In the USA...United Surveillance America
December 4, 2013Obama to Defend Health Law as Economic Benefit
By JACKIE CALMES
WASHINGTON — President Obama leaves the White House on Wednesday for one of the capital’s most struggling neighborhoods to talk about the economy, not simply to divert attention from his troubled Affordable Care Act but to explain how that law, for all of its flaws, fits into his vision for Americans’ economic security and upward mobility.
It is a vision of partnership between government and citizens that Mr. Obama has described since he was a state senator in Illinois, and it draws on the legacies of three Republican presidents — Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Yet as president, he has only partly realized the policies reflecting that vision and has little chance of fulfilling all of them, given the opposition of conservative Republicans in Congress.
Still, the White House said that Mr. Obama’s speech would provide “a window into where the president will focus his energies over the next three years.”
He has put a lot of work into the address in recent days, aides say. It is intended to echo the one he delivered two years ago this month in Osawatomie, Kan., where he honored Roosevelt’s call there a century earlier for a “new nationalism” and defined the themes of his own re-election campaign.
Arguing that his ideas have a historical pedigree in federal investments like land-grant colleges, national parks, Depression-era public works projects, interstate highways and the G.I. Bill, Mr. Obama will again press for initiatives to promote manufacturing, energy innovations, education, infrastructure projects and more.
Mr. Obama’s venue for the speech, an arts and education town hall in the Anacostia neighborhood of Southeast Washington, symbolizes his message: Federal and local governments, corporations, foundations and philanthropists shared the $27 million cost of the community campus, which is intended to help residents seeking to escape poverty.
“President Obama will discuss the twin challenges of growing income inequality and shrinking economic mobility and how they pose a fundamental threat to the American dream,” the White House said in a statement.
He will describe “the steps he has taken to help reverse these trends, restore mobility and increase economic security for every American, including the economic benefits of the Affordable Care Act,” the statement said.
After being on the defensive for weeks about the health care program’s malfunctioning website and his own faulty promises, Mr. Obama previewed his economic case for the Affordable Care Act on Tuesday in a White House appearance with 19 people identified as its beneficiaries.
“For too long, few things left working families more vulnerable to the anxieties and insecurities of today’s economy than a broken health care system,” he said. “So we took up the fight because we believe that, in America, nobody should have to worry about going broke just because somebody in their family or they get sick.”
“Now that the website is working for the vast majority of people,” Mr. Obama added, “we need to make sure that folks refocus on what’s at stake here, which is the capacity for you or your families to be able to have the security of decent health insurance at a reasonable cost through choice and competition on this marketplace, and tax credits that you may be eligible for that can save you hundreds of dollars in premium costs every month, potentially.”
The prospects for Mr. Obama’s aspirations in his final three years is hardly promising. His speech on Wednesday comes at the close of a year in which none of his other economic legislative initiatives have made it through Congress.
The Senate passed a bipartisan, business-backed immigration bill to give about 11 million illegal immigrants a path to citizenship, but House Republican leaders have refused to take it up. Budget talks with a group of Senate Republicans fizzled, probably dashing Mr. Obama’s three-year-old hopes of a so-called grand bargain on spending and taxes, one that would combine deficit reductions in future years with immediate financing for infrastructure, education, science and technology projects. And spending cuts have squeezed the very programs that Mr. Obama has wanted to expand.
As knotty as the problems with the insurance program have been, Mr. Obama vows that those can and will be fixed. But the broader problems he will address on Wednesday — a longstanding and widening gap in incomes and opportunity between the rich and everyone else — defy easy solutions. A recent study by two prominent economists, Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty, found that 95 percent of the income gains since the recession officially ended in mid-2009 have gone to the top 1 percent of individual earners.
In what Mr. Obama sees as a small but crucial step, he will renew his call on Wednesday to raise the federal minimum wage, which at $7.25 an hour is lower than the minimum in a growing number of states. He and other supporters say an increase would also help those workers earning just above the minimum wage by creating pressure to increase their pay, too.
Mr. Obama’s push is timed, in part, to help Senate Democrats pass a measure that would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 in three stages over two years, raise the separate minimum wage for tipped workers, and peg both to rise with inflation.
Any such bill is likely to hit a wall in the House, where Republicans argue that an increase would force many employers to lay off workers or reduce their hours. Federal benefits like food stamps and assistance for the long-term unemployed also face further cuts.
