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Labor is a fairly bright spot for the Biden Administration.


President Biden forcefully sided with the striking United Auto Workers on Friday, dispatching two of his top aides to Detroit and calling for the three biggest American car companies to share their profits with employees whose wages and benefits he said have been unfairly eroded for years.

In brief remarks from the White House hours after the union began what they called a targeted strike, Mr. Biden acknowledged that the automakers had made “significant offers” during contract negotiations, but he left no doubt his intention to make good on a 2020 promise to always have the backs of unions.

“Over generations, autoworkers sacrificed so much to keep the industry alive and strong, especially the economic crisis and the pandemic,” Mr. Biden said. “Workers deserve a fair share of the benefits they helped create.”

Mr. Biden said that Julie Su, the acting secretary of labor, and Gene Sperling, a top White House economic adviser, would go to Michigan immediately to try to bring both sides back to the bargaining table. But he said the automakers “should go further to ensure record corporate profits mean record contracts for the U.A.W.”

For decades, Mr. Biden has been an unapologetic backer of unions who rejects even the approach of some Democrats when it comes to balancing the interests of corporate America and the labor movement.

During the past several years, he has helped nurture what polls suggest is a resurgence of support for unions, as younger Americans in new-economy jobs push for the right to organize at the workplace. Mr. Biden declares that “unions built the middle class” in virtually every speech he delivers.

“That was most pro-union statement from a White House in decades, if not longer,” Eddie Vale, a veteran Democratic strategist who worked for years at the A.F.L.-C.I.O., said after the president’s remarks.

The president’s decision to weigh in on the side of the union without much reservation will most likely to draw fierce criticism from different quarters. Earlier in the day — even before the president’s White House comments — Suzanne P. Clark, the head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, issued a searing statement that laid blame for the strike at Mr. Biden’s feet.

“The U.A.W. strike and indeed the ‘summer of strikes’ is the natural result of the Biden administration’s ‘whole of government’ approach to promoting unionization at all costs,” Ms. Clark, the president of the nation’s largest business lobbying group, said.

She predicted the strike would have “far-reaching negative consequences for our economy.”

And in a possible preview of a rematch with former President Donald J. Trump, NBC on Friday aired part of an interview in which Mr. Trump sided just as forcefully with the car companies against the unions.

“The autoworkers will not have any jobs, Kristen, because all of these cars are going to be made in China,” Mr. Trump said in an interview set to air Sunday on the network’s “Meet the Press” program. “The autoworkers are being sold down the river by their leadership, and their leadership should endorse Trump.”

Friday’s walkout by the U.A.W. is in some ways a broader test of Mr. Biden’s economic agenda beyond just his pro-union stand. It also touches on his call for higher wages for the middle class; his climate-driven push to reimagine an electric vehicle future for car companies; and his call for higher taxes for the wealthy. The strike is centered in Michigan, a state that the president practically must win in 2024 to remain in office.

“You’ve got rebuilding the middle class and building things again here,” Mr. Vale said. “You’ve got green energy, technology and jobs. You’ve got important states for the election. So all of these are sort of together here in a swirl.”

At the White House, Mr. Biden’s aides believe the battle between the car companies and its workers will underscore many of the president’s arguments about the need to reduce income inequality, the benefits of empowered employees, and the surge in profits for companies like the automakers that makes them able to afford paying higher wages.

That approach is at the heart of the economic argument that Mr. Biden and his campaign team are preparing to make in the year ahead. But it sometimes comes into conflict with the president’s other priorities, including a shift toward electric vehicles.

Mr. Biden’s push for automobiles powered by batteries instead of combustion engines is seen by many unions as a threat to the workers who have toiled for decades to build cars that run on gas. The unions want factories that make electric cars — most of which are not unionized — to see higher wages and benefits too.

So far, Mr. Biden has sidestepped the question of whether his push for a green auto industry will hasten the demise of the unions. But Friday’s remarks are an indication that he remains as committed as ever to the political organizations that have been at the center of his governing coalition for years.

In his remarks on Friday, he hinted at the tension inherent in the technological transition from one mode of propulsion to another.

