One man's bipartisanship is another's capitulation, which is why Republicans should resist compromising their principles by supporting President Obama's so-called stimulus package. House Republicans wisely chose to reject an $819 billion spending spree, with not a single member breaking ranks (and 11 Democrats joining them). Senate Republicans should do the same.
The point isn't to be obstructionist for its own sake. But there are important differences between the two parties on how best to stimulate the economy, and simply adopting one or two Republican amendments won't turn this sow's ear of a bill into a silk purse.
Democrats remain the party of Big Government -- and with the most liberal president since FDR now in the Oval Office, Democrats see their chance to expand the reach of government into new areas. The economic crisis is merely an excuse to do what they've always wanted -- spend more on everything from education to mass transportation. The kinds of jobs Democrats like best are those that create evermore public employees.
And why not? Government workers, especially those at the state and local level, help put Democrats in office -- or more accurately, their unions do. Just a tiny fraction of private sector workers are unionized -- less than 8 percent in 2008. But nearly 40 percent of public employees are union members and they contribute, big-time, to Democratic candidates. In 2008, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, the Service Employees International Union, which represents 850,000 public service workers, spent nearly $34 million on independent expenditures in helping elect President Obama. And one of its affiliates, New York-based Local 1999, spent another $4.3 million. No wonder the Democrats want to bolster public employee union ranks.
But those government jobs are actually a drain on the economy -- not the engine of growth that Democrats like to portray. When a private company gets into economic trouble it can't simply raise prices to suit its need for profits -- it cuts expenses to keep afloat. Not so for the government. When cities and counties across the country experienced budget shortfalls from lower property taxes based on declining home values, many simply adjusted their tax rates to make up the difference.
Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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