- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 20, 2011

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Two points jump out at me as I watch the union protests in Wisconsin.

First, the “new era of civility” is over, and second, union myrmidons continue to put their self-interests above the rest of the taxpayers and the nation.

If you recall after Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Arizona Democrat, was shot Jan. 8, the left was quick to vilify the right for so-called vitriol and hostile rhetoric. They claimed suspected gunman Jared Loughner to be the poster child for what happens to normal folks who listen too much to conservative radio or television hosts Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. Except, we found out that was all a red herring; Mr. Loughner turned out to be a fairly apolitical nut job. Still, CNN, President Obama and others demanded that we “tone down the rhetoric.”

Yet now I see Mr. Obama accuse Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, of an “assault on unions.” Sounds like violent rhetoric to me. I also see that the union protesters are carrying signs comparing Mr. Walker and other Republicans to former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and the Nazis, as well as several with Mr. Walker in target cross hairs.

Well, I guess it was a nice, “civil” three weeks. Civility is not the main concern that the protests reveal, but I do find it amusing and disappointing at the same time.

The most glaring issue that these protests demonstrate is a classic case of “good enough for thee but not for me.” Union members and their leaders don’t care if folks in the private sector are suffering from the bad economy. They don’t care if state and federal budgets are running major deficits and are at the tipping point of collapse. Nope, they just want the pensions and benefits to which they believe they are “entitled.”

No matter that their insanely great benefits will be downgraded to insanely good (still light-years better than you’ll find in the private sector). They claim they are shutting down schools to help the children, yet are totally ignoring the fact that they are saddling these children with unmanageable debt as well as not performing their job to educate kids and wasting tax dollars. Yep, you sure are caring and unselfish when you think paying in 12 percent into your retirement plan is a grossly unfair burden, but forcing your kids to pay higher taxes, receive less services and have a generally lower quality of life because you helped bankrupt America is perfectly kosher.

What happens if the rest of Americans, those not on the public pension dole, get sick of the unions’ whining and start counterprotesting. In hard times, don’t the progressives preach that we need to share the burden, “from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs”? I guess such lofty sentiments apply only as long as you aren’t the one having to give up something for the good of society.

Some are calling the Wisconsin Democrats patriots for fleeing the state rather than attempting to debate or negotiate the bill. Imagine the screams of such a cowardly and childish act if the Republicans left Washington to prevent passage of Obamacare? I guess this is what Mr. Obama meant when he said those not on board with his agenda should “take their ball and go home,” except it’s his supporters who must employ such tactics rather than man their posts and attempt to sway Republicans that this bill might not be the best way to help the budget and their constituents.

While the left is busy heralding the protesters, I want to sing the praises of the few politicians who are actually trying to practice fiscal responsibility rather than give it the usual lip service. Mr. Obama and the Republican legislators could learn something from Mr. Walker, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, California Gov. Jerry Brown, etc. — we are living in a time of tough choices, and we cannot sustain the entitlement spending. Of the cuts the administration and Republicans are endorsing for the federal budget, zero is cut from Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, etc. Instead, they keep shaving from discretionary spending.

Do you realize that they could cut 100 percent of discretionary spending and we would still have a deficit? Did you know that if they cut not only all discretionary spending but also 100 percent of the defense budget we would still run only a minuscule surplus? That’s how much the government is paying in entitlements and debt — nearly 100 percent of its income. It’s like giving a cow a haircut and expecting to get a fat-free steak as a result.

Fiscal responsibility has to come from somewhere. It sure isn’t coming from Washington, despite the November elections and the unmistakable demand for financial accountability. That’s why any governor who is willing to publicize the burden that unions and entitlements are placing on the states and countries needs to be commended rather than scorned.

Maybe the unions should put down their “GOP=Nazi” placards and spend more time actually working with the government and Republicans to hammer out a compromise that puts America first instead of demanding that things stay the same while whining and protesting about their own selfish needs and entitlements.

Armstrong Williams is on Sirius/XM Power 169, 7-8 p.m. and 4-5 a.m., Mondays through Fridays. Become a fan on Facebook-http://www.facebook.com/arightside, and follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/arightside.