In just a couple of days, Ohio voters will head to the polls, weighing in on Gov. John Kasich’s (R) measure to curtail collective-bargaining rights. Polls show most Ohioans oppose the measure, but progressive leaders in the state expect a close contest.
But as Greg Sargent notes this morning, there was one quote from a top Republican official that “neatly captures what all this is really about.”
To hear GOP leaders put it, undermining workers’ rights is necessary because of the state’s budget shortfall — by curtailing collective-bargaining rights, Ohio can cut the salaries of school teachers, for example. For labor and their Democratic allies, the follow-up question is one about shared sacrifice — if teachers’ taxpayer-financed salaries should be cut, maybe politicians’ taxpayer-financed salaries should see a decrease, too.
The right doesn’t see it that way.
In a recent interview, a top Ohio Republican defended this in a curiously belligerent way, one that may reverberate in the race’s final days: He claimed lawmakers don’t need to take a pay cut in the spirit of shared sacrifice, because “I earn my pay,” adding: “Republicans earn their money.”
GOP state Rep. Lou Blessing — a prominent Republican voice in this fight, as the Speaker Pro Tempore of the Ohio House of Representatives — made the claim during an interview with Ohio public radio, audio of which is right here.
As Greg put it, this top Republican official “simply doesn’t think the sacrifices needed to right the state’s finances should fall on himself or fellow GOP legislators.”
Exactly. Republicans love austerity, budget cuts, and sacrifice, just so long as it doesn’t touch their wallets or their top priorities. We saw this in Washington last week with GOP officials fearing that Pentagon budget cuts would be bad for the economy, and we’re seeing it again in Ohio.
It suggests one of the related questions for Ohio voters isn’t limited to support for collective bargaining; it’s also whether voters agree the hardest working people in the state’s public sector are far-right politicians in the state legislature.