Saturday, February 26, 2011

Krauthammer discusses the battle over public employees unions and the unsustainable pension and health benefits which will surely be the toughest part of balancing budgets at both state and federal levels.

The news media are mostly unionized and thus give friendly coverage to union issues, but thanks to the internet, we're seeing more of the ugly face of union protests. This was what Obama promised with his "hope and change" slogan, but I don't think it's what most voters understood was coming. It's hard to imagine a more inept, bungling performance that Obama's first two year. The financial crises caused by the burst of the housing bubble should have warned anybody with a brain that this was not the time to be overspending, let alone adding a huge new budget-busting entitlement program. But, unable to resist the lure of unchallengeable power in both houses of Congress and the White House, the Democrats rushed in.

It quickly became clear that the uncertainty created by these vast changes and their effect on businesses would make a tax increase in the form of letting the Bush tax cuts expire would make the economy even worse, meaning that the huge deficits could not be covered as the Democrats had anticipated. Now they're going through a disingenuous and phony drama of trying to jawbone employers into hiring more workers just out of patriotism.

The Republicans took back the House of Representatives with a promise of cutting spending and shrinking the size of government, and in looking for places to cut, the labor costs for cities, states and the federal government, including pension and health benefits way out of proportion to the private sector, stuck out like a sore thumb. Since most states have constitutional requirements that they balance their budgets, this became the focus of spending cutters.

The Dems failed to show leadership and tell the hard truth to the unions. Instead they let themselves be pushed out onto very thin ice by the unions and let the world see who really controlled that relationship.

The unions live in a state of paranoia, keeping their members full of fear, dissatisfaction and a feeling that their employers were exploiting them. The public employee unions are the last of a dying breed, and the traditional strike accompanied by traditional demonstration of their employers have demonstrated how little they understood of reality, i.e. that their payment plans were threatening the financial stability of the governmental units that were paying the freight. So now all their attacks and personal slurs of governors, majors and managers amounts to an attack of the voters who elected these people on the platform of cutting spending.

Entitlements have long been the growing Anaconda in the room, but we are now realizing that public employment compensation and retirement and health benefits are eating up ever larger chunks of public budgets. To see the behavior of these
demonstrators is be be disgusted by them and their rowdy, disrespectful behavior.

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