Barack Obama on Jobs

Junior Senator (IL); President-Elect

FactCheck: Economic plan may create only 2.2M jobs, not 3.5M

Obama continued his recent habit of asserting projections as fact. Obama said, "This plan will save or create 3.5 million jobs. More than 90 percent of these jobs will be in the private sector, jobs rebuilding our roads and bridges, constructing wind turbines and solar panels, laying broadband and expanding mass transit."

But Obama's numbers are not certain. The estimate of 3.5 million jobs is backed up by projections from different economists, but others downgraded his job estimate to 2.2 million once the stimulus legislation was finalized. It's worth noting that even Nobel-winning economists disagree sharply about macroeconomic projections. That's because macroeconomics is still a relatively new discipline. There is limited data, and even less agreement about what the available data actually mean.

Source: FactCheck.org on 2009 State of the Union address Feb 24, 2009

Solution to financial crisis is more job creation

Q: You proposed $60 billion in tax cuts for middle- & lower-income people, more tax breaks to create jobs, new spending for public works projects to create jobs.

OBAMA: I think everybody understands at this point that we are experiencing the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. And the financial rescue plan that Sen. McCain and I supported is an important first step. And I pushed for some core principles: making sure that taxpayer can get their money back if they’re putting money up. Making sure that CEOs are not enriching themselves thru this process. But what we haven’t yet seen is a rescue package for the middle class. So I’ve proposed four specific things that I think can help. #1, let’s focus on jobs. #2, let’s help families right away by providing them a middle-class tax cut. #3, Sen. McCain and I agree that we’ve got to help homeowners. #4, We’ve got some long-term challenges: We’ve got to fix our energy policy; our health care system; and invest in our education system.

Source: 2008 third presidential debate against John McCain Oct 15, 2008

FactCheck: Yes, wants to limit secret balloting for unions

The Statement:In a speech at Virginia Beach, McCain took on Obama’s stance on unions: “Obama is planning to take away your right to vote by secret ballot in labor elections,” he said.

The Facts:McCain is referring to a plan supported by labor unions. Currently, workers must get at least 30% of their colleagues to sign an authorization form to ask for union representation--then hold a secret-ballot vote to finalize it. The change Obama supports, part of the Employee Free-Choice Act, would let a union be recognized by the National Labor Relations Board immediately after the majority signs the authorization. Supporters of the change say it would cut down on the ability of employers to pressure their workers to vote against a union.The Verdict:True. McCain accurately represents Obama’s stance, although theY disagree on the merits of the plan. Organized labor backs Obama’s position, while business groups & some non-union workers support McCain’s.

Source: CNN FactCheck on 2008 presidential race Oct 13, 2008

FactCheck: Yes, McCain voted for overseas tax deferral, but.

The Statement:Obama claimed: “McCain wants to keep giving tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas.”

The Facts:All US corporations are required to pay a 35% tax on income, but US companies are allowed to defer paying taxes on income earned abroad as long as that money is being used by the company overseas and remains “unrepatriated income.” That can amount to an indefinite deferral, and does offer an incentive for US companies to do business abroad.

Obama cites 3 Senate votes by McCain, from 1995 to 2005, against repealing overseas tax deferrals. The McCain campaign supplied CNN with material arguing that the loss of US jobs to overseas operations can’t be linked directly to the tax rules.

The Verdict:Misleading. While McCain is on record voting against changing the tax deferrals, he has not said he “wants to keep giving tax breaks,” as Obama stated. Obama’s statement also oversimplifies the complexities of taxes and US jobs moving overseas.

Source: CNN FactCheck on 2008 presidential race Oct 10, 2008

End incentives that move jobs overseas

McCAIN: Obama didn’t mention that along with his tax cuts he is also proposing some $800 billion in new spending on new programs. That’s the fundamental difference between myself and Obama. I want to cut spending. I want to keep taxes low. The worst thing we could do in this economic climate is to raise people’s taxes.

