Budget / Energy & Environment / Labor

Commentary: Appeasement of Unions, Special Interests Leading States into Bankruptcy

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Many have criticized California for its continual succumbing to the pension and benefits demands of unions and public employees, which have lead the state to a fiscal precipice which it is poised to plunge off of. And there is widespread resistance to the possibility that the nation’s taxpayers should have to bail the state out of its self-imposed troubles.

The list of critics includes Dick Morris, who writes in the National Review that we will soon witness an overdue showdown between the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and those pleading for cash bailouts from California and possibly New York, Michigan, Illinois, and Connecticut. One can only hope that the outcome of this conflict will lead to a correction of the destructive course these states have taken.

Morris does a superb job of spelling out the political implications of such a confrontation. Over the last two years, the Obama Administration has awarded these states for their fiscal malfeasance with federal cash infusions which allowed them to keep treading water. However, these were “non-recurring expenditures requiring separate annual appropriations,” meaning, of course, that California and company will be back for more this upcoming legislative session.

Inevitably, the debate over reauthorizing bailouts to reward these states for their reckless spending will boil down to demagoguery. As Morris ably notes, “When states such as California and New York come to Washington begging for relief, they will threaten us with the closure of their schools and the release of their prison inmates if we deny them subsidies. Liberals and President Obama will try to portray the battle as schoolchildren versus niggardly Republican legislators.” One can recall President Obama disguising this year’s payouts to teachers unions as money for schoolchildren which Republicans were trying to derail for obstructionist purposes.

In reality, the purpose of virtually all of these insidious spending bills is to consolidate the Democratic political base. Morris draws the correlation between union fundraising for the Democrats and the Senate majority which the Democrats were able to preserve. As long as this vicious cycle is in place, unions will continue to receive favorable legislation which rewards a few while harming many.

Dennis Prager, also in the National Review, presents a compelling narrative of California’s decline due to the triumph of special interests. Prager argues that California’s middle-class is steadily evaporating as politicians cater to the ultra-rich liberal elite, state and municipal employee unions, and the welfare class. In order to appease these elements, California continues to sign into law Ponzi scheme pension plans and entitlement programs, as well as cap-and-trade schemes which are killing jobs and raising energy prices. As a result, private sector industry and middle-class families are being squeezed into oblivion, leaving the state in the red and with no choice but to return to Washington for its annual allowance. The moral and economic imperative of rejecting these demands is self-evident. Our federal government cannot afford to reward states for their irresponsible and unethical spending if the remainder of our nation is to prosper, and no amount of propaganda can obscure this truth.

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