Backing off on 'Spread the wealth'
Editor, the Advocate:
For anyone who is aware of the kerfuffle in Madison, Wis. over newly-elected Gov. Scott Walker's efforts to reduce the $3.6 billion state budget deficit versus a teachers' union's protests over being asked for certain concessions, I offer here some facts and figures.
Gov. Walker is asking his state's teachers to begin paying 12.6 percent of their health insurance costs and half of their pensions, which one source estimated would cost about $200 per month to the average Wisconsin teacher who makes more than $51,000 per year. Teachers' union members don't want to concede anything, and they are protesting. Fifteen school districts across the state had to close last week because union teachers called in sick, yet thousands of them were well enough to storm the state Capitol building en masse waving signs and shouting.
For years, unions have held sway over large groups of our labor force - public and private - and they have generally been associated with the Democratic Party. I say this based on figures from OpenSecrets.org showing that Labor PACs campaign contributions during the 2008 federal election were slightly more than $66 million, with 92 percent funneled to Democrats and only 8 percent for Republicans.
Obama ran with heavy support of the Service Employees' International Union, among others, and, for the first year or so of his administration, his most frequent recorded White House visitor was Andy Stearn, president of the SEIU.
Not surprisingly, Obama recently voiced another of his opinions about the situation in Wisconsin, taking the side of the union protesters by describing Wisconsin Governor's efforts to reduce the deficit ". . . more of an assault on unions."
It seems that this president has a short memory. I, for one, remember his televised dialogue in October 2008 with Joe the Plumber in which he famously said, ". . . I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."
Now that the Wisconsin teachers' union is being asked to "spread the wealth around" to help a state with 7.5 percent unemployment deal with a multi-billion dollar budget deficit, they have changed their tune.
Curtis Carter, Port Lavaca