It was announced today that an additional 7.6 million U.S. vehicles are being recalled. GM stock is trading around $37 today (you'll recall it needed to hit around $55 a share for the taxpayers to break even on their "investment").
Preferring to look ignorant rather than irresponsible, President Obama said last week that he only recently learned of scandals at the Department of Veteran Affairs through news reports. He spoke of the problems at the department as if they had blindsided him, despite the fact that as a candidate in 2008 he railed against the “the broken bureaucracy of the V.A.” and decried outrageous delays in treatment for veterans.
He didn’t need news reports to inform him of the depth of the department’s flaws; he could have reviewed his own campaign speeches. His long familiarity with the department’s problems gave his press conference last week an air of adding insult to injury. Somehow he was at once aware of the department’s deplorable condition and unaware of it.
Obama doesn’t mind appearing as the hapless spectator on the sidelines of his government if that saves him from the charge of dereliction of duty about a known problem. Yet the plight of veterans at the hands of indifferent bureaucrats clearly lost its urgency for him once the 2008 campaign ended and only now resumes urgency for him as an annoying political problem.
He said last week that he won’t “tolerate” mistreatment of veterans but he managed to tolerate it easily enough since he gave those speeches over five years ago. His aides claim he is “madder than hell” about the scandal, but at last week’s press conference he implied that his anger was provisional. He is still not sure if the “allegations” of mistreatment are true and needs to wait for more investigations in order to determine whether or not “accountability” is required.
Learning about problems in his own government through random news reports has become one of Obama’s common refrains. Last year he said that he learned of the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups through glancing at the newspaper and he made a similar claim about his knowledge of various Justice Department scandals. Historians, looking for a simple snapshot of his administration’s fecklessness, can cite the frequency of Obama’s admission.
Obama also learns of non-events through news reports, as evident in his administration’s reliance upon fragments of reporting from the foreign press to claim that the Benghazi terrorist attack was a demonstration over an Internet video that turned violent. Former Obama administration spokesman Tommy Vietor commented to Fox News, “What I’ve seen is, in a number of outlets, reporters talked to people on the scene that night… who said they were there because they were upset about this video.” Vietor suggested that “guys quoted in newspapers saying that’s why they were there” was the reason for the bogus storyline.
All of this contributes to a picture of an administration that is hopelessly superficial, dishonest, and incompetent. It also exposes Obama’s ideology as false: the federal government is clearly too big to know and too dysfunctional to control if he can only keep up to date on its failures through news accounts.
Today it was Howard Dean (filmed a week ago, but seen on YouTube today). He was addressing a Democratic crowd in Colorado, and went off on a tirade against Republicans. Yes, he really did say that Republicans aren’t American. And that they should stay away from the United States, and go to Russia where they belong.
On the surface, one might think that a black eye on the UAW for getting beat in Tennessee was the big story. It's not. The big story is what happens next:
No wonder they wanted card check: I remember, toward the end of the last Bush administration, whippersnappers all the confident young Dem policy warriors repeating labor’s talking points about the need to allow the secret ballot in union recognition elections to be replaced by “card check,” a system in which workers sign cards in the presence of union organizers. Without card check, management would “coerce” workers by pointing out the downside of unionization in mandatory propaganda meetings.
Wasn’t it possible that workers who turned down unions simply looked at what Wagner Act unionism had done, say, to Detroit, and decided for themselves that this wasn’t what they wanted to happen to their company? Nah.
Now we know different: At Vokswagen’s Chattanooga factory, the UAW was actually welcomed by the employer. No union-busting propganada sessions. VW, which already has a powerful union back home in Europe, wanted to set up German-style “works councils,” where rank and file employees could have a say in production decisions. But, according to many U.S. labor lawyers, it needed a union partner — otherwise, under the Wagner Act the works councils would be considered an illegal “company union.” The UAW seemed ready to be that partner. UAW organizers were allowed in the plant to make their case. Management didn’t argue back.**
The most interesting part comes next: If Volkswagen now goes ahead and starts its works councils anyway, without the UAW, will organized labor sue to have them declared illegal? That would give the Roberts Court a precious opportunity to interpret the Wagner Act in a way that actually allows non-legalistic, non-adversarial forms of worker participation in management (despite the “company union” prohibition). In effect, the courts could help VW create what those on the left have been (correctly) demanding of the right: a reasonable alternative to traditional unionism, giving workers a voice without subjecting every management decision to a war of bargainers and lawyers and (ultimately) the formalized pitched battle of a strike.
Now that would be a threat to Big Labor. Which is why they might not sue.
**–Though local politicians, like Sen. Bob Corker, did. President Obama sided with the UAW, at least behind closed doors.
***–The cards apparently contained distracting language about wanting to join VW’s works council. If the union did have a majority of cards, of course, it has now provided us with a near-textbook example of the difference between a) a secret ballot and b) signing a piece of paper in the presence of union representatives.
So if VW moves forward, and sets up the Works Councils, the UAW has a choice to make: Do nothing, and appear weak to your members (and other organizations that have UAW members working there), or sue, and quite possibly lose.
Are there any limits to what the President can do, in regards to passed laws?
For example, the President recently decided to delay the implementation of Obamacare for business with 50-99 employees until 2016. Democrats don't seem to have a problem with a President using this power.
Is there any reason why a Republican President couldn't delay the implementation of Obamacare until 2100? Any reason why a Republican President couldn't decide that abortion was no longer legal? Any reason why a Republican President couldn't decide that all Democrats are required to contribute 100% of their earnings, wealth , and possessions to their Republican neighbors?
If your answer is "Yes!" to any of my scenarios, please explain why, and then explain why Obama is okay in doing what he has done (and continues to do) with his signature legislation.