August 6, 2010


It's silly season, and Republican consultants are leaving no stone unturned in their effort to confuse, conflate, attack and stir up anger and fear. But Dick Morris' latest may possibly be one of the most evil.

It seems that the Senate's passage of the aid to states package has thrown a monkey wrench into Morris' strategy for bringing the country to its knees. Here are some quotes from his website (which I will not link...Google it if you want them):

The opening salvo: Frame aid to states as a "bailout".

As long as the Democrats control Congress, they will continue to rubber-stamp Obama’s requests for bailouts of profligate states. But when the Republicans take control, they will be less than forthcoming. Republicans will ask the central question: Why should taxpayers from states that have cut their budgets and observed spending restraint, pay for the extravagances of the other states? Why should forty-seven states have to pay for California, New York, and Michigan?

Hmmmm. Will those 47 states refuse to accept the federal dollars which kept their states' budgets balanced last year? Why did Rick Perry accept the federal aid for Texas? So he could campaign on a balanced budget, of course.

But really, this is just the foundation. Morris' plan is much more evil than simply electing enough representatives to Congress to block federal aid to states.

The Republican solution to state financial distress should be simple: The Party should insist on a change in the federal bankruptcy law providing for a procedure for state bankruptcy (none now exists). This process must call for abrogation of all state and local public employee union contracts as is usually done in private sector bankruptcies. By freeing states and local governments (including school boards) of their union obligations on wages, work rules, staffing, and pensions, they have a chance to survive and, indeed, to prosper. But merely subsidizing these massive expenditures just prolongs the misery of the states in question.

Simply put: Bankrupt the states to break union contracts, then step in with federal dollars to rehabilitate states after they've stripped state employees of their pensions.

That Dick Morris is a real prince. There are also some serious flaws in his argument, beginning with his attack on state pensions.

Let's have a look at the city of Bell as a case study. The corrupt Bell City Council, City Manager and other overpaid officials all accrued pensions based upon salaries greater than what the President of the United States earns. Have a look around at other cities and you'll discover that pension obligations for true rank and file employees aren't the problem.

The real problem is with those overpaid ELECTED city officials who make far too much and end up sucking reserves out of municipal pension funds for employees. Non-union CalPERS officials approved pension benefits based on those high salaries so that Bell city officials could accrue a full pension without the required number of years of service to do so.

Did I mention those Bell crooks aren't union? Just in case I didn't, they're not.

In light of that, Dick Morris' closer is particularly insidious:

The collapse of overspending state governments must trigger the diminution of the power unions hold over their budgets and their politics. Their coming bankruptcies offer an opportunity for reform and the Republican Congress – backed by newly elected Republican state governments – give us precisely the opportunity we need to effectuate it.

In relative terms, this is a far more "revolutionary" and "tyrannical" proposal than anything I've heard from the Democrats. It's mind-numbingly evil, in fact. Bankrupt states, break unions, then bring in a rush of new "Republicans" to break the backbone of this country.

I don't think so.

(h/t Greg Jones)

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