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REDSTATE MORNING BRIEFING
FOR AUGUST 31, 2009
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There has not been a lot of coverage of this. It happened back in July and is only now winding its way through the federal system.
Barack Obama and his administration are about to significantly drive up the costs of federal building construction. This is an astonishing reach. The Office of Management and Budget has directed that any federal construction over $25 million benefit unions.
The order would make all federal construction projects 10-20% more expensive by requiring all contractors to either use union workers or apply inefficient union apprenticeship and work rules to their employees. Contractors would also be required to make contributions to union pension funds and other union programs that non-union workers will never benefit from.
This will hugely drive up the cost of construction of federal buildings and line the pockets of unions without even having union workers involved in the projects. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that only 15.6% of private construction workers in America belong to unions. In other words, 8 out of 10 construction workers in America will be legally denied the right to work on federal building projects.
This is appalling.
Great news in the midst of a recession, right?
Barack Obama won't use the phrase "War on Terror." He no longer wants to do an annual memorial for September 11th. He does not think we are, in any way, at "war." But faced with a $9 trillion deficit of his creation, a stimulus that has not worked, the buyout of General Motors, a $2 billion over budget Cash for Clunkers program, and a healthcare plan that will add another $2 trillion to the national debt, Barack Obama is finally declaring that there is a national emergency.
Well, under Title 5 of the United States Code, the President of the United States can reduce the percentage of pay raises due to federal employees during a national emergency.
President Bush did this after September 11, 2001.
Now, faced with his own out of control government spending, Barack Obama has decided to shaft one of his most natural constituencies - unionized federal workers.
Former Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA), recently convicted on 11 counts of bribery and racketeering, has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
In his preliminary filing, William and Andrea Jefferson state liabilities in the range of $1 million to $10 million, against declared assets in the same broad range. Most of the debt would appear to be consumer-type debt: credit cards and car loans. Several New Orleans area banks are listed among the creditors. Another noteworthy creditor is the Congressional Federal Credit Union.
Absent from the creditors' list are the IRS and the State of Louisiana.
We all know Darryl Hannah is a pretty vapid idiot. And we know Trudie Styler, Sting's wife, likes to channel her new-agey self into feeling good as she jets around on private jets telling you to lower your carbon footprint.
What we're learning now is that both, along with a number of other eco-activist Hollywood trendsetters is that they are willfully, actively serving as willful idiots for Ecuadorian tyrant Rafeal Correa.
Because there was an oil spill in the Amazon. The equation is pretty simple.
Big Oil + Evil American corporation + Jungle = leftist orgasms of tree hugging outrage.
Here's the gist of what's happening.
Let's walk through the mercury problem (H/T: Instapundit).
- Automakers used mercury as a component for various auto systems until 2004.
- They stopped because mercury is toxic, and it gets into stuff that we eat (the actual level of risk is in fact not relevant for this discussion).
- People get very touchy about toxic elements being thrown out with the rest of the garbage, so there's an industry designed around collecting the mercury at the end of a car's life. The big (only?) one of these is ELV Solutions.
- Here's a list of the car companies that work with ELV Solutions. Notice which car company isn't on the list?
- That's right: GM isn't on the list. They exited the program at the beginning of August.
- Autoblog Green calls the reason why "convoluted," but it's not. There are now two GMs. Good GM is the one with good assets and a chance of actually making money; Bad GM is the one with all the garbage assets, bad debts, and onerous obligations.
- Good GM does not make cars using mercury, and technically never has (its predecessor Old GM did, not it), so it sees no particular reason why it should fund mercury recovery.
- Bad GM... doesn't make anything, or indeed do much of anything except sit there and slowly decompose; but Bad GM is the one that ELV Solutions needs to talk to about funding mercury recovery.
- No, Bad GM doesn't have any money. Money is a good asset, which is why Bad GM doesn't have any of it.
- No, ELV Solutions is not able to break even on mercury reclamation. If you could do that, ELV Solutions wouldn't exist: the car companies would have done the job themselves and directly.
- So now we come to the Cash-for-Clunkers program, which has suddenly put a large number of pre-2004 cars up for immediate destruction (and mercury reclamation). A lot of those cars were built by the Old GM.
- ELV Solutions is thus stuck for reclaiming the mercury of a major car company's old vehicles, without getting funded by that car company.
- And, given that there's no GM 'flavor' of mercury, or GM-only junkyards, ELV Solutions is really stuck for reclaiming the mercury a major car company's old vehicles, without getting funded by that car company.
One last thing . . .
It is difficult to understand the degree of the lack of understanding of health care reform politics that could produce the "go it alone" editorial by the New York Times today.
Essentially, the New York Times is advising the Democratic Congress to expose itself to enormous political risk for the sake of health care reform, and gives no recognition that the fundamental political baseline of health care reform has been reset.
The go it alone on health care reform blindly ignores the divides within the Democratic Party on health care reform, and these bill-killing-divisions include . . .
If you've ever been stuck on hold with a congressional office in the past, at least you've been able to enjoy some good patriotic music, as opposed to the lilting tones of generic smooth jazz that have been driving elevator users insane for decades. For years, congressional offices have played patriotic anthems as the background music during hold times.
Not any more. . . .
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