Labor leaders and the Obama administration won no favors from Warren Buffett on Monday morning when the famed investor offered unequivocal criticism for the Employee Free Choice Act.
Just days after Barack Obama and Vice President Biden both offered one-line endorsements of the legislation -- which would make it easier for unions to organize -- Buffett, in an appearance on CNBC said the following of labor's legislative priority:
"I think the secret ballot's pretty important in the country," said the Oracle from Omaha. "I'm against card check to make a perfectly flat statement."
Business interests, of course, are clearly at odds with the Employee Free Choice Act. And while Buffett is a progressive on many causes -- chief among them tax policy -- he is, at his heart, a businessman.
Labor representatives, when asked about the comments, noted that Buffett went on to say that unions and the workers that make up their forces have "not been well-treated by the tax code that we've had over time." They also noted that he misrepresented the crux of the legislation, claiming it would end the secret ballot when, in actuality, it would provide workers a choice between using a secret ballot or majority sign-up in their efforts to unionize.
That said, Buffett's remarks are great fodder for EFCA-opponents. And a Republican strategist trying to gin up opposition eagerly sends over these two quotes showing that Obama greatly values Buffett's economic advice:
- Obama Says Buffett Has "Shaped" His Ideas. "In last week's final presidential debate, after Republican John McCain raised questions about his rival's ties, Sen. Obama said, 'Let me tell you who I associate with. On economic policy, I associate with Warren Buffett and former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker ... who have shaped my ideas and who will be surrounding me in the White House.'" (Monica Langley, "Volcker Makes A Comeback As Part Of Obama Brain Trust," The Wall Street Journal, 10/21/08)
- Obama Campaign On Buffett: "We Look Forward To Him Helping Out Our Efforts." "'Warren Buffett is a great friend and an important force in the global economic community. We look forward to him helping out our efforts,' said Obama spokesman Bill Burton." (Celeste Katz, "Buffet Of Praise, Cash For Hil At Buffett Dinner," [New York] Daily News, 6/27/07)