Aggressive auditing

Henry Farrell relays the latest attack on organized labor:

The [Financial Times] reports (sub required) that the US administration is planning to “toughen its regulation of organised labour, in what critics see as the latest in a series of pro-business policies sweeping Washington.” It’s invoking powers that haven’t been used in decades to force unions to file detailed financial statements and increase “accountability and transparency.” This isn’t an effort to further the interests of union members; it’s the beginning of a quite deliberate attempt to cripple unions as political actors.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a FT subscription, but reading through Henry’s summary, the specific measures listed here don’t necessarily seem objectionable on the merits. Detailed financial statements sound like a good thing. So does increased accountability and transparency. What’s troubling, however, is that the administration seems to be focusing solely on unions, with senior officials expressing “concern” that “some [labor] campaigns against big business were not always in the interests of members.” Meanwhile, is anyone in the White House planning to crack down on “accountability and transparency” at the Chamber of Commerce, or the NRA? Doesn’t seem like it. So there’s no reason to think the White House is pursuing these moves out of a sudden interest in promoting good governance—especially coming from a party whose spiritual leaders were openly bragging about dismantling organized labor before the 2004 election.

UPDATE: David Sirota nicely recounts the long history of the administration’s attacks on labor unions.