Challenge: Give the ‘Best’ Reason Against Mitt Romney

I’m in Oklahoma with Coach Vance Trefethen running a debate camp, and tomorrow another camp starts in Orlando, Florida. Training Minds – the nonprofit I run – will be running a LIVE BLOG during the Presidential Debates tomorrow night, and I’ll explain that more in the morning. Let me just say this: we’re going to have a fantastic time debating!

Today, let’s continue the debate started yesterday. As you read (“Debate Isn’t as Bad as You Think“), my friend Margie spent a good deal of comment real estate to dish on Mitt Romney – or, as she liked to refer to him, “Mic Money.” This was her chosen racial slur (“mic” is a derogatory term for Irish immigrants) for Mitt Romney. Her Facebook page was peppered with all sorts of attacks on conservatives – and, of course, unparalleled support for Barack Obama.

So, you know what I did. I gave Margie a simple challenge: “Give me the BEST reason to vote against Mitt Romney.” After a couple of days, Margie threw the Davis-Bacon Act on the table. That was the reason to vote against Mitt Romney. The best reason. Romney supports its abolition, or at least a significant reform of it. Here’s her Facebook post: 

You must have had the Davis-Bacon Act on your mind, too. I mean, it pales in comparison to $16 trillion debt, trillion-dollar deficits, rampant unemployment, record government assistance claims, a Middle East in chaos, Iran developing nuclear weapons, Mexican cartels given government assault rifles, and [Democrat] voter fraud. Davis-Bacon trumps all of these petty items!

Just kidding. I had to look it up. The Davis-Bacon Act was passed 80 years ago, and democrats passed it. To this day, Democrats want to keep this law in place. According to Wikipedia, the summary of Davis-Bacon is:

The Davis-Bacon Act of 1931 is a United States federal law which established the requirement for paying prevailing wages on public works projects. All federal government construction contracts, and most contracts for federally assisted construction over $2,000, must include provisions for paying workers on-site no less than the locally prevailing wages and benefits paid on similar projects.

Basically, the existing law keeps jobs local. I was surprised that the law is actually a Jim Crow law. You know, one of those racist laws that were passed by Democrats in the early 20th century? You probably thought Jim Crow laws were all repealed, just like you thought Republicans were responsible for them. In reality, Democrats created Jim Crow and Republicans defeated Jim Crow. Davis-Bacon survived, legislation that actually accuses “negros” from taking construction jobs away from white folk. (Now, that’s not my language – I despise racism. This is the language of this 80-year-old law Margie wants to keep enacted.)

Mitt Romney thinks this law should be abolished. Therefore, don’t vote for him; that’s Marge’s argument. I’m surprised Margie is so excited over Davis-Bacon, and I was also surprised that anti-union people were too. Margie, like Mitt, is a business owner and apparently an entrepreneur. I don’t know anything about her business, but I wonder if she’s ever been restricted from hiring someone because of Davis-Bacon. Mitt showed his surprise in front of a group of small business owners:

Do you think this is the real reason? I don’t think so. See, Marge made this way too easy. I even asked her to get a bit deeper for me, liven this up. Here’s the FB thread:

Now Margie was opening up, getting a bit more honest about her liberal leanings. Though Margie is apparently a business owner, she believes in unions. Davis-Bacon, she’s been told, is worth voting against Mitt Romney. Heaven forbid if this 80-year-old legislation is revoked and a local union member loses his job by some “negro” from down south. (Again, not my words…the bill uses this racist argument.)

Margie, I think you’ve been reading too much union propaganda. Davis-Bacon is an out-dated, racist, anti-growth law that just needs to go. In fact, it breeds corruption. Unions are extremely corrupt, so corrupt that anyone with a hidden camera stuffed in their collar could put together very damaging information.

So here’s the issue: unions. My contention is that they are corrupt and they should be regulated. Businesses have been thwarted from the unionization of the country, especially municipal unions, and that tide should change. That’s the real contention, isn’t it? I suspect Davis-Bacon is just one of many examples of this larger, more central issue.

