Inauguration, unions and big government

The Messiah has arrived. Today, Barack Obama will take the oath as the 44 commander-in-chief of the United States . The transition has not been an easy one, especially as issues with his chosen staff mount and a fight looms on Capitol Hill between the new president and his former Democratic colleagues over another multi-billion dollar fly-by-night piece of legislation. One group, however, has not been called into question: the alliance of powerful labor unions that helped elect Obama that today stand in the way of important economic progress needed to survive this recession. LetâÄôs start by looking at ObamaâÄôs cabinet choices. It wasnâÄôt long ago on the campaign trail that Obama promised to consider keeping Henry Paulson as a transition Treasury secretary in his administration in order to see the bailout fully run its course âÄî and as a ploy to reassure the business community. This does not appear to have happened. ObamaâÄôs nominee, Tim Geithner, is now facing questions about taxes he failed to pay several years ago. A Treasury secretary that does not pay his taxes is only the beginning of the magic weâÄôre about to experience. Bill Richardson , maybe one of the only cabinet nominees without a direct tie to ObamaâÄôs short lived political career, ended his consideration for unknown reasons âÄî most likely personal details that would not flatter the incoming president. Richardson was a major heavyweight on the list of nominees and a respectable western Governor. His absence from the new team will be felt. The press has been soft on ObamaâÄôs ties to the now impeached Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich , especially the undeniable ties of ObamaâÄôs incoming chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel , to the scandal. Obama worked to elect Blagojevich on his campaign for governor. Obama reached another milestone in American history that you wonâÄôt read about much in the New York Times: he became the first president-elect to be questioned by federal agents about involvement in a criminal action between Election Day and inauguration day. Let the champagne corks fly. After the personnel concerns are set aside, ObamaâÄôs stimulus plans would scare even the most senior economic experts. On NBCâÄôs âÄúMeet the Press,âÄù Emanuel was cornered in to defending the following massive expenditures as âÄústimulusâÄù: $50 million for the National Endowment of the Arts; $15.6 billion for Pell Grants; $200 million to encourage electric vehicle technologies; $1.9 billion for high level physics research; $650 million more for the digital TV conversion coupon program; and $400 million for habitat restoration. The American taxpayers have been had by a scheme to disguise a radical left-wing agenda as economic and bi-partisan âÄústimulusâÄù meant to restore consumer confidence and create stable jobs. Obama will attempt to pass this $825 billion package within weeks of taking office, making the total increase in the national debt over $2 trillion in just one year. But donâÄôt worry, the days of Bush and his increased spending while cutting taxes are over. (Obama is still planning on announcing a tax cut for most tax payers this year.) Despite all of the turmoil, not enough has been asked of AmericaâÄôs labor unions. They continue to demand they be left out of the cost-cutting equation regardless of the fact that their jobs are extremely secure âÄî even if it makes no financial sense to keep them. Unions were a major cause of the American auto manufacturers dismal circumstances and âÄî pending legal action âÄî unions effectively elected Al Franken to the U.S. Senate. With benefits, GM workers make $69 per hour and Toyota U.S. employees make $48 per hour . People are buying fewer cars; therefore auto makers need fewer employees. Why donâÄôt the manufacturers lay off workers if they donâÄôt need them? Unions are too powerful to allow management to make common sense free market decisions, so the chief executive officer comes to Washington begging for a little dough from Uncle Sam. ThatâÄôs todayâÄôs kindergarten lesson in recession-omics. Public union employees are no less responsible for making sacrifices to carry us out of this mess than the rest of the country. Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty announced a proposal to freeze wages for state employees along with local and county workers for the next two years. If that means they get to keep their jobs, workers should be willing to accept this tradeoff. Of course, DFL politicians at the mercy of union bosses were quick to dismiss the governorâÄôs efforts as a step in the wrong direction. Union workers have served a critical purpose in this countryâÄôs progress towards worker protection, fighting under the pretext of âÄúa fair wage for a fair dayâÄôs work.âÄù But in this new global economy, workers at all levels should understand that all of the other families in America are making tough decisions at the dinner table and they are not exempt from painful and difficult sacrifices. Big government is back. Happy Inauguration Day. Andy Post welcomes comments at [email protected].