Look Ahead to An Obama Presidency

David Freddoso of National Review Online takes a look at a potential appointee to the Department of Labor under an Obama administration — Kim Bobo.

Bobo could be an obvious choice for the Obama Labor Department, perhaps as head of the Wage and Hour Division [WHD] that was the subject of the hearing. Her group already works closely with WHD, and her positions on labor issues are identical to Obama’s.

At a hearing on Capitol Hill put on by Rep. George Miller, Bobo submitted a written document before the hearing, calling for an expansion of the number of Wage and Hour investigators from 750 to:

. . . “more than 12,500” — this is a factor of more than 16, and such an expansion would nearly double the size of the entire 15,000-employee Department of Labor. For perspective, the section of Labor that protects workers from union abuses (the Office of Labor and Management Standards or OLMS) has 350 employees in all, and Democrats have been trying to shrink it. The Democratic Congress froze OLMS’s 2008 budget at the previous year’s levels.

By his own account in The Audacity of Hope, Senator Obama is a union man, supportive of this one-sided approach to labor issues. Of his union supporters and endorsers, Obama writes: “I owe those unions. When their leaders call, I do my best to call them back right away.”

In this light, someone like Bobo would be an appropriate choice for an Obama administration. Her group is a significant if small member in the left-labor activist complex. When the editorial board of the Las Vegas Review-Journal recently attacked IWJ [Interfaith Worker Justice] as a “union front group” that was attacking local homebuilders, two IWJ board members protested that the group has only four union leaders (including Linda Chavez-Thompson of the AFL-CIO) on its board, and only receives only 12 percent of its funds from unions. This amounted to $266,000 in 2007.

According to a 2004 profile of Bobo in the San Francisco Chronicle, she “has spent the last 30 years trying to get people of faith to see the connection between their Bibles and the federal budget, to see ‘moral value’ in tax policies that would bridge the widening gulf between rich and poor.” Like Barack Obama, she is a principled believer in the idea that high taxes are a moral imperative. Obama writes in The Audacity of Hope: “I consider the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy to be both fiscally irresponsible and morally troubling.”

Whether it’s Bobo or another Big Labor lackey, it’s clear that:

Whomever he appoints to the top jobs at Labor, it is worth remembering that a President Obama will create a Labor Department that does exactly what unions want. He has given several hints of this. “We need a president,” he said in April, “who knows it’s the Department of Labor and not the Department of Management. A president who strengthens our unions by letting them do what they do best — organize our workers.”

But that is not what unions do best, as their declining American membership demonstrates. Unions are best at electing Democrats, and they often do so with the dues money that members cough up — many of them unwillingly. In 2006, unions spent $58 million to elect Democrats. In this election, the AFL-CIO is giving Obama an advance for his prospective pro-union policy by running ads against his presidential opponent that FactCheck.org has documented to be false.

Obama has not condemned the unions’ lies. After all, he “owes those unions.” On the issue of labor and employment, this is the substance of Obama’s “new politics.” It is strangely familiar.