Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Romney wants to help people by firing them

Remember being in school and the teacher asking you what you wanted to be when you grew up? And remember how she ridiculed you when you said you wanted to be a firefighter, or a police officer…or a teacher? Neither do we.

But if it were up to people like Mitt Romney or Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, that teacher would’ve talked some sense into you – right before having her own job cut.

The graph pictured here shows how differently public workers fared in previous recessions. Where government jobs were once seen as a solution in economic hard times (which actually helped to improve the economy), today they are depicted as burdensome and targets ripe for union-busting.

Anti-worker politicians have been betting on a strategy aimed at demonizing public workers for quite some time. But on the heels of the Wisconsin recall election, the right wing is ramping up its efforts to popularize scorn toward professions that were once considered noble.

On Sunday, Gov. Daniels called for the elimination of public sector unions and claimed that government somehow works better without them. Romney was more specific last week when he said,
“[Obama] says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers. Did he not get the message in Wisconsin? The American people did. It’s time for us to cut back on government and help the American people.”
Cutting public services to help the American people? Sounds a little odd.

This morning Romney tried to clarify his position, saying he doesn’t want to lay off firefighters, teachers and cops. He just wants other people to do it:
Of course, teachers and firemen and policemen are hired at the local level and also by states. The federal government doesn't pay for teachers, firefighters or policemen. [Obama's] got a new idea, though, and that is to have another stimulus and to have the federal government send money to try and bail out cities and states.
It was only a few months ago that a National Journal poll found 70 percent in favor of providing funds to help states and local governments save jobs. Still, the enemies of working people have been winning with their message about “spoiled” public workers, as evidenced by the latest recall election in Wisconsin.

But the attack on public workers isn’t just an effective way to divide workers against each other rather than directing our outrage at the real culprit of the down economy (Wall Street). It’s also really bad economic policy. As the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein points out
Since Obama was elected, the public sector has lost about 600,000 jobs. If you put those jobs back, the unemployment rate would be 7.8 percent.
Teamsters President Hoffa had a good response to Gov. Daniels’ anti-union comments:
Gov. Daniels’ opinion on the value of public sector unions is insulting to the men and women that work hard every day to strengthen our communities across the country. His views do not reflect the beliefs of the millions of people who fought against the attacks on the public sector in Wisconsin and Ohio.