Faced with the prospect of an economy that will still be circling the drain in November, and probably recognizing that the intellectual firepower of such luminaries as Vice President Joe Biden, Harry Reid and certain Super PACs are not necessarily assets to the cause, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis stepped up to the plate on Monday to pinch hit for Team Obama.
And she hit a home run.
The Department of Labor announced that it would hand out almost $100 million in grants to states for “work sharing programs.”
“Work sharing” in this case is government-speak for covering salaries.
The program will presumably prevent layoffs in the private sector by letting businesses have employees work as part-timers, with the Federal Government picking up some of the slack for the balance of full-time wages.
The press release from the DOL says in part: “Work sharing allows employees to keep their jobs and helps employers to avoid laying off their trained workforces during economic downturns by reducing the hours of work for an entire group of affected workers. Workers affected by reduced hours can have their wages compensated with a portion of their weekly unemployment compensation payments.”
The program gives $99,750,000 to 27 states.
The program was passed in the House in February of this year under House Resolution 3630 which interestingly enough has as one of its miscellaneous provisions: “Prohibits the budgetary effects of this Act from being entered on either PAYGO scorecard maintained pursuant to the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010.”
Ergo, the effects of these “grants” on the deficit will not be entered on to the Pay-As-You-Go Scorecard.
It also passed resoundingly in the Senate 89-10 (with Rand Paul of Kentucky not voting) as Amendment 1465 to the House bill.
And, believe it or not, this was a Republican effort; the House Bill contains an extension of the payroll tax reduction and was given the title: “Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012”
It would have been better for Congress to fight tooth and nail for tax cuts and to remain solidly behind business.
The Republicans in Congress should have made a stand with their majority and protected the business owners and entrepreneurs who create jobs. I’m certain that the Republicans’ hearts were in the right place when they passed the bill in the House.
It’s just their heads were where their backside ought to be.
Maybe they didn’t consider that this particular portion of the bill might someday turn around and bite them on the collective backside.
But bite them it shall.
This is a brilliant illustration of unforeseen consequences.
And I have to say that this move is probably the shrewdest so far in the Obama Campaign efforts. It is not as blatant as the amnesty measures, and it is not as insipid as naming Mitt Romney the leading cause of cancer.
And it is not as poorly orchestrated as the Administration’s move to circumvent the WARN Act, thus keeping federal contractors from issuing pink slips just days before the election which might sour the voters on the concept of “Four More Years.”
The Senate incidentally voted down Lindsey Graham’s attempt to stop that move, which was also a Department of Labor Production.
No, this was well played indeed.
Let’s be clear: No one wants to see anyone laid off, no matter the current unemployment rate.
And to have American workers suffer layoffs or cutbacks in hours and wages would be yet another blow to the economy.
It most certainly would not be a win for the GOP or anyone. But this series of grants will be a useful escape hatch for the Obama Administration whose policies have created such a horrible economy.
It is a situation which has been augmented by employers’ fears over the many yet-to-be realized effects of Obamacare, impending tax-hikes and increased federal regulation.
Not only can the Administration side-step responsibility for the mess it has created, but it can now underscore its message that private enterprise cannot sustain itself without the benevolent intervention of the government.
I can almost hear “Okay, maybe you did build that, but you can’t afford it.”
And best of all, it was a Republican bill.
A bill the President can use to hide his role in creating the problem he will now take credit for fixing.