- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 10, 2011

Republicans in the Wisconsin statehouse had enough of Democratic Party antics designed to insulate its union supporter base from the pains of the economic malaise affecting the rest of us. The state Senate voted Wednesday to ban public-sector employees from entering into collective bargaining arrangements. Union thugs encircling the capitol building made a spectacle of themselves as the Assembly turned to consider the bill yesterday. Meanwhile in Washington, congressional Democrats continue to hold out against the most milquetoast of spending-reduction proposals, despite the dire circumstances of the nation’s finances.

The longer the squabbles in the state and national capitals drag on, the more time the public has to notice the extent to which the party of Johnson, Carter and Obama loots the public treasure to maintain a political empire. The foundation of that empire at the federal level is $671,512,415 in campaign checks Big Labor has written for Democrats since 1990, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. That does not account for the massive, expensive logistical support provided to “get out the vote” at each election.

At the state level, unions have given Democrats $760,395,170 in campaign support since 2000, according to data from the National Institute on Money in State Politics. In 2010, public-employee unions gave $77,722,313 in donations to state Democrats. In short, most Democrats owe their election to the support of union bosses, and the unions know it.

Big Labor expects a lot in return for its multibillion-dollar investment in Democratic politicians, and they haven’t been disappointed. In the Buckeye State, for example, salary and benefit plans are so lavish that a toll collector on the Ohio Turnpike earned $80,720 last year for a job any teenager could do. The rules have been so rigged in favor of bureaucrats that those with lavish six-figure salaries often “retire,” collect a pension, and go back to work for a second taxpayer-funded salary. Whenever Republicans like Ohio Gov. John Kasich, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker or Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder dare suggest that perhaps those on the public payroll should contribute to their own health care and retirement plans, Democrats circle the wagons - or flee to Illinois.

It’s only appropriate that this Land of Lincoln refuge finds itself among the worst off. The latest budget devotes $1 out of every $8 collected from taxpayers to pay off retired bureaucrats. The percentage will only grow over time as politicians have promised $139 billion in benefits to the public-sector unions, but the pension system only has $53 billion in assets. Most states face unfunded liabilities of similar magnitude, saddling taxpayers with massive bills that will come due long after the Democrats who approved the benefits have left office. They expect productive taxpayers to pick up the burden, but it might not last.

Americans are starting to catch on to the “us vs. them” attitude of the unions. The unruly mob camped out in Madison has made few friends with the hateful signs and nasty rhetoric. A Quinnipiac poll found more national voters support limiting collective bargaining for public employees in order to reduce state deficits. That feeling will grow as those spoiled with lifetime employment and automatic raises betray the selfishness of their cause.

The corrupt pay-for-play arrangement with Democrats has brought the nation to the brink of insolvency. The time has come to roll back the unfair advantages and benefits Democrats have created for their financial benefactors.

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