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.


  1. Nate says

    THANX ! .

    As a poor White guy living in District 1 (you know , where White people only go to buy drugs or hookers) I see the squeeze on a daily basis , it’s a terrible thing and un – American in my view .

    I imagine this will all change for the worse in 10 years or less when all those cheaply built condos along the Colorado and Walnut corridors go from yuppie owned to low class working poor residents and the blight & crime soars as it always does when you force people to live too close , like rats in a trap .

  2. Transparency says

    Unemployment is not a Republican, Democrat, Tea Party issue. Unemployment is a NATIONAL issue.

    Stop the talk and get the results!

    Management-employee(union) loyalty relationships that provide sustained American employment. Businesses, universities, states, counties, cities worldwide are into a phase of creative disassembly. Hundreds of thousands of jobs are being shed. Even solid world class University of California Berkeley led by Chancellor Birgeneau is dismissing employees, faculty via “Operational Excellence (OE)”: 1,000 fired. Yet many continue to cling to an old assumption: implied, unwritten management-employee contract.

    Management promised work, upward progress for employees fitting in, employees accepted lower wages, performing in prescribed ways, sticking around. Longevity was a sign of good employer-employee relations; turnover was a dysfunction. None of these assumptions apply in the 21 century economy. Businesses, universities, public institutions can no longer guarantee careers, even if they want to. Managements paralyzed themselves with a strategy of “success brings successes” rather than “successes bring failure’ and are now forced to break implied contract with employees – a contract nurtured by management that future can be controlled.

    Jettisoned employees are however finding that hard won knowledge, skills, earned while loyal are no longer desired in 21st century employment markets.
    What contract can employers, employees make with each other?

    The central idea is simple, powerful: job is a shared partnership.
    • Employers, employees face financial conditions together; longevity of partnership depends on how well customers, constituencies needs are met.
    • Neither management nor employee has future obligation to the other.
    • Organizations train people.
    • Employees create security they really need – skills, knowledge that creates employability in 21st century economies
    • The management-employee loyalty partnership can be dissolved without either party considering the other a traitor.

    Let there be light for employees and employers

  3. Joe says

    Inequality in itself is a major “job killer.”

    It results in distorted spending that doesn’t bring about much in the way of useful material and social infrastructure available to all.

    It results in a wealthy class that makes decisions about what pleases it to spend on and invest in, rather than in a shared social wealth in which decisions about spending and investment are made socially (corrupt as government and the electoral process are, they have a modicum of public input).

    Joe Maizlish

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