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Bob-and-weave McKenna, fire fighter cuts, 50…

Friday, July 13, 2012




► At — McKenna still clarifying his position on health-law repeal — After an apparent flip-flop on whether he supports repeal of the Affordable Care Act, the Republican candidate for governor posted an op-ed on a conservative blog to try to clarify his stance. But McKenna still does not spell out whether, as governor, he would seek to fully expand the shared state-federal Medicaid program that pays for healthcare for the poor, or if he intends to do less.

ALSO at The Stand —  Which Rob McKenna can voters believe?

► In today’s NY Times — Lines are drawn over opting out of Medicaid plan — A battle is brewing in Florida, where Gov. Rick Scott took to national television soon after the Supreme Court ruling to announce that he would reject the expansion. Advocates for the poor and players in the health care industry — especially hospitals, a powerful political lobby — intend to push back.

► In today’s LA Times — Unions reach beyond their base for election help — Unions intend to make workers’ rights a big issue in November, and are reaching beyond their traditional membership base to rally workers ahead of an election that’s projected to be very close. The Workers Stand for America campaign plans to introduce a “Second Bill of Rights” that unions will present to politicians and workers and ask them to sign. It includes five planks, the rights to full employment and a living wage, full participation in the electoral process, a quality education, a voice at work, and a secure and healthy future, which covers (regarding benefits and health care).

► At Salon — Why unions are not SuperPACs — This argument — that conservative outside spending groups are merely doing what labor unions have done all along, and are thus justified in their activities — has been a common conservative refrain since the Supreme Court handed down its Citizens United decision in 2010. But unions operate under a completely different paradigm from the conservative independent expenditure groups in a number of meaningful ways.




► At Huffington Post — Fire department cuts force firefighters to watch and wait (from “A Thousand Cuts,” a series on austerity budgets) — Fire departments are going short-handed, with potentially deadly consequences. The precipitous drop in state and local revenues caused by the Great Recession, combined with budget cuts pushed by austerity-minded politicians, has led to static or slowly dropping staffing levels across the country. “Go to any of these cities that are shutting these companies down. The math is very simple,” says IAFF President Harold Schaitberger. With the cuts, firefighters who were previously coming to the scene as secondary support are now expected to be the first ones to the rescue, Schaitberger said.

► At AFL-CIO Now — U.S. Olympians to wear uniforms ‘Made in China’ — Says American designer Nanette Lepore: “I’m shocked… why shouldn’t we have pride not only in the American athletes but in the American manufacturers and laborers who are the backbone of our country. What’s wrong? Why was that not a consideration?”

► From AP — JP Morgan Chase says cost of bad trade has ballooned to $5.8 billion — The new assessment is almost triple its original estimate, and also raises the prospect that traders had improperly tried to conceal the blunder.




► In today’s NY Times — How pensions violate free speech (by Benjamin Sachs) — This consequence of Citizens United is perverse: requiring public employees to finance corporate electoral spending amounts to compelled political speech and association, something the First Amendment flatly forbids.

Contrast this situation with how the court treats political spending by unions. In many states, public employees are required to pay dues to a labor union. If the public employees union were to spend any of the money raised through dues on politics, the court has ruled, the dues requirement would amount to forced political speech and association. To prevent this First Amendment violation, the court has held that no union may use an employee’s dues for political purposes if the employee objects.

The same should be true for pension funds and corporate politics. In a world where corporations can use their general treasuries for political spending, no government should be allowed to require employees to finance the purchase of corporate securities through a pension plan, unless the government provides those employees with a meaningful way to object to financing corporate politics.




► The Rolling Stones played their first gig 50 years ago yesterday. From Some Girls, the entire staff of The Stand’s favorite Stones album, here’s “Beast of Burden” performed live in Fort Worth, Texas, in July 1978.

Enjoy, and have a great weekend — brought to you by the Labor Movement.

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