• Two Americas: 2009 Version


      In 2003, John Edwards famously described his vision of Two Americas under George W, Bush:

      One America that does the work, another America that reaps the reward.

      Edwards was wrong and ridiculous. But Michael Barone writes that today there may be two Americas; one of government workers, the other private-sector workers.

      A recent Rasmussen poll found that many more government workers are optimistic about their financial futures and rated their personal finances higher than private-sector employees.

      It's not surprising. People think government work pays less. It once did, but now cozy deals between politicians and public-sector unions have led to fat contracts that pay public workers more than private-sector workers.

      On average, government workers are now paid $30,000 more than private-sector workers.

      In addition, private-sector employment is down 6 percent since December 2007, when the recession began.

      But with Congress tossing your money to the public sector, employment there is fairly steady, with less than a 1 percent decline in jobs.

      This is not an accident; it is the result of deliberate public policy. About one-third of the $787 billion stimulus package passed in February 2009 was directed at state and local governments...

      The policy aim, Democrats say, was to maintain public services and aid. The political aim, although Democrats don't say so, was to maintain public-sector jobs -- and the flow of union dues to the public employees unions...

      Those unions in turn have contributed generously to Democrats... The total union contribution to Democrats has been estimated at $400 million.

      This is bad for our future.

      At some point -- and this already has occurred in much of Western Europe -- public sector spending tends to choke off private-sector growth. America's current high unemployment levels have been commonplace in much of Western Europe for the last 25 years...

      The decision by the Obama administration and the Democratic Congress to hold public-sector employees in place while the private sector is gravely weakened has the potential to place us on that trajectory.

      Happy New Year.