Diary

Obama's OFA non-joke: "I'm not a special interest. I'm a teacher."

LaborUnionReport, did you catch this joke? Public employee uinions aren’t special interests! Those outrageous salaries and benefits and pensions were completely selfless!

From an Organiizing for America e-mail from “Wendy C.” (I’m supposed to believe a testimonial from someone who won’t give her name?), telling me that America’s biggest special interests (the unions) are not special interests:

Barry —

Right now, my job — along with those of my colleagues — could be in jeopardy.

I’m a public school teacher in Philadelphia. And, like most states across the country, Pennsylvania is facing some bad budget shortfalls.

Without federal help, a lot of teachers like me — as well as other public servants like police officers and firefighters — will lose their jobs. Maybe you know some of these people. Maybe it’s you.

Democrats in Congress are trying to do the right thing, proposing emergency assistance for states to preserve more than 100,000 jobs like mine. They’re racing back to the Capitol for an emergency session this week to pass this bill and save these jobs.

But Republicans are standing in the way. Minority Leader John Boehner is calling the bill a “payoff” to “special interests” and attacking every Democrat who is fighting for us.

But I’m not a special interest. I’m a teacher.

Can you join me in telling House Democrats that they have our support as they fight for our jobs?

Speaker Nancy Pelosi — and the entire Democratic Caucus — have decided to rush back to Washington to make sure that hundreds of thousands of workers like me will get to keep our jobs. In addition, the bill will actually create even more job growth by closing tax loopholes for companies that ship American jobs overseas.

But the Republicans are going to do everything they can to prevent this aid.

Please stand with me, in support of Democratic leaders who are standing up for folks like me:

http://my.barackobama.com/MyJob

Thank you,

Wendy C.
Teacher
Ambler, Pennsylvania

Today’s National Review was sympathetic to Wendy C.’s plight:

Help Save Some of the Highest-Paid Teachers in Pennsylvania!
August 09, 2010 4:41 PM By Jim Geraghty

This is from the website Storm’n Norm’n:

Monday, August 9, 2010
From the mailbox: Wendy C., Teacher, Ambler, Pennsylvania (…she lied!)
Ref: “But I’m not a special interest. I’m a teacher.” Lie! Teachers are one of the largest special interest groups in the country”

Some of you might have missed this opinion in Sunday’s New York Daily News. (It was featured on HotAir.) First, a comment to that opinion:

Dothelaundryalready
12:53:57 PM
Aug 9, 2010

Randj— public sector unions are as much a special interest group which has been allowed to rob the hardworking taxpayer as are corporations, the wealthy and everyone else you rant and rave against. Look at the tax policy regarding public pensions (No state or city tax) and private pensions (taxed by state and city). As a public sector employee, which I suspect you are, you probably don’t see it that way and that is understandable. Nothing seems preferential, unsustainable or unfair to those who benefit from it.

I remember a few years ago when New York City’s Campaign Finance Board had “campaign finance reform” by “reigning in the special interests.” Many wondered why the law applied to business, but not to labor unions–the biggest campaign finance contributors. These “non-special interests” (?) write the laws and own the legislators. Union pensions are guaranteed and tax-free by law in New York State, and only a Constitutional Convention can change that.

From the Daily News article:

How public worker pensions are too rich for New York’s – and America’s – blood
BY Eileen Norcross and Todd Zywicki
Sunday, August 8th 2010, 4:00 AM
He did nothing illegal. At 44, Hugo Tassone retired from the Yonkers police force with an annual pension of $101,333 – thanks to overtime pay he tacked on to his $74,000 salary. Tassone told The New York Times it was the pension he could collect after 20 years of service that attracted him to the job in the first place.

The incredible amounts of overtime to boost the last year’s salary (and therefore the annual pensions) is an open scam. No responsible government would let this scam operate for decades on end, except bought-and-controlled legislators.

These and other sweeteners are part of the reason why the city’s annual pension payout has increased 900% since 2000. And that’s before health care benefits are included. For every dollar police officers contribute to their retirement, taxpayers contribute nine. Mayor Bloomberg’s office warns that if one thing pushes New York City into bankruptcy again – 35 years after the last time – it will be pensions.

I’m shocked that this is today’s news, with pension stories regularly apprearing in the local dailies. The problem has existed for decades. It’s not simply a problem of a bad economy.

For years, unions have succeeded in enhancing pension formulas while incentivizing workers to maximize their pension payouts. Called “spiking,” “padding” or “boosting and tacking,” the strategy of adding “extras” to the final salary in order to nab a higher pension has driven New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority into a budget crisis. The Authority has tried to tackle its $400 million shortfall by cutting bus and rail service. Riders now get to pay the price for years of transit payroll abuse.

The MTA has been toast for some time, yet its workers still received raises.

As legislators debate, the cost to taxpayers is growing rapidly. One-fifth of New York City’s budget was spent on pension and health benefits this year. The city’s $40 billion pension hole means that by 2016, that $6.8 billion pension expenditure will nearly double to $12 billion. While the city can in a worst-case scenario declare bankruptcy, the state cannot.

The alternatives in this scenario are bleak.

First is a federal bailout. But even if we can afford another trillion dollar plus bailout – a big “if” – should the citizens of the rest of the country foot the bill for the gold-plated pensions of Connecticut and Illinois retirees? And what reward does that provide for states that have acted responsibly?
(…)
Norcross is Senior Research Fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. Zywicki is Foundation Professor of Law at George Mason University and Mercatus Center Senior Scholar.

SUMMARY
The special interest public sector unions got a near-trillion dollar stimulus. Now it’s getting $26 billion more as an emergency measure. It never ends.

Wendy C. says: “I’m not a special interest. I’m a teacher.”

It’s beyond a bad joke.