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Posted at 6:46 AM ET, 03/10/2011

Wonkbook: A rough Wednesday for Democrats

By Ezra Klein

Democrats did not have a good Wednesday. In Washington, both the Republican-backed bill to cut $60+ billion from the government's funding for 2011 and the Democratic-backed bill to cut $6 billion from the government's funding for 2011 failed. That was expected. What wasn't necessarily expected was that the Democratic bill would get few votes despite a Democratic Senate. But the Republican legislation went down 44-56, while the Democrats' proposal went down 42-58. That doesn't strengthen Harry Reid's hand going into the next set of negotiations.

Then Wisconsin happened (Wonkbook, by the way, has a special Wisconsin section today, so read on and you'll be fully caught up). The quorum requirement that Senate Democrats were denying Gov. Scott Walker only applies to laws that spend money. So Walker, in a move that had been rumored but was not expected to happen yesterday, cut out everything in the legislation that spends money and rammed the bill through the state Senate before most people even realized anything was happening.

The story isn't over in either case. In Washington, Sen. Chuck Schumer is leading the Democrats in an effort to widen the conversation from spending cuts focusing on non-discretionary defense to deficit reduction that looks at entitlement programs, tax expenditures, and more. That's a smart move with the potential to lead to much more deficit reduction than the Republicans are proposing, but over a longer timeframe and using a more balanced mix of policies. Republicans have not reacted positively, but if they would prefer limited spending cuts to actual efforts to reduce the deficit, let them say so. And in Wisconsin, Walker's action has supercharged the recall effort that's ongoing against eight of the state's Republican senators (not to mention interest in recalling the governor next year, when he's eligible for recall). So in both cases, there's a lengthy endgame yet to get through, Still, a bad Wednesday for the Democrats.

Before getting to the links, I want to take a moment to honor David Broder, who died yesterday. I didn't know Broder well, though he was unfailingly kind and gracious in every interaction we had. But to get a sense of what he meant to the profession and the people in it, read through the remembrances written by Robert Kaiser, Dan Balz, Chris Cillizza, Joe Klein, Lou Cannon, the editorial board and the readers of the Washington Post. He will be missed.


The Wisconsin Senate has passed a bill stripping public workers of bargaining rights, reports Michael Fletcher: "Senate Republicans abruptly passed Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's plan to sharply curtail collective-bargaining rights for public employees Wednesday night, using a legislative maneuver to approve the measure without 14 Democratic senators who fled the state in an effort to block it. After stripping the bill of fiscal measures that require a 20-member quorum for action, the Republican-controlled Wisconsin Senate passed the collective-bargaining measure. Analysts say the legislation would cripple most of the state's public employee unions. On Thursday, the slimmed-down bill is expected to go to the GOP-run state Assembly, which has already passed another version of it."

Mike Tate, chairman of the Wisconsin Democrats responds: "Using tactics that trample on the traditions of our Legislature, the Republican leadership has betrayed our state. Republicans have rubber-stamped the desire of the Koch Brothers and their godshead Scott Walker to cripple Wisconsin's middle class and lower benefits and wages for every single wage-earner in our state. The vote does nothing to create jobs, does nothing to strengthen our state, and shows finally and utterly that this never was about anything but raw political power. We now put our total focus on recalling the eligible Republican senators who voted for this heinous bill. And we also begin counting the days remaining before Scott Walker is himself eligible for recall."

The bill threatens the existence of the union-dependent Wisconsin Democratic party, writes Eric Kleefeld:

Scott Walker defends his decision: "When Gov. Mitch Daniels repealed collective bargaining in Indiana six years ago, it helped government become more efficient and responsive. The average pay for Indiana state employees has actually increased, and high-performing employees are rewarded with pay increases or bonuses when they do something exceptional. Passing our budget-repair bill will help put similar reforms into place in Wisconsin. This will be good for the Badger State's hard-working taxpayers. It will also be good for state and local government employees who overwhelmingly want to do their jobs well. In Wisconsin, we can avoid the massive teacher layoffs that schools are facing across America. Our budget-repair bill is a commitment to the future so our children won't face even more dire consequences than we face today."

The bill's opponents are preparing their next move, reports David Dayen: "Legal challenges. There are going to be a number of legal challenges to this bill. It will not be implemented right away. There’s the near-term challenge of how the bill got passed tonight. It was done in a way that may have violated open meetings laws, by not allowing 24 hours notice for a public meeting of the conference committee... General strike. Union leaders are reportedly discussing a general strike, and the mood of the protesters, who stormed the Capitol upon word of the bill, echoes that. You could see some kind of near-term labor walkout, at least in Madison and possibly throughout the state. Recalls. This will only energize progressives and labor to get the required signatures for recalls."

Unions won in the court of public opinion, writes Daniel Foster: "Big Labor logic has won the battle for the hearts and minds, not just of liberals, but of 'moderates' too. To hear all the talk of the 'rights' -- even 'civil rights'(!) -- that have been stripped from public sector workers in this bill by the 'far right wing' is to see Stockholm Syndrome on a massive scale. Call it Madison Syndrome -- the completely irrational belief among a large segment of this republic that their interests lie with public sector unions, whose very existence is predicated on decreasing the efficiency with which government services are provided by maximizing labor costs."

Even liberals can admire Scott Walker's tactical maneuvering, writes Matthew Yglesias: "You’ve sort of got to admire the gritty determination of the Wisconsin GOP...When it turned out that the public was actually sided with the unions and the Democrats, the CW quickly became that there would have to be some kind of compromise. But of course there never had to be a compromise...Not to draw an equivalence between a bad bill and a good one, but what it reminds me of is congressional Democrats after Scott Brown’s election. The early CW was that somehow Democrats “had to” back down in the face of their unpopularity. But they didn’t have to do anything. They believed as strongly in universal health care as the Wisconsin GOP believes in crushing labor unions. So they passed the damn bill."

Piano rock interlude: Fiona Apple plays "Oh Well" on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.

Got tips, additions, or comments? E-mail me.

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Still to come: The Senate has rejected both parties' spending bills; Grover Norquist says there will be no deficit deal and Republicans should spend time on "cocaine and golf" instead; the White House wants to speed up consideration of an anti-health care reform lawsuit; most of America's schools could be classified as failing; the GOP is pursuing legislation targeting utility companies; and a dog rides a scooter.


The Senate has rejected Democratic and Republican spending bills, report Lori Montgomery and Paul Kane: "The Senate on Wednesday rejected a Republican plan to sharply cut spending this year, as well as a far more modest Democratic proposal, clearing a path for negotiations toward a compromise that could streamline government without damaging critical services. Senate Democratic leaders are pressing to expand the talks beyond the small slice of the budget that funds government agencies, arguing that any serious effort to reduce record deficits must also include cuts in entitlement programs and higher taxes...Senior White House officials joined GOP leaders in questioning the practicality of that approach, however, saying policymakers must break the impasse over funding for domestic agencies through Sept. 30 before tackling broader - and more politically sensitive - budget issues."