OBAMA: What I do is, I close corporate loopholes, stop providing tax cuts to corporations that are shipping jobs overseas, so that we’re giving tax breaks to companies that are investing here in the US. I make sure that we have a health care system that allows for everyone to have basic coverage. Those are pretty important priorities. I’d pay for every dime of them. When you look at your tax policies that are directed primarily at those who are doing well and you are neglecting people who are really struggling right now, I think, that is a continuation of the last eight years. We can’t afford another four.

Source: 2008 first presidential debate, Obama vs. McCain Sep 26, 2008

Small towns get bitter over long-term joblessness

On Sunday, April 6, 2008, at a private fund-raising event in San Francisco, Barack Obama was speaking to a small group of wealthy supporters. He was comfortable in the belief that his off-the-record comments were not being recorded.
Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p. 6-7 Aug 1, 2008

Supports Fair Pay Act: equal pay for equal work

Obama's proposals on combating employment discrimination include: working to overturn the Supreme Court's recent ruling that curtails racial minorities' and women's ability to challenge pay discrimination. Obama will also pass the Fair Pay Act to ensure that women receive equal pay for equal work. Obama will ban racial profiling by federal law enforcement agencies, and provide federal incentives to state and local police departments to prohibit the practice.
Source: Obamanomics, by John R. Talbott, p. 66 Jul 1, 2008

Expand paid sick days to seven per year

Obama has many initiatives to strengthen the family and provide a better learning environment for the young child to describe them all in detail here. A partial listing would include:
Source: Obamanomics, by John R. Talbott, p. 58-59 Jul 1, 2008

Employee Free Choice Act: right to organize harassment-free

Obama has real plans to strengthen American's ability to organize into unions. From his campaign policy statement:
Source: Obamanomics, by John R. Talbott, p.118-119 Jul 1, 2008

1980s: Opened first city job center in South Chicago

Obama's first major accomplishment came from the top down. He glanced at the back of a brochure from the Mayor's Office of Employment and Training (MET) and noticed the agency had no offices in the southernmost part of the city. He mobilized residents of the Altgeld Gardens housing project--squeezed between a landfill and a redolent sewage treatment plant at the city's southern edge; median 2000 household income $11,066; also 97% African-American--and pushed for a jobs center.

Source: Obama for Beginners, by Bob Neer, p. 20 Apr 1, 2008

Fight attacks on workers’ right to organize & strike

Source: Campaign booklet, “Blueprint for Change”, p. 10-15 Feb 2, 2008

Focus farm programs on family farms, not giant corporations

Source: Campaign booklet, “Blueprint for Change”, p. 31-34 Feb 2, 2008

Paying more at Wal-Mart is worth it for having US jobs

Q: Are any of you willing to state frankly that, if you do what you’re talking about, that Americans are going to pay more for consumer goods at Wal-Mart, and you believe it’s worth it?

A: I actually believe that China will modify its behavior if we actually are tough in our negotiations. Look, we are the biggest market for China. They can’t afford to just say, “See ya later.” They’re going to have to sell here. And if we tell them you have to meet certain safety standards, that you have to enforce certain labor and environmental agreements, they will meet them. Now, could there potentially be some higher costs in the front end? Probably. But I guarantee you I don’t meet a single worker in Iowa who’s been laid off who says, “I wouldn’t rather pay a little bit more for sneakers at Wal-Mart but still have a job.”

Source: 2007 Des Moines Register Democratic debate Dec 13, 2007

Give public safety officers collective bargaining rights

Giving Public Safety Officers Collective Bargaining Rights

Obama believes that firefighters deserve the right to bargain collectively. In too many communities, firefighters, police officers and other public safety officers are unable to bargain over wages and working conditions, and are denied access to outside mediation. Obama supports the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act.

Making it Easier for Firefighters to Get the Benefits They Deserve

More than 40 states have laws that make it easier for firefighters to prove their heart disease, lung disease, or cancer is related to the everyday hazards of their dangerous work. However, federally-hired firefighters have a very high burden of proof to document specific exposures to hazardous substances. Obama wants to reform federal workforce laws so that firefighters who got sick on the job can get the disability pay they deserve.

