Joe Biden speaks at the Iowa Federation of Labor convention by Charlie Neibergall is licensed under AP

The Biden administration has released its annual “Budget of the U.S. Government” for FY 2025 that seeks to expand the size and scope of the federal government across the board. While the presidential budget is largely a messaging document that is dead on arrival with the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, it is indicative of President Joe Biden’s ultimate vision for how the government should look.

The presidential budget contains a significant funding increase for the Department of Labor (DOL) despite the agency being stuck with an acting secretary for more than a year, an unprecedented situation. President Biden seems bent on rewarding labor regulators with a $13.9 billion budget, an eye-watering $318 million increase from 2023.

Fashioning itself as the most pro-union administration in American history, Biden officials have championed numerous provisions that will incentivize employment fraud and guarantee an uncompetitive marketplace, such as bloated unemployment insurance and union controlled apprentice programs.

For an agency already mired in historic dysfunction, these disruptive plans must be stopped before taxpayer dollars are wasted on Biden’s activist labor agenda.

Here are five reasons why Biden’s DOL budget is bad for American taxpayers:

1) The DOL does not deserve a funding increase while as acting Secretary of Labor is at the helm

Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su has been sitting in confirmation limbo for nearly a year, the longest tenure for an acting secretary in American history. A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers have strong doubts about Su’s ability to lead the agency, primarily due to her tumultuous record on fraud prevention and strike mediation as California’s Secretary of Labor.

Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) has voiced the concerns of many Republican lawmakers, balking at “how in the world it makes sense for the president to nominate [Su] to take over this department.” Su’s appointment makes even less sense when one considers her inexperience negotiating between labor unions and corporate management. Throw in the estimated $20 billion in unemployment fraud that took place under her watch in California, and one can see why lawmakers have repeatedly refused to confirm Biden’s labor czar.

Nevertheless, this confirmation deadlock has not deterred the Biden administration, which seems content with allowing Su to soldier on as an acting secretary. Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Bill Cassidy (R-LA) has expressed dismay with Biden’s casual rebuke of congressional authority, stating that the “President should not be allowed to bypass the will of Congress. It is unacceptable and yet another example of weak leadership from this administration.”

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) has heartily agreed, arguing that while “Secretary Su continues to thumb her nose at Congress and the American public…[the] DOL has stonewalled Congressional oversight.” Even Democrat lawmakers have expressed their reservations about Su, with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) breaking from the party line outright, while Sen. Kirsten Sinema (I-AZ) has been noticeably neutral in her confirmation rhetoric.

2) Biden apprenticeships funnel billions of taxpayer dollars into union-controlled programs

The Biden administration’s FY 2025 budget proposes an $8 billion Career Training Fund, while investing $335 million in registered apprenticeships for “clean energy, construction, semiconductor, transportation and logistics, education, health, and other growing and in-demand industries.” White House officials have lauded the potential for “public-private partnerships among employers” through centralized apprentice programs. This funding would be in addition to the $440 million already invested to expand access to registered apprenticeship programs.

However, it is important to realize where most of this federal funding will be flowing. In 2021, the DOL found that 47 percent of nearly 550,000 apprentices belonged to a labor union. According to the Associated Builders and Contractors, a construction trade association, this trend has only risen over the past three years, with union membership among construction apprentices leaping to 69%.

As an unapologetically pro-union president, Biden’s 2025 budget marks another attempt at “using policy to steer taxpayer-funded construction contracts primarily to unionized contractors and union labor.” While workforce development is a commendable pursuit, the Biden administration’s apprenticeship agenda has evolved into a sly front to line the pockets of union officials with taxpayer dollars. Americans deserve to know when they are unwittingly funding a union monopoly on the apprenticeship market.

3) Unemployment insurance should not be expanded under Julie Su, who cost California taxpayers tens of billions of dollars through her previous mismanagement

The Biden administration’s FY 2025 budget includes $3.5 billion for unemployment insurance (UI) provisions, a $313 million increase from the previous year. Biden officials have justified this request by including investments “to tackle fraud and support more robust identity verification for UI applicants.” Apparently, the White House thinks that Su, who cost California taxpayers billions of dollars in unemployment benefits, is a strong choice to fight fraud at the national level.

As Sen. John Thune (R-SD) has reminded his fellow lawmakers, “during the first six months of the pandemic, California has an ‘improper payment rate’ of 36.6 percent.” Even Su herself has publicly acknowledged the abject failure of California’s Employment Development Department (EDD), which lost $20 billion of taxpayer revenue to fraud during the Covid-19 pandemic. While admitting that “there is no sugar coating this reality”, Su has shamelessly tried to foist the blame, arguing that “California did not have enough security measures in place” to fight UI fraud.

After enabling a massive waste of California taxpayer revenue, Su hardly has the decency to own up to her incompetence. If she cannot even prevent fraud in her own state, let alone admit to her failures, how does Su expect to fare at the federal level?

The Office of the Inspector General has estimated that $163 million in pandemic UI benefits have been improperly obtained, with “a significant portion attributable to fraud.” Su alone was responsible for over 12% of this sum. Americans deserve a higher quality of leadership within the DOL before the Biden administration funnels more taxpayer dollars into a broken UI system.

4) Congress wants to repeal multiple DOL final-rules. Taxpayers should not bankroll policies that are doomed for failure. 

Currently, the DOL is facing multiple Congressional Review Act (CRA) motions to eliminate final-rules that cost small businesses billions, slash jobs and dramatically increase workplace litigation. In particular, the Biden administration’s stance on both independent contracting and the joint-employer standard have proven very unpopular, with multiple conservative coalitions voicing their opposition to the rules. 

Nevertheless, President Biden doesn’t seem to get the message. In its budget proposal, the White House is still seeking to “address the misclassification of workers as independent contractors.” This uncompromising devotion to radical reform promises to separate 27 million Americans from critical sources of alternative income. 

Furthermore, the Biden administration’s vendetta against the joint-employer standard ignores the lessons of past policy failures. For instance, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) enacted a similar ruling in 2015, which cost franchise businesses more than $33 billion a year. In addition, nearly 376,000 jobs were shed from the American economy while workplace litigation saw a rise of 93 percent

Taxpayers should not be forced to bankroll DOL policies that are doomed for failure. Until the Biden administration can learn from past mistakes, the radical changes to the American workforce should be repealed by lawmakers. 

5) Expanding penalty powers for the DOL is anti-business

Throughout the Biden administration’s budget, White House officials have been hard on numbers and vague on policy aims. Even though President Biden is demanding eye-watering sums of taxpayer money for the DOL, the language of his budget lacks substantive policy goals. For instance, the White House has proposed “significantly increasing penalties at DOL, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the National Labor Relations Board.”

However, this vague appeal is as far as President Biden cares to go when explaining these expanded penalty powers. Although the White House has a laundry list of crimes to police, including violations in “workplace safety…child labor, equal opportunity, and labor organizing rules”, the budget fails to outline how ceding more power to labor officials will achieve this aim. In fact, President Biden declines to elaborate on these mysterious penalty powers altogether, sidestepping an explanation by promising to “create meaningful deterrence for employers for violating workers’ rights.”

This vague rhetoric conveniently veils the Biden administration’s anti-business agenda, which has weaponized the rulemaking authority of the DOL to constrict the American economy. With countless destructive DOL final rules to his name, including radical changes to joint-employer and independent contractor standards, President Biden has already shown that he is no friend to American business.

Before handing the White House a blank check to strengthen the power of labor officials, Americans deserve a straight answer on the Biden administration’s true vision for the DOL.