Congressional Republicans are constantly claiming, especially in these pre-election days, they are down with hard-working Americans. And maybe they are—but which ones? Average hard-working Americans, or those who've made vast fortunes from all their hard work?
This week's statement from House minority whip Eric Cantor (R-Pa.) clears things up: "Despite the clear efforts by President Obama and Speaker Pelosi to increase taxes on hard-working Americans, there is ample evidence that a bipartisan majority of the House would support a clean bill to ensure that no American faces a tax increase in this difficult economic environment."
He's referring, of course, to the bill the GOP is holding hostage because it extends tax cuts for just 98 percent of working Americans—the ones who make less than a quarter million a year. So there you have it: The Republicans support ALL hard-working Americans!
Now if this were really so, you'd expect that the labor unions representing the interests of those hard-working Americans to recognize the GOP's efforts and give a substantial share of their political handouts to Republicans.
You already know the answer, but it's informative to see its magnitude. Culled from the Center for Responsive Politics' list of top all-time donors, here's a list of what America's biggest unions have given members of Congress over the past 20 years. The rounded Democratic/GOP percentage split follows each dollar figure. Joe the Plumber, indeed!
Top Congressional Donations by Unions
(in millions, 1989-2010)
1. American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees: $42.9 (98/1)
2. International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers $32.5 (97/2)
3. National Education Association $30.8 (93/6)
4. Laborers Union $29.6 (92/7)
5. Service Employees International Union $28.7 (95/3)
6. Teamsters Union $28.6 (93/6)
7. Carpenters & Joiners Union $28.4 (89/10)
8. American Federation of Teachers $27.9 (98/0)
9. Communications Workers of America $27.7 (98/0)
10. United Auto Workers $26.5 (98/0)
11. Machinists & Aerospace Workers Union $25.8 (98/0)
12. United Food & Commercial Workers Union $24.7 (98/1)
13. National Association of Letter Carriers $20.1 (88/11)
14. AFL-CIO $18.4 (95/4)
15. Sheet Metal Workers Union $17.3 (97/2)
16. Plumbers & Pipefitters Union $17.1 (94/5)
17. International Association of Fire Fighters $17.0 (81/17)
18. Operating Engineers Union $16.5 (85/14)
19. Air Line Pilots Association $16.1 (84/15)
Follow Michael Mechanic on Twitter.