I’d love to hear your remembrances of this great man. Here is mine.
The last of the great journalists has died. Walter Cronkite never let his popularity lead him to believe that he was bigger than the story or that he didn’t have to do the hard work of serious reporting. A young Cronkite probably couldn’t even get a job with a major news network today.
But the purpose of this post is not to critique the MSM, but remember the man. I met him once, a decade ago. He was keynoting a conference I was speaking at. I managed to introduce myself and shake his hand. He is as classy, humble, and generous in person as he seems on TV.
Several moderate Democrats, including Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, have voiced opposition to card check, convinced that elections were a fairer way for workers to unionize. They were swayed partly by business’s vigorous campaign, arguing that card check would remove confidentiality from unionization drives and enable union organizers to bully workers into signing union cards.
You have to read almost to the end of the Times piece before learning that lawmakers continue to discuss various details of the bill — it’s not a done deal. There are details to be worked out in the legislative process, and meaningful labor law reform must include the three principles underlying the Employee Free Choice Act:
– Workers must have a free choice and a fair path to choose to form a union, free from intimidation.
– Real penalties must exist for employers who break the law.
– Workers who choose a union must be able to get a fair first contract
– Companies must not be able to engage in endless delays and stalling tactics to deny workers a collective bargaining agreement.
With President Obama’s backing — reiterated on Monday — and the support of the majority in Congress, this is the year to pass the most significant labor law reform since the 1930s. And let’s not forget that 73 percent of the public supports the Employee Free Choice Act, which would level the playing field for workers seeking to form unions.
The reason for such support is understandable. Corporate abuses are all too common, and companies can act with impunity against employees who are trying to form unions. Workers who try to exercise their basic freedom to form a union are faced with mandatory meetings, threats of wage or benefit cuts, threats of firings or plant closings and even illegal firings, because of weak law and negligible penalties. That matters to the lives of workers across the country. And even when workers do get through the company-dominated process, more than half wait more than a year for a first contract, and nearly one-third don’t have a contract two years later.
The Employee Free Choice Act has earned the support of small businesses, faith groups, civil rights groups, leading economists and a wide variety of community organizations, who all agree that a strong, progressive country with a healthy economy depends on the ability of workers to bargain for a fair share. Three-quarters of Americans support legislation to make it easier for workers to bargain collectively.
We can and will pass meaningful labor law reform this year. America’s workers can’t wait.
Some compared Obama to O.J. Simpson while others suggested that “n[*****] rigs” should now be called “presidential solutions.”
Perhaps the most overboard e-mail was sent on Jan. 15. It read: “Breaking News Playboy just offered Sarah Palin $1 million to pose nude in the January issue. Michelle Obama got the same offer from National Geographic.”
Frago admitted sending the e-mails, but showed no regret. “If they’re from me, then I sent them,” he said. “I have no disrespect for the president or anybody, they weren’t meant in any bad way or harm.”
When given an opportunity to explain himself, Frago somehow managed to dig himself a deeper hole by saying: “I don’t see where there’s a story, I’m not the only one that does it. … I didn’t originate them, they came to me and I just passed them on.”
Earlier today, Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Richard Lugar (R-IN) and Mel Martinez (R-FL) each announced that they would vote to confirm Judge Sonia Sotomayor as the next justice on the Supreme Court. The Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz tweeted the news, but was only surprised that two of the Republicans were backing Sotomayor:
The implication of Kurtz’ tweet appears to be that it is obvious Martinez would support Sotomayor because they are both Hispanic. This kind of thinking is reminiscent to Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) criticizing Sotomayor for disagreeing with another judge of “Puerto Rican ancestry.”
Kurtz responds in a follow-up tweet: “Didn’t mean to dis Senator Martinez. I just question whether he would have come out so early for a Democrat’s non-Hispanic nominee.”
A $2 million border camera project started by Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) has yielded just 11 arrests and 8 drug busts. That’s 1,189 fewer arrests than what Perry anticipated. Only 300 undocumented immigrants were reported to the U.S. Border Patrol, compared to the 4,500 that were expected.
125,000 people registered to serve as “virtual Texas deputies” and monitor the border cameras on the website “BlueServo.” Camera watchers found it difficult to determine the difference between animals and undocumented immigrants crossing the border. One vigilante wrote:
“Just a word of warning: A moment ago I saw a spider crawl across the top of the camera…You might want to try and prevent any webs from being spun across the lens area by treating with repellent or taking other measures.”
That’s a bit different from the picture Perry excitedly painted in 2006:
“Under the watchful eyes of law enforcement and the American people, criminals who smuggle drugs and human beings, predators who commit violent crimes against citizen and immigrant alike, and terror groups looking to exploit our border will all lose their greatest strategic asset: the cloak of secrecy. Enforcing the border is the federal government’s responsibility, but Texas will not wait to act.”
“The grim reality is that with regard to the budget we have entered a zero-sum game. Every defense dollar diverted to fund excess or unneeded capacity… is a dollar that will be unavailable to take care of our people, to win the wars we are in, to deter potential adversaries, and to improve capabilities in areas where America is underinvested and potentially vulnerable. That is a risk that I will not take and one that I cannot accept,” he said.