Many Democrats see the minimum wage as a political issue that will help them in the 2014 midterm congressional elections. National polls show support in both parties for a wage increase. In a poll last month by CBS News, two-thirds of Americans — including more than half of Republicans — said the federal minimum wage should be higher.
“The public is clearly ahead of Congress on this,” said Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio. Republicans in Congress, he added, “are on the wrong side of the public interest and the public sentiment here.”
“I think people are more and more understanding that these minimum wage workers are not overwhelmingly teenagers,” he said. “They are often families holding one or two minimum-wage jobs trying to support kids.”
The minimum wage issue and, more broadly, the problem of income inequality are also priorities for the host of Mr. Obama’s address on Wednesday, the liberal-leaning Center for American Progress, a policy research group that includes many former officials from the Obama and Clinton administrations. Mr. Obama was invited to give the speech as part of the center’s 10th anniversary.
******************Obama Drops The Hammer on Republicans and Shatters Their Obamacare Repeal Fantasy
By: Jason Easley
Tuesday, December, 3rd, 2013, 6:02 pm
President Obama dropped the hammer on the Republican fantasies of repealing Obamacare. He also challenged Republicans to reveal their own healthcare plan.
The president said,
That seems to be the only alternative that Obamacare’s critics have. We’ll just go back to the status quo, because they sure haven’t presented an alternative. If you ask many of the opponents of this law what exactly they’d do differently, they’re answer seems to be well let’s go back to the way things used to be.
Just the other day the Republican leader in the Senate was asked what benefits people without healthcare might see from this law, and he refused to answer. Even though there are dozens in this room and tens of thousands in his own state who are already on track to benefit from it. He just repeated repeal over and over and over again, and obviously, we’ve heard that from a lot of folks on that side of the aisle.
Look, I’ve always said that I will work with anybody to implement and improve this law effectively. If you got good ideas, bring ‘em to me. Let’s go. But we’re not repealing it as long as I am president. I want everybody to be clear about that.
We will make it work for all Americans. If you don’t like this law. If despite all the millions of people who are benefiting from it you still this law is a bad idea, then you’ve got to tell us specifically what you’d do differently to cut costs, cover more people, make the insurance more secure.
You can’t just say the system was working with 41 million people without health insurance. You can’t just say the system’s working when you’ve got a whole bunch of folks who thought they had decent insurance and then when they got sick it wasn’t there for them, or they were left with tens of thousands of dollars in out of pocket costs that were impossible for them to pay.
Right now, what that law is doing. Right now what this law is doing is helping folks, and we’re just getting started with the exchanges. Just getting started with the marketplace, so we’re not going to walk away from it. If I have to fight another three years to make sure this law works, that’s what I’ll do. That’s what we’ll do.
President Obama is going to be in the White House for three more years, and he is not going to budge an inch on the ACA. The president was calling out the Republicans on two different levels. He was shattering their fantasy that they can repeal the ACA if they take back the Senate in 2014, and he was challenging Republicans to offer an alternative on healthcare.
Republicans don’t want to offer an alternative on healthcare, because then they will be forced to admit that their alternative is to do nothing. President Obama’s remarks today suggest that Democrats feel like the momentum is shifting back to them on healthcare. The numbers are coming in, and it is clear that the ACA is working.
Remember how the media and Republicans said that the ACA website had doomed the Obama presidency? Not so much. Obama doesn’t look like a president in crisis now.
President Obama has the high ground, and he’s smashing the delusions of the ACA’s opponents.
Give it up, Republicans. Repeal is never going to happen.
************John Boehner’s Anti-ACA Press Conference Backfires as He Crashes and Burns on Obamacare
By: Jason Easley
Tuesday, December, 3rd, 2013, 12:14 pm
boehner-aca-websiteJohn Boehner tried to hold a press conference to bash Obamacare, but the whole thing backfired when he was asked whether he would allow a vote on a Republican ACA alternative.
The interesting part of the press conference came when Speaker Boehner was asked, “What is a patient driven healthcare system that the GOP talks about? Will there be a viable GOP alternative to Obamacare in 2014 put to the floor for a vote?” Boehner answered, “Well, when you look at Obamacare, which is a government centered healthcare delivery system, that’s not what the American people want. The American people want to be able to pick their own kind of health insurance. They want to be able to pick their own doctor. They want to be able to pick their own hospital. That’s what a patient centered healthcare system looks like.”
