Your Taxes Support Democrats

This year saw the most expensive election in US history, but who spent the most money may surprise you – it was public unions:

With the close of the 2010 election campaign, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees reached a new spending record, pouring $87 million into this congressional election.

AFSCME’s $87 million is greater than the campaign spending by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ($75 million) and American Crossroads ($65 million). Other public-sector unions, such as the Service Employees International Union ($44 million) and the National Education Association ($40 million) also ratcheted up their campaign spending.

I’ve long considered it a conflict of interest to have employees paid by tax dollars be allowed to use their union dues (provided by tax dollars) go to political campaigns. Here’s why:

In the 2010 election cycle, AFSCME donated 99.5 percent of contributions to Democrats; the National Education Association donated 96 percent; and the American Federation of Teachers donated 99.7 percent, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

These dues are being funneled to Democratic politicians who promise to raise workers’ salaries higher and hire more public sector workers — even though Labor Department data show that compensation for federal and state workers is higher than for private-sector workers.

Government workers have access to elected officials during negotiations to set wages and benefits, and can hold the promise of campaign contributions over these politicians during negotiations.

That means higher compensation for government workers, higher taxes, and higher budget deficits. The taxes go from the electorate to government paychecks to union dues — then to more campaign contributions.

I have no issue if a government employee wants to contribute to a campaign individually, but using their union dues collectively as they have is a gross conflict of interest when it creates tension between public employees and our elected representatives. Public employees work for the American people, and as such, their union dues should not be used to support partisan politics one way or the other. Need another example?

Moreover, AFSCME contributions do not just come from state and local taxpayers. Roughly $160 billion of federal stimulus funds went to save jobs of state and local workers.

Stimulating campaign spending isn’t what the American taxpayer had in mind. Increasing the deficit so tax payer money can support partisan politics is wrong, no matter what party you support. This practice needs to stop, not because public employees shouldn’t have a say in elections, but because it is a conflict of interest to have their paychecks and union dues provided by the tax payer being used to lobby against tax payers’ interests. You can be sure that if tax payer money was being used like this to support Republicans, this practice would be stopped immediately.

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10 Responses to Your Taxes Support Democrats

  1. vxbush says:

    Word. You said it well.

  2. roopost says:

    Forgive my ignorance, but was it not the US Supreme Court who passed, via a conservative judge, that organisations were ‘people’ and may express their right to free speech as they saw fit. Is this merely an example of that thinking? Is so, then is not that which is good for the Republicans via corporate and special interest support equally useful to the Democrats? Better would be to ban all organisational funding of elections. Then at the very least the huge amounts of money wasted on slinging mud might result of more intelligent commentary if the money pot was limited and fed solely from private donations.

    Kind regards,

    • Drae says:

      Forgive my late reply – I’ve been out most of the day.

      Should political contribution laws be re-examined? Certainly! But my point here is a sub-set of that issue. My issue isn’t so much corporations or other organizations supporting the political candidates of their choice – when they are privately funded. My problem is when these organizations are funded through tax dollars – such as public employees unions.

      I also think we should re-examine whether public employees need a union. I think public unions contribute to overpaid, underworking bureaucrats who don’t care how they spend The People’s money. This is how we get stuck with bad teachers and terrible service at the DMV.

  3. 71LesPaul says:

    Union members pay union dues and then a portion of that money is redirected to policial campaigns. Tricky! Essentially the Union member gets an income tax deduction for a political contribution. Nobody else gets to claim their political donations as income deductions, that special privelege belongs to the rank and file.

    I think its ridiculous. Hopefully someday the union members will not get to deduct the portion of their dues that ends up in political coffers. Thats the only fair answer. Otherwise, everyone else should get to deduct their political donations as well.

  4. roopost says:

    Then: any organisation funded through tax dollars, either directly or through contracts should be equally prohibited. A rule for all, or none. I would suggest that any organisation that can pool resources for political gain, union or otherwise, public or private, should not be permitted to exercise such power.

    The merits of a good argument are challenging enough without the noise promoted by partisan special interests – left or right.

    Kind regards,

  5. Drae says:

    roopost – I cannot agree with this:

    “I would suggest that any organisation that can pool resources for political gain, union or otherwise, public or private, should not be permitted to exercise such power.”

