Senate leader’s tweets, acts not healthy for PEIA panel

Think of it as another kind of the trickle-down theory.

This one did not emanate from the White House but it probably was inspired from there.

That is, the need to inject politics into every debate about everything by — what else? Tweeting.

Last week, state Senate President Mitch Carmichael just couldn’t help himself.

On Tuesday, he tweeted, “AFT’s socialist agenda doesn’t represent values of WV families, students & educators. Republican Leadership in WV gave teachers, school service personnel & state employees their largest pay increase in state history …”

In a series of other tweets he challenged Democrats to reject the AFT’s “Obama-styled socialist agenda.”

This is the same Senate president who occupies a seat on the PEIA Task Force alongside the presidents of the state’s two teachers’ unions.

And not just a seat on that task force, but on its Public Outreach Subcommittee, which, you guessed it, those two unions’ leaders are on.

We’re not for a moment suggesting that we agree with the American Federation of Teacher’s agenda, passed at its annual convention recently in Pittsburgh.

But for Carmichael to post that tweet above, blast the AFT in a news release and then confront the WV-AFT president about that agenda at the subcommittee’s meeting Wednesday is ridiculous.

Carmichael specifically brought up a plank of the AFT’s that members only endorse candidates who back universal health care.

He also rankled many by suggesting the state’s “Republican Leadership” gave public employees, including teachers, a 5 percent raise.

Thousands of teachers protesting at the state Capitol for days on end get the credit for winning that raise.

Meanwhile, this subcommittee’s mission is to report what it heard from town hall sessions across the state on how to best shore up the state-run health insurance program.

It also conducted online surveys to get feedback from state employees on how to do this.

Simply put, its charter is to summarize and recommend in its report what it heard from public employees — like it or not — not what it thinks.

Nowhere should the Senate president’s opinions and thoughts, or the union leaders’ play any such role in its findings.

We urge Carmichael and others to not politicize this important initiative and instead simply fulfill their goal on this panel.

There will be plenty of time to turn to politics later when candidates begin vying for public offices.

To stir the pot of a nonpartisan task force’s subcommittee with politics is wrongheaded, at best.

But with luck, the trickle-up effect from all this may yet be affordable health care for public employees.

Previous ArticleNext Article