Barone: Obama acts like Big Labor shop steward in chief
Trying to increase the number of workers who are forced to pay union dues as a condition of employment is perhaps the TOP priority for President Obama at the moment. Michael Barone takes the president to task for his consistent refusal to say no to the union bosses. Here is his rundown: [Obama] certainly can demonstrate that he cares about certain jobs -- the 7 percent of private-sector jobs and 36 percent of public-sector jobs held by union members. During his two years and nine months as president, he has worked time and again to increase the number of unionized jobs. Some pro-union moves have a certain ritual quality. Democratic presidents on taking office seek to strengthen federal employee unions. Fully one-third of the $820 billion stimulus package passed almost entirely with Democratic votes in 2009 was aid to state and local governments. This was intended to keep state and local public employee union members -- much more numerous than federal employees -- on the job and to keep taxpayer-funded union dues pouring into public employee union treasuries. In arranging the Chrysler bankruptcy, the Obama White House muscled aside the secured creditors who ordinarily have priority in bankruptcy proceedings in favor of United Auto Workers [union]. That's an episode that I labeled "gangster government." Former Obama economic adviser Lawrence Summers protested that his White House colleague Ron Bloom had made similar arrangements before. But in those cases Bloom was working for the unions, not for a supposedly neutral government.