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Shakedown: Public sector Unions and the Continuing Conspiracy Against the American Taxpayer

January 27, 2011

STEVEN MALANGA is City Journal Senior Editor, a Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow, and a columnist. He writes about the intersection of urban economies, business communities, and public policy.

Prior to joining City Journal, Malanga was executive editor of Crain’s New York Business for seven years. Read Steve’s full bio >>

As their infatuation with President Obama fades, millions of Americans anxiously ask, Is this the change we were waiting for? The current administration represents change, for sure, Steven Malanga argues a momentous transformation of the fundamental structure of American politics. A self-interested coalition of public-sector unions and government-financed community activists (like the young Barack Obama) has become our era’s characteristic political machine.

In Shakedown, Mr. Malanga shows how this machine’s single-minded goal is always bigger government and more public spending. The bill, he says, is now coming due for the relentless rise of this new political powerhouse. He chronicles how public-sector unions and the corrupt political hacks beholden to them have all but bankrupted once-rich states like California and New Jersey. He details the campaigns to undermine the successful and popular 1990s welfare reform and to revitalize the failed, wasteful War on Poverty programs that funnel taxpayer money to the advocacy groups that are integral cogs in the new political machine. And he provides a comprehensive summary of how these same advocacy groups spent decades helping undermine mortgage standards in the name of helping the poor—in the process enriching themselves and enabling the housing meltdown. As Americans anxiously ponder the future direction of their government and their economy, Shakedown explores the questions of who got us in this mess and why we need change—constructive change—more than ever.

“The new, new left has brilliantly exploited a vulnerability of democratic politics: Politicos respond to organized pressure groups that have the clout to either help or harm them. Steve Malanga tells the grim story of how such unions and their allies have financially undermined New Jersey, New York and other political entities.”
— Steve Forbes in the Foreword to Shakedown

“The mainstream media is not interested in exposing the powerful machinations of public sector unions and social service advocacy groups, and their increasingly strong grip on politics. Why? For that you have to turn to writers like Steve Malanga and books like Shakedown.”
— Andrew Breitbart

“While the federal fiscal mess has had lots of attention, Americans face even more danger from runaway spending and improvident pension promises by state and local governments. Steven Malanga provides the grisly details in Shakedown: The Continuing Conspiracy Against the American Taxpayer. He shows how public sector unions and government-financed “community organizers” are wreaking ruin on our private sector economy.”
— Michael Barone, Senior Political Analyst, Washington Examiner


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