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Posted at 1:19 PM ET, 02/18/2011

The stakes in Wisconsin, ctd.

By Greg Sargent

E.J. Dionne makes an important point about what Governor Scott Walker's proposal is really designed to accomplish:

It's not unreasonable for the politicians who lead those jurisdictions to ask for givebacks from public employees: Wage freezes, higher pension or health-care contributions, furloughs, which amount to wage cuts, or even, in dire circumstances, outright wage cuts. Yes, and there are always layoffs. We might disagree among ourselves over how much is reasonable to ask of public employees in various circumstances, but I don't think there's a disagreement of principle over the fact that big budget deficits can justify tough remedies.

But this isn't just about budgets -- or even primarily about budgets. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is drumming up a crisis to change the very nature of the relationship between public workers and the government.

Ezra Klein adds more smart analysis:

If all Walker was doing was reforming public employee benefits, I'd have little problem with it. There's too much deferred compensation in public employee packages, and though the blame for that structure lies partially with the government officials and state residents who wanted to pay later for services now, it's true that situations change and unsustainable commitments require reforms. But that's not what Walker is doing. He's attacking the right to bargain collectively -- which is to say, he's attacking the very foundation of labor unions, and of worker power -- and using an economic crisis unions didn't cause, and a budget reversal that Walker himself helped create, to justify it.

Indeed. And it's important to add more context: As I laid out here yesterday, this is only one of many national proposals being pushed by state governments across the country designed to achieve similarly transformative changes in that relationship between public workers and government.

Pro-labor and anti-labor people I've spoken with in recent days both agree that a defeat in Wisconsin could make it easier for other similar initiatives to advance. One anti-union activist I spoke to yesterday made it clear that if labor loses here, anti-union forces will point to the defeat to stiffen the spines of other governments who are eyeing similarly transformative efforts but might be wary of a battle on the scale of the one unfolding in Wisconsin. This is just the beginning.

By Greg Sargent  | February 18, 2011; 1:19 PM ET
Categories:  Labor  
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Comments

The Governor of Wisconsin is taking away an individuals right to collective bargaining. Personally, I have never belonged to or supported a union but that seems to be beside the point. As an individual, I have that right.
The Governor chose to create a deficit by passing tax cuts and spending cuts and then decide that those the least able to benefit, pay the costs. As long as people remain silent, it will be the end of the middle class as we know it.

Posted by: Judy_L | February 18, 2011 1:27 PM | Report abuse

'it will be the end of the middle class as we know it"

There is nothing in The Bible about protecting the middle class and upward class mobility is clearly attacked in several passages.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 18, 2011 1:30 PM | Report abuse

The GOP pledge of Malfeasance:

"The Pledge of Malfeasance
I pledge allegiance to the Dollar of the United Serfs of America and to the Plutocracy for which it stands. One Corpor-nation, under the Almighty Buck, too big to be divisible, with lobbyists, Supreme Court Justices, bought-out media, deregulation, no safety nets nor unions, extreme economic disparity, bailouts for rich crooks, a massive defense budget and military-industrial complex, and falsely pretexted war profiteering, paid for only by those with little means. (To be solemnly sworn while placing hand over wallet).

Posted by: grosmec | February 18, 2011 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Good time to point this out from Ben Smith:

"Poll: Public unions a hard sell

"A new poll from the Washington-based Clarus Group asked:

"Do you think government employees should be represented by labor unions that bargain for higher pay, benefits and pensions ... or do you think government employees should not be represented by labor unions?

"A full 64% of the respondents said "no."

"That includes 42% of Democrats, and an overwhelming majority of Republicans. Only 49% of Democrats think public workers should be in unions at all.

"That's on the fundamental right to organize, before you get to wages and benefits. And that puts Scott Walker in a pretty good political place.

"(... One note: Clarus is a division of the global corporate public relations giant Qorvis, not exactly a labor bastion.)"

http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/0211/Poll_Public_unions_a_hard_sell.html?showall

Posted by: sbj3 | February 18, 2011 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Laugh, using Qorvis is akin to when Republicans were quoting The Lewin Group studies during the health care debate.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | February 18, 2011 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Can you, or Politico the mouthpiece for the right wing, give us a track record of that groups polling?

