Iowa senator Chuck Grassley thinks the Obama administration’s decision to tell defense contractors that they don’t need to send out the layoff notices, despite the fact that there will be $500 billion in defense cuts in January if Congress doesn’t prevent the sequester cuts, is akin to the administration’s Fast and Furious scandal.
“It’s probably a little bit like Fast and Furious, if you’ve been following my investigation there,” Grassley tells National Review Online. “We all take an oath to uphold the rule of law and uphold the law and the president takes an oath to see that the laws are faithfully executed and they were advising gun dealers to sell guns illegally.”
Lockheed Martin announced yesterday that it would not be sending layoff notices, which would have been received by workers days before the election. The administration has said that if defense contractors adhered to the guidance provided by the Department of Labor (that companies don’t need to send the layoff notices, despite the WARN Act, which requires large companies to give employees 60 days notice of potential layoffs), any legal costs incurred as a result of not sending the notices would be covered by the taxpayers.
“Here’s a case where the president or his staff is advising the employers they don’t have to follow the labor laws,” Grassley adds. “And even in addition to that, they’re saying that if you’ve got any problems, we’ll pay for the legal deals. I think it’s abhorrent that the president would suggest that people would violate the labor laws, and worse yet, to pay for costs that taxpayers shouldn’t have to bear.”
Grassley says he knows of no precedent of the Department of Labor telling companies they shouldn’t issue the layoff notices required by the WARN Act.
“They wouldn’t be doing this if the president wasn’t running for reelection,” he says of the Obama administration. “They didn’t want these notices going out the weekend before the election.”
“But whether it’s political gain or not, it’s just wrong to tell people they don’t have to obey the law,” Grassley continues.
Asked if the administration is pressuring defense contractors, Grassley responds, “Business corporations are like political prostitutes. They’ll bend to anything that government wants that might affect their business, so they’re easily intimidated.” Does he think the Obama administration is intimidating these companies? “Yes.”
Referring to the list of questions he and Senator Kelly Ayotte included in their letter to the Office of Management and Budget, Grassley remarks, “I hope I get answers to my questions because on January 20, 2009, this president said he was going to be the most transparent administration in the history of the country.” That’s not what’s happened, however, as far as Grassley is concerned: “He doesn’t respond to our inquiries, so he’s become the most stonewalling of administrations that I’ve served under.”