Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
Posted at 1:49 PM ET, 02/25/2011

Public employees not such an easy scapegoat after all

By Greg Sargent

As the Wisconsin standoff continues, it's worth stepping back and considering an underappreciated but heartening aspect of this whole affair: Public employees are turning out to be far harder to scapegoat in the public mind than many predicted. This was anything but assured. Many commentators expected that conservatives would have an easy time turning Americans against public employees by foisting the blame for our economic woes upon them. Wisconsin is showing that this is turning out not to be so easy, after all.

I've got some new polling from Gallup that underscores this point: It turns out that the only income group that favors Governor Scott Walker's proposal to roll back public employee bargaining rights are those who make over $90,000.

As you know, Gallup released a poll earlier this week finding that 61 percent of Americans oppose Walker's plan, versus only 33 percent who are in favor. It turns out Gallup has crosstabs which give us an income breakdown of that finding, which the firm sent my way:

* Among those who make less than $24,000 annually, 74 percent oppose the proposal, versus only 14 percent who favor it.

* Among those who make $24,000 to $59,000, 63 percent oppose the proposal, versus only 33 percent who favor it.

* Among those who make $60,000 to $89,000, 53 percent oppose the proposal, versus only 41 percent who favor it.

* Among those who make $90,000 and up, 50 percent favor the proposal, versus 47 percent who oppose it.

Only the last, highest-income category favors the proposal; working and low-to-middle class folks all oppose it.

Now, as Mark Blumenthal notes, we need to proceed with caution, because there's not a lot of data available on this topic. But I think it's fair to speculate that the focus of Walker's proposal on rolling back long-accepted bargaining rights, and the massive amount of media attention to it, may have reframed the debate and refocused the public's attention in a way that is undermining the right's previous advantage on questions involving public employees. This isn't to say the right doesn't still have the upper hand in some ways. And Walker very well may win in the end. But the landscape has clearly changed in an unexpected way.

Go back and read Ben Smith's and Maggie Haberman's piece from months ago on the coming assault on public employees -- one of the first of the genre -- and you'll find strong confidence among conservatives about their ability to make "political targets out of what was once a protected liberal class of teachers, cops, and other public servants." Public employees, it was assumed, would make easy scapegoats amid widespread economic woes.

Yet the events in Wisconsin -- and the public reaction to them -- are challenging this assumption in a big way. There's strong consensus among not just most income groups, but even across party lines, that Walker's proposal goes too far. Multiple GOP governors are now backing away from the most onerous of anti-public union proposals.

For all the attention being lavished on the likes of Chris Christie and his supposedly successful formula of targeting public employees as the new "welfare queens," the bigger and more interesting story is that they aren't turning out to be such easy targets, after all.

By Greg Sargent  | February 25, 2011; 1:49 PM ET
Categories:  Labor  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Fox News's parade of buffoons
Next: Bad media coverage makes the people ignorant and stoopid

Comments

""Public employees not such an easy scapegoat after all""

In WI, this is true. I think the public union busting will proceed much easier in other states. But the difficulty of that argument in WI--and Scott Walker being such a poor standard bearer--might be one of the reasons that WI is a proxy for an argument that is being made in many other places, with scant attention.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 25, 2011 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Again, we'll watch as the Chris Christies, the Rick Scotts and the Jerry Browns, the people like Christine Gregoire...and see which states get over the budget hump, not just faster, but more sustainably and with an intact public service infrastructure.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 25, 2011 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Greg,

One important question if I may:

"Among those who make $90,000 and up, 50 percent favor the proposal, versus 47 percent who oppose it."

What is the margin of error of this survey?

Anything above 1% means that we may have 51% in favor, or, 51% opposing the proposal.

In other words, even among respondents making >90K, it's a wash.

Posted by: grosmec | February 25, 2011 2:04 PM | Report abuse

I think the Oligarchs have won, and all we are witnessing in Wisconsin is the last stand of the small surviving band of the slaughtered middle class.

Walker can continue to hold out, until he gets what he wants, and he can lay off lots of workers, because no billionaires will become casualties, and the media will turn a blind eye to the long term damage to the working class, that is sure to follow.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 25, 2011 2:05 PM | Report abuse

@Greg

I'm pleasantly suprised that demonizing the likes of teachers, nurses, and prison guards turned out to be harder than Conservatives wanted...and that they are paying a political price for it.

I will note, though, that what they should be much more afraid of is if this wave of public support for those groups becomes broader. The Gov's gambit of using a budget deficit as a way to try and break the union could backfire on conservatives in a huge way, if the arguement ever shifts from merely "taking away worker's rights" into a more populist "taking away worker's rights while protecting corporations."

The idea of firing teachers to balance a budget instead of closing a corporate tax loophole will poll terribly...and the battle we see in WI right now is a very, very good foil to make that argument. I'm not sure if it's the right moment yet...but if the moment to shift the debate onto that course comes, and Dems/Unions seize on it - Conservatives & the GOP are in very serious trouble.

@Kevin

The difficulty of that argument in WI is that it's one of the strongest union states in the nation. Walker tried a knock-out punch early, in hopes that if he broke the unions there the rest of the states would fall like dominoes. The other tactic would have been to try this union-busting in several less unionized states first and build momentum until trying it in WI. I don't know if the latter way would have worked any better...as it also would have given unions in WI more time to prepare for it.

It's just political strategy, at that point. WI is tough, because it's got a lot of union power in it.

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | February 25, 2011 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Hey look ma, there really is a class war, and we're losing.

Posted by: Scientician | February 25, 2011 2:13 PM | Report abuse

...there really is a class war...

