Denver Post: Wrong way on WARN
The following editorial appeared in Wednesday's Denver Post:
The law on layoffs by defense contractors seems pretty straightforward.
The federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act requires advance notice of impending layoffs.
While the letter of the law may be clear, the politics surrounding it have become unfortunately complicated by a heated presidential campaign.
The Obama administration must stop its meddling in an effort to restrain potentially unfavorable defense contractor layoff news just before the presidential election.
The catalyst for this episode is the so-called fiscal cliff the automatic federal budget cuts scheduled to begin Jan. 2.
It's important to note the automatic cuts were cemented into law by the inability of a bipartisan congressional committee to come to terms on a deficit reduction plan.
So, here it comes $500 billion in defense cuts and another $500 billion in reductions to domestic programs.
It's true that federal lawmakers are working to cut a deal to avert the cuts. But we've all seen how that has gone in the past. No one has been able to bridge the gap between those who want a solution that includes new revenue and reductions and those who want to balance the budget primarily or solely by cutting the size of government.
With this frustrating political dynamic as a backdrop, several major defense vendors said over the summer that they would issue the required layoff notices 60 days before the sequestration deadline which happens to be Nov. 2, just four days before the presidential election.
Here is the Obama administration meddling part: On Sept. 28, the White House Office of Management and Budget issued guidance, urging contractors not to send the notices and saying the government would cover the cost of defense layoffs if they happened as a result of sequestration.
In essence, the administration was attempting to keep an election-eve flood of worrisome notices from being dumped on states heavily dependent on defense contracting, such as Virginia. That's wrong.
Republicans, understandably, were outraged, but Democrats should be as well. And we all should be disgusted by lawmakers so paralyzed by ideology that they cannot compromise in the name of the nation's fiscal future.
We look with a jaundiced eye, for instance, at the statement by GOP House Speaker John Boehner, who said the situation resulted from a "White House in denial about the consequences of its own irresponsible actions." Please.
Boehner should be cracking down on the hard-right members of his caucus who refuse to entertain any notion of additional revenue as part of a long-term solution.
The combatants on both sides must put country above party for once in their political lives or accept the consequences of their failures.
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