Source: Campaign website, BarackObama.com, “Resource Flyers” Aug 26, 2007

Chief co-sponsor of IL ENDA, against gay job discrimination

Q: A recent poll of young Americans show that 44% favor same-sex marriage compared to 28% of the older public. Now, you’re running as a candidate of change. But how can you run as a candidate of change when your stance on same-sex marriage is decidedly old school?

A: Oh, come on, now. There’s a reason why I was here first. It’s because I’ve got a track record of working on these issues. If people are interested at the federal level, they can look at who was the chief co-sponsor of Illinois’ version of ENDA [the Employment Non-Discrimination Acts, focusing on discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation], which we passed. If people are interested in my stance on these issues, I’ve got a track record of working with the LGBT community. What I have focused on and what I will continue to focus on is making sure that the rights that are provided by the federal government and the state governments and local governments are ones that are provided to everybody.

Source: 2007 HRC/LOGO debate on gay issues Aug 9, 2007

Chicago’s Soldier Field stadium construction created jobs

Q: You were in the Illinois legislature when Soldier Field was funded. You voted for it, although you seemed reluctant at the time. Was it the right call?

A: Absolutely, it was the right call because it put a whole bunch of Illinois folks to work, strong labor jobs were created in this stadium, and at the same time, we created an enormous opportunity for economic growth throughout the city of Chicago. And that’s good for the state of Illinois.

Source: 2007 AFL-CIO Democratic primary forum Aug 7, 2007

Pres. candidates can afford minimum wage; most folks can’t

Q: If you’re elected to serve as president, would you be willing to do this service for the next four years and be paid the national minimum wage of $7.25 per hour?



OBAMA: Well, we can afford to work for the minimum wage because most folks on this stage have a lot of money. I mean, we don’t have Mitt Romney money, but we could afford to do it for a few years. Most folks can’t. And that’s why we’ve got to fight and advocate for.

Source: 2007 YouTube Democratic Primary debate, Charleston SC Jul 23, 2007

Make the minimum wage a living wage

It’s time to turn the page for all those Americans who want nothing more than to have a job that can pay the bills and raise a family. Let’s finally make the minimum wage a living wage. Let’s tie it to the cost of living so we don’t have to wait another 10 years to see it rise. Let’s put the jobless back to work in transitional jobs that can give them a paycheck and a sense of pride. Let’s help our workers advance with job training and lifelong education. Let’s invest in infrastructure, broadband lines, and rural communities and in inner cities. Let’s give jobs to ex-offenders--because we believe in giving a second chance to people. And let’s finally allow our unions to do what they do best and lift up the middle class in this country once more.
Source: Take Back America 2007 Conference Jun 19, 2007

Burdens of globalization are placed on the backs of workers

This world is not standing still. And we’ve got to take the values that have made America great but we have to adapt them to new times. And we know what those challenges are. Because of globalization, because of automation what we’re seeing is increasingly a situation in which the benefits of this new economy accrued to just some and leave too many behind. Wages, salaries have flat lined and benefits are diminished. And the message that we’ve heard over the last six years is, You’re on your own.

The troubles, the difficulties, the burdens of globalization are going to be placed on the backs of workers. But there’s always been another vision that says we’re in it together and that the burdens and benefits of this new economy have to be spread evenly across the economy, and nowhere do we see that more than in the issue of health care.

Source: SEIU Democratic Health Care Forum in Las Vegas Mar 24, 2007

Owes unions who endorsed him; that’s why he’s in politics

The leaders of service workers unions broke ranks & chose to endorse me over [my opponent], support that proved critical to my campaign. It was a risky move on their part; had I lost, they might have paid a price in access, in support, in credibility.

So I owe those unions. When their leaders call, I do my best to call them back right away. I do not consider this corrupting in any way; I do not mind feeling obligated toward home health-care workers or toward teachers. I got into politics to fight for those folks, and I am glad a union is around to remind me of their struggles.

However, there have been strains. I have proposed experimenting with merit pay for teachers, for example, and have called for raising fuel-efficiency standards despite opposition from the United Auto Workers. I like to tell myself that I will continue to weigh the issues on the merits. I hope I can always go to my union friends and explain why my position is consistent with my values and their interests.

