Column by Larry Kudlow on National Review Online:
The Democratic/government-union days of rage in Madison, Wis., are a disgrace. Paul Ryan calls it Cairo coming to Madison. But the protesters in Egypt were pro-Democracy. The government-union protesters in Madison are anti-democracy. In fact, Democratic legislators are fleeing the state so as not to vote on Gov. Scott Walker’s budget cuts.
The teachers union is going on strike in Milwaukee and elsewhere. They ought to be fired. Think Reagan PATCO in 1981. Think Calvin Coolidge police strike in 1919.
Governor Walker is facing a $3.6 billion budget deficit, and he wants state workers to pay one-half of their pension costs and 12.6 percent of their health benefits. Currently, most state employees pay nothing for their pensions and virtually nothing for their health insurance. That’s an outrage.
Nationwide, state and local government unions have a 45 percent total-compensation advantage over their private-sector counterpart. With high-pay compensation and virtually no benefits co-pay, the politically arrogant unions are bankrupting America — which by some estimates is suffering from $3 trillion in unfunded liabilities.
Exempting police, fire, and state troopers, Governor Walker would end collective bargaining for the rest. Unions could still represent workers, but could not get pay increases above the CPI. Nor could they force employees to pay dues. And in exchange for this, Walker promises no furloughs for layoffs.
So, having lost badly in the last election, the government-union Democrats have taken to the streets. This is a European-style revolt, like those seen in Greece, France, and elsewhere. So it becomes greater than just a fiscal issue. It is becoming a law-and-order issue.
President Obama, who keeps telling us he’s a budget cutter, has taken the side of the public unions. John Boehner correctly rapped Obama’s knuckles for this. If the state of Wisconsin voters elected a Chris Christie-type governor with a Republican legislature, then it is a local states’ rights issue.
Obama should stay out. And Governor Walker should stand tall and stick to his principles. Otherwise, a nationwide revolt of state-government unions will destroy the country as well as its finances.