Chuck Schumer is trying to widen the conversation -- and he's right to do so, writes Ezra Klein. "In a speech at the Center for American Progress today, Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer laid out a strategy that might get those moderates comfortable again. They feel they need to be on the side of deficit reduction, not government spending. The opening Schumer sees is that Republicans have limited their cuts to the 12 percent of the budget that’s non-defense discretionary spending. 'Tax cuts and expanded mandatory programs are a large part of what got us here,' Schumer said, 'and they are going to have to be part of the solution.'...The reality is that the Republican Party isn’t fighting for deficit reduction. It’s fighting for a limited set of spending cuts -- and not a wisely chosen set at that. Democrats could propose legislation that does more to cut the deficit and less to injure job growth; they just have to break out of the cramped confines that the GOP has erected.

Senate Democrats want Obama to jump into budget discussions:

Grover Norquist says there won't be a 'grand bargain' on the deficit: "The reason it won’t happen is that the Republicans have taken the pledge and made a promise to their constituents that they won’t increases taxes. And I’ve talked to the guys in the House and Senate. They tell me it won’t happen...Every once in awhile, some reporter ekes out a comment from one of them saying everything is on the table, but when they talk to me, they say we’ll talk about anything, but we won’t agree on a tax increase. My position is: Why go into a room and close a door with people who have the history that Conrad and Durbin do? But no, there won’t be a tax increase. That’s not happening. It’s an odd way to spend your time. I think golf and cocaine would more constructive ways to spend one’s free time time than negotiating with Democrats on spending restraint."

The Congressional GOP is attacking the administration's mortgage deal, reports Dina ElBoghdady: "Republican lawmakers on Wednesday accused the Obama administration of trying to make an end run around Congress as it negotiates a large settlement with banks involved in shoddy foreclosure practices. Republicans criticized the scope of a 27-page draft term sheet that was recently submitted to five of the nation's largest banks by state attorneys general and a handful of federal agencies, including the Justice Department and the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. 'The settlement agreement not only legislates new standards and practices for the servicing industry, it also resuscitates programs and policies that have not worked or that Congress has explicitly rejected,' the letter said."

Congress does not look prepared to pass the South Korea trade deal without passing the Colombia one as well, reports Howard Schneider: "An emerging battle over a proposed free-trade agreement with Colombia is undercutting central pieces of President Obama's trade agenda, with key lawmakers urging swift enactment of a U.S.-Colombia deal even though the administration says the pact needs more work. The Democratic and Republican leaders of the Senate Finance Committee said Wednesday they would withhold approval of another trade agreement - a pact with South Korea that Obama recently completed - unless it is packaged with a Colombia deal and a third, less controversial one being negotiated with Panama."

Higher interest rates at the Fed could prevent the next crisis, writes Raghuram Rajan: "The US Federal Reserve has essentially guaranteed the financial sector that if it gets into trouble, ultra-low interest rates will be maintained (at the expense of savers) until the sector recovers. In the early to mid-1990’s, rates were kept low because of banks’ real-estate problems. They were slashed again in 2001 and kept ultra-low after the dot-com bust. And they have been ultra-low since 2008. Senior Fed policymakers deny that their interest-rate policy bears any responsibility for risk taking, but there is much evidence to the contrary. It would be difficult for the Fed to respond differently if the financial sector gets into trouble again. But it does not have to maintain ultra-low interest rates after the crisis has passed."

Washington Democrats could learn from their friends in Wisconsin, writes E.J. Dionne: "In 2010, working-class whites gave Republicans a 30-point lead over Democrats in House races. That's why the Wisconsin fight is so dangerous to the conservative cause: Many working-class Republicans still have warm feelings toward unions, and Walker has contrived to remind them of this...Thus the importance of a speech on Wednesday by Sen. Charles E. Schumer, a New York Democrat, intended to 'reset the debate.' As Schumer noted, the current battle, focused on 'one tiny portion of the budget,' evades the real causes of long-term budget deficits. Schumer dared to put new revenue on the table - including some tax increases that are popular among the sorts of blue-collar voters who are turning against Walker."

Promo interlude: Zach Galifianakis and Andy Samberg preview this weekend's Saturday Night Live.

Health Care

The Justice Department wants to speed up its appeal of an anti-health reform ruling, reports Jennifer Haberkorn: "The Obama administration has asked the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to expedite consideration of the health care reform law -- the second step in a process set in motion by U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson. Vinson ruled in January that the entire health care law was unconstitutional. The administration waited until late February to file a motion for clarification - a delay that drew the ire of Vinson, who responded by staying his ruling but ordering the administration to file its appeal within seven days and to request expedited review from the 11th Circuit. The administration filed the appeal Tuesday and later asked for the fast-tracked review."

HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius says the GOP continuing resolution would prevent Medicare checks from going out:

Maine has gained a waiver from health care reform's premium rules, reports Drew Armstrong: "The state of Maine received a three- year waiver to federal rules in the 2010 health law that require health insurers to spend at least 80 percent of premiums on patient care, the U.S. government said today. Maine’s waiver is the first the government has granted on the premium expenditure rules. Insurers in the state selling policies to individuals will have to spend only 65 percent of premiums on patients, with the rest going toward profits and administrative costs. The exemption will last through 2013, U.S. regulators said today in a letter to the state. The spending requirement 'has a reasonable likelihood of destabilizing the Maine individual health insurance market,' wrote Steve Larsen, deputy administrator of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight."

A House GOP plan would allow individuals to apply for waivers from health care reform:

Domestic Policy

The Education Department could label most schools failing, reports Nick Anderson: "More than three-fourths of America's public schools could soon be labeled 'failing' under a federal formula that relies mainly on annual testing to gauge progress, the Obama administration said Wednesday. Last year, a little more than a third of schools fell short of targets under the No Child Left Behind law. The projection from Education Secretary Arne Duncan, which some experts challenged, does not mean schools are headed for an imminent meltdown. But it confirms what educators have long concluded: The typical school will never attain the ideal enshrined in the 2002 law that all students should become proficient in math and reading. The projection also points to a high-stakes battle over how to define school failure and success as Congress seeks to rewrite a law that is showing its age."

A House committee voted to toss out net neutrality rules:

The White House tried to quiet the National Labor Relations Board on budget issues, reports Ryan Grim: "When House Republicans targeted the budget of the National Labor Relations Board last month, the agency shot back, warning that such cuts would force it to largely cease operations for an extended period of time, creating a backlog of thousands of cases. It was one of the few counterattacks from the Obama administration, which was otherwise busy proposing its own cuts and endorsing the Republican call for slashing spending -- and it didn't last long. The White House demanded that the NLRB scrub the statement defending the agency from its website, an NLRB spokesperson told The Huffington Post...The Office of Management and Budget, an arm of the White House, reached out to the NLRB and told the agency to back off and take down the statement."

