The debate within the Democratic Party over President Obama's incipient economic relief program is being conducted between two sides that totally misunderstand its purpose. On the one side, you have administration centrists who support a sufficiently narrow plan that can pass Congress: Mr. Obama’s senior adviser, David Plouffe, and his chief of staff, William M. Daley, want him to maintain a pragmatic strategy of appealing to independent voters by advocating ideas that can pass Congress, even if they may not have much economic impact.
The Wall Street Journal editorial page today once again frets over the prospect of union "intimidation." In this case, "intimidation" turns out to mean the possibility that a union leader could give a speech criticizing corporations from pouring millions of dollars into electioneering: When it comes to intimidating opponents before a fight, no one does it better than New Zealand's Haka tribe, whose members, googly-eyed, stomp their feet, stick out their tongues and bark at their opponents.
WASHINGTON—This week's primaries should have been good news for Democrats. Instead, a stray comment from an Obama aide briefly threatened a civil war in the Democratic Party, which needs all the unity it can get. The administration moved quickly to heal bad feelings that burst forth when an unnamed senior White House official disparaged organized labor's unsuccessful efforts to defeat Sen.
During the health care debate, center-right commentators tended to look skeptically at the administration's commitment to restraining health care costs -- it was a nod to political expediency, they believed, not a deep belief. Sam Stein's omnibus health care reform article has a nugget showing from the inside that this was not the case: On January 11, the president brought a group of more than a half-dozen union presidents to the White House to remove any lingering doubt.
On the eve of the Senate vote, Representative Louise Slaughter, chair of the House Rules Committee, became the latest progressive to join a growing faction of liberals who have called for Congress to the kill health-care reform bill—and the first prominent legislator to do so. “The Senate health care bill is not worthy of the historic vote that the House took a month ago,” Slaughter wrote in an op-ed published yesterday on CNN.com. “A conference report is unlikely to sufficiently bridge the gap between these two very different bills.
John Sweeney's name rarely appears in print without the word "militant" attached to it. Sweeney first gained national prominence in 1995, when, as president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), he led striking janitors in a sit-in that blocked morning rush-hour traffic on Washington, D.C.'s Fourteenth Street Bridge for two hours. Later that year, Sweeney burnished his reputation as a confrontationalist by running (and winning) an insurgent campaign in the first-ever contested election for the presidency of the AFLl-CIO. Heavy-set and balding, Sweeney comes across like central c
The recent Teamsters strike, The Los Angeles Times declared, "has served as a reminder of how much the union's influence has waned." The outcome, The New York Times wrote, showed how the union's "power has shrunk." There is some truth in these statements, but they reveal more about the national press's attitude toward labor than about the Teamsters union. During the twenty-four-day strike, the longest in Teamster history and the first since 1979, the union achieved almost 100 percent support from its rank and file, in spite of violent dissension in its upper ranks. In the provisional settlemen