President Bush accelerates rebuilding by suspending sweetheart “prevailing wage” rules

WASHINGTON — Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist praised President Bush for exercising his right to suspend the Davis-Bacon Act for areas affected by Hurricane Katrina. The decision means that hurricane victims’ lives will return to normal more quickly. In addition, more federal dollars will go to rebuilding projects, not fat-cat union shop bosses.

The Davis-Bacon Act, enacted during the New Deal by Northern Whites to clamp down on cheap Southern Black labor, requires any federal construction project to pay so-called “prevailing wages.” In practice, this means that bloated unionized construction firms get to set their own price. Economists estimate that this raises the cost of federal projects from 25% to 33%.

“People should always remember that the origins of Davis-Bacon are steeped in racism,” said Norquist. “Unions have never hesitated to line their own pockets with extra taxpayer dollars, especially at the expense of lower-skilled workers, who tend to come from new communities.”

Section 6 of the Davis-Bacon Act allows the President to waive the provisions of the Act in times of national emergency. ATR sent a letter to Labor Secretary Elaine Chao this week asking that the President do just that. Also, Congressman Jeff Flake (R-AZ) organized a campaign within the U.S. House of Representatives that urged the President to invoke Section 6 for victims of Hurricane Katrina.

“This decision by the President will ensure that roads and buildings are constructed much more quickly than if “prevailing wage” rules were dragging down the process,” continued Norquist. “The cost savings will certainly be in the billions of dollars. That means more reconstruction more quickly for devastated residents of the Gulf Coast region.”