Biden's Regulatory Wish List Will Make Infrastructure Projects More Expensive

The 90-year-old Davis-Bacon Act artificially makes federal projects more expensive, and Biden seems to want to strengthen it.


On Friday, President Joe Biden released the Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions, a report compiled by the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) regulatory affairs branch. The biannual report acts as a regulatory to-do list, detailing all of the changes in regulations that various departments and agencies wish to make. The report's introduction spells out several core areas in which the administration hopes to make significant progress, namely COVID-19 protection, climate change abatement, and mental health and substance abuse treatment.

Many of the rules in the report are nonspecific. For example, one "proposes to update and modernize the regulations implementing the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts to provide greater clarity and enhance their usefulness in the modern economy." The Davis-Bacon Act is a 1931 law which requires that any workers on projects costing more than $2,000 in federal funding must be paid the "prevailing wage" (essentially, the local union wage), regardless of whether the workers are in unions. In 2011, the conservative Heritage Foundation estimated that Davis-Bacon inflated annual construction costs by nearly $11 billion.

It would be terrific if the Biden administration intended to truly "update and modernize" the Davis-Bacon Act, namely by hollowing it out and allowing workers to truly compete for federal construction contracts in a field where wages are not preemptively set, regardless of the applicant's experience. After passing an infrastructure bill that was considerably smaller than originally proposed, any opportunities to cut costs should be obvious winners. Unfortunately, despite the new rule's lack of specificity, Biden's previous rhetoric on the law is discouraging.

"When President Obama put Vice President Biden in charge of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), Biden made sure that Davis-Bacon Act and Service Contract Act standards were strictly enforced, requiring that the prevailing wage be paid to construction workers and service workers on all projects funded by ARRA," noted Biden's campaign website. "As president, Biden will build on this success by ensuring that every federal investment in infrastructure and transportation projects or service jobs is covered by prevailing wage protections."

In "Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad," signed a week after he took office, Biden stipulated that "agencies shall, consistent with applicable law, apply and enforce the Davis-Bacon Act and prevailing wage and benefit requirements." And in his February remarks to labor leaders regarding his plans for a future infrastructure spending bill, Biden indicated that he expected the legislation to create "jobs—good-paying jobs, Davis-Bacon and prevailing wage jobs."

From Biden's statements on the subject, it's clear that any of his proposed "updates" to the Davis-Bacon Act would not make it easier to hire contractors at market rates.

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  1. Seems to? Biden shills for labor unions, and that's what Davis-Bacon is designed to do.

    1. Seriously I don’t know why more people haven’t tried this, I work two shifts, 2 hours in the day and 2 in the evening…FSh And i get surly a check of $12600 what’s awesome is I m working from home so I get more time with my kids.

      Try it, you won’t regret it........CASHAPP NOW

      1. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

        Just kidding, it's spam, no problem.

  2. Biden tries to make life better for workers.

    Reason: "How dare he make anything cost more!"

    1. >>better for workers


      1. I've got my first check total of $15,550, pretty cool. I am so excited, this is the first time i Actually earned something. I am going to work even harder new and i can't wait for next week payment.jjl Go to home tab for more detail.......I highly recommend to everyone to apply...

        Join this right now............Pays-/24

    2. By taking money from the people funding said projects.

      If Biden really wants to make life better for them, set all wages to $1,000/hr. That will work our great, right?

      1. If the cost is double because of Davis-Pork, you can only repair half as much crumbling infrastructure.

        1. Back of the envelope estimate is that Davis-Bacon adds about 10% to a total project cost. You are correct, less work can get done when over paying for labor. Ymmv.

  3. Recall a Davis-Bacon wage rate job where the Flagger wage+fringe was so high the owner of the construction company remarked he would flag on the job and get a pay raise.

    Let the market decide each worker’s pay.

    1. For 36 years, Trump has denied knowingly using undocumented workers to demolish the building that would be replaced with Trump Tower in 1980. After Senator Marco Rubio raised the issue of undocumented Polish workers during a Republican primary debate this year, Trump described himself as removed from the problem. “I hire a contractor. The contractor then hires the subcontractor,” he said. “They have people. I don’t know. I don’t remember, that was so many years ago, 35 years ago.”
      Trump has bragged about having “one of the greatest memories of all time.”

      1. I recall the Polish workers building Trump Tower due to a mid/late 80s lawsuit filed by a few of them for not receiving all of their wages. Iirc, two pushed the issue and either received a settlement or a verdict in their favor. They should have been compensated per their original agreement and they eventually were. All of the others apparently never had issues.

        My recollection is the big stink came about because these workers were brought in to avoid the corrupt and overpriced union labor available at the time. So good for the contractor for doing this.

        Furthermore, 1980 Poland was a socialist country and experiencing a recession. The Poles working on the construction of Trump Tower not only were able to find work but they were compensated eleven times the average wages in Poland. Eleven times.

        My experiences designing and managing construction projects is that the owner knows who the GC and possibly any subs if they are local; that probably doesn’t apply as much in large urban areas. Beyond someone they knew before the project began, they can name the GC superintendent, project manager and company owner. And that’s it.

        Maybe Trump knew all. Maybe he was even the mastermind! But him not knowing is reasonable based on my professional experiences.

      2. Trump has bragged about having “one of the greatest memories of all time.”

        Yes, Trump brags--about things that don't matter. Compare that to Biden or Hillary who fabricate supposedly autobiographical stories from thin air to look less awful than they actually are.

        However, in this case, the issue isn't memory, the issue is that Trump claims he didn't know about the undocumented workers, a claim that is eminently plausible.

  4. Making things more expensive is kind of a thing nowadays, not that it's Biden's fault, it's those darn shippers and middlemen and wreckers.

  5. Biden's Regulatory Wish List Will Make Infrastructure Projects More Expensive

    Yes, and Biden likes it that way: he can justify higher taxes on people he hates, contractors make more money, his union cronies get paid off, and if there is any shortfall, he'll just print even more money and make bankers and Wall St happy.

  6. "detailing all of the (generally UN-Constitutional) POWER-GRABBING regulations that various Nazi-departments and Nazi-agencies wish to HAVE."

    because that's how a Nazi-Nation operates....

    How about a USA founded on a US Constitution where the People's law actually restrains and prevents a Nazi-Nation from forming??

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