Source: The Audacity of Hope, by Barack Obama, p.118-119 Oct 1, 2006

Working full-time should mean enough to support a family

Americans believe that if we work full-time, we should be able to support ourselves and our kids. For many people, this basic promise is not being fulfilled.

Government policies can help, with little impact on market efficiency. We can raise the minimum wage. It may be true that any big jumps in the minimum wage discourage employers from hiring. But when the minimum wage has not been changed in nine years and has less purchasing power in real dollars than it did in 1955, so that someone working full-time today in a minimum wage job does not earn enough to raise out of poverty, such arguments carry less force. The Earned Income Tax Credit provides low-wage workers with supplemental income through the tax code should be expanded and streamlined so more families can take advantage of it.

Source: The Audacity of Hope, by Barack Obama, p.180-181 Oct 1, 2006

Overrode federal overtime rules and raised the minimum wage

Obama was the driving force behind Illinois’ Earned Income Tax Credit, which has provided more than $100 million in tax relief to working families. He was the chief sponsor of the law that exempts Illinois from the Bush Administration’s new federal overtime rules and protects overtime pay for thousands of Illinois workers. He voted to increase the minimum wage to $6.50 an hour. He sponsored a law that ensures workers have advance warning if their employer is about to conduct a mass lay-off.
Source: Campaign website, ObamaForIllinois.org, “On the Issues” Sep 28, 2004

Make sure that African-American men have access to jobs

It’s heartbreaking that 3 out of 4 black children born are born to unmarried mothers in Illinois. Some of it is just making sure that African-American men have access to jobs. There’s been the devastation as we lose manufacturing jobs that disproportionately hurts African-Americans, blue-collar workers who used to be able to support a family with an unskilled job. That’s no longer possible. So we got to have a base of economic security in order to build strong families.
Source: Meet The Press, NBC News Jul 25, 2004

Fund Trade Adjustment Assistance for service workers too

Obama will ensure funding is available for the Trade Adjustment Assistance program, and expand it so it covers service workers as well as manufacturing workers, in order to provide retraining, income support, health insurance tax credits, and other benefits to those who lose their jobs because of trade.
Source: Campaign website, ObamaForIllinois.com Jun 25, 2004

Increase IL minimum wage to $6.50 an hour

A PROVEN RECORD: As a State Senator, Barack Obama has spent his career fighting for Illinois’ working families.
Source: Press Release, “Creating Jobs in America” Jun 21, 2004

Tax cuts for the rich do not create jobs

Obama believes that there is no such thing as a “jobless recovery.” Obama will champion policies that get our economy moving and people working instead of short-sighted tax-cuts for the rich that have failed to spark a recovery.
Source: Campaign website, ObamaForIllinois.com, ?On The Issues? May 2, 2004

Obama will strengthen unions and workers’ rights

Obama will do everything in his power to fight the Bush Administration’s crusade against unions and, instead, build support to strengthen workers’ rights.
Source: Campaign website, ObamaForIllinois.com, ?On The Issues? May 2, 2004

Voted NO on terminating legal challenges to English-only job rules.

CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: To take $670,000 used by the EEOC in bringing actions against employers that require their employees to speak English, and instead use the money to teach English to adults through the Department of Education's English Literacy/Civics Education State Grant program.

SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Sen. ALEXANDER: Let me begin with this story. In March 2007, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued the Salvation Army for allegedly discriminating against two employees in a Boston area thrift store. What had the Salvation Army done to earn this lawsuit from the Federal Government? Well, it had required its employees to speak English on the job. The English rule was clearly posted, and the employees were given a year to learn it. But this lawsuit means that a small business in Missouri would have to hire a lawyer in order to make sure they have a clear business reason to require their employees to speak our common language on the job.

So I have an amendment to bring some common sense to this subject. It would be to take $670,000 used by the EEOC, which it is using to bring actions against employers who require their employees to speak English.OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO:Sen. KENNEDY: Let's look at what the law is and what the Alexander amendment provides. The law currently says that if there is a need to speak English on the job, fine; employers can require that. But employers cannot use English-only rules as an excuse when they want to fire minorities who are performing the job correctly. In this fact situation, those employees had performed the job correctly for 5 years.

