Steven Malanga, author of The New New Left: How American Politics Works Today stopped by ATR headquarters on Wednesday to fill us in on his most recent work. Shakedown: The Continuing Conspiracy Against the American Taxpayer details the shameful politics and people behind the crushing debt and runaway taxes plaguing many states today.
Mr. Malanga gave a compelling case for classifying an unholy alliance of public welfare advocates and service unions as the basis of our nation’s current tax-and-spend woes. According to Malanga, those at fault present a self-interested left wing, always benefiting from a growing public sector, a bigger government, and rising government spending.
This new-new left grew from the collusion of the stewards of the War on Poverty (activists who constructed social service empires for themselves) and public service unions. Due to the combined efforts of these lobbies, state governments have been spending money they don’t have on increased social aid, then suffering from the demands of unionized labor (like the SEIU) running these programs. For everyone but the poor, poverty is where the money is.
For these groups, the road to success runs through public welfare, and Healthcare has proved to be a successful issue for them. When service labor is union labor, and the management is activist, the two are no longer opposed: both sides want the government to spend more on healthcare. Now, states such as California and New Jersey, having lost the economic prosperity which previously pushed them to budgetary liberalism, are unable to stave off bankruptcy. The all-powerful unions insist that their benefits, as well as the rate at which they are accrued, are sacrosanct. Maintenance of Effort agreements (MOEs), routinely attached to federal funding bills, prevent the recipient state from cutting its own expenditures in the funded area. Many state legislatures don’t even bother to develop their own alternatives to federal aid, lest they be ultimately weaned off of it. All of these factors create a sizeable arm of the downward financial spiral much of the nation is currently facing.
It’s good that we have a writer like Steven Malanga to tell it like it is. It would be better if we had more elected officials who would listen to him. Hopefully the 112th Congress will make it a priority to cooperate with state legislatures in giving Big Labor a big boot.