Guess which group is spending the most money this cycle--business? The NRA? Nope. Public employee unions are the biggest spenders.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees is now the biggest outside spender of the 2010 elections, thanks to an 11th-hour effort to boost Democrats that has vaulted the public-sector union ahead of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the AFL-CIO and a flock of new Republican groups in campaign spending.
And what are they spending money in order to protect or increase? Unsustainable pensions. Here's a California example.
This month, Stanford's Institute for Economic Policy Research released a study suggesting a more than $500 billion unfunded liability for California's three biggest pension funds—Calpers, Calstrs and the University of California Retirement System. The shortfall is about six times the size of this year's California state budget and seven times more than the outstanding voter-approved general obligations bonds.
Thank you Gray Davis.
Unlike the tension that occurs when private sector management negotiates with a union, the public sector unions work to elect people who will give them higher benefits. The only check on the system is what the taxpayer will bear. And since it has taken years to realize how expensive these generous benefit packages are, the public is only now beginning to realize that they've been fleeced.
I think the public used to look at Firefighters and think about the heroes of 9/11...this cycle, I think they are thinking of someone who retires to a six figure income in his mid 40s.
So while these signs may have been effective a few cycles back. I think that this year they are the kiss of death. Word is that Meyer and Shapira have slight leads. We'll see if they can overcome the union label.