It is no secret to people who know me, and to people who read my articles, that on many issues I am a democrat. I am socially liberal, support higher taxes on the top earners in the country, I support comprehensive immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship, and believe in the social safety net for the people who need it the most. So it may surprise people that in today's recall election in Wisconsin, I will be pulling for Republican Gov. Scott Walker to keep his job.
If there is one thing that really annoys me about democrats, it is their love affair with unions who I believe have run their course in this country. They were needed badly back in the early days of the Industrial Revolution, but with so many worker protection and wage laws in effect today, I believe that unions are no longer needed.
Here is what is at the heart of the Wisconsin recall: when Gov. Walker came into office, Wisconsin was facing a $3.6 billion budget shortfall. Walker believed that one of the solutions to this problem was to force members of the state's public employee unions to put 12.6% of their paycheck towards their health care and 5.8% towards their pensions (far less than what private sectors pay into theirs). Prior to Walker's reforms, public union members were paying next to nothing for their health care and pensions and it was being funded primarily by the taxpayers of Wisconsin. Walker also eliminated collective bargaining rights for all public employee unions with the exception of firefighters and policemen.
These reforms were absolute no brainers. Why should public employee unions be exempt from paying into their own health care and retirement while everybody else in the state (and in the country) has to pay into theirs? Democrats love to talk about a shared sacrifice, but they certainly do not apply it to their union allies. And stripping the unions of collective bargaining rights simply prevents the unions from buying and bribing politicians into giving them sweetheart deals on their wages, pensions, and health care, which puts a major burden on states budgets all across the country.
The reforms implemented by Walker are working. According to the governor's office, the state has saved more than $1 billion and because the reforms also made union dues voluntary, union members are now bringing home more money in their paychecks, which have also resulted in lower union membership.
States like New York, Michigan, California, Washington, and others would be wise to take note of what Gov. Walker has done in Wisconsin. These states face huge budget deficits in part because of their obligations to public employee unions. Leaders in these states must have the courage to enact similar reforms since it is obvious the unions will not change by themselves.
To me, this recall is one of the more undemocratic events I have seen in a while. Gov. Walker is not a known felon, nor is the economy in his state in shambles. In fact, the Wisconsin unemployment rate is 6.7%, well below the national average. This recall is all about the democrats and unions wanting to kick a guy out of office because he implemented a policy that ends their stranglehold over the state's budget, taxpayers, and leaders. Do not let anybody tell you any differently.
A Walker victory tonight will be a devastating blow to public employee unions and maybe, just maybe, it will inspire and give courage to governors all across this nation, both Democrat and Republican, to curb the power of the unions in their states as well.
We should all be Tea Partiers tomorrow night.