“I believe that transition should be fair, and a win-win for autoworkers and auto companies,” he said. But he added: “I also believe the contract agreement must lead to a vibrant ‘Made in America’ future that promotes good, strong middle class jobs that workers can raise a family on, where the U.A.W. remains at the heart of our economy, and where the Big Three companies continue to lead in innovation, excellence, quality and leadership.”

The targeted strike is designed to disrupt one of America’s oldest industries at a time that Mr. Biden is sharpening the contrast between what rivals and allies call “Bidenomics” and a Republican plan that the president warns is a darker version of trickle-down economics that mostly benefits the rich.

“Their plan — MAGAnomics — is more extreme than anything America has ever seen before,” Mr. Biden said on Thursday, hours before the union voted to strike.

Mr. Biden was joined on Friday by several of the more liberal members of his party, who assailed the automakers and stood by the striking workers.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, sent out a fund-raising appeal accusing the companies of refusing “to meet the demands of workers negotiating for better pay” despite having “netted nearly a quarter trillion dollars in profit over the last decade.”

Senator Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, visited striking Jeep workers at a Toledo plant that makes the popular Wrangler sport-utility vehicle and declared that “Ohioans stand in solidarity with autoworkers around our state as they demand the Big Three automakers respect the work they do to make these companies successful.”

How Mr. Biden navigates the strike and its consequences could have a significant impact on his hopes for re-election. In a CNN poll earlier this month, just 39 percent of people approved of the job he is doing as president and 58 percent said his policies have made economic conditions in the United States worse, not better.

The fact that the strike is centered in Michigan is also critical. Mr. Biden won the state over Mr. Trump in 2020 with just over 50 percent of the vote. Without the state’s 16 electoral votes, Mr. Biden would not have defeated his rival.

Unlike previous strikes involving rail workers or air traffic controllers, Mr. Biden has no special legal authority to intervene. Still, he is not exactly just an observer either.

Just before the strike vote, Mr. Biden called Shawn Fain, the president of the U.A.W., as well as top executives of the car companies. Aides said that the president told the parties to ensure that workers get a fair contract and he urged both sides to stay at the negotiating table.

Economists say a lengthy strike, if it goes on for weeks or even months, could be a blow to the American economy, especially in the middle of the country.

Still, the president is unwavering on policies toward both unions and the environment. In a Labor Day speech in Philadelphia, Mr. Biden renewed both his vision about what he called a “transition to an electric vehicle future made in America” — which he said would protect jobs — and his rock-solid belief in unions.

“You know, there are a lot of politicians in this country who don’t know how to say the word ‘union,’” he said. “They talk about labor, but they don’t say ‘union.’ It’s ‘union.’ I’m one of the — I’m proud to say ‘union.’ I’m proud to be the most pro-union president.”


LIVE FROM DETROIT: The @UAW is fighting for all of us. Let’s stand TOGETHER against corporate greed and in solidarity with striking workers. https://t.co/z1O5Iy16iF

— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) September 15, 2023

Occasionally, I wonder if the $hill had become POTUS, if she would have lent her support other than lip service.

Shawn Fain is on at the 10:55 mark. He makes a few remarks, then introduces Bernie as a long life warrior against the billionaire class, kicking ass. He proudly is wearing a red UAW jacket.


During the eight and a half minutes @GM CEO Mary Barra appeared on CNN this morning, she "earned" more money than any autoworker makes in a full work day.

And that's how the Big Three wants to keep it.#StandUpUAW

— UAW (@UAW) September 15, 2023


The trolling of @UAW is comical. Unions are the most popular thing in the country. And a fighting union is the vanguard of the working class. ALL OF US. https://t.co/JrIlTq7Qrz

— Sara Nelson (@FlyingWithSara) September 15, 2023


As @UAW went on strike, union president Shawn Fain said:

"The cost of labor that goes into a vehicle is 5% of the vehicle. They could double our wages. And they could not raise the price of vehicles and they would still make billions of dollars." pic.twitter.com/76llIPKI1o

— More Perfect Union (@MorePerfectUS) September 15, 2023


Aint Supposed to Die A Natural Death
Aint Supposed to Die A Natural Death

Love me some Bernie.

