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  • Government Unions Play Key Role in Shutdown Fight

    The potential government shutdown is not just history repeating itself between a Democrat President and a Republican House.  It’s also a repeat of a key role played by government employee unions.

    What’s different now is that the public has awakened to how they’ve been duped with false promises about big government.

    In the 1995-96 shutdowns, the public worker unions reportedly played a huge role behind the scenes; today their role has been brought into the open, becoming common knowledge even before the mass union protests at the Wisconsin state capitol.

    President Obama’s allegiance toward government unions is well-known.  The failed $800-billion stimulus was mostly about protecting government jobs.  His minions in Organizing for America have orchestrated the Wisconsin protests, which Obama labeled “an assault on unions.”  And it’s well-known how the unions spent $400-million for the 2008 election.

    That’s the backdrop as House Republicans insist on billions in spending cuts before they will approve funds for the rest of government.  The House spent long days and nights in session to create their plan; the Senate Democrats sit inactive instead, criticizing lots but doing nothing.

    So the action comes from the public workers, as their demonstrations provide visual proof of who wants big government to continue unchecked.  Their key role was behind-the-scenes in the 1995-96 shutdowns, but every bit as vital.

    These unions believe they will benefit from accenting the negative of a shutdown, just as they did when Bill Clinton was President.  That story is rarely told, but needs to be.

    As reported by The Washington Times in March, 1996:

    President Clinton’s close ties with federal employee unions enabled him to weather two record government shutdowns and an unprecedented $80 billion raid on federal retirement funds while laying the blame on Republicans.

    Internal documents from both the administration and unions reveal close coordination between the unions and Mr. Clinton in developing a strategy of confrontation with Republicans over the spending bills needed to keep the government open and prevent hundreds of thousands of government employees from being furloughed.

    The unions not only took the administration’s side in the confrontation, but the largest union – the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) – urged Mr. Clinton to veto the bills and shut the government down for weeks rather than compromise with Republicans.

    Meanwhile, the unions provided critical political cover for the administration and Democrats on Capitol Hill by waging an extensive public relations campaign designed to blame the confrontation and shutdowns entirely on the Republicans, particularly on the House’s 73 freshmen.

    Leaders of the union, which says it represents 700,000 of the government’s 2 million employees, deduced that throwing employees out of work for a few weeks with no guarantee of pay would be better than the higher federal pension contributions and large agency cuts the GOP was planning, which might force extensive layoffs.

    Now our 2011 showdown is different both because the public opposition to big government is sky-high and because of widespread awareness that public employee unions are a major factor in the explosive growth of government.  Their activism brought them salary, benefit and retirement packages that dwarf many in the private sector, but at the expense of the rest of us.  As other Americans feel the pain of hard times, they also resent the unshared sacrifice from many who call themselves public servants.

    Today is also different because the Tea Party movement is paying extreme attention—using modern communications and social media to bypass liberal reporters who dominated the coverage of the last shutdown.

    That’s why this time is different.  A shutdown is really just a slowdown, because hundreds of thousands of federal workers remain on the job to defend the country, patrol the borders, keep travel flowing, tend to VA patients, and send out Social Security checks.  (And the postal service stays open.)

    The real battle is for the hearts and minds of Americans, lest their desire wane to get government back under control should wane under shutdown stress.

    Those who wish a shutdown are few in number, but so are those who can be manipulated into blaming conservatives.  Their goal is to downsize government, not to shut it down.

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    7 Responses to Government Unions Play Key Role in Shutdown Fight

    1. George Colgrove, VA says:

      Simple fact:

      As for the unfunded pensions of the City of Prichard, Alabama: “If the money is not there, we cannot pay it!” – Scott Williams, Attorney for City of Prichard Alabama. Prichard has finite limits on their financial resources. The feds do to, but fail to honor that limit. They will increase the debt ceiling in an act of stealing the future from our children and grandchildren.

      The feds have no money for the spending it wants to do. Proof? The $14.2 trillion debt – the $1.6 trillion debt this year alone! The people has spoken about taxation – NO MORE! The people have spoken about debt spending – STOP! The people have spoken about the deficit – REDUCE IT!