Wait till I tell you about unions tomorrow. Some shocking videos were unearthed last week, at the exact time that I was researching this topic for Margie. But first,

Question: What is your opinion of the Davis-Bacon Act? Is this a reason that would sway who you vote for president?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Ninabi

    I read as much as I could about the Davis-Bacon act. My question is this- would there be any harm in repealing it? Could there be a “penny-wise, pound foolish” situation where cheaper, unskilled workers would be hired, yet the completed project is shoddy and falling apart and cost the taxpayers more money for repairing/replacing the original project? For all the reading I did, I couldn’t find a specific example of a government contract job that detailed exactly what workers would be replaced for less money.

    Does the call for the repeal create unease in those who are concerned about the erosion of the middle class? Of great concern to me is the lack of good paying jobs that I consider to be part of the middle class American dream- where people work hard, won’t go bankrupt because they have decent healthcare coverage, have enough to buy a house (not a McMansion, but a normal home). A lot of jobs out there are entry level, bare-existence jobs- the $8 to $10 dollar per hour wage. If we want to support families, a living wage helps. With the repeal of the Davis Bacon act, would there be more eager bodies willing to take the cheaper jobs, but would those willing, yet unskilled, workers be the ones not taking home enough money that they qualified for food stamps thereby merely shifting government costs from union worker salaries to SNAP?

  • margie

    Chris, Ninabi, thank you for your reply, My selection of the Davis Bacon Act, was simply this- these bare-existence jobs- the $8-$10 per hour wage you address to some, is the living wage- repeal of the Davis-Bacon act or the selection of Romney to the Presidency, and that same position can be filled by an even more desperate laborer, perhaps the company would be able to pay $5. an hour for such a job. The difference in wage would can help the corporation in terms of generating more profit. This by Romney’s own words would be the first act of his presidency. It is the concept, workers struggling and the little bit of protection afforded them by the federal government is the first thing Romney wipes away. It is a statement of who and what he stands for. He is interested in assisting the corporations, the wealthy, the country club elite. This is not about Unions, or about the actual law, it is about his attitude towards all of us.

    • Well, now, wait one minute there. These claims underly this faulty assumption: Unions have our better interests in mind. I answer to this tomorrow.

    • Will Martin

      Even if this outdated, racist law was repealed, state minimum wage (Which this bill differs too*) would still remain in effect! Minimum wage would not be repealed! Even if Federal contracts were not held to local minimum wage the Federal government has it’s own minimum wage! It is $7.25 an hour! Not $5!

      *”No less than the locally prevailing wages and benefits paid on similar projects.”

  • RickStevens

    Margie, I think you’re a little “off kilter” with the actual implementation of the Davis-Bacon Act. I have firsthand knowledge about how this does more to stifle labor and cost taxpayers more money than it does to help anyone. My dad is the director of one of the top weatherization organizations in the US and the best organization in the state of Illinois. Their crews are so good at what they do with houses that they are sought after throughout the state for jobs that other local weatherization companies cannot do. They are funded through federal and state grants and are alotted a specific amount of money available to spend on each low income home (which includes both labor and materials). Because they are work in southeastern Illinois, many of the counties who look to them for help are hundreds of miles (and 4 – 6 driving hours) away. Here is where the problems come in…because of the “prevailing wage” laws that he must work with (their crews are all non-union and each man is paid $12 – 15 per hour normally), he has to turn down jobs that would require him to pay up to $50 per hour (and up to $80 per hour in Cook County) because all of the alotted money would be taken for wages (which includes drive time to the worksite). What comes of this is that those low income individuals/families are not able to have their homes weatherized (made more energy efficient) and thus have higher energy bills. Because these folks are low-income, they also receive government assistance in paying those bills. The government assistance reference aside, he could hire 5 – 6 more crews of 3 – 4 men each IF he did not have to pay the prevailing wage for the county in which they were working. Instead, jobs do not get completed by the local employers and families are futhering their dependence on the government. Instead of rewarding those who have top-level skills, all that Davis-Bacon does is pay a person simply because they are living in a specific geographic area. As an entrepreneur, I would hope that you understand the economic issues that this antiquated law brings to the table.

