Free Markets, Free People

The Ohio Vote

Ohio voters voted not to back the reforms Republican Governor John Kasich wanted to implement to  break the power of public sector unions.  Michael Barone comments:

The biggest result was Ohio Governor John Kasich’s defeat on Issue 2. Voters cast 61% of their votes (as I write) to repeal Kasich’s law, which had been backed by Republican majorities in the legislature (with some defections). Kasich’s effort is part of a struggle to rein in public employee unions, which use taxpayers’ money (in the form of union dues) to elect pliable politicians who then confer benefits on their members —especially generous health care and pensions—which then result in economy-killing tax rates. It’s a kind of economic death spiral for states and localities where public employee unions are a major political force.

He’s right.  Barone lays out the basic problem with public sector unions – the fact that they have become such a force in politics that they hire their own “bosses”.  And those bosses are happy to “negotiate” away tax dollars for continued political support.  Thus the “economic death spiral” Barone talks about.  As long as the taxpayer is paying, two sides of this triangle are quite happy to continue with business as usual.

Democrats are touting this as a huge win.   And it is … for the party.  It’s certainly not a win for the state which will now have to live with this continued lopsided arrangement that will continue to cost taxpayers dearly.

The irony, of course, is that on the same ballot, Ohio voters bought into the Republican idea that the state should refuse to comply with the new National Health Care law (aka ObamaCare).

There is some consolation here. The same Ohio voters—and the turnout seems to have been just about as high as in November 2010—who voted 61% against Kasich’s public employee union restrictions also voted 66% for Issue 3, which purported to shield Ohioans from any mandate to buy health insurance. This was a clear repudiation of Obamacare, and about half the folks that the unions turned out voted against Obamacare.

OK, maybe it really isn’t an irony.  Remember ObamaCare doesn’t like “Cadillac” health care plans and the unions have certainly ensured they have that. 

Instead, what it points to is how powerful unions are in Ohio and how well they can mobilize the vote. Unions spent big and they got results.   In reality, both Issue 2 and Issue 3 represent the union vote.  One went against the Republican governor.  The other, however, went against the Democratic President and his party.

And which one is getting all the press?


Twitter: @McQandO

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10 Responses to The Ohio Vote

  • When I was a young and naive economics writer, I used to write about developing countries a fair amount. Time and again they would make these bizarre and pointless moves, like suddenly and for no apparent reason defaulting on a bunch of debt. They would engage in obviously, stupidly unsustainable fiscal practices that caused recurring crises. They would divert critical investment funds into social spending which was going to become unsustainable when underinvestment reduced government revenue. And the other journalists and I would cluck our tongues and say “Why can’t they do the right thing when it’s so . . . bleeding . . . obvious?”

    Then we had our own financial crisis and it became suddenly, vividly clear: democratic governments cannot do even obvious right things if the public will not tolerate it. Even dictators have interest groups whose support they must buy.

    This has come home to me forcefully several times over the last few years, but never more than now. . . . I am very much afraid that the euro zone is about to plunge us into phase two of the global financial crisis–and that as with the Great Depression, phase two may be even worse than the dismal years we’ve just endured. In search of fairness, we may all get a lot more justice than any of us really wants.
    –Megan McArdle

    “…democratic governments cannot do even obvious right things if the public will not tolerate it.”

    Which nicely explains Ohio…

  • Eh, so they decided to buy some more champagne for a couple more hours. The bill will come due soon enough just like it did in Wisconsin. If the unions keep having to funnel money into these fights the victories will soon become noticeably Pyrrhic, and complete loss will be devastating to them.

  • Chalk it up to the “all of the people some of the time” phase.

    But yeah, you’re right- the Euro Express on the downhill run with faulty breaks, coupled with momentarily Nuclear Iran….will probably add up to bad times pretty much all around.

  • Also in the news is a report the Obama will defer a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline till after the election. Clearly non-union (or more correctly non-public sector union) workers are not important to him but greens are. We’ve seen here in CT that public sector union bosses will throw their members under the bus to protect their democratic office holders.

  • Well the first thing, Union state or not, anywhere you go for whatever reason, I found women of child bearing age are all basically putty in the hands of teachers. Call me a sexist or whatever, but I’ve tried to have several rational conversations with women about how pandering to teachers may not be the best way to get kids a good education and its a no go.

    Wisconsin republicans are going to have a tough time to get re-elected.