If anyone wondered why the forces of the Left have been so over-the-top during the past two years, shrieking in the face of all contrary evidence that the Tea Party movement — everyday Americans seeking some restraint on government spending and taxation — was in fact some far-right league of racist lynchers, the logic finally started to come clear last week.
First in Wisconsin, but quickly spreading to Ohio, Indiana, and elsewhere, new Republican governors elected with Tea Party support have shocked the complacent political class by showing evidence that they mean to actually do some of the things they campaign on.
Their states are nearing bankruptcy thanks in large part to the fact public employee unions, through collective bargaining, have won benefits and pensions which many union retirees expect to enjoy for 30 or 40 years past retirement — and which the taxpayers can’t possibly afford.
The pundit class expected these governors to simply kick the can down the road. Instead, they’re asking state legislatures to end collective bargaining for state employees in order to help them rein in costs and balance budgets.
In a well organized campaign of disruption and ginned-up outrage and panic, the public employee unions now take to the streets to protest such heartlessness — even as Democratic legislators, often finding themselves in the minority for the first time in generations, flee their state to prevent their elected bodies from establishing a quorum, thus preventing legislative reform they don’t have the votes to defeat, making a mockery of their long-standing protests about troglodyte GOP “resistance to change.”
(In Indiana, the Democrats fled to avoid voting on a measure which would merely make membership in a teachers union OPTIONAL!)
Booed at a state firefighters convention in Wildwood, N.J., last fall, Gov. Chris Christie replied: “I understand you feel deceived and betrayed.”
And the governor then told the firemen they were right. “For 20 years, governors have come into this room and lied to you, promised you benefits that they had no way of paying for, making promises they knew they couldn’t keep, and just hoping that they wouldn’t be the man or women left holding the bag.” So “Why are you booing the first guy who came in here and told you the truth?” he asked.
New Jersey’s pensions may go bankrupt by 2020, Gov. Christie told the union members. As Peggy Noonan reported in the Wall Street Journal last weekend, “A friend told him not to worry, he won’t be governor then.”
But “That’s the way politics has been practiced in our country for too long,” Gov. Christie continued. “So I said to those firefighters, ‘You may hate me now, but 15 years from now, when you have a pension to collect because of what I did, you’ll be looking for my address on the Internet so you can send me a thank-you note.’”
This same battle is coming to a state near you.
Supposedly protesting against the cost-cutting moves in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Indiana — but actually setting the stage for similar street tactics here, right out of the Saul Alinsky playbook — some 300 union activists gathered at the Grant Sawyer state office building in Las Vegas Monday to hear former Democratic Congresswoman Dina Titus (dumped by the Tea Parties) protest that “Organized labor and with it the middle class are under attack from sea to shining sea. It’s about taking away their right to organize and make working conditions better.”
Really? The secret, all-consuming goal of Governors Mitch Daniels of Indiana and Chris Christie of New Jersey, of Governors Scott Walker of Wisconsin and John Kasich of Ohio — and the long-suffering taxpayers who voted them into office, even in traditionally Democratic states — is to see state and municipal workers shivering up to their knees in half-frozen sewage, suffocating deep in some poorly ventilated coal mine, cutting and sewing dress fabric in rooms without fire escapes, suffering in sweltering steel mills without being provided goggles or bathroom breaks?
We’re talking here about making bureaucrats in air-conditioned modern office buildings pay a little more for health and pension benefits that private sector workers only dream of — in jobs from which it’s virtually impossible for them to get laid off or fired, even if they spend all day perusing Internet porn!
The century-old “Workers Rise Up!” rhetoric no longer matches a world in which zoning code inspectors drive around in air-conditioned SUVs on their way to put struggling small businessmen out of business, while firemen spend their work shifts at the gym, operate businesses out of their million-dollar haciendas during their “four days off,” and look forward to collecting 40 years of $80,000 pensions — on the backs of taxpayers working three part-time jobs without benefits — after working as “public servants” for a mere 20 or 30.
Outgoing Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons requested a bill – Senate Bill 41 – that would have eliminated collective bargaining for local government and school district employees. But new Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval asked the Senate Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections not to even consider that bill.
Why? The abuse of sick time to boost pay by Clark County firefighters is already under criminal investigation, and the unfunded liability of the Nevada Public Employees Retirement System is the gorilla in the fiscal living room.
Yes, many unionized government employees are “middle class,” as former Congresswoman Titus says. But the taxpayers who finance their cushy lifestyles and “someone-else-will-cover-it” benefits are middle class as well, or even working class. And who’s to speak for them?
The rhetoric of class warfare doesn’t make much sense when the battle is over how much shall be seized from the paychecks of struggling middle-class private sector workers, and transferred to middle-class government workers, so the latter can enjoy benefits and retirements which are a far cry from what any miner, rancher, burger-flipper or casino worker can ever anticipate.