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Third Base Politics


Centrism, Ohio Style

Following Wednesday’s close-as-possible passage of Senate Bill 5, Tom Blumer at BizzyBlog made a troubling observation:

Yours truly suspects that the Republican caucus decided that it had to give John Kasich what he wanted, and then got into discussions over who could “safely” vote no. It’s not like they haven’t done this kind of thing before (see: cynical maneuvering, Ted Strickland’s retroactive 2009 tax increase).

Even I, with my wild-eyed ravings about government unionization, willingly concede that aspects of SB 5 may be flawed. Like the average union boss, I’m not a budget expert! But the Democrats offered no amendments, and six is a lot of Republicans to lose on a bill targeting groups who take public workers’ pay and funnel it to the leftmost causes imaginable.

The disappointing thing – I grew up in Speaker Boehner’s district, so forgive my expectation that Republicans have backbone – is the angst several GOP senators are displaying. Again, I don’t assume the bill is perfect, but the only hope of taxpayers and public employees finding sustainable middle ground starts with getting the unions out of the picture. Senator Bill Seitz might not agree:

“What a deal,” Seitz said, as he and Grendell questioned why a legislative body would ever pick the union’s offer over its own. Seitz called it a “heads I win, tails you lose solution.”

Senator Seitz misses the point: if the unions ask for more than an agency can afford and the agency meets them halfway, it’s often “heads the taxpayers get hosed, tails the union sticks it to the public.” That’s assuming the agency isn’t managed by a Democrat who is happy to give the union bosses whatever they want.

Senator Kevin Bacon, a pretty reliable voice the past few weeks, breaks it down:

The conversations I’ve had with many individuals on what post-Senate Bill 5 will look like, a lot of it comes down to do you trust your council, your school board, your township trustees, your local elected officials who will appear on the ballot again.

Exactly. Elected officials answer to the public for everything, including the way they treat their employees. Despite what the unions would have you believe, government workers would still be able to communicate with one another, their bosses, and their neighbors without a union rep siphoning dues away for political contributions and his own salary.

Senator Jim Hughes – who received over 20% of all the donations from AFSCME Local 11 to Ohio Republicans in the past decade – also criticized SB 5’s contract settlement process:

I have some concerns with that because as I read it, and I’m an attorney, the legislative body that would be deciding (the final contract) is the same management that is in negotiations with labor.

As opposed to the current arrangement, where the unions spend millions to elect the people who will sign off on their contract demands. Sadly, Senators Seitz and Hughes may not be the most egregious examples of Republicans defending the unions instead of the taxpayers:

And now there’s going to be a backlash in Ohio. People in the public believe that this collective-bargaining bill was a Republican overreach, and now you’re going to see a sort of slap-back reaction.

Fewer people would see SB 5 as Republican overreach if the Ohio Senate could form consensus around a solid conservative argument once in my lifetime. And now Senator Tim Grendell should expect a primary challenge from someone who wants to empower the average Ohioan, instead of parroting union talking points in The Washington Post.

Cross-posted at that hero.

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Third Base Politics is an Ohio-centric conservative blog that has been featured at Hot Air, National Review, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and others.


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