Cliffs and Fences

Democrats are in a bind. They can’t tell the unions to go to hell, and they can’t follow them off the cliff. But the fence they’re straddling is getting awfully thin.
That’s Mike Antonucci describing the shifting political landscape that's wedged a berm between Democratic governors and public employee unions. He could just as well be describing the dynamics between NJ’s Democratic legislators and union workers, including the members of the teachers union, NJ Education Association. Except that Democratic legislators seem pretty close to telling them to go to hell.

At 10 this morning the Assembly Budget Committee will hear A4133, which “makes various changes to pension and health care benefits for public employees.” (The Star-Ledger has a precis on the bill; so does NJ Spotlight.)

One particular part of the bill – that Jersey union employees get heavily penalized for using out-of-state hospitals and practitioners --– is getting much (negative) attention. That section of the bill is now known as the Norcross Provision, because – drumroll – South Jerseyans regularly bypass Cooper University Hospital in Camden to seek health care in Philadelphia and Cooper's board chairman is George Norcross. No offense, but that codicil is pretty sleazy. Gov. Christie should refuse to sign it because it’s quintessentially un-Republican – you’re all about free market competition, right? – and the Democrats, many of whom owe their livelihood to Norcross – should find their testicles. It’s bad enough to live or work in Camden. At the very least you should be able to tend to your health matters in the fine hospitals that dot the City of Brotherly Love. Seriously. Drop the Norcross Provision.

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