Pre-election day Obama to gov’t workers: I’ll work hard to keep your jobs secure
If anyone needed anymore proof of how loyal Obama is not only to unions, but to the belief that government handles things better than the private sector, you’ve got it:
In wooing federal employee votes on the eve of the election, Barack Obama wrote a series of letters to workers that offer detailed descriptions of how he intends to add muscle to specific government programs, give new power to bureaucrats and roll back some Bush administration policies.
The letters, sent to employees at seven agencies, describe Obama’s intention to scale back on contracts to private firms doing government work, to remove censorship from scientific research, and to champion tougher industry regulation to protect workers and the environment. He made it clear that the Department of Housing and Urban Development would have an enhanced role in restoring public confidence in the housing market, shaken because of the ongoing mortgage crisis.
Using more specifics than he did on the campaign trail, Obama said he would add staff to erase the backlog of Social Security disability claims. He said he would help Transportation Security Administration officers obtain the same bargaining rights and workplace protections as other federal workers. He even expressed a desire to protect the Environmental Protection Agency’s library system, which the Bush administration tried to eliminate.
“I asked him to put it in writing, something I could use with my members, and he didn’t flinch,” said John Gage, president of the 600,000-member American Federation of Government Employees, who requested that Obama write the letters, which were distributed through the union. “The fact that he’s willing to put his name to it is a good sign.”
The letters, all but one written Oct. 20, reveal a candidate adeptly tailoring his message to a federal audience and tapping into many workers’ dismay at funding cuts and workforce downsizing in the Bush years. Many of Obama’s promises would require additional funding, something he acknowledged would be difficult to achieve under the current economic conditions.
Obama also took aim at the Bush administration’s focus on privatization, with contractors hired to perform government jobs — often at princely sums. He complained that a $1.2 billion contract to provide TSA with human resources support unfairly blocked federal employees from competing to do that work.
“We plan specifically to look at work that is being contracted out to ensure that it is fiscally responsible and effective,” he told HUD workers. “It is dishonest to claim real savings by reducing the number of HUD employees overseeing a program but increase the real cost of the program by transferring oversight to contracts. I pledge to reverse this poor management practice.”
I have to wonder if there is a precedent for this with past Democrat presidential candidates taking great pains to woo federal employees with letters promising what they’d do for them if president? If has been done before, I think it’s safe to say that it’s probably never been done to the degree that Obama took it to.
Essentially, what he told them was that their jobs would be safe – and “better” – under his administration, and he emphasized how he felt the government should be “competing” more for contracts normally awarded to the private sector, which to me is a flashing red light because wherever the government can award the private sector a contract it should – because not only will the private sector do a better job in most cases, but also because the government tends to hold the private sector far more accountable than it does its own workers when something goes wrong. In fact, as we’ve seen through many administrations – including the Bush administration – the government oftentimes tends to reward wayward government agencies rather than reform/revamp them. I believe Barack Obama’s pro-government beliefs would take that attitude to heights previously unseen.
In related news, Ed Morrissey blogs about Gregory Craig, Obama’s less that stellar choice for WH counsel. Preview: Did you know that he was the lawyer who defended John Hinckley, Jr.?