Then came the follow up question that doomed Boehner, “Will that be up for a vote in 2014, a bill for that? Mr. Speaker, will that be up for a vote in 2014?” Boehner answered, “We’ll see.”
Speaker Boehner’s two word answer meant no, and with that, his whole anti-ACA press conference went down the drain.
The media asked Boehner the relevant question, and he imploded. Everyone knows that the Republican plan is to not to propose an ACA alternative, because they don’t want to have a debate about healthcare. Republicans simply want to attack the ACA. If the debate shifts to one of policy alternatives, Republicans can’t get by with just attacking the ACA.
The House Republican leadership press conference was supposed to be a reply to the news that the website has improved. Instead of addressing the website improvements, Majority Leader Eric Cantor claimed that the website still wasn’t working, and if it is working, your personal information is not secure.
House Republicans spent six plus minutes repeating their Obamacare lies, and then their press conference turned into a total disaster when Boehner admitted that there is no plan to vote on a Republican alternative to Obamacare.
Democrats are winning the debate on the ACA. All Republicans can do is repeat the same tired talking points that they have been using against Obamacare for years. When media finally asked the right question, and Speaker Boehner fell apart.
As the success of the ACA continues to grow, Republicans aren’t going to be able get by just saying no. The website is working. People are signing up, and Republicans have nowhere to go but down.
***************Boehner Gets Caught Hyping Another Completely False Obamacare ‘Horror’ Story
By: Justin Baragona
Tuesday, December, 3rd, 2013, 3:24 pm
On Monday, as Healthcare.gov was being visited by nearly a million people, Speaker of the House John Bohner (R-OH) felt it was necessary to try to save face and do his best to push the narrative that ordinary people were getting punished by the Affordable Care Act. One such story that Boehner focused on was that of Cornelius Kelly, a Long Island resident that claims he was told that he would have to buy a separate health insurance policy for his 18-month-old baby. Here is Boehner’s tweet:
“I couldn’t believe what I was being told,” said a dad who learned #ObamaCare wouldn’t cover his baby http://t.co/jeWBvSwOq4
— Speaker John Boehner (@SpeakerBoehner) December 2, 2013
The story was run in Sunday’s New York Post and Kelly found himself on Fox News on Monday detailing his awful, terrible ordeal having to deal with New York’s state exchange. Of course, as you have probably surmised, the story was complete hogwash. Kelly exaggerated for effect and did not reveal what really happened. Apparently, Kelly placed on his application that he had three children when in fact he has four. This caused a clerical error that had to be later fixed. Under the New York state exchange, no matter how many children you have, they can all be covered under one family plan and the cost cannot exceed 2.85 times an individual plan.
Now, Kelly claims he was told three different times that he’d have to buy a separate policy for his child. He also says that the problem was only fixed after he went to the New York Post with his story. Basically, he’s claiming he wouldn’t have gotten this issue fixed if he didn’t go public with it. However, it should be pointed out that Kelly ran for public office in 2011. He ran for a Suffolk County seat as a Conservative Party member and lost.
Kelly Fox News
Could it be that this man decided to submit an erroneous application and then contact state officials after the fact asking why his other child wasn’t covered? When confronted with confusion around his false application he is able to solicit differing responses from people he calls. He then takes all of this to the Post and gives them a juicy story, without revealing that he submitted an incorrect application. He is then able to get on Fox News and be used as another Obamacare cautionary tale.
So, what we have is a wanna be conservative politician who desperately wanted attention and was able to get it by concocting a scenario in order to get the story he wanted to tell the press. And Boehner saw it as a way to spread the word that some poor man was told he couldn’t cover his baby under his health insurance plan. He can then point out once more how this is all a #Trainwreck. Instead, Boehner is left with egg all over his face. Again. Another attempt to make the ACA look awful completely spoiled by the truth.
*****************Video: CNN employee`s own mistake crashed Obamacare Web page
by John Aravosis
In a rather embarrassing revelation for CNN, their own “expert” crashed the Obamacare Web site yesterday by doing something that every child in America knows you simply do not do on the Internet: Refreshing the Web page while your transaction is processing.
