Union Power, By the Numbers

Responding to my piece, Jonathan Chait writes that unions are paltry players compared to the big, bad business lobby when it comes to buying influence in Washington and state capitols.

Here are the ten largest donors in U.S. politics as of February 7, according to OpenSecrets.Org:

ActBlue: $51 million

AT&T: $46 million

AFSCME: $43 million

National Association of Realtors: $38 million

Goldman Sachs: $33 million

American Association for Justice: $33 million

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers: $33 million

National Education Association: $32 million

Laborers Union: $30 million

Teamsters Union:  $30 million

That’s five unions to two businesses and three other groups. Five out of ten is half, by my always-suspect English-major math. And who are those other groups? ActBlue is a Democratic clearinghouse, the trial lawyers are super-lopsidedly Democratic, and four out of five of the Realtors’ top campaign-cash recipients are Democrats. 

Put another way, the list reads:

Democratic/Union Goon proxy: $51 million

Death Star, Inc.: $46 million

Union Goons (public sector): $43 million

The Committee to Re-Inflate the Bubble by Electing Democrats: $38 million

The Bankers Who Elected Barack Obama: $33 million

Democratic trial lawyers: $33 million

Union Goons: $33 million

Union Goons (public sector): $32 million

Union Goons: $30 million

Union Goons:  $30 million

An important difference not reflected by the gross numbers: The union goons, especially in the public sector, are near-monolithic in their political interests. (See if you can spot the red on AFSCME’s party-split chart. Or play “Spot the Republican” on its list.) The business lobby is not: FedEx and UPS both  do a lot of lobbying, but it is in the course of each trying to hose the other. The public-sector unions are a uniquely problematic special-interest group.

—  Kevin D. Williamson is a deputy managing editor of National Review and author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism, just published by Regnery. You can buy an autographed copy through National Review Online here.

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