In The Wall Street Journal, Amity Shlaes explains why even mild compromise with Democrats could unleash terrible consequences. She writes:
She’ll only get halfway. That’s the consensus on Elizabeth Warren: If the senator becomes president, Congress will wear down her ideological edge and stymie much of her radical agenda. The result won’t be something free-marketeers can love, but it will be something they can live with and then undo at a later date.
Maybe not. The lesson of the 1960s is that political compromises with progressives can be much more consequential than they look—and preclude future reform.
In the early 1960s, progressives and even outright socialists were gaining an unexpected hold on the national imagination. Two ideas Ms. Warren is mooting, repealing right-to-work laws to strengthen unions and expanding health-care benefits, topped the progressive agenda. Then as now, a strong economy fed the expansive mood. America could afford more public generosity.
The unions came first. Under section 14(b) of the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act, state governments could vote to make collective bargaining voluntary for companies and employees. Nineteen states did just that, and unions sensed the existential threat.
As a senator, John F. Kennedy fought hard for organized labor, but when he was president, Southern and Sun Belt states blocked repeal of right to work, as the state opt-out was known. The president felt he had to throw organized labor a bone. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then a Labor Department aide, drafted principles codifying the legitimacy of unions in a new area: the federal government. In 1962 Kennedy signed Executive Order 10988. Kennedy and Moynihan told themselves the order was merely a bone: It authorized collective bargaining for federal employees, but deprived them of strike rights.
Kennedy’s mild compromise triggered an explosion of government unionization. States and towns followed his lead. The public unions used the threat of strikes—illegal or legal—to extract compensation that states and towns could ill afford. Hence today’s state pension crises.
When it comes to Dems you can’t give ‘em an inch. If you do, you may be in for the whole mile. Here’s some of what I have written on the benefits of right to work laws, and the dangers public unionization has created in state pensions:
- Right to Work South Carolina is Flooded in Jobs
- Is Your State Pension Really about to Explode?
- Thankful Missouri Citizens Now Have the Right to Work
- Fuzzy Math Can’t Hide This State’s Pension Trouble Anymore
- The Clear Value of the Right-to-Work
- States and Cities Struggle under Pension Weight
One bad decision by Kennedy and Moynihan led to a hollowing out of states’ fiscal security. Americans shouldn’t let Warren do the same.
E.J. Smith - Your Survival Guy
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