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Posted at 10:44 AM ET, 02/23/2011

It's just about crushing the unions

By Adam Serwer

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has insisted that his proposal to strip public workers of their collective bargaining rights is necessary to cover the state's budget deficit. In his "fireside chat" yesterday, Walker said: "We're broke in this state because, time and time again, politicians of both political parties ran away from the tough decisions and punted them down the road for another day."

But not only is Wisconsin being "broke" largely the product of Walker's own legislative agenda, Tim Fernholz reports that this year's budget problem is already taken care of by Walker's own debt restructuring plan:

The state's entire budget shortfall for this year -- the reason that Walker has said he must push through immediate cuts -- would be covered by the governor's relatively uncontroversial proposal to restructure the state's debt.

By contrast, the proposals that have kicked up a firestorm, especially his call to curtail the collective-bargaining rights of the state's public-employees, wouldn't save any money this year.

So not only would Walker's proposal to strip unions of their bargaining rights not save any money by itself, not only has he refused to reach a compromise with the unions who have already said they'd agree to benefit cuts in exchange for preserving their collective bargaining rights, but the short-term deficit problem Walker ginned up as an excuse to crush the unions is one he's already solved.

This makes it clear, as Greg wrote yesterday, that this is no longer about Wisconsin's finances. This is no longer about "fiscal responsibility." It's about whether or not public workers have a right to organize in their own interests -- a right a majority of Americans support. This isn't about "hard decisions" or "shared sacrifice" or any of the other euphemisms conservatives employ when they're talking about shifting the fiscal burden from rich people to working people. It's about a Republican governor making a political power play against a Democratic constituency. We shouldn't pretend it's anything else. 

By Adam Serwer  | February 23, 2011; 10:44 AM ET
Categories:  Labor  
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Next: Governor Walker's office confirms prank Koch call

Comments

Adam, you missed the punk of Walker. It's proof he's out to get at the unions no matter what. He's willing to starve the State Senators families of needed income to get his way.

http://www.buffalobeast.com/?p=5045

"Walker: [bragging about how he doesn't budge]…I would be willing to sit down and talk to him, the assembly Democrat leader, plus the other two Republican leaders—talk, not negotiate and listen to what they have to say if they will in turn—but I’ll only do it if all 14 of them will come back and sit down in the state assembly…legally, we believe, once they’ve gone into session, they don’t physically have to be there. If they’re actually in session for that day, and they take a recess, the 19 Senate Republicans could then go into action and they’d have quorum…so we’re double checking that. If you heard I was going to talk to them that’s the only reason why. We’d only do it if they came back to the capital with all 14 of them…

Koch: Bring a baseball bat. That’s what I’d do.

Walker: I have one in my office; you’d be happy with that. I have a slugger with my name on it.

Koch: Beautiful.

Walker: [union-bashing...]

Koch: Beautiful."

Posted by: mikefromArlington | February 23, 2011 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Walker: ...The Senate majority leader had a great plan he told about this morning—he told the Senate Democrats about and he’s going to announce it later today, and that is: The Senate organization committee is going to meet and pass a rule that says if you don’t show up for two consecutive days on a session day—in the state Senate, the Senate chief clerk—it’s a little procedural thing here, but—can actually have your payroll stopped from being automatically deducted—

Koch: Beautiful.

Walker: —into your checking account and instead—you still get a check, but the check has to be personally picked up and he’s instructing them—which we just loved—to lock them in their desk on the floor of the state Senate.

Koch: Now you’re not talking to any of these Democrat b%$@$ds, are you?

Posted by: mikefromArlington | February 23, 2011 10:55 AM | Report abuse

"shifting the fiscal burden from rich people to working people"

This is an unfortunate construction. Rich people don't bear a fiscal burden there is no shift of a burden. To paraphrase the famous line about Goldman, this is rich people sucking money from any place, any source, anything that smells like money, they are there.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 23, 2011 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Bringing Romney forward from the previous thread:

A state government solution is not a federal solution, by definition. "Romneycare" was a statewide solution. Having conceded that point to Romney, I am constrained to post the following, as well:

http://www.boston.com/news/politics/2008/specials/romney/articles/part4_main/

see, also:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/01/opinion/01collins.html?ref=opinion

I call attention to the memory of Seamus at every opportunity, lest we forget.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | February 23, 2011 11:01 AM | Report abuse

@Mike

I really wish someone would type up a full transcript, rather than just cut/pasting the one from the site. I hate seeing so many editor notes in brackets.

If authenticated as really Gov. Walker...oh man that would be bad news for him. We'll see if any legit news outlet covers this tape. Should be interesting, considering how quickly they all jumped on the bandwagon for tapes coming from the right attacking ACORN, Sharrod, and Planned Parenthood.

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | February 23, 2011 11:04 AM | Report abuse

First they will destroy the Unions, and take away the Teachers' chance to negotiate higher salaries, to make up for some of their lost benefits, and that will end up driving out a lot of good teachers.

Then The Right Wingers will make their next planned move, and privative all schools, because only the private sector can deliver enough teachers.

Coming soon to your state; The Koch Chain Of Private Academies.


