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article imagePresident Obama on fiscal cliff & right-to-work law in Michigan

By Can Tran     Dec 10, 2012 in Politics
US President Obama, when visiting the Daimler Diesel plant in Michigan, made his case for raising tax rates on the upper 2% of income earners and denouncing the "right-to-work" laws.
United States President Barack Obama is hitting two birds with one stone while in Michigan. These two birds are very major. The first “bird” is the “fiscal cliff” battle that pits the Democrats and a divided Republican Party against each other. This is the biggest economic battle that Obama is dealing with since being re-elected as United States President after defeating former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney who was the chosen GOP nominee. Again, it's a battle between Obama and GOP House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio. At the same time, the GOP members are divided as well. In this battle, Obama is going on the offensive and defensive leaving the GOP with shrinking leverage.
Obama, in an offensive move, talked his case to businessmen and investors. Thus, he met with members of the Business Roundtable. In this respect, if Obama manages to get support from such businessmen, this would hurt the GOP in the long run. The main thing that keeps a solution from being made is the decision on raising taxes for the top 2% of of earners. Democrats support that while Republicans are divided. There are Republicans saying that they're willing to vote on a raise if they get something in return such as entitlement reform. It brings Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, into the spotlight. Norquist is confident that the anti-tax pledge will stand and vows to go after pledge breakers in the future. While Republicans oppose the notion of increasing the taxes let alone for the top 2%, they are divided.
Recently, Norquist is on the offensive engaging in a political battle against GOP Governor Bob McDonnell in regards to a rise on the gas tax. However, McDonnell is one of the Republicans that hasn't signed the anti-tax pledge.
So far, it seems that CEOs and other big business leaders are more receptive to the idea. So far, it seems to be a good way for Obama to capitalize and gain extra leverage over the Republicans in Congress. At the same time, it proves to be a double-edged sword for Obama. This is because Obama is reaching out to business leaders while at the same time the die-hard fans are still enraged at Wall Street in regards to the financial crisis.
One should take a look at the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protests which turned into the larger “Occupy Movement.” Members of OWS launched an online project called “Rolling Jubilee” which uses crowd funding to raise enough money to buy up debt. Instead of collecting on the debt, Rolling Jubilee will forgive the debt. While the concept seems to be catching on, a Business Insider report points out one possible flaw: taxes.
You get taxed on your income, which is obvious. But, forgiven debt could be considered as income. As a result, you have to pay taxes on that income. Should that be the case, it undoes what Rolling Jubilee is trying to do.
In terms of the Republican-side of the issue, GOP Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana weighed in on the fiscal cliff. Jindal is due to lead the GOP Governors Association beginning 2013. Recently, Jindal has become a critic of his own party. After the GOP has sustained heavy losses in the 2012 US Elections, Jindal called up the Republicans to stop being the “stupid party.” When Romney made his “gifts” remark to campaign donors, Jindal was quick to attack.
Jindal, on the fiscal cliff, said that the GOP needs to rethink its approach on the issue.
Talks between Obama and Boeher are both “progressing” and “stalling.” However, nothing has come into fruition yet. But, the advantage still looks to be in Obama's court. This is because of recent polls giving support to raising the taxes on the upper 2%.
Democratic Representative Judy Chu of California weighed in on the fiscal cliff.
In the case of the House Republicans, they are in a hard position. They are divided by a larger public and their constituents.
When visiting Michigan, Obama visited the Daimler Detroit Diesel plant. He addressed both the fiscal cliff and the controversial “right-to-work” bill that was recently signed in the GOP-controlled Michigan State House of Representatives. In a speech at the Daimler Diesel plant, Obama made a speech justifying raising the tax rates for the upper 2% of income earners.
Obama also took this chance to talk about the “right-to-work” policies. In this respect, Obama rallied with the United Auto Workers (UAW) union. He said that such laws have nothing to do with the economy but a lot to do with politics. Obama said that these laws give workers the “right to work for less pay.”
In Michigan, this GOP-measure is being led by GOP Governor Rick Snyder. This could affect Snyder in future elections due to him supporting “right-to-work” at the last minute.
The issue has been divisive in the state of Michigan. On the day that the bill went to the Michigan House floor, angry Democrats left the State Capitol in Lansing.
At the same time, protesters were outside and inside the Capitol building. However, there are union members speaking in favor of “right to work.”
Come the 2014 elections, right-to-work will most likely be a debate issue in Michigan. It seems that Michigan Democrats are ready to wage battle in preparation for the 2014 US Election cycle. The state's Democratic Party recently released a video of former Michigan GOP chairman Ron Weisler talking a Tea Party group about the purpose of “right-to-work.”
A Washington Post blog gives in-depth on the mechanics of “right-to-work” laws. So far, on paper, it gives workers the power to refuse joining let alone paying union dues in a unionized workplace. At the same time, it weakens the power and influence of the unions. Opponents of such laws argue that there are fewer gains from the economic growth.
In a Huffington Post article, it looks as this issue can be tied into LGBT issues. Currently, same-sex marriage is currently be taken up by the United States Supreme Court. One can ask this question: How? This article points out a marriage equality battle between the AFL-CIO and the National Organization for Marriage. It talks about how unions and unionized companies are supporting marriage equality.
With this respect, unions are good for the LGBT community. It talks about how various companies in Michigan received a 100% percent rating from the Washington DC-based LGBT group called the Human Rights Campaign. If the unions are weakened, it's a blow to the LGBT community.
Overall, talks of the fiscal cliff issue and the “right-to-work” laws will inevitably play a dynamic in the 2014 elections. Perhaps this will make Michigan one of the states to keep a close eye on for the most part.
Norquist even weighed in on "right-to-work." On his Americans for Tax Reform website, there is an article that is urging Snyder to sign the bill into law. According to the website, "right-to-work" states outperform unionized states in terms of growing the economy and generating more jobs. While Obama said that "right-to-work" is purely politics, Norquist's group is accusing the Democrats of being against it out of politics.
In short, even Norquist has a word or two to say about RTW.
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