Yet, an examination of the video, first noticed by AMERICAblog reader Jea this morning, reveals that that is exactly what CNN did – their expert refreshed the Affordable Care Act federal exchange site while their application was “processing.”
And what happened as a result? The page crashed. As it does on every single Web site in the world when you’re dumb enough to refresh the page while a transaction is in progress.
And now Republicans are crowing about how this CNN video “proves” that Obamacare is a disaster – because CNN managed to produce an error message with a rookie “my first Internet” mistake.
Here’s the transcript from the CNN segment, video is below:
cnn-obamacare-web-site-crashCNN reporter: Then came the roadblock. Tell me about what happened, because we’re getting another error message here, and it’s supposed to be running smoothly – we’re just not seeing that.
CNN’s Matt: Yeah, so, you know, we’ve been trying to get into this site since October 1, on and off again. I have to say, it did work a lot more smoothly this morning. I got through, I picked my state, I put in all my information, and I got through the whole process in about 8 minutes. And then it said my status was ‘in progress,’ so I went to refresh it and I got the error message.
You got the error message. No sh-t, Sherlock.
If you refresh a Web site while any submission is “processing” you will get an error message. Always, always, always. Have you never purchased anything online before?
And if you refresh a page that has already finished processing, you will also usually get an error message, as the page is attempting to resubmit the same information you already just submitted.
In this case, the page would be resubmitting an application that was already just submitted. So it would have no other choice but to give you an error message as you can’t submit the same application twice in a row.
I’m surprised that Matt at CNN didn’t know that, or bother mentioning it on the air. Rather, CNN gave the impression that the Obamacare Web site messed up, and in fact, the site appears to have worked fine – it was CNN’s own employee, on the air, who messed up.
Considering that this CNN video is now being used all the Internet by conservatives as “proof” that the Obamacare Web site has not yet been fixed, CNN owes its viewers an on-the-air correction. Especially since the video actually shows that the process went “smoothly,” the exactly opposite of what Republicans are now claiming.
*****************Republicans Freak Out as Healthcare.gov Gets Nearly a Million Hits on Monday
By: Justin Baragona
Tuesday, December, 3rd, 2013, 10:09 am
At his press conference on Monday afternoon, White House Press Secretary confirmed that over 375,000 people visited the federal health care exchange between midnight and noon ET. By the end of the day Monday, that number had surged to around 800,000. This comes on the heels of news that enrollment through the federal exchange had topped 100,000. With the deadline of Dec. 23rd approaching for enrolling in a health care plan that takes effect on Jan. 1st, expect to see huge numbers of people visiting Healthcare.gov and choosing plans.
Obviously, this makes the GOP a very sad group. They spent every waking moment since the government shutdown ended hammering the website for its flaws. They got a willing media to run a 24-hour loop about the ‘botched’ rollout of the ACA. Numerous committee hearings were held where they got to yell at HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and grandstand about the terrible implementation of Obamacare. You even had Speaker of the House John Boehner blog about his ‘frustrating’ experience enrolling on the website. Of course, his story turned out to be completely false and caused him embarrassment.
At this point, the GOP has no idea what to do. For the past three years, they have been in ‘repeal Obamacare’ mode. While they couldn’t be bothered to do any actual policy making or passing bills in the House, they found time to hold repeal votes nearly four dozen times. However, as they head back into session, they do not have another repeal vote on the calender. The fact is, they know they can’t do it anymore. Before, when enrollment had not begun, they could go on their rhetorical exercise of holding repeal votes that would never get through the Senate or past the White House. Now, they realize that hundred of thousands of people have already obtained health insurance, and millions more will once they come back in January.
The Republicans made a fatal flaw when they decided to focus on the website glitches. Everyone knew that, eventually, the site would be repaired and work well. And, even before the relaunch this week, the site was working well and people were enrolling. Now that the mainstream media has decided to actually acknowledge that the site is fully functional, the GOP is left whining about the law, but without any recourse and the knowledge that millions of people will health insurance. This leaves them in a bad place politically.
Once it became clear that the website was humming along and thousands of people were visiting every minute, Republican lawmakers took to Twitter to either deny that everything was going smoothly, or just to be grumpy about the good news.
It’s Cyber Monday! And the #ObamaCare website still isn’t working. http://t.co/n7S7zeFRQQ
— NRSC (@NRSC) December 2, 2013
So Obamacare is fixed now that the website has been improved? Not on your life.
