WASHINGTON, D.C. | January 21, 2010 -
Good morning, and thank you to everyone for joining us for a look at the culture of favoritism in the Obama Administration’s labor agenda. I want to extend a special thank you to our witnesses for their participation today. I look forward to your testimony as well as the opportunity to hear your opinions and assessment of the Obama Administration’s labor agenda and what Congress should be doing to help American workers and small businesses rebuild our economy and create jobs.
As I am sure we would all agree, the lack of jobs and job security in today’s economy is the number one concern for many Americans. Just last month, we saw a loss of 85,000 jobs and an unemployment rate that remains steady at 10 percent. The reasons for the continued job losses are many, and we will have the opportunity to address some of them here. But I believe we should also focus our efforts on discussing what can be done to generate robust job creation in America, restore the confidence of our nation’s job creators, and put more of our friends and neighbors back to work.
The overarching purpose of today’s hearing is to highlight what we have called a “culture of favoritism” in this Administration for certain well-connected and powerful special interest allies. We have seen the many ways the Administration and its partners in Congress have gone out of their way to champion the desires of these favored constituencies over the needs and rights of American workers and business owners.
I will leave it to our panel of witnesses to elaborate on these transgressions, but it is important to note the manner in which the Administration has shown – or attempted to show – favoritism. It has acted both overtly and in secret to benefit the leadership of powerful unions. Such examples as rolling back union financial disclosure rules that provide needed transparency for union members or leaving the pensions of non-union workers underfunded while ensuring that unionized workers had their pensions “made whole” during the restructuring of the auto industry may have gone unnoticed by the majority of Americans, but they are nevertheless perfect examples of the Administration’s efforts to pick winners and losers.
Perhaps no attempt to show favoritism at the expense of American workers is more famous than the misnamed Employee Free Choice Act which would strip workers’ right to a secret ballot in a unionizing election. While the Administration and Democrats in Congress have not yet succeeded in passing this job-killing agenda item, its prospect still sows a line of uncertainty for many of our nation’s job creators. As we have seen during this recession, uncertainty stifles job creation and undermines the confidence of our entrepreneurs and small business owners. The economic consequences of “card check” may already be evident in its still looming threat to American employees and employers.
In fact, it appears very little might be off limits when it comes to the culture of favoritism that pervades other areas of our economy. After all, we learned just last week that union leaders – meeting behind closed doors with congressional Democrats and the White House – struck a deal to exempt union health care plans from a 40 percent excise tax that Senate Democrats want to use to fund their version of a government takeover of health care. Unfortunately, under this backroom deal, non-union workers are still subject to this tax increase. This is an egregious example of placating special interests at the expense of American workers.
We can do better and we should do better on behalf of our nation’s workforce, and I am grateful to today’s panel of witnesses for sharing their insights. I look forward to your testimony on what is currently being done to harm job creation and economic growth and how you believe we can turn this economy around and put more Americans back to work.
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