This is real change and hope and we don't need the corrupt senate to get it done. The New York Times is reporting that President Obama is considering using government contracting rules to help recreate the middle class in this nation:
The Obama administration is planning to use the government’s enormous buying power to prod private companies to improve wages and benefits for millions of workers, according to White House officials and several interest groups briefed on the plan.
By altering how it awards $500 billion in contracts each year, the government would disqualify more companies with labor, environmental or other violations and give an edge to companies that offer better levels of pay, health coverage, pensions and other benefits, the officials said.
More good news after the fold.
This could affect as many as one in four workers in our nation:
Because nearly one in four workers is employed by companies that have contracts with the federal government, administration officials see the plan as a way to shape social policy and lift more families into the middle class. It would affect contracts like those awarded to make Army uniforms, clean federal buildings and mow lawns at military bases.
President Clinton tried to enforce laws precluding the award of contracts to criminal companies, but Bush II quickly vacated the Clinton administration regulations when he came to office, and criminal companies went wild with delight as they robbed our treasury, screwing workers and the environment with impunity.
And the President probably can do it through executive order. No Nelson, Liberscum, or Lincoln to screw up the President's agenda. Just an executive order limiting the award of government contracts to criminal companies.
Some supporters of the new procurement policy — and even some opponents — say Mr. Obama could impose it through executive order. They assert that the president has broad powers to issue procurement regulations, just as President John Kennedy did in requiring federal contractors to have companywide equal employment opportunity plans.
Susan Collins, Tom Coburn, and three other Republican senators already have sent a letter objecting to such a policy. They apparently believe that criminal companies should receive government contracts.
And it might even save the government money:
David Madland, director of the American Workers Project at the Center for American Progress, a liberal research group founded by Mr. Podesta, argues the new policy could lower government costs, instead of raising them.
Many low-wage employees of federal contractors receive Medicaid and food stamps, he said. Citing studies conducted by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and by academic researchers, he said that contractors that pay their employees well have greater productivity and reliability, while contractors with a record of labor law violations do shoddier construction work.
Madland is right: "This policy is good for workers, it’s good for taxpayers and it’s good for high-road businesses."
The Chamber of Commerce and the Republicans are going ballistic on this. I hope President Obama follows through on these plans, and it looks like he is going to. The article comes from leaks from the White House ("White House officials")
This is real change and hope.
Ready to Go!
Update I This idea builds on a plan suggested by the progressive think tank, Center for American Progress.
CAP Action's David Madland testifies before the Panel on Defense Acquistion Reform of the House Committee on Armed Services in September 2009:
Chairman Andrews and Ranking Member Conaway, I am David Madland, Director of the American Worker Project at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
I want to focus on a less well-known but equally critical issue: the pay, benefits and working conditions of the low-wage contract workforce.
As I will explain, the contracting process gives inadequate consideration as to how contractors treat their workforce, which can cause the Department of Defense to receive less than full value for its investments.
In my testimony, I want to make three main points:
First, many federally contracted workers have low-quality jobs. The workers I am talking about sew military uniforms, rebuild army bases, and provide security for secure facilities.
Second, while poor treatment of workers is an important problem in its own right, more to the point of this panel, low pay, limited benefits and poor working conditions impose costs on the government and taxpayers and make it hard for high-road companies to compete.
Third, promoting higher labor standards can be part of a strategy for ensuring better value in contracting.