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Chao's Distortions of Epic Proportions

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Labor Secretary Elaine Chao's Jan. 14 Wall Street Journal op-ed ranks among the most preposterous distortions of reality ever to appear on that newspaper's editorial pages -- and that's tough to do.

In it, Chao claimed the Bush Administration wanted to protect workers and their jobs. "Our record speaks for itself," she wrote.

It sure does.

Elaine Chao didn't close the Crandall Canyon Mine despite serious safety violations. It caved in twice. Six miners and three rescue workers died.

She rewrote federal regulations to take away overtime pay from millions of workers. She gutted OSHA. When low-income workers complained their employers were stiffing them, she didn't bother to conduct adequate investigations.

She did manage to hand out Elaine-themed gold-colored coins at public events.

You have to give her credit for chutzpah. Though she spent eight years sticking a shiv into the ribcage of the American workforce, she still says she cares about workers with a straight face.

In her op-ed, Chao expressed concern that the Employee Free Choice Act would deprive workers of secret union elections. She called the secret ballot a "vital worker protection."

That was kind of like Jesse James explaining how he wanted to help trains by robbing them of all that heavy cash.

It's a flat-out lie that the Employee Free Choice Act would eliminate the secret ballot. The legislation, as passed by the House of Representatives, would simply allow workers to choose majority sign-up or secret ballot to join a union.

Right now, it's management that gets to choose whether workers can join a union by majority sign-up or secret ballot. Management almost always chooses secret ballot. What Chao is really concerned about is taking away management's ability to bust unions during long-drawn out election campaigns -- where companies overwhelm workers through fear and intimidation.

Now it's possible that Elaine Chao honestly thinks the way to promote economic growth is to attack workers. She claims in her op-ed that she ran the Labor Department according to a well-thought-out strategy to improve America's economy.

She shouldn't have gone there.

The Bush administration has the worst job-creation record since Hoover. Millions of workers will postpone their retirement because stock market losses wiped out their 401 (k) plans. We are in the worst housing downturn on record.

We may even be entering a depression, as U.S. consumer prices in October fell more in one month than at any time since before World War II.

Like the Ms. Chao said, "our record speaks for itself."