Friday, June 05, 2009

Paid Maternity Leave For Federal Employees Passes Despite GOP Obstructionism


To be honest, I hadn't heard anything about H.R. 626, Carolyn Maloney's Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act which she introduced so it would guarantee that 4 of the 12 weeks of parental leave made available to a Federal employee shall be paid leave. It's what you call real progressive legislation that directly impacts the lives of real live people and makes for a better and more equitable society. The way I found out about it was that I was on the phone talking about a national security issue with one of the bill's sponsors, Joe Sestak, when he said he had to run over and vote.

At 8 yesterday evening the Republicans tried killing the bill with a motion to recommit that failed 171-241, with 8 conservative Democrats kissing up to the Chamber of Commerce by voting with the GOP-- mostly the usual shitheads like Walt Minnick (Blue Dog-ID), Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX), Travis Childers (Blue Dog-MS), Bobby Bright (Blue Dog-AL), etc. Ten minutes later the landmark bill passed 258-154, with two dozen vulnerable Republicans too scared to voted with their anti-family leadership.

Basically what the bill will do is this: it allows "federal employees to substitute any available paid leave for any leave without pay available for either the: (1) birth of a child; or (2) placement of a child with the employee for either adoption or foster care. Makes available (subject to specified requirements) for any of the 12 weeks of leave an employee is entitled to for such purposes: (1) four administrative weeks of paid parental leave in connection with the birth or placement involved; and (2) any accumulated annual or sick leave."

Does that sound like something the GOP should be trying to obstruct? And yet, the Republican leadership did just that. First one of the worst of the GOP corporate shills, Darrell Issa (R-CA), offered an amendment to water it down. They would never water down anything that make the rich and powerful more rich and more powerful, but the idea of improving the lives of working families is enough to drive a Republican insane. 154 of them (and 3 bad Dems-- Minnick, Kosmas and Childers) voted for Issa's mean-spirited amendment, which failed 157-258. What kind of a sonofabitch would vote against paid leave? Well ask fake self-professed "moderates" like Mary Bono Mack (R-CA), Mike Castle (R-DE), Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) Charlie Dent (R-PA), Peter King (R-NY), Bill Young (R-FL) and Dave Camp (R-MI) who voted in lockstep with the worst right-wing extremists, from Michele Bachmann, Mean Jean Schmidt, Virginia Fox, Patty McHenry and Tom McClintock to garbage like Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan and Gary Miller.

No doubt some kind of hellish combination of the entire Senate Republican caucus plus Evan Bayh's anti-Obama Bloc of conservadems will find a way to stop this from ever becoming law. Or maybe they're so busy working full time on destroying health care reform that they won't have the energy for much else. In this morning's NY Times Krugman warned that the key to passing real reform is for Congress to not trust the predatory insurance industry. Not trust them? The Insurance has put so much into winning the trust of Congress-- $315,390,117 to be presice (not counting another $1,220,365,114 in lobbying-- in the last few years.

The average U.S. Senator has gotten $552,708 in direct "donations" from the Insurance industry since 1990. And if that seems like a lot, the members of the Senate who have been tasked with killing health care reform have gotten far more than the average. The insurance industry's top shills, or what Krugman calls "the insurance lobby’s foot soldiers in Congress," (not even counting ex-presidential candidates; of course McCain got more money than anyone):

Ben Nelson (D-NE)- $1,196,799
Max Baucus (D-MT)- $1,184,113
Joe Lieberman (I-CT)- $1,036,302
Arlen Specter (R-D- PA)- $1,035,530
Chuck Schumer (D-NY)- $981,400
Miss McConnell (R-KY)- $929,207
Chuck Grassley (R-IA)- $884,724
Kent Conrad (D-ND)- $824,837
Jim Bunning (R-KY)- $781,016
Orrin Hatch (R-UT)- $661,807

With the exception of Jim Bunning, who is senile, ineffective and looked at as the walking dead by his colleagues, expect this list of senators to wield the knives that murder health care reform on the Senate floor-- or in the cloak rooms-- with Schumer taking on the role of Brutus.
Be warned, however. The insurance industry will do everything it can to avoid being held accountable.

At first the insurance lobby’s foot soldiers in Congress tried to shout down the public option with the old slogans: private enterprise good, government bad.

At this point, however, they’re trying to kill the public option in more subtle ways. The most recent ruse is the proposal for a “trigger”-- the public option will only become available if private insurers fail to meet certain performance criteria. The idea, of course, is to choose those criteria to ensure that the trigger is never pulled.

And here’s the thing. Without an effective public option, the Obama health care reform will be simply a national version of the health care reform in Massachusetts: a system that is a lot better than nothing but has done little to address the fundamental problem of a fragmented system, and as a result has done little to control rising health care costs.