In addition, this amendment reduces the EEOC's ability to fight all forms of discrimination because it cuts the entire budget. That means race, age, religion, and disability cases will be harmed. I hope the amendment will be defeated.LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Amendment passed, 54-44

Reference: Bill S.Amdt.4222 to S.Con.Res.70 ; vote number 08-S058 on Mar 13, 2008

Voted YES on restricting employer interference in union organizing.

    To enable employees to form & join labor organizations, and to provide for mandatory injunctions for unfair labor practices during organizing efforts. Requires investigation that an employer:
    1. discharged or discriminated against an employee to discourage membership in a labor organization;
    2. threatened to discharge employees in the exercise of guaranteed collective bargaining rights; and
    3. adds to remedies for such violations: back pay plus liquidated damages; and additional civil penalties.

    Proponents support voting YES because:

    The principle at stake here is the freedom that all workers should have to organize for better working conditions & fair wages. There are many employers around the country who honor this freedom. Unfortunately, there are also many employers who do not. These employers attempt to prevent workers from unionizing by using tactics that amount to harassment, if not outright firing. In fact, one in five people who try to organize unions are fired. These tactics are already illegal, but the penalties are so minor, they are not effective deterrents.

    Opponents support voting NO because:

    Democracy itself is placed at risk by this bill. The sanctity of the secret ballot is the backbone of our democratic process. Not one voter signed a card to send us here to Congress. None of us sent our campaign workers out to voters' houses armed with candidate information & a stack of authorization cards. No. We trusted democracy. We trusted the voters to cast their ballots like adults, freely, openly, without intimidation, and we live with the results. But here we are, poised to advance legislation to kill a secret ballot process.

    Let's be clear. Every American has the right to organize. No one is debating that. This is a right we believe in so strongly we have codified it and made it possible for workers to do so through a secret ballot.
    Status: Cloture rejected Cloture vote rejected, 51-48 (3/5ths required)

    Reference: Employee Free Choice Act; Bill H R 800 ; vote number 2007-227 on Jun 26, 2007

    Voted YES on increasing minimum wage to $7.25.

    Increase the federal minimum wage to:
    1. $5.85 an hour, beginning on the 60th day after enactment;
    2. $6.55 an hour, beginning 12 months after that 60th day; and
    3. $7.25 an hour, beginning 24 months after that 60th day.

    Proponents support voting YES because:

    We have waited for over 10 years to have a clean vote on the minimum wage for the poorest workers in this country Low-wage workers had their wages frozen in time, from 10 years ago, but when they go to the supermarket, the food prices are higher; when they put gasoline in the car, the gasoline prices are higher; when they pay the utility bills, the utility bills are higher; when their kids get sick, the medical bills are higher. All of those things are higher. They are living in 2007, but in their wages they are living in 1997.

    Opponents support voting NO because:

    This bill is marked more by what is not in the bill than what is in it. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. They create two-thirds of our Nation's new jobs, and they represent 98% of the new businesses in the US. What protection does this bill provide them? None whatsoever.

    We can do better. In the interest of sending the President a final measure that provides consideration for small businesses and their workers, the very men and women who are responsible for our economy's recent growth and strength, we must do better.

    Reference: Fair Minimum Wage Act; Bill H.R.2 ; vote number 2007-042 on Feb 1, 2007

    Voted YES on raising the minimum wage to $7.25 rather than $6.25.

    Vote to increase the minimum wage from $5.15 per hour to $7.25 per hour, over a two-year time period, in three incremental stages. Without the amendment, the minimum wage would increase to $6.25 per hour.
    Reference: Amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938; Bill S AMDT 44 to S 256 ; vote number 2005-26 on Mar 7, 2005

    Sponsored bill allowing an Air Traffic Controller's Union.

    Obama sponsored allowing an Air Traffic Controller's Union

    OFFICIAL CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: Federal Aviation Administration Fair Labor Management Dispute Resolution Act of 2006: Prohibits the FAA from implementing any proposed change to the FAA personnel management system in cases where the services of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service do not lead to an agreement between the Administrator and FAA employees, unless Congress authorizes the change during the 60-day period. Requires binding arbitration if Congress does not enact a bill into law within the 60-day period.