This is fundamentally what the F-22 debate is all about. Barack Obama and Robert Gates are trying to bring an end to years of magical thinking about defense spending. George Bush took a federal budget that was in short-term equilibrium but facing large long-term deficits, and decided that the thing to do was to cut taxes dramatically and simultaneously scale up defense spending. Ronald Reagan did the same thing. That’s conservative governance. But in the real world, you have to make decisions. If the country is going to fix its budgetary problems then the Pentagon is going to have to live on a budget. That means choices have to be made.
Like me, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities hadn’t really been looking toward a surtax on high-income Americans as the way to finance health care expansion. But that’s what the House of Representatives legislation would do, and CPBB deems it “a reasonable approach”. For one thing, this is a measure that would leave the vast majority of Americans completely unscathed. The richest 1.2 percent of the population would be the ones bearing the burden. That’s something opponents are going to try to obscure, but it’s the reality.
The other point is the one I was making here, the richest Americans have managed to acquire a much larger share of overall income than they used to have. Under the circumstances, ratcheting-up their taxes is a way of ensuring that the GDP growth of the past 25 years redounds to the benefit of everyone. And in particular redounds the benefit of people who could really use some help:
All things considered, I think there’s a reasonably compelling logic behind the idea that it makes more sense to finance health reform through health-related tax measures like curbing the exclusion or taxes on alcohol and other public health hazards. But taxing the incomes of high earners is a reasonable alternative.
Our guest blogger is Krisila Benson, Director of Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities Action, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
The debate over the future of the F-22 is turning out to be a marathon, not a sprint. After three days of debate this week on the amendment to the Defense Authorization bill proposed by Senators Carl Levin (D-MI) and John McCain (R-AZ) to strip the $1.75 billion for the purchase of seven additional planes, the amendment was temporarily withdrawn because Republicans were unwilling to agree to cloture on the debate.
The Republicans appear committed to stretching out debate on the Defense Authorization bill as along as possible, as part of a larger stall strategy to avoid getting to healthcare, and other issues critical to the agenda of the Obama administration before the August recess. The F-22 is a great stall tactic – from their perspective it is more politically savvy to pontificate on the full floor of the Senate at great length in support of the F-22 than against the Hate Crimes amendment, the other big amendment debated this week.
To raise the stakes, earlier this week President Obama made a pointed veto threat if the Defense Authorization bill (pdf) winds up on his desk with any F-22. This debate is no longer one based on the merits of the case, and it is unclear whether Levin and McCain have the votes they need, even after the threatened veto. Senators hear the “Jobs, jobs, jobs” arguments made by Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) and others supporting the F-22, in spite of the fact that future production of the F-35 will offset job losses created by the end of the F-22. And unfortunately many Democrats continue to be reluctant to vote against any defense initiative for fear of appearing soft on national security.
The top civilian and military leaders of the Pentagon have spoken at great length about how additional F-22s are not needed, and continuing production of the line comes at the expense of other initiatives that are far more important for our national security.
Secretary of Defense Gates can only be characterized as exasperated on this issue. Last night in Chicago he said, “with regard to something like the F-22, irrespective of whether the number of aircraft at issue is 12 planes or 200, if we can’t bring ourselves to make this tough but straightforward decision – reflecting the judgment of two very different presidents, two different secretaries of defense, two chairmen of the joint chiefs of staff, and the current Air Force Secretary and Chief of Staff, where do we draw the line? And if not now, when? If we can’t get this right — what on earth can we get right?”
Earlier today on Fox News, RNC Chairman Michael Steele was asked whether Republicans would borrow from President Clinton’s famous catch-phrase during the 1992 campaign, “it’s the economy stupid,” in the run-up to the 2010 election. Steele proceeded to launch into a rambling answer that used fuzzy math to assert that, in only six months, President Obama has added “10 trillion dollars” to the national deficit, while President Bush is to blame for only “a trillion”:
STEELE: They love going back to George Bush and his deficit that was inherited. Great. I’ll take George Bush’s deficit right now of a trillion dollars over the 10 trillion dollars that this administration has created in just six months.
About 33 percent of the swing stems from new legislation signed by Mr. Bush. That legislation, like his tax cuts and the Medicare prescription drug benefit, not only continue to cost the government but have also increased interest payments on the national debt.
Mr. Obama’s main contribution to the deficit is his extension of several Bush policies, like the Iraq war and tax cuts for households making less than $250,000. Such policies — together with the Wall Street bailout, which was signed by Mr. Bush and supported by Mr. Obama — account for 20 percent of the swing.
About 7 percent comes from the stimulus bill that Mr. Obama signed in February. And only 3 percent comes from Mr. Obama’s agenda on health care, education, energy and other areas.
Try as Steele might, this is blame shifting that just won’t work — especially after the Bush administration made it clear that “deficits don’t matter.”