Senate Republicans negotiating another CCP virus recovery bill with House Democrats are being warned against agreeing to a compromise that includes billions of tax dollars for failing blue-state public employee union pensions.
National Right to Work Committee (NRTW) President Mark Mix told The Epoch Times on July 23 that his group is pushing hard to give strength to Senate Republicans facing tough reelection battles in November.
“We’ve sent out about 2 million emails in targeted states where the pressure on those senators is going to be the greatest, we’ve made 12 email deployments for mobilizing right-to-work voters in these targeted states and across the country, and we’ve gathered about 60,000 petitions thus far to Congress against this bailout,” Mix said.
The campaign also includes multiple podcasts, radio and television interviews, and recirculating favorable editorials across the country.
The NRTW ranks among the nation’s most powerful advocacy groups, such as the conservative National Rifle Association (NRA) and liberal MoveOn.org, in being able to marshal huge grassroots campaigns to pressure Congress on specific issues.
The NRTW campaign comes as Senate and House negotiators seek agreement on another economic recovery measure following the national lockdown that began in March and remains in place to varying degrees in most areas of the country.
Congress has previously approved, and President Donald Trump has signed into law, three recovery measures totaling $4 trillion.
The lockdown was aimed to contain the CCP virus—also known as the novel coronavirus—that originated in China in late 2019 and first began appearing in the United States in January. More than 140,000 Americans are reported to have died as a result of the virus.
The hardest-hit states—especially solidly Democratic Illinois, California, New Jersey, and New York—have heavily unionized workforces with generous but severely under-funded retirement programs.
In May, House Democrats approved the $3 trillion Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (HEROES), which included $1 trillion in grants to state and local governments. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was the main proponent of the measure.
So far, Senate Republicans have balked at including a similar provision, but Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Pelosi have insisted since May that they will only accept a compromise that includes funds for state and local governments.
“What we have seen so far falls very short of the challenge that we face in order to defeat the virus and to open our schools and to open our economy,” Pelosi, flanked by Schumer, told reporters on July 23.
“Republicans need to pull their head out of the sand, get their act together, sit down with Speaker Pelosi and me, and start negotiating a real package,” Schumer said.
But Mix pointed to one section of Pelosi’s bill that provides $19.6 billion specifically to bail out Illinois’s deeply troubled state employee pension program as an example.
“There’s no secret about what they’re going to do with it, they’re going to bail out those pensions and support a financial structure that is not sustainable,” Mix said.
“What’s in there and the proof will be what the Senate agrees to, but what they’ve got in there are these pension bailouts for the states that have nothing to do with the coronavirus, that have nothing to do with restarting the economy,” Mix said of Pelosi’s HEROES Act.
“It has everything to do with basically giving the unions a get-out-of-jail-free card for making promises they knew they couldn’t keep, and now having the taxpayers across the country bail them out,” Mix said.
If bailout funds are included in a final compromise, there should be conditions attached to the money to force state and local officials to reform their finances, according to Truth in Accounting President Sheila Weinberg.
“Money to state and local governments should be contingent on the governments having plans to get their fiscal houses in order, including properly funding unfunded pension liabilities,” Weinberg told The Epoch Times on July 23.
They should also be required to balance budgets without relying on accounting gimmicks such as including loan proceeds and transfers from non-budgeted funds to be counted as revenues, Weinberg said.
State and local government accounting should also be based on “using sound accounting practices, which includes earned revenues and accrued expenses,” she said.
“For too long, governments’ financial reports have been used to support elected officials claims of balanced budgets. That is because the budgets are calculated using political math and the general fund accounting is done on the misleading cash basis,” Weinberg said.
Contact Mark Tapscott at Mark.Tapscott@epochtimes.nyc.