    This approach lacks nuance, and would prevent everyone from exercising any political power whatsoever. Such a heavy handed law could even block political parties from organizing their own campaigns. This approach would block the bad, but also the good (like the Women’s Suffrage Movement) and America would be a poorer nation for it as well. Any law along these lines would likely be declared Unconstitutional for obstructing Free Speech and rightfully so.

    None of this changes the fact it is a gross conflict of interest for public employee unions to try to influence their prospective employers – at tax payer expense. There is a very large and distinct difference between public money in politics and private money in politics.

  6. roopost says:


    Thanks for your reply, and perhaps you are right. Though, I confess to some discomfort with the notion that an ‘organisation’ may exercise the rights of a ‘person’. However, that’s a sidebar.

    On the matter of Union Dues, well – I shall stay in my comfy chair on my side of the fence regarding that point. It seems to me the hard earned dollars of any worker – from which Union Dues are taken, may be spent as the members of the Union see fit, or collectively agree. The source of the dollars, be it the government, the government through GM, or the government through contracts, or private industry/business is immaterial. Once paid out, the money is the employee’s own.

    Now, if you were talking about using the union dues of the member who disagreed with the Union’s position on who should get those dollars – well then, that’s another matter.

    Kind regards

  7. Drae says:

    Indeed, roopost – I’m not wild about the idea of corporations or organizations being viewed as an individual, but that’s the law as it stands now.

    As for individuals who are paid by the government, I don’t have a problem with them spending their money as they see fit once it is paid to them. And the same is true for unions. We already have a law that individual members of a union can get their share of political contributions returned to them to spend on the candidates they wish, so that matter has already been dealt with by law.

    However – my issue is with a specific type of union – public employee unions. I don’t think public employees should be allowed to unionize in the first place. Now – imagine if a government union decided to walk off the job. Imagine it was the DMV. That would surely screw a large number of people who need a license or other ID issued by the state, and it could severely hamper the economy to have such a public function halted.

    Considering public employees don’t have a choice as to joining the union (it’s mandatory), it’s not the same as a individual public employee giving money to the candidate or party of his or her choice. They don’t get those wages, because they’re automatically taken out of their paychecks, then diverted to the union, who turns around and lobbies for more government money, whether it is in the best interest of The People, the government, or even the public employee because it adds to the debt and out future entitlement spending (which we can’t afford). Is it really in the best interest of public employees to bankrupt their employer, and is it right they’re doing it with government money? This is why I believe it’s a conflict of interest, and you seem very reluctant to give this specific aspect of my argument much consideration.

    That said – I’m enjoying our conversation and hope you’ll continue to join us.

  8. roopost says:


    I’m sorry, life intervenes occasionally.

    “..Is it really in the best interest of public employees to bankrupt their employer?”

    Of course not, but then much of the issue here seems to ride on circumstance. Surely this practice was ongoing before the regulatory free-for-all that created the credit crunch and the ill conceived sub-prime mortgage crisis. ‘Now’ it is an issue.

    Begrudging these people a voice, due to the source of their income, strikes me as a notion that finds favour due to the time, rather than in the overall practice independent of an economic crisis. Circumstance should not dictate freedoms. Though I am troubled with almost every aspect of modern day union membership, the notion that they may pool their resources and lobby to attempt to gain concessions from the government strikes me as no more annoying than the same practice as performed by the NRA or NAACP. That they are ‘public’ unions should not be an impediment.

    Kind regards,

  9. Drae says:

    Roopost – no worries on the real life intervening. Glad you stopped by again!

    And of course this issue has been ongoing – since the time Social Security was implemented it has been flawed, and the flaws in the system have only gotten worse over time to the point where now, yes, it is a serious issue that will bankrupt our children and grandchildren.

    Forcing banks to lend to risky borrowers doesn’t help either.

    As for eliminating the public employees’ union – they would still be able to lobby their bosses for a raise (or what have you), they just wouldn’t be able to do it collectively. Like most Americans, they’d have to be judged on their individual work performance. If they do poor work, they’d be in a position to lose their job, just like the rest of us. And they’d still be able to join an organization to pool their political resources, just like the rest of us.

    The public pensions in this country are a mess – poorly run, and yes – they are now due to bankrupt us. This has been an issue for longer that “now,” it’s just the elected officials have been punting for so long it’s made the situation worse.

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