There always has been, ever since humans developed the means to concentrate wealth in the exchange value of symbols, like cowrie shells and wampum.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 25, 2011 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Kevin_Willis: Just a quick note to say that excessive troll blockage still blows up the formatting in Troll Hunter. In my case, there were nine blocked comments in the last thread, and it looked like the CSS had just stopped working for the thread.
.

Posted by: jprestonian | February 25, 2011 2:18 PM | Report abuse

This guy is a real crowd pleaser...

"Libyan satellite TV channel al-Libiyah reports Saif al-Islam will hold a news conference "in a few moments"."

Posted by: shrink2 | February 25, 2011 2:19 PM | Report abuse

"I think the Oligarchs have won, and all we are witnessing in Wisconsin is the last stand of the small surviving band of the slaughtered middle class."

I'd like to think otherwise, but Liam is sadly correct. Walker is attempting to finish what his hero Reagan started 30 years ago, destroy the middle class.

I'd like to know from the resident Right Wingers here what happens when the destruction of the middle class is finally completed, then what? Get rid of public education all together, and everyone can work commission retail and $10 an hour jobs, or what? What's going to become of Reagan's friggin Shining House on the Hill?


Posted by: filmnoia | February 25, 2011 2:20 PM | Report abuse

"excessive troll blockage still blows up the formatting in Troll Hunter. In my case, there were nine blocked comments in the last thread"

Hmmm, I had zero, well what's up jpresto? I know, sometimes I can't take the bs anymore either and do a blockathon, just for fun.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 25, 2011 2:24 PM | Report abuse

well gosh darn, i can understand those making over $90K thinking they need not worry about public educators, their kids go to private school; but even the wealthy are quick to call a fireman if their house is on fire or urgently calling an emt at the first sign of heart palpitations. my guess would be this group is also the "tough on crime" crowd that says lock up the felon and throw away the key. well, someone has to watch over these felons and that would be prison guards. why heck, they need to get out their driveway and down the street to get the airport to connect with that caribbean cruise and that would be the snow plow drivers.

Posted by: sbvpav | February 25, 2011 2:26 PM | Report abuse

""Hmmm, I had zero, well what's up jpresto? I know, sometimes I can't take the bs anymore either and do a blockathon, just for fun.""

I block the extremes on either end. Y'know, the ones only here to score points (and not in a humorous way) who add little if anything to any discussions, here.
.

Posted by: jprestonian | February 25, 2011 2:28 PM | Report abuse

@TheBBQChickenMadness "@Kevin

The difficulty of that argument in WI is that it's one of the strongest union states in the nation. "

The difficulty of the argument in WI was that the public employees union basically agreed to every single one of Walker's requests in terms of the pension and health care benefits cost sharing but only balked at changing the status quo on collective bargaining.

Contrast this to NJ where the teachers union wouldn't agree to even a one year pay freeze to help prevent teacher layoffs.

"Perhaps the most consequential episode between Christie and the union, at least as far as public perception was concerned, had to do with the pay freeze. Almost as soon as the scope of the budget problem became clear, the governor called on teachers, who received scheduled raises during the recession, to accept a one-year freeze. He reminded the teachers that a lot of private-sector workers felt lucky if they could keep their current salaries, and he said a voluntary freeze would enable the union to avoid widespread teacher layoffs in cash-poor school districts. Most local chapters of the union ignored him. Ultimately some 10,000 union members — teachers and support staff — saw their jobs eliminated. Christie hasn’t stopped talking about it since.

The union maintains that Christie’s plea was mere gimmickry, because the layoffs would have happened even if its local chapters acceded to the demand for a freeze. But even if this is true, it would seem to reflect a staggering lack of political calculation. Had the teachers agreed to take the short-term hit by acquiescing to a temporary freeze, it would have been worlds harder for Christie to then run around the state demanding longer-term concessions on pensions and benefits. And when the layoffs did materialize, the governor would most likely have shouldered most of the blame. Instead, the whole affair seemed to prove Christie’s point about the union’s self-involvement, and it enabled him to blame the teachers themselves for the layoffs."

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/27/magazine/27christie-t.html?pagewanted=5&ref=homepage&src=me

Andy Stern nailed the politics of WI perfectly yesterday:

"The unions managed to strip the fiscal issues out from all of it, and Walker made such a big mistake exempting the police and firemen’s unions. He mobilized unions members in a way that hasn’t happened in a long time, and brought them together with students and other progressives. It’s turned into a Democrat versus Republican fight, not a good government versus bad government fight. Walker is beginning to look stubborn and inflexible. "

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2011/02/andy_stern_it_may_not_end_beau.html#more

Posted by: jnc4p | February 25, 2011 2:30 PM | Report abuse

hey look, it turns out Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean hannity and Sarah Palin are union members too, their union is AFTRA:
http://www.naplesnews.com/blogs/he-is-that-guy/2011/feb/23/union/

As far as i can tell, membership in AFTRA is completely voluntary too.

Posted by: Scientician | February 25, 2011 2:31 PM | Report abuse

@jpreston: "Kevin_Willis: Just a quick note to say that excessive troll blockage still blows up the formatting in Troll Hunter. In my case, there were nine blocked comments in the last thread, and it looked like the CSS had just stopped working for the thread."

I was not aware of this! I've seen way more comments blocked . . . but, certainly can be. What browser are you using?

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 25, 2011 2:31 PM | Report abuse

""well gosh darn, i can understand those making over $90K thinking they need not worry about public educators, their kids go to private school; but even the wealthy are quick to call a fireman if their house is on fire or urgently calling an emt at the first sign of heart palpitations.""

