In all the uproar over the Bush administration’s conservative credentials in recent months — from Katrina to Harriet — there was one bright spot. No longer.
Following Hurricane Katrina, the White House suspended the rules of the Davis-Bacon Act, which mandates that local union shops set the “prevailing wage” for federal construction projects. This inflates the price of federal projects by up to 30% and puts labor unions in control of the projects’ price. And its history is shady at best. David Bernstein wrote in Human Events that the 1927 law was intended to bar those from federal projects whose labor was cheaper than union members’ — in other words, blacks and other minorities. Rep. Robert Bacon worried about the “outfit of negro laborers.”
Those same shades are apparent with a different target from current Davis-Bacon proponents. The Bush administration cancelled the Davis-Bacon suspension yesterday, “bowing to pressures from moderate House Republicans who argued that Gulf Coast residents were being left out of the recovery and that the region was becoming a magnet for illegal immigrants.”