    SPONSOR'S INTRODUCTORY REMARKS: Sen. OBAMA: Because what air traffic controllers do is vital to our safety, I became very concerned by a letter I received from Illinois air traffic controller Michael Hannigan. He wrote that "the air traffic controllers are not being allowed to negotiate in good faith with the FAA."

    What was clear in Michael's plea was the sense that he and his colleagues felt that they were being treated unfairly. I looked into it and came to the conclusion that if we did not restore a fair negotiation procedure, it would threaten agency morale and effectiveness.

    The problem is this: the FAA Administrator currently has the extraordinary authority to impose wages and working conditions on her workers without arbitration. In order to do that, she merely has to declare an impasse in negotiations and if Congress does not stop her from imposing her terms and conditions within 60 days, the Administrator can go ahead and act unilaterally. That authority denies air traffic controllers and all other FAA employees the opportunity to engage in and conclude negotiations in good faith.

    It is in the best interest of the agency and public safety to have management and labor cooperate in contract negotiations.


    LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Referred to Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation; never came to a vote.

    Source: FAA Dispute Resolution Act (S.2201/H.R.4755) 06-S2201 on Jan 26, 2006

    Match minimum wage increases to Congressional pay raises.

    Obama co-sponsored matching minimum wage increases to Congressional pay raises

    OFFICIAL CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: A bill to provide for an increase in the Federal Minimum wage and to ensure that increases in the Federal minimum wage keep pace with any pay adjustments for Members of Congress.

    SPONSOR'S INTRODUCTORY REMARKS: Sen. CLINTON: This legislation will raise the minimum wage over the next two years and link future increases in the minimum wage to Congressional raises. Today, working parents earning the minimum wage are struggling to make ends meet and to build better lives for their children. The Federal minimum wage is currently $5.15 an hour, an amount that has not been increased since 1997. Sadly, during that time, Congress has given itself eight annual pay raises. We can no longer stand by and regularly give ourselves a pay increase while denying a minimum wage increase to help the more than 7 million men and women working hard across this nation. If Members of Congress need an annual cost of living adjustment, then certainly the lowest-paid members of our society do too.

    My legislation would increase the minimum wage first to $5.85 an hour, then to $6.55 an hour, and ultimately to $7.25 an hour within the next two years. In addition, my legislation then ensures that every time Congress gives itself a raise in the future that Americans get a raise too. This is the right and fair thing to do for hardworking Americans.

    LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Referred to Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions; never came to a vote.

    Source: Standing with Minimum Wage Earners Act (S.2725) 06-S2725 on May 4, 2006

    Extend unemployment compensation during recession.

    Obama co-sponsored extending unemployment compensation during recession

    A bill to provide for a program of temporary extended unemployment compensation. Provides for federal-state agreements under which a state will make temporary extended unemployment compensation payments to individuals who:

    1. have exhausted all rights to regular compensation under state or federal law with respect to a benefit year (excluding any benefit year that ended before one year before the enactment of this Act);
    2. have no rights to regular compensation or extended compensation with respect to a week under such law or any other state or federal unemployment compensation law;
    3. are not receiving compensation for such week under the unemployment compensation law of Canada; and
    4. filed an initial claim for regular compensation on or after one year before the enactment of this Act.
    Source: Emergency Unemployment Extension Act (S.2544&H.R.4934) 2008-S2544 on Jan 22, 2008

    Other candidates on Jobs: Barack Obama on other issues:
    GOP: Sen.John McCain
    GOP V.P.: Gov.Sarah Palin
    Democrat: Sen.Barack Obama
    Dem.V.P.: Sen.Joe Biden

    Third Parties:
    Constitution: Chuck Baldwin
    Libertarian: Rep.Bob Barr
    Constitution: Amb.Alan Keyes
    Liberation: Gloria La Riva
    Green: Rep.Cynthia McKinney
    Socialist: Brian Moore
    Independent: Ralph Nader
    Civil Rights
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    Health Care
    Homeland Security
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    Tax Reform

    Page last updated: Feb 26, 2009