Not to mention that unless they're in a Koch bubble (y'know, having a minion to dial one's own cell phone), you'd think they'd prefer that those with whom they interact for **any** reason have a reasonable level of education. Almost all of 'em are going to need a nurse at some point... do they want students so poorly prepared that we can barely fill a seat in nursing school?
.

Posted by: jprestonian | February 25, 2011 2:31 PM | Report abuse

jnc4, no more mister nice guy...

"US closes Tripoli embassy." AP

Posted by: shrink2 | February 25, 2011 2:32 PM | Report abuse

"Y'know, the ones only here to score points."

I do know, hang in there.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 25, 2011 2:36 PM | Report abuse

""I was not aware of this! I've seen way more comments blocked . . . but, certainly can be. What browser are you using?""

Google Chrome 9.0.597.98
.

Posted by: jprestonian | February 25, 2011 2:37 PM | Report abuse

@jpres: Okay, I've blocked almost everybody, and It's still working form. I've blocked me, and you, and it still is working. Hmmmm . . . Comments Removed: 13. I'm watching in Safari using SIMBL and Greasekit, but, still, it should be very similar to Firefox and Opera.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 25, 2011 2:37 PM | Report abuse

""I'm watching in Safari using SIMBL and Greasekit, but, still, it should be very similar to Firefox and Opera.""

I'm using Chrome, though -- always have been, here, and have always had this problem, even with older versions of Troll Hunter. It's not a biggie -- I can still read what I want to read, and the blocked folx are still blocked. It's just... ugly. ;)
.

Posted by: jprestonian | February 25, 2011 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Great day in pictures today

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-12579001

[as always, if someone already posted this, I am really sorry]

Posted by: shrink2 | February 25, 2011 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Also, see Ezra Klein's piece today on the future of unions.

"Where the teachers unions go, the union movement will follow"

"Most people don't have much contact with the janitors at their city hall or machinists in Chicago. But they do have contact with their child's teacher and they do read about how well the schools are doing. The education system is a shared American project. It is the only place where people really notice unions on a day-to-day level. It's the only place where they really care about unions. If they loved teachers unions, they'd probably have a much better impression of the union movement in general. But though they love teachers, they don't love teachers unions. Not even close. And that does organized labor an incalculable amount of damage.

The teachers unions protest that they've been unfairly maligned, the victim of a hit campaign that vastly overstated the quality of the solutions proposed by the Michelle Rhees of the world and vastly underrates how much teachers unions have done to professionalize teaching. And that might be be true. But it doesn't really matter: America has a broken educational system and the people who seem to have a plan are being opposed by the people whom that system is paying. That doesn't look good. That looks like how you lose the future."

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2011/02/where_the_teachers_unions_go_t.html#comments

Wisconsin seems to be more of the exception to a larger trend than the start of the revival of unions in the United States.

Posted by: jnc4p | February 25, 2011 2:46 PM | Report abuse

White House statement on Libya:

*U.S. banks were advised to take steps to monitor financial transactions related to Libya.

*U.S. has suspended limited military cooperation with Libya

*U.S. sales of military parts to Libya have been frozen

*strongly supports suspending Libya from U.N.

*Obama to meet on Monday with U.N. Secretary General Ban about Libya

*U.S. uses full extent of intelligence to monitor Gadaffi regime

*prepared to take more action against Libya if necessary

http://live.reuters.com/Event/Middle_East_Protests

Also, this on Obama's strategy:

In this analysis piece, Reuters' Steve Holland writes that President Obama is treading carefully through the crisis in Libya because the situation has repercussions for the price of oil and therefore the U.S. economy.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/02/25/us-obama-libya-idUSTRE71O5P520110225

Posted by: ronnieandrush | February 25, 2011 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Interesting survey. I hadn't realized that evidence of the US class war was that easy to quantify. I'd like to see more of these kinds of polls.

Posted by: mmyotis | February 25, 2011 2:50 PM | Report abuse

-Analysis: Economy drives Obama caution on Libya-

Part of Obama's caution is driven by the need to ensure Americans are safely out of Libya and cannot be taken hostage, a problem that may have been on the verge of being solved on Friday when a ferry carrying hundreds of Americans sailed for Malta.

But Obama also does not want to make any moves that could further rattle oil markets and contribute to what has been a steady rise in gasoline prices in the United States.

Some U.S. commentators warn pump prices could easily reach $4 or $5 a gallon in the months ahead and put a pinch on a U.S. economy still going through a fragile recovery

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/02/25/us-obama-libya-idUSTRE71O5P520110225

Fun:

Even GOP activists are turning against Sarah Palin

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/02/24/109399/even-gop-activists-are-turning.html

Posted by: ronnieandrush | February 25, 2011 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Dick Morris (yeah, him) polled Wisconsin and found 54% of WI voters do not support stripping the unions of their right to collective bargaining.

From TPM:

"Even the chop-shop Dick Morris instapoll has Gov. Walker (R-WI) losing the public opinion battle in his state. Morris makes lots of effort to lead with the best stuff for Walker. But on the core issue of collective bargaining Wisconsites disagree with Walker 54% to 41%. When even bamboozlement polls show you're losing, you know it's bad.

Basically where we are now is that independent and union-sponsored polls show Walker losing badly. Polls by conservative activist organizations show him either in a tie or losing not quite as badly as the real polls show.

--Josh Marshall

Posted by: suekzoo1 | February 25, 2011 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Troll Blocker Is for Church Ladies; or could it be the work of Satan? Hmmmm!

Posted by: Liam-still | February 25, 2011 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Hey sh_thead, The vast majority of people in wisconsin and indiana do not support the unions or the teachers. Capesce? All accross america 72% of those polled said the teachers are overpaid and coddled. Why don't you tell the truth once in awhile sh_thead. Your mommy would be proud of you unless she is a liar like you.

