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Obama wades into labor fight on Michigan swing
Says Republicans are risking harm to the economy
“For a long time, companies … weren’t always making those kinds of investments here in the United States,” Mr. Obama told the autoworkers. “All of you, the men and women who built these companies with your own hands, would have been hung out to dry. I wasn’t about to let that happen. I placed my bet on American workers. Three-and-a-half years later, that bet is paying off.”
Mr. Obama’s trip is the latest in a series of campaign-style events staged by the White House to generate public support for the tax increase. It comes after his Sunday meeting with Mr. Boehner, Ohio Republican, to negotiate a long-term budget deal to avoid automatic tax increases and spending cuts set to take effect in January.
The administration and Mr. Boehner’s office declined to provide details of the session at the White House, although they said they were keeping the lines of communication open. It was their first meeting since Nov. 16, although the two men have spoken by phone in the interim.
White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters traveling with the president aboard Air Force One Monday that keeping the details of their conversation secret could help move along the negotiations.
“We believe that it’s in the best interest of the prospects of getting an agreement,” Mr. Carney said.
He also said Republicans have yet to make a specific proposal on how they will raise revenues. The president is seeking about $1.6 trillion in new revenue over 10 years, while Mr. Boehner offered in a letter to the president on Dec. 3 to raise about $800 billion by closing tax loopholes and limiting deductions.
“The president is the only party that has put forward a plan that has specificity on both the spending and revenue side,” Mr. Carney said. “We have not seen in any detail from the Republicans, including from the offer that was put forward by the speaker in his letter, the kind of detail that would allow us to assess the proposal.”
He said the GOP offer of $800 billion is “far, far short of the necessary revenue for a deal that achieves $4 trillion in deficit reduction.”
Legislative fast track
Supporters say the labor law change, which would exempt police officers and firefighters, would improve the climate for businesses looking to invest in Michigan, whose economy was badly hurt by the long-term decline of the American auto industry and by the recent deep recession. Unemployment, at 9.1 percent in October, ranks 45th among the states, although it has come down from above 11 percent in recent years.
Mr. Obama said right-to-work laws “don’t have to do with economics.”
“They have everything to do with politics,” he said. “What they’re really talking about is giving you the right to work for less money. You only have to look to Michigan, where workers were instrumental in reviving the auto industry, to see how unions have helped build, not just a stronger middle class, but a stronger America.”
Before Mr. Obama arrived, Mr. Snyder met privately with some Democratic members of the state’s congressional delegation in Detroit, including Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow and Reps. Hansen Clarke, John Dingell, Gary Peters, David Curson and Rep.-elect Dan Kildee. Mrs. Stabenow participated in the meeting by conference call.
Mr. Levin told reporters after the meeting that the Democratic lawmakers sought a veto or a delay in votes on the measure from the governor. The lawmakers also asked Mr. Snyder to urge Republicans in the state legislature to seek revision in the bills that would allow Michigan voters the right to take up right-to-work laws via a ballot referendum. Currently, the one House bill and two Senate bills incorporating the right-to-work measure include appropriations of $1 million, making them immune from future ballot referendum appeals under state law.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Dave Boyer is a White House correspondent for The Washington Times. A native of Allentown, Pa., Boyer worked for the Philadelphia Inquirer from 2002 to 2011 and also has covered Congress for the Times. He is a graduate of Penn State University. Boyer can be reached at email@example.com.
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