Continetti is guest-blogging for The Post.
For a while there the battle over Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s budget repair bill dominated American politics. The end result was a defeat for public-sector unions: Despite rogue state senators, mass protests and millions of dollars, the left couldn’t defeat Walker’s bill or Republican state Supreme Court justice David Prosser. Pretty embarrassing! Over at the home base, Weekly Standard online editor Mark Hemingway has a cover story on how unions are doomed.
The size, scope and solvency of government is the issue of the hour. What I find fascinating about the public-sector union story, though, is its regional dimension. The front lines of this battle are in the Rust Belt. Five of the eight states that border the Great Lakes now have Republican governors working to limit union power. Of the three Democrats, New York’s Andrew Cuomo is pretty much indistinguishable from conservative hero Chris Christie on budget issues. The unions are besieged.
And now there’s Detroit. The Wall Street Journal reports that Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, a Democrat, is going all Scott Walker on local public employees. Bing’s responding to pressure from Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, who recently signed into law a measure granting authorities more power to intervene in municipalities with troubled finances. Detroit Public Schools honcho Robert Bobb, also a Democrat, is cracking down, too.
For decades, the Great Lakes states have subscribed to a high-tax, high-spend, closed-shop political model. That hasn’t worked out too well for them, economically speaking. Now harsh fiscal realities are changing the policy mix. The southernization of the Rust Belt has begun.