Posted by: lori9 | February 25, 2011 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Well Ezra got that one about the teachers' unions right, but he missed on this one.

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2011/02/who_is_holding_the_economy_bac.html?hpid=topnews

Sure the problem is "confidence" but the days of government borrowing from future tax receipts driving consumers back into confidence mode are over, which is too bad in the short run, but good in the long run.

When a million houses were lost to the banks last year and ever more will be this year, not talking about the fact that the collapse of the housing bubble is still happening won't make it go away.

The banks sure are confident, but what are they going to do with all those houses? They can only pretend they are worth more than they are for so long before they have to market them. And this is why they have to sit on cash. It is hard to understand the relationship between the anemic growth of the economy in spite of all that Quantitative Easing...and the oncoming, unavoidable 2nd half of the housing bubble collapse, but we know it exists. We know more about what is holding back confidence than we want to say. This time, reality is holding the economy back.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 25, 2011 3:00 PM | Report abuse

@Kevin and jprestonian: I'm using Google Chrome and not having any formatting problems, even after blocking up to 22 comments removed. . .

Just FYI. . .

Posted by: Michigoose | February 25, 2011 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Big surprise. Those who can afford to send their kids to private schools and live in gated communities with their own private security and firefighters don't want to support anything that benefits the general public.

So how about the next time we go to war for oil or to protect American commerce, the rich send their kids out there first. No more Dubbya Bush draft dodging or Dick Cheney five deferments. The rich think that they acquired their wealth all on their own without the benefit of a society that provides good education and infrastructure. Next time they can go and fight for it. Send the Koch brothers to Iraq. heck, along with the rest of the right-wing-dingers, they don't even want to pay for the war they got us into.

Posted by: Poleman | February 25, 2011 3:08 PM | Report abuse

@shrink "Well Ezra got that one about the teachers' unions right, but he missed on this one."

Care to make a prediction on whether or not we are headed to "stagflation" again? Looks like we may have an oil shock coming up.

Posted by: jnc4p | February 25, 2011 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Sargent is wishing - his facts are selective. Th evoters in Wisconsin and around the country see the public unions as the cancer they are. Walker will be patient and he will win the day, and once the voters see the finnancial results, he will be re-elected easily, just as he was in Miwaukee. In his first few months Chris Christie was demonized for the same reasons, and now he is an American Hero....as Walker will be in a few short months. The country despises public worker's unions, and not even the Post can vocer that fact up.

Posted by: Realist201 | February 25, 2011 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Order Your T-Shirts Now:

I Paid Two Trillion Dollars, and All I Got Was An Iraqi Day Of Rage.


Feb 25, 2011 13:08 EST

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Thousands of Iraqis inspired by uprisings around the Arab world protested on Friday against corruption and poor basic services in nationwide rallies where at least 10 people died in clashes with security forces.

Scores of others were hurt in skirmishes during Iraq's "Day of Rage" when demonstrators tried to storm government buildings and security personnel fired shots to try to disperse them.

There were no reports of insurgent attacks against the protests despite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's warning that al Qaeda militants and others might try to disrupt the rallies.

Maliki vowed not to ignore the protesters' demands.

"I would like to assure all our people that nothing which they have protested against due to their discontent will go in vain," he said in a statement. "I will follow up personally the implementation of all issues under my authority as prime minister."

The most violent clashes between protesters and security forces occurred in the restive areas of Hawija and Mosul in the north and the southern oil hub of Basra.

Eight years after the U.S.-led invasion which ousted Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein, development remains slow and Iraqis complain of shortages of food rations, water, power and jobs.

The Arab world has erupted in protests aimed at ousting long-standing rulers and holding free elections but Iraqis have focused more on gripes over essential needs and corruption.

"We are here for change, to improve the situation of the country. The education system is bad. The health system is also bad. Services are going from bad to worse," said 27-year-old Lina Ali, part of a protest youth group on Facebook.

"There is no drinkable water, no electricity. Unemployment is growing, which can push the youth toward terrorist activities," she said at Baghdad's Tahrir Square."

Posted by: Liam-still | February 25, 2011 3:10 PM | Report abuse

""@Kevin and jprestonian: I'm using Google Chrome and not having any formatting problems, even after blocking up to 22 comments removed. . .""

It could also be something conflicting with one of my other Chrome extensions. I run 3-4 others, including TabsToTheFront!
.

Posted by: jprestonian | February 25, 2011 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Yes. Stagflation is inevitable. There is no growth driver, but prices have to rise.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 25, 2011 3:13 PM | Report abuse

@Ethan: the best part from that McClatchy piece was the woman who called Michelle Bachmann "Sarah Palin with brains." To quote 12Bar,

Bwahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Michigoose | February 25, 2011 3:14 PM | Report abuse

President Palin will shoot Stagflation from a Helicopter.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 25, 2011 3:15 PM | Report abuse

""The country despises public worker's unions""

And the proof of this will be the overwhelming number of TeaBangers who swarm state capitols in more than a dozen states, tomorrow, to counter the union solidarity demonstrations.
.

Posted by: jprestonian | February 25, 2011 3:16 PM | Report abuse

"America has a broken educational system and the people who seem to have a plan are being opposed by the people whom that system is paying. That doesn't look good. That looks like how you lose the future."

