Privatization Serves Bush's Pals

The Register Guard (Eugene, OR), December 11, 2002 | Go to article overview
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Privatization Serves Bush's Pals


Byline: MICHAEL L. HALLINAN For The Register-Guard

PRESIDENT BUSH'S PLAN to indiscriminately turn over countless government services to for-profit corporate contractors, and destroy the jobs of 850,000 federal employees in the process, is a serious threat to the well-being of our community.

Under the president's plan, billions of taxpayer dollars are about to be transferred to big business. We're told that this will be good for taxpayers and for Americans who rely on critical federal services. The Enrons and WorldComs of the world, the argument goes, will put their pursuit of profits and political influence aside and provide better services - from Social Security claims to environmental protection - at less cost and with more efficiency, because they care about taxpayers and working families.

Yeah, right - I may have been born in the dark, but I wasn't born last night.

And just to make sure life isn't too rough on his buddies, President Bush killed three labor rules opposed by federal contractors through executive order. He also repealed a federal contracting rule that would have required government procurement officials to consider companies' labor records before awarding them contracts.

If President Bush really cared about working families, he wouldn't be going out of his way to deny federal employees representational rights. He wouldn't be forcing local communities to pick up the tab for laid-off workers. He wouldn't be denying local economies a secure core of middle-class workers.

The spin-weavers in Washington have shrewdly packaged the president's plan. They say that transferring existing programs and untold millions of our tax dollars to big business will give working people the best value for our buck by encouraging competition and reducing the size of government. The facts paint a very different picture.

The president's plan explicitly avoids competition. Instead, federal agencies are encouraged to directly transfer existing programs and our tax dollars to corporate contractors without any bidding process. The charade continues with the failure of the administration to require corporations that already have fat government contracts to compete with the government to see if they really are as good as they claim they are. How this approach provides the best value escapes me.

The claim that the size of government will be reduced is equally devious but untrue. You do the math: The fact of the matter is there are between 1.75 and 1.9 million employees on the payroll of our government's executive branch. This is the smallest this workforce has been since the Kennedy administration.

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