Monthly Archives: July 2014

The Breaking Point?

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borderpatrolTwo weeks ago we wrote about the invasion on our southern border and the sad fact that Obama administration connivance can’t be ruled out—indeed, the chaos positively reeks of the Alinsky tactics the current occupant of the White House imbibed in his youth.

To borrow a formulation from the late William F. Buckley, Jr., we aren’t saying Barack Obama is engineering the destruction of U.S. border security, we’re merely asking how he might behave differently if he were.

One thing he’d likely do in the very same way is use the invasion as an excuse to adopt his default position of acting without lawful authority and defying the grown-ups to stop him. This defiance surfaced Monday with a vengeance. Pay no attention to the words about moving personnel to the border; what counts is the “as much as I can on my own” rhetoric.

And on the matter of grown-ups intervening, House Speaker John Boehner did a good job of defining the problem on Monday, reminding Obama that those whose help he needs to act in a lawful manner simply find him unworthy of trust.

Boehner, of course, has been less than massively popular among Conservatives, but it makes no sense to sell him short when he’s getting it right. Boehner may have been too patient for too long, but people who are slow to anger are often fearsomely tenacious once pushed too far. Moreover, he’s been pushing back against Obama for some time, and doing so much earlier would likely have revealed the political liabilities of getting too far out ahead of the country.

To refresh memories of those political costs, recall the Clinton impeachment. For that matter, you could ask Obama about the costs, if only you could trust him to give an honest answer.

Act II for Act 10

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Supreme_Court_US_2014Wisconsin’s Act 10 reforms could eventually come before the U.S. Supreme Court, and this week brought bad news for unions that might want to go there.

On Monday, the court affirmed basic Act 10 principles in deciding Harris v. Quinn, spelling out that employees can’t be dragooned into paying union dues if they refuse union membership.

The “Quinn” in this case is Patrick, Governor of Illinois. At the heart of the issue is an executive order he signed for the benefit of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

Illinois law gives Medicaid recipients who would otherwise be institutionalized the option of hiring a “personal assistant” for home care.  The Medicaid client controls decisions about hiring, firing, training and supervision.  The state handles the Medicaid dollars that compensate the assistants and little else.

Angling to skim dues off the Medicaid salaries, the SEIU got Quinn to proclaim the assistants state employees, dragging them into the union.  But many assistants are family members of the Medicaid clients and resisted involuntary unionization through a job they do in their own homes. Several sued, lost on appeal and were vindicated Monday.

Defenders of “agency fees,” dues paid by workers who decline union membership, have sued in Wisconsin on First Amendment grounds, claiming (bizarrely,) that Act 10 violates their freedom of association. Ironically, the Supreme Court decided Harris v. Quinn on First Amendment grounds, rejecting mandatory payment of agency fees.

Wisconsin’s experience shows the results can be significant.

Writing for the 5-4 majority, Justice Samuel Alito said to accept the union’s position would be “an unprecedented violation of the bedrock principle that, except perhaps in the rarest of circumstances, no person in this country may be compelled to subsidize speech by a third party that he or she does not wish to support. “