I'm Not a Special Interest, Not That There's Anything Wrong With That
This missive from "Wendy C." just landed in my inbox:
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.
I hate to break it to you Wendy, but you are both. Teachers unions are some of the most powerful special interests in the country. They consistently show up near the top of lists of the biggest federal and state political donors. The Examiner's Tim Carney made the case handily earlier this summer in a broader piece about public sector unions:
Government employee unions — through their employees and political action committees — have contributed more money to congressional candidates this election than all the PACs, executives and employees of the entire oil industry, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. Because 92 percent of public-employee union money goes to Democrats, President Obama's party has raised more money from these unions this cycle than Republicans have raised from Wall Street…
The American Federation of Teachers has also spent more this election — $7.1 million — than any business PAC.
Or as Matt Welch has noted:
Over the past two decades, the heavily Democrat-leaning National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers have donated the 7th most political money and 14th most, respectively, in the nation. In California, teachers unions accounted for 20% of all political donations over the past decade.
It all sounds pretty special and interesting to me.