Tag: jason smith
Jason Smith

Contrary To 'Working Class' Puffery, House GOP Attacks Worker Protections

Congressional Republicans have tried to rebrand themselves over the past few years as the party of workers, rather than of the rich elite and country clubs. But, they have filed more than 10 bills to attack labor unions and roll back workplace safety and wage protections since the start of 2023.

House Ways and Means Committee Chair Jason Smith made a similar claim on Monday telling the Congressional Institute, "I know that the Republican Party is the party of the working class," and in a February 28 Fox News interview.

In February 2021, Punchbowl News reporters asked then-House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy about comments by then-House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney that former President Donald Trump did not represent the GOP's future. Rather than address the question, the California Republican said his party has "always been about conservative ideas, promoting opportunity, and the uniqueness of this party today is we're the workers party, we're the American workers' party."

But McCarthy's record paints a different story. Statements on his campaign website say he aims to "produce a business-friendly environment" and "allow American businesses to compete in a global marketplace" by freeing them from high taxes and "regulatory red tape." He has just a 13 percent rating from the AFL-CIO for supporting workers during his House career

Since McCarthy became House speaker in January, members of his Republican caucus and their Senate counterparts have introduced several bills that would attack workers and their rights.

South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul have introduced the National Right-to-Work Act, a bill that would make it harder for workers to unionize and collectively bargain for better salary, benefits, and workplace conditions.

Several states have adopted similar laws, which allow employees to avoid joining or contributing to unions even if a majority of their colleagues choose to unionize. Multiple academic studies show that states with these laws see a significant drop in union membership and in wages. Many business groups support them, as it allows them to pay workers less.

"The real purpose of right to work laws is to tilt the balance toward big corporations and further rig the system at the expense of working families," the AFL-CIO says on its website. "These laws make it harder for working people to form unions and collectively bargain for better wages, benefits and working conditions."

Labor advocates also note that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. fiercely opposed such laws, arguing in a 1961 speech:

In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as 'right to work.' It is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights. Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and collective bargaining by which unions have improved wages and working conditions of everyone… Wherever these laws have been passed, wages are lower, job opportunities are fewer and there are no civil rights. We do not intend to let them do this to us. We demand this fraud be stopped. Our weapon is our vote.

Other GOP bills would also similarly undermine the work of unions and protections for working people.

The NOSHA Act, a bill, filed by Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs in January, would repeal the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 in its entirety. Doing so would eliminate OSHA, the federal agency tasked with ensuring safe and healthy working conditions for American workers. In a press release announcing identical legislation in November 2021, Biggs said that such issues "are more appropriately handled by state governments and private employers."

Additionally, Biggs has proposed a Small Business Flexibility Act to allow restaurants to pay less than the federal minimum wage to non-tipped workers by forcing employees to pool their tips.

Virginia Rep. Bob Good is sponsoring the Davis-Bacon Repeal Act, which would eliminate the 1931 law, which requires that federal and federally assisted contractors pay their laborers and mechanics at minimum the local average wage for similar workers in that field. This means contractors cannot rely on an underpaid labor force to win contracts with the lowest bid.

Bills sponsored by Indiana Sen. Mike Braun and New York Rep. Elise Stefanik would reinstate a Trump-era program that granted amnesty to businesses that underpaid their workers as long as they voluntarily self-correct now. The legislation, named the Ensuring Workers Get PAID Act, restricts workers' rights to sue their employer if they were not adequately paid.

President Joe Biden's administration terminated the program days after his inauguration.

"Workers are entitled to every penny they have earned," said Wage and Hour Division Principal Deputy Administrator Jessica Looma at the time in a press release. "The Payroll Audit Independent Determination program deprived workers of their rights and put employers that play by the rules at a disadvantage. The U.S. Department of Labor will rigorously enforce the law, and we will use all the enforcement tools we have available."

Other GOP proposals would weaken those prevailing wage protections.

The Laborers' International Union of North America (LiUNA!), a union that represents half a million workers in construction, energy, and public sector jobs, opposes these efforts, arguing, "Members of Congress should protect public investments by standing strong against weakening Davis Bacon prevailing wage rules. Corporations do not pass the money they save from cuts in labor costs on to taxpayers."

The union notes in its fact sheet that the law guards against "unethical contractors undercutting the local workforce," "shoddy construction," "construction site accidents due to an unskilled and untrained workforce," and "cost over-runs and delays."