— JohnCornyn (@JohnCornyn) December 2, 2013
The Obamacare website isn’t the problem. Obamacare is the problem. http://t.co/JiepX2QQ1B
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) December 2, 2013
Apparently, the GOP thought that the website would forever have glitches and slow response times. They thought nobody would actually fix anything. They thought people would just decide not to buy insurance when they had never had the chance to do so before. While they focused on trying to drive the President’s poll numbers down a bit, they didn’t look at the big picture. Nobody is going to care what the President’s poll numbers were in November 2013. The midterm elections are still nearly a year away and POTUS isn’t running again. When it is all said and done, the ACA will be a rousing success, and Republicans will be the ones who will have to answer for their attempts to destroy it at every turn.
***************The Secret Agenda Behind House Republican ACA Hearings is Obama Impeachment
By: Sarah Jones
Tuesday, December, 3rd, 2013, 10:14 am
The House is holding a hearing today (one of four ObamaCare hearings on your tax dollars) on “Presidential power”, alleging that President Obama disregarded the constitution when he tweaked the timing of the implementation of the individual mandate. This precedes impeachment, and that’s why they’re holding this hearing.
Megyn Kelly did what Fox does best; she “raised the question” of whether or not Obama has violated his duty. Has the President substituted his judgment over the Congress’ judgment?
Watch the December 2 edition of Fox News’ The Kelly File here via Media Matters:
First “Judge” Andrew Napolitano claimed Obama had let a large group of people off and refused to prosecute them for some kind of quid pro quo, but Megyn Kelly quickly steered him back to the Talking Point of the Day – Healthcare.gov, aka, ObamaScare. Stay on point, Andrew!
Kelly reminded Napolitano that they are both lawyers so they know how things work. I beg to differ. I know plenty of ignorant lawyers. Knowing enough about the law to pass the bar says almost nil about understanding government, unless you are a constitutional lawyer (like the President). Or you’ve worked on government (like the President).
Working on Fox “News” is a good indicator that you may have difficulty understanding logic and processing facts, or you have sold out so completely that your take on the “law” is pretty worthless. But I digress. Back to impeachments.
So Andrew, who also thought the President should be impeached over the sequester pending cuts imposed by Republicans, championed by Republicans and crowed about by Republicans on Andrew’s very own network, announced that the President violated the constitution when he decided to give “exceptions/exemptions” from the obligation of the law to some groups and not to others.
Kelly played fair cop with Napolitano. “That’s an administrative decision,” she barked. I might remind everyone here that Republicans in Congress make many such decisions – like how oil companies get subsidies but groups of poor people should not, or even other energy groups do not. Fox wants to indict on ideology, apparently. Kelly pretend-pushed him that the executive has the power to make these decisions, so that he could be set up to explain Why It’s Different This Time (aka, ‘cuz Obama did it).
This is the Outrage When the Black Man Uses His Authority segment of the program, when the two very white people smirk disdainfully over the “power grab” (assertion of proper authority) of the black person. It’s all very Southern Strategy on Fox.
So now we find out what Kelly is going for (aka, what the GOP leadership sent her re their hearing today). Delaying the individual mandate! Sure, “timing” used to fall under the purview of the executive branch, but not anymore, they tell us. The President may not change the date of implementation of a part of a law according to Napolitano.
In reality, the President controls policy implementation. That’s his role in the process. By delaying the individual mandate, Obama is simply changing an implementation date, not rewriting the law.
And now we come to the landing that sets up the Republican Congressional hearing today.
“What’s the remedy, you say impeachment, but can you go into court and challenge him? Can you try to impeach him, how would that happen?” Kelly wonders.
Sadly, Napolitano doesn’t think Obama will be impeached because of the experience “we had the last time when Bill Clinton’s eye was off the ball.” Yes. Never mind Iraq, WMD, Katrina, etc. Never mind Nixon. A breach of executive power is best exemplified in Foxland by the delaying of an implementation of a law these people don’t agree with.
But Kelly is very sad because impeaching Clinton backfired against the poor Republicans and then Napolitano reminded everyone that if Clinton hadn’t been impeached he wouldn’t have ignored Osama bin Laden, even though he admits that bin Laden attacked “in the early days of the Bush administration”.
