NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


February 9, 2010

Barack Obama is probably the most union-friendly president since Lyndon Johnson.  He has obviously been unable to stop the decline of private-sector unionism.  But he is doing his best to increase the power -- and dues income -- of public-sector unions, says columnist Michael Barone. 

For example: 

  • One-third of last year's $787 billion stimulus package was aid to state and local governments -- an obvious attempt to bolster public-sector unions.
  • And it was a successful one: While the private sector has lost 7 million jobs, the number of public-sector jobs has risen. 


  • The number of federal government jobs has been increasing by 10,000 a month, and the percentage of federal employees earning more than $100,000 has jumped to 19 percent during the recession.
  • Obama and his party are acting in collusion with unions that contributed something like $400 million to Democrats in the 2008 campaign cycle.  

Public-sector unionism tends to be a self-perpetuating machine that extracts money from taxpayers and then puts it on a conveyor belt to the Democratic Party, explains Barone.  But it may not turn out to be a perpetual-motion machine.  Public-sector employees are still heavily outnumbered by those who depend on the private sector for their livelihoods. 

The next Congress may not be as willing as this one has been to bail out state governments dominated by public-sector unions, says Barone.  Voters may bridle at the higher taxes needed to pay for $100,000-plus pensions for public employees who retire in their 50s.  Or they may move, as so many have already done, to states like Texas. 

Obama's Democrats have used the financial crisis to expand the public sector and the public-sector unions.  But voters seem to be saying, "Enough," says Barone. 

Source: Michael Barone, "Public Unions Bleed Taxpayer To Help Dems," Investor's Business Daily, February 9, 2010. 

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