Mitch McConnell is in big trouble when even reliable conservatives reject his plan to repeal a federal prevailing wage law (the Davis-Bacon Act) to pay for the Brent Spence Bridge replacement. The idea is even less appealing when you consider it will take 10 years to get the funds to build the bridge. It’s based on the same old failed Republican ideology of cutting taxes for the rich while slashing the wages of people who earn their income through their labor.
Following McConnell’s announcement he became irritated with journalists because they were skeptical.
Amanda Van Benschoten points to an even more serious problem – the fact that almost nobody in the reliably conservative region of Northern Kentucky supports McConnell’s plans to build a bridge by screwing construction workers over.
McConnell’s political problems don’t end with the fact that he has nothing to offer but the same failed philosophy that killing jobs and reducing wages benefits everyone. Alison Lundergan Grimes continues to make the case that Kentucky needs someone who recognizes that it certainly is their job to rebuild the Brent Spence Bridge, though certainly not with policies that kill jobs and create poverty. Specifically, she proposes closing tax loopholes for the rich and ending some corporate tax breaks to pay for the bridge that is the most important priority for the people of Kentucky. McConnell has lost credibility even among his formerly most ardent supporters, as is reflected by the fact that solidly conservative North Kentucky rejected his plan.
McConnell needs votes from Northern Kentucky, a reliably conservative region in federal races, come November. But almost nobody in the region embraced his plan, even those desperate for any solution that doesn’t involve tolls.
According to Van Benschoten, members of the business community had a similar reaction.
In short, McConnell has lost touch with the people of Kentucky and he lost their trust much the same way as Eric Cantor did. All the signs point to McConnell’s defeat, albeit by a stronger candidate with more credible and pragmatic ideas than the one who defeated Cantor.
Even if McConnell’s credibility and attitude were above reproach, the fact is this policy applies the same flawed ideological belief that wealth trickles down by giving the rich huge and unpaid for tax breaks while increasing the tax burden and lowering wages for everyone else. One doesn’t need a background in economics to understand that policies resulting in lost income for workers and eventually the government won’t benefit anyone. It does take expertise in economics to determine how devastating McConnell’s proposal would be in real dollars.
In Kentucky’s case, the projected decline of construction worker’s income is dramatic. Peter Philips, a University of Utah economist projected that the absence of the Davis- Bacon Act would result in a decline of construction wages between 3.2 and 6.5% in 2013. If there wasn’t a Davis-Bacon Act, Philips projects that Kentucky workers would have lost $75 million to $152 (in 2013) dollars. These sharp declines in workers’ incomes would mean a loss of $10 million to $20 million in tax revenues per year for Kentucky’s government. (Peter Philips, accessed 6/23/14) Obviously, these numbers contradict McConnell’s claim that everyone will benefit from his screw workers to build a bridge in 10 years plan.
The CBO’s analysis of McConnell’s bridge proposal confirmed what everyone in America knows – including Mitch McConnell even if he won’t admit it.
An argument against repealing the Davis-Bacon Act is that it prevents out-of-town firms from coming into a locality, competing with local contractors for federal work using lower-paid workers from other areas of the country, and then leaving the area upon completion of the work. Another argument against repealing the act is that doing so would lower the earnings of some construction workers. An additional argument against such a change is that it might jeopardize the quality of construction at federally funded or federally assisted projects. When possible, managers of some construction projects would reduce costs by paying a lower wage than what is permitted under the Davis-Bacon Act. As a result, they might attract workers who are less skilled and do lower-quality work.
Interestingly, McConnell used the CBO study to defend his screw the poor to build a bridge in 10 years proposal.
The people of Kentucky understand that McConnell sees his job as catering to corporate interests at the expense of the people he was hired to represent. Is it any wonder that Kentucky’s voters are turning to Alison Lundergan Grimes to help them build a bridge to a better future for everyone?
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Ms. Woodbury has a graduate degree in political science, with a minor in law. She is a qualified expert on political theory with a specific interest in the nexus between political theories and models and human rights.
Based on her interest in human rights and the threats that authoritarian regimes are to them, Ms. Woodbury’s masters thesis examined the influence of politics on the enforcement of international criminal law was cited in several academic studies.
Published work includes case summaries for the War Crimes Research Office.
She has an extensive background doing legal research in international and domestic law.
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