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Saturday, October 13, 2012

When pesky laws get in the way

S.E. Cupp
President Obama is riding roughshod over the WARN Act

For all the rhetorical overtures President Obama has made to the plight of the unemployed and underemployed, it doesn’t seem like he’s all that concerned about making sure Americans who are lucky enough to have jobs actually get to keep them.

Looming large over Obama’s re-election efforts are the automatic spending cuts, totalling $110 billion next year, scheduled to go into effect in January and stemming from Congress’ inability to come up with a way to rein in the nation’s debt.

Many folks stand to lose their jobs because of these cuts — but they shouldn’t expect much sympathy from the President, who is far more concerned about his own job than theirs.

Because of the potential $50 billion cut to defense spending inherent here, as many as 1 million jobs in that sector could be lost, according to Aerospace Industries Association, a Washington-based defense lobbying firm.

And because of the WARN (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification) Act, those defense companies would be required to tell their employees at least 60 days in advance that they may be laid off.

Those notices would come, inconveniently for the President, on Nov. 2, right before Election Day. A million defense workers worried about losing their jobs? As Hans von Spakovsky points out at the National Review Online, many of these jobs are in the swing state of Virginia. That doesn’t bode well for re-election efforts.

So Obama did what any good self-preservationist would do: He gamed the system to keep those employees in the dark.

Over the summer, the White House quietly told defense companies that it wouldn’t be enforcing the WARN Act, and so they wouldn’t be required to send out those ominous warning letters.

Further, if anyone complained about losing his or her job, the Office of Management and Budget would cover the cost of any lawsuits that arose as a result. Obama sure is a generous guy.

In case you’re keeping track of winners and losers here, Obama’s protecting himself first and foremost, and big defense contractors second, with no real regard for the employees who could find themselves without work. In fact, because of his latest stunt, they won’t even get a warning that they should start looking for a new job.

What has Obama had to say for himself in all this? His administration defends this utterly cruel sleight of hand by insisting that the warnings would be “inappropriate” because no one knows what’s going to happen with the automatic cuts.

This is in line with an OMB memo from Sept. 28 that claimed: “[G]iving notice in these circumstances would waste States’ resources in undertaking employment assistance activities where none are needed and create unnecessary anxiety and uncertainty for workers.”

That’s masterful spin. But, remember, it’s called the WARN Act, not the YOU’RE FIRED Act. The point is to inform these folks that they could “reasonably be expected” to be laid off — not that they definitely will be.

The other point, totally lost on the White House, is to give them ample time to prepare for another job by seeking additional training in related fields. But that matters little when a re-election is on the line.

Read the rest of the column

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