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Tim Griffin: class warrior


Tim Griffin usually does his dirty work behind the scenes, as in his undermining of a U.S. attorney here so that Tim could get the job for himself, and his scheme to deny black people a vote in Florida. He knows that it's safer away from the front lines.

But something has emboldened him, ideology or substance or simple meanness, and he has charged to a leader's position in the class warfare his party is waging against American workers.

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives has approved a Griffin-sponsored bill that would prohibit new federal regulations to protect workers. The bill does not actually repeal existing laws and regulations that protect workers' lives, health and compensation, but it's a step in that direction, the premise being that any protection for workers is an unnecessary annoyance to their employers, who vote Republican. To paraphrase Griffin, slightly: "Hard-working American corporations deserve a regulatory system that doesn't limit profits just because a little blood is spilled in the manufacturing process."

There are dissenters, though not the sort Griffin would pay attention to, being unaffiliated with his party. The nonpartisan Office of Management and Budget says that Griffin's bill "would undermine critical public health and safety protections, introduce needless complexity and uncertainty in agency decision-making, and interfere with agency performance of statutory mandates."

Griffin's bill would block, among others, regulations to ensure that power plants comply with the Clean Air Act, to protect workers from beryllium exposure, to make the food supply safer, to ensure Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans receive compensation owed to them for extended deployments, to track medical devices so patients can be made aware of recalls, to establish the rules for bird-hunting season, and to protect people from another Wall Street meltdown. The president of the consumer group Common Cause, Robert Weissman, says Griffin's bill "is a gift to the corporate criminal and wrongdoer lobby."

There are still enough honest men and women in the Senate to block passage of the bill in that chamber, and even if it should somehow get through, there's still an honest man in the White House to veto it. That could change in the November elections. The Great Outsourcer, Mitt Romney, has made plain his belief that unless Americans modify or abandon their insistence on decent wages and hours, on a safe shop without child labor, then their jobs should go where workers are not so picky — Asia, maybe, or Latin America.

Class warfare is real and vicious. One of America's two major political parties is under the control of people who believe that working-class Americans are too well-paid, and too independent. That's why they want to break the teachers' union and the other public-employee unions. The private-employee unions are staggering already. With their deep pockets, the corporate bosses have purchased the loyalty of quasi-populist groups like the Tea Party, who hate public workers of modest means more than they hate the malefactors of great wealth. The malefactors pay better. Tim Griffin gets it.

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