This is one article that needs to make the rounds through the state from Blair Lee of the Gazette.
Recession politics just reached a major turning point; Congress is cutting off the stimulus spigot.
There’s been a lot of public outrage against bailing out Wall Street, bailing out the banks and bailing out the auto industry. But Stimulus I also spent billions bailing out the politically powerful public employee unions, which, like Wall Street, are too big to fail.
For the first time in history, public employee union membership now outnumbers private sector union membership. Teachers, cops, firefighters and state and local government unions are the labor movement’s new muscle and the Democratic Party’s core constituency.
The nation’s three largest public employee unions (AFSCME, NEA and AFT) contributed $12 million to political candidates (96.6 percent to Democrats) during the past two elections. In return, President Obama and the Democratic Congress propped up state and local government payrolls with billions in stimulus money.
In 2009, they passed the $862 billion Stimulus I package, which included $49 billion in direct aid to the states that largely went to protecting teachers and other government workers from layoffs. As a result, the unemployment rate among government workers is only 3.4 percent, nearly three times less than the private-sector rate.
In Maryland, Gov. Martin O’Malley limited state personnel cuts to vacant positions and deemed education spending (i.e., teachers) sacrosanct. So Maryland’s 220,000 unemployed are almost entirely private-sector workers, while the state’s top jobs growth is in government employment. In fact, laid-off teachers from other states are now flocking to Maryland where teachers have avoided both layoffs and furloughs. Not coincidentally, the Maryland teacher’s union endorsed O’Malley last year long before they knew who else was running.