Wave of lay­offs elude spin con­trol

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - Michelle Malkin

In June, a dif­fi­dent and self-de­luded Pres­i­dent Obama claimed that “the pri­vate sec­tor is do­ing fine.” The pri­vate sec­tor re­sponded: Speak for your­self, buster. Who needs an “Oc­to­ber Sur­prise” when the busi­ness head­lines are broad­cast­ing the im­mi­nent lay­off bomb in neon lights?

The Bureau of La­bor Sta­tis­tics re­ported that em­ploy­ers is­sued 1,316 “mass lay­off ac­tions” (af­fect­ing 50 work­ers or more) in Septem­ber; more than 122,000 work­ers were af­fected over­all. USA To­day fi­nan­cial re­porter Matt Krantz wrote that “(m)uch of the re­cent lay­off ac­tiv­ity is con­nected to what’s been the slow­est pe­riod of earn­ings growth since the third quar­ter of 2009.” Some nec­es­sary re­struc­tur­ing is un­der­way in re­sponse to the stag­nant Euro­pean econ­omy. But more and more U.S. busi­nesses are putting the blame — bravely and squarely — right where it be­longs: on the ob­struc­tion­ist poli­cies and reg­u­la­tory schemes of the blame-shifter-in-chief.

Two weeks ago, Ohio-based auto parts man­u­fac­turer Dana Hold­ing Corp. warned em­ploy­ees of po­ten­tial lay­offs amid “loom­ing con­cern” about the econ­omy. Pres­i­dent and CEO Roger Wood specif­i­cally men­tioned the wal­lop­ing burden of “in­creas­ing taxes on small busi­nesses” and the need to “off­set in­creased costs that are placed on us through new laws and reg­u­la­tions.”

Case in point: Oba­macare. The man­date will cost Dana Hold­ing Corp., which em­ploys some 24,500 work­ers, “ap­prox­i­mately $24 mil­lion over the next six years in ad­di­tional U.S. health care ex­penses.” As Ohio Watch­dog blog­ger Mag­gie Thurber re­ported, the firm’s Toledo area cor­po­rate of­fices laid off seven white-col­lar em­ploy­ees; com­pany in­sid­ers told her more were on the way.

On Oct. 30, Con­sol En­ergy is­sued a fed­er­ally man­dated lay­off dis­clo­sure an­nounc­ing its “in­tent to idle its Miller Creek sur­face op­er­a­tions near Nau­gatuck, W.Va.” The move will af­fect the com­pany’s Wi­ley Sur­face Mine, Wi­ley Creek Sur­face Mine, Min­way Sur­face Mine, Min­way Prepa­ra­tion Plant and Miller Creek Ad­min­is­tra­tion Group, all in Mingo County, W.Va. De­spite state ap­proval, co­op­er­a­tion with the U.S. Army Corps of En­gi­neers and myr­iad other agen­cies, and a stel­lar safety record, Obama’s EPA dragged its feet on the per­mit ap­proval process. The im­passe has forced lay­offs of 145 Con­sol En­ergy em­ploy­ees that will hit at the end of the year.

In Au­gust, Robert E. Mur­ray, founder and CEO of Mur­ray En­ergy Cor­po­ra­tion in Ohio, blasted the White House an­ti­coal agenda for the lay­offs and clo­sure of his com­pany’s mine. He told Obama wa­ter-car­ry­ing CNN an­chor Soledad O’Brien that “the many reg­u­la­tions that (Obama) and his rad­i­cal ap­pointees and the U.S. EPA have put on the use of coal, there are dozens of them and col­lec­tively by his own en­ergy ad­min­is­tra­tion, have closed 175 power plants.” As O’Brien barked at her guest about pur­ported en­vi­ron­men­tal ob­jec­tions, Mur­ray ex­plained that “we can­not get per­mits for these mines. They are de­lay­ing the is­suance of per­mits. If you can’t get the per­mit, you can’t have the mine. ... I cre­ated those jobs, and I put the in­vest­ment in that mine. And when it came time to lay the peo­ple off, I went up per­son­ally and talked to ev­ery one of them my­self to lay them off. It’s a hu­man is­sue.”

And it’s an in­no­va­tion is­sue, too. As I re­ported in Fe­bru­ary, Oba­macare’s im­pend­ing 2.3 per­cent med­i­cal de­vice ex­cise tax has al­ready wrought havoc on the in­dus­try: Stryker, a maker of ar­ti­fi­cial hips and knees based in Kala­ma­zoo, Mich., is slash­ing 5 per­cent of its global work­force (an es­ti­mated 1,000 work­ers) to re­duce costs re­lated to Oba­macare’s taxes and man­dates.

This July, In­di­ana’s Cook Med­i­cal Inc. shelved plans to open five new plants be­cause of the im­mi­nent med­i­cal de­vice tax hit. They are not alone.

The heads of Koch In­dus­tries, West­gate Re­sorts and ASG Soft­ware So­lu­tions have all sep­a­rately in­formed their em­ploy­ees of pros­per­i­tyun­der­min­ing Obama eco­nomic pol­i­tics. Left-wing groups have lam­basted the ex­ec­u­tives for ex­er­cis­ing their po­lit­i­cal free speech.

But they have re­mained silent while the White House cor­rup­to­crats bribed fed­eral de­fense con­trac­tors into de­lay­ing fed­er­ally man­dated lay­off dis­clo­sures be­fore the elec­tion. In a memo now be­ing in­ves­ti­gated on Capi­tol Hill, Obama promised to cover the le­gal fees of Lock­heed Martin and other de­fense con­trac­tors if they ig­nored le­gal re­quire­ments to in­form work­ers in ad­vance about so-called se­ques­tra­tion cuts to the mil­i­tary’s bud­get sched­uled to kick in next year.

Truth sup­pres­sion is a time-hon­ored Obama tac­tic, of course. Re­mem­ber: The ad­min­is­tra­tion and its Demo­cratic al­lies on Capi­tol Hill at­tempted to pun­ish Deere, Cater­pil­lar, Ver­i­zon and ATT in 2010 for dis­clos­ing how the costs of Oba­macare taxes were hit­ting their bot­tom lines — even though they were sim­ply fol­low­ing SEC dis­clo­sure re­quire­ments. The White House also tried to si­lence in­sur­ers who dared to in­form their cus­tomers about how Oba­macare was driv­ing up pre­mi­ums. Not this time. The ad­min­is­tra­tion’s bully boys don’t have enough white­wash and duct tape to cover up the past, present and fu­ture dev­as­ta­tion of the pres­i­dent and his eco­nomic de­mo­li­tion team. Michelle Malkin is the au­thor of “Cul­ture of Cor­rup­tion: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks and Cronies” (Reg­n­ery 2010).

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