Saturday, March 12, 2011

Straight Talk for 9/11 First Responders -- Republicans Just Aren't That In to You Anymore

For a long time, police officers and firefighters were the only union members that Republicans thought were OK. Republican politicians loved to line up for the cameras alongside police officers, especially, to show how much they supported law and order, or something.

Then came 9/11. George Bush went to Ground Zero and ever after tried to claim that somehow he and other Republicans appreciated the sacrifices of the first responders in that crisis more than other Americans. A real romance between Republicans and first responders began among the ruins of the Twin Towers.

But in recent months, the bloom is off the rose of that romance.

Think back to December and the Republican refusal to fund health care for 911 workers. There's a big hint that Republicans are no longer enamored with police and firefighters.

Now in Michigan, Rick Snyder and Republicans in the Legislature are doing their best to undermine police and fire services. Snyder wants to cut hundreds of millions in local revenue sharing, money that is used to fund the salaries of police and firefighters.

And in the Legislature, Republicans are passing legislation to bust the union contracts in cities that are thrown into financial crisis by Snyder's revenue sharing slashing. It will be a devastating one-two punch -- create a crisis for local governments and then have a Snyder-appointee step in and rip up the contracts for police and firefighters.

But there's more. Turns out Republicans won't be able to drive every municipality into bankruptcy so they need more tools. Get rid of binding arbitration for police and firefighters in labor disputes.

But why stop with doing away with binding arbitration? Wouldn't it be easier just to do away with police officers entirely and just have everybody carry guns? As Tim Skubick reported in a March 10 blog, Republican Sen. Mike Green thinks that idea would work just swell:

"He not only wants guns in libraries; he wants them everywhere as he seeks to abolish all gun-free zones. He reasons with so many police officer layoffs and more to come, 'when there is duress, it is really a long time' to get help 'so why not let good law-abiding citizens protect themselves.'"

Not sure what the plan is for replacing laid off firefighters, but I'm sure the Republicans will come up with one.

So I hate to be the one to break the news to police and firefighters. It was nice while it lasted, but it looks like Republicans just aren't that in to you anymore.

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