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HonestChieffan
04-09-2011, 08:36 AM
As the debate moves to the new Budget, you can bet things like this will be front and center. There is zero benefit to the taxpayer for waste like this. And hopefully we will see one example after another in raw detail that gets the light of day on how the administration ignores the waste and get new laws in place to stop this and all future administrations from such things.

VERNUCCIO: Obama administration covers up union welfare program
By F. Vincent Vernuccio -The Washington Times7:28 p.m., Friday, April 8, 2011




The Obama administration is more than a year late in releasing an important report on federal government union costs. Clauses within collective bargaining agreements require that the government pay some federal workers for union activities - using tax dollars. This practice, known as “official time,” is documented annually in the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM)Official Time Usage in the Federal Government Report. Unfortunately, the Obama administration has not released any official time statistics since taking office; 2008 is the latest information available.

According to OPM, “Official time, broadly defined, is paid time off from assigned Government duties to represent a union or its bargaining unit employees.” In other words, government agencies allow some federal employees to do union work while still being paid. This is a boon for government employee unions because they do not need to pay these workers to represent their members and can still collect dues.

In 2008, federal employees logged 2,893,922 hours for union work while still receiving a paycheck from Uncle Sam. This cost taxpayers nearly $121 million for work only benefiting government unions.

Title 5 of the U.S. Code authorizes official time, but that may soon change. In January, Rep. Phil Gingrey, Georgia Republican, introduced the Federal Employee Accountability Act of 2011(H.R. 122). Mr. Gingrey calls official time “an abuse of taxpayer dollars.” He notes that past reporting was voluntary and the number of hours spent on paid union activity could be much higher. The congressman says that doing away with official time could save taxpayers as much as $600 million over five years and $1.2 billion over 10.

In 2002, then-OPM Director Kay Coles James issued a memorandum requiring federal departments and agencies to report the number of hours used for official time at the end of each fiscal year, September 30. For the last several years, OPM published the report in March - until 2009, when it suddenly stopped.

The 2010 report would have covered the 2009 fiscal year, the period from October 2008 through September 2009. The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) has repeatedly requested the report since December 2010 - nine months after OPM customarily released it and 14 months after the close of the fiscal year.

OPM either did not respond to requests or gave ever-changing deadlines. Each month, OPM assured CEI that the report would be finished the next month. When the deadlines passed, OPM then said the report would be finished another month in the future. At no time did the agency say it was not working on the report, but did maintain the report was not completed and therefore not subject to a Freedom of Information Act request. The fact that the report is now more than a year late shows either willful nonperformance on the part of OPM or simple incompetence.

OPM is not just ducking public inquiries, it is also not responding to request from Congress. Mr. Gingery’s office could not even obtain an updated report. Mr. Gingrey said of OPM’s noncompliance, “by continuously delaying the publication of information regarding union activity on official time, OPM is exhibiting a lack of transparency that will only fuel the uncertainty and distrust of Americans who demand to know where their tax dollars are being spent.”

This lack of transparency highlights a larger issue affecting the Obama administration. President Obama pledged to make his administration the most open and transparent in history.” However, as the Associated Press (AP) recently reported, the president is falling far short on this promise. AP notes that Freedom of Information Act requests increased by 41,000 in 2010 to 544,360. Despite the increase, the administration responded to 12,400 fewer requests than 2009. The news service also described how the administration refused to release information over a third of the time and declined to respond quickly to subjects “described as urgent to especially newsworthy.” Almost half the agencies examined took longer to give out records than in 2009, sometimes weeks longer.

This is a disturbing pattern, especially with respect to labor issues. Last month, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce held a hearing on “The Future of Union Transparency and Accountability.” Rep. Phil Roe, Tennessee Republican, stated that transparency “is now under assault by a culture of union favoritism that dominates the workforce policies of the current administration.”

Indeed, union favoritism has characterized the Obama administration since Day One - from Labor Secretary Hilda Solis’s blatantly pro-union public statements to the recess appointment of former union lawyer Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board. Now add official time to that list.

American taxpayers should not have to pay for union activities. At the very least, they have a right to know how much is being spent. OPM should release the official time reports for 2009 and 2010. If it still fails to do so, Congress should look into the matter.

F. Vincent Vernuccio is labor policy counsel at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. CEI research associate William Kovacs contributed to this article.

© Copyright 2011 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

LiveSteam
04-09-2011, 11:06 AM
Two mainstream news organizations are receiving hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars from Obamacare’s Early Retiree Reinsurance Program (ERRP) — a $5 billion grant program that’s doling out cash to companies, states and labor unions in what the Obama administration considers an effort to pay for health insurance for early retirees. The Washington Post Company raked in $573,217 in taxpayer subsidies and CBS Corporation secured $722,388 worth of Americans’ money.

“It is fine with me if they continue covering the ObamaCare debate,” said Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Republican of Tennessee, in an e-mail to The Daily Caller. “When NBC used to cover energy issues, they identified themselves as a subsidiary of General Electric. CBS and Washington Post just have to disclose that they are subsidiaries of the Obama Administration.”

The ERRP, which Republicans call a slush fund, provides taxpayer money to Obama administration-selected states, companies and labor unions with already-in-place early retiree health insurance programs, and aims to make certain that their employees who retire early still have health insurance coverage before they reach Medicare eligibility age. Almost $2 billion of the $5 billion fund, which was supposed to last until 2014, has already been distributed to corporations. New projections expect the funding to run out before the end of 2012, if not sooner.

At a Friday morning hearing, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, chaired by Rep. Cliff Stearns, Florida Republican, asked Center for Consumer Information & Insurance Oversight (CCIO) official Steven Larsen for how the administration decides who gets a slice of the $5 billion pie – and how the application process works. In his response, Stearns referred to the fact that corporations like General Electric, Verizon and AT&T in addition to several labor unions were getting taxpayer funding.

Stearns was not impressed. “This program is providing ‘free’ money to corporations, states, unions, and pension plans,” the Congressman said in an e-mail to TheDC. “In addition, the Washington Post and CBS received funding under this program. How can the Washington Post and CBS be impartial on the issue of health care when they received funding under the health care law?”

CBS Corporation spokesman Gil Schwartz told TheDC that newsroom employees, like any other CBS employees, are indeed allowed to take the taxpayer subsidies.

“Yes they are,” Schwartz said. “Why wouldn’t newsroom employees be allowed access to that money like all other CBS employees?”

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2011/04/06/washington-post-and-cbs-receiving-money-from-obamacare-slush-fund/#ixzz1J2wuPZfX

mikey23545
04-10-2011, 04:56 AM
"Stearns was not impressed. “This program is providing ‘free’ money to corporations, states, unions, and pension plans,” the Congressman said in an e-mail to TheDC. “In addition, the Washington Post and CBS received funding under this program. How can the Washington Post and CBS be impartial on the issue of health care when they received funding under the health care law?”

CBS Corporation spokesman Gil Schwartz told TheDC that newsroom employees, like any other CBS employees, are indeed allowed to take the taxpayer subsidies.

“Yes they are,” Schwartz said. “Why wouldn’t newsroom employees be allowed access to that money like all other CBS employees?”



Hopefully some liberal will be along at any moment to once again remind us how silly it is to think the MSM is biased towards the left...

LiveSteam
04-10-2011, 05:17 AM
Money is just paper & ink.:banghead:

chiefsnorth
04-10-2011, 10:47 AM
They kind of are a welfare program anyway.