From The Desk Of Dick Armey:

Memo To All Tea Party Members:

Dear Koch Suckers,

Just a brief note to remind you to be sure to punch some Public School Teachers, and warmly embrace some Deprived Billionaires today.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 23, 2011 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Wow so now the assistant DA in IN is suggesting using deadly force against the protesters in WI.

http://thinkprogress.org/2011/02/23/official-use-ammo/

There's no tip toeing around that statement. It's fairly black and white. This should go over well for him.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | February 23, 2011 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Gee! I thought it was obvious that they want to crush the public unions.

Seemed like a simple message, to me.

I guess it takes the Obamacrat bobbleheads a few days to catch on.

Bureaucrats are too numerous and too costly and some states are broke. The obese unions must go on a Michelle Obama diet and stop getting fat off the state.

Get with the program.

Posted by: battleground51 | February 23, 2011 11:08 AM | Report abuse

The NRA and Tea Party Crowd will praise that Ayatollah On The Wabash.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 23, 2011 11:10 AM | Report abuse

The Chinese must be looking at the American, labor union riots of 2011.....

.....and laughing their pigtails off!!

Stupid Amelicans!!

Posted by: battleground51 | February 23, 2011 11:11 AM | Report abuse

MacDonalds to soon offer Happy Meals for Tea Party Members:

Two Bags Of French Fries, Two Half Pound Cheese Burgers With Bacon, and a small diet coke.
Toys included are: An Incandescent light bulb, and A Tundra Barbie Doll.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 23, 2011 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Awesome awesome awesome on Walker punk!

Post it on facebook, twitter like they did in Cairo.

The revolution will NOT be televised!

Posted by: ronnieandrush | February 23, 2011 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Stupid Americans indeed:

Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), for instance, proposed a budget yesterday that holds property tax rebates for seniors hostage to benefit cuts for public employees: if public sector workers don’t agree to the cuts, property tax rebates don’t go out. And of course, Christie has rhetorically bashed teachers’ unions since he came into office, in order to score political points. During an appearance on MSNBC today, Christie actually bragged that his state leads the nation in terms of public sector layoffs, claiming that “unions are trying to break the middle class”

http://wonkroom.thinkprogress.org/2011/02/23/christie-layoffs-break/

Posted by: pragmaticagain | February 23, 2011 11:16 AM | Report abuse

"I hate seeing so many editor notes in brackets."

It's the guy who punked him adding in the brackets.

I think he's going to eventually post all the text but the audio files are available.

Walker admitting he was planning on sending in partisan plants into the protests to make them look out of control is pretty damning.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | February 23, 2011 11:16 AM | Report abuse

I suppose some journalists won't touch the story until it can be confirmed.

If this blogger had a complete transcript unedited that would help though.

I suppose when the audio copies are downloaded and digested the stories will pour out once it's confirmed it was Walker.

Too bad for him and Koch. Looks like they are gonna get their comeuppins.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | February 23, 2011 11:20 AM | Report abuse

As Obama puts it "Elections have consequences"

Posted by: JGJ2010 | February 23, 2011 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Adam sputtered: "It's just about crushing the unions"
------------------------------------------
No, it IS about getting rid of a disease in the PUBLIC sector. Because, meticulous attention should be paid to the special relations and obligations of public servants to the public itself and to the Government. The process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. A strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to obstruct the operations of government until their demands are satisfied. Such action looking toward the paralysis of government by those who have sworn to support it is unthinkable and intolerable.

Posted by: illogicbuster | February 23, 2011 11:30 AM | Report abuse

George W. Bush said "elections have consequences"

The Tea Party Koch Suckers said; they only have consequences when Republicans win them, but we will never accept that the Democrats victories in 2008 allowed them to pass their legislative goals.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 23, 2011 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Scott is previewing the Republican party's newest platform: busting unions with a manufactured crisis. Conservative working Americans everywhere have to start standing up for themselves and their compatriots and stop voting for Republicans (e.g., look at Walker (R) in Wisconsin--you voted in a Trojan Horse). Middle class Americans have to STOP voting against their own interests. Simple as that.

Posted by: dozas | February 23, 2011 11:34 AM | Report abuse

"Such action looking toward the paralysis of government by those who have sworn to support it is unthinkable and intolerable."

Which is why, I'm sure, you're just as vociferously against a Republican led shutdown of the federal government.

Posted by: schrodingerscat | February 23, 2011 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: schrodingerscat: "Which is why, I'm sure, you're just as vociferously against a Republican led shutdown of the federal government."
-------------------------------------------
Correct. However, at this point in time the ONLY ones that have the ability to shut down the gov are the Dems. The House has written the check to fund gov operations. IF, the Dems REFUSE to cash the check, the gov would shut down. So schrodingerscat, do you think that the Dems will vote to shut it down?

Yes or no. Dare you to ACTUALLY answer with evasion. (sanity test)

Posted by: illogicbuster | February 23, 2011 11:41 AM | Report abuse

The Supreme Court has established that the 1st Amendment right to assembly encompasses the right of all Americans to free association--the right to belong to the National Rifle Association, the Sierra Club, and--that's right--to unions.

