Hey, big spenders?

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Jeff Jacoby:

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“We’re spending big,’’ AFSCME President Gerald McEntee boasted to The Wall Street Journal. “And we’re damn happy it’s big. And our members are damn happy it’s big — it’s their money.’’

AFSCME isn’t the only public-sector union “spending big’’ to influence the vote on Nov. 2. So is the National Education Association and the Service Employees International Union, respectively the nation’s largest and fastest-growing unions. Together, the three government-employee unions will have spent nearly $172 million campaigning for Democrats in the course of this election cycle. That outstrips by more than $30 million what the Chamber of Commerce and the Rove network combined are pouring into the 2010 campaign.

I have no objection to close media scrutiny when business-linked organizations spend heavily on campaign ads. But it should be a far bigger story when public-employee unions do so. Indeed, it should be cause for concern.

“It’s their money!’’ the president of AFSCME declares, and the heads of the NEA and SEIU would presumably agree, but where does “their money’’ come from? From satisfied customers paying for goods and services they voluntarily purchased? From profits earned by designing safer cars, serving tastier meals, developing cleaner fuels? From investing prudently in the marketplace?

Of course not. Every dollar the government pays its employees is a dollar the government taxes away from somebody else. As it is, public employees generally make more in salary and benefits than employees in the private economy: For Americans working in state and local government jobs, total compensation last year averaged $39.66 per hour — 45 percent more than the private sector average of $27.42. (For federal employees, the advantage is even greater.) Which means that AFSCME and the other public-sector unions are using $172 million that came from taxpayers to elect politicians who will take even more money from taxpayers, in order to further expand the public sector, multiply the number of government employees, and increase their pay and perks.

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They are spending money they take from us so they can get a Congress who will take more from us and give it to them. Democrats should be concerned about this because it is one reason voters are rejecting them at the polls.
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