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Taxpayers Lobbying Against Themselves

On Saturday, the Wall Street Journal reported that President Obama “sent a letter to lawmakers calling for swift action to help small businesses and state and local governments facing budget cuts following the economic downturn. He didn't specify in the letter where funds would come from, but he said he had called for a three-year freeze in non-security discretionary spending.” The newspaper adds:

“The letter said budget cuts at the state and local levels were leading to "massive layoffs of teachers, police and firefighters," and that 84,000 jobs in state and local governments had already been lost this year. Mr. Obama said "hundreds of thousands of additional jobs" could be lost if action wasn't taken, according to the letter.

“The issue poses a quandary for policymakers, who want to boost the economy and create more jobs ahead of midterm elections in November, but who worry about increasing the federal government's record budget deficits. Polls have suggested that voters are concerned about both issues.”

On Monday, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) “slammed” President Obama’s proposal for funds that “would be used to avoid layoffs of teachers, police, and firefighters, as well as stimulate local economies.” According to the CAGW press said:

“Unfortunately, taxpayers have seen this type of misguided and ineffective spending before and found out the hard way that it doesn’t stimulate the economy,” said CAGW President Tom Schatz.  “The year-and-a-half old $862 billion stimulus bill has been an abysmal failure, so it makes no sense whatsoever to repeat the pattern.  The President promised back then that 90 percent of the jobs created would be in the private sector and that unemployment would drop to 8 percent.  Yet, the only positive job creation has been in the public sector, and private-sector unemployment has hovered at 9.7 percent.  Taxpayers’ wallets have been pilfered to fund a litany of excessively wasteful stimulus spending projects, such as $3.4 million for a turtle crossing in Florida, $1.15 million to replace an old guardrail around an empty lake in Oklahoma, and $21,000 to resurface tennis courts in Livingston, Montana.  The President has touted the stimulus as part of the effort to get the country out of the Great Recession, but all it has done is create the Great Debt.”

Today, Tim Carney explains in his Washington Examiner column just why Congress and the Obama administration look so favorably on the public employee unions. According to Carney:

“Government employee unions — through their employees and political action committees — have contributed more money to congressional candidates this election than all the PACs, executives and employees of the entire oil industry, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. Because 92 percent of public-employee union money goes to Democrats, President Obama’s party has raised more money from these unions this cycle than Republicans have raised from Wall Street.

“Along the same lines, local and state governments have spent more on lobbying this year than the health insurance industry or defense contractors.

“By any measure, local and state governments and public sector unions are an entrenched special interest. By any measure, they are also the prime beneficiary of President Obama’s latest $50 billion spending proposal.

“Obama’s proposed $50 billion aid package for local and state governments is yet another instance of Obama’s reform talk evaporating in the light of concrete proposals and real dollar amounts. Whatever the supposed virtues of this huge handout to profligate politicians and bloated bureaucracies, it is, objectively, a proposed $50 billion transfer of wealth from ordinary taxpayers to a politically connected special interest that overwhelmingly and aggressively favors the party in power.

“Public employee unions’ political activism and Democratic partisanship have been well documented. The PAC of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees had, through the end of April, already spent $10.2 million this election cycle, between contributions to candidates and independent expenditures. That’s three times as much as the PAC spending of Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America and Wells Fargo combined.

“The American Federation of Teachers has also spent more this election — $7.1 million — than any business PAC.

According to Carney, here's the bottom line:

"Local government officials are using your money to hire former government officials to ask current federal officials to give local governments more federal money — and future taxpayers will foot the bill for this whole racket." (emphasis added)

Tad deHaven adds at Cato@Liberty:

"Of more fundamental concern is the continued relegation of the states to being administrative outposts of the federal government. The employment of firefighters, teachers, and police officers is an issue for the states to be concerned with. However, so long as the federal government continues to overstep its constitutional bounds, the states will have little incentive to tackle issues like excessive employee compensation. State and local policymakers can avoid the hassle of taking on the government employee unions by cashing Uncle Sam’s checks instead."


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