One thing about the Right is that they always have to have an enemy or scapegoat to focus their anger and frustration over, but the fact is that they are getting screwed by the top 2% as well.
Muslims, illegal aliens, MSNBC personalities, whatever, now it's public employee unions, including teachers. What ails education in this country has less to do with the teachers than the state of parenting. I guess I'm old fashioned in that sense, but education starts at home. Teachers aren't miracle workers. What are they supposed to do if you have raised a little snot? In many instances the teacher is the only adult that these kids trust because of parents abrogating their responsibility.
The only solution to all of this is to organize a lynching party down on Wall Street. That's where most of our troubles reside.

Posted by: filmnoia | February 25, 2011 3:18 PM | Report abuse

a masterstroke

"Bahrain's King sacks three ministers whom he blames for causing the crisis." al-Jazeera

Posted by: shrink2 | February 25, 2011 3:19 PM | Report abuse

realistSargent is wishing - his facts are selective. Th evoters in Wisconsin and around the country see the public unions as the cancer they are. Walker will be patient and he will win the day, and once the voters see the finnancial results, he will be re-elected easily, just as he was in Miwaukee. In his first few months Chris Christie was demonized for the same reasons, and now he is an American Hero...

Stupid f-cks like yourelf really should shut up. If it weren't for unions you wouldn't have a 40 hour work week. You wouldn't have breaks or paid vacation. You wouldn't have safety standards in your workplace. I could go on and on ,but like I said. You're stupid. As you can see very few people agree with your posts. So please stop writing lies. A-HOLE!

Posted by: strictly_liberal | February 25, 2011 3:19 PM | Report abuse

well, note to lori and realist, EVERY poll released is contrary to what you hink is fact. Please turn off Fox News for a bit and let reality sink in. The majority of people think Walker is overreching on this one.

And Christie is a hero in Beck-istan but no where else. He will be a one-termer.

Posted by: jenzinoh | February 25, 2011 3:21 PM | Report abuse

"""@Ethan: the best part from that McClatchy piece was the woman who called Michelle Bachmann "Sarah Palin with brains.""""

Haha! Yeah, I totally LOLd at that.

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

The most the union can hope for here is a draw: Give in on all the health care and pension demands and keep the right to collectively bargain. And that's against a governor who has completely bungled the politics and messaging.

Andy Stern is right on the long term trends:

"So I think the labor movement is doing a great job standing up and building something big in Wisconsin, but I think they seem like a legacy institution and not an institution of the future. And legacies get shed. The question is does anything replace them?"

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2011/02/andy_stern_it_may_not_end_beau.html#more

Posted by: jnc4p | February 25, 2011 3:26 PM | Report abuse

r&r--Are you Ethan? Ever since shrink educated us on cognitive dissonance, I deal with it when I can, and that includes clearing up mysteries.

Posted by: AllButCertain | February 25, 2011 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Realist201 . . .

A paramount threat to our "democracy" is the failure of people like yourself to understand the TRUTH of Walker/Koch Brothers/Scalia/Thomas growing possibility of delivering "OUR" nation to the a Plutocracy of Billionaires, who don't give a hoot about workers or their poverty!

Walker is downright EVIL, and that's a FACT!

Posted by: lufrank1 | February 25, 2011 3:27 PM | Report abuse

"And Christie is a hero in Beck-istan but no where else.

Not true, Beckistan is a province of greater Wingnutistan and Cristie is very popular in the empire

"He will be a one-termer." Jersey is a special place, it is not New York City Jr. anymore, as Jon Corzine discovered. I think Cristie's future as a politician depends less on his popularity de jour with the wing nuts and more on whether the corrupt politics of the state decide to wait him out, or attack him.


Posted by: shrink2 | February 25, 2011 3:29 PM | Report abuse

@jnc4p -- as a DC area local, Michelle Rhee's time was fascinating. She was like a walking Rorschach test. nobody was ambivalent about her. And, rightly or wrongly, the unions in that case absolutely came off as more concerned about protecting and securing employment. But what wasn't captured in the coverage was the underlying theme of gentrification and that improved schools would continue the trend. You saw a lot of people criticizing Rhee who seemed more concerned about employment, but behind that was the sense that Rhee's plans (or frankly any reforms) would fail, so might was well protect the jobs.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | February 25, 2011 3:30 PM | Report abuse

@jenzinoh "And Christie is a hero in Beck-istan but no where else. He will be a one-termer. "

His popularity in NJ is higher than when he was elected.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/27/magazine/27christie-t.html?pagewanted=7&ref=homepage&src=me

Posted by: jnc4p | February 25, 2011 3:32 PM | Report abuse

@jnc4p -- as a DC area local, Michelle Rhee's time was fascinating. She was like a walking Rorschach test. nobody was ambivalent about her. And, rightly or wrongly, the unions in that case absolutely came off as more concerned about protecting and securing employment. But what wasn't captured in the coverage was the underlying theme of gentrification and that improved schools would continue the trend. You saw a lot of people criticizing Rhee who seemed more concerned about employment, but behind that was the sense that Rhee's plans (or frankly any reforms) would fail, so might was well protect the jobs.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | February 25, 2011 3:33 PM | Report abuse

"""r&r--Are you Ethan? Ever since shrink educated us on cognitive dissonance, I deal with it when I can, and that includes clearing up mysteries."""

Yup!

I announced it a couple of times...

I had technical problems for a couple of months there... but missed chatting with folks so I got a new gmail email addy and hopped back on :)

Posted by: ronnieandrush | February 25, 2011 3:34 PM | Report abuse

"Ali Tweel in Tripoli tweets: "I am unarmed man setting in my house with my terrified wife, innocent son and hearing gunfire outside roaming around my neighborhood."

See, if this guy were an American, he could be blazing away from the balcony whilst his wife and son tote ammo from his armory. No terrified, no innocent, case closed.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 25, 2011 3:36 PM | Report abuse

When a trade union over-reaches on a corporation, the market imposes a control and forces a bankruptcy.

