President Obama urged reluctant lawmakers Saturday to quickly approve nearly $50 billion in emergency aid to state and local governments, saying the money is needed to avoid "massive layoffs of teachers, police and firefighters" and to support the still-fragile economic recovery.
In a letter to congressional leaders, Obama defended last year's huge economic stimulus package, saying it helped break the economy's free fall, but argued that more spending is urgent and unavoidable. "We must take these emergency measures," he wrote in an appeal aimed primarily at members of his own party.
Of course, in retrospect we have learned that the first stimulus was mostly about saving government jobs as well, rather than creating any private stimulus. Government workers are among the Democrats most reliable political supporters, and the SEIU, among other organizations, have had close ties to Obama for years. State and local governments are finally facing some accountability for spending and being forced to roll back spending increases of the last few years that have far outpaced inflation and population growth, so of course Obama wants to short-circuit this accountability process.
Think about this -- every one of these bailed out governments have certainly had local legislative deliberations and likely votes on bonds and tax increases over the last year. If their problems still persist, its because the local taxpayers don't want to pony up any more money for their local government and the local legislators refuse to cut spending sufficiently. So if Smallsville, California won't pony up more money for their government and won't balance their budget, why should I be on the financial hook to bail them out?
Andrew Coulson looks at one of these groups, teachers, and wonders what all the fuss is about -- its about time we laid some public school employees off after years of rapidly declining productivity:
I have been looking for a good excuse to clear my reader cache of a whole series of articles on government salaries and pensions, and this seems a really good time.
Much like the bailout of billionaires on Wall Street, the government worker bailout is targeting a group already doing much better than their peers in private industry. (via Carpe Diem)
Related, via Carpe Diem:
"Who are America's fastest-growing class of millionaires? They are police officers, firefighters, teachers and federal bureaucrats who, unless things change drastically, will be paid something near their full salaries every year--until death--after retiring in their mid-50s. That is equivalent to a retirement sum worth millions of dollars.
Chris Edwards has a related essay, focusing on federal government pay.
Matt Welch looks at two DC-area counties and shows how their relative financial health is closely related to their hiring and pay policies.