The budget "crisis" is largely manufactured by Walker's earlier tax cuts. Management has complete control over the size of the workforce. If Walker had created a list of service cuts, and their attendant layoffs, I GUARANTEE the union membership would have voted to give him the exact concessions he is asking for, to preserve jobs and public services.

In fact, the unions have recently proposed these very concessions, but Walker is not interested--it is all and only about busting the unions, depriving public employees of their rights.

Walker is David Koch's punk.

Posted by: Owkrender | February 23, 2011 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, the Democrat state legislators are looking mighty brave just now. This should make for a really great campaign season.

Getting the hiders to come out of their lavishly appointed spider holes and actually do some work should be relatively easy.

Once again the words of sun tzu:
"If we wish to fight, the enemy can be forced
to an engagement even though he be sheltered behind a high
rampart and a deep ditch. All we need do is attack
some other place that he will be obliged to relieve."

At another blog a suggestion was made to begin the process of enacting laws that are basically anathema to dogmatic Democrats. Things like requiring photo ID for voting, or making WI a right to work state. How about reapportioning the congressional districts?

the point is this: if the Republicans attack those things that the Democrats MUST defend, they will have no choice but to rouse themselves.

This is high stakes hardball. About time.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | February 23, 2011 11:56 AM | Report abuse

"Wow so now the assistant DA in IN is suggesting using deadly force against the protesters in WI.

http://thinkprogress.org/2011/02/23/official-use-ammo/"

Holy anti-democracy batman! Can you say Muammar al-Gaddafi?

Posted by: mmyotis | February 23, 2011 12:01 PM | Report abuse

@dozas: "Middle class Americans have to STOP voting against their own interests. Simple as that."

Then they'll have to stop voting for politicians. After which, it gets tricky.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 23, 2011 12:07 PM | Report abuse

If it were really about "crushing unions," the legislature would enact a right-to-work law for the state; this would actually affect all union workers. Scott's law only deals with certain sectors of the public workers. Nobody mentions that the Governor is out to "crush" private sector or the police or firefighters. More hysteria from the Post. (And when will the Post demand take-backs from their own union workers?)

Posted by: CubsFan | February 23, 2011 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Actually, I do not blame unions for getting the best deal possible for their members. But government worker unions present two major problems.

First, intended or not, there is an inherent kick-back scheme built into this symbiotic relationship. Politicians grant more to the unions then receive over $400 million in donations in return. If private sector negotiators received such gifts, they would go to jail.

Secondly, MY negotiator has no concept of profit/loss. Politicians just want angry voices to go away. They get re-elected by being the nice guy. So government "leaders" grant future commitments like they were party favors. Let the next politician worry. That attitude rarely exists in the private sector. In the private sector, the negotiator either owns the business or he/she needs to keep shareholders and board members happy.

Do politics figure into today's battles? Yes. But one has to recognize that citizens need tough government leaders to face tough union leaders. Since we can almost certainly never count on electing tough government leaders, we cannot allow government unions. This strangle hold on tax dollars must be broken.

Posted by: FutureView2010 | February 23, 2011 12:16 PM | Report abuse

And if anyone can give advice on how to win it is: "Cubsfan"

Posted by: Liam-still | February 23, 2011 12:24 PM | Report abuse

It's been verified that this is actually Wanker talking. This is from the Cap Times this morning. It should add fuel to this fire.

The billionaire brothers whose political action committee gave Gov. Scott Walker $43,000 and helped fund a multi-million dollar attack ad campaign against his opponent during the 2010 gubernatorial election have quietly opened a lobbying office in Madison just off the Capitol Square.

Charles and David Koch, who co-own Koch Industries Inc. and whose combined worth is estimated at $43 billion, have been recently tied with Walker's push to eliminate collective bargaining rights for public workers. The two have long backed conservative causes and groups including Americans for Prosperity, which organized the Tea Party rally Saturday in support of Walker's plan to strip public workers of collective bargaining rights and recently launched the Stand with Scott Walker website.

Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, acknowledged in a New York Times story Tuesday that he had encouraged Walker even before the election to mount a showdown with labor groups.

Koch Industries, which owns the Georgia-Pacific Corporation and the Koch Pipeline Company, operates gasoline supply terminals and a toilet paper factory in Wisconsin.

Koch Companies Public Sector LLC occupies a seventh-floor suite at 10 E. Doty St. According to an unidentified tenant there, the lobbying group moved in two weeks before Walker was elected governor on November 2. Jeffrey Schoepke, the company's regional manager, did not return a phone call seeking more information on the firm.

According to the Government Accountability Board's website, the firm has seven lobbyists who "represent various Koch Industries Inc. companies on public affairs matters, including Flint Hills Resources, LP, an energy purchaser and refiner & transporter of petroleum and Georgia-Pacific, LLC a manufacturer of paper, wood products and building materials." The group's lobbying interests are listed as "the environment, energy, taxation, business, policy and other areas affecting Koch Industries, Inc. companies."

The group has had a lobbying presence in the state before, with four contracted lobbyists from Hamilton Consulting billing just over $97,000 for services during the 2009-11 legislative session, according to the GAB. Three of those lobbyists — Amy Boyer, Andrew Engel and Robert Fassbender — are now joined also by Ray Carey, Jason Childress, Kathleen Walby and Jeffrey Schoepke.

