Public Sector Unions Are The REAL “Big Dogs” in 2010 Campaign Spendingby Don on Oct. 31, 2010, under Uncategorized
WHAT SPECIAL interest is spending the most money to influence the 2010 election? The answer isn’t the US Chamber of Commerce, notwithstanding President Obama’s recent attacks on the Chamber’s campaign contributions. Nor is it the Karl Rove-backed network of pro-Republican campaign organizations, including American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, that have also been assailed by the White House and the focus of critical media attention.
In reality, the biggest outside spender is the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, which is pumping almost $88 million into TV commercials, phone banks, and mailings to promote Democratic candidates.
Something tells me AFSCME isn’t too interested in cutting spending at the state and local levels.
AFSCME isn’t the only public-sector union “spending big’’ to influence the vote on Nov. 2. So is the National Education Association and the Service Employees International Union, respectively the nation’s largest and fastest-growing unions. Together, the three government-employee unions will have spent nearly $172 million campaigning for Democrats in the course of this election cycle. That outstrips by more than $30 million what the Chamber of Commerce and the Rove network combined are pouring into the 2010 campaign.
I added the boldfacing in the last blockquote. As if those numbers didn’t just jump out at you on their own.
Speaking of the SEIU, where have I heard their name recently? Oh yeah…
“We’re spending big,’’ AFSCME President Gerald McEntee boasted to The Wall Street Journal. “And we’re damn happy it’s big. And our members are damn happy it’s big — it’s their money.’’
Hmmm…is it really their money? Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe isn’t so sure.
“It’s their money!’’ the president of AFSCME declares, and the heads of the NEA and SEIU would presumably agree, but where does “their money’’ come from? From satisfied customers paying for goods and services they voluntarily purchased? From profits earned by designing safer cars, serving tastier meals, developing cleaner fuels? From investing prudently in the marketplace?
Of course not. Every dollar the government pays its employees is a dollar the government taxes away from somebody else.
Are the union leaders bashful about this. Oh, come on…
Campaign contributions from public-sector unions, National Review editor Rich Lowry writes, drive “a perpetual feedback loop of large-scale patronage.’’ Not only don’t the unions deny it, they trumpet it. “We’re the big dog,’’ brags Larry Scanlon, AFSCME’s political director. “The more members coming in, the more dues coming in, the more money we have for politics.’’
“the more money we have for politics. Well, if the unions have so much money already that they can afford to spend so much on politics, I guess they have all the money they need to look out for their members’ needs?
Unlike labor unions in the private sector, government unions can reward politicians who give them what they want and punish those who don’t. The United Auto Workers has no say in hiring or firing the president of the Ford Motor Company, but public-sector unions like AFSCME and the NEA can use the political process to help elect the “management’’ that will have to negotiate with them. The unions flex their muscle to push not only for ever-more-lavish wages and benefits (including the exorbitant pensions and health plans that are devouring government budgets), but also for more government hiring and bigger government programs.
Do the unions have the right to free speech? Of course they do. That’s not really Jacoby’s point, though. This is.
The power to “elect our bosses’’ has turned government employment into a rigged game — rigged in favor of ravenous government growth and against the private-sector taxpayers who pay for it.
In anticipation of some of the comments I expect on this post—I am a Defense Department contractor. I draw my livelihood from the federal government. So, if you want to dismiss my opinions based on that, you’re more than welcome to. But, here are a few things to consider:
1. I work at the pleasure of my government bosses, as do all contractors. If the government boss doesn’t like me, for whatever reason, I’m gone. If the government decides it no longer wants my services, I’m gone. It doesn’t take long to modify contracts and drop contractors if the government wants to. At the very least, most contractors work on yearly contracts. So, your job security extends just one year down the road. (Actually, your job security as a contractor comes from doing your job well, day in and day out). Finally, I don’t get a government pension and benefits when I “retire” from my civilian job*.
2. In my opinion, any fair-minded observer will agree that most federal, state and local employees perform invaluable services. I, for one, don’t want to live in a society without good police, firefighters and teachers. Neverthless, it’s becoming painfully apparent that the costs associated with public service employees are starting to strain our economy. Union bosses seem way too indifferent to that unavoidable fact. Those same bosses may be surprised at the rebuke the taxpaying public deals to them at the ballot boxes on Tuesday.