Labor, Taxes and Security
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Calling him "undeniably sharp, innovative, and successful," The Wall Street Journal editorial board sat down with SEIU chief Andy Stern recently to talk about the elections and the union's agenda going forward. Stern says big labor "won the election – it's not a secret" and said he expected Obama and the new Congress to pass all of their agenda in short order, including stimulus for the economy, aid to states, universal health care, tax cuts for the middle class, and, of course, card check. Stern says he will hold lawmakers and the president accountable: "We like to say: We use the power of persuasion first. If it doesn't work, we try the persuasion of power." He also said his union would not bend on the arbitration provision in card check and would happily support pending FTAs if others got behind the Employee Free Choice Act. He said his favorite appointments so far are Tom Daschle at HHS and Bill Richardson at Commerce.
The Washington Post has another editorial extolling the virtues of a gas tax increase. The paper writes:
America's state of denial about fuel taxes is not new. But the time has come for it to end. The recent plunge in oil prices has created a golden opportunity. Congress should enact a steep, inflation-indexed hike in gas taxes, one big enough to alter consumer incentives and habits permanently. Even if Congress were to triple the tax to 55.2 cents, gas would still be cheaper, in real terms, than it was in 2005. The increase could be rebated through the income tax system. A higher gas tax would buy valuable public goods: national security; a cleaner environment; and safer, less congested streets. No matter what, Americans will have to pay for all of that. Why not do it the simple, straightforward way?
Bloomberg Columnist Al Hunt predicts Gen. Jones will emerge as the star of Obama's national security team. He writes:
Jones will bring something to the job that has been sorely missing. He's an honest and effective mediator and broker of ideas, assuring both that strong policy differences are framed for the president in a fair way, and that only big matters are brought to him. His record suggests he will be a realpolitik internationalist and reject the neoconservative unilateral approach. Jones is a tough Marine. He also has wide-ranging interests and an attractive gentle side. He and his wife, parents of a special-needs daughter, created a program for Marine families in similar situations when he was commandant. When he was recognized several years ago by the Atlantic Council, a musical response was suggested. In fluent French, he sang Edith Piaf's "La Vie En Rose." Indeed, about the only myth in the Jones lore is that he was an outstanding basketball player for a renowned Georgetown University basketball program in the 1960s. Actually, he played there before Georgetown became a national power and averaged only 0.8 points per game. Yet Cohen, once an all-state basketball player in Maine, has played pickup games with Jones for years and warns he can be fairly imposing on the court. Not nearly as imposing, he adds, as off the court.