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Bush Proposal Regarding SBA Set-Asides for Women


As the Washington Post has reported this week, various women’s groups are unhappy with the Small Business Administration’s proposed rules regarding set-asides for female-owned companies.  Naturally, they think there should be more set-asides.

But, as a legal and policy matter, there should no such preferences, period.  The underlying statute requires no such discrimination, and it is extremely unlikely that, in the year 2008, the only way to ensure that contracting is nondiscriminatory for women is by mandating discrimination in their favor.  And, of course, the taxpayers lose whenever contracts go to anyone other than the lowest bidder.  The Bush administration should, at a minimum, go no further down this silly road than the proposed rules would take it; ideally, it would reconsider and not go down this road at all.


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