The Republicans will tell you it is about balancing the budget, but the real reasons the GOP is launching a full attack on unions is more about politics than it is about policy.
Last fall, GOP operatives hoped and expected to take away as many as 20 governorships from the Democrats. They ended up nabbing 12.
What happened? Well, according to postgame analysis by GOP strategists and Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi — who chaired the Republican Governors Association in 2010 — the power and money of public-employee unions was the reason.
The Republicans realized that the easiest way to gain more political power would be to find some way to neutralize the power of the unions.
The GOP strategic aim is simple enough. If they can abolish union collective-bargaining rights, they can undermine the automatic payment of dues to the public-employee union treasuries. Shrinking those treasuries and reducing the union structure and membership will make it harder for Democrats and their allies to communicate directly with workers.
And under the infamous Citizens United Supreme Court decision, unions — like corporations — are free to spend as much as they want directly advocating for a candidate. That makes the math even more urgent as the 2012 election season approaches.
Personally, I’d rather see the Citizens United decision reversed, and take away the ability for both corporations and unions to spend unlimited amounts of money on elections.