The lobbyists for Koch Companies Public Sector registered with the state on January 5, two days after Walker's inauguration.

The expanded lobbying effort by the Koch brothers in Wisconsin raises red flags in particular because of a little discussed provision in Walker's repair bill that would allow Koch Industries and other private companies to purchase state-owned power plants in no-bid contracts.

Boycott Georgia Pacific Products

Posted by: arkadie7 | February 23, 2011 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Isn't the right to unionize, particularly by government employees, protected and guaranteed by Article I of the Bill of Rights?

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

A workers union is an assembly, even if some people do not assemble in person in our electronic age of virtualization and telepresence. And collective bargaining of government employees with government is "petitioning the Government for a redress of grievances."

Posted by: foofoofoo | February 23, 2011 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Why should public employees - already armed with vast civil service protections - be allowed to further organize and in effect elect their own bosses? I'm a struggling self-employed journalist myself with zero pension, pay for my own healthcare 100% and yet I must support their healthcare and pensions with my taxes. Plus I have zero say in their contracts yet I must foot the ENTIRE bill. How is that fair?

Posted by: azumaguy | February 23, 2011 12:32 PM | Report abuse

It's about crushing unions, and any excuse will do.

George W. Bush origianally opposed the (then proposed) Deaprtment of Homeland Security. Then, he sent to congress a bill establishing it. The only change was that his bill forbade any employees of the department to belong to a union.

When the Senate started discussing his bill, he said that national security so needed what he had origianally opposed that they were obligated to pass the bill without discussion.

Then, the excuse was national security.
Now, the excuse is a budget deficit.

Posted by: fpfrankpalmer | February 23, 2011 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Let's see. When private sector unions were strong, most people had a living wage, pensions and health care. When the private unions were busted, lower wages, no healthcare, no pensions. Instead, we were asked to contribute to 401k plans, because Wall Street would be make more money than the pension. We were told not to pay union dues, and keep the money ourselves. Indivudal greed is better. Then, Wall Street crashed, jobs were sent overseas, salaries didn't keep pace with the economy, and no rights to bargain for more. Now, we are supposed to blame the public sector, because they kept paying their dues, took lower salaries, didn't invest in 401ks, had no upward mobility. So, instead of looking to how the private sector can get back a living wage and benefits, we are supposed to get rid of them for everyone. And, then trust them that this will somehow help the rest of us. Remember, capital gains are taxed at a lower rate than for REAL WORK. Billionaires get tax breaks that the rest of us don't. How gullible are we?

Posted by: atronetti | February 23, 2011 12:39 PM | Report abuse

THERE WAS NO BUDGET DEFICIT in WI UNTIL WALKER paid his pals, cronies, and the corporations...let him eat crow. Save the unions at all costs!

Posted by: fairness3 | February 23, 2011 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Atronetti--All I can add to your posting is "Amen."

Posted by: fairness3 | February 23, 2011 12:45 PM | Report abuse

The GOP is about one thing and one thing only: Creating so much anarchy and chaos that most Americans will be content to work their entire lives for minimum wage at Wal-Mart with no health insurance...so our corporate rulers can live and die filthy rich.

Posted by: jjedif | February 23, 2011 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Poor Adam and the rest of the math challenged left. You really would think a national TV personality like Rachel Maddow could add and count years, but apparently not. The budget deficit is not Scott Walkers fault, nor are his policies to blame.

http://www.politifact.com/wisconsin/statements/2011/feb/18/rachel-maddow/rachel-maddow-says-wisconsin-track-have-budget-sur/

Posted by: Bailers | February 23, 2011 12:50 PM | Report abuse

For all those blaming Walker for the deficit, he arrived at the gov's office 1 month ago. Not much different in that than blaming Pres. Obama in Feb 2009 for Iraq or Afghanistan, but the hypocracy's either lost or people don't care about being hypocrites anymore.

As for Walker, I think he's going too far but there needs to be some busting of today's public unions. No, Wisconsin's not like Prince George's county with it's teachers union, with everything overt, but it's not difficult to see that some of this happens behind the scene -- just look at DC and vouchers ('home rule' Dem's killed the city requested voucher program to favor their union supporters, to be revivied by 'anti-home rule' Rep's, just to make it more ironic).

Even FDR, major union supporter and king of the Democrat's historical policy group, believedt that unionizing government employees was wrong. Time to make some definate changes - and cosmetic budget saving ones won't work since they'll just be removed in a couple of years and we'll end up back where it all started.

Posted by: MadiganT | February 23, 2011 12:56 PM | Report abuse

For all those blaming Walker for the deficit, he arrived at the gov's office 1 month ago. Not much different in that than blaming Pres. Obama in Feb 2009 for Iraq or Afghanistan, but the hypocracy's either lost or people don't care about being hypocrites anymore.

As for Walker, I think he's going too far but there needs to be some busting of today's public unions. No, Wisconsin's not like Prince George's county with it's teachers union, with everything overt, but it's not difficult to see that some of this happens behind the scene -- just look at DC and vouchers ('home rule' Dem's killed the city requested voucher program to favor their union supporters, to be revivied by 'anti-home rule' Rep's, just to make it more ironic).