      Logic dictates that the feds have to cut and cut deep and cut even deeper! To paraphrase Scott Williams comment above:

      “If the money is not there, we cannot SPEND it!”

      We the people want a balanced budget NOW – not on our backs but by implementing significant federal government cuts! It has to happen!

      You are right, we do not want a shutdown, but there will be a clue present in a shut down. Yes we do want significant governmental reduction as you said. The clue from the shutdown however will be all "non-essential" federal employees who are furloughed from their desks during the upcoming shutdown these feds should be looked at for permanent furlough – or rather should be asked kindly to find other employment.

      We can no longer pay for this very expensive federal workforce! If we are not going to reduce their salaries to be in line with the private sector, their numbers need to be reduced to a point where we can pay for them – without increasing taxes and without going deeper into debt. WE NEED TO PRIORITIZE what limited AVAILABLE public funding there is.

    2. George Colgrove, VA says:

      "A shutdown is really just a slowdown, because hundreds of thousands of federal workers remain on the job to defend the country, patrol the borders, keep travel flowing, tend to VA patients, and send out Social Security checks. (And the postal service stays open.)"

      Does this sound like the "right size" for our government? Federal employment is far too expensive to be a jobs program for the elite. If the above "essential" duties need to be done and will be done even with a shutdown, then should this be the actual size of the federal government on a more permanent basis?

      We need to ask, do we really need all the rest?

      We need to ask one bigger question – have we put far too many fragile eggs in the federal basket?

      The one biggest argument against the current size of government is in the event of a shutdown, there is an extremely high cost to the people when politics gets in the way of so many programs those people are counting on.

      Perhaps this shutdown debate can born a new debate – we need to discuss spreading out the responsibilities of all the "non-essential" duties, as presented by the shutdown, outside of the federal government – into state and local governments and into the private sector.

      I think we are seeing the dangers of having a federal government that is dangerously too large. It is in fact "too big to fail" and in the same way the feds have been doing and would like to do with breaking up private sector companies, it too needs to be broken up!

    3. tim saregent says:

      Obama and unions should be put in prison for treason and embezzlement at the least. Unions should all be kicked out of government sector jobs.and made to pay back trillions this country lost because of them.

    4. tim saregent says:

      Obama should be in jail with union leaders and supporters of his communist policies.and be made to pay back money they along with general electric ie. Ge who embezzled the taxpayers of the united states.

    5. tom beebe st louis says:

      Ok, any economic action must have an equal and opposite reaction, just as in physics, or it runs away. What's the opposing force to public employee wage demands? It can only be the taxpayers/voters. But that force is muted by the disconnect between the wage/benefit negotiations and elections. Rather than the noisy circus we see in Wisconsin, let us coordinate public wage contracts with elections, and put union demands and management (elected officials) offers on the ballot. If that management doesn't look out for the customer's (taxpayers) interests, they get voted out, which is probably what put the GOP in the majority in Wisconsin. This is the only way I see to settle public labor costs without the mess we see now in Wisconsin and more to come in other states. Anybody got a better idea?

    6. Bobbie says:

      Address the mindset of government competition (obama) vs the private sector. That's not competition when the private sector is responsible and accountable using their own money. While government protects, overpays and offers extreme benefits to government workers at the cost of the private sector. It's not competition it's take-over. There is no comparison when government sets the rules with other peoples money and stands to encourage the need of the fraudulent unions…

      The core of the problem is solely government unions.

    7. Bobbie says:

      If a job can be done in the private sector the wage should be LESS in the government sector. There is a big contrast between private and public work and in a free country of free people, it's unethical of the government to suggest competition with those they steal from yet, to invite jobs at a high pay and at tax payers expense when the private sector will do it more efficiently at higher standards of quality. Private business finances their own way with their own money. Government sector is always financed by the private sector. Government makes the rules but doesn't follow where the private sector is held accountable at the private sectors own expense. When the government is caught, the private sector picks up that tab, too. ETC. ETC. ETC.

      Because parents do, can and would teach their children whatever the circumstance, teaching isn't an essential function of government. Salaries and benefits should be in comparison to foreign educators, or private school educators where education and achievement are seen in the students. Unions in government are over the line.

      Private employment is by choice, government employment is by bribe.

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