In a statement to the American Independent Foundation, AFSCME President Lee Saunders said: "Working people aren't going to take attacks sitting down. Across the country, AFSCME members are actively engaged in holding elected officials accountable. Attacks on public services are attacks on working families. And we intend to ensure that our communities stay strong, healthy and safe."

"While there are still those who seek to erode workers' freedoms, we believe that we can continue the progress we've made over the past two years," Saunders added, "With President Joe Biden at the helm and pro-worker allies in Congress, we've been able to lower costs for working families, invest in our infrastructure and get our economy back on track. That's the work we're focused on."

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.

OAN displays debunked Afghanistan helicopter video.

Right-Wing Media Won’t Stop Lying About Afghan ‘Hanged’ From Chopper

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Multiple right-wing media figures, outlets, and social media users falsely claimed that a viral video showing a man in Afghanistan suspended from a helicopter was an execution by the Taliban. Other footage of the flight showed the man alive and well, and reportedly he was attempting to fix a flag.

This narrative is just one example of multiple falsehoods spread by conservatives to attack President Joe Biden following his decision to withdraw U.S. military forces from Afghanistan.

As Media Matters previously wrote, Fox News host Sean Hannity aired the footage on the August 31 edition of Fox News' Hannity, falsely claiming it showed the Taliban dangling a hanged man from a Black Hawk helicopter in Afghanistan. But Hannity's claim had been debunked before his show aired.

Conservative media personalities and politicians — including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO) — also repeated the false claim on Twitter, using it to criticize the Biden administration's decision to remove U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Cruz later deleted his tweet, writing that the information in it "may be inaccurate."

A tweet by Rep. Jason Smith that reads "On the day that we see innocent people hanging from an American helicopter, the Biden Administration decides to pull out early leaving behind hundreds of Americans and even more innocents to die at the hands of the Taliban. It's unacceptable and heartbreaking."

A Fox anchor along with multiple contributors and guests have also engaged with the false claim, as have other right-wing cable channels like One America News Network and Newsmax, other media organizations and users on fringe social media platforms.

Fox News and Fox Business

  • On August 30, a day before Hannity himself pushed this lie, Hannity guest Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) said that "we had a video today of one of our Blackhawk helicopters with somebody hanging from it as it moves through the sky."
  • Also on August 30, guest Elliot Ackerman said on The Ingraham Angle that "we just saw the Taliban flying a Blackhawk helicopter above Kandahar with a dead body hanging from its bottom."
  • On August 30, Fox Business guest Stephen Yates said: "We have today the Taliban hanging someone from a helicopter."
  • On August 31, Fox Business guest Sam Brown said, "We're seeing the reality of the Taliban now flying Blackhawk helicopters over Kabul, hanging their enemy."
  • Later the same day, Fox contributor Katie Pavlich said on The Five, "They are hanging people from our helicopters." Pavlich repeated this later in the show, saying the Taliban have "been using" weapons left behind "to execute our allies who helped us on the ground. … They hung a guy with a helicopter."
  • That evening, Fox Business anchor David Asman was discussing the helicopters U.S. forces left behind and said: "At least one was used yesterday in horrific fashion to hang a human being. We don't know the circumstances of that. We don't know who that person was that was hanging from the helicopter. But in one of the typically sick dimension of the way that these -- the Taliban think, or whoever was piloting that helicopter, that's how they used it."
  • And on September 1, Fox News contributor Charles Hurt said on Fox Business, "The image of our Blackhawk helicopter flying around Kabul with the body of what appears to be a dead person hanging from the bottom of it -- those images get seared into people's minds, and they never forget it."


  • On the August 31 edition of the morning show Wake Up America, Newsmax's Alex Kraemer showed and read a tweet claiming that the Taliban "are now hanging innocent civilians from [helicopters] for the world to see." Later in the show, co-host Rob Finnertysaid: "We saw someone hanging from a helicopter on video. This person was dead."
  • During Newsmax's August 31 midday show John Bachman Now, the host said there are "U.S. Blackhawks reportedly being flown by the Taliban with people hanging from them."
  • Later that day on American Agenda, Newsmax host Grant Stinchfield said the Taliban were "flying people hanging from Blackhawk helicopters yesterday." Later in the show, former Trump spokesperson Jason Miller referenced people in Kabul risking being "flown around the city hanging by their neck off of a helicopter."
  • On September 1, Finnerty repeated this lie on Wake Up America, saying: "We saw somebody hanging from a U.S. military helicopter over Kabul just a couple of days ago."