Even FDR, major union supporter and king of the Democrat's historical policy group, believedt that unionizing government employees was wrong. Time to make some definate changes - and cosmetic budget saving ones won't work since they'll just be removed in a couple of years and we'll end up back where it all started.

Posted by: MadiganT | February 23, 2011 12:56 PM | Report abuse

"It's about whether or not public workers have a right to organize in their own interests -- a right a majority of Americans support. "
No, we do not support Unions. Just read the comments! Only union members are defending unions. If I was union, I would to. Why would you say no to pensions, healthcare, and guarenteed jobs not based on merit.
It isn't about making the little people pay; it's the little people saying why do I pay for your exhaustive benefits and great salary and pensions, when I cannot afford the same? There is no good reason. Public employees are no more special than any other employees so why should the tax payers pay so much more for them than the tax payers get?
We're tired of paying for everyone else's advantages! I'm grateful for the Republicans who are standing up for us. Unfortunately the Democrat's tactic of running and hiding make them look foolish and stubbornly pro-union due to campaign contributions.

Posted by: hebe1 | February 23, 2011 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Do the WI public employees unions have the right to strike?

Do some of them maintain that right but not others?

Posted by: mark_in_austin | February 23, 2011 1:07 PM | Report abuse

One political party (the Corporate Party) is going for a lock. The partisan US Supreme Court, with the Citizens United decision, brought new corporate monies to political campaigns; with the vast majority of it going to Republicans in the last election cycle. The only counterbalance to that is Union money, thus the need to disembowel the unions NOW before the next election cycle.

The governor of Wisconsin received massive donations from the far-right Koch brothers and they are funding the anti-union efforts in Wisconsin. Do the math, connect the dots. If successful, this time next year there may only be token opposition to the Corporate Party. At which time we can FEED THE RICH AND EAT THE POOR.

Are there really any AMERICAN corporations anymore? Not so much. That would make these Corporate hos in Wisconsin anti-American. Why else refuse to accept the concessions made by the workers? Perhaps they just forgot that these workers are citizens of Wisconsin.

Posted by: Tourist | February 23, 2011 1:21 PM | Report abuse

That is exactly right. The GOP is fully intent on shifting the burden of government from those who have the means to do so to the WORKING people of this country.

Those who vote for the GOP and wonder why their standard of living is falling have no one to blame but themselves.

They are chickens voting for Colonel Sanders.

If we wiped out the debt completely today, it would not give you back ONE PENNY in your paycheck. It would all go to the banks and bondholders.

The Achilles Heel of democracy is when demagogues rile the people to vote emotionally rather than rationally by getting them to vote for THEIR interests instead of the people's.

Posted by: ethanquern | February 23, 2011 1:40 PM | Report abuse

The Budget Deficit is not the Wisconsin Teachers fault.

Besides; What does taking away their future bargaining rights,with their local school boards, have to do with balancing this year's state budget?

It does not add a penny to the State coffers.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 23, 2011 1:41 PM | Report abuse

by all means crush that public union/democrat party ponzi scheme..

Posted by: wewintheylose1 | February 23, 2011 1:52 PM | Report abuse

A message from the desk of Dick Armey, to all Tea Party Members;

Dear Koch Suckers,

Just a reminder to you: be sure to punch some Public School Teachers, and hug some deprived Billionaires today.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 23, 2011 2:02 PM | Report abuse

The Wisconsin law does not prohibit unions from asking for higher pensions and more expensive healthcare plans.

The Wisconsin law merely prohibits corrupt politicians from using pensions and healthcare to pay off their union contributors by taking away from politicians the power to sign a contract with a union about pensions and healthcare plans.

If you conclude that politicians (often supported by union contributions) have been overly generous at the bargaining table when negotiating with unions, taxpayers have the right to take away some of the power of the negotiators representing taxpayers.

Taxpayers have no reason to trust politicians "negotiating" with their contributors.

One reason to treat pensions and healthcare plans differently from wages is that taxpayers already have rules that limit politicians' abilty to use wages to pay off the unions. The limitation is the requirement that budgets be balanced each year. Because many pension and health plans push spending into later years, they have been used as loopholes by corrupt politicians to evade State budget laws.

Stop the corruption.
Close the loopholes.

Posted by: jfv123 | February 23, 2011 2:21 PM | Report abuse

I have to hand it to Republicans. They keep convincing blue collar white Americans to vote against their own economic interests.

Posted by: AxelDC | February 23, 2011 2:33 PM | Report abuse

The Republican Party will not be satisfied until feudalism is fully established in this country. There will be a very small "royalty" composed of Banksters, Global CEO's, Wall Street Crooks, War Profiteers, and Billionaires. The politicians who gave them the country will no longer be necessary, and will therefore be ground up to make dog food. Royalty will live in fortified compounds surrounded by paid palace guards (many of them from the Chinese PLA). When they travel over the broken crumbling highways, and denuded countryside, royals will do so in tanks. Whenever a peasant or a serf sees a royal he will have to bow clear down to the ground, and hope he doesn't get his head chopped off. All will be "right" with the world.

