Tag Archives: NLRB

Amodei’s Magical List

AmodeiRepresentative Mark Amodei (R-NV2), ever faithful to his corporate masters, and ever ready to follow the lead of that (not-quite-so) compassionate leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), would have us believe the 112th Congress passed “27 bipartisan jobs bills” [Amodei] and more in the 113th, yielding some 40 “jobs bills.”   These are sadly jammed in that Upper Chamber of Horrors, a Democratically controlled Senate — well, maybe not too sad. Let’s dig deeper into Representative Amodei’s sequaceous sycophancy.

Representative Cantor helpfully provides a web site to list all these wonderful measures intended to “empower” small business owners from sea to shining sea.  Uh, not quite.

There is a huge chunk of House passed measures which is nothing more than a further gallop down the  DEREGULATION Trail.   That led to such wonderful results with regard to the American financial sector as of 2008 — we should want more of it?  Let’s take a look at a few bits of legislation on the Amodei/Cantor list:

H.Res. 72 calls for standing committees of the Congress to review every past, present, and proposed regulation — “That each standing committee designated in section 3 of this resolution shall inventory and review existing, pending, and proposed regulations, orders, and other administrative actions or procedures by agencies of the Federal Government within such committee’s jurisdiction.”    If you believe that this is supposed to alleviate the “burden” on small garage owners, I have some real estate for you…. This is about bringing succor to the international energy giants who are annoyed by environmental regulations, about comfort for the Wall Street Wizards who don’t want enforcement of the provisions of the Dodd Frank Act, especially the part wherein the big banks have to conform to some prohibitions against truly egregious behavior.  It’s also about further confounding efforts to enforce the provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, passed in the wake of the Enron Debacle, governing the actions of corporate management.   This passed the House, but as a House resolution the Senate doesn’t deal with it.

H.R. 874 “Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act,”  actually only reduces some very particular regulations.  “Amends the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (commonly known as the Clean Water Act [CWA]) to prohibit the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or a state from requiring a permit under the CWA for a discharge from a point source into navigable waters of a pesticide authorized for sale, distribution, or use under FIFRA, or the residue of such a pesticide, resulting from the application of such pesticide.

In short, neither the EPA nor the environmental authorities in any state can require a permit for discharging insecticides, fungicides, or rat poisons… or any chemical covered by the Clean Water Act… into our waters.  So, if I decide to dump &%#@! into the local river or creek, I don’t have to get a permit — what could possibly go wrong?

H.R. 2018:  Elegantly titled as the “Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act of 2011”  isn’t exactly cooperative, in fact it’s the reverse of the federal system.  Here’s a bit from this legislation; which effectively places environmental regulations in state hands — some states will be cooperative, and as we can well imaging some states will be delighted to exploit and pollute to their heart’s content – “(1) promulgating a revised or new water quality standard for a pollutant when the Administrator has approved a state water quality standard for such pollutant unless the state concurs with the Administrator’s determination that the revised or new standard is necessary to meet the requirements of such Act; (2) taking action to supersede a state’s determination that a discharge will comply with effluent limitations, water quality standards, controls on the discharge of pollutants, and toxic and pretreatment effluent standards under such Act;….”   In short, if any state doesn’t want to follow the Clean Water Act rules, it doesn’t have to.  How cooperative! (not)

H.R. 1315, happily titled the “Consumer Financial Protection Safety and Soundness Improvement Act of 2011” is really simple:

“(Sec. 102) Amends the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act to authorize the Chairperson of the Financial Stability Oversight Council to issue a stay of, or set aside, any regulation issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) upon the affirmative vote of the majority (currently, two-thirds) of Council members, excluding the Chair of the Commission of the CFPB (as provided for in this Act).”

This is a “jobs” bill?  What it obviously does is gut the authority of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to prevent payday lenders from gouging their victims, to restrain some of the most egregious mortgage marketing practices known to man from devastating American families, and halt the sale of highly dubious financial products  cheating American workers and their families.   The only “jobs” saved or created by this bill are those for the less desirable elements in the financial sector.   Are these the ‘jobs’ Representative Amodei is anxious to save?

H.R. 2587, “Protecting Jobs From Government Interference Act,” is a beauty, at least in the eyes of the right wing corporate perspective of Freedomworks.  “…the bill would prohibit the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) from ordering any employer to close, relocate or transfer employment under any circumstance. The Protecting Jobs from Government Interference Act would help ensure that the government agency does not over step their bounds by dictating decisions made by private sector companies. ” [Fdwks] This isn’t about “all jobs” it’s about Boeing jobs, Boeing moving jobs to a right to work state, Boeing trying to cut labor costs.  And, there IS another explanation for H.R. 2587:

“H.R. 2587 would remove the only meaningful remedy available to workers if a company illegally moves operations or eliminates work because workers engaged in protected activities such as organizing a union. An employer can outsource for any reason, except for an unlawful reason. Retaliating against workers for exercising their rights under the National Labor Relations Act is one unlawful reason.” [NCL]

Once again, this bill isn’t about “job creation,” it’s quite simply union busting. Little wonder old Freedomworks was so enthusiastic.   The House tried another NLRB gutting, labor bashing, anti-union measure, H.R. 3094, which is also stuck in the Senate because union bashing, and the eliminating the protections of the NLRB aren’t so popular in that body.