Adorable animals using technology interlude: A dog rides a scooter.


The GOP is targeting utility companies, reports Robin Bravender: "GOP lawmakers and industry lobbyists are talking about legislation aimed at reining in power companies after some utilities were seen as being less than friendly to their efforts to block Obama administration climate change rules. Several House Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans and industry lobbyists are pushing for a 'Ratepayer Protection Act,' a measure that would limit utilities’ ability to pass along costs to consumers, according to lobbyists close to the committee. The discussions come after POLITICO last week reported that several top utility CEOs weren’t thrilled with a draft bill from Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) to preempt the EPA on climate change."

A House Democrat is proposing a "compromise" to restrict the EPA's power to issue climate regulations:

Traditional cars are catching up to hybrids on gas mileage, reports Peter Whoriskey: "The new Chevrolet Cruze Eco can reach eye-popping fuel economy levels of more than 50 miles per gallon on the highway, which even in this era of hybrid-electric cars stands among the best. But here's the real trick: The Cruze Eco is neither a hybrid nor electric. It runs on that 'old' technology, the conventional gasoline engine. Although hydrogen, electric and other alternative cars have garnered more hype and significant federal subsidies, the best immediate hope for restraining the nation's fuel consumption might be some new vehicles that, although powered by conventional engines, run efficiently because they have been stripped of unnecessary weight, streamlined to move smoothly and equipped with gas-sipping engines."

It's too early to talk about tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserves, writes Kathleen Madigan:

Two Senators want to repeal an ethanol tax credit, reports Tennille Tracy: "A pair of U.S. senators introduced a bill Wednesday to repeal a controversial tax credit given to companies that blend ethanol into gasoline. The lawmakers, Sens. Tom Coburn (R., Okla.) and Ben Cardin (D., Md.), say the tax credit should be eliminated because federal law already requires blenders to put ethanol into gasoline, thereby eliminating the need for financial incentives. Ethanol producers, on the other hand, say a repeal of the credit would be poorly timed because the industry can produce transportation fuel at a time when the U.S. is concerned about global oil supplies. The Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit provides a 45-cent-a-gallon tax credit to blenders of ethanol."

Closing credits: Wonkbook is compiled and produced with help from Dylan Matthews and Michelle Williams.

By Ezra Klein  | March 10, 2011; 6:46 AM ET
Categories:  Wonkbook  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: What happened in Wisconsin tonight
Next: Was what Scott Walker did legal?


For all those in the Wisconsin debate balking about how they took the non fiscal provision out and then voted on it how is that different than what the Dems were considering for PPACA after Senator Brown was elected? Ezra spent months going over how and what the Dems could do (get away with) in reconciliation.

That being said with all the bluster that we'll hear about today with this (over 330 comments last night, really??) the end result is in the next Wisconsin election you'll see gobs and gobs of outside money from both sides and the moment Dems have a majority back in Wisconsin their first order of business will be to reinstate the collective bargaining provisions. Governor Walker may have won the battle but I'm afraid he's going to lose the war.

I'll also be interested in seeing who Politifact thinks is right on the issue that Secretary Sebelius brought up in regards to Medicare payments in case of a government shutdown. It just seems like she's bending over backwards to not have payments go out as a way to stick it to Republicans at the expense of Medicare recipients especially since Medicare is a mandatory spending program.

Dems have already lied once about this (I'm looking at you Senator Reid) in relation to SS payments to seniors. Who's right and who's wrong. We'll see.

Posted by: visionbrkr | March 10, 2011 7:54 AM | Report abuse

You do realize that PPACA passed the Senate with 60 votes. I'm not sure who told you that laws no longer apply once one or more seats changes hands, but let me assure you that's not true.

Basically the law that was rammed down people's throats was the one ending the Cornhusker Kickback. I'm sorry you have such a problem with that law.

Posted by: DDAWD | March 10, 2011 8:15 AM | Report abuse

Now this is real PROGRESS, progress toward freedom and away from Big Mother the Nanny State.

Posted by: corneliusvansant | March 10, 2011 8:29 AM | Report abuse

Wisconsin shows that the GOP view gvmt as a means to remove or restrict the rights of people.

Citizens United shows the GOP also views the gvmt as a means to increase the rights of domestic and foreign businesses.

There are many other instances that show the above are true: widespread use of gerrymandering by the GOP, Tom Delay's and Jack Abramoff's convictions, dozens of GOP election fraud convictions, the current effort in New Hampshire to remove or restrict the voting rights of college students, the recall of Gray Davis, the impeachment of Clinton, attack on Acorn, and so on.

Money and power is all that matters to the GOP.

Posted by: lauren2010 | March 10, 2011 8:30 AM | Report abuse


yes i get that it passed with 60 votes but do you understand what the word "CONSIDERING" means? Were you not around when Ezra spent months on how reconcilation with 51 votes could bypass Republican objections to the law?

Now AGAIN i'm not saying that PPACA isn't preferential to the status quo in healthcare because it is better but to assume that Republicans are the only ones who use these underhanded tactics like the republicans in Wisconsin did (as has and will continue to be assumed) is just plain wrong.

And it wasn't just the Cornhusker Kickback. Here it is:

It also included the union/cadillac plan kickback as well as other non-reported provisions around here such as adjusting the Medicare tax to include investment income (another attack at the rich who pay nothing)and others that were positive.

Posted by: visionbrkr | March 10, 2011 8:33 AM | Report abuse

I have spent the last two years listening to progressives talk about how Obama has failed them. They didn't have the good sense to see a good thing when they had it, or at least a better thing than the alternative.

I'd bet many of those who lost their rights in Wisconsin voted for the very people who took the rights away or they didn't vote at all. Next time vote! And if you have to vote for the least of two evils, vote for the least of two evils.

Don't complain if you didn't vote.

Posted by: tinyjab40 | March 10, 2011 8:34 AM | Report abuse

How many voter signatures do we need to recall President Obama?

Posted by: JBfromFL | March 10, 2011 8:40 AM | Report abuse

Way to go Wisconsin.......

Liberals sound like the old Brooklyn Dodgers after losing year after year to the Yankees... Wait till next year, we'll get ya then...

Posted by: frankn1 | March 10, 2011 8:52 AM | Report abuse

How many votes do you need to elect Palin Romney Huckabee etc? More than you will get I suspect.

Posted by: calbull92 | March 10, 2011 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Looks as though the democrats got blind sided by their own tactics. I tip my hat to Gov. Walker. It's time someone stood up to the money hungry, power grabbing unions. Just like the flight controllers. They felt they could power their demands through the union and scare tactics toward the average person. Well, they found themselves without a job and the skies were as safe or safer without them. All it took was someone who would stand up and go head to head with them and their union. I just hope the other Republicans will take heed. Our country is going to hell in a hand basket and the stupid left and democrats are helping to fill the basket. There has been more corruption and security fears created in this nation in the last two years than all the years since our establishment. There is no leadership as we have no one to lead. It's time someone stood up and I applaud Gov. Walker.

