|President Obama met with union leaders, who are angry about his decision to extend tax cuts for the wealthy. (Tim Sloan/Associated Press)|
WASHINGTON — Two days after business executives had their turn at the White House, President Obama met with union leaders fuming about his decision to extend the George W. Bush-era tax cuts for wealthy Americans.
Union officials declined to offer much in the way of details about the talks, but the White House has been concerned about the harsh criticism from union leaders, and the meeting was seen as an effort to get the relationship back on track.
“We had a good conversation with President Obama about the economic crisis and the importance of the labor movement in rebuilding the economy and the middle class,’’ said Richard Trumka, the AFL-CIO president.
Union officials were expected to be blunt with Obama about their unhappiness over the tax deal, a recent trade agreement with South Korea, and the decision to freeze pay for federal workers. The meeting ended just minutes before Obama signed the tax bill into law.
Obama’s ties with business leaders have been punctuated by sharp acrimony over issues such as health care, bonus pay, and financial regulations. His standing with labor is bolstered by the long link between union leaders and the Democratic Party.
The trade deal has received support from the United Auto Workers because of provisions regarding auto exports, but most other unions have pledged to work against its passage in Congress.
— Associated Press
Palin says women face a double standard on crying WASHINGTON — Sarah Palin says there’s a double standard when it comes to politicians who cry in public.
The former Alaska governor and possible 2012 Republican presidential candidate said she would be “knocked a little bit’’ if she cried while giving a speech. But Palin told ABC’s “Good Morning America’’ that House speaker-in-waiting John Boehner gets a pass when he cries in public.
Palin said that’s OK but it makes women in politics work harder and “be that much tougher.’’
Palin’s comments came in an interview at her lakefront home in Wasilla, Alaska.
She said she is giving a presidential run “prayerful consideration.’’
— Associated Press
House gives Pentagon its OK to spend $160b in wars WASHINGTON — The House passed legislation yesterday that authorizes the Pentagon to spend nearly $160 billion on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan this budget year without major restrictions on the conduct of operations.
The 341-48 vote on the defense authorization bill came after House and Senate Democrats agreed to strip several provisions, including one that would have allowed gays to serve openly in the military and another that would have authorized abortions at overseas military facilities.
The provision that would have overturned the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell’’ policy was approved as a stand-alone bill in the House this week and awaits a vote today in the Senate.
The spending bill covers the 2011 budget year, which began Oct. 1. The Senate was expected to approve the measure as one of its final acts before adjourning this year.
Congress considers the defense authorization bill to be its primary chance to sway Pentagon policy. While it does not transfer money into Defense Department coffers, it does serve as a blueprint for the defense appropriations bill by authorizing spending levels.
This year’s bill agreed to $725 billion in defense programs, including $158.7 billion for overseas combat.
The bill would continue restrictions on the Defense Department’s ability to close Guantanamo Bay, including prohibiting the transfer of detainees to the United States.
— Associated Press