Posted by: Jihm | February 23, 2011 2:48 PM | Report abuse

A lot of moronic comments as usual from the teabaggers. This is from a local paper on the 17th.
“From the Cap Times - Madison
The facts are not debatable.
Because of the painful choices made by the previous Legislatur­e, Wisconsin is in better shape fiscally than most states.
Wisconsin has lower unemployme­nt than most states.
Wisconsin has better prospects for maintainin­g great schools, great public services.
Unfortunat­ely, Walker has a political agenda that relies on the fantasy that Wisconsin is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy­.
Walker is not interested in balanced budgets, efficient government or meaningful job creation.
Walker is interested in gaming the system to benefit his political allies and campaign contributo­rs.
To achieve that end, he has proposed a $137 million budget “repair” bill that he intends to use as a vehicle to:
1. Undermine the long-estab­lished collective bargaining rights of public employee unions, which have for 80 years been the strongest advocates for programs that serve the great mass of Wisconsini­tes, as opposed to wealthy elites and corporate special interests. As Racine’s Democratic state Rep. Cory Mason says, the governor’s bill is designed not with the purpose of getting the state’s finances in order but as “an assault on Wisconsin’­s working families and political payback against unions who didn’t support Gov. Walker.”
2. Pay for schemes that redirect state tax dollars to wealthy individual­s and corporate interests that have been sources of campaign funding for Walker’s fellow Republican­s and special-in­terest campaigns on their behalf...c­reating zero jobs in the process “but increasing the deficit by more than $100 million.””

Posted by: arkadie7 | February 23, 2011 2:48 PM | Report abuse

If we wiped out the debt completely today, it would not give you back ONE PENNY in your paycheck. It would all go to the banks and bondholders.

--------------------

Sorry eathanquern, this statement just isn't true. Interest payments on the debt now make up about 6% of the budget, and it will substiantially increase in the future with just a slight tick up of interest rates. If all of our debt was wiped out, the budget would automatically be 6% lower. Lower income taxes would be needed to meet the lower budget and our paychecks would go up. It's really a pretty simple concept. Lot's of angry rhetoric flying around on this message board today, but unfortunately not a lot of critical thinking.

Posted by: bcp76 | February 23, 2011 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Unions, like liberals are a menace to society and need to go the way of the dinosaur!

Posted by: LibsRLostInSpace | February 23, 2011 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Restructuring debt is NOT the same as paying off debt. It is only kicking the can down the road.

Much of the debt is in fact the result of collective bargaining agreements won by the public employees' unions in negotiations with former state chief executives. The legacy costs of defined benefits' plans for retirement and health care where workers pay little if anything is a cost taxpayers cannot bear.

Collective bargaining wages for wages, yes. For everything else, NO!

Posted by: plainspeaking | February 23, 2011 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Restructuring debt is NOT the same as paying off debt. It is only kicking the can down the road.

Much of the debt is in fact the result of collective bargaining agreements won by the public employees' unions in negotiations with former state chief executives. The legacy costs of defined benefits' plans for retirement and health care where workers pay little if anything is a cost taxpayers cannot bear.

Collective bargaining rights for wages, yes. For everything else, NO!

Posted by: plainspeaking | February 23, 2011 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Before Hitler attacked the Jews, he crushed the unions. That's how dictators work. The unions are the only safeguard we have in place to protect average Americans from our government which is owned by global corporations that want to reduce us to the level of workers in Communist China.

Posted by: CALDEM | February 23, 2011 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Actually, I do not blame unions for getting the best deal possible for their members. But government worker unions present two major problems.

First, intended or not, there is an inherent kick-back scheme built into this symbiotic relationship. Politicians grant more to the unions then receive over $400 million in donations in return. If private sector negotiators received such gifts, they would go to jail.

Posted by: FutureView2010

========================================

What I don't understand is the double standard. Why do the pro-union folks want to crucify a couple of billionaires when the unions (with a buttload of taxpayer money) gave almost $100 million to Obama's campaign in 2008?

Posted by: bbface21 | February 23, 2011 4:11 PM | Report abuse

What I want to know is, "who are these faceless rich people that are tyrannically keeping us down?" What is rich? Someone that makes $500,000? Get two lawyers or docs married, and there you go. Ask them if they work. Ask them if they quit school at 18 or punted college with a worthless degree. Ask them if they know what a 40 hr work week is. Because they've not worked 40 hr a week unless half of it is vacation time. Ask an entrepreneur who's worth tens of millions or more, and they'll tell you that 40 hrs? That's how much time off they get per week... most of it spent sleeping. Rich people work longer hours -statistically- than other folks AND they're first generation rich. The problem is, if you're argument is that you demand their money, they're also the most mobile.

The problem is the long term budget. Schools don't need better teachers. They either need parents that are willing to send reasonably disciplined children to school, or a school to send undisciplined children to, or parental permission to allow some administrator to do the discipline. Maybe not the old-school board of education, but it is a few bad eggs that keep the best teachers away, not bad pay. In many areas of the country, being a teacher is the best job available that doesn't require professional school. The problem is that schools take up so many resources, sometimes it looks like the only place to make any budgetary difference. Perhaps it's time for tuition at public schools. Heavily subsidized, but it doesn't take either an economist or social scientist long to recognize the benefits of such an action. The same argument for making the rich pay can be used for making the parents pay. Except, you have to make an argument that the rich burden or utilize the gov't infrastructure more than the poor to justify a % difference. Or, you have to go the "tyrannical" route, saying the rich are keeping your descendants from their aspirations. And since I see many second-generation immigrants succeeding despite their poor first generation parents, that re-distribution of wealth argument doesn't fly in America.