When a union over-reaches on a government, the government imposes higher taxes on the citizens.

How did Wisconsin public employees come to earn 125% of market wages and still contribute comparatively nothing for benefits while enjoying so much job security?

Market failure. When the taxpayers lose ground, so should the public employees.

Otherwise, we will have the odd situation of tax increases on wage earners who have no benefits to pay for the benefits of salaried state employees.

Posted by: blasmaic | February 25, 2011 3:39 PM | Report abuse

"whilst his wife and son tote ammo from his armory. No terrified, no innocent, case closed."

My wife is a better shot that I am. I'll tote ammo for her.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | February 25, 2011 3:41 PM | Report abuse

""How did Wisconsin public employees come to earn 125% of market wages and still contribute comparatively nothing for benefits while enjoying so much job security?""

By someone lying about them making 125% of market wages -- that's how.
.

Posted by: jprestonian | February 25, 2011 3:42 PM | Report abuse


I guess when it all comes down to trying to break the unions, those making over $90,000 per year, obviously figure that no one could possibly work harder than they do, so there's no way they should be getting $40,000 to $60,000 per year.

Or maybe it's just that the people in that pay catagory can more easily be manipulated by the upper 1% of wealthy people in the country.

Do they think that because they're not living paycheck to paycheck, like the lower income earners in the United States, they put themselves in the catagory of being rich?

What silly manipulated people!


Posted by: helloisanyoneoutthere | February 25, 2011 3:44 PM | Report abuse

"See, if this guy were an American, he could be blazing away from the balcony whilst his wife and son tote ammo from his armory. No terrified, no innocent, case closed

He's so obviously better off in his current situation it isn't even arguable.

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | February 25, 2011 3:44 PM | Report abuse

blasmaic, what does that have to do with Walker's plan to strip collective bargaining rights, or no-bid sell off state assets, or take personal control over the State medicaid program?

Can we get better right wingers, ones who actually know what the dispute is about?

Posted by: Scientician | February 25, 2011 3:45 PM | Report abuse

"I've got some new polling from Gallup that underscores this point: It turns out that the only income group that favors Governor Scott Walker's proposal to roll back public employee bargaining rights are those who make over $90,000."

Well, of course. This is the demographic that pays all the taxes.

What do people making less than $24,000 per year care about taxes, or the budget, or anything else? They are getting a free ride.

Posted by: pmendez | February 25, 2011 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Better shot? How do you know who is evil and who is good? Fighting in the street is about spray and pray, just keep on sprayin' and and prayin'. God'll sort 'em out.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 25, 2011 3:47 PM | Report abuse

"...Can we get better right wingers..."

Wouldn't that be great?

Posted by: shrink2 | February 25, 2011 3:51 PM | Report abuse

""just keep on sprayin' and and prayin'. God'll sort 'em out""

Spoken like a true Christian Crusader, shrink! :-)

Posted by: Michigoose | February 25, 2011 3:52 PM | Report abuse

All, check this out, new evidence that bad media coverage of the Affordable Care Act is leaving public deeply misinformed about it:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2011/02/bad_media_coverage_makes_the_p.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | February 25, 2011 3:53 PM | Report abuse

""just keep on sprayin' and and prayin'. God'll sort 'em out""

Spoken like a true Christian Crusader, shrink! :-)

Posted by: Michigoose | February 25, 2011 3:57 PM | Report abuse

"Can we get better right wingers, ones who actually know what the dispute is about?"

We go into battle against the wingers we got, not the wingers we wish we had.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | February 25, 2011 3:58 PM | Report abuse

""...Can we get better right wingers..."

Wouldn't that be great?"

Fantastic comments everybody! It's an honor to read them!

The answer to your question is no. Our union forbids us from being perceived and/or treated better than any other rigt-winger. Egalitarian and all that. I do apologize for us though, if that's any consolation. And for the record, I apologize for anything we have done, are doing or will do in the future! ;-)

Again, thanks to everyone commenting! Absolutely fascinating!

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | February 25, 2011 3:58 PM | Report abuse

what say the 30 mil ILLEGALS in our country which according to our media BS should be included for they are undocumented,not criminals.

Posted by: pofinpa | February 25, 2011 3:59 PM | Report abuse

What do people making less than $24,000 per year care about taxes, or the budget, or anything else? They are getting a free ride.
---------------------------------------

It's been a good 4-5 years since I was lucky enough to be poor and enjoying my free ride, but as I recall I cared about how I would pay for just about anything and everything. And I was fortunate enough to have a large safety net if I needed it in the form of a supportive family. So you're right that they probably don't care much about the state budget.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | February 25, 2011 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Replying to:

"Sargent is wishing - his facts are selective. Th evoters in Wisconsin and around the country see the public unions as the cancer they are. Walker will be patient and he will win the day, and once the voters see the finnancial results, he will be re-elected easily, just as he was in Miwaukee. In his first few months Chris Christie was demonized for the same reasons, and now he is an American Hero....as Walker will be in a few short months. The country despises public worker's unions, and not even the Post can vocer that fact up.

Posted by: Realist201 | February 25, 2011 3:09 PM"

"Selective facts?" REALLY?!

The late great Senator Daniel Moynihan once famously remarked that "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but no one is entitled to their own facts."

Rant as loudly and spitefully as you like, Realist, but it will remain true that Greg has cited genuine, verifiable data to back his analysis. All YOU have done is spew your usual venom, like a kid throwing a tantrum.

If you're going to criticize other people's facts, then offer some of your own to contradict them. Otherwise, please do us all a favor and return to the bridge under which you and your fellow trolls lurk.

