Today’s Columbus Dispatch editorial “Labor Pains” is a prime example of false equivalencies.
Leaders recognize that their states no longer can afford the rich benefits that union workers enjoy. Tuned-in politicians also grasp that taxpayers, many of whom don’t have comparable salaries, benefits or job-security, won’t long stand for footing the bill.
While Republicans are most likely to take on the issue, some Democratic governors also are calling for concessions from unions, despite the political support traditionally derived from organized labor. New York’s Andrew Cuomo is expected to seek a one-year salary freeze for state employees in a bid to save $200 million to $400 million. Jerry Brown of California, returning to the governorship after 28 years, has said he will review state workers’ benefits and pensions as part of the effort to deal with that state’s $20 billion deficit.
The point, the Dispatch seems to try to be making is that Kasich is proposing about public unions isn’t that radical, and is, in fact, in line with what even Democratic Governors are doing. For good measure, the Dispatch takes a shot at former Governor Strickland for allowing people to…. gasp!…. unionize during his Administration.
But here’s the problem for the Dispatch’s point. Strickland was able to do the very thing they’re citing Cuomo for doing. If the Dispatch were interested in not demagoguery of public unions, it would acknowledge that Ohio’s public unions were willing to work with the Strickland Administration and make concessions to help the State balance its budget.
But what Strickland and these Democratic Governors didn’t do, aren’t doing, is what Kasich is planning to do: gut Ohio’s collective bargaining rules and slash benefits at the low end of the pay scale.
Again, the Dispatch paints public unions as the reason to blame for Ohio’s budget problems. Except that the State’s pension and benefits cannot possibly be attributed as the reason for the State’s budgetary problems. There’s simply no evidence that suggests that doing everything Kasich wants to do has more to do with the State’s budget than an anti-union political ideology that is taking the State’s budget situation as a pretext to do things it wants to do anyways.
After all, the state’s pensions aren’t even considered part of the State’s budget. Read that sentence again. You know that $8 billion to now $10 billion that the Kasich Administration is suggesting is the reason for everything they’re proposing to do… it has nothing to do with Ohio’s pension funds.
Let’s say Ohio did what Kasich suggests and denies public employees the right to collectively bargain. Heck, let’s say he makes Ohio a “Right to Work” state. Let’s say he repeals Ohio’s estate and income taxes, too. Privatizes most government services. Let’s say Kasich institutes all the changes necessary to get that top tier ranking in the conservative Tax Foundation’s ranking of state and local government tax burdens. You know what State we’d be most like then?
And you know what else is big in Texas? It’s budget deficit.
Texas has every policy conservatives like Governor Kasich and the Columbus Dispatch’s editorial board claim would be a panacea for all of Ohio’s economic and budgetary ills.
And it has a budget deficit of $27 billion. More than one observer has noted that silence about Texas’ budget problems is due to the fact that Texas has already done everything conservatives in the nation claim the States need to do… to get their budgets balanced.
Where’s the outrage by the Taft era tax cuts? They contributed to a 24% cut in our State revenues that far out pace anything you can attribute to public unions. You could fire every State employee, and it would hardly make a dent in the State’s projected deficit now that the State won’t have additional stimulus money to help it get through this recession. Where’s the admission that conservatives who claimed that economic growth created by the 2005 tax package would pay for those revenue source cuts were wrong and left us with a massive deficit?
But there’s another aspect of the Dispatch’s hypocrisy that shows they are more interested in demonizing organized labor than offering real solutions. The Dispatch has not offered any real criticism of the duplicity of Kasich scapegoating Ohio public unions while promoting inflated starting salaries for his closest staffers from the campaign.
How much you want to bet that tomorrow the Dispatch will endorse the House Republicans proposal today to repeal Ohio’s estate tax?