Democrats & Liberals Archives

Restoring Worker Rights

President-elect Obama has been receiving criticism from liberals for not appointing at least one liberal to his cabinet. They are worried that Obama is not as liberal as he appeared to be during the campaign. His action Sunday proves that regardless of what you lablel him he will work for the sorely-neglected rights of workers

Workers are in a sorry state. The government killed the National Labor Relations Board as an enforcer of the rights of labor. Then labor unions have been destroyed by corporations. Wages went down, down, down. Many jobs flew overseas. Today workers are taking the brunt of the recession.

All this started with the Republican saint called Ronald Reagan. In 1981 the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) started a strike for higher wages and other benefits. President Reagan immediately announced that the strikers should return to work within 48 hours or face termination.

And terminated they were.

Reagan showed the way and Congress followed with punitive worker legislation. The field was open for corporations to follow the advice of "consultants" in reducing the rights of workers. And they did.

Contrast this "conservative" action with what Obama did Sunday in Chicago. A few hundred union workers staged a sit-down strike at the Republic Windows and Doors plant in order to obtain severance and vacation pay. Here is what President-elect Obama said:

When it comes to the situation here in Chicago with the workers who are asking for their benefits and payments they have earned, I think they are absolutely right. What’s happening to them is reflective of what’s happening across this economy...I think that these workers, if they have earned their benefits and their pay, then these companies need to follow through on those commitments.

Obama came out clearly in support of a union. Furthermore, he demonstrated his realization that this situation is "reflective of what's happening across this economy." He implied that he will fight to restore the rights of workers.

Liberals need not worry about Obama. Obama is dedicated, not to the elite, but to restoring the rights of workers and other ordinary folks. No more pandering to the rich. The middle class will be Obama's primary concern.

Posted by Paul Siegel at December 8, 2008 7:29 PM
Comment #271669

How nice will it be to have a man in the Oval Office that cares about the Industrial Trade Unionist’s of this great country? The last 8 years have been a tough run for a devout Republican as myself; my wife was shocked when I admitted to her that my vote was going for ‘the other side’ in November. Truth be told, I voted for Obama strictly on the fact that he is pro-Union and promises to enact the EFCA soon after he takes office. Our country is in dire straits. We need something and we need it to be long term. Organizing companies into the Union, whatever Union it may be, will be that long term change that we need.

Posted by: Keenan C. Pickett at December 8, 2008 9:00 PM
Comment #271670

Sorta like what Rosevelt did during the depression.

Looks like more layoffs coming.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at December 8, 2008 9:36 PM
Comment #271673

Thank God. Rep union busting is a major reason we are in difficult economic straits. Real wages were kept flat or down. Its just common sense. In a consumer economy consumers have to have money to spend to keep it going. If you get paid good wages you do not need a sub-prime morgage etc.
I am hopeing for a repeal of all the Taft-Hartly Amendment to the Wagner Act. The right often rants about free market economics. Fine with me but lets make it free market for labor too.Take the handcuffs off.

Posted by: bills at December 8, 2008 10:35 PM
Comment #271675


We are not here because of anything related to Unions. We are here because we left common sense lending standards and allowed people who had no business borrowing money to buy homes and consumer goods.

This loosening has been going on for years. Both the Clinton and Bush administrations were involved in some serious deregulation, as well as Democratic and Republican congressman.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at December 8, 2008 11:12 PM
Comment #271676

Paul, On labour I do agree the scales are shifted way to far to the Right Today, Bush betrayed the middle class and lower class, But I also Know Bill Clinton and many Free Trade Dem’s also sold Labour Down the river in the 1990s and there still in office, I do support Obama, I feel he will bring balance back to the middle and lower classes, I also felt bad when Reagan fired the air controllers but i also knew they took an oath never to strike against the government I’d wish they had worked it out. If i recall Truman was ready to blow his stack but they settled before he did and believe me Truman would have kicked hard.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at December 8, 2008 11:32 PM
Comment #271679

Craig Holms
To the contrary. People with enough money are not likely to fail in making their house payments.With me so far? People with good paying jobs are likely to have more money. Still there?Union members earn about 20% more than their non-union counter-parts. Strong unions also tend to push up wages for even non-union workers.Workers in strong union business enviornments earn higher wages generally.
US wages have been flat or falling because of several factors, one of which is the anti-union government policies of the federal government under the Bush regime and Republicans. Part of the solution to getting out of this mess is to put more money in peoples pockets by paying them more for honest work.. Thats why things like tax cuts and rebate checks help. Its the same arguement.There are other factors involved of course but a pro-union,pro worker,pro-middle-class Whitehouse will go a long way in helping the recovery.

