We have this principle in our country called the “rule of law.” It means that no matter who you are, the law applies to you. No one can simply set the law aside for personal gain. No one. This is a large reason America has flourished and from its outset was different from its European forbears: contracts are respected and enforced, and there is no nobility, royalty, or special immunities from the law for anyone.
We also have this oath that our President takes which reads, “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” The Office of the President of the United States is charged with executing the laws of the land, enforcing the laws of the land, quite apart from whether or not he likes the laws of the land. There is some discretion concerning the degree to which some laws will be enforced, and Congress frequently passes vague laws that give the power to write the rules to the executive branch, but the President’s job is to enforce the laws.
President Obama’s set both of those aside yesterday.
Lockheed Martin is one of the largest employers in battleground Virginia. Lockheed Martin relies on a massive Defense budget for its lifeblood. If the Defense budget is slashed significantly Lockheed Martin can predict that its revenue stream will shrink significantly.
Because of the breakdown in budget negotiations between the White House and House Republican leaders earlier this year and last year deep, deep cuts are going to happen to the Defense budget on January 1, 2013.
Lockheed Martin, in compliance with the WARN Act‘s requirement that employers officially notify employees of expected layoffs at least 60 days prior to the layoff date, was set to send out many, many, many layoff notices on November 2, four days before election day.
This, of course, would look terrible for a President running for reelection who desperately needs people to believe that the economy is not, in fact, as bad as it is, and if it is that bad then it’s not his fault. Thousands of people in a crucial swing state—a swing state largely insulated from the larger economic mess in this country because of the massive growth of government and the large Defense budget—suddenly being told, “yes, in fact, the economy *is* that bad, and it just got that bad for you,” just would not do.
So the President of the United States, the chief executive, the one person in charge of enforcing all of the federal laws, allowed his Department of Labor to request that Lockheed Martin and other Defense contractors delay sending out the layoff notices until after November 6, election day. President Obama asked a private company to break the law, and the reason is pure, crass, base reelection politics.
But it doesn’t end there. Lockheed Martin will face penalties for complying with this request. No matter: the administration has assured Lockheed Martin that the penalties will be paid for by the government. So not only are they going to break the law at the request of the White House, but the White House has assured them that taxpayer dollars will be used to pay any fines and penalties. That’s a bribe, with your and my money, to assist Obama’s reelection.
But wait, as they say, there’s more! Barack Obama was an ardent champion of the WARN Act as recently as his first election campaign, and even tried to extend the warning period to 90 days!
“For too long, employers have failed to notify workers that they’re about to lose their jobs due to mass layoffs or plant closings even though notice is required by the WARN Act,” then-Sen. Obama said in a July 17, 2007 press release. “The least employers can do when they’re anticipating layoffs is to let workers know they’re going to be out of a job and a paycheck with enough time to plan for their future.”
During his 2008 presidential campaign, Obama also railed against loopholes that allowed employers to avoid complying with the law — which is basically what his DOL seems to be advising now.
“Now, I believe we must act at the federal level to close the loophole that allows employers to disregard the WARN Act without penalty,” he said in statement to the Toledo Blade.
As senator, Obama even cosponsored the 2007 FOREWARN Act, which would have extended the minimum notice to 90 days and increased both the penalties for violating the law and the government’s ability to enforce it.
Is there anything this man won’t do or say, any position he won’t change, any law he won’t skirt—even laws he put in place or previously championed—to hold onto power?