted unionization and allowed unions to flourish, and at the time we were at around 20 percent unemployment. So tell me again why we can't do this in a recession?" said  Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), invoking the pro-labor changes of the New Deal. "This is the time to do it. This is exactly the time we should be insisting on a fairer playing field for people to organize themselves."

The Center for American Progress Action Fund created this outstanding web page supporting the Employee Free Choice Act. You'll find many useful resources there, including a basic overview of what the EFCA would and would not do and an interactive map showing why unions are good for workers and the economy.

I clicked on Iowa and learned, "Union workers in Iowa make 8.40 percent ($1.48 per hour) more than non-union workers, on average." (Click here and scroll down the page to see how the Center for Economic Policy Research calculated those figures.) Higher wages are not only good for individual families, they boost the economy as a whole consumer spending drives so much economic activity.

I am pessimistic about the prospects for passing the EFCA this year, but I give Harkin credit for trying to find a compromise that would still make it significantly easier for workers to form unions.

Discuss :: (3 Comments)

New level of scrutiny reveals more problems with Daschle

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Feb 01, 2009 at 10:54:44 AM CST

Update: On February 3 Daschle withdrew his nomination for secretary of Health and Human Services. It looks like he won't be the "health care czar" in the White House either.

When Barack Obama announced plans to nominate Tom Daschle to run the Department of Health and Human Services, I agreed with Ezra Klein that the choice signaled Obama's commitment to get comprehensive health care reform through Congress. I knew that Daschle's wife was a longtime lobbyist, and that Daschle was not nearly as liberal as the right-wingers made him out to be. But we all know that the Senate will be the biggest obstacle to any good health care plan. Daschle knows that body's procedures and the majority of its members extremely well.

The choice isn't looking so good today.

Not paying taxes on the use of someone else's limousine looks bad, but as we saw last week with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, failure to fully meet one's tax obligations no longer seems to be a barrier to serving in the cabinet. (By the way, Daschle knew about this problem last summer but didn't tell Obama's vetting team.)

Many people might honestly not realize that if they use someone else's car, they need to report the value of that service as taxable income. But what is Daschle's excuse for overstating his tax-deductible charitable gifts and not reporting more than $83,000 in consulting income? If Bill Richardson was asked to step aside because of an investigation that hasn't even proven wrongdoing, then Daschle should not get a pass for not paying his taxes.

As is so often the case in politics, though, what's legal can be even more disturbing. From Politico:

Daschle made nearly $5.3 million in the last two years, records released Friday show, including $220,000 he received for giving speeches, many of them to outfits that stand to gain or lose millions of dollars from the work he would do once confirmed as secretary of Health and Human Services.

For instance, the Health Industry Distributors Association plunked down $14,000 to land the former Senate Democratic leader in March 2008. The association, which represents medical products distributors, boasts on its website that Daschle met with it after he was nominated to discuss "the impact an Obama administration will have on the industry."

This week, the group began openly lobbying him, sending him a letter urging him to rescind a rule requiring competitive bidding of Medicare contracts.

Another organization, America's Health Insurance Plans, paid $20,000 for a Daschle speaking appearance in February 2007. It represents health insurance companies, which under Obama's plan would be barred from denying coverage on the basis of health or age.

There was a $12,000 talk to GE Healthcare in August, a $20,000 lecture in January to Premier, Inc., a health care consulting firm, and a pair of $18,000 speeches this year to different hospital systems, among other paid appearances before health care groups.

The speaking fees were detailed in a financial disclosure statement released Friday, which showed that Daschle pulled down a total of more than $500,000 from the speaking circuit in the last two years, and $5.3 million in overall income.

These speaking engagements are legal, but it is an unacceptable conflict of interest for Daschle to have taken that much money from groups with a major financial stake in health care reform.

At Daily Kos nyceve examines one of those paid speeches and tells you why you should care: As UnitedHealth subsidiary Ingenix defrauded Americans, Daschle was its 2008 keynote speaker.

A lot of liberal bloggers are now calling for Obama to withdraw Daschle's nomination and appoint Howard Dean to run HHS instead. As much as I like Dean, I do not think he's the person to shepherd health care reform through Congress. But I agree that Obama needs to find a replacement for Daschle--the sooner, the better.

If Obama stands by Daschle, I suspect the Senate insiders' club would confirm him, but let's hope it doesn't come to that.

Speaking of stalled confirmations, Senator Mike Enzi of Wyoming appears to be the Republican who is holding up Hilda Solis's nomination for Secretary of Labor. This is purely ideological, based on Solis' support for the Employee Free Choice Act. Solis has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

Will Obama stand behind his choice for this cabinet position? The president expressed support for organized labor on Friday while signing executive orders to boost labor unions.  

Discuss :: (5 Comments)

Grassley and Harkin both vote no on Geithner

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 20:35:57 PM CST

The U.S. Senate confirmed Timothy Geithner as Treasury Secretary today by a vote of 60 to 34, but as you can see from the roll call, both of Iowa's senators voted no.