Posted by: tmay33 | March 10, 2011 8:57 AM | Report abuse

From the comment above, tmay33:

"There has been more corruption and security fears created in this nation in the last two years than all the years since our establishment."

Watergate? The Red Scare? The War of 1812? The Civil War? Teapot Dome? Iran Contra?

I think you might be exagerating just a touch.

Posted by: jfs0425 | March 10, 2011 9:21 AM | Report abuse

I think that the Republcans throw the union bosses into confusion when they make an unexpected move.
The union boss battle order seems to be front line skirmshers, like UW students and the otherwise unemployed "local activists" who are just wandering up and down State Street looking for something to do. This front line is the least difficult to deploy (just supply pizza) and the most difficult for the union bosses to control.
The second line is the actual teachers and public employees.... a call to arms will bring them to the fore and they have the advantage of A.) day to day control over the school children of the state (that translates into power over parents who can be intimidated by fear that their children will be treated roughly by politically motivated school employees) and B.) day to day control over the inner workings of the state itself, which translates into the ability to skirt the law in thousands of little ways (imagine the corruption which will attend any sort of actual recall election)....
The third line attack for the union bosses seems to be ample hordes of Obama political operatives and out state union bosses ... these folks do this for a living, they are well funded, well organized and ruthless, they are fighting for their daily bread here.
The fourth line is a myriad of paid pollsters, pliable journalists and psuedo-intellectual "experts" who provide a sort of media air cover for what ever happens on the ground....
Behind this array of fire power stand two groups in a tight embrace, Firstly, the public employee union bosses themselves (imagine a quarter to a half million a year plus the best set of benefits concievable and control over hundreds of millions of political dollars) there are scores of these guys in play here... Secondly, the elite bureaucrats in DC who turn those union dollars in national political power..
The union bosses and the bureaucratic elite need each other but I would be a buck that the guys who have crawld to the top of the political elite and the guys who have creeped to the often heriditarily assigned posts at the top of the union heap despise one another...
Now let's compare that group, that megalithic mass of money and power, to the group against which they are presently belching superheated waves of rhetoric.
19 guys in the Wisconsin senate...
I think that this is David versus goliath deal and frankly Ezra, I hope David wins...
It would be uplifting..
On Wisconsin!

Posted by: Cheesy1959 | March 10, 2011 9:36 AM | Report abuse

It was a bad day for America, not just democrats. Our systems have been so jeopardized with these smart little games that no one actually wins, except the people with money behind the games. Sad.

Posted by: njglea | March 10, 2011 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Elections have consequences. This was one of the issues campaigned on by Wisconsin Republicans. The voters handed them both houses and the governor's mansion. They are entitled to enact their agenda if they can. Just like Obamacare ...

As for the recall, not too worried. With the unions defunded, my guess is they won't have much money for mischief for the foreseeable future.

Posted by: Nemo24601 | March 10, 2011 9:44 AM | Report abuse

"but to assume that Republicans are the only ones who use these underhanded tactics like the republicans in Wisconsin did (as has and will continue to be assumed) is just plain wrong."

In many senses I agree with that.

Note, for example, I have not complained about the process that Walker is using.

Neither did I complain about the process the Dems used in passing ACA.

Anyone who dislikes the way ACA was passed is just ignorant of the way things work in the USA.

However, what people should pay attention to is what a politician is trying to do rather with the particular process they choose to enact something, or whether they fundamentally are lying about their intentions.

Point 1: Walker clearly misled the Wisconsin voters. The Dems did not mislead voters in their elections and everyone knew they would enact health reform and many even knew a more socialist form of reform was possible.

Point 2: Walker is also clearly using his power to restrict the freedoms of Wisconsin people. This is anti-Democracy in action.

Point 3: Anyone upset with Dems for the process they used to enact ACA is inconsistent if they are not also upset at Walker. Vision is one example of such a person. Personally, I am not upset at either Dems or Repubs for the reasons of process, and neither am I upset at the way Dems left the state.

Point 4: What I am upset about are the big lies that Walker and his brood have employed during the elections to fool Wisconsin voters and the way idiotic Americans support these anti-Democratic thugs to use our freedoms to limit or remove our rights. The GOP is about removing rights of ordinary Americans while increasing the rights of domestic and foreign corporations, and anyone who supports them and doesn't understand that is an idiot, and anyone who does understand that and still supports them is an anti-Democratic thug who is a disgrace to the memory of our founding fathers.

Posted by: lauren2010 | March 10, 2011 9:46 AM | Report abuse

"More than three-fourths of America's public schools could soon be labeled 'failing' under a federal formula that relies mainly on annual testing to gauge progress, the Obama administration said Wednesday."


I'm still not sure testing is a perfect measure of how effective a school is, but this is still pretty incredible. Nearly one trillion worth of annual spending and 82% are still failing?

Posted by: justin84 | March 10, 2011 9:49 AM | Report abuse

I think that any level headed observer of this David versus Goliath Wisconsin battle has to assume that Walker and the 19 Republican state senators have been investigated to the Nth degree by Union Boss paid "investigators" looking for any sort of mud to throw...
Just the fact that their reputations are intact in the face of what must be a relentless search for character assasination ammunition stands as a silent monument to their suitability for this tangle with goliath. I expect them to fail. It is as if they have, against all odds, they have opened a way forward for Wisconsin. The folks who benefit from the status quo, at the expense of the average Joe, are furious but, at the end of the day it will benefit everyone in the state to tame the bureaucracy.
On Wisconsin!

Posted by: Cheesy1959 | March 10, 2011 9:55 AM | Report abuse

America could use more David Broder's and less Rush Limbaughs and Ezra Kleins.

Posted by: KCV257 | March 10, 2011 9:58 AM | Report abuse

yes Justin that is a pretty horrible indication of our failing education system and sadly with what's going on in Wisconsin it'll get no play around here or anywhere else for that matter.

All the while the special interests on both sides will continue their TV ads attacking each other and the only ones losing out will be the children who will continue to be poorly educated.

Posted by: visionbrkr | March 10, 2011 10:03 AM | Report abuse

The Obama/Pelosi manipulation of the "reconciliation" process in order to shove the healthcare bill through makes anything happening in Wisconsin look like a stroll through the park.
They demonized the folks who showed up at town halls to complain. I remeber seeing video of one town hall where the front row was essentially filled with SEIU uniformed thugs who were "moderating" the discussion.
But it's nice to see that you could clear a moment in your tax payer funded day to type some passionate anti-taxpayer rhetoric on your taxpayer supplied key board.. (or do you actually have a position in the real world?)

