Monday :: Sep 1, 2003

Bush’s Empty Rhetoric on Labor Day


by Steve

Politicians are nothing if not hypocrites, and George W. Bush is a classic liar and hypocrite. On Labor Day, Bush will visit a Labor event in Ohio, as an example supposedly of his affinity for labor issues. His whole message, and that of his pathetic Labor Secretary Elaine (“My Husband and I Are Corrupt Money-Grubbing Politicians on the Take from China”) Chao is that Bush is good for Labor because he wants more jobs.

Duh.

The reason why Bush’s whole message to Labor is jobs and jobs alone is because 1) he has no other message, and neither he, Frank Luntz, or Karl Rove want to promise anything they don’t want to deliver, and 2) he has no other accomplishment to appeal to Labor. But appealing to Labor by talking jobs and jobs alone shows how bankrupt this administration is, by choice, on another domestic issue. Bush and the GOP believe that all that should matter to unions are jobs, as long as they are not union jobs. Working conditions do not matter to Bush, and neither do bargaining rights. Yet on this Labor Day, job growth is a weak reed for Bush to base his appeal on. Steven Greenhouse in the NYT today shows how ongoing worker anxiety over a jobless recovery now almost two years old won’t be helping Bush convince Labor that he is a friend of theirs.

Empty promises by Bush today to help recapture lost manufacturing jobs shows will not change the fact that many of those jobs won’t be coming back anytime soon, especially before November 2004. Even the National Association of Manufacturers estimates that economic growth of 4% in 2004 would only add back at most 250,000 of the 2.7 million manufacturing jobs lost since late 2000. So any appeal by Bush to his version of Labor based on the return of high-paying manufacturing jobs is nothing more than empty rhetoric from a political operation and party that has no intention of doing anything specific to bring those jobs back. But such an approach is consistent with the Rove/Luntz approach to use specific code words and speeches/photo ops as a substitute for concrete actions to bamboozle the public into believing that you really have done something, when in fact all you do is talk a good game.

Aside from empty appeals by Bush on the issue of jobs, the truth is that he has nothing else to show Labor for his three years in office except lost jobs. From signing executive orders undoing progress in his first months in office and taking the side of management in strike-busting job actions in the airline industry and shipping, Bush has blocked the enactment of ergonomic regulations, appointed labor-hostile officials, and taken other actions as Nathan Newman pointed out that indicate his true feelings towards Labor. And what discussion of Bush’s feelings towards Labor can exclude his craven attack on unionized workers in the development of the Homeland Security Department, where Bush wanted to exclude such employees from basic collective bargaining protections on the basis of national security. And let us not forget that Bush wants to privatize hundreds of thousands of unionized federal jobs, many of which are held by minorities and women, and give those contracts to his cronies, as he has done in Iraq already.

Bush’s plans to gut major parts of the Fair Labor Standards Act dealing with overtime pay cannot be anything that Bush would tout to Labor, either.

So let us see Bush’s rhetoric today for what it is: the empty, devious comments from a man and party that have done nothing to better the plight of not only Labor, but all workers in this country. Bush has nothing to sell Labor except the hollow promises to regain jobs that won’t reappear anytime soon, and the GOP’s tunnelvision on this issue is an issue that any Democrat should be able to exploit next year.

Steve :: 11:11 AM :: Comments (5) :: Digg It!