During the “Education Nation” forum today on NBC, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney addressed the issue of teachers unions. He said that he wouldn’t necessarily ban teacher strikes but that he thinks it’s a problem that unions donate to politicians who are responsible for negotiating with them:
Speaking in New York City at Education Nation, a forum sponsored by NBC, Romney told interviewer Brian Williams that he is not necessarily against a right to strike. “I don’t know that I would prevent teachers from being able to strike,” he said, adding later that “allowing teachers to strike on matters such as compensation I think is a right that exists in this country.”
The bigger problem, Romney said, is that “the person sitting across the table from them should not have received the largest campaign contribution from the teachers’ union themselves…. [It’s] an extraordinary conflict of interest and something that should be addressed.”
So Romney thinks that it unfairly tips the scales when a group that a politician is supposed to be negotiating with and regulating donates to that very same politician. That is a fair criticism. But let’s take a look at his top eight donors. They’re all banks:
Romney has made repealing the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory reform bill one of his key campaign promises. If he fails to succeed in repealing the entire bill, he is expected to leave in the most bank-friendly provisions.
It looks like Romney should apply his criticism about teachers to himself. Why is he taking so much money from banks when he is campainging for the job of overseeing those same institutions?
Teachers and other unionized workers have to donate to politicians to avoid being crushed by the political power of corporations — corporations spend 17 times as much in “soft” outside money as unions.
Ultimately, we need a true overhaul of our campaign finance system that includes full public financing of elections to make sure that no group has an outsized voice simply because of its money. Join PCCC’s Take Back Democracy campaign by clicking here.