Sunday, September 11, 2005

In The Name Of Deficit Reduction, Bush Suspends Law Regarding Minimum Wages On Federal Contracts

Heeding a call from Congressional Republicans, President Bush on Thursday suspended a federal law governing workers' pay on federal contracts for the Hurricane Katrina-damanged Gulf Coast.

The official reason -- and I am not making this up -- is deficit reduction. Talk about adding insult to injury ...

Bush, parroting the language in a letter he received earlier in the week from House Republicans, suspsended the Davis-Bacon Act of 1931. The act sets a minimum pay scale for workers on federal contracts by requiring contractors to pay the prevailing or average pay in the region. Suspension of the act allows contractors to pay lower wages.

Now, I'm all in favor of deficit reduction. I have been flabbergasted at five years of Bush budgets, causing nearly $2 trillion of debt. I have been appalled at the bloated legislation the Republican-led Congress has approved, including the recent $286 million federal highway bill that included an estimated $23 million of pork -- for projects like upgrades to the National Packard Museum in Ohio -- or the recently passed energy bill, criticized for being laden with pork and corporate welfare.

Given that, in the midst of a horrific catastrophe -- for which Congress has approved $62.3 billion in federal aid, and may need to spend double that -- is now the time to be concerned with excessive spending?

"We must ensure that a catastrophe of nature does not become a catastrophe of debt for our children and grandchildren," said Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) chairman of the House Republican Study Committee.

Think about the logic, though. Instead of adding $125 billion to the federal debt, suspension of the act will, what, drop that number to $120 billion? $115 billion?

Gosh, there couldn't be any other way to counter the effects of paying people the minimum wage for federal contracts. Like, how about forgetting about Bush's proposed $70 billion of additional tax cuts, which overwhelmingly help the wealthy? Or how about pushing for a reversal of recently approved pork, as suggested last week by Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Tom Coburn (R-OK)?

"Members of Congress should, at least temporarily, deny themselves a few of the comforts of political office and refrain from directing tax dollars to special projects in their states that might help their political campaigns but not necessarily the country as a whole," the senators wrote Sept. 7. "In the past year Congress has found a way to fund thousands of projects of questionable merit. Perhaps a few of those dollars could have been better spent on activities that might have limited the impact of this tragedy."

***

The problem, of course, is that Republicans have long opposed Davis-Bacon, charging that it amounts to a taxpayer subsidy to unions. Why not try to suspend the act now?

Arguing an anti-union line, the letter signed by 35 House Republicans points out that "Davis-Bacon regulations effectively discriminate against contractor employment of non-union and lower-skilled workers and can even raise total construction costs by up to 38 percent."

But the prevailing wage in New Orleans is just $9/hour for construction work, according to the Department of Labor. So who is really being hurt in the end?

Rep. George Miller (D-CA), the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, accused Bush of "using the devastation of Hurricane Katrina to cut the wages of people desperately trying to rebuild their lives and their communities."

Miller told CNN: "President Bush should immediately realize the colossal mistake he has made in signing this order and rescind it and ensure that America puts its people back to work in the wake of Katrina at wages that will get them and their families back on their feet."

13 Comments:

Anonymous dogman said...

Guest workers don't need that much.

They'll be lucky if the company store leaves them enough for air fare home.

8:57 PM  
Anonymous madaboutharry said...

Marie Antoinette is the President of the U..S.

I have to believe that the American people are not going to stand for this. It is so disgraceful. Everything this administration and the republicans do is a disgrace.

8:58 PM  
Anonymous fatima said...

American workers have been taking it for years.

I can't even begin to tell you how many of my co-workers vote Republican and/or shun labor unions and labor issues. They hold a fatalistic view that says "do whatever it takes to keep a job; the businessman is going to win no matter what." There are even many so-called progressives who feel that way. What a shame. The hard work and personal sacrifice (including loss of life) of the early labor movement is for what? For what? We are a nation of sheep.

10:32 PM  
Anonymous jaxx said...

Another link to the little king's screwing the people again.
http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/0,2106,3405350a12,00.html

When I read this all I could think of were the people who would be needing jobs, and how dubya was now going to make sure they didn't get ahead by paying them substandard wages. Plus it took them days to get their shit together after the floods and moments to change another law to make the Halliburton's richer.

10:32 PM  
Anonymous Drum said...

But is this legal? Is there no recourse?

Doesn't it just throw fuel on the fire illustrating that Bush's real war is against the poor for the sake of the rich?

I can't believe (or I'd really rather not believe) that this can be done so perfunctorily.

Keep speaking up, Rep. Miller! Other Dems in Congress: please make some noise about it, or we truly are on our way to just becoming another fiefdom....

10:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is legal. Nixon and Bush Sr. also suspended the act, temporarily, during "national emergencies."

That doesn't make it right, of course.

10:35 PM  
Anonymous Fatima said...

Hizmajesty has probably found some damned loophole in the law that says he can do this in a "state of emergency." Kinda like the sleight of hand that allowed no-bid contracts to Halliburton in the Iraq war!

10:35 PM  
Anonymous Drum said...

ugh....sickening

10:35 PM  
Anonymous Bravo411 said...

He'll cut the wages...

But do you think the corporations are going to cut their price accordingly? I doubt it. It means that they'll get to pocket the difference as profit.

10:36 PM  
Anonymous political_invader said...

Being a Union Carpenter in California I'm sure that this will affect the wages across the board for all construction in all 50 states. This administration has done nothing but get rich on the backs of every hard working AMERICAN, while we have on the average made $1700 less per year, since this animal has taken office.

Suspend the "Bacon Act" to reduce the spending on the clean up this makes me just wanna puke, the Highway Bill alone with all that pork could rebuild 2 cities(maybe not but you get my point.)

Please stay the course and keep fighting we as americans must stay a float for 3.5 more years. Keep speaking out and get out the vote, we must eliminate the Nazis.

Peace from a BLUE STATE

11:42 PM  
Anonymous timfoilinfor2005 said...

Sigh...REALLY wish he'd stayed on vacation.

11:43 PM  
Anonymous madaboutharry said...

That is right, they are sheep

Americans are so compliant. They have been brainwashed into thinking that they one day will make it, but they never get anywhere. I honestly think our education system, which doesn't teach people to think for themselves has a lot to do with this.

2:53 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

According to the right wing Heritage Foundation, Bush has "bravely" suspended this dicriminatory legislation.

Discriminatory? Discriminatory?! Their logic is bewilderingly stupid: Some seventy years ago, when the act was first passed, it was used to prevent construction companies that used cheap black labor from under-bidding higher-paid white companies. By standardizing pay, the Davis-Bacon act was supposedly a tool to deny blacks (who, back then, were assumed to always be paid less) any advantage in competing with whites. I din't make that up -- that's their statement. Honest!

So Bush, today, is bravely fighting discrimination. Huh? My nomination for this years What The F*ck Award. Is there some rule that says right wingers must be dumbasses?

8:11 AM  

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