Jonathan Chat over at The New Republic points out that in fact, contrary to prevailing Republican wisdom, public unions are not all-powerful.
Of course, to deny that public unions are uniquely powerful is not to deny that they are powerful. And, as Leonhardt points out, public unions often resist improvements to government efficiency. Worse, the combination between the short time horizons of politicians, who want to keep taxes low, and the desire of public unions to boost compensation often results in pay being shifted into extremely generous pension and early-retirement schemes.
Still, there’s plenty of evidence that the political system can push back against public unions without attacking their right to bargain collectively. And when you recognize that massive pension shortfalls are a relatively recent phenomenon stemming mostly from the financial collapse, then the mismatch between the underlying problem and Scott Walker’s response becomes all the more stark.