Special Report

Stern Talk

SEIU president and Obama pal Andrew Stern yesterday called Senate opponents of Obamacare "terrorists."

By 1.27.10

Senators who won't pass ObamaCare are "terrorists," the leader of America's most powerful labor union said yesterday as Senate Democrats' supermajority death watch entered its second week.

Democrats' soon-to-evaporate filibuster-proof supermajority of 60 in the Senate was "a gift from the American people" that has been "squandered" by failing to enact so-called healthcare reform, said Service Employees International Union president Andrew Stern. Stern is President Obama's closest ally in the labor movement and his union would benefit disproportionately from the enactment of Big Government healthcare. He practically lives in the White House, according to official visitor logs, but refuses to register as a lobbyist.

The Democratic membership in the Senate will be reduced to 59 whenever Sen.-elect Scott Brown (R-Mass). is finally sworn in and takes over the seat long held by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) -- a development many say dooms liberal plans to nationalize the nation's healthcare sector. Brown's once unimaginable election in the Bay State last week has sent shockwaves through the political establishment that continue to reverberate.

Employing tortured logic, Stern and other prominent leftists believe Brown's defeat of Democrat Martha Coakley, who at one point led her GOP opponent by 30 percentage points in the polls, occurred only because Democrats hadn't tacked far enough to port.

In her purple business suit, SEIU secretary-treasurer Anna Burger weighed in. "Everybody was shaken by Massachusetts but the reality is Massachusetts didn't vote against healthcare; they already had healthcare."

Burger, who is also vice chairman of George Soros's Democracy Alliance, a donors' collaborative that wants to turn America into socialist Europe, said Congress has to act -- or else.

"There's no way that inaction is going to get us anywhere," said Burger, one of organized labor's leading lights. "If we don't do something about jobs, if we don't do something about healthcare, if we don't do something about financial reform that people see and feel, then 2010 is going to be a terrible election because people in fact voted for change and if they haven't gotten change they will go back and vote for the next change what it happens to be."

"I think they paid a price up in Massachusetts and they'll continue to pay a price" if they don't pass ObamaCare, said Stern without explaining to whom "they" refers.

"We should send the national security people over and explain to them why we don't negotiate with terrorists," Stern said. "There are a lot of terrorists in the Senate who think we're supposed to negotiate with them when they have their particular needs that they want met."

Ironically, purple-shirted SEIU members physically confronted and in some cases assaulted opponents of ObamaCare at town hall meetings across the nation last year. The union's strong-arm tactics in organizing drives -- often involving physical coercion -- bear a resemblance to terrorism. The union's violent organizing tactics have been condemned by labor leaders, including California Nurses Association executive director Rose Ann DeMoro and then-AFL-CIO president John Sweeney.

At yesterday's labor forum in the nation's capital sponsored by the left-wing Center for American Progress Action Fund, Stern, clad in a purple dress shirt and purple necktie, also shared his views on a wide range of topics.

Stern demanded that that the Senate's venerable rules of parliamentary procedure be changed midstream in order to allow President Obama's deeply unpopular healthcare plan to be rammed through Congress.

"It seems to me the easiest path, the only path forward," is to use "reconciliation or other legislative processes to fix the things that I think a lot of people agree need to be fixed both now in the House and the Senate," he said. Reconciliation refers to a procedural maneuver that would allow the healthcare bill to pass with 51 votes instead of the 60 needed to overcome a filibuster.

Stern said the advantage of using reconciliation is it would allow majority Democrats to do an end-run around sometimes uncooperative senators such as Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.). It would allow "the other 58 senators" to make decisions they weren't able to make "the first time around because of the hostage taking that was going on in the Senate," he said.

Stern denounced the Senate's cloture rule that allows a determined minority to block legislation by requiring 60 votes to break a filibuster.

"We can't have 70 percent of the bills that go in front of the Senate, someone screams filibuster and everybody says we can't do anything anymore," he said. "That's not what the American people want. They want someone to fight for them."

In his first State of the Union Address tonight President Obama "has to go back and remind people why we started this." The president needs to emphasize that the healthcare legislation is "a jobs bill" and "a deficit reduction bill."

Without the legislation, "we're just going to be scrambling for better alternatives and more importantly for people we represent their health care bills are going to go through the roof in the next 10 years," Stern said.

Unleashing ugly class-warfare rhetoric, Stern and Burger also expressed their approval of the Obama administration's war on Wall Street, which has suddenly escalated after the Republican victory in the Massachusetts special election. The centerpiece of this new offensive is a proposed tax on financial speculators that could net $1.7 trillion over 10 years.

"People burnt this economy to the ground with irresponsible speculative behavior," Stern said. "And I would just say for the record that if American justice is really equal for everyone there are a lot of people that deserve to be called into account for what's taken place up to now."

Burger condemned "the outrageous behavior of the financial industry, in their big bonuses, in their refusal to deal with home foreclosures and their jacking up of interest rates."

Burger urged a federal bailout to help save bureaucrats' jobs.

"Nine hundred thousand people will lose their job this year if we don't figure out a way of providing real relief to state and local government," she said. "We can't afford to have 900,000 people who are doing incredible important services in their communities to lose their jobs too."

In light of the Supreme Court's ruling last week in Citizens United v. FEC, Stern reaffirmed that organized labor hates a level playing field. That decision allows corporations and labor unions to spend freely on elections, but the left is up in arms about it.

"Now we have the right to spend unlimited money apparently in ways we want; unfortunately we don't have unlimited money," he said.

"This is the onslaught, if nothing changes, of unlimited corporatization of our economy, and more importantly has the potential of letting China and Brazil and Venezuela or whoever participate in our elections," Stern said. "Many foreign corporations are set up by foreign governments and so I just think this is a moral disaster, a policy disaster, and it is a practical disaster. I'm glad that unions have their rights: I just wish someone tells me exactly where to get the money.

Finally, Stern addressed SEIU's longstanding relationship with the embattled radical advocacy group ACORN. In the fall Burger shocked political observers when she told a congressional hearing that her union "cut all ties to ACORN."

An SEIU spokeswoman at the time said the union "suspended all contracts and active work with ACORN," pending the results of a supposedly independent review of ACORN's affairs headed by former Massachusetts attorney general Scott Harshbarger, a longtime ACORN ally.

Predictably, Harshbarger's report, which came in the wake of hidden camera videos showing ACORN employees bending over backwards to facilitate criminal conduct, was an all-you-can-eat buffet of lies and distortions that faulted ACORN only for poor management practices.

In response to a question from this reporter yesterday, Stern provided an answer that was as clear as a muddy stream.

"From what I understand ACORN is reconstituting itself differently so it would be hard to know, and many of their local affiliates are reforming themselves as independent entities separate from the national organization," said Stern, another longtime ACORN ally who sits on the group's "Independent Advisory Council."

"I think it's unclear. Will there be a national organization? What kind of national organization? What that national organization will do. So it's hard to figure out until they figure out as a result of the Harshbarger report who they're going to be."

At least this time he didn't call anyone a terrorist.

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About the Author

Matthew Vadum is an award-winning investigative journalist at a conservative watchdog group in Washington, D.C. Vadum is also author of Subversion Inc: How Obama's ACORN Red Shirts are Still Terrorizing and Ripping Off American Taxpayers.