Public labor-union members have been a key voting bloc for Democrats for years now, so it’s interesting to read this Politico story about bipartisan wariness over civil servants’ pay and benefits. Democrats in Illinois (Gov. Pat Quinn), New York (attorney general and gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo) and California (left-of-center blogger and U.S. Senate candidate Mickey Kaus, not cited in the article) have acted or spoken against the growing disparity between the public and private sectors, something I’ve written about before here, here and here.
The story also quotes some Republicans who may be prime challengers to President Obama in 2012: Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and, if you believe the early talk about GOP voters possibly going for an Obama-style fast-riser, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
For whatever reason, the authors didn’t connect the 2012 dots. So, allow me.
Suppose that Daniels is the GOP nominee in 2012. Such a contest would pit a two-term governor who “rescinded state workers’ collective bargaining power on his first day in office in 2006,” according to Politico, against a sitting president who took hundreds of billions of dollars, in the form of a taxpayer-funded “stimulus,” out of the private sector — with the primary effect of saving public-sector jobs. Nominating Pawlenty or Christie, to name two others, would set up a similar fight about the disparity between the public and private sectors.
And with the positions that Cuomo, Quinn and others are taking, many of Obama’s fellow Democrats will have a hard time defending him on the issue.