Talking with Mike Huckabee on Fox News last night, host Greta Van Susteren wondered why Republicans don’t call what they’re doing in states like Wisconsin and Ohio what it is: Union busting. “Whether it is or isn’t, my point would be, so what?” Huckabee shot back, adding, “It could be!” The former GOP Arkansas governor later suggested that that is indeed what these Republicans are doing:
VAN SUSTEREN: But there’s a little bit of a problem if part of this is also — if they are union busting why don’t they admit they are union busting a little bit as well. Instead, nobody wants to say that.
HUCKABEE: They may not want to say it. But the harsh reality is if they are union busting it is because the unions have broken the bank. And they’re putting them in a position where they can’t afford to continue to go on. They’re going to lay a bunch of people off. Public employee unions are different than private sector. Private sector unions have a right to exist and have actually provided some decent check and balance to jobs and businesses.
Yes, the GOP is launching an assault on unions, but Huckabee didn’t explain how public unions “have broken the bank.” It’s probably because it’s not true. In the case of Wisconsin, the state’s budget shortfall did not come about because of the existence of public unions, but as the AP noted, mainly because of “anticipated Medicaid expenses and a court-ordered repayment to a fund that was raided four years ago.” In fact, Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) made his state’s budget woes worse by insisting on a slew of tax cuts.
As the Wonk Room’s Pat Garofalo has noted numerous times, “stripping workers of collective bargaining rights won’t actually make it any better, saving taxpayers ‘almost nothing.’” And as Policy Matters Ohio has pointed out, states that deny public workers the right to collectively bargain are in no better fiscal shape. Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-IN) recently could not explain how eliminating collective bargaining rights would reduce budget deficits.
Moreover, if Wisconsin eliminated its public unions, the state would actually lose $46 million in federal funding that are contingent on workers having collective bargaining rights. Ohio would stand to lose $171 million for the same reason.