Monday, September 05, 2011

Back To Work

On President Obama's schedule for today is a visit to a Detroit AFL-CIO rally. I wonder just how welcome his presence is going to be. Unemployment still hovers over 8% (12% here in California). After more than two years of bailing out the banks and Wall Street, the president is finally getting around to propose a program to get people back to work. That's nice. What would have been nicer is if he would have worked on getting people back to work before this. He certainly had the opportunity and the means, as economists such as Paul Krugman has been pointing out for the past two-plus years.

What also would have been nice is if the White House had shown some sensitivity to the plight of public sector union members who were getting smashed by the new governors in states such as Wisconsin and Ohio and had spoken out against the actions to bust the unions. Instead, the president was silent.

Unions, and the laborers they represent, have been virtually locked out of the administration. A key portion of the Democratic Party base has been ignored, even actively derided. Now, as the 2012 election season officially kicks off, the president is going to drop by a union event.

Big whoop.

I wonder if President Obama realizes just how important unions and labor are to the party. While huge portions of the nation went red in the November, 2010 elections, California remained blue and decisively so. Key to the victories in this state were the unions who hit the streets long before Labor Day 2010 to register and rally voters against the big business candidates for governor and senator. Barbara Boxer campaigned hard, but Jerry Brown, perhaps wisely because he is not the most exciting of speakers and vote hustlers, stayed silent until Labor Day. By that time, the unions had done much of his work for him. The Democrats ran the table on the Republicans and even picked up a seat in the state legislature, thanks to the union efforts.

Can Obama expect that kind of support and effort from the unions? I don't think so. Several large unions have suggested they might not show up for the national convention, much less help pay for it. That is unheard of in my life time at least. Unions are currently conferring on what they can do to keep their heads above water during the attacks from the right. They know they can't count on the White House, one which is more concerned on giving tax breaks to businesses in the hopes they will hire a few more workers than it is in actually putting a stimulus into place which will actually require higher employment.

So, in just a little over two years the current administration has lost the support of the liberal wing of his party and labor: both key to the energy and funding required to get out the vote and win elections.

This isn't eleven-dimensional chess. It's willful and determined stupidity.

Have a nice Labor Day, Mr. President. And watch out for flying shoes.

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