Posted by: bills at December 9, 2008 6:01 AM
Comment #271696

This article from the NY Times demonstrates that the inmates are in charge of “Bedlam”.

Today we find that this asshole governor Blagojevich has been arrested for trying to sell the vacant senate seat of Mr. Obama. I lived in Wisconsin many years ago and read a lot about Chicago politics. It’s just as scummy today as it was 40 or 50 years ago.

What we are witnessing in Illinois is just a small sample of what will soon be happening around the nation. The floodgates have been opened in Washington to bailing out any corrupt, mismanaged, useless and abhorrent company that comes down the pike. Next will be huge taxpayer funds going to states and many more private companies. I guess Karl Marx was right after all. We will fail from internal causes with never a shot being fired. So sad. Frankly, I am glad to be 68 years old as I won’t live long enough to see the complete and utter destruction of my beloved country.

Does anyone on this blog agree that BOA should be punished for failing to give more money to a failing company?

“Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich, who met with the workers Monday morning, said the State of Illinois was suspending its business with the Bank of America, Republic Windows’ lenders, and that the Illinois Department of Labor was poised to file a complaint over the plant closing if need be. Political leaders on the Chicago City Council and in Cook County threatened similar actions. Representative Luis V. Gutierrez said he was encouraging the Department of Labor and the Department of Justice to investigate. “Families are already struggling to keep afloat,” Mr. Blagojevich said.”

Full story;

Posted by: Jim M at December 9, 2008 1:14 PM
Comment #271743

“Does anyone on this blog agree that BOA should be punished for failing to give more money to a failing company?”

Jim M. the BOA has reconsidered and decided to use some of the bailout money they received for the intended purpose, to keep businesses in business. They have decided to extend a line of credit to the Republic window and door company owners despite being a “corrupt, mismanaged, useless and abhorrent” business. To bad they had to be push so darn hard to do so. To bad the company had to lie to the workers as well as the rest of the Country as to why the were closing down. But to think that the workers should pay for the “corrupt, mismanaged, useless and abhorrent” practices of the Owners and management of the company doesn’t seem right to me. At least now the Owners will have to repay the loans from the BOA and the workers will receive their just compensation.

Posted by: j2t2 at December 9, 2008 11:18 PM
Comment #271744

>We are here because we left common sense lending standards and allowed people who had no business borrowing money to buy homes and consumer goods.
Posted by: Craig Holmes at December 8, 2008 11:12 PM


Folks on the right MUST blame our meltdown on poor folks…as usual…and, on administrations that encouraged lending to less able borrowers.

Please…one more time…bad mortgages had very little to do with this economic problem. Carrying bundles of bad debt without placing a value on the bundles, and insuring those bundles without having the reserves necessary to cover them if a failure occurred brought us to our knees.

Bad debt still has value…bad debt still has value…bad debt still has value. If all we had to contend with was a bunch of bad paper, we could handle that with a government buyout or guarantee, or…or…or…it was when those bad mortgages trundled through hyper-space, lost their value and could not be covered by the insurer that all hell broke loose.

Please stop laying the blame for this mess anywhere but where it belongs. GRAMM…period.

Deregulation killed the golden goose, and you want to blame the poor, ignorant schmuck who wants to live in a better house???

Posted by: Marysdude at December 9, 2008 11:23 PM
Comment #271771

j2t2 writes; “But to think that the workers should pay for the “corrupt, mismanaged, useless and abhorrent” practices of the Owners and management of the company doesn’t seem right to me.”

I don’t believe anyone disagrees with that statement. My question is, why should BOA pay. I know BOA has made a concession under duress, much the same as they were forced to loan money for home mortgages to those who were not creditworthy.

