As a longtime admirer and booster of Paul Ryan’s who was touting him for Vide President four years ago, before he really was nationally prominent, and also as somebody who understands that sometimes one’s home district requires a lack of philosophical purity from time to time, it still galls me to see Ryan repeatedly go off the reservation when it comes to labor-union issues. Fifteen months ago, at a Spectator Newsmaker Breakfast, Ryan claimed he merely made a mistake when voting(in effect) to uphold a requirement for expensive, unnecessary, union-friendly, freedom-destroying Project Labor Agreements. (See link for details.) He immediately pledged that he would vote against PLAs at the next opportunity.
Well, yesterday he did technically abide by that pledge: As a host of other Republicans voted to save PLAs — a horrible, horrible vote — Ryan at least had the grace not to join them. Alas, though, he sucked up to the unions in another way just as bad, indeed for something that is almost the same thing as PLAs, namely for so-called Davis-Bacon requirements that require union-level wages on federal projects, no matter what the local wage rate otherwise would be. Red State has the full report here (not focusing on Ryan, but I focus on Ryan because of his pledge last year and because, of course, he is a Vice-presidential contender).
On one hand, this could make Ryan an even more valuable member of a Romney ticket, because it might help at the margins in gaining the ticket blue-collar support, especially in Wisconsin. It also puts Ryan squarely in the tradition of his mentor, Jack Kemp, who I admired tremendously but who also repeatedly sucked up to unions even when it wasn’t politically necessary. On the other hand, both Davis-Bacon and PLAs add large amounts of costs to the federal budget, and Ryan is of course the most prominent leader on cutting the budget. If he won’t cut his own special interest, it makes it more difficult to ask others to make tough votes to cut elsewhere. And, really, even though his district is sort of a swing district, he has been there long enough and wins by margins huge enough that he’s not likely to lose his House seat no matter how he votes on Davis-Bacon and on PLAs. Therefore, his vote is a big disappointment. Ugh ptui/phtooey.
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