Witt: Is hurting ‘the little guy’ moral?

Published 8:01 am Tuesday, February 14, 2017

By Chuck Witt

Sun columnist

Why does it seem that when Republican legislators get into office the first thing they want to do is figure out ways to shaft “the little guy?”

This year it has happened at both the state and national level.

Here in Kentucky, Republicans hurriedly pushed through a number of bills in the first week of the legislature (at least they weren’t wasting time trying to decide what was going to be the state annelid or some other such frivolous stuff that Democrats seem to always pursue) such as “Right to Work,” removal of prevailing wage laws, shutting down a host of local employment offices and additional restrictions on abortion availability, bills which affect middle-income workers and mostly low-income women.

When was the last time that they introduced bills specifically aimed at curbing the influence of corporations or power elites or lobbyists or high income contributors? Does the word “never” come to mind?

How do Republicans reconcile their position that less government is the best for everyone and then try to enact laws which require government to intercede into the private business of so many people?

Why is less government good when it comes to containing corporations, but more government is best when it intrudes into the private and personal decisions of individuals?

Look, Republicans and Democrats both consistently mischaracterize what they are trying to do legislatively, but it certainly seems that Republicans are more adept at it than the Democrats.

“Right to Work” — it sure sounds reasonable. Everyone wants a person to have a right to work. What this legislation is really designed to do is to weaken the power of unions to organize. Unions have, to a large extent, abused their power in the past, especially when they got into areas outside fair wages, health insurance and reasonable hours. But it is the corporations, huge contributors such as the Koch brothers and the Chambers of Commerce, who overwhelmingly contribute to Republicans, who want to assure unions do not have power.

What would have become of U.S. mine workers had the UMW never formed? Would eastern Kentucky miners still be living in coal-owned towns and having to trade at company stores, all without any power to negotiate wages?

And hardening anti-abortion bills and schemes to defund Planned Parenthood are nothing more than moralistic posturing aimed at removing self-governance from women. Most of these bills are presented and supported by men who can’t possibly understand the agonizing dilemma faced by women who must consider pregnancy termination.

Now the Republican-controlled Congress is intent on “repealing and replacing Obamacare,” and yet, Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House, recently admitted that the replacement would take about 60 days to prepare. Republicans have voted to repeal Obamacare about 60 times in the last six years. It is the height of absurdity to believe they ever had a plan for replacement during all those repeal attempts since they apparently have none now.

Who will lose when the Affordable Care Act goes away? All the lower income individuals who were finally able to secure health insurance and those who have insurance who have traditionally paid the cost for people who couldn’t afford enormous hospital bills.

As to state prevailing wage law, it is probably true the cost of public projects will be reduced somewhat. But an additional cost is going to be tradesmen who will be making less income, paying less taxes, buying fewer homes or automobiles or furniture or spending on things like occasionally eating out, all of which echo throughout the economy.

Hurting the little guy seems easy, but is it moral?