´╗┐February 2012

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Smart Choices in Obama's Recess Appointments

President Obama's opponents went ballistic after he made recess appointments of Richard Cordray, former Ohio attorney general, to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and three members to sit on the National Labor Relations Board.

They said the appointments were unconstitutional because the Senate never recessed.

What a crock. Most senators had gone home. The only reason some Republican senators stuck around the Capitol was to keep Obama from making appointments to both agencies.

It would be one thing if these politicians claimed to have problems with the individuals Obama was appointing. But they have never made any attempt to cover over their real objective in opposing the president's choices. They simply want to stop both agencies from doing the work that they are designed to do.

In the case of the NLRB, that means ensuring a more level playing field for workers and companies. For the consumer bureau, it means helping workers understand fine print and slick games so they don't get taken for a ride by banks, credit card companies and mortgage brokers.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) claimed to be upset with the NLRB's intervention in a case involving Boeing relocating a plant from Washington state to South Carolina. The Machinists had filed a complaint saying the move was made strictly to avoid a union contract. The NLRB's intervention led to a negotiation between Boeing and the Machinists that resolved the issue. Knowing that if the NLRB was short on members, it couldn't legally function, Graham said, "Given its recent actions, the NLRB as inoperable could be considered progress."

As for the consumer bureau, ever since Elizabeth Warren — who is now running as a Democrat for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts — lobbied for and won bi-partisan support to set up the new agency, some Republicans, many of whom get big campaign donations from Wall Street, have been denouncing it, claiming that "too many regulations" will hurt the economy. They have a lot of nerve. Too few regulations on banks and financial institutions nearly caused the collapse of our nation's economy.

I have spoken to Ohio members who know Richard Cordray. They say he is just the right leader for the job — a man who has always shown a passion for worker justice. The IBEW has also reviewed the president's appointments of Sharon Block, Terence F. Flynn and Richard Griffin to the NLRB. We believe these are good, sound choices.

The president is showing leadership and conviction. His choices deserve our full support.


Also: Hill: The Growing Gap

Salvatore J. Chilia
International Secretary-Treasurer