Labor Department Does Job: Conservatives Not Happy

Posted by | December 4, 2010 11:16 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

While the world focuses not unjustifiably on the battles on Capitol Hill, the Obama Administration continues to rebuild the executive branch and return it to its constitutional function of enforcing the laws.  The Bush Administration relied a great deal on “voluntary compliance,” and industry is not happy with the return to what I call “real enforcement.”

On Sept. 22, Labor’s Office of the Solicitor—which employs 400 attorneys to enforce the nation’s labor laws—issued a draft “operating plan” to dramatically increase pressure on employers. A source inside the department says the plan has been adopted…All of this is in stark contrast to the approach of the previous administration. “Laws and regulations at the local, state and federal level are a dizzying array of sometimes conflicting requirements,” Elaine Chao, the secretary of labor from 2001 to 2009, told me. “The best way to protect workers is to help employers understand their legal obligations and promote collaborative working relationships between employers and workers on safety and other issues.”

Policy won’t grind to a halt on January 3.  While the impact of any one of these actions is not nearly as large as the tax debate underway, the hundreds of them that the Administration will be undertaking, collectively are a big deal.  And it’s a reminder of why it is important to keep the presidency in Democratic hands.

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Copyright 2010 Liberaland
By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.

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