From: Orlando, Florida
Registered: Oct 2001
Obama Thanks His Friends: Government Spending and Union Support
Written by Richard M. Ebeling
Monday, 08 June 2009 00:00
The Obama Administration has said it places a high priority on spending Federal stimulus money to maintain or create jobs in the economy, including in the auto industry. A major reason behind this push is payback for the financial support American labor unions have given to the Democratic Party over the last two decades.
Since 1990, labor unions have contributed over $667 million in election campaigns in the United States, of which $614 million or 92 percent went to support Democratic candidates. In 2008, unions spent $74.5 million in campaign contributions, with $68.3 million going to the Democratic Party. Already, unions have contributed $6.5 million to the 2010 elections, and $6 million has gone to Democrats, according to the Center for Responsive Politics in Washington, D.C.
In the $787 billion stimulus spending bill passed in February, $90 billion has been earmarked to help cover the tax shortfalls in state and local government budgets due to the economic recession. Most of this money will be used to maintain or increase jobs at these levels of government, since those in political office are apparently unwilling to reduce expenditures and cut public payrolls in the face of decreased tax revenues.
This is no doubt related to $38 million dollars that the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Union has contributed to Democratic Party campaigns since 1990, with nearly $2.6 million being given during the 2008 election. Public sector unions as a whole have given around $160 million to Democratic candidates between 1990 and 2008, with donations of $6 million in 2008.
First the Bush and now the Obama administration have spent or promised at least $60-70 billion to support now bankrupt General Motors and Chrysler. The Obama White House has committed the government and the American taxpayer to keeping afloat both companies in the name of saving jobs in what is declared to be an essential sector of the U.S. economy. It is more easily able to do this now that the Federal government owns majority control of GM and 8 percent of Chrysler,
But it is also the case that the United Auto Workers union has donated almost $25 million to Democratic Party candidates since 1990, contributing $2 million of that total in the 2008 election cycle. Nor should it be surprising that both Democratic and Republican members of Congress have expressed concerns about the closing of any GM or Chrysler dealerships, given that between 1990 and 2008 automobile dealership associations have given $67.9 million dollars to Congressional and presidential election campaigns, with 24 percent of that total going to the Democrats and 76 percent to Republicans.
The Obama Administration has also said that it wishes to make greater federal funding for education a priority during the years ahead, and has shown no willingness to support school choice in the form of vouchers. This is hardly unrelated to campaign donations of the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers which since 1990 have contributed more than $50 million to support Democratic candidates running for office. Both unions have been strong supporters of increased federal aid to public schools and have strongly opposed school voucher programs.
The Democrats in Congress and the White House have insisted that a wide variety of public construction projects are essential for recreating jobs, renovating public schools and government buildings, and improving the road and bridge infrastructure. The Obama Administration has announced its intention to speed up federal spending on these projects in the immediate future.
But is it coincidence that construction and industrial workers most likely to benefit from such federal spending in the months and years ahead belong to unions that have contributed huge amounts of money to support Democratic candidates win election? Combined these unions have contributed a least $150-200 million to Democratic candidates since 1990.
In the reality of hardball politics, money talks. Indeed, the logic of special interest and coalition politics explains much of the continuing increase in the size and expenditures of government. (See, Why Government Grows: The Modern Democratic Dilemma, AIER Research Reports, Vol. LXXV, No. 14, August 4, 2008)
The majority party now in control of both houses of Congress and in the White House owes something to those who helped them achieve political power. Unions have been stalwart supporters of the Democratic Party, as the table, below, of the leading union donors to political campaigns clearly demonstrates. The policies and spending programs being implemented are partly the thanks to those who have made the current Democratic majority possible.
Leading Union Political Campaign Contributors
American Fed. of State, County, & Municipal Employees $40,281,900 $547,700
Intel Brotherhood of Electrical Workers $29,705,600 $679,000
National Education Association $27,679,300 $2,005,200
Service Employees International Union $26,368,470 $98,700
Communication Workers of America $26,305,500 $125,300
Service Employees International Union $26,252,000 $1,086,200
Laborers Union $25,734,000 $2,138,000
American Federation of Teachers $25,682,800 $200,000
United Auto Workers $25,082,200 $182,700
Teamsters Union $24,926,400 $1,822,000
Carpenters and Joiners Union $24,094,100 $2,658,000
Machinists & Aerospace Workers Union $23,875,600 $226,300
United Food and Commercial Workers Union $23,182,000 $334,200
AFL-CIO $17,124,300 $713,500
Sheet Metal Workers Union $16,347,200 $342,800
Plumbers & Pipefitters Union $14,790,000 $818,500
Operating Engineers Union $13,840,000 $2,309,500
Airline Pilots Association $12,806,600 $2,398,300
International Association of Firefighters $12,421,700 $2,685,400
United Transportation Workers $11,807,000 $1,459,300
Ironworkers Union $11,638,900 $936,000
American Postal Workers Union $11,633,100 $544,300
Nat'l Active & Retired Fed. Employees Association $8,135,400 $2,294,600
Seafarers International Union $6,726,800 $1,281,300