A new nominee for Secretary of Labor may appear more respectable, but don't expect a change in policies that tilt toward companies and against workers.
The two events Wednesday were in exquisite contradiction. Andrew Puzder, the deeply unqualified nominee to be Secretary of Labor was forced to withdraw, prompting triumphal tweets by progressives. “Activists won! People power!,” stated one.
But in the first boots-on-the-ground example of how organized labor will do in this era of total Republican control at the national level, workers overwhelmingly rejected the Machinists at Boeing’s North Charleston, S.C., assembly.
This is the national situation in microcosm: The left is loud but the right keeps winning elections in most places, especially where progressive policies and institutions would most help the working class. I’ll just put that out there and move on.
Puzder was not really done in by allegations of hiring an illegal immigrant housekeeper or domestic abuse (the Republican Party’s leader bragged about sexual assault, after all). No, however much these things might exercise liberals, they aren’t in control of the Senate. Whatever the cover story, Puzder’s support for comprehensive immigration reform — in defiance of the GOP base — fatally eroded his support among Republican senators.
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Alexander Acosta, Donald Trump’s new selection to be Labor Secretary, is a much less impeachable choice. A Harvard-trained lawyer from Miami, he served briefly on President George W. Bush’s National Labor Relations Board. From there, he was elevated to Assistant Attorney General over the Justice Department’s civil rights division, then became U.S. Attorney for the southern district of Florida.
Anyone who thought Puzder’s withdrawal would result in a fundamental course change is likely to be disappointed. As Labor Secretary, Acosta would carry out the policy tilt of Republicans — only without the blunt-spoken honesty of Puzder. Two bonuses for conservatives: Acosta clerked for Samuel Alito before the latter was elevated to the Supreme Court. He is also a member of the Federalist Society, the premier conservative group dedicated to remaking the courts and legal system on a right-wing agenda.
Acosta would give the cabinet its first Hispanic member and perhaps some moderation (the needle having shifted so far to the right). But based on the George W. Bush NLRB and the general tilt of the Federalist Society, he would be anti-union, anti-worker-bargaining power, and pro-company. And apparently the working class that voted for this president is fine with it.
Today’s Econ Haiku:
Yellen in the House
‘Why’s the economy slow?’
Look in a mirror