The employee’s anger should be directed toward their employer…not to the bank holding the loans.

Some years ago I was the business manager for a large auto dealership. Occasionally I would have a buyer come into my office and throw the car keys on my desk and declare that they didn’t want the vehicle any longer (for whatever reason) and that they wanted the dealership to take it back.

Later, when a repossession appeared on their credit report I would be revisited again…with an outraged customer wondering why I ruined his/her credit and why the bank didn’t understand. The bank loaned them the money with the expectation of being repaid. Wow…what a concept, expecting a loan to be paid back.

It’s no different with the window company. Do you think the bank will be repaid? Should they be repaid for this loan? If not, why not. After all, the bank is lending depositor money. It’s your and my money on deposit that is being loaned. So, j2t2, the money comes from your pocket and mine, not some magical never-empty hat. If the loan is not repaid it is you and me who loose.

Posted by: Jim M at December 10, 2008 12:34 PM
Comment #271775

Where are here because corporate greed and bribery have permeated our entire political system, from county commisioners and city councils to the state houses and the halls of Congress. It is not going to get better until we hit rock bottom and we get mad enough to say we are not going to accept this anymore.

Share holder Socialism disguised as worker salvation.

Paul: I believe those liberals you refer to are actually progressives who mistakenly thought they had a home in the Democratic party. Most of Obama’s choices are liberals with a few conservatives thrown in.

Posted by: jlw at December 10, 2008 12:52 PM
Comment #271778

The reason Reagan was able to bust PATCO was because the airline unions, the teachers union, railroad unions, the UAW and all the other unions let him do it.

Posted by: jlw at December 10, 2008 1:07 PM
Comment #271788

“My question is, why should BOA pay. I know BOA has made a concession under duress, much the same as they were forced to loan money for home mortgages to those who were not creditworthy.”

BOA is simply conducting business. They determined that it would be cheaper to give RWD a loan than to endure the loss of business from the bad publicity of accepting bailout money and not using it to grease the economy. Isn’t this the way the market is supposed to work? The Owners of RWD according to your NYT link are relocating and will still be in business why would they not be able to repay the loans? They just won’t need to skip out on the former employees at RWD now that they have secured the loan.

As far as being forced to loan money to those who were not creditworthy, can you actually proved who forced them and how? BOA chose to ride the mortgage wave and competed for business. They actively went after people looking for mortgages. It was their decision to accept FDIC requirements as it was good for their business overall. They were not forced to make bad loans they chose to because they had a scapegoat in buyers of unregulated securities.

Posted by: j2t2 at December 10, 2008 2:36 PM
Comment #271791

j2t2 writes; “BOA is simply conducting business. They determined that it would be cheaper to give RWD a loan than to endure the loss of business from the bad publicity of accepting bailout money and not using it to grease the economy.”

Thanks j2t2 for strengthening my position…(ie) BOA is being forced to make bad loans for fear of reprisals as we have seen from the state of Illinois. How could any reasonable person believe that governments intention is to give money to banks to make bad loans? Are you seriously suggesting j2t2 that it is good government policy to intentionally put at risk the deposits of American citizens in the nations banks?

While we all sympathize with these workers j2t2, do we not also have sympathy with BOA’s depositors and their money? Is this the change that American’s voted for in November…that we pit American workers against American bank depositors? Will robbing from one class of citizen to give to another class of citizen help us as a nation coalesce around our common plight and conjoin us in a common cause? Would you, as a bank depositor, feel safe leaving your money on deposit in a bank that was being forced to intentionally make bad loans? Such a reckless policy would most certainly cause a run on our nations banks as depositors withdrew their money for fear of the bank becoming insolvent.

BOA was forced to make mortgage loans to un-creditworthy persons and the evidence of that is available to anyone seeking it on the web.

Is Phil Gramm to Blame?

“Who’s responsible for the panic of 2008? In the gathering legend, it’s one man, former Sen. Phil Gramm, the ex-John McCain adviser who lamented “a nation of whiners” a few months ago and therefore is fit to have responsibility for one of the nation’s worst financial crises heaped on his head.

