Coronavirus Speaks To Idea That Government Needs To Rethink Some Policies

Written by Steve Sherman on March 19, 2020

Congress is in the process of drafting up a massive package including checks for all Americans, subsidies to distressed industries and some loans targeting small business.  The plan may cost as much as $1 trillion. While the government focusses on throwing money at the problem, it also might be time to suspend dumb government policies that inhibit hiring and economic stability.

The obvious debate that seems to have been glossed over is the idea that if the government needs to spend $1 trillion on a crisis, they should find $1 trillion in cuts from unnecessary programs.  It is unlikely that the government will ever fund $1 trillion in spending cuts. They should be able to find some cuts.

There have been some efforts to cut spending by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY). Politico quoted Senator Paul as saying, “I think that all spending should be offset by cutting less important spending, so I will offer an amendment to pay for it. I think anytime we choose to spend money, no matter what the cause is, we should pay for it.” Paul’s ideas include, making permanent a law requiring a Social Security number to claim the child tax credit, giving the president, until the end of the year the authority to transfer existing money to pay for the programs in the bill, and ending the war in Afghanistan with a total secession of operation by the end of the year.  All of these will not pay for a new $1 trillion in spending, but it will help.

Another idea is to reduce regulation that slows the private sector. I wrote in December of last year in Townhall that the Trump Administration still had not completely abandoned Obama era regulations that were dumped on President Donald J. Trump’s desk. Right now, tech companies like Google and Oracle are making efforts to help with the coronavirus response, yet they are still being slowed by government harassment.  As I wrote, “the Trump administration’s Department of Labor (DOL) was supposed to streamline labor laws to promote economic growth after years of Obama administration harassment. During the troubled tenure of former Secretary Alexander Acosta, the DOL allowed the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) to harass a number of tech companies with frivolous lawsuits. That agency is supposed to promote affirmative action with federal contractors, yet the Obama game plan was to aggressively use only statistical analysis to claim companies were discriminating against minority employees.” Abandoning ridiculous liberal lawsuits would be a good start.

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Another good idea would be to institute a tax holiday for payroll and income taxes during this time of need. Temporary tax reductions are great economic policy and the Trump idea of a payroll tax holiday is picking up steam.  Allowing hourly workers to keep more of their own money is great policy and a good way to keep the government’s hands of stimulus cash.  The most effective ideas to stimulate economic growth are policies that allow people to keep more of their own cash.

The three ideas of cutting unnecessary spending, reducing regulations that slow companies from responding to the coronavirus and temporary tax holidays all will help alleviate the economic distress of this crisis.

Global technology is one of the top industries weakened by the coronavirus, which has caused companies like Google, Facebook, and Apple to shutter offices, cancel conferences, and ban business travel. Investors are rattled and are looking for governmental leadership as a solution, not a barrier in these extraordinary times.

Currently, numerous lawsuits stemming from the now-defunct Obama administration are harassing American technology companies with bogus discrimination allegations. Google, Palantir Technologies, and Oracle are just a few of the companies that have been targeted by what amounts to nothing more than progressive legal activism.

As a part of routine audits by the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), companies are required to give the office statistical data on pay practices. Following President Trump’s resounding election in 2016, the Obama administration rolled out multiple lawsuits as an “activist Hail-Mary,” utilizing “statistical analysis” on the data seized from American technology companies as a means of citing discrimination.

In other words, there was no evidence nor specific cases of discrimination that alerted the Obama OFCCP to any wrongdoing, merely a data model designed with the specific intent to achieve a political milestone. In fact, the federal judge presiding over the Oracle lawsuit suggested that the OFCCP was more interested in securing a “symbolic victory” than enforcing the law.

Citing wage discrimination over a data set that ignores differences in industry, education, experience, occupation, career interruptions, and total hours work not only ignores basic economic and free-market principles — it’s intellectually disingenuous.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce issued a scathing report in 2017 on the Obama-era OFCCP, citing a litany of abuses in its dealings with American companies, specifically citing the office’s “overly broad and unreasonable fishing expeditions for employment data,” and “take it or leave it conciliation efforts.”

Demanding enormous troves of data in unreasonable timeframes, discouraging employees from bringing HR personnel to OFCCP interviews, and insisting that employees sign OFCCP interview statements without ample time for legal review are just some of the tactics that the Obama-era department has used under former Secretary Alex Acosta to harass companies in the pursuit of a political agenda.

In light of the massive economic disruption of the coronavirus, companies can’t afford baseless lawsuits designed to push the failed ideology of the Obama administration. On Thursday, March 19 for instance, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged a harrowing 10%, underscoring the need for the federal government to give businesses every measure of support possible, not engage in a bogus political witch-hunt.

The OFCCP’s actions run directly counter to the Trump administration’s push to streamline labor laws and promote economic growth. Fortunately, former Secretary Acosta was forced to resign last year, paving the way for new leadership at the Department of Labor under Secretary Eugene Scalia.

As the coronavirus continues to rage across the U.S., it has underscored the need more than ever to end partisan squabbles and come together as a nation. It’s time for Secretary Scalia to end this Obama-era witch hunt and focus on fighting real discrimination when and where it rears its ugly head.

 

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