Posted by: DCSteve1 | February 25, 2011 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately the GOP will not be fazed by the results of this poll; to them, real Americans make more than $90,000. If you make less, you are a slothful failure. In their mind the fact that some in the under classes bring home close to the $90K mark is a travesty; they should take a 50 percent pay cut, which will happen after they gut the unions. It is pathetic to hear those in the lower income brackets say they don’t need the protection of a union; they only need to depend on merit. All they need do is do a good job to be rewarded. Yes, “all is best in the best of all possible worlds.” Also sad are those Joe the Plumbers who sit around the bar holding forth about the day when their ship will come in propelling them to the upper income bracket. They express concern about a tax increase for their fantasy tax bracket. Bosses and the GOP don’t have the best interest of wage slaves in mind.

Posted by: csintala79 | February 25, 2011 4:12 PM | Report abuse

@troll: "He's so obviously better off in his current situation it isn't even arguable."

At least he isn't in America. God, what a horrible place. I spit while I type the name!

Really, when you think about, he's blessed. We are the accursed!

If this was a halfway decent country, there would be a government program to pay for our relocation to a better country.

:)

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 25, 2011 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Often times doing the right thing isn't very popular.

+Lincoln was unpopular for fighting the civil war
+Reagon's stance on the ocld war
+the surge in Iraq was unpopular
+ the Packer's cutting ties with Brett Favre

Good leaders don't just follw the latest poll!

Posted by: sarno | February 25, 2011 4:15 PM | Report abuse

After they're done busting the unions, they'll get rid of those pesky overtime federal laws.

Posted by: Please_Fix_VAs_Roads | February 25, 2011 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Hey Sargent Schultz, It's because those above $90,000 are the one's paying the yeomen's share of the taxes that supply the teachers with their pay and bennies.
These are people made up of small business owners, farmers, insurance salesmen, etc. who don't get 3 month paid vacations, there are no such thing as "snow" days, who don't get "accumulated" sick days, hell they work from their death beds if needed.
This class of people have figured out that the whole public union game is just a "taxpayer" funding of the Dimwit Party and they want to stop being the funding mechanism for it.
If Walker gets the "automatic" dues reduction stopped alone it will be an overwhelming success. I have NO problem is union members want to use their dues to support the Dimwits. I just want them to have to take the initiative to write the dues checks from their OWN checkbooks to do so. I'm betting a substantial amount of those union members won't make writing the dues check the first one to come out of the family budget every month.
The whole game has been overwhelmingly rigged in the Dimwits favor and it's been less than a "collective bargain" for the American taxpayer.
The Liberal Dimwit Wisconsin/Indiana flee-baggers are another in a great line of Dimwit Profilers in Cowardice. Has our Man Caused Disaster In Chief uttered the word Quaddafi yet, speaking of Profiles in Cowardice.

Posted by: bobcatbuzz | February 25, 2011 4:16 PM | Report abuse

blasmaic, what does that have to do with Walker's plan to strip collective bargaining rights, or no-bid sell off state assets, or take personal control over the State medicaid program?

Can we get better right wingers, ones who actually know what the dispute is about?

Posted by: Scientician | February 25, 2011 3:45 PM | Report abuse

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

What insulates the state employees from the market forces that other citizens face is a bargaining process that grants too much power to unions and not enough to managers.

We know a union can force a company into bankruptcy. How does a union force a state into bankruptcy?

It can't happen. Without market forces to impose a control on a too-aggressive union, how can the interests of the citizens be protected?

The unions caved on the money demands as quick as the story went national. They know where America is, but I know how the employees got to where they are now.

Posted by: blasmaic | February 25, 2011 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Good leaders don't just follw the latest poll!

Posted by: sarno
--------------------------------------
Yes, I recall republicans using that line during and after the Health Care debate.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | February 25, 2011 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Even the greatest of the great Dimwits of all time, FDR himself thought public unions would be a disaster. The only collective bargained thing going on there is that Joe the Taxpayer, and I mean the one's that actually pay the taxes, have come to find out it's not such a bargain.
Even the Union icon, Geoge Meany, of the AFL-CIO was NOT in favor of "public unions".
The public unions have all but killed the Golden Goose, aka, the taxpayer. And for all the Dimwit howling of the "Roberts Court" for allowing corporate campaign donations, the taxpayer has figured out these same "howlers" have had a pat hand, at taxpayers expense, to fund the Dimwit coffers thru "public" union dues.
Not quite a far system when the "public union dues", gotten at taxpayer expense, blindly fuels the Dimwit coffers. If Walker does nothing else but stops the "automatic" union due deductions of funding the Dimwit party, it will be an overwhelming success.
If the "public teachers unions, etc.," want to fund the Dimwits, let them at least have to write the checks out of their own check-books. I think the Dimwit campaign coffers would suffer a dramatic funding set-back.

Posted by: bobcatbuzz | February 25, 2011 4:28 PM | Report abuse

I am unclear on the definition of working. I make $200k and I work, I work hard, usually at least 60 hours per week. So am I a "worker" or am I "high-income."

Or am I lazy scum griping about how much the government should give me?

Posted by: will25 | February 25, 2011 4:28 PM | Report abuse

"At least he isn't in America. God, what a horrible place. I spit while I type the name!"

Cao, is that you? This is creepin' me out.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 25, 2011 4:29 PM | Report abuse

will25, you'll have to submit to a battery of questions, submit forms, several years of tax returns...then perhaps your question can be answered, by vote of The Workers Committee.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 25, 2011 4:33 PM | Report abuse

""How did Wisconsin public employees come to earn 125% of market wages and still contribute comparatively nothing for benefits while enjoying so much job security?""