Grassley was joined by 29 other Republicans. He voted against Geithner in the Senate Finance Committee a few days ago, citing the nominee's failure to fully meet his tax obligations during some previous years.

Harkin was one of only three Senate Democrats to vote against confirming Geithner. According to the Des Moines Register,

Harkin voiced concerns about Geithner's failure to pay some income taxes several years ago, amounting to about $34,000. [...]

Harkin also said Geithner was at fault for how some of the $700-billion financial rescue money, authorized by Congress in October, was spent. Harkin voted for the bailout, but said later he would have voted against it had he known the money would go to banks, rather than to buy bad loans.

Geithner was a key figure in the crafting and administering of the money as the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. In the post, Geithner also was partly to blame for the financial meltdown, which stemmed from inadequate regulation, Harkin argued.

"Mr. Geithner made serious errors of judgment in failing to pay his taxes, and he made serious errors in his job as chief regulator of the financial institutions at the heart of the current financial crisis," Harkin said in a statement released after the vote.

I am surprised that so many senators voted against Geithner. I stand by my opinion that if he were not a white male, the tax problems would have sunk his nomination.

Speaking of Senate confirmations, some Republican has reportedly put an anonymous hold on the nomination of Hilda Solis as Labor Secretary. I called Grassley's office today, and a staffer told me it wasn't him.

Will President Barack Obama go to the mat to get Solis confirmed? Will the Republicans filibuster this strong supporter of workers' rights and the Employee Free Choice Act?

I had assumed that Attorney-General designee Eric Holder would be the cabinet appointment most fiercely opposed by Republicans, but perhaps it will be Solis.

UPDATE: Geithner's actions during his first day on the job are not encouraging. I believe he will turn out to be one of Obama's worst appointments.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Is Obama committed to fighting for unions?

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Jan 16, 2009 at 16:29:54 PM CST

Barack Obama promised during his presidential campaign to "finally make the Employee Free Choice Act the law of the land."

So why did I read this in today's Washington Post?

The president-elect also gave his support for legislation that would make it easier for workers to unionize, but he said there may be other ways to achieve the same goal without angering businesses. And while many Democrats on Capitol Hill are eager to see a quick vote on that bill, he indicated no desire to rush into the contentious issue.

"If we're losing half a million jobs a month, then there are no jobs to unionize, so my focus first is on those key economic priority items I just mentioned," he said. "Let's see what the legislative docket looks like."

Marc Ambinder has the exact wording of Obama's answer, which the Washington Post paraphrased.

A lot of labor unions backed Obama during the primaries, and even more backed him during the general election campaign. Unions were there for Obama when he needed them. Now, they need him to follow through on his promise.

This diary by TomP lays out the very strong case for passing the Employee Free Choice Act.

Why do we need to dance around looking for some way to help unions without angering businesses? Obama won the election and has high approval ratings. Democrats enlarged their Congressional majorities. Now is the time for the president to spend his political capital on getting good laws through Congress.

Setting the policy merits aside for the moment, this is a poor negotiating strategy.

By announcing before taking office that his goal is to help unions without arousing intense opposition from businesses, Obama has just given the business lobby every incentive to raise hell about even the most innocuous bill to support workers' rights.

He should not have telegraphed that he is willing to sacrifice the Employee Free Choice Act if necessary. You never announce before negotiations begin what concessions you are willing to make. (For more on Obama's negotiating strategy so far, read this diary by bruh3.)

In any event, there isn't going to be some magical bill that would make it significantly easier for workers to organize, but which the business lobby would take in stride. They will fight every bill perceived as pro-labor, and they will claim that it will cost jobs, just like they fought any number of good laws, from minimum wage increases to the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Here's hoping that incoming Labor Secretary Hilda Solis (a passionate supporter of the EFCA) will be able to strengthen Obama's resolve to fight for this bill.

By the way, American Rights at Work just launched a major tv advertising campaign in support of the EFCA and has a petition you can sign if you care about this issue.

Discuss :: (3 Comments)

New thread on Obama appointments: labor, trade and science

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Dec 18, 2008 at 20:35:38 PM CST

News about several more key appointments by President-elect Barack Obama emerged today. His choice for Secretary of Labor will be Representative Hilda Solis of California, a bit of a surprise since she didn't seem to be on any of the short lists leaked so far.

Solis comes from a union family and is a passionate supporter of the Employee Free Choice Act (also known as "card check," which would make it easier to organize workers in non-union workplaces). Her voting record on labor issues is very solid.

TomP has more background on Solis, including YouTubes.

Ideally, Obama would have introduced his Labor Secretary along with the rest of his economic team to underscore the importance of the job, but I'm not going to quibble about the timing. This is a very solid appointment. I assume that Solis would not give up a safe House seat unless Obama had given her some assurances that he would keep his campaign promise to pass the Employee Free Choice Act.

Speaking of which, Representative Xavier Becerra of California declined Obama's offer to become U.S. Trade Representative a few days ago. It was a smart move, as Becerra has a chance to become Speaker of the House someday. Today Obama offered that job to former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk, who had previously been mentioned as a possible candidate for Secretary of Transportation.

