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Posted at 8:41 AM ET, 02/22/2011

The Morning Plum

By Greg Sargent

* Wisconsin poll finds strong support for public employees: With the standoff in Wisconsin intensifying, the well-respected Dem firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner has released a new polling memo -- bankrolled by unions -- finding strong opposition to Governor Scott Walker's proposal to roll back bargaining rights. Key finding: When read a very detailed explanation of Walker's proposal, 52 percent of Wisconsin voters oppose it, 42 percent strongly so. Meanwhile, 42 percent support it, only 24 percent strongly.

The poll finds that since the standoff began, "Walker has seen real erosion in his standing, with a majority expressing disapproval of his job performance and disagreement with his agenda."

And: "When asked more specifically, 58 percent oppose eliminating collective bargaining, 57 percent oppose reducing wages for public employees and 50 percent oppose reducing pension benefits for public employees." And 59 percent of independents oppose the collective bargaining piece, too.

Of course, at this point, one presumes Walker's intended audience is national conservatives, not his own constituents. The full polling memo is right here.

* Unions launch TV ad campaign in Wisconsin: As I reported below, the major national unions are up with a new spot in the state backing up public employees, which you can watch right here.

Taken together, the ad and the poll remind us that organized labor is all-in on this fight and views it as ground zero in the war over its future.

* National Dem officials standing behind public employees: Chuck Schumer sends an email to his list raising money for Wisconsin Dems:

If you support collective bargaining rights, join me in making a contribution to help elect more Democrats to the Wisconsin State Senate and show Governor Walker he can't take us back to the 1920s. This is an important fight that could be a turning point for workers across America. We need to stand together on this.

Good thing national Dems aren't listening to the "advice" of some on the right who are insisting that standing by Wisconsin Dems is terrible politics for them.

* Wisconsin read of the morning: Plutocracy now! Kevin Drum has a monster of a piece, accompanied by lots of detailed charts, laying out the larger context of the Wisconsin battle: The postwar decline in unions and how it "screws the middle class," including non-union workers.

* Are Wisconsin's public workers really overpaid? Good read on the topic from Jonathan Cohn, who cuts through the B.S.:

Suppose public workers really do make more than private sector workers. Who's to say that the problem is public workers making too much, rather than private sector workers making too little?

* Koch brothers' money enters Wisconsin: The New York Times has a big takeout on how the "grassroots" group Americans for Prosperity, partly created and bankrolled by the Koch brothers, is now entering the fray.

Also key: The Koch brothers are one of the biggest financial supporters of Governor Walker.

* Wisconsin fight spreads to other states: Labor officials plan to take the protests to Ohio and Indiana, two other states where anti-union proposals are moving forward.

* 2012 reality check of the day: Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake game out the math and conclude that because the number of solidly Democratic states has been cut in half since 2008, the "next national election could well be considerably closer than the last one."

* Government shutdown to be averted? House GOP and Dem Senate leaders are reportedly in private talks to avoid a shutdown, with Dem leaders apparently receptive to the GOP's hints that they could accept a short-term government funding measure with more modest cuts than originally proposed. More on this later, hopefully.

* Senate Dems unified against GOP anti-abortion push? There was some worried speculation that the House GOP's drive against reproductive rights might fracture Senate Dems, but that appears not to be happening.

* Liberal groups focus on California House race: Worth watching: The Progressive Change Campaign Committee commissions a new poll finding that in the special election for retiring Jane Harman's seat, voters' top priorities are job creation, government transparency and cracking down on Wall Street -- possible indications that a progressive could have a good shot.

* And Tea Party whackjobbery spreads from coast to coast: Some sorely needed Tuesday tragicomic relief: Justin Elliott has a useful, if rather dispiriting, guide to all the whackjob Tea Party proposals being advanced in statehouses across the country.

What else is happening?

By Greg Sargent  | February 22, 2011; 8:41 AM ET
Categories:  House GOPers, Labor, Morning Plum, Senate Dems, Tea Party, abortion  
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Next: Workers are workers, public or private

Comments

In terms of the next election being a lot closer than the last, who really knows.

Who would have thought that after the Democratic sweep in 2008 that the there would be a Republican resurgence in 2010? Nobody in 2008.

We shall see what will happen in 2012. Time will tell.

Posted by: maritza1 | February 22, 2011 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Re: Wisconsin

Wisconsin Dems & Unions would do well to focus energy on getting a recall in the works for the 8 Republicans in the State Senate that are eligable for recall. Even bringing about the vote for a recall would be a hard shot across the bow, saying that unless they back off their jobs are in danger. Talk about pressure.