  • Bea76

    Since the title of your blog post was give your best reason against Mitt Romney here was the final straw for me. The 47% comment. Its one that so many people are throwing around today (yourself included) that I had to dig deeper. Not that I don’t believe that in some areas of the country 1 in 2 are getting welfare/food stamps/etc but to say that is the percentage of Americans seemed wrong to me. So I spent a good 4 hours digging for the truth on that statistic. My first hour was frustrating because I could not find any hard evidence of how that number was drawn (did I mention my undergraduate is in math and I make a living as an engineer?). The closest I could get was a Republican senate committee that stated the number was 1 in 3 but no facts on how that number was derived was given. I found the latest census numbers which said 1 in 8 received benefits. Things were getting really fishy so I dove deeper. I was finally able to find the “raw” numbers from the latest census broken down by government “handout” and started crunching numbers. Want to know what I found that made me so enraged that I wanted to scream it to every news media in the country??? The ONLY way you can just the 47% or almost 1 in 2 Americans receiving government handouts is when you add in the following: social security recipients, medicare/medicad recipients, welfare, SNAP, WIC, low income credit, government pension payouts, MILITARY pension payouts, MILITARY disability payouts. THE ONLY WAY to scientifically support a 1 in 2 number is to add in our elderly, veterans, and disabled veterans. That is sick that everyone who throws the “1 in 2” number around is doing so by smacking our retired military, disabled military, and elderly right in the face and saying they are the drain on America. My father-in-law served 25 years in the Air Force and is 15 years into a civil service career that has taken him to multiple Iraq/Afghanistan/Korea/Iran multiple times for deployments to protect and serve his country. To throw people like him into the mix so people can spout the 1 in 2 statistic is disgusting and un-American, in my opinion. The irony is these people who are the only way the 1 in 2 statistic can even exist are the ones risking their lives so others can so freely call them a drain to society by protecting American first amendment right. I will not support ANYONE who believes that it is o.k. to throw around a statistic that is a slap in the face to all who have served and protected this country.

    • RickStevens

      I know that I’m not supposed to feed the trolls, but my big billy goat gruff just needs to come out here. Bea, you stated that you are an engineer and mathematician. With these qualifications, I find if difficult to imagine that you couldn’t figure out who the 47% are. So, you created the proverbial straw man in order to knock him down. Let me use your words “I will not support ANYONE who believes that it is o.k. to throw around a statistic that is a slap in the face to all who have served and protected this country.” So, you don’t believe that it’s OK to throw around a statistic that is a slap in the face of those who have served, but you go ahead and do that by concocting your own 47% statistic. If you believe that your placement of your father-in-law into the 47% statistic that you made up yourself is doing credit to his service, then by all means, go ahead. You want to know what is disgusting and un-American? Leaking national security information that is detrimental to our military operations and putting troops in harms way is disgusting and un-American ( “Protecting” your ambassador to a hostile, Muslim nation by hiring the only company (an not an American company at that) that would use beanbag rounds instead of live ammunition is disgusting and un-American ( Don’t pretend to have a patriotic high horse about civil and military service when the commander-in-chief doesn’t want the votes of the soldiers to count in the election ( Do you know why the boss doesn’t want his soldiers to vote? Because they won’t be voting for him.

  • LarsJorgensen

    Davis Bacon has nothing to do with minimum wage or $8-$10/hour. It enforces an inflated prevailing wage – which could be $50/hr or more. Basically, it makes it so that there is no cost advantage for a non-union shop. This act strengthens unions at the expense of taxpayers.
    There are many critical issues at stake in this election so while I do think repealing Davis-Bacon is a good thing it will not sway my vote.