In this case, back to the subject, we must know something is up if Wisc gov's demands are met, but still he presses on. Sort of shennanigans pulled today by the President talking about the Defense of Marriage Act when the Republicans don't have time to deal with it. Expect more of that. If you have someone on the ropes, why go for a decison when you can go for the KO?

Posted by: NovaMike | February 23, 2011 4:27 PM | Report abuse

The Wall Streeters and Bankers are brilliant! Just think, they have been able to convince all of America that the financial crisis (their toxic assessets, bundled mortgages, etc...) are all due to public employees and their huge salaries and benefits! Next they will convince us that we can all benefit by letting them rule the country (wait they are already trying that with the Citizens United decision). We know Corporations only have our best interest at heart, right?

Posted by: pixster | February 23, 2011 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: illogicbuster
"The process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. A strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to obstruct the operations of government until their demands are satisfied. Such action looking toward the paralysis of government by those who have sworn to support it is unthinkable and intolerable."

------------------------------------------
This is a direct and unattributed quote from a letter that FDR wrote to Luther Seward, who at the time was the head of the Federation of Federal Employees. Roosevelt was merely pointing out that while public servants have a right to organize for the same reasons private sector unions did they have a greater obligation as public employees. It is the reason why the National Labor Relations Act (passed in 1935) permits strikiing, but does not apply to federal and state employees.

Wisonsin is projecting a $3.6 billion shortfall over the next two years, with only $137 million applying to FY2011. The pension obligations are one area causing the problem, but are not the only area. To blame the unions entirely is disingenuous as other factors such as spenidng, taxation, and unemployment affect the numbers as well. Mr. Walker, rather than negotiating a change with the unions to bring their pension and health benefit contributions in line with private sector unions, is using heavy handed tactics to strip the unions to bargain for rights other than pay; rights that many other unions have within the private sector.

The solution for the state would be to reform the pension system. Either changing the formula for payout upon retirement or moving to a 401k system.

As a hypothetical example, changing the benefit payout formula from lifetime 90% of the average of the final five years of salary to 50% of the avearge of the final 10 years of salary would save enormous amounts of money on their own. Granted this would be harder to negotiate, but would be more financially sustainable for the state.

Sources:
FDR Letter: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=15445

Wisonsin Budget:
http://sunshinereview.org/index.php/Wisconsin_state_budget#cite_note-1

Posted by: vethopfl | February 23, 2011 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Public employee unions have been around for over one hundred years, but all of a sudden, everywhere, they are the cause of nationwide fiscal meltdowns and no one saw it coming! And it happens right after Wall Street/the Bankers/and the Politician Deregulators suck all available money out of the US economy. Coincidence, I think not. Because if it is just coincidence, then everyone is *&!@*& nuts! Not no one, no where, could do exponential math????

This plan has been in the playbooks for years:Starve the Beast. Yes, you too can work for immigrant wages - why do you think the Chamber of Commerce is against going after employers that hire illegal immigrants in the southwest?

The characters in Wisconsin are simply following the corporate playbook which is not synonymous with what's best for Wisconsin, much less working men and women. (BTW - how dare they want a decent job. Somebody whack em with a baseball bat)

Posted by: Tourist | February 23, 2011 5:03 PM | Report abuse

This has never been about the state budget. This is about breaking the public employees unions. As the Govenor he has every right to try to pass this bill. Funny I dont remember the Republicans walking out of congress because they didnt get their way on health care. This is all about to the VICTOR goes the SPOILS. The WAPO folks all scream about all the unregulated money allowed in politics now because of the Supreme Court decision on the campaign finance law.

They never complained about all the unregulated UNION money spent to elect Democrats. Much of that money from dues obtained by the CONFISCATORY power of government because the government has laws mandating union membership.

Posted by: bjeagle784 | February 23, 2011 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Walker can hold out much longer than teachers can. Those parents want their kids back in school where they belong. I just finished watching "Waiting for Superman" and boy was that an eye opener. I have a new respect for Michelle Rhee and what she went through with the NEA and AFT unions. No wonder our children aren't getting an education. Both the NEA and AFT should be disbanded. Our kids should never be taught by teachers with unions and especially given tenure. Every state not just WI should tackle the problem of these two unions. If parents watched that DVD and understood how resistant the NEA and AFT were to raising the standards there wouldn't be a teachers union left standing in this country. Rent it people and watch it. Maybe you need to rethink your support for these unions.

Posted by: Desertdiva1 | February 23, 2011 5:29 PM | Report abuse

I'm a small businessman. What's being done in Wisconsin is madness. These Tea Party Republicans won't be happy until it's WalMart wages for all but the CEOs.