These are the same people who will whine if you blame Bush correctly for the economic mess the country is in. In their minds, Clinton caused 911 because he should have left office when he was impeached. Try not to get lost in the crazy.
Here’s the point of the hearings today, and this is important because it clues us into where they are going. Judge Napolitano tells us that the Republicans may enact a resolution, “Will it lead to impeachment? I don’t know, but it will further diminish and destroy the trust he (Obama) once had with the American people.”
That resolution is what could lead to impeachment. Fox is trying to help the Republicans whip up a public fury to call for impeachment. This call for impeachment will be as good as an impeachment for them, because it will allow Republicans to use the soundbites and run against Obama in 2014 instead of having to come up with an actual platform.
How does Napolitano know ahead of time, since this was taped yesterday, that Obama will be found guilty in these GOP-led House hearings? Oh, I kid. No one thinks that Republicans are looking for facts.
*****************Republicans Will Let Veterans and Children of Unemployed Go Needy This Christmas
By: Sarah Jones
Tuesday, December, 3rd, 2013, 4:15 pm
Just in time for Christmas, on December 28 the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program will expire unless Congress takes action. This means that just days after Christmas, on January 1st, 1.3 million people stand to lose their unemployment benefits. Did you just shiver?
Sandy Levin (D-MI) and Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) introduced a bill last month to extend the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program through 2014, but so far, our Republican-led House is too busy with hearings on ObamaCare to address matters of poverty stricken children and veterans.
The Ways and Means Committee Democrats released a new report today showing the devastating effects on military veterans and children of unemployed Americans set to take place upon the expiration of the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program.
The Committee summarized the key points:
More than 20,000 veterans would immediately be cut off from federal unemployment insurance the week of Dec. 28 if Congress does not reauthorize the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program.
As many as 2 million children could be impacted by ending the federal EUC program.
Without the federal EUC program, less than a quarter of unemployed Americans would have received unemployment benefits, the lowest UI recipiency rate for Americans looking for work in more than 50 years.
JP Morgan did their own research and they found that the expiration of the EUC benefits could lower labor force protection, which would in turn depress the unemployment rate, and any further decline in the unemployment rate could complicate the Fed’s communication efforts. “Another potential effect is through reduced spending by benefit recipients. EUC currently pays out benefits at around a $20-25 billion annual rate; should that flow dry up, consumer spending could take a hit in 1 Q, perhaps subtracting around 0.4% -pt from annualized real GDP growth in that quarter.”
In other words, it’s not just the bleeding heart liberals with compassion for their fellow citizens who support extending unemployment benefits. But shouldn’t starving children and veterans without jobs be a matter of concern to us all? Surely Republicans can take a break from one of their four hearings on ObamaCare this week to handle renewing these benefits. There is time, if they chose to use it.
“Millions of unemployed Americans and their children would be left out in the economic cold just days after Christmas unless Congress acts to extend this vital program,” said Representative Levin. “This report just adds to the urgency that confronts this Congress over the next two weeks. Congress must act.”
But unless they get a lot of pressure for failing our veterans (forget poor children, they can’t vote and Republicans have shown that they don’t care), they won’t. Remember, they won’t even sit down to budget reconciliation or let immigration reform come up for a vote. They’re very busy “bloviating” instead of legislating.
December 3, 2013Court Blocks Labor Board on Lawsuits
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
WASHINGTON — Employers can require their workers to sign arbitration agreements waiving all rights to class-action lawsuits over workplace grievances, a federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday.
The ruling from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit overturns a National Labor Relations Board decision last year that found such agreements conflicted with federal law giving workers the right to pursue collective action to complain about workplace conditions.
The court’s ruling is a win for businesses that want to limit legal exposure from the rising cost of class-action lawsuits over unpaid overtime and other wage violations. But it is a blow to workers who find it easier to band together when challenging the policies at a large company.
The case considered a policy in which D.R. Horton, a Fort Worth-based homebuilder, required all its employees to sign agreements to resolve any workplace disputes in individual arbitration proceedings rather than sue. The agreements prevented an arbitrator from granting relief to employees as a class or group.
In January 2012, the labor board ruled that the agreement violated workers’ rights under the National Labor Relations Act. Federal law has long protected the right of workers to join together to protest workplace conditions, including through litigation.
The board said the agreements also misled employees into thinking they could no longer file unfair labor charges with the board.