Gramm’s gravest alleged sin is pushing the 1999 Gramm-Leach-Bliley bank deregulation bill. Barack Obama has identified the legislation as ground zero of the financial implosion, the deregulatory predicate for Wall Street’s excess. As a Texas conservative who afflicted liberaldom for years before decamping to Wall Street, Gramm is easy to vilify. That doesn’t make the case against him any less unjust.

The law allowed commercial and investment banks to consolidate, repealing the New Deal-era Glass-Steagall Act that prevented banks from offering customers insurance, investment or commercial banking services. Gramm-Leach-Bliley tore down the artificial walls between financial institutions. Was this the disastrous mistake that it is now portrayed as on the stump? No.

One, Democrats in good standing supported the final bill. Robert Rubin and Larry Summers, Clinton Treasury officials whom Obama relies on for advice, supported it. Joe Biden voted for it, it passed the Senate with 90 votes, and President Clinton signed it. Heaven knows, Washington can make bipartisan mistakes, but if the bill were so obviously the road to financial perdition, presumably some of these Democrats much keener to regulate the economy than Gramm would have voted “no.”

Two, the bill was a foregone conclusion. Europe already had so-called universal banking in which financial institutions could undertake varied operations. U.S. banks were finding loopholes in the law to keep up with foreign competitors, and increasingly bumped up against the 60-year-old regulatory constraints. The Gramm bill just blessed the world as it was already evolving.

Three, the legislation appears to have alleviated the current crisis rather than making it worse. Big, diversified financial institutions have been weathering the crunch better than anyone else and have occasionally swooped in to lessen the pain. Bank of America acquired Merrill Lynch, which would have been impossible prior to Gramm’s deregulation. Otherwise, Merrill would either have gone under or been bailed out by the taxpayers. Similarly, J.P. Morgan wouldn’t have taken over Bear Stearns, and Barclays Bank wouldn’t be considering buying Lehman Brothers.

Indeed, we’ve witnessed the end of the era of the large investment bank, with the dramatic decision of the last two firms standing, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, to transform themselves into traditional bank holding companies. The investment-bank model of relying on short-term markets for funding was no longer workable. Instead, Goldman and Morgan will rely more on less risky sources of funding, as regular banks do. Would we really want a 1930s law saying, “No, sorry, you have to remain pure investment banks and go bust”?

The root of this crisis is subprime loans lavished on people who couldn’t truly afford their homes. This bad debt was securitized — i.e., chopped up — and spread throughout the system as complicated financial instruments. Gramm makes an unlikely villain here, since he always opposed the rush to give marginal borrowers mortgages — and took hell for it from left-wing activist groups — and his deregulation didn’t create securitization or other financial exotica.

It’s the very word “deregulation” that galls Gramm’s critics. In their simplistic morality play, anything promoting it must be to blame. But Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were practically arms of the government (“government-sponsored enterprises”) and still did more than any other institution to spread the bad debt before requiring a bailout themselves.

It’s certainly possible to fault lax regulation. The Securities and Exchange Commission’s 2004 decision to allow the investment banks to double their leverage looks foolhardy. But the mistakes and mania that created this crisis can’t be attributed to one man. In other words, Barack Obama and every other Democrat should lay off their scapegoat of the hour.”


Posted by: Jim M at December 10, 2008 3:24 PM
Comment #271796

Here’s another good article that speaks to the woefully inadequate knowledge of our electorate. But, of course, there is no reason to have some kind of voter qualification requirement.

Civics Class: Gimme an F

“ISI (Intercollegiate Studies Institute) gave more than 2,500 people a 33-question quiz about basic historical and constitutional principles. The average score: 49 percent. By any measure, that’s a flunking grade.

Seven out of 10 Americans who took ISI’s test failed it. And a look inside the numbers is even more sobering.

* Fewer than half can name all three branches of government (legislative, executive and judicial).

* Only 53 percent realize Congress has the power to declare war (even though lawmakers have voted twice in the last eight years to approve foreign wars).

* Just 55 percent know that Congress shares authority over foreign policy with the president. Roughly 25 percent mistakenly believe that Congress shares its foreign policy authority with the United Nations.

