What’s the difference between corporations and teachers’ unions, according to Mitt Romney? Apparently corporations are “people”—at least in the Citizens United definition—and should be allowed to give unlimited campaign contributions and other political donations, while teachers' unions are evil influence peddlers who buy politicians’ favor and shouldn’t be allowed to give campaign contributions.
That’s what you’ve got to infer from his comments Tuesday to an education forum sponsored by NBC, where he told moderator Brian Williams, “we simply can’t have” elected officials who have received large contributions from teachers sitting across from them at the bargaining table “supposedly” to represent the interests of children. He calls it a conflict of interest.
I think it’s a mistake. I think we have to get the money out of the teachers' unions going into campaigns. It’s the wrong way for us to go. We’ve got to separate that.
There is no suggestion from Romney that businesses be barred from contributing to state candidates, even though they have a broad array of interests to be served by government officials, and, unlike unions, they are not democratically controlled institutions. So Romney is so pure of heart he won’t be influenced by the tens and tens of millions of dollars his campaign gets from Wall Street corporations when it comes time to write rules and to regulate the financial industry? Oh, that’s right; Romney wants to repeal those rules. So I guess his logic goes something like this, “Once I repeal Wall Street reform and free up the banks and big financial institutions, I won’t be writing any new rules, thus eliminating any possible conflict of interest. Brilliant! Now get me Citi’s number. ”
By the way, how much influence do you think the Chicago Teachers Union had in the bank with Mayor Rahm Emanuel?
Look, it’s easy to make fun of yet another Romney tone-deaf assertion about politics, people and policy, but as Laura Clawson writes on Daily Kos, this is yet another example of the very serious and dangerous world view that shapes Romney’s beliefs.
But this isn't about Romney believing there's a conflict of interest. This is about Romney seeking yet another way to make illegitimate the idea that workers should be able to get together and have a bigger voice collectively than they do individually. Any shred of power that collective action gives workers is, to Romney, something to tear down and try to squash.
Read Laura Clawson's "Mitt Romney Assails Teachers Union Political Spending While Raking in Wall Street Cash."