Crying Wolf – The Republican Playbook

republican majorityNow that the Republicans control the House of Representatives, expect to hear a lot more complaints from business, corporate-sponsored think tanks, and their political allies in Congress about “job-killing” government regulations. Industry trade associations, Congressional Republicans, conservative think tanks and media outlets will be “on message” on how all progressive reforms and programs are so-called “job killers.”

On consumer safety, environmental protection, workers’ rights, health care reform, oversight of Wall Street banks and other financial giants, food safety, and almost everything else, the GOP and its corporate allies will be “crying wolf,” spreading lies about the consequences of policies to require business to be socially responsible.

The Cry Wolf Project will track a number of issues to expose their persistent “cry wolf” warnings.

Here are four examples:

  • Workplace Safety: The Occupational Safety and Health Act was passed forty years ago on December 29. Today’s HuffingtonPost has an article, “OSHA at Forty” by historians David Rosner and Gerald Markowitz that highlights some of OSHA’s successes, the repeated industry drumbeat against OSHA regulations, and a call to action to strengthen existingworkplace safety laws.
  • Living Wages: Economist Stephanie Luce published, “Crying Wolf over Higher Wages in a Time of Need” to debunk conservative claims that Living Wage laws (passed in over 100 cities across the county) would be a “job killer.”
  • Higher Taxes on the Rich: During the battle over extending Bush’s tax cuts in December 2010, Donald Cohen, Jake Blumberg, and I wrote “Will Higher Taxes on the Rich Kill Jobs” in Huffpost on how the Republicans claimed that allowing the Bush cuts on the wealthiest Americans to expire will be a “job killer.” We lost that battle, but the fight on taxes will continue in states that continue to struggle with budget gaps and service cuts.
  • Sharing the Wealth: On a related but somewhat different topic, Republicans will now be bolder in complaining that government has no business trying to redistribute wealth and income. Although income inequality is primarily a national issue, states and cities can play a role in narrowing the widening gap between the rich and everyone else and in making it easier for working families to make ends meet in terms of affordable basics like housing and health care, and providing decent living-wage jobs. Pasadena, where I live, is primarily known as the home of the Rose Bowl and the annual Rose Parade, and ranks high on many indicators of “livable” cities.

peter dreier

But, as I wrote in the current issue of the Pasadena Weekly, “Pasadena’s Tale of Two Cities,” the city now confronts a wide economic divide. Using 2009 census data, I show how the city has welcomed affluent residents while pushing out poor and working class households as a result of rising housing prices. Cities have some tools at their disposal – like living wage laws, inclusionary housing policies, and community benefit agreements – to address these troublesome disparities.

Peter Dreier

Republished with the author’s permission form Huffington Post.

Published by the LA Progressive on January 8, 2011
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About Peter Dreier

Peter Dreier teaches politics and chairs the Urban & Environmental Policy Department at Occidental College. This article draws on the last chapter (called "The 21st Century So Far") of his book, The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame, published by Nation Books in July: