Balance of Power

Sen. John McCain wants to cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent; Sen. Barack Obama doesn’t. Obama wants to increase the minimum wage; McCain doesn’t.

It’s hard to mix up the economic proposals of the two presidential candidates. Likewise, when it comes to workplace issues, they tend to lean in predictable ways – Obama toward the employee, McCain toward the employer.

Yet regardless of who’s elected, employment lawyers and Washington-area lobbyists say labor laws could get reshuffled in areas as varied as union organizing and gay rights.

“Some people are saying this could be the most active 'workplace Congress’ in the last 20 to 25 years,” said Mike Aitken, director of government affairs for the Society for Human Resource Management, based in Alexandria.

Where do McCain, Obama stand on labor issues? Philip Walzer, The Virginian-Pilot, September 21, 2008.

Here’s a nicely summarized view of the prospects for some basic changes, most of which, oddly enough, are not fully dependent on a Democrat becoming president. It helps to read this sort of thing, if for nothing else, in order to get some prospective on the frightening prospect of a third Republican term, and the shadow of a fourth.

The piece downplays the role that Palin– or Palin’s politics, and the right wing of the Republican party, might play in any future McCain administration. The idea is that McCain’s “libertarian” side would resurface soon after the election and that he would have little reason to spend political capital fighting, say, gay rights legislation.

I’m not sure how persuasive I find that idea. McCain could also spend his entire term fighting to keep the margins of his party happy; he could be uninterested in governing, like Bush, and leave the messy policy details to his neo-conservative precursors. I doubt Palin would be as powerful as Cheney.

What’s exciting, of course, is the prospect of a Democratic president enabling the rapid passage of all of these bills, especially the Employee Free Choice Act, pushing the U.S. just a few more steps out of the past. That might mean the birth of a unionized and green economic expansion. That could provide the tools for real change.

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol]

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