Aint Supposed to Die A Natural Death
Aint Supposed to Die A Natural Death


Did she say how many times more in money in a full work day?


Lip service for sure,unless it was to her political advantage. Bernie was the right choice as i expect he will walk the picket line at some point.





Idea Fest kicks off this Sunday, Sept. 17, at 5 p.m. with a one-on-one interview with former Madison Police Chief David Couper at Leopold’s Book Bar Caffè on Regent Street and concludes Saturday afternoon and evening, Sept. 23, with four blockbuster programs at the Memorial Union’s Shannon Hall, featuring the likes of presidential advisers Anita Dunn and Bob Bauer, Martin Luther King Jr. biographer Jonathan Eig and Jan. 6 House committee member Republican Adam Kinzinger of Illinois.

And in the days between, there will be extraordinary programs including conversations with Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, the man who prosecuted George Floyd’s murderer, and Vermont’s independent U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, the political leader who rejuvenated progressive ideas. PBS’ Judy Woodruff and her husband, former Wall Street Journal columnist Al Hunt, will be featured at the Thursday night fundraiser at UW’s Tripp Commons.


Unfortunately, he didn’t say that when it happened. Moreover, he didn’t ask Congress to keep it. Bernie Sanders, AOC, Ed Markey, Warren, Merkley all tried to get it renewed on their own, with crickets from the WH.


While he’s at it, perhaps he can explain what happened to the public (government) option for healthcare other than freaking huge subs for private insurance companies. That is NOT a public option.

Paul ADK

I think Biden learned triangulation from the Clintons.


Matt Stoller (from the BIG substack) part 1

The White House is trying to sell ‘Bidenomics,’ but poll after poll shows that the public is extremely unhappy with the economy. What does the public see that the bureaucrats don’t?

Today’s issue is about the incoherence of the Biden economic agenda, so-called ‘Bidenomics.’ With strikes in the auto industry and Hollywood, as well as sour polling numbers, something about the White House framework for policy isn’t working.

I’ve been out in Los Angeles for the last few days, and the big economic problem here are the strikes against the movie studios, which have shut down production. More broadly, as I read the news, the biggest economic stories are the high cost of living, and then the United Autoworkers going on strike against the big three car companies. The Washington Post had a good article asking workers why they are striking. Most cited inflation and fairness. “We’re not making enough money” said Petrun Williams, a 58 year-old Ford repairman. “People should be able to buy their own houses, but right now it’s not possible.”

It’s a hard problem to tackle, because GM, Ford, and Stellantis are giant wildly inefficient bureaucracies with high costs optimized to make $75,000 trucks, and electric vehicles are a completely different product. But ‘Bidenomics’ isn’t necessarily helping.

In fact, Biden’s White House staff just doesn’t seem to have the capacity to hear what’s going on, or address it. Earlier this month, Biden gave a speech in Philadelphia celebrating Labor Day, and ahead of it he said “I’m not worried about a strike,” and “I don’t think it’s going to happen,” comments that are clearly a result of his senior staff giving him bad info. These delusional comments prompted a Detroit Congresswoman to call up senior White House advisor Steve Ricchetti and scream, “Are you out of your f—ing minds?”

And this gets to a common question I hear in D.C., which goes as follows. Why is the public so unhappy? The economy looks, by most conventional measurements, as if it’s doing so well. Dave Dayen summarized the statistics as follows. Unemployment is low, inflation is down, consumer spending is rolling along, and certain manufacturing areas are booming. “Several measures,” he wrote, “like economic growth and prime-age employment, have actually rebounded to their trends from before the 2008 financial crisis, an almost unthinkable scenario just a few years ago.”

According to consistent polling, the public thinks inflation is high and getting worse, and that Biden has done very little to address any of their problems. What explains how the White House is floundering? One problem is plenty of people in the political class believe that the public is simply wrong to be angry. Paul Krugman, for instance, wrote a column saying that normal people believe the economy is bad, even if it isn’t. I see White House officials interviewed on CNBC periodically, and while they don’t say that outright, it’s clear they think the economy is doing well and inflation is down, and their job is to sell their accomplishments.