Posted by: Cheesy1959 | March 10, 2011 10:12 AM | Report abuse

"Walker is also clearly using his power to restrict the freedoms of Wisconsin people."

What freedoms are being lost again? Isn't it only the alleged freedom to collectively bargain away taxpayer money?

Why should anyone have the freedom to organize for the purpose of taking the property of other citizens?

Posted by: justin84 | March 10, 2011 10:15 AM | Report abuse


While we could use David Broder back I wouldn't lump Ezra in with Rush Limbaugh as evidenced by the fact that Ezra is honest when favoring the policy of reconciliation in general not only when it favors his party of choice but in all instances (which shows by the beating he's taking in the comments sections). He's sticking to his convictions regardless of which party is using the tactics. I don't think Rush would do likewise.

Posted by: visionbrkr | March 10, 2011 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Klein - you never noticed before that Harry Reid is incompetent?

Posted by: ad9inaz | March 10, 2011 10:20 AM | Report abuse

justin, vision

Most libs already know that our education system is horribly broken. Don't pretend otherwise.


American politics and the processes they employ are very ugly and have been so for a long time. Reid/Pelosi did nothing out of the ordinary and even BushJr used reconciliation for his bankrupting tax cuts. So you can PRETEND that the bad old Dems only use ugly methods to enact laws, but that's all it is, pretending. There was nothing illegal by the Dems in passing ACA and probably nothing illegal by Walker (though this has to be looked at).

My advice for any concerned citizen who values Democracy is to pay attention to the actual substance and effects of the laws enacted, and not the politics or the process. Our Declaration of Independance even makes it clear that revolution (i.e. killing people) is a legitimate process in the goals of achieving Democracy, though I do not advocate that now.

Again, the law passed by Walker proves the GOP is anti-Democracy. It's similar to the way the Iranian people voted away their rights by electing a man who would throw away their rights after he took office.

Again, Walker lied during the election about his intentions. The Dems did not lie about their intentions to reform health care.

Posted by: lauren2010 | March 10, 2011 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Ezra.... your characterization is ludicrous.

"So Walker, in a move that had been rumored but was not expected to happen yesterday, cut out everything in the legislation that spends money and rammed the bill through the state Senate before most people even realized anything was happening."

The People of the State of Wisonsin voted for more Republicans than Democrats to represent them in the State Legislature.

The Governor of Wisonsin (as is true in the other 49 states) is not part of the Legislature, and CANNOT Ram legislation through.

Posted by: Hazmat77 | March 10, 2011 10:27 AM | Report abuse

"Higher interest rates at the Fed could prevent the next crisis, writes Raghuram Rajan"

Rain prevents drought, That column is a few years late, dontcha think?

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | March 10, 2011 10:28 AM | Report abuse

lauren2010 ... ROTFLMAO

"Reid/Pelosi did nothing out of the ordinary" -

Really? Lying from start to finish about the content of the Healthcare legislation was not out of the ordinary?

Giving the members almost no time to read the legislation before voting on it was not out of the ordinary?

Lying about the Republican suggestions by denying that the Republicans didn't participate and just said No to everything proposed, was not out of the ordinary?

I guess your definition of ordinary procedures for the elected legislators differs from the traditional functions of the job..

Posted by: Hazmat77 | March 10, 2011 10:34 AM | Report abuse


So if liberals know its broken then what are you doing to fix it? Throw more money at it when we've proven that doesn't work??

And did you really just compare Governor Walker to Ahmajinidad? REALLY?

He's not throwing away their rights as citizens he's throwing away a percentage of the populations rights to collectively bargain benefits and pensions. If the citizens of Wisconsin don't like it then they can vote for someone else in however many years or even recall him if they like. I don't know Iranian politics so well but I don't suspect they have recall elections.

Posted by: visionbrkr | March 10, 2011 10:37 AM | Report abuse

KCV257... what a silly comment. R U just stupid?

Posted by: Hazmat77 | March 10, 2011 10:38 AM | Report abuse

"What freedoms are being lost again? Isn't it only the alleged freedom to collectively bargain away taxpayer money?"

Collective bargaining is a right in WI now taken away. This is a direct attack whose purpose, as admitted by Karl Rove, is to weaken Democratic chances in 2012. Don't be an idiot Justin and pretend people there aren't losing their rights or that Walker isn't abusing gvmt to erode Democracy.

"Why should anyone have the freedom to organize for the purpose of taking the property of other citizens?"

It's that kind of BIG LIE that, as a former Republican, causes me to lose all respect for you. Compensation for employment is not taking away anyone's property. Taxation, certainly not at the levels we have today, is not taking away anyone's property.

Corporations have the right to organize and influence gvmt here in the US. Ever heard of the chamber of commerce? Ever hear of Jack Abramoff and his network of crooked lobbyists? Ever hear of PACs? Everyone has the right to organize for whatever reason they choose, and if you don't agree, then GET THE HECK OUT OF MY COUNTRY because I won't want anarchists like you here (believing that reasonable taxation is stealing property of the wealthy is anarchy).

Redistribution of wealth is going upward, not downward in this country in recent decades. And you are too greedy to even let public employees fight for their own salaries at a time when GOP pols are threatening to lay them off.

I think your value system is despicable.

Posted by: lauren2010 | March 10, 2011 10:47 AM | Report abuse

I think that it is unfair to castigate Lauren for being afraid. Obviously see has fallen into a sweet sinecure which she intends to protect.
Anything that threatens to interrupt the flow of taxpayer dollars to her or those she loves is an "evil" turn of events.
The forgotten man, the taxpaying hick out in hooterville, is either misguided or lied to whenever he voices a complaint about the bureaucratic fingers that seem to have a grip on his wallet. If small town Wisconsin says, "Get off me!" to the Laurenlike bureaucrats and union bosses then Wisconsin must be crushed because there is too much at stake for the latte sippers in DC...
On Wisconsin!

Posted by: Cheesy1959 | March 10, 2011 10:53 AM | Report abuse


Our education system is in no way failing. Many parents are failing to see to it that their kids get a good education, an entirely different concept.

I, and I'm sure most of those who post here, taught their kids to read at home, before school. Several family members who teach in ecnomically poverty stricken areas, have children who arrive at school not even knowing their alphabet, let alone being able to read.

The "system" can't fix bad parenting, it can only ameliorate it.

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | March 10, 2011 11:05 AM | Report abuse


agreed (to an extent). I agree that a good part of the fault lies with parents but that doesn't mean that there are not failing teachers in our systems that need to be replaced and tenure makes that very difficult to do. If I could i'd gladly replace the parents of these failing students who's fault is that their parents don't care enough about their kids education but i don't think that's an option available to us.

