It is time for another installment of "Democrats Say the Darnedest Things." Sometimes a Democrat will surprise you.
Louisville's Democratic mayor Greg Fischer did recently when he dared to speak the truth about the legally dubious measure to raise the local minimum wage to $10.10 an hour that passed the Metro Council with only Democratic votes. He will probably pay a big political price for doing so.
As WDRB's Danielle Lama reported, after saying he would veto the increase, Fischer explained, "To act like there is not going to be job loss is a serious mistake in my view." He added, "If jobs are portable, or they have competitors outside of Jefferson County, job loss is very real and it will happen."
Fischer would deserve even more praise if he had declared that the local increase was illegal in the first place, or if he had not agreed to a compromise hike to $9.00, which will also kill jobs. But praise is appropriate any time a high-profile Democrat has the courage to put economic reality ahead of empty symbolism and feel-good gestures.
Such occasions are exceedingly rare, as Democratic state representative Rick Rand of Bedford reminded us recently at a state legislative committee hearing. As reported by Don Weber of CN2, the hearing involved a Legislative Research Commission report on Kentucky's prevailing wage law.
That law requires payment of an artificially inflated wage rate on large public projects, including school construction. The report confirmed what everyone already knew.
"Kentucky's prevailing wage laws have increased labor costs for school projects and Financial Cabinet projects over what the labor costs would have been if workers were paid the wage they earned on private projects," Weber reported. "According to the LRC report, school projects costing $1,908,972 with prevailing wage would cost $1,264,757 with private wage — a difference of $644,397."
Wilson Sears, representing the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents, said, "All superintendents work on the premise that project cost is going to be increased somewhere between 17 and 20 percent as a result of prevailing wage." Rand sees nothing wrong with that, however.
He asks, "Why shouldn't it be the policy of this state that we put money in the hands of working people?" His question ignores economic realities and thus distills the Democratic Party philosophy to its essence.
The prevailing wage law takes money from some working people and gives it to others who just happen to work on public construction projects. And these particular construction workers would get money put in their pockets regardless, but at a private wage rate set by the market and paid on private construction projects.
So the real inquiry is, "Why should it be the policy of this state to force hardworking taxpayers to pay a premium on public projects to favor a particular group of working people?" As Republican state senator Christian McDaniel pointed out, the inflated prevailing wage rate means there are fewer public construction projects than there otherwise would be.
This subsidized favoritism means fewer jobs in public construction generally. It also means less school construction overall. As a result, the children of working people and the working people who happen to be teachers and school staff are stuck in obsolete and overcrowded facilities.
Rand is not the only Kentucky Democrat recently talking nonsense. Kentucky's Democratic secretary of state Alison Lundergan Grimes, fresh from her landslide loss to Republican Mitch McConnell for U. S. Senate, is doing her part.
According to Politico, Grimes "is threatening to take Rand Paul to court to block him from running both for president and reelection to the Senate in 2016." Fair enough. After all, a Kentucky statute purports to prevent a candidate from appearing more than once on an election ballot.
But Grimes did not stop there. She told WHAS11's Joe Arnold, "And at the end of the day, we're not going to be bullied." Say what?
Grimes seems obsessed by a delusion that male Republicans are somehow "bullying" her merely by engaging in politics. She invoked the "B word" against McConnell more than once to seek the status that some Democrats apparently admire and covet more than anything: victimhood.
It sets back the feminist cause every time Grimes whines about non-existent "bullying" by some Republican. Her bullying claims ring especially hollow so soon after she tried to portray herself to Kentuckians as a shotgun-toting tough gal. Remember her, "I don't scare easy" shtick?
So which is it, Madam Secretary? Are you Ronda Rousey or a delicate flower? Politics ain't bean-bag, you know!
Grimes spent a lot of time in Hollywood raising liberal money for her Senate campaign. But she should spare us the amateur acting, save the term "bullying" for situations in which it actually applies (most of which involve children), and quit pretending GOP politicians are somehow being big, bad meanies to her.
John David Dyche is a Louisville attorney and a political commentator for WDRB.com. His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jddyche.