Re: 2012

"could well be considerably closer..."

Blah blah blah. Barring a dark-horse candidate coming out of nowhere and building a movement (ala Obama in 2008), the GOP is incredibly shallow. Republican's talk about nominating Romney because of his "experience" and "policy cred"...which I think is hilarious because Pres. Obama would wipe the floor with him in sheer intelligence alone. Polls constantly show "generic GOP" candidates doing better because the actual candidates are so bad. Unless there's a fresh faced shocker out there - possible, but unlikely - Pres. Obama is going to be just fine. The odds of a giant landslide of Goldwater proportions is probably just as likely as him losing, at this point.

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | February 22, 2011 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Gov Walker was on MJ and got drilled by the panel this a.m. He didn't look well & said he refused to negotiate with the Union over a budget bill....and they say Obama is "cool & doesn't relate well to people"! This is going to be interesting b/c he obviously has been on Fox so many times & skated that his filibustering didn't work today. Glad to see someone actually ask him if he's talked to the union or tried to. He's not a reasonable person.

Posted by: carolerae48 | February 22, 2011 9:16 AM | Report abuse

""Of course, at this point, one presumes Walker's intended audience is national conservatives, not his own constituents""

Yup. And one could reasonably argue, given our increasingly reality-tv show based culture, this is what Sarah Palin has wrought. Numerous governors will start taking strong, ideological, politically doomed positions designed to appeal to the party base and build a basis for a much more lucrative post-government career.

Look for Scott Walker's "Wisconsin" on the Travel Channel soon.

@bbq: " The odds of a giant landslide of Goldwater proportions is probably just as likely as him losing, at this point."

I don't think either is very likely. That is, I think Obama will win, but not by even as large a margin as he won in 2008. But, as I have noted before, I think the power of incumbency is strong, and, at this point, I don't see anybody challenging Obama seriously from the left, in a primary or in the general. And, historically, the incumbent wins in that scenario.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 22, 2011 9:17 AM | Report abuse

"Yup. And one could reasonably argue, given our increasingly reality-tv show based culture, this is what Sarah Palin has wrought. Numerous governors will start taking strong, ideological, politically doomed positions designed to appeal to the party base and build a basis for a much more lucrative post-government career."

He might even feel that it will help him politically in his current career. Look what happened to Jan Brewer after signing that immigration bill. That law saved her career.

Posted by: DDAWD | February 22, 2011 9:28 AM | Report abuse

"And Tea Party whackjobbery spreads from coast to coast: Some sorely needed Tuesday tragicomic relief: Justin Elliott has a useful, if rather dispiriting, guide to all the whackjob Tea Party proposals being advanced in statehouses across the country."

Heh. While I actually like many of the "whackjob" proposals, some of them are definitely nuts (but sourced by a few whackos, so, IMHO, not emblematic of larger trends). One thing that is emblematic of a larger, Beck-fueled trend, is the fetishizing of gold.

Which mystifies me. The value of gold is not pegged to anything but speculative markets, and, more fundamentally, the agreed upon abstract psychological value to parties choose to give it any time (much like fiat money). The only difference between gold and fiat money is that fiat money can, in theory, be printed into valuelessness where as gold has a relatively fixed level of rarity. But inflation and devaluation act as checks on trying to print money ad infinitum and, even if it didn't--gold is as vulnerable to market manipulation, "runs" on gold that is titled but not physically held, etc., etc. It's a fantasy that gold offers more monetary security, except in exceedingly rare circumstances, than cash.

Also, there's this: "A Florida representative introduced "an act relating to the privacy of firearms owners," which would make it a third-degree felony for a doctor or nurse to inquire about a patient's firearm ownership. . . . The bill was introduced after a pediatrician allegedly told a mother to find another doctor after she refused to tell him whether she kept guns in her home."

How would a tea partier feel about a bill that prohibited asking someone if they had ever had an abortion, or mandated that a nurse treat someone they had religious objections to treating (someone wants a morning after pill, or whatever). The underlying principle--the state mandating that doctors and nurses can't ask questions and can't refuse treatment based on arbitrary criteria, and if they do, they should go to jail--doesn't sound very "individualistic" to me.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 22, 2011 9:32 AM | Report abuse

@Kevin

I agree that neither situation is likely - but both are certainly possible depending on who in the GOP gets nominated.

I think Pres. Obama will get re-elected, gut feeling. However, I'll wait until after the filing deadline - when we know all the possible candidates for the GOP - before I start thinking about it in detail.

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | February 22, 2011 9:35 AM | Report abuse

@DDAWD: "He might even feel that it will help him politically in his current career. Look what happened to Jan Brewer after signing that immigration bill. That law saved her career."

