Busting the unions

States can’t go bankrupt, but the new GOP-controlled House plans to change that — to break the backs of the public employee unions. Here’s their game plan, via Calitics:

But that could be about to change if House Republicans get their way, according to a recent Reuters article:

Congressional Republicans appear to be quietly but methodically executing a plan that would a) avoid a federal bailout of spendthrift states and b) cripple public employee unions by pushing cash-strapped states such as California and Illinois to declare bankruptcy. This may be the biggest political battle in Washington, my Capitol Hill sources tell me, of 2011….Republicans in the House of Representatives already want to stop state and local governments from issuing tax-exempt bonds unless they are more forthright about these future obligations. Republican Representatives Devin Nunes and Darrell Issa of California and Paul Ryan of Wisconsin have introduced a bill that would require state and local governments to estimate the size of public pension liabilities if their assets earned a more conservative rate of return than many plans currently expect. Failure to do so would result in the suspension of their ability to issue tax-exempt bonds.

Reuters cites a Weekly Standard article that laid out the endgame – by changing the law to allow state bankruptcies, and then forcing states to go bankrupt by cutting their funding and undermining their ability to borrow, states would be able to reopen contracts with public employees. Not only could wages and benefits then be cut for current workers, but pension benefits for retired workers would also become fair game for cuts, as has happened with retired auto workers and others whose private sector pensions have been slashed after corporate bankruptcies.

It’s no surprise that California Republicans like Issa and Nunes are leading this fight – they know that public employee benefits are one of the last vestiges of a middle-class workforce in the state, and that those unions are one of the last lines of defense against the right.

California already has one big battle come up in early 2011 over the state budget. Looks like we’ll have another in 2011 with this federal effort to force us into bankruptcy. And with Barack Obama busy caving to the right whenever possible, we’ll have to win this fight on our own.

I wonder if this will for one minute keep Darrell Issa from getting invited onto Bill Maher’s show? Nah!

4 thoughts on “Busting the unions

  1. We hear this all the time in our hometown paper, letters and comments on articles with bloodthirsty cries for the city to go bankrupt and repudiate the union contracts and pensions for police and fire fighters.

    Why those who are suffering on the bottom of the economic scale turn their wrath on those just a rung above them is a puzzlement, but people sure do hate the cops and teachers.

    Many unions brought it on themselves by being exclusive and arrogant in their prime years, and now they have few friends in the hard times. My dad was a working man who hated the electricians union because they maintained a closed membership waiting list and kept him out of that trade. And he hated the auto workers because their contracts made cars more expensive; he only had one new car in his whole life.

    My union at the supermarket only cared about the full time workers on the “old contract” but was happy to leave the rest of us as part time on the minimum wage. Union dues and insurance took two hours pay out of my 15 hour week each week. I when I came back from being off on sick leave for 12 weeks, they took my entire first weeks pay check off the top for back dues and insurance premiums.

  2. I wonder if this will for one minute make Susie rethink her unwavering support of Hillary Clinton and her top advisor Mark Penn? Nah!

  3. “Unwavering support” of Clinton and Penn? You must have me mixed up with some other blog. I said Clinton would have been better for working people. I still believe that. But she’s as big a neocon as any of them, as I’ve acknowledged on many occasions.

  4. Yea, an administration with the former CEO of Burson-Marsteller as a chief advisor – most likely CoS – would have been a real boon for the working class.

Comments are closed.