Davis-Bacon Act doesn’t say union wages have to be paid

It was with great interest that I read the July 18 article detailing how the National Republican Congressional Committee is seeking to attack any Democratic members of the House who choose to support Davis-Bacon wage protections that are included in the fiscal 2008 farm bill (“NRCC to go on offensive over farm bill’s Davis-Bacon Provisions”).

First of all, I wish that your reporter, Aaron Blake, had taken the time to educate himself on the Davis-Bacon Act. Contrary to the misconceptions being bandied about by the NRCC (and which his article, unfortunately, perpetuates), the Davis-Bacon Act is not a “union handout.” It is a simple guarantee that when federal dollars are used for construction in any given area of the United States, locally prevailing wage rates will be paid to those workers on that particular job. It is not, and never has been, a mandate for the payment of union wages.

For example, in the 6th district of Virginia, represented by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (one of the leaders of the GOP effort to strip the Davis-Bacon provision from the farm bill), the current federal prevailing hourly rate for a carpenter is $9.21 an hour; for an ironworker, $9.37; for a backhoe operator, $7.60; for a dump truck driver, $6.50; and for a laborer, $6.17 — wages that are barely above the federal minimum wage!

More importantly, had your reporter been engaged in due diligence he might have asked the NRCC whether they had plans to air television and radio ads against the 50 House Republican members who voted recently in support of Davis-Bacon wage protections contained in the clean water reauthorization bill!

Washington


Conservatives’ split on tax bill overstated
From Phil Kerpen, director of policy, Americans for Prosperity


A recent article (“Conservatives break with GOP leaders on a tax bill,” Jessica Holzer, July 18) seriously overstated the evidence of a split among conservatives on the issue of raising taxes on carried interest capital gains. So much so that it left many of us on the center-right shaking our heads in confusion.

While I was accurately quoted saying there is a broad consensus on the center-right in opposition to this tax hike, the article failed to mention that I supported my claim by attaching a strongly worded group letter signed by the leadership of over 30 leading conservative organizations that oppose this tax hike on behalf of their millions of members.

The article leads with comments from Cato Institute Chairman Bill Niskanen ostensibly in favor of the tax hike, while burying at the bottom that his support was in the context of broader corporate tax reform, which is not likely this Congress. It also failed to note that while Cato does not take positions as an organization, its tax scholars, Dan Mitchell and Chris Edwards, join the rest of the free-market groups in opposing a tax hike on carried interest capital gains. Far from there being a split, conservatives are as strongly unified on this issue as they have been on any issue in recent memory.

Given how careful some leading Democrats have been in addressing the issue, there may be a greater risk of a split on the other side of the political spectrum.

Washington