Misc. Mondays: Obama’s New Board Members

We knew this day was coming.  It’s almost finally here.  Obama announced his intention to fill two of the three (out of 5) open seats on the National Labor Relations Board (the Supreme Court of judges for labor law issues).  And without much surprise, he announced two lawyers who happen to represent labor unions – to go along with Wilma Liebman who he appointed Head of the Boardand who used to represent labor unions.  One of the appointees, Craig Becker is the Associated General Counsel for both the SEIU and the AFL-CIO.  The other is Mark Pearce, who is in private practice in New York and represents trade unions in labor and employment law issues. 

Click here for a fullbio on these two appointees courtesy of Ross Runkle’s LawMemo Blog.

Now just 1 seat is left to fill, and by law that has to go a Republican.  But by when must it be filled is a better question than who will get it.  The Board has been operating as a 2 person Board for over a year – 1 Republican and 1 Democrat.  Obama just announced he will fill it with 2 more people – both Democrats.  Obviously the Board is the most left it can be at this moment.  So there really isn’t any incentive for Obama to pick that last Republican.  I expect to see many 3-1 decisions in favor of Unions for quite some time.

FBI Searches Obama’s Tech Official’s Office

Vivek Kundra, Obama’s chief information officer – the person who coordinates federal computer systems across the entire administration – is under investigation by the FBI.  Kundra was on leave during the investigation, but has since resumed to his White House position.  Three people from Kundra’s office have been arrested. 

One of the arrested, Yusuf Acar – who was promoted 3 times in the last year by Kundra– was charged with bilking taxpayers out of millions of dollars through a scam involving phony work orders and bogus employees.  Acar and former co-worker Sushil Bansal are charged with doctoring work orders and filing time sheets for “ghost employees” in an elaborate conspiracy.  Acar and his employees concealed their roles in outside companies in order to steer no-bid contracts to themselves and their friends, authorities said.  Bansal owned one such company.  At one point, Acar claimed he had netted $6 million from the scheme, court papers state.  Acar is now in jail, without bond, until his trial.

Farrukh Awan was arrested on allegations that he hid his role in Bansal’s company.   Awan joins his former boss, Yusuf Acar, and Bansal behind bars.

Obama’s Definition of an Earmark

Traditionally, the definition of an earmark (aka pork spending) has been any item included in a bill that is specifically designed to benefit a constituency or supporter of one of the bill’s authors or sponsors.  President Obama promised that there would be no earmarks in the stimulus bill.  But, it emerged from the Senate 500 pages longer and full of funding for pet projects to most satisfy every Democrat interest group and most every powerful Senator’s home district or big contributor.

When questioned, Obama responded by redefining the term earmark.  He said “I describe earmarks as the process by which individual members insert pet projects without review.”  So, if there was a pet project in the bill already as it was read and voted on by the Senate, then it is not an earmark because it was reviewed.  It’s still identical to any other port project even though it’s been reviewed.

So far the stimulus bills has not yet stimulated the economy. 

Thank you Blog Critics Magazine for this review.

More Lobbyists in the Obama Administration

Remember when we learned of Obama’s promise to not have lobbyists in his administration?  And remember when Obama  started breaking his rule?  Well, he’s still breaking it.  Obama’s first executive order forbade appointees who have served as registered lobbyists to “participate in any particular matter on which [they] lobbied within the two years before the date of my appointment” or “participate in the specific issue area in which that particular matter falls.”  His latest lobbyist appointments, Derek Douglas and Christine Varney are excluded from this executive order because their lobbying efforts were in 2006 – a few days before Obama’s 2-year self imposed cut off date.

EFCA Update March 1-6

An editorial from Missouri commented that with hundreds of thousands of jobs being lost in January alone, there is no such thing a job security, and since many of those jobs were union jobs, a union does not create job security and therefore EFCA does not create job security.  Good logic.  Likewise, the Missouri Legislature just introduced House Joint Resolution 31 that call for protecting the secret ballot in Missouri’s Constitution.  The article opines, “If the unions really want to protect employees’ right to choose secret-ballot elections, then why spend millions of dollars on political contributions and slick TV commercials to get Congress to change the rules and allow card check?

In another post I comment about Biden and Obama’s messages to the AFL-CIOat that union’s annual meeting.  But here, according to the DC Examiner, Obama’s video message reassuring the union that “we will pass the Employee Free Choice Act” was videotaped nearly two weeks ago and a lot has happened since then.  Specifically, a growing number of Democrats in Congress are having second thoughts about card check – I cover this, too, in another post.

In polling conducted for the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace in January by McLaughlin & Associates, nearly three-quarters (74%) of union households were opposed to the card check provisions in the Employee Free Choice Act.  An overwhelming 88% of union households believed that a worker’s vote should be kept private during a union organizing election, and 85% of union households believed that a secret ballot election is the best way to protect the individual rights of workers when they are deciding whether to join a union.

Here is a list of over 100 editorials from across the country blasting EFCA.  This list is constantly updated and is a great place to check back to often.

Follow Up Friday: Obama’s Loves Lobbyists

Last week is when it was first covered that Obama was appointing lobbyists after promising lobbyists “won’t find a job in my White House.” 

In his early days of campaigning, he said that lobbyists wouldn’t be welcome in his new Washington.  Soon after the election he insisted on the “strictest ethics rules ever applied.”  In fact, he didn’t care if he excluded long-term Washington stalwarts because he wanted ethics in Washington.  But, “now lobbyists abound in Obama’s administration and have since day one.  Not only that, but tax cheats seem to be particularly drawn to the new president.”  In case you’ve forgotten, he’s appointed almost 2 dozen lobbyists (one more if you count Solis) and at least 3 that had trouble paying taxes (well, 4 if you count Solis’ husband).

Even MSNBC’s liberal talk-show host Rachel Maddow “blasted Obama for having former lobbyists in his administration, saying that his campaign-trail promise that lobbyists would not run his White House ‘sounded great; too great to be entriely true, it turns out.'”  Likewise, Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said about the new administration, “They say they have a policy of no lobbyists, and yet every day we hear about a new lobbyist.”

What do I see from all of this?  More labor friendly legislation.  Obama loves the pay to play game.  He swindled American voters into thinking he was going to reform Washington.  He promised ethics like we’ve never seen before.  But now that he’s in power, he’s thrown all of that out the door and has appointed nearly 2 dozen lobbyists who have all championed his causes.  With it being public knowledge that labor unions put him in the White House, soon it will be public knowledge that labor unions (like lobbyists, not ethics) will proliferate under labor-friendly bills like we’ve never seen before.

Follow Up Friday: Patriot Employer Act Not Good for the World

The Patriot Employer Act, which is an overt Act of protectionism and a big blow to outsourcing.  According to an insightful article from India that only looked at the first requirement of the Act, “in a world as highly competitive as it currently is, any concerted effort to reverse the trend of outsourcing will not only impact the US corporations (for many of whom outsourcing is a way of being competitive in the global market) themselves but also impact a whole host of companies outside the boundaries on the US.”  Likewise, an article from an European think tank chastises Obama’s support of the Patriot Employer Act in todays economy because today we need countries to trade with each other, not close their borders and become less productive.