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“The GOP’s Favorite Government Jobs”: Republicans Didn’t Realize Government Budget Cuts Result In Layoffs

Politico’s Austin Wright has a crazy little story about a spat between congressional Republicans and the Labor Department that hinges on the possibility of mass defense contractor layoffs.

The fight is over whether defense contractors are required to send out notices warning their workers of layoffs that would kick in as a result of the large defense spending cuts due Jan. 1 — aka”sequestration.”

Republicans say yes, citing the WARN Act, which requires large employers to give 60 days’ notice of possible layoffs. The GOP has been chortling in glee at the prospect of such notices going out to every single employee of the largest defense contractors, because the 60-day countdown just happens to arrive four days before Election Day. Because, you know, layoffs are bad, even if they mean Big Government is shrinking.

But the Labor Department says no! Labor’s main argument is based on the reasoning that sequestration is not inevitable — Democrats and Republicans still have time to come to a budget deal that would avoid sharp defense cuts. (Indeed the whole point of sequestration was that the prospect of such cuts was supposedly so drastic that it would force a compromise.)

According to Politico’s Wright, congressional Republicans consider the Labor Department’s decision a “political stunt.” That accusation has a high likelihood of being true, but it seems just a little bit hypocritical coming from Republicans who are hoping that layoff notices timed to be delivered just before Election Day will help their own electoral chances.

And that’s hardly the tip of the hypocrisy iceberg. Buried beneath the surface of this latest example of Washington dysfunction is a basic truth: Government budget cuts result in layoffs. That’s not good during a period of very slow economic growth. And yet, Republicans seem to have little problem when the newly unemployed are teachers or firefighters. But when defense’s ox is getting gored, then it becomes a big deal, and then the layoffs are presumed to be Obama’s fault and thus embarrassing to the White House.

 

By: Andrew Leonard, Salon, August 6, 2012

August 7, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

GOP Sen Chuck Grassley: We Need “Child Labor” To Fight Obesity Epidemic

At a recent town hall in Osage, Iowa, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) responded to a question about the Labor Department’s stricter limits on child labor by claiming that they could exacerbate the child obesity epidemicby making kids less “active”:

 

Concern was raised about the proposed Department of Labor’s intent to greatly limit child labor on family farms.

“This farm bill will greatly affect our FFA and 4-H programs,” said Grassley. “Kids won’t be able to help on farms not owned by their parents.

It’s interesting that this child labor bill goes against Michelle Obama’s anti-obesity initiative,” said Grassley. “How can kids be active if they are limited by this law?

Grassley represents a farm state that both relies on child labor and contributes to the national obesity epidemic through its production of corn products like high-fructose corn syrup. Iowa farmers benefit from billions of dollars in corn subsidies that allow them to put a glut of cheap, unhealthy foods on the market.

As for his Dickensian defense of child labor, that’s sadly par for the course for Republicans these days. Several GOP-led states have rolled back child labor laws. In December, seventy rural state lawmakers led by Rep. Danny Rehberg (R-MT) denounced the Labor Department’s new protections for the country’s most vulnerable workers. They argued that hard manual labor teaches children important “life lessons.”

Under current law, 400,000 children working on farms are not protected from exploitation and dangerous labor. The proposed rules would forbid children younger than 16 from working with pesticides, timber operations, handling “power-driven equipment, or contributing to the “cultivation, harvesting and curing of tobacco.”

Contrary to Grassley’s suggestion, the physical activity children endure during farm labor is no picnic. The fatality rate for child farm workers is four times higher than that of nonagricultural child workers.

Many Republicans have mocked First Lady Michelle Obama’s anti-childhood obesity initiative, but Grassley in particular has powerful financial motivations for supporting some of epidemic’s worst culprits. As a member of the Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry committee, he’s raked in hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the Food & Beverage, Food Processing & Sales, and Agricultural Services and Products industries.

 

By: Marie Diamond, Think Progress, January 17, 2012

January 19, 2012 Posted by | Child Labor | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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