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His gifts to big business

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George W. Bush's first 60 days in office have been a season of giving to his friends in industry. But unions, environmentalists and consumer groups have got mostly lumps

Labor Laws

Unions feel besieged. First Bush froze restrictions that prevented labor-law violators from obtaining federal contracts. Then he signed orders that could cut into union political funds and boost the number of nonunion contractors on federal construction projects.

Ergonomics

After 10 years of study (initiated by Elizabeth Dole), OSHA finalized workplace rules to combat repetitive-stress injuries. Annual cost to businesses? An estimated $4.5 billion. With Bush's support, congressional Republicans repealed the rules before Dems could blink. Big business may now lose $9.1 billion annually in workers' compensation and lost productivity. Some in Congress are asking OSHA to try again.

Airline Strikes

Travelers may be grateful Bush halted a strike at Northwest, but his pledge to stop any airline strike this year has labor griping that he has undercut its bargaining power. (Presidents rarely intervene in airline strikes.) At least three other carriers face possible walkouts this year.

Carbon Dioxide

Why reverse a campaign promise to restrict emissions? Keeping the pledge might cost billions. Bush says the promise was just a big mistake. So is global warming.

Bankruptcy Bill

Republicans and some Democrats have long wanted to make it harder to file for bankruptcy and erase debts. But Clinton kept vetoing the bill. Now Bush will sign it. Critics argue it's a gift to credit-card companies, which provide easy access to debt. Bush's top campaign contributor was MBNA America.



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Cover Date: March 26, 2001

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