Public workers and the GOP id

Public workers and the GOP id

by digby

So Romney is making a symbolic bid for the African American vote today. I doubt very seriously that he thinks he has a shot, but it's an improvement from the time George W. Bush refused to speak before the group, (although one can't help but suspect they were trying to provoke a bad reaction in order for the racist base to bond with the bot.)

But here's the main thing. He talked about how Obama has failed to improve the jobs situation and how African Americans are being hurt the most. And that's true. Unfortunately, Romney's policies would make things even worse:

Government has shed 2.6 percent of its jobs over the past three years, marking the greatest reduction in history, according to the nonprofit Roosevelt Institute, a progressive-leaning organization. Roughly 265,000 workers were shed from all levels of government last year, after about 221,000 job cuts in 2010.

"Most government jobs have good pay and benefits and are probably what we would consider a good foundation for middle-class incomes, so any loss of government jobs is going to disproportionately hit the middle class," says Howard University research scientist Roderick Harrison. "The black population, which is more dependent on government for middle-class job opportunities, is going to be more heavily hit."

The fact is that blacks are 30 percent more likely than nonblacks to work in the public sector. And that's not by accident. The government was the only employer that was bound to the spirit and letter of the law and went out of its way to hire qualified minorities while the private sector dragged its feet.

the government is no longer bound by the spirit and letter of the law so...

"The three pillars of middle-class African-American life were the public sector, good manufacturing jobs, and black entrepreneurs that served the black community during segregation," says economist Steven Pitts, who led the Berkeley Center's research. "With the end of segregation, you put pressure on the black entrepreneurs, and then there was the decline in manufacturing. Now we see the erosion of the third pillar — the public sector."

Not surprisingly, then, government cuts trigger resentment among African-Americans, especially since "big government" has become a politically polarizing phrase.

Republican elected officials who rode Tea Party support to victory in the 2010 midterm elections placed government cuts at the center of their plans to eliminate state budget shortfalls and reduce the federal deficit. The impact of their strategy is most clearly seen in state government jobs.

More than 70 percent of last year's government job cuts occurred in just 12 states, all of which are controlled by majority-Republican legislatures, according to the Roosevelt Institute. The legislatures in 11 of those states came under Republican control in 2010.

What Republicans call an attack on "big government," many blacks see as an attack on their livelihoods, given their heavy reliance on the public sector for employment.

People like to argue that this isn't about race, it's about ideology. And that's true. But much of modern American conservatism is informed by attitudes around race. And I suspect, although I have no proof, that it's a substantial factor in the attack on public employee workers. Many of the faces of government workers are non-white. And for a certain subset of the population that fact feeds their loathing of government. You do the math.