And its not just poverty stricken areas that have that issue with kids not even knowing their alphabet. My son was in school with a friend of his who lived across the street from us and when they were both in preschool together my son would come home and read his ABC123 books and his friend would ask him "What's he doing" and we'd say reading and he didn't even know his address, phone number etc. It upset us so much that whenever he came over we worked with him so that he knew that. You're right, parents sometimes are a big part of the problem and I don't mention that enough and should.

Posted by: visionbrkr | March 10, 2011 11:29 AM | Report abuse

I work for the federal government and I'm ineligible to be in a union. But, I don't understand how people complain about unions. It's okay for a corporation to lobby on behalf of its own interests, but yet you harass and ridicule a public worker for doing the exact same thing. Why? And this logic that, "Private sector wages have remained stagnant and benefits have eroded, while public sector workers' salaries and benefits have not eroded so that's bad for taxpayers," is absurd. The better question is, why have private sector wages and benefits eroded and what can be done to turn that around? The answer isn't to drag other people down just because you're going down. Republicans should be asking Wall Street why private sector wages and benefits have declined.

Posted by: nsu1203 | March 10, 2011 11:32 AM | Report abuse

" she intends to protect.
Anything that threatens to interrupt the flow of taxpayer dollars to her or those she loves is an "evil" turn of events. "

Typical big lie from a right winger.

It's in fact the wealthy elite that control the gvmt and are protecting their inflows of tax dollars.

Wallstreet bailouts, oil and agri subsidies, etc.

And SS and Medicare are desired by most Americans of any ideology.

Posted by: lauren2010 | March 10, 2011 11:46 AM | Report abuse


you're conflating Wall St (as good liberals do) with private sector unions and those industries that need them. Unless of course you're suggesting stockbrokers need unions but I don't think they do but I'm glad your advocating for those poor stockbrokers although honestly I don't think they appreciate it enough.

Posted by: visionbrkr | March 10, 2011 11:47 AM | Report abuse

"It's okay for a corporation to lobby on behalf of its own interests, but yet you harass and ridicule a public worker for doing the exact same thing. Why?"

Corporations shouldn't be getting handouts from politicians either.

Posted by: justin84 | March 10, 2011 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Is it possible that the simple crushing weight of paying federal employees like you $120k plus bennies to post your musings on a blog, (probably right there at your taxpayer supplied keyboard) is dragging down all of us?
I read the other day that the "average federal pay and bennies" is well over $100k and I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that even those figures are twisted on their way out the door to paper over an even worse reality.
Let's face it NSU, you can type away on blogs and read the news all day because you've got nothing better to do. You are safely secured up in the wagon while a dwindling team of tax paying oxen lean into the harness.
NSU, I'll bet that the average 4 year old has no idea how much cash you've borrowed from China in their names.... and where is that money? You guys spent it! on Lattes, on sweeties... and you're complaining because the "corporate types" eluded your dragnet...
If you cared about the country you would first, quit your federal job (apparently typing on blogs or whatever it is) and then use any skills you have gained in order to tame the bureaucracy before it eats our children.
On Wisconsin!

Posted by: Cheesy1959 | March 10, 2011 12:03 PM | Report abuse

cheesy wrote:

"I read the other day that the "average federal pay and bennies" is well over $100k and I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that even those figures are twisted on their way out the door to paper over an even worse reality."

You're mistaken. Federal workers, unlike many in the private sector, pay a substantial portion of their health insurance premiums and FERS contributions. You may be talking about various state workers, but not Federal.

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | March 10, 2011 12:17 PM | Report abuse

"It's okay for a corporation to lobby on behalf of its own interests, but yet you harass and ridicule a public worker for doing the exact same thing. Why?"

Because unions do not contribute money to Republican campaigns.

That is why they are under siege in states currently governed by Republicans, and most especially in the midwestern swing states.

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 10, 2011 12:18 PM | Report abuse


that's not quite fair. Governor Christie has not attacked unions right to exist, even public sector ones even though they've wished him dead.

And what of Democratic governors from NY and CA that are seemingly in the process of extricating even more "sacrifice" from public sector unions that Christie. Any derision from you for them?

Posted by: visionbrkr | March 10, 2011 12:48 PM | Report abuse

"Don't be an idiot Justin and pretend people there aren't losing their rights or that Walker isn't abusing gvmt to erode Democracy."

There is no right to bargain away other people's money. It is merely a privilege provided by government.

"It's that kind of BIG LIE that, as a former Republican, causes me to lose all respect for you. Compensation for employment is not taking away anyone's property. Taxation, certainly not at the levels we have today, is not taking away anyone's property."

Taxation is absolutely theft. There is nothing changed about a mob taking my property if the mob happens to vote that it is okay to do so in advance.

I'm not surprised that you don't respect me. Thieves generally don't respect those they intend to steal from.

And what does your being a former Republican have anything to do with this? It doesn't give you any street cred with me.

"Corporations have the right to organize and influence gvmt here in the US."

Free speech and free association is indeed a human right. However, government should not be able to take property away from some and give it to those with the most effective lobbyists. All revenue must be voluntary, and if the donors wish that revenue must go towards what the donors specify.

By the way, I view government privileges to corporations in much the same manner as I do pubilc sector unions.

"GET THE HECK OUT OF MY COUNTRY because I won't want anarchists like you here (believing that reasonable taxation is stealing property of the wealthy is anarchy)"

Again, I'm a minarchist, and it's an important distinction. Then again, minarchist isn't as useful as an emotional smear word.

I certainly wouldn't dispute your right to live where you choose. Then again, I actually care about human rights. I wouldn't advocate stealing from someone just because I thought I had a better use for their money, or because I was envious of their large bank account.

Can't you just mind your own business?

"Redistribution of wealth is going upward, not downward in this country in recent decades."

This is probably wrong, but if you think this is true I'm okay with getting rid of government intervention into the economy and letting the natural, more egalitarian distribution reassert itself, free of government redistrubtion.

The distribution of wealth really is irrelevant. People are allowed to keep their own property. Period.

"I think your value system is despicable."

My value system? In this very thread you suggested it reasonable to KILL people so that others can more effectively steal [vote away] their property (just not yet), and you shouted at me to leave the country because of my political views.

My value system is to respect your (and everyone else's) rights as a human being to live free.

That such a value system is considered despicable is largely a symptom of the endarkenment.

Posted by: justin84 | March 10, 2011 1:04 PM | Report abuse

"that's not quite fair. Governor Christie has not attacked unions right to exist, even public sector ones even though they've wished him dead.

And what of Democratic governors from NY and CA that are seemingly in the process of extricating even more "sacrifice" from public sector unions that Christie. Any derision from you for them?"


There is no "derision" in my statement. I am simply pointing out the obvious political gains to be had for the national Republican party by weakening union membership, and union treasuries.

The fact that the New Jersey governor is not trying to eliminate public sector unions, and has even embraced the collective bargaining process is admirable, but notice that I referred in particular to MIDWESTERN swing states, which is where the movement is in high gear.

