Tag: National Press Club

Questions for AFL-CIO’s Richard Trumka at the Press Club

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka speaks at a National Press Club luncheon on Friday, an appearance billed thusly:

Trumka will speak out on recent efforts to curb collective bargaining rights in several states, including Wisconsin and Ohio. He also will discuss the political outlook for the 2012 elections, and the impact of austerity budgets on local, state and federal workers.

All good topics. Here are a few others that the reporters could raise during the Q&A period that traditionally follows Press Club remarks.

  • In a January 2010 National Press Club appearance you said: “I think you will see the Employee Free Choice Act pass in the first quarter of 2010.” And …”The president fully supports the Employee Free Choice Act, the Vice President fully supports the Employee Free Choice Act, a vast majority of the members of the House support the Employee Free Choice Act, a vast majority of the people of the Senate support the Employee Free Choice Act. And I think we are going to have the Employee Free Choice Act despite the determined efforts of the Republican Party.” So were you shining us on, deceiving your membership for tactical reasons, or are you just a lousy prognosticator? Did the failure of card check reflect organized labor’s lack of political influence? Your own lack of influence?

  • AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka addresses anti-coal crowd at April rally. (Photo: Energy Action Coalition)

  • You began your career as a coal miner and served as President of the United Mine Workers before being elected to head the AFL-CIO. Yet at an April “Power Shift” rally in front of the White House, you joined environmental activists in demanding “clean energy” policies in which coal has no role. Demonstrators held signs declaring “Coal is Over” and “No More Coal!” (More photos here and here.) How can you, as a union president, make common cause with activists who want to shut down the coal industry?

  • AFL-CIO affiliated unions are members of the Blue-Green Alliance, which includes such organizations as the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, and the Union of Concerned Scientists. Many people regard these groups as hostile to the industrial base of this nation’s economy. How do you reconcile union support for this alliance? According to a Department of Commerce study, green products and services account for at most 2 percent of private sector activity. How you can justify spending member dues on groups who have such a narrow focus and whose policies would eliminate unionized jobs in the energy and manufacturing sectors?

  • Do you believe nuclear power has a role in America’s future energy production? Because AFL-CIO member unions are sending member dues to a group that includes the Union of Concerned Scientists, one of the major opponents of nuclear energy.

  • Should a company that currently has unionized operations in a state ever be allowed to locate new operations in a right-to-work state?
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EPA’s Administrator Musters a Breathtaking Army of Straw Men

Lisa Jackson, Environmental Protection Agency administrator, speaking at the National Press Club Monday criticized citizens who disagree with the power grab(s) being undertaken by the agency to regulate greenhouse gases. Jackson sends an army of straw-men arguments marching into a very important debate about science, our economy, and the authority of an executive branch agency to set policy.

As you might expect, we’re running into the same old tired arguments.

Once again industry and lobbyists are trying to convince us that changes will be absolutely impossible. Once again alarmists are claiming this will be the death knell of our economy. Once again they are telling us we have to choose: Economy? Or environment?

Most drastically, we are seeing efforts to further delay EPA action to reduce greenhouse gases.

This is happening despite the overwhelming science on the dangers of climate change…despite the Supreme Court’s 2007 decision that EPA must use the Clean Air Act to reduce the proven threat of greenhouse gases…and despite the fact that leaving this problem for our children to solve is an act of breathtaking negligence.

Yeah, breathtaking. We get it.

Let’s take a look at Jackson’s claims.

1. “Once again industry and lobbyists are trying to convince us that changes will be absolutely impossible.” Really? Who’s arguing that? Here is a paragraph from the National Association of Manufacturers’ policy on climate change:

The NAM understands the fundamental importance of protecting the environment. Our member companies are committed to greater environmental sustainability, including energy efficiency and conservation and reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with global climate change. We know we cannot solve the climate change issue alone. The U.S. Congress must engage in a thorough and transparent deliberative process for establishing federal climate change policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while maintaining a competitive level playing field for U.S. companies in the global marketplace.

The policy then lists a set of principles for federal action on climate, stating that policies must be equitable and economywide in scope, include all sectors and recognize the different competitive environments and abilities of sectors. The EPA does not have the authority to accomplish this balancing under the Clean Air Act.

2. “Once again alarmists are claiming this will be the death knell of our economy. Once again they are telling us we have to choose: Economy? Or environment?” Ah, alarmists. Because with unemployment near 10 percent amid inconsistent signs of a recovery, and the United States competing in a global economy, anyone who expresses concerns about a vast new regulatory regime imposing new costs on the energy sector, manufacturers, and transportation is an “alarmist.” Here is a link to a study conducted for the National Association of Manufacturers and the American Council for Capital Formation on the effects of the Waxman-Markey legislation, including a loss of $2 trillion to $3 trillion in economic growth and two million jobs over the 18 years of the bill.

3. “Most drastically, we are seeing efforts to further delay EPA action to reduce greenhouse gases.” Thank goodness for these “most drastic” efforts, also known as legislation. You see, it’s not only industry and lobbyists and citizens who are exercising their First Amendment rights in calling for a delay in the EPA’s unprecedented power grab. It’s Senators, like Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). And Representatives like Rep. Ike Skelton (D-MO), Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN) and Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO).

4. “This is happening despite the overwhelming science on the dangers of climate change.” That’s a point of some contention, isn’t it? We see scandal after scandal undermining the credibility of the most prominent scientific polemicists on climate change. (From Iain Murray at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, “Climategate: This Time It’s NASA,” and “The Real Climate Confusion.”)

5. “despite the Supreme Court’s 2007 decision that EPA must use the Clean Air Act to reduce the proven threat of greenhouse gases…” Advocates  often simplify the court’s decision in Massachusett v. EPA as ordering the agency to regulate greenhouse gases. It’s not that direct. The court ruled that the EPA did have the authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases and is required by the Act to base the decision on a consideration of “whether greenhouse gas emissions contribute to climate change.” In any case, that’s a statutory authority that Congress, as the policymaking branch of government, can remove or modify as it wishes.

6. “and despite the fact that leaving this problem for our children to solve is an act of breathtaking negligence.” Unlike, say, the federal debt? In any case, Administrator Jackson is using the tired political tactic of invoking “the children,” in this case on behalf of a false choice. Opposing the Obama  EPA’s power grab, arguing against the agency’s attempt remake and burden the U.S. economy over the wishes of the public and policymakers does not mean “leaving this problem for our children to solve.” It means accurately identifying the problem, relying on our elected policymakers to address the issue through the political process, avoiding Pyrrhic victories that burn down our economy, and using the best of technological advances to improve efficiency and energy conservation.

What’s breathtaking about that?

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