The appeals court panel, in a 2-to-1 decision, agreed with D. R. Horton, ruling that arbitration agreements including class-action waivers are enforceable under the Federal Arbitration Act. But the court ruled that such agreements must clarify that they did not waive an employee’s right to file a complaint with the labor board.
*****************Most Americans think US should 'mind its own business' abroad, survey finds
• First time this specific sentiment recorded in four decades
• Most Americans also believe China is stronger economic power
Paul Lewis in Washington
theguardian.com, Tuesday 3 December 2013 19.00 GMT
A majority of Americans believe the US plays a less important and powerful role in the world than it did 10 years ago, according to a long-running study that found that most people now believe America should “mind its own business internationally”.
It is the first time the survey of US foreign policy attitudes has recorded such a sentiment in almost four decades of polling.
The findings, published on Tuesday by the Pew Research Center in association with the Council on Foreign Relations, suggest Americans want their leaders to adopt a less interventionist approach, although there is a growing desire for the development of stronger trade and business links abroad.
The US is now widely seen as less respected abroad, bucking a trend in which Americans believed their reputation had recovered since Barack Obama was elected. Impressions of how the US is perceived under Obama are now, broadly, as negative as they were in the final days of the George W Bush administration.
That may stem partly from a belief that America's power is in decline. According to the poll, Americans’ views about the geopolitical clout of their country has reached a historic low, with a majority (53%) for the first time believing that the US plays a less important role than it did 10 years ago. The proportion saying the US is less, rather than more, powerful has increased 12 points since 2009 and has more than doubled – from just 20% – since 2004.
The survey was conducted in a year in which the US pulled back from a military intervention in Syria, chose a diplomatic route to secure a nuclear deal with Iran and sought to contain the international fallout over disclosures by whistleblower Edward Snowden about the reach and nature of surveillance conducted by the National Security Agency.
The American public appears generally divided over Snowden’s leaks, and on related questions about the correct balance between security and civil liberties. Most of those questioned (55%) said Snowden’s revelations, which were first published in the Guardian in June, had “harmed the public interest”, although a sizeable minority of 34% said the whistleblower had “served the public interest”.
Perhaps surprisingly, the proportion of Americans who said the government’s anti-terror policies have gone too far in restricting civil liberties of average people has declined slightly since July, from 47% to 44%.
However, those critical of the impact of counter-terrorism policies on civil liberties still outweighs the 39% of Americans who believe national security programs have not gone far enough.
The poll confirms a significant shift in public attitudes, with growing concern about the privacy implications of national security efforts. As recently as January 2010, 58% of Americans expressed greater concern that government policies had not gone far enough to provide protection from terrorism, compared to only 27% who believed than that they had gone too far.
In broad terms, the survey is likely to be interpreted as evidence that President Obama’s cautious approach to foreign policy is backed by a public wary of becoming too embroiled in problems abroad.
However, most people surveyed disapprove of the president's handling of foreign policy, with particularly negative views reported of his handling of China, Afghanistan, Syria and Iran. Terrorism is the only foreign policy area on which more Americans approve of the job Obama is doing than disapprove.
Exactly half of Americans believed the use of drone strikes against terrorist suspects in Pakistan and other countries has made the US safer – while only 14% say it has made the US less safe.
The latest survey, repeated every four years since 1993, was conducted in the week before November 6, before the interim deal with Iran – aimed at halting its nuclear program – was forged in Geneva.
But it highlights the scale of challenge for the US administration in selling an agreement with Tehran to the American public. According to the survey, 60% of Americans believe Iran’s leaders are “not serious” about addressing international concerns over their nuclear enrichment program.
One of the starkest findings in the survey was in response to a question about whether the US should “mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along the best they can on their own”.
A majority of respondents – 52% – said they agreed with the statement, while just 38% disagreed. The authors of a report accompanying the survey described it as “the most lopsided balance in favor of the US ‘minding its own business’ in the nearly 50-year history of the measure”.
The results show how much public opinion has changed since 2002, when just 30% of Americans believed the US should mind its own business.
Views on geopolitical influence in the world, however, contrast with American perceptions about the global economy. More than three-quarters of those polled were supportive of growing economic ties with other countries. Echoing other surveys, most Americans appear to believe that China is a stronger economic power than the US.