Yesterday I suggested we make demands of our Reps and Senators in re the debt limit -- you remember, no Medicare benefit cuts, no more tax breaks for rich folks and corporate non-folks. But I should also have suggested you call the U.S. President and make the same demands, because, right now, he's not on our side. One could call Mr. Obama's desire to give cover to Republicans stupid, or one could call it evil; it doesn't matter. You can call the White House at 1.888.245.0215, and you can write the White House here. I had been wondering how Mr. Obama would squander the miraculous opportunity Republicans presented him by voting almost uniformly in favor of the Ryan budget, which destroys Medicare in every useful meaning of the word "destroy." I guess now I know. We're the only thing stopping him.
Mr. Obama further told us yesterday that Congress could create jobs by (among other things) passing three Bush-era "free" trade deals. You mean the "free" trade deals that'll send jobs overseas and let corporations break U.S. law with impunity, sir? And tell the Colombian trade unionists who are getting assassinated or beaten or burned that "free" trade deals work wonders for any economy. You can't enjoy a good economy if you're dead. Hell, you can't enjoy it if you're not rich, the way our elites are going. In the meantime, Public Citizen helps you tell Congress, again, to oppose the Colombia "free" trade deal. You hope Senators like Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Bob Casey (D-PA), who helped rid us of the President's fast-track trade authority in 2007, will be able to do the will of their voters again. Otherwise, they could be toast.
Closer to home, Pennsylvania passed a budget earlier this week, with no impact fee or severance tax for gas drillers. You know, because that would be "un-American," according to our Lord and Savior Tom Corbett, even though a majority of Pennsylvanians support it, and just about every other gas-driling state has one. I didn't realize that the Pennsylvania legislature had actually promised to pass some sort of fee, nor that they'd written that promise into the budget they passed last year. Well, they probably think that since they got the budget done, they can forget about it for another year. Penn Environment helps you tell them they're wrong. Tell them "no more damn free rides for the gas industry." What are they going to do? Drill from Ohio?
Finally, IKEA has proved somewhat intransigent to our demand that the Swedish company treat its American workers as well as its Swedish workers, so we're gonna tell 'em again. For those of you just tuning in: IKEA's Swedwood plant in Danville, VA pays its workers as little as $8/hr, whereas IKEA's Swedish workers get $19/hr. It gets better: Danville workers lost over 1,500 days last year due to accidents, were forced to sit through union-busting meetings, and often learned on Friday night that they were being forced to work the weekend. Sound like good management to you? While the mandatory overtime has apparently stopped, the Swedish corporation seems content to tolerate the rest of it, possibly since it's happening over here. How about that? We're someone else's Mexico now. You shouldn't feel any better about that than good Mexicans do. So fight it.