Big Labor Payback: Democrats’ Idea of Fiscal Responsibility

If you hear Democrats next year on the campaign trail touting Congress for a fiscally conservative record of cutting a government program, keep in mind which program it was:

The new Democratic Congress has finally found a government agency whose budget It wants to cut: an obscure Labor Department office that monitors the compliance of unions with federal law.

In the past six years, the Office of Labor Management Standards, or OLMS, has helped secure the convictions of 775 corrupt union officials and court-ordered restitution to union members of over $70 million in dues. The House is set to vote Thursday on a proposal to chop 20% from the OLMS budget. Every other Labor Department enforcement agency is due for a budget increase, and overall the Congress has added $935 million to the Bush administration’s budget request for Labor. The only office the Democrats want to cut back is the one engaged in union oversight.

Although Congress has long insisted on copious reporting by corporations, including the burdens of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, lawmakers have been relatively nonchalant about union reporting. Unlike the quarterly filings of corporations, unions must only file once a year with the Labor Department using a free software program. They don’t have to get an independent certified audit, are only rarely audited by the government, and don’t have to follow standard accounting methods.

Read John Fund’s Opinion Journal column in its entirety to learn more about Democrats’ idea of fiscal responsibility – namely, political payback to the labor bosses who got them elected.

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