Saturday, August 07, 2010


I'm actually surprised that Digby (citing this Crooks & Liars story) is optimistic about the likely results of some revanchist proposals being floated by Dick Morris:

Morris ... wants to provide for states to go bankrupt so they can dispose of all their public employee union contracts and pension obligations. The good news is that Dick Morris hasn't been right about a single thing for at least 20 years, so I'm fairly hopeful that they will push this.

The right is obviously preparing for all out war on the public employee and service unions. I'm sure the Democrats will scurry like mice the minute they attack and leap over one another trying to figure out ways to screw them first.

But if the unions are smart they are going to be prepared with spots like this one which I featured yesterday. It makes normal people very uncomfortable to see middle class people like nurses, cops, teachers and firefighters --- their neighbors and themselves -- treated like enemies of the state. It will backfire....

I wouldn't be so sure. A couple of months ago, I noticed some Quinnipiac poll results from New Jersey, where the blowhard Republican governor, Chris Christie, is battling municipal unions. Christie's alienated some state residents -- but the unions have alienated even more:

New Jersey voters give Gov. Christopher Christie a split 44 - 43 percent job approval rating and 44 percent describe him as a "leader," while 43 percent call him a "bully," according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. Voters also say 52 - 38 he is "confrontational," rather than "honest and refreshing."

... New Jersey voters like their teachers 56 - 26 percent, but by a 50 - 24 percent margin they have a negative opinion of the teachers' union. Voters with children in public school like their teachers 65 - 23 percent, but dislike the teachers' union 53 - 22 percent. While 45 percent trust the union more to make the right decisions about teacher contracts, 43 percent trust Christie more.

Teachers' unions are doing the wrong thing in refusing to freeze wages or make other concessions, voters say 64 - 29 percent. Voters oppose 65 - 31 percent property tax increases to avoid cutting teachers and school programs in their district....

There's also this recent New York Times story about Maywood, California:

... City officials last month fired all of Maywood's employees and outsourced their jobs.

... The school crossing guards were let go. Parking enforcement was contracted out, City Hall workers dismissed, street maintenance workers made redundant. The public safety duties of the Police Department were handed over to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

At first, people in this poor, long-troubled and heavily Hispanic city southeast of Los Angeles braced for anarchy.

Senior citizens were afraid they would be assaulted as they walked down the street. Parents worried the parks would be shut and their children would have nowhere to safely play. Landlords said their tenants had begun suggesting that without city-run services they would no longer feel obliged to pay rent.

The apocalypse never arrived. In fact, it seems this city was so bad at being a city that outsourcing — so far, at least — is being viewed as an act of municipal genius....

If you do these things and blood doesn't run in the streets, people will just shrug and assume this is no more than they deserve. Ordinary Americans have been slowly boiled frogs on a lot of things in this country since the Reagan years -- wage stagnation, loss of pensions, and so on. We'll just accept this as the new normal and cheer on even more tax cuts for the wealthy.

OK, maybe there'll be some pushback for the specific notion of the country declaring war on spwecific states. Here's how Morris puts it:

As long as the Democrats control Congress, they will continue to rubber-stamp Obama’s requests for bailouts of profligate states. But when the Republicans take control, they will be less than forthcoming. Republicans will ask the central question: Why should taxpayers from states that have cut their budgets and observed spending restraint, pay for the extravagances of the other states? Why should forty-seven states have to pay for California, New York, and Michigan?

It's possible that voters from those states will feel specifically targeted by the GOP, and the battle lines will be so painfully obvious that even the GOP noise machine won't be able to obfuscate it. And this won't be a cause that requires a typically complicated Democratic "see next bumper sticker" slogan -- just substitute McConnell and Boehner for Ford and your state's name for New York in the legendary: FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD.

And this doesn't seem like a terrific notion going into 2012 -- California, New York, and Michigan combined have a hell of a lot of electoral votes. Let's just hope this move to base the states' electoral-vote apportionment on the national popular vote, which is mostly catching on in Democratic states like Massachusetts, doesn't go live before then.

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