As for seeking sacrifice from public sector employees, I have never said that there is anything inappropriate about that at all, as long as it is being done as one element in a balanced fiscal strategy involving shared sacrifice aimed at closing deficit gaps, and as long as public officials are not using ambush tactics to destroy labor unions without the consent of the governed.

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 10, 2011 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Someone posted:"It's okay for a corporation to lobby on behalf of its own interests, but yet you harass and ridicule a public worker for doing the exact same thing. Why?"

In many states Government is required to buy products and services through a biddng process.

It's illegal for companies to collude to fix the price in this bidding process.

What is a union, except a group of potential bidders for service contracts who refuse to bid against one another and instead fix the price?

By the way, the Widsconsin law does not make it illegal for a union to bargain. Union officials don't go to jail if they ask for something. The law only takes away the power of public officials to sign union contracts, if the contract has a specified type of provision.

This is a limitation on the power of politicians to give away the store to their union buddies.

The law recognizes that its natural for unions to seek these benefits. It's not natural, however, for near bankrupted governments to agree to give these benefits. So the law takes away the power of polticians to agree to something that is not natural just as the bidding laws take away the power of politicians to award contracts to their buddies without a bidding process.

People who support public employee unions want unions to be in a better position than contractors providing products and services to government.

There is corruption in the contractor sector, but at least some laws are in place to try to limit the corruption. The unions were given free reign to do what contractors are prohibited from doing.

Taxpayers should be alert to corruption in Government dealings with both contractors and unions and insist on processes for Governmemt purchasing products and services at the best market price for the type of products and services in question.

Unions distort the market and increase the price tapayers have to pay for services the same as if they were a group of contractors colluding to fix prices. Both should be illegal.

Posted by: jfv123 | March 10, 2011 1:59 PM | Report abuse

"In many states Government is required to buy products and services through a biddng process.

It's illegal for companies to collude to fix the price in this bidding process."

Your focus on contracting is far too narrow.

Corporations donate to political candidates, and then lobby public office holders for all kinds of public policy that will benefit the corporation, often against the public interest, and often against the best interest of fiscal health. These include changes to the tax code that subsidize their operations, and the regulatory framework in which they operate.

A corporation need not be a government contractor in order to wring benefits from the government officials to whom they provide financial support.

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 10, 2011 2:13 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: rcb21 | March 10, 2011 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Vouchers may be the only answer to public education – specifically, COMPETITION in the market place! (Private schools, Home Schooling, Charter Schools, or Public Schools)

Until such time as parents and guardians have an option, we are not going to see real change in public schools. A growing number of our school boards appear to be totally impotent; our teachers seem to be incapable of standing up to intimidation by school administrators, their unions, -- or parents in some cases; nationally, our scores continue to drop compared to our global competitors (i.e., Korea, Europe, and China); our schools of education appear weak in academic rigor (compared to global competitors); and, increasingly, our kids do not feel safe in our classrooms or buses in larger parts of the Country, with our school administrators seemingly void of leadership in dealing with 'social change'!

Education has increasingly become a JOBS PROGRAM, as evidenced by what has happened in Madison this past week, and those it attracts leaves a lot to be desired (sad examples of lying, fraud and deceit in some cases -- i.e. Atlanta Public School System). The recent sophomoric brouhaha in Madison will strongly suggest the NEED for FREEDOM AND CHOICE to parents becoming responsible for their kids education!

Vouchers will force competition!

*Year round school will evolve -- and possibly, some systems will find the opportunity to dropping the '12th' grade as some of our global competitors have already accomplished.

*New and innovative delivery methods will evolve using current and future technologies (busing kids at 6 - 6:30AM may even cease!)

*What goes in a child's stomach will become the business of a parent, not an unknown lunch person.

*Distance learning will emerge.

* Through COMPETITION, good schools will attract GOOD teachers; reduced indiscipline rates; increased graduation rates; increased scores; increased focus on the part of the students; and in the end, INCREASED SUCCESS OF KIDS!

*Education costs will prepare our kids to compete GLOBALLY!

If parents want to leave their kids in current public schools, then fine -- that is their choice.

****If choice is such a wonderful thing for abortion, then why can it not be a wonderful thing for parents to choose for their child's education?****
DROP (reduced costs in physical plants; maintenance costs; bus transportation; and sheer COMPETITION for academic EXCELLENCE).

*Math and science will be taught by certified math and science teachers with a passion for the subjects and academic rigor.

*And, in time, US kids will become MORE COMPETITIVE
The BIG QUESTION IS: Why have teacher's unions not kept up with global competition for the past three decades; and what responsibility do they accept for the decline in American jobs -- LOST TO OUR GLOBAL COMPETITORS??????

(For Bush Bashers -- Bush was not president for the past three decades! Go look at the point the decline started -- and continues to this day.)

Posted by: wheeljc | March 10, 2011 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Awesome move by Schumer. Glad to see fiscally responsible Democrats making Republicans move on the entitlements. Frankly, Republicans can't cut entitlements, they do not have the moral authority to do so. Those are Democrat programs and cuts should be designed by Democrats to protect the least well off. Force the Republicans to cut defense and get rid of tax deductions. It's the only way to achieve balance.

Posted by: staticvars | March 10, 2011 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Once again the Democrats show a breathtaking lack of intelligence and "street-smarts".

Sure, they WANT to do the "right thing" but just don't know how.

Considering the horrid intent of the Republicans, we Americans have been forced to to vigilantly defend ourselves from our own "Government".

This is NOT what my family members have sacrificed their lives for over the centuries!

Posted by: wcmillionairre | March 10, 2011 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Not so much a bad day for Democrats as it was a bad day for Democracy. Republicans seem to have to resort to trickery, demonizing, strongarm tactics, lying, concealing and obfuscating to get their policies through. They rarely seem to win in an exchange of ideas held in the bright light of day. A really bad day for Democracy, and I fear this is just the beginning of a whole new chapter in our history.

Posted by: jpmp | March 10, 2011 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Leave it to the intellectual dishonesty of a Democrat to bemoan the GOP's "using tactics that trample on the traditions of the Wisconsin legislature." I mean really - that's rich!

Posted by: alexandria6351 | March 10, 2011 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Why has the Post failed to cover the violence and death threats from these union thugs (democrats)?
You really make Fox look fair and balanced with such intentional and collosal omnissions!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: SayWhat4 | March 10, 2011 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Yes, it's a bad day for Dems but a worse day for the middle class (even if they don't realize what this means to jobs, salaries and benefits for ALL workers in the future).

Posted by: lyndee1 | March 10, 2011 5:06 PM | Report abuse

The game is over for the Democrats in Wisconsin. Democracy has prevailed... majority rules.

It's all good!

Posted by: geo82170 | March 10, 2011 5:33 PM | Report abuse

Glad to see a politician with cojones. Way to go Walker.