One America News Network

  • On August 31, the host of OAN's In Focus with Stephanie Hamill said: "There's video circulating online of them in an American helicopter with a man hanging by his neck off of the helicopter." Her guest, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), replied: "That's sick. That is sick."
  • Later on Real America, host Dan Ball previewed the video he claimed shows "the Taliban flying one of our Blackhawk choppers in Kandahar with a body hanging from it" with a long-winded warning about graphic content. He added: "Now, have we vetted it all out? Can I confirm it happened yesterday? I don't know when it happened. It's all over the web. It's from Kandahar. I can't read what that says, but we're getting this from multiple sources of folks that were there on the ground. They confirm it's one of our choppers, they confirm it's from Afghanistan. I don't know who's hanging there, but -- you want to see this stuff come over here? And I'm not trying to fearmonger one bit. I'm keeping it real, folks."

Other right-wing outlets and social media

  • On August 30, Gateway Pundit shared a screenshot of the video on its website along with tweets containing versions of the video, incorrectly claiming that "today the Islamists used US helicopters to hang 'traitors' in Kandahar Afghanistan" and argued that the Taliban was "openly mocking" the U.S.
  • On August 31, the New York Post published the video on its website along with an article that said "it is not immediately clear exactly how [the person in the video] is attached or if he is alive." The piece then quoted "some journalists" who it says "insisted that it showed someone who had been hanged — and then paraded in the skies."
  • The video of the helicopter and screenshots from the video also spread on several fringe right-wing social media platforms between August 30 and September 1, including Gab, 4chan, and Patriots.win. This content was also shared widely among right-wing users on the messaging app Telegram. Many of these posts criticized the Biden administration, with one Patriots.win user claiming, falsely, that the Taliban was "flying [a] Biden-provided Blackhawk helicopter…while hanging someone from it." This post quoted a tweet stating that "it's an absolute shitfest to see the Taliban now actually flying US BlackHawk helicopters, hanging people by the throat from them!! The American President will never be forgiven for this!!"
Research contributions from Leo Fernandez and Bobby Lewis
Rep. Jason Smith

GOP Bill Whitewashes History, Requires Students To Memorize ‘Patriotic’ Texts

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO) wants to make sure kids are taught to be patriotic in their schools. His new bill would strip federal funding from any school that does not force them to memorize his selected historical texts.

On Wednesday, Smith filed H.R.4923, the Love America Act. If enacted, it would, according to its official title, "prohibit Federal funding for educational agencies and schools whose students do not read certain foundational texts of the United States and are not able to recite those texts or that teach that those texts are products of white supremacy or racism."

Reps. Yvette Herrell (R-NM) and Barry Moore (R-AL) signed on as original co-sponsors. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) filed a companion bill in the Senate on July 26.

"Americans have every reason to be proud of the ideals our country was founded on, but radical, left-wing education activists are hijacking school curriculums and injecting poisonous ideology onto our nation's youth," Smith was quoted as saying in a press release issued by his office. "These Critical Race Theory advocates seek to reframe our founding as racist in an effort to turn America into an unrecognizable socialist country. America's foundational texts are the shining lights for every free and prosperous nation across the globe. This legislation will empower those who love our country to instill the same sense of pride in America that has been passed down through the generations."

The bills as currently written would not just encourage patriotic education; they would block all federal funding to any school that does not teach U.S. history as the bills mandate.

According to the Senate version:

Federal funds shall only be provided to an educational agency or school in which —

(1) students in the first grade read and are able to recite the Pledge of Allegiance;
(2) students in the fourth grade read the Constitution of the United States and are able to recite its preamble;
(3) students in the eighth grade read the Declaration of Independence and are able to recite its preamble; and
(4) students in the tenth grade read and are able to identify the Bill of Rights.

It would also bar funding if a school teaches that any of those documents is a "product of white supremacy or racism."

According to information found on the website of children's book publisher Scholastic, not all first graders can typically read unfamiliar multisyllabic words like "indivisible" and "allegiance." And reciting the more than 200-word preamble to the Declaration of Independence might prove challenging to adults, let alone eighth graders.

A spokesperson for Smith did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story.

In October 2017, Smith told students that he believed in local control of schools. "Missouri educators are the best people to make curriculum decisions for Missouri students," he argued. "We don't need the federal government stepping in at every turn."

The bill is the latest in a series of GOP proposals to bar anti-racism education.

They seek to remove from school curriculums basic details of American history, including that the Constitution contained a clause counting slaves as three-fifths of a person for apportionment of congressional seats; that anti-slavery language included by Thomas Jefferson in the draft of the Declaration of Independence was deleted before its adoption; and that the final Declaration included a clause calling Native Americans "the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.