Yeah. I'm not sure this is quite the same thing. If for no other reason than who it affects--i.e., voters, friends of voters, people who provide services to voters, and folks who, irrespective of any sweet union deals, are generally doing things by the book and playing the game by the rules (even if some of the rules seem odd from the outside).

In the case of the Brewer bill, it was aimed directly at illegal immigrants who, by definition, aren't playing by the rules and can't legally vote and so on and so forth.

And I may be mistaken, but didn't the Brewer bill poll better, especially among independents and her own voters in Arizona?

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 22, 2011 9:36 AM | Report abuse

"And I may be mistaken, but didn't the Brewer bill poll better, especially among independents and her own voters in Arizona?

Posted by: Kevin_Willis"

I don't know about independents, but it definitely polled much better than the Wisconsin law. And definitely there are differences. My point is that a nutcase law worked in one place, so Walker might think it will work for him. He could be hoping that unions are as unpopular as brown people. Who knows what he will do now that there's some polling out there.

Posted by: DDAWD | February 22, 2011 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Good to see Koch getting some ink around here.

Those dirt bags with their Russian oil wealth, along with cancerous growths like like Murdoch, are tearing this country apart to spread their ideology.

Just off the top of my head I'd say 90% of the garbage from the right wing is pushed by those leeches of our society.

This is a game to them and regardless of it being written off by Kevin, they are using exploiting the American exceptionalism felt by the low level tea party activists to fuel their empires to control even more of the pie and game the system just a little more in their favor.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | February 22, 2011 9:44 AM | Report abuse

"Polls constantly show "generic GOP" candidates doing better because the actual candidates are so bad."

Problem is, the crazies have taken over the GOP and they won't stay quiet. 2012 will be taken over by nut jobs holding up where are the birth certificate signs and Michelle Obama is fat jokes as we here endlessly from Rush and his ilk.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | February 22, 2011 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Poor Rep. David Wu ( D, Oregon 1st) ...the resignation watch begins...he just appointed himself his own campaign treasurer and that ain't the only thing that just ain't right.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 22, 2011 9:54 AM | Report abuse

@mike: "Good to see Koch getting some ink around here."

Really? Isn't that kind of like saying, "Boy, I sure am glad Nancy Grace is talking about Natalie Holloway!" Or, "I sure am glad someone's finally covering what's up with Lindsay Lohan!"

"Just off the top of my head I'd say 90% of the garbage from the right wing is pushed by those leeches of our society."

I thought it was Haliburton. Darth Cheney. Prescott Bush. I can't keep up!

"This is a game to them and regardless of it being written off by Kevin, they are using exploiting the American exceptionalism felt by the low level tea party activists to fuel their empires to control even more of the pie and game the system just a little more in their favor."

Probably. At the same time, those folks have to kind of agree with the Koch-theory, and those opposed have to be doing a terrible job of making their case. This doesn't happen in a vacuum. Indeed, if all the Obama voters had shown up and voted for Democrats in 2010, we'd be discussing how conservatives and Republicans were going to be wandering in the wilderness for a generation. Did the Kochs keep wbgonne and his friends home on election day?

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 22, 2011 9:56 AM | Report abuse

@DDAWD; "He could be hoping that unions are as unpopular as brown people. Who knows what he will do now that there's some polling out there."

Could be. In any case, it may surprise you learn (as I'm sure it will surprise many liberals here!) that not all people with dark skin complexions are in this country illegally. In fact, most of them are not illegal immigrants--or even immigrants at all!

Most of them are actually citizens. By birth! Shocking, I know.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 22, 2011 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Really? Isn't that kind of like saying, "Boy, I sure am glad Nancy Grace is talking about Natalie Holloway!" Or, "I sure am glad someone's finally covering what's up with Lindsay Lohan!"

Why so defensive about Koch? Do you owe them something?

Keven, if marketing didn't have an influence on people, then I'd say you have a point but when a state like Wisconsin gets flooded by Koch money and now Walker has written into his budget giveaways to Koch industries, it's not some huge leap of logic to put the two together.

You've got Club for Growth running commercials up there and Koch busing in people to counter protest to protect their interests.

Sorry, but allowing those greedy jerks to game the system even further to sap state and local funding to give them even more tax breaks and lower wage standards so they'll have an even larger piece of the pie is a reality that is playing out.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | February 22, 2011 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Let's "place labor organization into its historical context."

FDR opposed public employee unions, which did not gain traction until 1962. Dust Bowl indeed.

Posted by: clawrence12 | February 22, 2011 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Cillizza posted a map purporting to show the "lean" of the states.