Posted by: Jsuf | March 10, 2011 5:57 PM | Report abuse

The rightwing nuts in the Madison legislature and other state capitols are, once again, out of touch with anyone other than the GOP staffers commenting on this site and their corporate masters:

From Bloomberg news today: Americans reject Republican efforts to curb bargaining rights of unions whose power they say is dwarfed by corporations, a Bloomberg National Poll finds. As battles rage between state workers and Republican governors in Wisconsin and Ohio, 63 percent don’t think states should be able to break their promises to retirees

Posted by: gschwartz1 | March 10, 2011 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Can someone tell me why the President hasn't immediately condemned the death threats given to Wisconsin Republican legislators?

What incredible hypocrites! Union bosses and the President, they don't care about anything but their own money and power.

Posted by: hammeresq | March 10, 2011 6:22 PM | Report abuse

The cancellation of collective bargaining for union employees, is what they were after from the start. For as long as this law stands - which won't be long - the GOP has rendered WI no different than Stalin, as a government boss. You couldn't negotiate anything as a laborer in the USSR either. (Republicans don't see the problem with that...)

1 Big Positive: these morons just accelerated the recall process that was already in gear for them. You will see it repeated in Ohio, Arizona, and anywhere else these extremists go too far. Walker will be put out of office by recall, next year. Bookmark it.

- Balkingpoints / www

Posted by: Reg373 | March 10, 2011 6:32 PM | Report abuse

I'm a federal employee, and we don't have any collective bargaining rights for wages and benefits. In fact, no Democrat has EVER supported collective bargaining for federal employees. Not Carter, not Clinton, not Obama. In fact, Obama could not have frozen our wages for the next two years if we did have such rights. But nobody -- not Clinton, not Obama, not Reid, not Pelosi -- has ever suggested that our civil rights have been denied or that the federal government is destroying the middle class or any of the other outlandish claims being made about Wisconsin. In fact, Wisconsin union members still are better off than federal workers with respect to employer contributions to their health insurance and pensions. So stop the hypocrisy. If you never got outraged about federal workers, you have no right whatsoever to faux-outrage over Wisconsin state workers.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | March 10, 2011 6:33 PM | Report abuse

In David Cay Johnston's post at, "Really Bad Reporting in Wisconsin: Who 'Contributes' to Public Workers' Pensions?" he states:
"Out of every dollar that funds Wisconsin's pension and health insurance plans for state workers, 100 cents comes from the state workers. How can that be? Because the 'contributions' consist of money that employees chose to take as deferred wages – as pensions when they retire – rather than take immediately in cash. "
This is not the case.
"Contributing on behalf of the employee" does not mean the money is coming out of the employee's compensation. That is true for defined contributions, but it need not be true for defined benefits. In Michigan the (defined benefits) pension was totally state funded before 1997. It was part of the compensation package, but nothing was taken out of the employee's pay, as would be the case with 401(k)'s. (Since 1997 there has been some contributing by the employee.)
Indeed, one of the big problems some states are having these days is with underfunded state pension plans. State employees are promised a certain amount when they retire, and it is up to the state to see that the money is there. That is why there is a move away from "defined benefit" plans to "defined contribution" plans, which is what Johnston is, or should be, talking about.
To bring my point home: My wife is a state employee; twenty or so years ago, a colleague dropped dead a week before retiring, and there were no pension benefits for anyone. This would not have been the case if the employee had been making contributions to a pension plan.
I rest my case.

greg bachelis aka oldpoliticaljunkie

Posted by: gbachelis | March 10, 2011 8:52 PM | Report abuse

Let this be a lesson to the Democrats who think it's OK to sit out off-year elections.

The Republicans got elected because many of us didn't vote. They "won" the election by default, but they think they have a mandate. That's why they're out of control.

Posted by: ceefer66 | March 10, 2011 11:38 PM | Report abuse

With a little luck, there will be many more bad days for the Democrats.

Posted by: mike85 | March 11, 2011 1:12 AM | Report abuse

The people crying in Wisconsin are not fooling anyone. As a former liberal and Democrat, I know about the lies and corruption. The gig is up.

Posted by: xfactor211 | March 11, 2011 1:52 AM | Report abuse

With what and all the Republican/Tea Party members are attempting to achieve these days with the removal of unions and members rights/pays/work hours, benefits, etc, it both saddens and angers me. I am currently reading a book on Ben Franklin and he talks of seeing child labor and the lack of a middle class throughout much of England, Scotland and esp. Ireland. Throughout the country there child workers run the spooling machines at the mills, workers barely make enough to survive, and death prevails due to no health coverage.
Commenter's can be a smug as they wise - they must have a healthy pay check with benefits coming in to their homes - but for more and more Americans, esp with such anti Union and bargaining rights movements occurring to essentially drive down the middle class by the Republicans, how long before we again become a country with such non existent labor and educational laws for children, and the notion of the middle class American is a word of the past. Who one chooses to vote for or which party to support is one's choice but people you had better start to wise up and read between the lines of a candidate and party for we are soon to become a country of two tiers - those wealthy who have and those poor who don't have at all!

Posted by: davidmswyahoocom | March 11, 2011 7:01 AM | Report abuse

Re Cheesy's comments calling the fight in Wisconsin similar to david and goliath.
It's a laugh to call Gov. Walker and the Koch Brothers David. What an absurd juxtaposition of the facts.
If middle class conservatives think that the ilk of Gov Walker represents them in any shape or fashion, they are delusional.
It's all about big corporations getting no bid contracts like the Koch Brothers and Haliburton (remember Iraq). The destruction of Unions mean only three things, lower wages for non-union employees, a continuing shrinking of the middle class and increasing control of the Corporatocracy.

Posted by: torecilla | March 11, 2011 9:44 AM | Report abuse

bad day for dems, great day for the country!

Posted by: dcsuburb | March 11, 2011 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Mike Tate, chairman of the Wisconsin Democrats responds: "Using tactics that trample on the traditions of our Legislature, ..."

Are you kidding me? Are liberals just deaf or do they actually believe we will believe the BS they are spewing?

So I guess it's been a tradition in Wisconsin to run off to another state when you don't have the votes?

Let's face it the Dems & Unions are only protecting their money stream from the union dues to the union then to the Dems. This isn't about protecting the people, this is about protecting their money and power.

Posted by: rdtshop | March 11, 2011 10:53 AM | Report abuse

The democrat party is being led over a cliff by their America hating magic negro. Good.

Posted by: carlbatey | March 11, 2011 11:22 AM | Report abuse

So if the unions cannot collect union dues from all union members then how are the pensions going to be funded, pensions that have been paid into for years? When these people retire where are they going to get their retirement money from? When people don't pay into unions and still get all the all the benefits that dues paying union members get, doesn't that create a lot of low life parasites?

Posted by: beagles5 | March 11, 2011 10:26 PM | Report abuse

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