There are two reasons why the White House simply cannot seem to govern effectively. The first is that the tools the political class uses to understand inflation are misleading them. The second is that Biden doesn’t have one unified policy agenda, but has a bunch of policy agendas that work against each other. The result of these two factors is that Biden’s story – look at all this prosperity I have delivered – doesn’t work in the face of strikes and anger.

Sticker Price Versus Reality

Let’s start with why the White House doesn’t see a problem. It’s true that key members of Biden’s senior staff are mismanaging the situation, but that doesn’t explain why Krugman, as well as many economists in the administration, don’t see one either. Sure you can look at individual strikes, but those are noisy events, not economy-wide.

How does the government perceive the experience of ordinary people in the economy? There’s a mess of information out there, what information matters, and what doesn’t? The President can’t ask 100 million Americans how they are doing before making a decision. Over the last century, bureaucrats have answered these questions by inventing a host of measurements to serve as proxy for what normal people experience.

The government has been measuring prices using some variant of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) since 1913. When there’s a change to inflation, what that usually means is that the CPI is going up or down. And a change to inflation isn’t a change in absolute price levels. If inflation is, say, down, it doesn’t mean prices are down, only that the rate prices are increasing is less rapid than it was before.

Since 2021, prices have spiked fairly dramatically, with a CPI reaching up to 9% at certain points in 2022 before settling back to 3.7% last month. Once again, that doesn’t mean prices are down, just that the rate of increase is down. The crazy expensive fourteen dollar sandwich is still a crazy expensive fourteen dollars, it’s just not going up to seventeen dollars. One of the bigger contributors to the CPI last month was housing, jumping by 7.3% over the past year. < (note: my emphasis, not Stoller's) But does the CPI really show how people experience price increases? After all, one of the most significant changes in what we pay is higher interest rates, which the Federal Reserve has hiked dramatically over the past few years. The Fed’s actions have increased credit card rates, mortgage rates, auto financing, and corporate and government borrowing costs. Surprisingly, none of this is directly included in our inflation metrics. “The CPI’s scope,” writes the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “excludes changes in interest rates or interest costs.” The price of money, which is an input into everything, isn’t included in how we see inflation today. That’s crazy.

Daily Shot Mortgage Screenshot 2023-09-16 155507.jpg

part 2

When I was in the archives learning about Congressman Wright Patman, the Chair of the House Banking Committee in the 1960s and 1970s, I found that back then, people included the cost of interest rates in how they understood inflation. The 1960 Democratic Party platform discussed inflation in precisely this manner, saying that high interest rates enacted a “costly toll from every American who has financed a home, an automobile, a refrigerator, or a television set,” and was “itself a factor in inflation.”

This logic made sense. When you borrow to buy a car or a house, the cost of that car or house is your monthly payment, not the sticker price. But in the 1980s, the government changed its method of measuring inflation, so today, the CPI works under different assumptions. So what does this change mean? Well, the two biggest purchases for an American family are a car and a house, and in both of these categories, the CPI excludes the key factor for normal people, which is how interest rates affect the monthly payment. The sticker price for a car is an important number, but it’s the monthly payment that matters.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the price of cars over the last ten years. (see image in part 1)

New car prices spiked from the beginning of 2021 to the end of 2022, but price levels are starting to come down, ever so gently. But is the monthly payment coming down?

No. According to Edmunds, in Q2 of 2022, the average monthly payment for a car was $678, in Q2 of 2023, it was $733. So it’s a slight price decline for the CPI due to new vehicle pricing, but an 8% inflation for what people actually pay. Why are monthly payments going up if sticker prices are going down? It’s simple – the price of money has gone up. The average interest rate for a new car jumped to 6.63% in the second quarter of this year. It was 4.60% in Q2 of 2022, and 4.17% in Q2 of 2021.

And housing? Here’s chart from the Daily Shot of the monthly mortgage payment for a median home price. (see image in part 1)

Redfin reports the typical mortgage payment is up 20% from a year ago. And while most homeowners have mortgages they got prior to 2021, and so aren’t paying the higher prices, the exceptionally high currently monthly payment means people can no longer move, and they have to watch their children struggle to find a place to live. Housing prices are social, since the home is so central to the American order, so even if you are financially unaffected, seeing a lot of people be unable to move, buy a home, or rent affordably gives everyone a sense of economic insecurity. That’s why striking auto workers mentioned the price of housing.

