Monday, January 12, 2009

The First 100 Minutes of the Obama Administration


Barack Obama becomes President of the United States in eight calendar days.
It is the epitome of understatement to say that he will have a busy agenda. Between the international disputes, economic meltdowns, industry bailouts he needs to deal with immediately, and all of campaign promises his supporters are counting on him to deliver on, it will take a new form of compression technology to pack the first 100 days of his administration into the first 100 minutes after the inauguration.

An article in the San Francisco Chronicle examines the long list waiting for President Obama to deal with following the inauguration. Subjects include economic stimulus, health care, tighter emissions standards for cars, the Israeli-Hamas conflict, Guantanamo, Iraq, net neutrality, and easing the rules on organizing for labor unions.

As they point out, President Obama put together a winning coalition of techies, anti-war activists, women, labor unions, young voters and the like. His downside - everybody on that list is now looking for not only payback, but priority.

Labor unions are one such group. Having made a huge investment, they are now looking for their returns on that money.

According to the Chronicle:

  • Labor organizations spent more than $450 million to send and other Democrats to Washington.

  • The AFL-CIO alone has compiled a 64-page list entitled the "AFL-CIO Recommendations for the Obama Administration.

Their top priority -- besides jobs in the stimulus package - is the Employee Free Choice Act. It would enable employees to form a union as soon as a majority signed cards saying they wanted one. The Service Employees International Union, the nation's largest labor union, will spend $10 million to support such legislation. Various employer groups are lining up against it.

But would Obama be risking too much political capital early in his term
on a politically partisan issue that could galvanize - and revive - conservatives?

"The Obama transition team absolutely has not communicated that to us," said Thea Lee, policy director for the AFL-CIO.

Some of labor's other top wishes:

  • Health care reform.
  • Extend unemployment benefits.

  • Increase financing for food stamps.

  • Change Bush administration policies on government contract work, worker
    safety and training to be fairer to workers.
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