Meanwhile back at the Pollution Party, H.R.2273 — the Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act, “H.R. 2773 eliminates EPA’s authority under the Resource Conservation and Recovery (RCRA) Act to set minimum federal standards to ensure the safe disposal of coal combustion residuals (coal ash).  Instead, the bill allows states to establish their own programs without requiring them to meet any standard of protection for public health, public safety, or the environment. ” [DemE/C]

There are reasons people get nervous about the dumping of coal ash in close proximity to their homes and businesses:

“Coal ash pollution contains high levels of toxic heavy metals such as arsenic, lead, selenium, and hexavalent chromium. The public health hazards and environmental threats to nearby communities from unsafe coal ash dumping have been known for many years, including increased risk of cancer, learning disabilities, neurological disorders, birth defects, reproductive failure, asthma, and other illnesses.” [SCOrg]

How lovely, this isn’t a ‘jobs bills’ it’s a death warrant.

However, the crowning jewel in the deregulation diadem was the not-so-job-creating H.R. 10, the REINS Act.

“Requires a joint resolution of approval of major rules to be enacted before such rules may take effect (currently, major rules take effect unless a joint resolution disapproving them is enacted). Provides that if a joint resolution of approval is not enacted by the end of 70 session days or legislative days, as applicable, after the agency proposing the rule submits its report on such rule to Congress, the major rule shall be deemed not to be approved and shall not take effect. Permits a major rule to take effect for one 90-calendar day period without such approval if the President determines it is necessary because of an imminent threat to health or safety or other emergency, for the enforcement of criminal laws, for national security, or to implement an international trade agreement.”

We could say all this in one sentence — no one from the President to any executive, or quasi-judicial regulatory agency — can promulgate a rule, any rule, without Congressional approval.   Herein we have the Ultimate Deregulation Act.   No more interference from the FDA about marketing drugs, no more interference from the Consumer Product Safety Commission about flammable infant pajamas, no more interference from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau with unscrupulous pay day lenders…

These examples from the Republican list of “jobs bills” have little or nothing to do with actual jobs, instead they have everything to do with further deregulation — deregulation of polluters, deregulation of bankers, deregulation of the financial sector.

Somehow, we are encouraged by the Republicans in Congress to believe that unfettered corporate activities are necessary to “create jobs.”   It is, by their lights, acceptable to recreate the conditions which caused the 1948 Donora, Pennsylvania smog disaster, or the day in June 1969 when the Cuyahoga River caught fire in Cleveland, Ohio.  Unfettered capitalism requires, by GOP reasoning, we accept the fate of Times Beach, Missouri, evacuated in 1983 because of dioxin pollution.

JOBS! will be created if we allow a replication of the Enron Debacle? The collapse of Lehman Brothers? The Financial Crisis of 2007-2008?

Recession job lossWhat deregulation (especially in the financial sector) creates are Bubbles.  Unrestrained by any prohibitions on their reckless enthusiasm or their unalloyed greed, financialism enhanced by deregulation eventually spawns disaster.   The Republicans in the House of Representatives have evidently confused the needs of Main Street with the desires of Wall Street.  The legislation they tout as Job Creating doesn’t do anything for the average Main Street enterprise, but seeks to do everything for even  the most modest Wall Street hedge fund.   The graph above illustrates the Bubble in the housing sector — during which all manner of jobs appeared in order to feed the demand from Wall Street for ever more mortgages to package and repackage into ever more complex and devious financial products.  When the Bubble burst, jobs were LOST, many still vacant, most not yet replaced five years later.

Meanwhile, the American Jobs Act, is stalled in the House of Representatives, a bill which would create 1.9 million jobs [Moody’s] and would add about 1.5% to our GDP. [WSJ]

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Filed under ecology, Politics, pollution

Congress: Not Exactly Working Overtime

Hard HatHouse Speaker John Boehner would have us believe that he and his cohorts like Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV3) and Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV2) have been thinking of nothing! — Nothing, I say, except jobs for the last two and one half years:

“So tomorrow the president says he’s going to go out and ‘pivot’ back to jobs.  Well, welcome to the conversation, Mr. President, we’ve never left it.  We’ve been focused on jobs for the last two and half years – actually, longer than that – but the two and half years we’ve been in the majority. [Speaker]

What Haven’t You Done For Me Lately?

Really?  In the first 99 roll call votes in the House’s 113th session there are NO jobs bills.  There was a bill passed to “prohibit the National Labor Relations Board from taking any action that requires a quorum of the members of the Board until such time as Board constituting a quorum shall have been confirmed by the Senate, the Supreme Court issues a decision on the constitutionality of the appointments to the Board made in January 2012, or the adjournment sine die of the first session of the 113th Congress.” [H.R. 146]  It’s a bit of a stretch to figure out how handcuffing the NLRB is a way to promote the wealth and welfare of American workers.  Nevada Representatives Amodei and Heck voted in favor of this blatantly pro-corporate management bit of legislation; Representatives Horsford and Titus did not.