By someone lying about them making 125% of market wages -- that's how.

Posted by: jprestonian | February 25, 2011 3:42 PM | Report abuse

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

Market wages are 80 percent of government wages. That means government workers earn 125 percent of market.

Are public employees the welfare queens of the 21st century?

Posted by: blasmaic | February 25, 2011 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Are public employees the welfare queens of the 21st century?

-------------------------------------
Really, you think comparing cops, firefighters, and teachers to welfare queens is going to be a successful political platform? Good luck with that.

By the way, do you have a link to your numbers?

Posted by: ashotinthedark | February 25, 2011 5:07 PM | Report abuse

"""How did Wisconsin public employees come to earn 125% of market wages and still contribute comparatively nothing for benefits while enjoying so much job security?"" By someone lying about them making 125% of market wages -- that's how. Posted by: jprestonian"

Just an easy case study to help quantify things.

I work for the City of dayton Ohio. I am in the top hourly pay grade, for skilled trades like plumbers, electricians, and carpenters.

The City of dayton budgets $37.50 an hour for my total wages and benefits, and officially pays me $29.85.

It arrives at what it pays any particular job by looking at department of Labor statistics and picking an hourly wage that exceeds the 50th percentile wage but does not exceed the 75th percentile wage. Dayton WAS a union town with what were considered significantly better than average private industrial wages.

Because i HAVE to be in OPERS, I can't be in a union pension and health care plan and pay SS in the process. The City officially pays a matching 7.5% of my official pay rate to my 7.5%, so that my total contribution is 15% of my listed pay.

Yet the whole 37.50 is my true pay, and while that seems to be a little high by the standards of cities and municipalities in Ohio, it is NOT by any means 125% of what an electrician makes in Dayton.

I have twenty years as an electrician, thirteen as a Traffic Signals electrician, and seven as an electronic electrician. I have college level junior classes in EE, math through dif.eq, a Commercial radio telephone license and an amateur advanced license. I have to be able to program industrial process control computers, calibrate process control sensors, hang conduit, pull cable, trouble shoot motors and variable speed motor controllers drives.

I work with three phase 460 V systems, and know how to work on 12kV systems but don't because that is better left to people who work on it all the time, as experience and familiarity help in working on transmission line voltages, and we rarely have reason to do so.

For that, again, the City calculates that i cost them $37.50 an hour total.

So just how over paid do you Republicans think I am?

Posted by: ceflynline | February 25, 2011 5:23 PM | Report abuse

@ceflynline: "So just how over paid do you Republicans think I am?"

By exactly 4¢ an hour. Give it back, and we'll be good. :)

Though a registered Republican, I don't have any general beef against "the public sector". In some cases, some changes might well be appropriate. But turning on the public sector in a form of reverse class envy is, well, not my cup of tea.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 25, 2011 6:05 PM | Report abuse

Poor Lori must be the only one who doesn't know that Fox "mistakenly" reversed the poll numbers when they reported them. The actual results were 61% opposed Walker's bill and only 44% favor it, all across the country. In Wisconsin the numbers are similar. But don't take my word for it, google "fox reversed poll numbers unions" and enjoy.

Posted by: fingersfly | February 25, 2011 7:54 PM | Report abuse

Greg, I think the only reason these unions have agreed to concessions now is because Govenor Walker has shown them he has the upper hand.

Posted by: bjeagle784 | February 25, 2011 9:27 PM | Report abuse

What do people making less than $24,000 per year care about taxes, or the budget, or anything else? They are getting a free ride.
---------------------------------------

Wow. You obviously have been lucky enough to have been born well off and have never had to hold things together while making almost nothing.

There is nothing free about it. I had to work my way up the hard way and I'm not in that situation now. But I have never forgotten. I give to homeless wherever I can. Been active on helping vet families who are hard up.

Sometimes I think right-winger spout crazy things they heard on radio or in some blog because it sounds good to them, but really have no idea what it means or how someone who doesn't consume to that sort of media would perceive that sort of talk. There is a sort of tone deafness going on.

Posted by: Alex3 | February 25, 2011 10:15 PM | Report abuse

As always, the GOP's goal is to destroy the Middle Class, for the benefit of the Corporations and the Filthy Rich.

Posted by: thomasmc1957 | February 25, 2011 11:29 PM | Report abuse


Search on the web "Wise Health Insurance" if you have a condition such as high blood pressure, asthma, diabetes, cancer, depression , obesity or have had an injury, like a broken leg and need health Insurance NOW.

Posted by: ruthrichard123 | February 26, 2011 2:55 AM | Report abuse

Most middle-class DO NOT belong to unions.
This has nothing to do with the middle class.
Taxpayers are FED UP paying for public employees to have better salary/benefits/pension than they have!
States and taxpayers CAN'T AFFORD IT.
Time for "CHANGE".

Posted by: ohioan | February 27, 2011 9:59 PM | Report abuse

I find it very interesting that the workers being vilified by the Republicans are the very people who care for and interact with the public everyday. Teachers must have college degrees and credentials and nurses are required to have specific college training for the work they do. Surely, the salary and benefits should be commensurate with the amount of education required to do their jobs.

Posted by: earringirl | February 28, 2011 2:40 PM | Report abuse

I find it very interesting that the workers being vilified by the Republicans are the very people who care for and interact with the public everyday. Teachers must have college degrees and credentials and nurses are required to have specific college training for the work they do. Surely, the salary and benefits should be commensurate with the amount of education required to do their jobs.

Posted by: earringirl | February 28, 2011 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.




characters remaining

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2011 The Washington Post Company