A new dynamic has sprung up in American politics today: the contest between those who benefit from an ever-expanding public sector and those who pay for this bigger government—in other words, it’s the taxeaters vs.the taxpayers.
Steven Malanga shows how coalitions of public employee unions, workers at government-funded socialservice organizations, and recipients of government benefits have seized control of the politics of the big cities that make up the heart of Blue America. In New York City, this coalition has helped roll back some of the reforms of the Giuliani years. In California cities and towns, it is thwarting the expansion of private businesses. In nearly 100 municipalities, it has imposed higher costs on tens of thousands of firms by passing “living-wage” laws. Whereas the New Left of the 1960s believed—idealistically, if somewhat naively—that government could solve the biggest problems of our times, this New New Left is much more narrowly and cynically focused on expanding government programs to increase its own power, pay, and perks. And, as Malanga shows, the New New Left is emerging as the most powerful element of the national Democratic Party coalition.