Unions win a round in Ohio; ObamaCare goes down bigtime
Government worker unions won big yesterday in Ohio, persuading voters (by a massive 61 - 39 margin) to reverse reforms passed by Gov. Kasich and the GOP-controlled legislature. But the victory celebration should be tempered by the knowledge that the next round of the struggle will be less influenced by big budget advertising and highly organized turnout efforts, and more influenced by fiscal realities.
Many observers have noted that by including police and fire unions in the reforms that ended mandatory arbitration, Kasich handed the unions a powerful propaganda point, which they exploited to the hilt.
Gov. Kasich has responded contritely, but firmly, noting that the fiscal consequences will now fall on localities, which should expect no state aid to handle the increased financial strain that lies ahead. Now that voters are focused on the issue of public employee compensation and local governments will be needing to raise revenue, the unions may face a bit more scrutiny as these stresses work themselves out.
Jim Siegel and Joe Vardon of the Columbus Dispatch report:
The vote strikes down Senate Bill 5, a sweeping overhaul of Ohio's 28-year-old collective-bargaining law that sought to end binding arbitration to settle contracts with safety forces, ban strikes for other public workers, set payments for health insurance and pensions, and strongly tip the balance of power in negotiations to elected governing bodies. (snip)
However, while this vote is over, the debate is not. Republican leaders still hold strong legislative majorities and have stressed that the economic problems that led to the crafting of Senate Bill 5 still exist. Attention soon could turn to what Kasich and GOP lawmakers will do next.
Kasich said it was "clear that the people have spoken" and that he would "take some time" and " reflect on what happened here" - sentiments echoed by Batchelder and Niehaus.
More people voted against Issue 2 - about 2.1 million - than voted for Kasich in 2010, when he picked up 1.89 million votes and defeated Strickland by 2 percentage points.
But Ohio Republican Chairman Kevin DeWine took a swipe at the victorious Democrats, saying they have "not offered one alternative plan or even ideas of their own."
Fiscal conservatives should learn a lesson from Ohio, and craft future union reforms in a way that denies easy propaganda points to the government worker bloc. Special consideration for public safety employees, with more stringency for bureaucrats and others on the government teat maybe more salable. Also, even in Ohio, the provisions of SB 5 requiring a 15% contribution to pensions remains popular, and should be a focus of other union reform efforts, including the next round in Ohio. The GOP controlled legislature could craft replacement legislation that neutralizes the most resonant union arguments made in the last round.
Rick Moran has further thoughts here.
In the other important Ohio race, ObamaCare was handed a big defeat by an even bigger margin that the unions: 66 percent of the Ohio electorate voted for a constitutional amendment that would prohibit being forced to buy health insurance. This revelas that even a pro-union voting base is angry at the ObamaCare mandate.
The Supreme Court, to the extent it watches election results, may be influenced. But they may also be influenced by the DC Appeals Court
Nedra Pcikler of AP writes:
The suit in Washington was brought by the American Center for Law and Justice, a legal group founded by evangelist Pat Robertson. It claimed that the insurance mandate is unconstitutional because it forces Americans to buy a product for the rest of their lives and that it violates the religious freedom of those who choose not to have insurance because they rely on God to protect them from harm. But the court ruled that Congress had the power to pass the requirement to ensure that all Americans can have health care coverage, even if it infringes on individual liberty.
"That a direct requirement for most Americans to purchase any product or service seems an intrusive exercise of legislative power surely explains why Congress has not used this authority before - but that seems to us a political judgment rather than a recognition of constitutional limitations,'' Judge Laurence Silberman, an appointee of President Ronald Reagan wrote in the court's opinion. Silberman was joined by Judge Harry Edwards, a Carter appointee. But, they added, "The right to be free from federal regulation is not absolute and yields to the imperative that Congress be free to forge national solutions to national problems.''