In June, a diffident and self-deluded President Obama claimed that “the private sector is doing fine.” Last week, the private sector responded: Speak for yourself, buster. Who needs an “October Surprise” when the business headlines are broadcasting the imminent layoff bomb in neon lights?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last Tuesday that employers issued 1,316 “mass layoff actions” (affecting 50 workers or more) in September; more than 122,000 workers were affected overall. USA Today financial reporter Matt Krantz wrote that “(m)uch of the recent layoff activity is connected to what’s been the slowest period of earnings growth since the third quarter of 2009.” Some necessary restructuring is underway in response to the stagnant European economy. But more and more U.S. businesses are putting the blame — bravely and squarely — right where it belongs: on the obstructionist policies and regulatory schemes of the blame-shifter-in-chief.
Last week, Ohio-based auto parts manufacturer Dana Holding Corp. warned employees of potential layoffs amid “looming concern” about the economy. President and CEO Roger Wood specifically mentioned the walloping burden of “increasing taxes on small businesses” and the need to “offset increased costs that are placed on us through new laws and regulations.”
Case in point: Obamacare. The mandate will cost Dana Holding Corp., which employs some 24,500 workers, “approximately $24 million over the next six years in additional U.S. health care expenses.” As Ohio Watchdog blogger Maggie Thurber reported, the firm’s Toledo area corporate offices laid off seven white-collar employees last Friday; company insiders told her more were on the way. They are not alone.
On Tuesday, Consol Energy issued a federally mandated layoff disclosure announcing its “intent to idle its Miller Creek surface operations near Naugatuck, W.Va.” The move will affect the company’s Wiley Surface Mine, Wiley Creek Surface Mine, Minway Surface Mine, Minway Preparation Plant and Miller Creek Administration Group, all in Mingo County, W.Va. Despite state approval, cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and myriad other agencies, and a stellar safety record, Obama’s EPA dragged its feet on the permit approval process. The impasse has forced layoffs of 145 Consol Energy employees that will hit at the end of the year. They are not alone.
In August, Robert E. Murray, founder and CEO of Murray Energy Corporation in Ohio, blasted the White House anti-coal agenda for the layoffs and closure of his company’s mine. He told Obama water-carrying CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien that “the many regulations that (Obama) and his radical appointees and the U.S. EPA have put on the use of coal, there are dozens of them and collectively by his own energy administration, have closed 175 power plants.” As O’Brien barked at her guest about purported environmental objections, Murray explained that “we cannot get permits for these mines. They are delaying the issuance of permits. If you can’t get the permit, you can’t have the mine. … I created those jobs, and I put the investment in that mine. And when it came time to lay the people off, I went up personally and talked to every one of them myself to lay them off. It’s a human issue.”
And it’s an innovation issue, too. As I reported in February, Obamacare’s impending 2.3 percent medical device excise tax has already wrought havoc on the industry:
Stryker, a maker of artificial hips and knees based in Kalamazoo, Mich., is slashing 5 percent of its global workforce (an estimated 1,000 workers) this coming year to reduce costs related to Obamacare’s taxes and mandates.
Covidien, a N.Y.-based surgical supplies manufacturer, recently announced layoffs of 200 American workers and plans to move some of its plant work to Mexico and Costa Rica, in part because of the coming tax hit.
Mass.-based Zoll Medical Corp., which makes defibrillators and employs some 1,800 workers in the U.S. and around the world, says the medical device tax will cost the company between $5 million and $10 million a year.
This July, Indiana’s Cook Medical Inc. shelved plans to open five new plants because of the imminent medical device tax hit. They are not alone.
The heads of Koch Industries, Westgate Resorts and ASG Software Solutions have all separately informed their employees of prosperity-undermining Obama economic politics. Left-wing groups have lambasted the executives for exercising their political free speech.
But they have remained silent while the White House corruptocrats bribed federal defense contractors into delaying federally mandated layoff disclosures before the election. In a memo now being investigated on Capitol Hill, Obama promised to cover the legal fees of Lockheed Martin and other defense contractors if they ignored legal requirements to inform workers in advance about so-called sequestration cuts to the military’s budget scheduled to kick in next year.
Truth suppression is a time-honored Obama tactic, of course. Remember: The administration and its Democratic allies on Capitol Hill attempted to punish Deere, Caterpillar, Verizon and ATT in 2010 for disclosing how the costs of Obamacare taxes were hitting their bottom lines — even though they were simply following SEC disclosure requirements. The White House also tried to silence insurers who dared to inform their customers about how Obamacare was driving up premiums. Not this time.
The administration’s bully boys don’t have enough whitewash and duct tape to cover up the past, present and future devastation of the president and his economic demolition team.