08.31.2009 0

ALG in the News: Enzi is right to oppose Smith nomination

  • On: 09/16/2009 09:26:07
  • In: Appointments

  • ALG Editor’s Note: In the following featured commentary, Americans for Limited Government’s President Bill Wilson is featured in the Casper-Star Tribune.

    Enzi is right to oppose Smith nomination

    BILL WILSON | Sunday, September 13, 2009

    In a political environment where inflammatory labels like “racist” and “anti-democratic” are tossed out with increasing frequency to describe individuals who oppose the policies of President Barack Obama, U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi did a courageous thing last month.

    He did his job.

    In asking President Obama to withdraw the nomination of Patricia Smith for the position of Solicitor of Labor, Enzi fulfilled his constitutional responsibility as a U.S. Senator to provide “advice” prior to lending his “consent” to such a controversial nominee. And while the White House may employ sympathetic television outlets to allege character assassination as it did in the case of disgraced environmental jobs czar Van Jones, none of that alters the fact that Sen. Enzi’s case against Smith is rock solid.

    Smith, who currently serves as the commissioner of the New York State Labor Department, provided what is at best misleading — at worst, false — testimony to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, of which Sen. Enzi is the ranking Republican. Specifically, Smith misled the committee about the “New York Wage and Hour Watch” program — a questionable initiative that effectively hands over labor law enforcement authority to organized labor.

    “New York Wage Watch will increase labor law compliance by giving regular people a formal role in creating lawful workplaces statewide,” Smith said in unveiling this controversial program in New York earlier this year.

    Of course it wasn’t really “regular people” that Smith was entrusting with this “formal role.” It was union officials. And the goal of the program wasn’t “compliance” or “creating lawful workplaces,” it was union organizing on the taxpayer dime while granting union backers a new weapon with which to settle old scores.

    Needless to say, telling the truth about such a radical effort — even in the halls of our increasingly radical Congress — just wouldn’t do. And so Smith provided testimony that was materially at odds with extensive documentation of the program’s past, present and future.

    For example, Smith testified that unions were not involved in the development of the “Wage and Hour Watch” program — a statement that turned out to be completely false, as union groups were heavily involved in every aspect of the program’s development. In fact, it was government, which took a back seat to the union bosses in creating this initiative.

    But that was just the start of Smith’s misleading testimony. Smith also failed to accurately describe the enforcement component of the program, going so far as to cite a nonexistent prohibition against union organizing. Additionally, she claimed there were “no plans” to expand the program in the future, despite the fact that there were specific deadlines in place to do just that.

    In other words, when presented with an opportunity to come clean about the true nature of the “Wage and Hour Watch” program, Smith attempted a white wash.

    “The Department of Labor and the American people deserve to have a Solicitor of Labor that can be counted on to fairly enforce the law and who has the full confidence of the Congress,” Enzi said in making his request to Obama. “Unfortunately, Smith is not the right candidate for the job.”

    That’s putting it far more politely than this nominee deserves.

    With President Obama appointing dozens of policy “czars” outside the scope of the Senate confirmation process, it is incumbent upon our senators to take their “advice and consent” role seriously.

    Sen. Enzi is doing just that, and deserves to be commended for his efforts.

    Bill Wilson is president of Americans for Limited Government.

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