The calculation for housing in the CPI is a bit more complicated than that for new cars, but the key piece to understand is that in 1983, the Reagan administration chose to exclude interest costs, instead asking homeowners what they think they would be paying in rent if they didn’t own the home they lived in. The government simply “underestimates changes in housing costs,” according to an economist at Redfin, especially when interest rates are spiking. “And that’s because housing costs for the person who is actually active in the market experiences much greater fluctuation.”

The reason to change this measurement was so that inflation would look lower than it actually was. Over time, subsequent administrations sustained this shift. Lying about the symbols used to govern has a short-term political benefit in that it perhaps gets you some good media coverage, but over time, it meant that the CPI for housing costs isn’t necessarily reliable.

So basically, the price of money is a big deal in terms of our experience paying for things, and it’s being excluded from the inflation metric that policymakers use to look at the economy. So that’s why policymakers are confused. Some of their key tools aren’t reflecting reality, and the people who originally broke the tools for political purposes aren’t there anymore. Today’s political class doesn’t even know what they don’t know.

What Is Bidenomics?
Of course, housing and cars aren’t the only things people buy. Food is much more expensive than it was just a few years ago, as are everything from hotels to airfares to consumer packaged goods to seeds. I mean, Visa and Mastercard, who are barely affected by inflation, are jacking up their swipe fees to merchants. None of that is a secret, the CPI on food shows that inflation might be coming down, but prices are still high. So what is Joe Biden, and the Democrats in Congress, doing about that? Well, White House officials call their plan ‘Bidenomics.’

The best way to explain Bidenomics is to listen to a judge Biden recently appointed to the D.C. district court, Ana Reyes, who was hostile to the Antitrust Division when they brought a case against two smartlock makers. Last month, Reyes sat on an American Bar Association panel where she attacked the idea of stronger antitrust enforcement, focusing specifically on her skepticism around labor-related claims. She bragged to the audience of defense attorneys that during the antitrust case she heard, she ‘pranked’ government lawyers by spending three minutes pretending to dismiss their key witness, before saying ‘April Fools. “I have never in my life heard stunned silence,” she later said gleefully.

Having a corporate lawyer bully turned judge appointed by Biden killing an antitrust suit brought by Biden officials is a great example of Bidenomics, because it shows the lack of coherence of this administration’s policy. I’m a big fan of Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan, but another Biden judge – Jacqueline Corley – let through the largest big tech merger of all time, when Microsoft bought Activision, after Khan challenged the deal.

These judges matter in terms of inflation. Had Biden picked actual populists for the judiciary instead of Corley and Reyes, the White House’s ability to govern would look very different, and corporate America would be changing their pricing behavior due to fear of crackdowns. In early 2022, there was a flurry of interest in using antitrust to attack how corporations were informally colluding to raise prices. But an aggressive legal theory needs judges willing to take market power seriously, and Biden instead chose people who thwart his own administration. It’s not just judges. Factions in the administration – in this case the White House Council of Economic Advisors – explicitly opposed the corporate profit-inflation link. (note: emphasis is mine)

I think a lot about antitrust, but the incoherence is systemic across most policy areas (and Democrats in Congress). The pro-labor administration indicated support for the strikes in Hollywood against powerful studios, then a few months later the former White House Domestic Policy Council head – Susan Rice – rejoined the board of Netflix. For every attempt to make electric vehicles in America there’s Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen pushing hard to ensure these cars are made abroad.

Normally, policy disagreements would be decided by the President and his staff. But Joe Biden is a procrastinator, and doesn’t like making choices. He’s also very old. As for his staff, well, while Biden’s former chief of staff Ron Klain was aggressive in terms of policy goals, his new chief of staff, Jeff Zients, is a relentlessly cheerful former management consultant wholly focused on process. Other important figures, such as Tim Wu and Brian Deese, have also left. With Klain gone, there’s an insular clubbiness at the top, and an inability to provide a vision or pay attention to policy implementation. Even if you were to make the point that housing prices need attention, there’s just no one there who could or would do anything about it.

