Everyone with any interest in the subject of national security is aware of the looming $500 billion defense cut “sequestration” on January 1, 2013, that was foolishly agreed to by the Republican congressional leadership in exchange for a like sequestration of monies for the Democrats’ signature social welfare programs. Speaker of the House, Rep. John Boehner, and Senate Minority Leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell, entered into this “compromise agreement” with Minority Leader of the House, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader, Sen. Harry Reid, and President Barack Obama in the naïve belief that the Democrats would put the welfare of the nation ahead of election year politics.
At issue in this compromise was whether or not the “Bush tax cuts” would be sunsetted on January 1st if a budget agreement that cut government spending while increasing tax revenues was not reached. The Obama-Reid-Pelosi cabal suckered the inept Republican leadership into this “game of election year chicken” in order to make them accomplices to a tax increase in order stave off devastating defense cuts. (Republican stupidity for putting themselves into this untenable situation is the subject of another op-ed on another day.)
Both sides of the political aisle are locked into their respective positions by their parties’ political bases that are adamant against compromise. Consequently, the dreaded sequestration of “equal cutting” of $500 billion each from defense spending (20% of national budget) and social welfare expenditures (54% of national budget) becomes more certain by the day.
Now, here is where the plot thickens as President Obama is employing the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Department of Labor (DOL) to evade the law as specified in the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act. So, how is the president attempting to elude federal labor law? One of the primary provisions of WARN calls for an employer to provide written notice of “plant closings” and/or “mass layoffs” to affected employees at least 60 days in advance of the effective date when any adverse personnel actions would be initiated.
“The law OMB wants companies to ignore is the WARN (“Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification”) Act. Central among its provisions is the requirement that employers provide written notice to their employees of “plant closings” and “mass layoffs” affecting them at least 60 days in advance.”
The $500 billion defense sequestration is obviously going to entail employee layoffs far and wide throughout the defense industry; however, President Obama had OMB issue a memo that stated: “DOL concluded that it is neither necessary nor appropriate for Federal contractors to provide WARN Act notice to employees 60 days in advance of the potential sequestration because of uncertainty about whether sequestration will occur and, if it did, what effect it would have on particular contracts, among other factors.” (This is known as “hide the ball.”) But not only does the president intend to prevent these notices from going out before the November 6th election (November 2nd is the deadline for dispatching the forewarnings of impending mass unemployment) in order deceive the at risk workers and the American public, he also intends to stick the U.S. taxpayers with the bill for any legal expenses that could arise from law suits against defense employers who succumb to the president’s pressure for them to break the law! Knowledgeable sources say the legal bill to the taxpayers is “inestimable.”
I thought that, as the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, the president’s duty was to uphold the laws passed by congress?!
Col. Thomas Snodgrass, USAF (retired), is Director of Military Affairs for The Society of Americans for National Existence (SANE) and was adjunct professor of history at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Prescott, AZ campus.