Unfortunately for Michael Barone, ‘Sellout to Unions’ Actually Helped Economy

Columnist Michael Barone, best known for editing The Almanac of American Politics, wrote a piece (Boston Herald, 9/20/11) declaring that Barack Obama’s “Sellout to Unions Staggers Economy.” After noting that “some pro-union moves have a certain ritual quality,” he got down to the really troubling behavior:

Other steps are more important. Fully one-third of the $820 billion stimulus package passed almost entirely with Democratic votes in 2009 was aid to state and local governments. This was intended to keep state and local public employee union members–much more numerous than federal employees–on the job and to keep taxpayer-funded union dues pouring into public employee union treasuries.

Or, maybe, it was intended to stimulate the economy, since transfers to states and local governments are estimated by the Congressional Budget Office (, 3/2/09) to be among the most effective means the federal government has to encourage economic activity.

And, possibly, there might have been some thought that teachers, firefighters, nurses, police officers and other state and local workers have important jobs that need to get done, and it would be better not to fire them.

Nah–that couldn’t be it. It must have been an effort to fill union treasuries, the economy be damned.

About Jim Naureckas

Extra! Magazine Editor Since 1990, Jim Naureckas has been the editor of Extra!, FAIR's monthly journal of media criticism. He is the co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error, and co-editor of The FAIR Reader: An Extra! Review of Press and Politics in the '90s. He is also the co-manager of FAIR's website. He has worked as an investigative reporter for the newspaper In These Times, where he covered the Iran-Contra scandal, and was managing editor of the Washington Report on the Hemisphere, a newsletter on Latin America. Jim was born in Libertyville, Illinois, in 1964, and graduated from Stanford University in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in political science. Since 1997 he has been married to Janine Jackson, FAIR's program director. You can follow Jim on Twitter at @JNaureckas.