As President Obama's poll numbers continue to slide, congressional Democrats faced with increasingly tough re-election contests are turning to their best remaining friend, Big Labor, for help. Tuesday's enactment of a $26 billion "jobs bill" was carefully tailored to please public-sector unions, especially those representing teachers. The House majority hopes labor will reciprocate by delivering votes in the fall.
The latest federal cash infusion will help states avoid making tough budgetary decisions that might endanger the obscene salary and pension plans offered to teachers and bureaucrats at the state and local level. Last year, for example, the California Department of Education paid a $118,218 salary for its "home economics education consultant." The effect of thousands of similarly inflated salaries is multiplied through the state's defined-benefit pension plans, which have racked up a whopping $500 billion in unfunded liabilities.
The $26 billion will postpone the day of reckoning, relieving bureaucrats of the need to tighten their belts. Instead, the rest of us will need to put off expenditures and the hiring of new employees in order to pay the looming tax bill for the congressional extravagance. Apparently, a "jobs" bill is legislation that sacrifices private-sector jobs to maintain a robust public sector.
The spend-at-all-costs mentality even extends to punishing states that attempt frugality. A provision in the new law withholds federal money from the Lone Star State unless Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, "offers assurances" to the administration that he will not make any cuts in his education budget through fiscal 2013. Mr. Perry insisted that such an assurance is prohibited by his state constitution.
"It is unfortunate that Washington continues to play partisan games with Texans' tax dollars and the very future of our children," Mr. Perry said in a statement. "Texas will not surrender to Washington's one-size-fits-all, deficit-spending mindset or let Washington do to the Texas budget what they have done to the federal budget."
Mr. Perry is not alone in his discontent with Washington's profligacy. According to the latest Rasmussen Reports daily tracking poll, 56 percent disapprove of the president's policies. The same number think their own member of Congress routinely trades his votes for cash or campaign contributions. Whether or not such monetary exchanges happen, it is clear that 245 House Democrats - and two Republicans - voted Tuesday to use public money to bolster unions, presumably in return for electoral support.
Of course, it's hard to tell if such forethought went into the latest bailout, as it was rushed into law so quickly that nobody even bothered to offer a title for the bill. The measure was officially enrolled as the "______ Act of ____." One could hardly ask for a more fitting symbol of the fundamental emptiness of this congressional spending spree.
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