Politico has a decent article up about how,
Spurred by state budget crunches and an angry public mood, Republican and some Democratic leaders are focusing with increasing intensity on public workers and the unions that represent them, casting them as overpaid obstacles to good government and demanding cuts in their often-generous benefits.
Lots of Chris Christie/Mitch Daniels quotes, but it remains striking to me how lame the public-sector union responses sound:
"It's outrageous to blame a librarian – to blame a fireman for the financial mess that we find this country it," the president of the American Federation of State County, and Municipal Employees, the largest national public workers union, [Gerald] McEntee, said. "We are the scapegoats in the states." […]
"The Al Shankers and the Victor Gotbaums…they're not around any more," said Norman Adler, the former political director of the New York City public workers union, referring to public sector union leaders who battled through the crises of the 1960s. "The people who have replaced them are either not as sophisticated or not as talented as the old guard was." […]
American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, for instance, blamed "the hedge fund folks" who, she said, are "trying to use charters as a way of demonizing public school teachers."
So, don't blame the noble firefighter for the economic crisis, the movement needs greater Great Leaders, and god DAMN those hedge funds. Really?
What's missing every time this debate comes up is any actual defense of the basic and 100 percent undeniable trend line–we are paying much, much more money to deliver government services that (with few exceptions) are not performing any better, and the single biggest line item in that cost increase is employee compensation. The burden of proof is on the people pocketing our taxpayer dollars, and yet they continue to dissemble, whine, and change the subject (and sometimes even shrug), rather than robustly defending the public policy mess they have been instrumental in creating. As long as We Are Out of Money, they (and their apologists) will rightly be on the defensive.