Obama made some campaign promises about replacing "free trade" with "fair trade," but it's not clear whether choosing Kirk signals a plan to retreat from those promises. The Wall Street Journal argued that

By naming Mr. Kirk, Mr. Obama nodded to the free-trade wing of the Democratic Party, which is small but has important ties to business.

Solis is firmly in the "fair trade" camp of the Democratic Party.

Obama's chief science adviser will be the physicist John Holdren, an internationally-renowned expert on energy and climate issues. He is apparently a highly effective communicator as well as a brilliant scientist.

Obama also has chosen Oregon State University professor Jane Lubchenco to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a very large agency within the Commerce Department. The Deep Sea News blog ran with the headline, "Obama Appoints Totally Awesome Marine Biologist to Head NOAA!"

Holy Mola! I can't contain my excitement about this appointment. Her work in marine ecology and conservation is seminal and her involvement in science outreach is phenomenal. This marks a new era for NOAA indeed. I am very excited to see where she takes the agency. Yet again, another amazing Obama appointment. It feels so strange to have a president who respects science and appoints highly qualified people to important posts.

It's looking more and more like Obama is serious about tackling the global warming problem. But can any of the highly qualified scientists he's appointed talk him out of promoting "clean coal"?

UPDATE: Reuters says Obama "has chosen retired Navy Adm. Dennis Blair as the top U.S. intelligence official" and will announce that decision soon.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Obama administration wish list open thread

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 12:00:00 PM CST

A Siegel wants aggressive action to green our country's school buildings, which is a "win-win-win-win strategy" because it would:

# Save money for communities and taxpayers

# Create employment

# Foster capacity for 'greening' the nation

# Reduce pollution loads

# Improve health

# Improve student performance / achievement

The whole piece by A Siegel is worth reading.

Picking up on Vice President-elect Joe Biden's speech to the National Governors Association, in which he advocated greater investment in rail transit, BruceMcF wants a comprehensive rail electrification program. Click the link to read more, because BruceMcF is one of the most knowledgeable transportation bloggers around.

Neil Hamilton, director of the Agricultural Law Center at Drake University, wants Barack Obama to establish

a New Farmer Corps and set a 10-year goal of establishing one-half million new farms in the United States.

The New Farmer Corps would link his advocacy for public service with an initiative to plant the next generation of America's farm families. The program would assist current owners to transfer land and offer new farmers training, capital and markets to make their farms thrive. It would encourage states and counties to plan for supporting new farmers. [...]

The New Farmer Corps would build on existing efforts, such as Iowa's voluntary land-link program, which matches aging farmers with young families seeking a start. It would harness loans offered by USDA and Farm Credit banks, but supplement them with benefits new farmers could earn by caring for the land, conserving energy and producing healthy food. Congress could authorize education, training and health benefits to families investing their sweat, labor and dreams on rural and urban farms.

America has no shortage of people eager to put their hands in the soil to feed us. Thousands of potential new farmers exist - college students laboring on urban farms, farm kids hoping to continue the family tradition, and immigrants and refugees who brought their agrarian legacy to America. What we lack is a coordinated, creative national effort.

The New Farmer Corps could succeed by supplementing current efforts with new funds and tax incentives, such as Iowa's tax break for owners who make land available to new farmers rather than holding it until death. The New Farmer Corps could offer special training and credit incentives for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, so they can join the ranks of America's farmers and continue serving, but in more pastoral and nurturing ways.

Speaking of agriculture, jgoodman wants better organic standards for livestock production.

TomP wants Obama to keep his promise to make the Employee Free Choice Act the law of the land.

What's on your wish list for the new administration?

Discuss :: (0 Comments)
Menu

Make a New Account

Username:

Password:



Forget your username or password?


Iowa Liberal Blogs
- Ames Progressive
- Blog For Iowa
- Essential Estrogen
- Iowa .Gif-t Shop
- Iowa Independent (archive)
- Iowa Policy Points
- Iowans for a Future That Doesn't Suck
- John Deeth
Iowa Conservative Blogs
- Hawkeye GOP
- The Bean Walker
- Caffeinated Thoughts
- The Conservative Reader: Iowa
- The Iowa Republican
Journalists' blogs and research
- 24-Hour Dorman
- Cedar Rapids Gazette government page
- Iowa Fiscal Partnership
- Iowa Policy Project
- Iowa Politics Insider
- Iowa Watchdog.org
- On Brief: Iowa's Appellate Blog
- On the Campaign Trail with Ed Tibbetts
- Newton Independent (Peter Hussmann)
- Politically Speaking
- Price of Politics, etc.
- O.Kay Henderson at Radio Iowa
Iowa Democrats
- Tom Harkin (U.S. Senator)
- Bruce Braley (IA-01)
- Dave Loebsack (IA-02)
- Iowa Democratic Party
- Iowa House Democrats
- Iowa Senate Democrats
Statistics


 
Powered by: SoapBlox