The American Spectator has just put its September cover feature online, a piece by W. James Antle III on Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, “Rewarding Labor.” Antle calls the Department of Labor one of Washington’s rare enclaves of common sense:
Overtime regulations that had been unchanged since 1949 were modernized. Union financial disclosure requirements have been better enforced than at any time since Congress enacted them in 1959. Job training programs have been updated and made more flexible for modern workers. All this has been done while spending 3.4 percent less than in 2001. This year, the department submitted its lowest budget request since fiscal year 1996.
This record is noteworthy for two reasons. The first is that spending restraint and managerial prowess have been conspicuously lacking elsewhere in President Bush’s administration. The second is that we’re talking about the Department of Labor, an agency that mostly regulates work conditions and runs job training programs. As Chao puts it, “This department is one of the most important departments in the federal government because we regulate every single workplace in America.”
Antle does not include Labor’s work on education and training, another area where the department has achieved much in streamlining programs and focusing on the right priorities.
Otherwise, the article puts the right emphasis on the right places — such as the Office of Labor Management Standards’ efforts to hold organized labor accountable — and explains how Chao has been able to achieve so much in the department. It’s a good piece.
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