Wisconsin and California: Big Labor Democrats are out of touch
Is President Obama completely out of touch with reality?
His comments last Friday on the economy and on increasing government spending raise a serious question about his understanding of the real world. It seems as though he’s living in an alternative reality.
Consider just two examples from Friday.
Much has been made of President Obama’s mistake in saying “The private sector is doing fine.”
As I indicated in my last newsletter, this is the weakest recovery since the Great Depression. We will presently see polls asking the question “Do you agree the private sector is doing fine?” My guess is Americans will disagree with President Obama by better than two to one.
One recent poll reported that by a margin of 72 to 24, Americans believe the United States is still in a recession. Clearly they would not agree with President Obama that “the private sector is doing fine.”
His comment makes you wonder what his sources of information are and who is advising him. As out of touch as his comment about the private sector is, it is his call for more spending on government that is the most at odds with the Americans people.
The president asserted:
“Where we’re seeing weaknesses in our economy have to do with state and local government — oftentimes, cuts initiated by governors or mayors who are not getting the kind of help that they have in the past from the federal government and who don’t have the same kind of flexibility as the federal government in dealing with fewer revenues coming in.”
“And so, if Republicans want to be helpful, if they really want to move forward and put people back to work, what they should be thinking about is, how do we help state and local governments.”
There are two things profoundly wrong with this analysis.
First, when President Obama asserts that state and local governments “don’t have the same kind of flexibility as the federal government in dealing with fewer revenues coming in,” he is referring to Washington’s ability to borrow money and engage in deficit spending.
This reliance on open ended borrowing and rising debt was just put to three tests on Tuesday — three days before the president’s comments.
In Wisconsin, in the most widely publicized recall election in history, Republican Governor Scott Walker decisively defeated the government union candidate.
Wisconsin historically has been a moderate state with a strong union movement and the clarity of choice and depth of commitment were striking.
In some ways two referenda in California were even more decisive indicators of how badly the president is misreading the mood of the American people.
California is a heavily Democrat and government employee union state.
San Diego is our eighth largest city.
San Jose is our tenth largest city.
Both voted last week on pension reform plans which cut the inflated benefits to public employees. The results were decisive and historic.
In San Diego, the measures passed 66 percent to 34 percent.
Bloomberg News described the reforms this way: “San Diego’s Proposition B imposes a six-year freeze on pay levels used to determine pension benefits unless a two-thirds majority of the City Council votes to override it. It also puts new hires, except for police officers, into 401(k)-style plans.”
As the Mayor of San Jose, Jerry Sanders, said last week, “Anytime you get 66 percent, it means people were pretty fed up with something.”
In San Jose, the results were even more dramatic. The measures passed 70 percent to 30 percent.
San Jose’s Mercury News summarized the reforms:
“* Current employees keep pension credits already earned but must pay up to 16 percent more of their salary to continue that benefit or choose a more modest and affordable plan for their remaining years on the job.
* Limit retirement benefits for future hires by requiring them to pay half the cost of a pension.
* Suspend current retirees’ 3 percent yearly pension raises up to five years if the city declares a fiscal crisis.
* Discontinue “bonus” pension checks to retirees.
* Require voter approval for future pension increases.
* Change disability retirement with the aim of limiting it to those whose injuries prevent them from working.”
San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, a Democrat, advocated the reforms captured the people’s attitude towards the unions that are driving cities into the red: “We love our cops and firefighters. They are our heroes,” he said, but “they’ve lost a lot of that support in recent years.”
President Obama proved Friday that on the question of big government he is out of touch with 66 percent of San Diegans, 70 percent of the citizens of San Jose, and a decisive majority of the voters of Wisconsin.
Where is President Obama getting his information and advice from?