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September 09, 2005

Bush: Let's Keep Louisiana Poor Poor

Yep, he did it. Bush suspended Davis-Bacon , the law requiring prevailing wages for public construction contracts, under the provision allowing him to waive the law during a national emergency. Rep. George Miller and Senator Kennedy both denounced the action:

"The administration is using the devastation of Hurricane Katrina to cut the wages of people desperately trying to rebuild their lives and their communities," Miller said.

"One of the things the American people are very concerned about is shabby work and that certainly is true about the families whose houses are going to be rebuilt and buildings that are going to be restored," Kennedy said.

So we can expect big contractor profits, bad wages and the same kind of shoddy cut-rate approach that we saw in the Bush-led preparations for Katrina.

If you want to understand why Davis-Bacon and the union wage standards required for public works are so important, I recommend that you check out this page of resources from the AFL-CIO Building & Construction Trades Department.

Part of the line of the Bush administration is that allowing low-rent, low-wage contractors into public contracts will save the taxpayers money. But the reality is that decent wages translates into better quality and less costs down the road, as a range of studies linked to on that page highlight. If we should have learned anything from Katrina, it's that short-term cost savings translate into long-term costs.

But aside from the stupid economics of the decision, it's just an insult to the poor of the region to say that they should get paid bottom-basement wages, rather than reconstruction being a step up to a decent life for their families.

You have to wonder if Bush intends to suspend the super-profits of the vultures circling to benefit from the tens of billions to be spent? Somehow, I guess not.

Posted by Nathan at September 9, 2005 01:04 AM