Entries in Support (3)


Obama's Labor Problem: Union Scales Back Support

The White House/Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- As if dismal economic growth, high unemployment and natural disasters weren't enough to dampen President Obama's vacation, the nation's largest labor union has announced that it will scale back support of the Democratic Party for the 2012 elections.

AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka -- who has met with Obama frequently -- said Thursday that the union will spend more of its money to "build our own structure" and give less money "to build structures for others."

In other words, instead of giving money to boost the Democratic Party as a whole, the union plans to build its own strategy to influence specific races and highlight particular issues beyond the election season.

"Contributing money to the party had value but it didn't leave anything enduring that was independent of the party," said AFL-CIO's political media outreach specialist Jeff Hauser.  "We are much more interested in building a year-round, odd year and even year, every year political mobilization rather than gearing up ourselves six months [before the election] and relying on an external political operation."

President Obama's relationship with labor unions has been on the rocks after the president failed to achieve passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, or "card-check" bill, that would make it easier for workers to organize.

"There is broad frustration with the party and all elected officials, broad frustration with the lack of a union agenda," said Michael Monroe, chief of staff of the Building & Construction Trades Department of AFL-CIO.  "People are looking for outlets to express that frustration."

The president's support of free trade agreements with Panama, Colombia and South Korea was also unpopular with labor groups like the AFL-CIO, which contributed $1.6 million to Democratic campaigns in 2010 and $1.2 million during the past presidential election.

Hauser said there is "broad discontent within the labor movement" because Washington is preoccupied with cutting deficits instead of setting its sights on creating jobs.

"The number one issue in this country is by far the jobs crisis," he said.  "We hope to encourage leaders to focus on the real issue, the jobs crisis, rather than focusing so much attention on long-run deficit issues."

The union's announcement comes on the heels of AFL-CIO's move to create their own Super PAC (Political Action Committee), which will allow the union to collect and spend unlimited funds.  The union said the Super PAC is one aspect of AFL-CIO's strategy to build a year-round political operation.

Hauser said the new structure will increase AFL-CIO's ability to impact elections and strengthen the candidates it supports.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Democratic Senators Throw Their Support Behind Obama on Libya

Roll Call/Getty Images (WASHINGTON) -- In a rare show of support from the Hill, three U.S. senators Wednesday defended President Obama’s handling of the war in Libya, saying he moved thoughtfully and with great speed.

Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Jack Reed, D-R.I., held a conference call Wednesday to tout their support, five days after the president authorized U.S. involvement in the Libya strikes.

The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on Libya next Tuesday.

“It was the right course of action because if we had proceeded unilaterally, we would not have the kind of support around the world that is crucial to succeed,” said committee chair Levin.

“What is changing today is the question about the future of the Arab world…What we are trying to assert are the basic values of our country,” Durbin said. “I think the president has moved with other nations in this regard because of the compelling humanitarian need to stop the slaughter of the Libyan people by their own leader.”

The senators skirted the issue of costs, saying there haven’t been any discussions yet of a supplemental bill or including this into the continuing resolution.

“I think that the fact that it’s a multinational operation will… minimize costs for the U.S.,” Levin said, when asked where the funding for the operation will come from.  

“I believe this is going to cost a lot less because we’re going to be the junior partner in a multilateral effort and also I believe there will be some support in terms of costs that are coming from other countries,” he added. “The cost in these first few days will be a lot larger than the cost of supporting our coalition partners after they take the lead.”

He said the cost estimates that have been published so far are “too inaccurate and too broad” and that he’s asked his staff to work with the Pentagon to get better cost estimates.

On questions of how long the United States might be involved in Libya, Levin repeated the Obama administration’s line.

U.S. involvement “in terms of being the lead in establishing the no-fly zone, I think it’s going to be very very short term. In terms of supporting the continuation of a no-fly zone, I think will be ongoing,” he said.

In terms of actual results, Levin said the strikes have prevented an attack on Benghazi by Gadhafi, “that would’ve led to a bloodbath. That is in itself a huge important part in protecting the people.”´╗┐

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Equality Matters President Sees "Glass Half-Full" for GOP Support of Gay Marriage in 2012

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on openly gay service personnel passed Congress with support from eight Senate Republicans. Does this portend more Republican support for issues like gay marriage next year?  Richard Socarides, president of Equality Matters, a media and communications initiative in support of gay equality, told ABC News on Wednesday that he’s taking “a glass half-full" approach, even suggesting that in 2012 “you may have a Republican candidate for president...who supports gay marriage.”

“I’m definitely a glass half-full," said Socarides, a former special assistant and senior adviser to President Bill Clinton, “because I think that you see a Ted Olson, a former Solicitor General, bringing this very important marriage case out in California. You see people like Laura Bush saying that they think gay marriage is coming. You see other prominent Republicans, [ex-Pres. George W. Bush campaign manager] Ken Mehlman, among others, saying that, they’re comfortable enough to come out, talking about this issue. So, I think that Republicans, there’s a lot going on in the Republican community. You may even have a Republican candidate for president this year, next time who supports gay marriage.”

Socarides’ optimism, however, is tempered by what he sees of the Republicans in Congress. “The congressional wing of the Republican party,” said Socarides, “is much more conservative on these issues. It is extremely unlikely in the next two years that we will get any important gay rights legislation through Congress.”

As for President Obama’s recent statement that his views on gay marriage were “evolving,” Socarides noted that “it’s very rare that we see someone having this public discussion with themselves, a president having a discussion with himself in public. So I think he’s trying to send some signals, trying test the water a little bit.”

Ultimately, said Socarides, Obama has “gotten a good reaction” to these signals, “because I think the country is ready for this. I think culturally the country has progressed so much further on these issues of equality than we have in Congress or in politics.”

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio´╗┐

ABC News Radio