Commentary: Why Are Senate Republicans Funneling Millions to Radical Left-Wing Groups?

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By Richard McCarty


In 1978, the US Labor Department created an occupational safety and health training grant program, which is now called the Susan Harwood Training Grant Program. In recent years, the Labor Department has awarded roughly $10 million a year in Harwood grants. The money is distributed to public colleges and universities, business groups, unions, and nonprofits. Of course, a number of these organizations neither deserve nor need taxpayer money.

In President Trump’s first budget, he proposed defunding the program, and the House spending bill which covers the Department of Labor eliminated funding for the grants. Unfortunately, the Senate Appropriations Committee version of the bill allocated over $10.5 million for the grants.

If they were eliminated, would the Harwood grants be missed? With the lousy record of so many government-funded training programs, it is fair to question the effectiveness of the training provided as part of the Harwood grants program. It should also be noted that some of the training classes that taxpayers have been funding only last 30 minutes to an hour.

But even if the classes do meet a need, there are plenty of other sources of funding. Businesses and business groups should be fully capable of paying for their own training programs given the corporate tax cuts and deregulatory policies of the Trump Administration. Public institutions of higher learning should be able to find the necessary funding to train workers due to the fact that federal and state governments already provide over $140 billion in funding to them. Unions should be able to afford to provide worker training considering that they could afford to spend over $1.7 billion on politics during the 2016 election cycle. The other left-wing groups that currently offer training can turn to George Soros or other leftist billionaires if they cannot afford to continue to train workers.

The following are just some of the Harwood grant recipients over the last couple of fiscal years.

    • The Service Employees International Union Education and Support Fund was awarded two Harwood grants worth over $290,000, which is just a little more than the cost of the salary and benefits provided to union president Mary Kay Henry. SEIU reported that it had assets of over $300 million and revenues of over $300 million in 2016. During the 2016 election cycle, the union made political contributions of over $39.3 million, spent over $1.3 million on lobbying, and spent over 24.5 million on independent expenditures. Of course, the liberal union gives almost nothing to Republicans.
    • The United Food and Commercial Workers were awarded a Harwood grant of over $120,000, which is about a third of the cost of the salary and benefits of union president Marc Perrone. For 2016, the UFCW reported revenues of over $270 million and assets of over $250 million. For the 2016 election cycle, the union made political contributions of nearly $6.4 million, spent over $800,000 on lobbying, and spent over $800,000 on independent expenditures. The UFCW, while generous with Democrats, gives virtually nothing to Republicans.
    • The United Auto Workers, International Union, was awarded two Harwood grants worth over $300,000. For 2016, the UAW reported that it had revenues of over $260 million and assets of nearly $1 billion. For the 2016 election cycle, the UAW made political contributions of over $5.7 million and spent over $3.5 million on lobbying. It gives nothing to Republicans.
    • CASA de Maryland, where DNC Chair Tom Perez formerly served as board president, was awarded two Harwood grants worth over $260,000. On its 2016 Form 990, CASA de Maryland reported that it had revenues of over $8.7 million and assets of over $9.4 million.
    • The Sorosfunded Make the Road New York was awarded a Harwood grant for over $140,000. For 2015, it reported that it had revenues in excess of $15.3 million and assets of over $6.5 million.
    • The University of California—Berkeley was awarded a Harwood grant of over $140,000, which is just a fraction of the base salary of the school’s chancellor. A long-time bastion of leftism, the institution has over the past year been making headlines for demonstrating a lack of respect for the freedom of speech and freedom of association.

    While cutting $10 million from the budget will not make a significant dent in the deficit, we have to start somewhere. As with the examples shown above, many of the Harwood grantees have significant assets and are blatantly hostile toward conservatives. So why should a Republican Senate allocate more taxpayer funds to be given to their left-wing opponents? It makes no sense.

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    Richard McCarty is the Director of Research for Americans for Limited Government Foundation


    Reprinted with permission from


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