* Almost half (43 percent) don’t know what the Electoral College does. One in five guessed it “trains those aspiring for higher political office” or “was established to supervise the first televised presidential debates” instead of identifying its actual role: selecting the president of the United States.”

Full story;

Posted by: Jim M at December 10, 2008 4:44 PM
Comment #271797

Oops…my last blog was supposed to go on the Republican side. Sorry about that. Must be my Alzheimer’s kicking in.

Posted by: Jim M at December 10, 2008 4:49 PM
Comment #271807

“How could any reasonable person believe that governments intention is to give money to banks to make bad loans? Are you seriously suggesting j2t2 that it is good government policy to intentionally put at risk the deposits of American citizens in the nations banks?”

Surely you jest Jim M., What I am saying is that BOA wasn’t forced by the government to provide this loan. The Owners were being forced to follow the law of the state but the BOA had a choice. Arew you saying that the state government should be forced to use banks that accept bailout money yet wont service the comapnies within the state? Seems to me both parties have a choice and made their decisions accordingly.

Lest we all start chanting for Innoncent Phil Gramm here is more of the story. Courtesy of a 7/8/08 article by David Corn in Mother Jones, as it seems the townhall writer is more interested in diverting attention and blaming the crisis on the people who lost their homes.

“Gramm’s long been a handmaiden to Big Finance. In the 1990s, as chairman of the Senate banking committee, he routinely turned down Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Arthur Levitt’s requests for more money to police Wall Street; during this period, the sec’s workload shot up 80 percent, but its staff grew only 20 percent. Gramm also opposed an sec rule that would have prohibited accounting firms from getting too close to the companies they audited—at one point, according to Levitt’s memoir, he warned the sec chairman that if the commission adopted the rule, its funding would be cut. And in 1999, Gramm pushed through a historic banking deregulation bill that decimated Depression-era firewalls between commercial banks, investment banks, insurance companies, and securities firms—setting off a wave of merger mania. But Gramm’s most cunning coup on behalf of his friends in the financial services industry—friends who gave him millions over his 24-year congressional career—came on December 15, 2000. It was an especially tense time in Washington. Only two days earlier, the Supreme Court had issued its decision on Bush v. Gore. President Bill Clinton and the Republican-controlled Congress were locked in a budget showdown. It was the perfect moment for a wily senator to game the system. As Congress and the White House were hurriedly hammering out a $384-billion omnibus spending bill, Gramm slipped in a 262-page measure called the Commodity Futures Modernization Act. Written with the help of financial industry lobbyists and cosponsored by Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), the chairman of the agriculture committee, the measure had been considered dead—even by Gramm. Few lawmakers had either the opportunity or inclination to read the version of the bill Gramm inserted. “Nobody in either chamber had any knowledge of what was going on or what was in it,” says a congressional aide familiar with the bill’s history.”

“BOA was forced to make mortgage loans to un-creditworthy persons and the evidence of that is available to anyone seeking it on the web.”

Jim M. we almost agree just change “forced” to “chose” and all is well.

Posted by: j2t2 at December 10, 2008 7:16 PM
Comment #271809

I repeat…it was NOT a poor slob, who was trying to live above his means, or the government that encouraged him…it was GRAMM wearing the emperor’s wardrobe.

It gets harder and harder to absorb this I know, but please try…bad debt still has value. In Gramm’s stratosphere, bad debt loses value, and under Gramm, insurance companies don’t have to hold reserves necessary to cover losses if they occur. As long as there is value, accountability can still happen, but without value there can be no accountability…please, please, please quit blaming the guy who bought the house.

Posted by: Marysdude at December 10, 2008 8:13 PM
Comment #271810

The blame trail…

The home buyer for trying to live above his means.

The banks for chasing debtors.

The government for encouraging all this stupid activity.

GRAMM for destroying America’s economics.

There…in a nut-shell…

Posted by: Marysdude at December 10, 2008 8:22 PM
Comment #271828

j2t2 writes; ““BOA was forced to make mortgage loans to un-creditworthy persons and the evidence of that is available to anyone seeking it on the web.”