TX is shown as "competitive".

This after Rs won a super-majority in the Lege, so that D presence is unnecessary for a quorum.

ChuckInDenton and Troll in Houston will agree with me, I think, that TX remains "R" for most of the possible R nominees in 2012. Not enough can change in one year and eight months to counter that.

The map gets the second most populous state wrong [IMO].

Posted by: mark_in_austin | February 22, 2011 10:09 AM | Report abuse

@Kevin-

Who turns out to vote is one discussion, the $ that Koch and others can pour into lobbying, etc is another.
Krugman from a couple threads ago: "On paper, we're a one-person-one-vote nation; in reality, we're more than a bit of an oligarchy, in which a handful of wealthy people dominate.

In a way, you are denying the influence of the robber barons in the Gilded Age.

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | February 22, 2011 10:09 AM | Report abuse

I realize, everyone knows why the US government has been all but silent on Libya (recommending against non-essential travel there and hoping for peace, calling for restrain yadda, etc.) but it is quite sad.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 22, 2011 10:11 AM | Report abuse

"everyone knows why the US government has been all but silent on Libya"

Why's that? Oil?

Posted by: mikefromArlington | February 22, 2011 10:14 AM | Report abuse

mark, also he has WA leans Democratic instead of solid. I guess he thinks Dino Rossi is still positioned for victory in Washington, next time he gets enough money to run again, because Rasmussen says so.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 22, 2011 10:15 AM | Report abuse

@Mark_in_Austin

Unfortunately, yes. A couple days ago I posted the Dallas Morning News article on the growth of Hispanics in Texas and suggested that Democrats need to heed this. With Perry and the GOP bankrupting the state and slashing public education, there are a list of grievances that that demographic has with the Lege.

Texas is a rather large petri dish for the TeaBagging experiment. So far, its not looking too good...

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | February 22, 2011 10:15 AM | Report abuse

@Chuck: ""In a way, you are denying the influence of the robber barons in the Gilded Age.""

I'm not saying they have no influence, only that their influence is not universal (do you vote the way they tell you to?) and doesn't happen in a vacuum (otherwise, with the forces arrayed against him, how did Obama win in 2008?).

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 22, 2011 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Mike, not directly no, because Gaddafi needs an excuse; his mo has always been "the West will steal the oil unless he unites the tribes." If the US appears to be actively involved in toppling him, his retaliation against the opposition will be unrestrained. Obama has to work through the Arab League and regional Western players with established business relations with The Guide, like ENI (Italy) and of course, BP (England).

Posted by: shrink2 | February 22, 2011 10:23 AM | Report abuse

"I'm not saying they have no influence, only that their influence is not universal (do you vote the way they tell you to?)"

Not sure what universal means in regards to influence but, when you're getting inundated by marketing, it has an effect. API doesn't run those oil commercials hundreds of times a day because they think it's fun. They run them to change peoples perception.

When the Koch's funnel their money into states like Wis and blanket the state with candidates that will support their cause, which is to get more energy contracts and lower their taxes at the cost of teachers pay, there is an argument to be made their influence is out of balance.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | February 22, 2011 10:27 AM | Report abuse

@Kevin-

Agreed. I think we have to acknowledge that voting every two years is only one part of the equation. Meanwhile, what the monied do 365 on the Hill and at the Statehouse is the rest of it.

Notice that I don't call it out by Party or ideology.

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | February 22, 2011 10:28 AM | Report abuse

-U.S. Consumer Confidence Rose in February to Three-Year High-

Confidence among U.S. consumers rose in February to the highest level in three years as Americans became more optimistic about their incomes and the economy.

The Conference Board’s index of sentiment increased to 70.4, the highest since February 2008, from 64.8 the prior month, figures from the New York-based private research group showed today. Economists projected the gauge would be little changed at 65.5, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey.

A pickup in optimism and job gains may encourage Americans to increase purchases, bolstering consumer spending, the biggest part of the economy.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-02-22/u-s-consumer-confidence-rose-in-february-to-three-year-high.html

Posted by: ronnieandrush | February 22, 2011 10:30 AM | Report abuse

@political wire:

"No, I'm a Republican from Massachusetts. I'm not a Tea Party member."

-- Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), when asked by USA Today whether identifies as a member of the Tea Party movement.

Posted by: ronnieandrush | February 22, 2011 10:34 AM | Report abuse

"A pickup in optimism and job gains may encourage Americans to increase purchases, bolstering consumer spending, the biggest part of the economy."

That's until this endless cycle to keep us addicted to oil crushes us.

