Philosophically speaking, Gore is far less friendly to employers. He believesin a more expansive role of government than does Bush, who believes more in theprivate sector. If you want to vote for the president who in his heart probablyunderstands you better, Double Ya may be for you. This is a guy who has been thehead of a Texas oil company, a demographic group that generally doesn’t supplya lot of liberal Democrats.
Now that we’ve taken care of philosophy, what would they really do? Wecould spend hours dissecting everything each candidate has said and done duringthe campaign, with hopes of understanding how they’ll govern. The fact is,history indicates that the party in office may not do what we’ll think they’lldo.
Historically, under Democratic presidents, the stock market has faredslightly better. Certainly the last eight years have been a stellar period underDemocratic rule.
Clinton and Gore got the Family and Medical Leave Act passed practicallybefore they unpacked their bags in 1993. This is a well-intentioned, some saysuccessful law that is also very complicated and burdensome on employers.President Bush signed the Americans With Disabilities Act a decade ago. This isa well-intentioned, some say successful law that is also very complicated andburdensome on employers.
Clinton and Gore have increased the minimum wage, a mandate whose veryexistence is oxymoronic in a capitalistic society in the first place. But Reaganand Bush did the same thing.
Clinton and Gore have supported expansive roles for the National LaborRelations Board and the Department of Labor. George W.’s father signed strictenvironmental regulations -- the Clean Air Act -- which provided for strict mandateson businesses.
Bush is feeding off the wallets of the gun lobby and the oil industry, twoconstituencies to which some of you belong, and which have a perfectlylegitimate right to get their messages out. Gore is in the pocket of the triallawyers and teachers unions, two professions to which some of you also belong,and which also have a perfectly legitimate right to get their messages out.
Gore has promised to push for campaign finance reform that would slightlyreduce the power of special interests. I believe he’ll do it. The problem is,you’re special, and you’re interested, and your business may not benefitfrom campaign-finance reform.
Bush and Gore are both free traders. This is good news to those of us in theUnited States, and also to those of you reading this in Malaysia, Argentina,India, Iceland, and other countries in which Workforce members work.
In the health care arena, Gore believes in a strong "Patient’s Bill ofRights," which would place some limits on the power of HMOs. But thosethree-letter words are so disliked in this country that limits on their power, whether state or federal, may be inevitable regardless of who's Commander-in-Chief.
Early in his presidency, Clinton spearheaded a massive deficit-reducing package, one that passed by one vote--that of Vice President Al Gore, who under the Constitution decides Senate tiebreakers. This $500-billion deficit-reduction bill (about half of the deficit reduction came from spending cuts, about half from tax increases) may have helped put the country on road to economic recovery. Then again, many economists believe that tax increases are almost never good for the economy, and that the recovery happened in spite of -- not because of -- Clintonomics.
Clinton and Gore got a sweeping pro-business welfare reform measure passedduring their term. On the other hand, this may not have happened but forRepublican control of Congress.
Speaking of Congress: the fate of pending ergonomics regulations -- and everyother bill for that matter -- may rest not in the hands of the next presidentbut in the hands of the United States House of Representatives.
Partisan control of that 435-member body looks like it will come down to ahandful of votes in a handful of races. Examine your local candidates carefully,for they, more than anyone, may decide the near future of workforce managementlegislation and regulation.
Other columns by Todd Raphael: