Obama: off to a good start

Only a week in office and already he’s reversing the Old Guard’s policies

Congress clears wage bill for first Obama signature
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Democratic-led U.S. Congress on Tuesday gave final approval to what may be the first bill signed into law by President Barack Obama — a measure to reverse a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision that made it tougher to sue for wage discrimination. (Editorial insert: HAH! TAKE THAT YOU JERKWATER REPUBLICAN POWER MONGERS!)

On a vote of 250-177, the House of Representatives passed the measure, which sailed through the Senate last week, 61-36.

The bill now goes to Obama, who took office one week ago after actively supporting the legislation last year while campaigning for the White House with the strong support of labor unions and women, who are paid 23 percent less than male workers in the United States.

A top priority of organized labor, the bill would lift tight time restraints to file claims that could expire before workers realize they were treated unfairly.

The measure would “correct a disastrous Supreme Court ruling that allows bad employers to discriminate against their employees as long as they hide it for 180 days,” said Illinois Democratic Representative Phil Hare in a debate on the House floor.

Republicans have agreed with many in the business community that the measure could trigger an explosion of lawsuits based on old claims, discourage employers from hiring women and undermine efforts to stem the recession. (Editorial insert again: dont want lawsuits? DONT ENGAGE IN DISCRIMINATORY PRACTICES!! )

“The bill invites more and costlier lawsuits,” said California Republican Representative Howard McKeon. (<– needs a shit present)

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act is named for an Alabama woman who lost her wage discrimination lawsuit in the Supreme Court in 2007. After 19 years on the job, Ledbetter sued her employer when she discovered that she was the lowest-paid supervisor at the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co plant, despite having more experience than several male co-workers.

A jury found she was the victim of discrimination.


But the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling, reversed what critics described as decades of legal precedent by declaring discrimination claims must be filed within 180 days of the first offense.

The court rejected the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission‘s contention that each new discriminatory paycheck triggers a new 180-day statute of limitations.

The new bill would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act by putting the old EEOC standard into law, and covering pay discrimination based on gender, race, national origin, religion, age and disabilities.

Having increased their control of Congress and taken the White House in the November elections, Democrats now expect to pass many bills previously stalled by Republicans, including ones to jolt the economy with massive new spending; ease global warming; lower drug prices for the elderly, and provide residents of Washington, D.C., a voting representative in the House.

Also on the list is a bill that would make it easier for unions to organize workers. But it is unclear whether Democrats will be able to muster the 60 votes to overcome a promised Republican procedural hurdle in the 100-member Senate.

And last week he did this:

Obama reverses “gag rule” on global family planning organizations

President Barack Obama today made the most contentious move of his young administration with an order, overturning a ban on federal funds to foreign family planning organisations that either offer abortions or provide information or counselling about abortion.

The rule change continues the dismantling of George Bush’s conservative policies. It is likely to encounter fierce criticism from the still robust anti-abortion movement.

It will allow US aid, usually through the US agency for international development, to flow to HIV/Aids clinics, birth-control providers and other organisations that advocate or provide counselling about abortion across the world. It is known as the “global gag rule” because it denies US taxpayer dollars to clinics that even mention abortion to women with unplanned pregnancies.

The rule was signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1984, overturned by Bill Clinton in 1993, and reinstated by Bush. Critics of the rule say it deprives the world’s poor women of desperately needed medical care, while proponents say US tax dollars should not promote abortion.

Family planning groups in America and the UK cheered the rule change. Dr Gill Greer, director general of London-based International Planned Parenthood Federation, estimated the gag rule had cost the group more than $100m for family planning and sexual and reproductive health programmes during the eight years of the Bush administration, which she said amounted to 36 million unplanned pregnancies and 15 million induced abortions.

“The gag rule has done immense harm and caused untold suffering to millions around the world,” she said in a statement. “It has undermined health systems and endangered the lives and health of the poorest and most vulnerable women on the planet by denying access to life saving family planning, sexual and reproductive health and HIV services and exposing them to the dangers of unsafe abortion.”

While Obama has spent the first two days of his presidency overturning Bush policies, for example restricting US interrogation practices of terror suspects and an order pledging to close the US prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, those were backed by a broad political consensus. Abortion, however, remains a bitterly contentious issue, as evidenced by the thousands of people who marched in Washington yesterday opposing abortion rights.

Yesterday was the 36th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision Roe v Wade, which guaranteed a woman’s right to choose abortion.

While both Clinton and Bush used the Roe v Wade anniversary to change US policy on abortion, Obama declined yesterday. He instead issued a statement reaffirming his commitment “to protecting a woman’s right to choose”.

“On the 36th anniversary of Roe v Wade, we are reminded that this decision not only protects women’s health and reproductive freedom, but stands for a broader principle: that government should not intrude on our most private family matters,” he said.

The rule comes as no surprise. During the president campaign Hillary Clinton, who as secretary of state will oversee foreign aid, pledged to end the rule.

The rule change “would be huge,” California Representative Diana DeGette of Colorado told National Public Radio. “By the US restricting women’s rights to reproductive planning internationally, it really destroys their lives. Because they can’t control the size of their family, that affects their use of resources and food and child nutrition and so many other things. The way to increase the stability in Third World countries, frankly, is for sensible family planning.”

Well, well! this is heartening, I must say 🙂 If he keeps this up, we may just get back on the right (I mean LEFT) track as a Nation!


~ by irishgrl on January 29, 2009.

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