And that brings us back to the strikes. The Biden administration should have headed off the UAW labor action with discrete steps to help the workers, but the White House just doesn’t have any coherence. And so while Biden is saying pro-labor things and agreeing the CEOs are paid too much, there’s this.

There is also a sense among some Democrats and labor officials that Biden’s team miscalculated the standoff and hasn’t understood the severity of labor’s frustration or concerns. Even the news this week that the Biden administration was considering providing aid to auto suppliers rankled some in the union world, who thought it could undermine the strike and saw it as evidence that there are always funds available for companies, but not workers.


part 3

This isn’t to say there aren’t significant achievements. Biden’s industrial policy push is real, with increases in investment in semiconductor production, electric vehicles, and batteries, as well new factories in general. His competition policy approach is also real, with new merger guidelines, as well as crackdowns in pharmaceuticals, mergers, the prohibition of non-competes, and the Google suit.

There are routinely good decisions coming out of some of the regulators. The other day, for instance, the Department of Labor proposed a rule opening up 4 million more workers to overtime pay. Meanwhile, the Securities and Exchange Commission begins a crackdown on private equity.

Unlike the Obama administration, which was ideologically oriented to push wealth and power upward, the Biden administration has a few populists trying to do the opposite. But in an inflationary environment where the stats are juiced to mislead policymakers, that’s not good enough.

What Happened to Biden’s State of the Union?

In February, Biden gave a State of the Union speech focused on making things in the U.S., going after junk fees, and taking on corporate power. His polling temporarily spiked. Since then, there has been no messaging follow-up from the White House on anything he said in that speech, almost as if Zients and the rest of the White House were embarrassed that Biden put forward a populist set of arguments.

Instead, various officials are out there on TV saying ‘look at these charts!’ They want credit for inflation being down, economic growth being up, and unemployment being low. But without recognizing that the actual costs of housing and transportation are increasingly unaffordable and going up, that just looks weird. Moreover, there’s no actual policy regime, just a disjointed set of factions trying to get as much done as possible according to their preferred view. It’s mostly unclear how Biden is actually affecting people’s lives, and the only genuinely organized groups of workers, are showing that things aren’t ok.

The economy isn’t great, and there’s no point in trying to pretend it is. That said, Biden can save his administration. He has accomplishments, and his State of the Union messaging resonated. He can argue that his first term was about having America recover from Covid by re-shoring factories, restoring full employment, and fixing supply chain problems. He can brag about all the big companies suing him, like various pharmaceutical firms mad that the White House is imposing price caps. Then he can pledge that he’ll focus on bringing down housing costs in his second term. Will such a story work? I don’t know. Maybe the current pitch will work, in the 2022 midterms, Biden out-performed expectations. But it’s at least more relatable than ‘Eat some charts!’


United Auto Workers announced a renewed commitment to its strike Saturday, following news of Ford Motor Co. and General Motors possibly laying off thousands of employees.

The layoff announcements represent an attempt to intimidate striking workers, said UAW President Shawn Fain.

“Let’s be clear: if the Big Three decide to lay people off who aren’t on strike, that’s them trying to put the squeeze on our members to settle for less,” Fain said.

The UAW began its historic strike Thursday, as contract negotiations with Detroit’s three major automakers collapsed. About 13,000 UAW members at three plants in three states, including Michigan, are striking, seeking a contract that guarantees better pay and benefits for workers.

Ford and GM announced possible layoffs to thousands of employees at plants in Michigan and Kansas. Ford temporarily laid off around 600 workers Friday at the Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne and GM expects another 2,000 to be laid off at the Fairfax Assembly Plant in Kansas City.


Aint Supposed to Die A Natural Death
Aint Supposed to Die A Natural Death



Yep, the party of Family Values? I guess Values for thee but not for the GQP


As long as it is heterosexual, they are OK with it.

Re: Matt Gaetz, AG Ken Paxton, TRump


Apparently Boberts “date” was Dem. Not the usual way to reach across the asile ?