Labor senior groups’ gravy train gets lumpy

Earlier today at the Heritage Foundation, Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao highlighted some of the Labor Department’s accomplishments during her tenure. I found of special note her mention of the competitive bidding of grants for subsidized senior employment under Title V of the Older Americans Act, which, she said, had previously gone to only a handful of groups.

Not to toot my own horn too loudly, but this topic is of special interest to me, since in 2001 I documented (with help from my then-colleague Christophery Yablonski and John Samples of the Cato Insitute) how those grants have helped subsidize political activity by the AFL-CIO-backed National Council of Senior Citizens (NCSC), which later became the Alliance for Retired Americans (ARA), and how in a series of audits during 1993-1997 — that is, during the Clinton Administation — the Labor Department questioned over $12 million in NCSC/ARA expenditures.

This is definitely a sign of progress. According to its IRS filings, for FY 2006, ARA received over $3 million in government grants. It would be best for such politically minded groups as ARA to have to raise their own funds without taxpayer support. But at least the funds now come with many more strings attached. For a comprehensive account of NCSC/ARA’s chequered history, see here. Video and audio of the Secretary’s speech is available online.