Right now the health insurers are promising to deliver major cost savings. But history shows that such promises can’t be trusted. As President Obama said in his letter, we need a serious, real public option to keep the insurance companies honest.

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At 6:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since the democrats are using this bill to entice more federal employees they are in essence buying votes for their next election. In an economy where we are all being asked to tighten our belts, take pay cuts, shorten our work weeks and give up benefits, why on earth do federal employees feel they are entitled to increase their paid benefits? The do nothing to earn any money. They do not manufacture goods to sell, they do not improve the economy when they are at the office. I sell actual goods which in turn generates sales tax. It also provides jobs for those who manufacture the goods and transport them. Yet, for all the good that does I am now required to pay a parent to stay home for 4 weeks when I had to do the same for no pay at all. Okay, so now explain to me again why these 4 weeks of pay are a good idea? Is it possible because you plan to take advantage?

At 12:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow- what an uneducated comment (above)- yes, I am sure federal employees will be poping out kids right and left for a mear 4 weeks off- since you claim to have children, you SHOULD know that this time is not a vacation. Since you are clearly bitter that there are federal employees, you should want them to keep the highest quality employees rather than losing them to private industry that usually...but not always, provides for time off with a new child or at least offers disability insurance (currently, not offered to federal employees). Also, all must enjoy that because some have taken pay cuts, ect. that we should torture everyone with the same cuts- or maybe we should keep federal jobs stable so we don't add to the crappy economy. To further enlighten you- since I am one of those dirty rats that does "nothing to earn any money"...I went to school forever and paid every dime to get my PhD for which I am paid via the federal government for my knowledge. I work on restoration projects that provide moneys to local economies via construction and other jobs that result in environmental improvements so please educate yourself before you are so critical of all federal workers. While I am sure there are some that take advantage of the system, there are just as many in private industry that do the same. Why not work on improving your working conditions rather than hoping others are simply as miserable as you are!

At 10:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, I have to admit that my comment was prompted by the continued frustration that mounts every day that I hear the news that the government has plans to spend more money, even as we are in a recession. I had just received my e-mail notification that my congressman voted in favor of the paid leave, which was not a suprise.

As an employee of a small business we are called upon to make smart decisions during times like this to get us through until the situation improves. I do not begrudge my employer for not throwing money at us when there is none to throw. I would rather know that I have a job to come to everyday then put it out of business. Along those lines I would not venture to live beyond my means. Now, being the responsible person that I am, who had nine months to prepare for my leave of absence and survived the time off without going into debt or going without the necessities, why should my taxes increase? Should I have billed my Clients a "maternity fee" to compensate me? That is what the government is doing. More penalties for those who take care of themselves.

Why not take the still undistributed stimulus money (you know, the trillions that had to be voted on in 48 hours to quickly get it out to stimulate the economy?) and use that to fund the leave?

Nothing would please me more than for every American citizen to live happily, comfortably and safely. Especially if they are allowed to keep their consitutional rights and freedom to earn an honest living. You accuse me of wanting everyone to be as miserable as me. I am actually quite happy earning my honest living. But what is ironic is that the Democratic policies are aligned to ensure that everyone will enjoy the same amount of "misery". Their policies and spending will not create the utopia that the mainstream media would like you all to think. Just look at history. Simple logic dictates that you cannot spend your way out of a recession, just as an individual in debt cannot continue to spend money they do not have. Maybe their hearts are in the right place, but God knows where their brains are.

Good for you for being a federal employee who has a position that creates jobs. I only hope that the jobs don't only go to union shops that continue to find ways to protect their pocketbooks even as the taxpayers loose money (auto industry for example). If all federal employees regarded the governments dollars as if they were their own and spent them accordingly we would start to see our way out of this. Or if they considered the fact that their salaries are paid by the tax dollars of hardworking folks, who probably earn less than they do they might be a bit more careful (and grateful).

And good for you for paying your way through college. I hope that my child will be able to afford to do the same. The increased deficit and taxes don't paint a rosy picture for his future.

And please don't call me uneducated. I am more aware of what is going on in business and politics than I have ever been because I am frightened that my country is turning into something we may not even recognize as America by the year 2012. I am working and raising a family and there is not alot of time left for anything else, but if I can get through to even one person and at least get them to open their mind to something beyond "The Today Show" then I will feel as if maybe in some small way I have helped.

At 4:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where do I begin...I agree with you. Not much work is being done with the FBI/government. You would be surprised how often they are at home and not at work. You would also be surprised to know how often they sit and read the paper at work and don't accomplish a thing. I am told nothing can be done. Can't be fired! No goals to reach, no reviews etc. Basically, free government money. Lots of affairs going on because there is nothing else to do! They take an unbelieveable amount of "training" classes in beautiful places. Get this...The FBI is hiring! It's a free ride!


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