I'm really getting sick and tired of our country being addicted to oil the way it is. If at the very least our trucking companies could shift to natural gas shipping prices of goods would be driven down.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | February 22, 2011 10:38 AM | Report abuse

This poll is crap-garbage in- garbage out. I used to be a high up in the union up in MI. We put these things out whenever we needed to try and sway politicians and our friendly media. No longer in the union and no longer a democrat, but I still received my email from OFA last Mon telling me to head to WI. If you have to bus in people and resort to push polls(COMMISSIONED by the AFL-CIO,really?)and done by a democratic firm, you are just projecting. Get out in the country of Wi and ask REAL people and not astroturf planted by OFA and unions from other states. It is way too obvious and I promise you no one will be swayed by any of it. Obama has really painted himself into a corner on this one, only 12 percent of this country are in a union-he sided with them, leaving a huge 88% to pay the bill for his favored political donors. See thru as saran wrap and done with so much of a yester year mentality. The 60s are over.

Posted by: sayoung809132001 | February 22, 2011 10:40 AM | Report abuse

"Home prices hit post-bust lows in most big cities."

They have to keep going down until the rate of foreclosure turns negative (fewer/time), yet there will be more homes entering foreclosure this year than last.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 22, 2011 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Koch and Walker for finally uniting all Democratic voters behind a cause!

Posted by: mikefromArlington | February 22, 2011 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Wow, I've never seen so many ex-democrats here in one day, LOL. If your interests align with Koch Industries in WI just say so. You're entitled to your opinion. It's reminiscent of all those new Libertarians who didn't like Bush anyway.......................

The unions, whether you like them or not, didn't cause the economic sh!tstorm, but while the R's increase the deficits in both the states and the nation with tax cuts (aided and abetted by some Dems), they're sure having fun trying to exact the payment from the middle class. I guess being in the hole for the last 30 years just isn't quite long enough yet.

Posted by: lmsinca | February 22, 2011 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Good stuff from Adam Serwer taking on David Brooks's argument today about Wisconsin:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2011/02/draft_4.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | February 22, 2011 10:57 AM | Report abuse

"I guess being in the hole for the last 30 years just isn't quite long enough yet."

Agree 100% with your comments, lmsinca, especially about balancing tax cuts for the rich with deep cuts to social programs that benefit the middle class.

I'd just add a rhetorical question about the politics of it all...

When will they ever learn that "small government" by tyranny just doesn't work?

Posted by: ronnieandrush | February 22, 2011 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Amazing how Republicans are for cutting benefits for teachers while any sort of cut to a millionaire would be socialism!

It's an orchestrated attack on the middle and lower class.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | February 22, 2011 10:59 AM | Report abuse

"It's an orchestrated attack on the middle and lower class."

Yup!

Redistribution of wealth carried out by central government planning.

Their complaints about Democrats are pure Orwellian propaganda "catapulted" by Fox Newspeak.

Posted by: ronnieandrush | February 22, 2011 11:04 AM | Report abuse

there are many who believe that when Cornwallis ultimately surrendered at yorktown, the band played "the world turned upside down".

Well, perhaps it is time to recall that tune. Here in American at the opening of the 21st century we see the self styled "progressives" desperately attempting to preserve a status quo while the so call "conservatives" are working hard to change things.

Perhaps this is why there are reports that the magnetic north pole is "wandering". the more the progressives try to preserve the deal that the public service employees enjoy, the stronger the compass variation. Why, the astroturf rentamob in Madison and elsewhere might a major cause of global warming, no wait, make that climate change. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Oh and here's a definition of "whackjobbery": Anything that Mr Sargent finds politically unpalatable.

If a liberal were to tell America back in 1975 that the incandescent lightbulb was a root cause of severe climate change, everyone then would have thought he or she was a whackjobber. Now, only the majority of us think that. Progress, right guys?

Posted by: skipsailing28 | February 22, 2011 11:08 AM | Report abuse

"If a liberal were to tell America back in 1975 that the incandescent lightbulb was a root cause of severe climate change"

What's the deal with being proud of your ignorance?

It's like some sort of badge of honor these days in conservative circles. I don't get it.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | February 22, 2011 11:11 AM | Report abuse

"while the so call "conservatives" are working hard to change things."

Going back to 19th century rules and regulations is not change. It's called regression. Been there done that. Thanks but no thanks.

Enjoy your expensive, inefficient light bulbs while they last, because they're rightfully going the way of the horse and buggy and the rotary phone.

Posted by: ronnieandrush | February 22, 2011 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for checking in, Comrade skip.

Turned in any fellow citizens yet today?

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | February 22, 2011 1:20 PM | Report abuse

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