Posted by: kcbob | February 23, 2011 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Before Hitler attacked the Jews, he crushed the unions. That's how dictators work. The unions are the only safeguard we have in place to protect average Americans from our government which is owned by global corporations that want to reduce us to the level of workers in Communist China.

Posted by: CALDEM
===========================================
Laughable. The only thing the unions are safegaurding is the D rating of the highschool next to my house. As long as the unions are filling teaching positions with lazy clock punchers the public schools will continue to implode.

Posted by: peterg73 | February 23, 2011 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Union busting is the first step to privatization of the state work force. If the unions are weakened, state jobs will be replaced by lower paid, less skilled workers from the private sector. Quality work will go down. Unions must prevail!

Second when unions gain in collective barganing, it directly helps workers in the competitive private sector by establishing a new higher bench mark in the market place. Thus, even if you do not belong to a union, if unions gain, YOU will benefit!

Posted by: gd556 | February 23, 2011 7:59 PM | Report abuse

The unions gave the financial concessions Walker wants now it time for him to give them their rights and everybody will go back to work. Now WALKER is starting to look more and more like the villain!

Posted by: gd556 | February 23, 2011 8:18 PM | Report abuse

Of course, the agenda is to break the public sector unions. They should NEVER have been given the right to unionize...I'm embarrassed to say that I used to live in Wisconsin. Glad I now live in Virginia where we have NO such unions and have great services at a good value and our public sector employees actually understand the social compact.

Yes, it is time once and for all to bust the unions. RIP. We have to rid this country of ALL unions once and for all. It will take a bit more time, but we will get it done. You will have to go to the Smithsonian to learn more about this quaint custom that plagued America for about a century.

Posted by: dcmowbray1 | February 23, 2011 8:27 PM | Report abuse

Government is a monopoly. Government legislates all sorts of benefits for labor. Government has an entire department dedicated to labor. Labor has an entire party in its pocket which has already given them all these goodies.

They don't need the "right" to bargain as well. Enough is enough.

Posted by: magellan1 | February 23, 2011 9:16 PM | Report abuse

The republican party has spent the past 40 yrs to get to this point:BUST ALL UNIONS!!! Now, because of the Koch gluttons, BIG OIL and BIG COAL,Murdoch,etc. the party of Lincoln, the Great Emancipator,will destroy unions if the American people let them. And before you white collar dudes let'em do it, let me provide you a history lesson of what unions have done for most of our fathers/grandfathers: 8 hr workday & 40 hr workweek; Occupational safety; mine safety; minimum wage AND overtime; equal rights and opportunities for women, blacks, and the disabled; workers compensation;and the list goes on.So, before you sign on to the billionaire Koch/Murdock/Tea party crap, checkout where you, your father and grandfather would be without the trade union movement in this country and where your children/grandchildren may be IF the republicans get away with this blatant union busting trick just so their rich donors can add more to their bank accounts.

Posted by: tlrasnic | February 23, 2011 9:18 PM | Report abuse

The republican party has spent the past 40 yrs to get to this point:BUST ALL UNIONS!!! Now, because of the Koch gluttons, BIG OIL and BIG COAL,Murdoch,etc. the party of Lincoln, the Great Emancipator,will destroy unions if the American people let them. And before you white collar dudes let'em do it, let me provide you a history lesson of what unions have done for most of our fathers/grandfathers: 8 hr workday & 40 hr workweek; Occupational safety; mine safety; minimum wage AND overtime; equal rights and opportunities for women, blacks, and the disabled; workers compensation;and the list goes on.So, before you sign on to the billionaire Koch/Murdock/Tea party crap, checkout where you, your father and grandfather would be without the trade union movement in this country and where your children/grandchildren may be IF the republicans get away with this blatant union busting trick just so their rich donors can add more to their bank accounts.

Posted by: tlrasnic | February 23, 2011 9:19 PM | Report abuse

Crushing unions is un-American.

Walker is not a good patriotic American. The Kochs are un-American. They go against the true values of prosperity that built America.

It's the Republicans who veer off into socialism, and vicious Stalinist socialism at that. Next we'll all be serfs.

Posted by: kathleen_oconnor | February 23, 2011 9:49 PM | Report abuse

You really have to crush the public service unions.FDR knew how dangerously they could act because of there position. Public service unions threaten and strike against the taxpaying public. Unlike private sector unions who strike against corporations. Libs and dems know how weak the support is for public sector unions so they put them together in there position. If americans truly believed in and supported the public unions then the unions s/b more then happy to wait two years and elect there own gov/senator and unionize evryone, but they fear the truth...nobody supports there self serving agenda. You'll notice in the protests , there is NO ONE except union members and media.

Posted by: snapplecat07 | February 23, 2011 10:28 PM | Report abuse

One question, is the government collecting union dues a good thing? I don't think so, it's certainl a conflict of interest.

Posted by: jhtlag1 | February 23, 2011 10:52 PM | Report abuse

TheBBQChickenMadness:

Per your request

http://host.madison.com/wsj/article_531276b6-3f6a-11e0-b288-001cc4c002e0.html

It is over for this dirtbag governor.

Outstanding!!!

Posted by: jameschirico | February 23, 2011 11:06 PM | Report abuse

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