Obama 2007: Warn Contractors of Impending Layoffs; Obama 2012: Don’t Bother
Brian Slattery /
“For too long, employers have failed to notify workers that they’re about to lose their jobs due to mass layoffs or plant closings even though notice is required by the WARN Act. The least employers can do when they’re anticipating layoffs is to let workers know they’re going to be out of a job and a paycheck with enough time to plan for their future.”
Senator Barack Obama said this in 2007 while arguing that federal contractor companies should give their employees 90 days’ notice rather than the 60 days required by the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act. Yet five years later, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under his leadership issued a memorandum that contractors need not worry about this requirement.
Furthermore, the memo assured these contractors that costs they incur from terminations and breaches of contracts will be paid for by the federal agencies they do business with—a subtle way of saying that taxpayers will pay these fees.
Why would the President have such a change of heart on the WARN Act? Rather than actually dealing with the impending defense reductions, the Obama Administration wishes to delay its consequences while also ignoring national security concerns in the decision.
Rather than scrambling to mitigate the financial damage sequestration will do, the President should be considering his responsibilities as commander in chief. These defense cuts will reduce national security forces to unprecedented low levels of readiness. U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines will in the future risk their lives with older equipment and less training.
Sequestration will also have an adverse affect on the military’s industrial base. While only those companies with 100 or more employees must issue 60 days’ notice for terminations, it is those small business that supply and subcontract to them that will suffer the most. Oftentimes these companies are the sole sources for a crucial technology or process. They will be less likely to weather the storm caused by these massive defense cuts than the larger contractors. Putting these companies out of business could mean putting the country at prolonged risk.
Plans have been offered to eliminate or delay sequestration, but Obama has threatened to veto them, and Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D–NV) has will not consider any such plans if they do not include tax increases. Using defense spending as leverage in a fiscal debate is both improper and irresponsible.
The President and Congress should be looking to preserve the future of American security. It is their constitutional responsibility to provide for the common defense.