Jim M. we almost agree just change “forced” to “chose” and all is well.”

j2t2, I can’t make that change and still be honest. Here’s a quote from an article in today’s NY Times.

“Similarly, under the past two administrations the Department of Housing and Urban Development pushed the secondary mortgage market to buy loans based on criteria other than the creditworthiness of borrowers. These affordable-housing goals became more demanding over time. By 2005, HUD required that 45 percent of all the loans bought by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac be loans to borrowers with low and moderate incomes. HUD required further that Fannie and Freddie buy 32 percent of the loans in their portfolios from people in central cities and other underserved areas and that 22 percent of the loans they buy be to “very low income families or families living in low-income neighborhoods.”


Posted by: Jim M at December 11, 2008 12:01 PM
Comment #271844

I’ll try one more time…bad debt did not and does not make the bottom fall out of an economy. It is merely an inconvenience to those who cannot get full value for their investments. That can be corrected by financial manipulations and/or guarantees by a higher power, i.e., a bigger institution or the government. Bad debt does not bring down a nation. Bad debt does not drop the bottom out of a financial system, if the system is healthy.

A financial system is unhealthy when it loses sight of value. Any institution worth its salt can weather some losses, and if it cannot weather those losses it should fold up and go home. The problem with losing sight of value is that when any anomaly occurs all hell breaks loose…huge institutions, that got too big to fail got that way because of…GRAMM! They determined that they were not required to provide a firm value to their debt bundle assets, and they thought they could get away with that because of…GRAMM! They knew they could not survive a serious drop in the housing industry, so they purchased insurance to cover their potential losses, but purchased that insurance from providers who did not think they had to have reserves on hand to cover at least one fourth failure, and they thought that because of…GRAMM!

All this other crap is balderdash!

Posted by: Marysdude at December 11, 2008 2:38 PM
Comment #271850

Sorry marysdude, simply repeating something or calling it balderdash doesn’t make it true. If Mae and Mac and HUD were not forcing banks to extend credit to the un-creditworthy there would have been no sub prime loans to bundle or to insure.

I have destroyed the Gramm responsibility nonsense many times and just recently did so again. Sorry you missed it. If memory serves me correctly, 90 Senators voted for his bill which was signed by Clinton.

Posted by: Jim M at December 11, 2008 4:15 PM
Comment #271862

From Wiki “Some legal and financial experts note that CRA regulated loans tend to be safe and profitable, and that subprime excesses came mainly from institutions not regulated by the CRA. In the
February 2008 House hearing, law professor Michael S. Barr, a Treasury Department official under President Clinton,[64][33] stated that a Federal Reserve survey showed that affected institutions considered CRA loans profitable and not overly risky. He noted that approximately 50% of the subprime loans were made by independent mortgage companies that were not regulated by the CRA. Another 25% to 30% came from only partially CRA regulated bank subsidiaries and affiliates.”

Jim M. you really haven’t shot down anything. The CRA thing is only a hoax from the far right. Sorry you missed it.

Posted by: j2t2 at December 11, 2008 8:25 PM
Comment #271864

Jim M,

I blame Clinton for not fighting it more forcefully, but his veto would have suffered an override, so he signed off on it. The Democrats who signed on were fools and/or charlatans, just like their brothers across the aisle. GRAMM has brought down our country, and ya’ll keep trying to lay it on some poor sap who believed the ‘dream’ to still be alive.

Do you have any idea how much money banking lobbyists put into getting that damned thing through? Do you remember how many times it came up before it finally got up enough speed to make it through? Do you know what it was attached to in order to camouflage it so that it could actually get through?

Everyone knew that GRAMM was a bad thing, they just didn’t have the guts to deny it any longer, and I am ashamed of them. They’ll be the first ones to jump on your band wagon, because they don’t want to face the truth or accept responsibility.

Posted by: Marysdude at December 11, 2008 10:19 PM
Comment #271869


And, Jim M, I think You toss a lot of blame at Barney Frank for pushing low incomes into the mortgage fray. You might be interested in this:

Posted by: Marysdude at December 12, 2008 7:21 AM
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