Ah, but wait! The Republican controlled House wasn’t finished with the NLRB, on April 12, 2013 H.R. 1120 was passed which declared: “Effective on the date of enactment of this Act, the National Labor Relations Board shall cease all activity that requires a quorum of the members of the Board, as set forth in the National Labor Relations Act (29 U.S.C. 151 et seq.). The Board shall not appoint any personnel nor implement, administer, or enforce any decision, rule, vote, or other action decided, undertaken, adopted, issued, or finalized on or after January 4, 2012, that requires a quorum of the members of the Board, as set forth in such Act.”  [roll call 101]

This wasn’t handcuffing, it was a full on effort to make the NLRB completely dysfunctional.  Contending that this bill has anything at all to do with Job Creation is an argument which only works if one adopts the discredited Supply Side Economics Hoax — theorizing that if corporate management is happy then everyone will be happy.  Representatives Amodei and Heck were happy to vote for it.

Ah, but the assaults on the labor force continued with H.R. 1406, the Working Families Flexibility Act.  Yes, a person could label this as “flexibility” for American workers, but a better shorthand description would be the Anti-Overtime Bill.  H.R. 1406 Prohibits an employee from accruing more than 160 hours of compensatory time. Requires an employee’s employer to provide monetary compensation, after the end of a calendar year, for any unused compensatory time off accrued during the preceding year.   Once more Reps. Amodei and Heck were pleased to support corporate management and vote yes, Rep. Titus and Horsford, failing to see how substituting comp time for actual overtime wages would help most workers,  voted no. [roll call 137]

Veterans were supposed to see some benefit from H.R. 1412, which would have job training programs end up paying veterans 75% of what the job normally pays — the current rate is 85%.  [CRS] And, then there was this kicker: “Extends from November 30 through December 31, 2016, the requirement of a reduced pension ($90 per month) for veterans (with neither spouse nor child) or surviving spouses (with no child) covered by Medicaid plans under title XIX of the Social Security Act for services furnished by nursing facilities.”   Thank you for your service?  The bill passed on May 21.

Let’s not forget that old “Job Creator” — the XL Pipeline — and let’s also remember there’s some very real controversy about how many actual jobs this would create while subsidizing the transportation of Canadian oil to global markets.   The provision of H.R. 3 passed on May 22, with Representatives Heck and Amodei voting to subsidize the Canadians; Representatives Titus and Horsford voting no. [roll call 179]

Add to this H. Res. 274, the Drill Baby Drill Act, this time on the continental shelf of the U.S.  There’s a pattern here — Reps. Amodei and Heck yes; Titus and Horsford no.

Now, we’re up to Roll Call 300 in the last session of the vaunted Job Creators in the U.S. House of Representatives — How about something called the “Offshore Energy and Jobs Act?”  Evidently, if you add the word “jobs” to a bill it automatically means — jobs?
“(Sec. 101) Amends the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) to direct the Secretary of the Interior to implement a leasing program that includes at least 50% of the available unleased acreage within each outer Continental Shelf (OCS) planning area considered to have the largest undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and gas resources, with an emphasis on offering the most geologically prospective parts of the planning area.”  Drill Baby Drill, and keep drilling.  Here we go again: Amodei and Heck voting with the Oil Lobby, Titus and Horsford voting no on H.R. 2231.

Thus far we can document that the 113th Congress has taken target practice at the NLRB, at worker’s over-time pay, promoted the construction of pipelines and wells for the benefit of global energy corporations — and…. we haven’t touched another category of bills the House GOP asserts would be “job creators,” bills to gut the Sarbanes-Oxley corporate finance reform law and the Dodd-Frank financial sector reform law.  There have been bills to restrict the SEC’s capacity to regulate the derivatives markets, and the commodities markets.  In short, it’s the same old drum beat: Corporate Subsidies and De-regulation.

Once Upon A Time

There was the administration proposed American Jobs Act, which the Republicans allowed to expire from the last session.  The bill would have cut the payroll taxes for 98% of American businesses, which we usually call “small business.”  It sought to prevent the layoff of 280,000 teachers and funded renovations and upgrades to some 35,000 schools (construction jobs anyone?)  The bill contained an Infrastructure Funding system, with a proposal to finance road construction, airport improvements, rail improvements and high speed projects…. and the GOP let it die.

Undaunted by the failure of the Republican leadership to craft any legislation including infrastructure and employment, Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) has introduced an updated version of the American Jobs Act.  Wilson’s “Jobs Now Act” (H.R. 2574) was introduced on July 18, 2011, and Representative Wilson is ready to try again.  The House leadership may be just as willing to let the bill expire yet again in the House Education and Workforce Training Committee.

But wait?  Speaker Boehner wants us to understand that the Congress should be praised for what it hasn’t done.  If that is the standard then the body is praise-worthy indeed — they’ve done relatively little except cater to the Wall Street bankers who want to return to the Good Old Days of Casino Capitalism, to the Oil Giants, and to the top floor corner offices of corporate management.

The rest of us?  Not so much.

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Filed under Economy, House of Representatives, labor, Nevada politics, Politics