Anyone can do a poll.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | February 18, 2011 1:45 PM | Report abuse

@Mike: Do you want to deny that union support is at historic lows and the public sees little difference between public and private unions? (Per pew?)

http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/02/support-for-labor-unions-remains-at-near-historic-low.php

Other interesting tidbits from WaPo:

"Three-quarters of those who were surveyed in an October Washington Post poll said they believe federal workers get better pay and benefits than people doing similar jobs outside the government, and 52 percent said government employees are overpaid.

"When the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll this month sampled public opinion on the major proposals that were put forward by the president's deficit and debt reduction commission, the most popular by far - and the only one deemed "totally acceptable" by a majority of respondents - was freezing the salaries of federal employees and members of Congress for three years."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/20/AR2010122005225.html

Posted by: sbj3 | February 18, 2011 1:52 PM | Report abuse

This just in:

The Republican Party's top two issues are:

* Collective bargaining
* Women's right to choose to have an abortion

Not jobs.
Not the economy.
Not the debt.
Not manufacturing.
Not energy.
Not Wall Street reform.
Not helping the Middle Class.
Not reducing health care premiums.
Not consumer safety.

Nope.

It's been pedal to the metal, balls-to-the-wall, full-steam-ahead, my-way-or-the-highway, ramming down our throats...

Collective bargaining.
Women's right to choose.

Those are the top two issues in America.

They are saying that we, as a country, need to go back to the "good old days" of the industrial revolution. Before labor laws, before women's rights, before civil rights, before environmental regulations...

The Republican party is simply hell-bent-for-leather on an aggressive attempt to roll back over 100 years of American progress.

And this dramatic attempt to turn back the clock to the days of rampant inequality and injustice has all taken place over the past few weeks.

No wonder people are pissed. Maybe they should have thought about that.

Backlash. It's gonna getcha. U betcha.

Posted by: ronnieandrush | February 18, 2011 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Couple of things worth linking to:

"The Trouble with Public Sector Unions" from National Affairs

"When it comes to advancing their interests, public-sector unions have significant advantages over traditional unions. For one thing, using the political process, they can exert far greater influence over their members' employers — that is, government — than private-sector unions can. Through their extensive political activity, these government-workers' unions help elect the very politicians who will act as "management" in their contract negotiations — in effect handpicking those who will sit across the bargaining table from them, in a way that workers in a private corporation (like, say, American Airlines or the Washington Post Company) cannot. Such power led Victor Gotbaum, the leader of District Council 37 of the AFSCME in New York City, to brag in 1975: "We have the ability, in a sense, to elect our own boss."

Since public-sector unions began to develop in earnest, their importance in political campaigns has grown by leaps and bounds. Starting from almost nothing in the 1960s, government-workers' unions now far exceed private-sector unions in political contributions. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, from 1989 to 2004, the AFSCME was the biggest spender in America, giving nearly $40 million to candidates in federal elections (98.5% of it to Democrats). It is important to stress that this was spending on federal elections; the union represents mostly state and local workers. But given the magnitude of federal contributions to state budgets, the AFSCME is heavily involved in electioneering to shape Washington's spending in ways that protect public workers and the supply of government services. And so over that 15-year period, the AFSCME was willing and able to outspend any other organization in the country."

http://www.nationalaffairs.com/publications/detail/the-trouble-with-public-sector-unions

And of course the letter from FDR to the National Federation of Federal Employees in 1937:

"All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management. The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with Government employee organizations. The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives in Congress. Accordingly, administrative officials and employees alike are governed and guided, and in many instances restricted, by laws which establish policies, procedures, or rules in personnel matters."

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

Posted by: jnc4p | February 18, 2011 1:53 PM | Report abuse

What does any of that polling prove? That the unions are wrong?

Posted by: mikefromArlington | February 18, 2011 1:56 PM | Report abuse

@jnc4p: Ooh, that letter from FDR is killer!

Posted by: sbj3 | February 18, 2011 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Re: the quote above.

Funny how the right is always saying that government should function just like a business. Except of course where workers' rights are concerned, in which case government is nothing like a business.

Posted by: Virginia7 | February 18, 2011 1:58 PM | Report abuse

The taxpayer is funding these “days of protest,” engaged in by the public-school teachers. They are using their “sick” leave, provided by the taxpayer, to go rallying.

And what are the other citizens of Wisconsin — the majority — doing? What they always do. Going about their business, or businesses; providing for their families. As we speak, some are having to stay home with their school-aged children, who have been locked out of their classrooms by their teachers — their “teachers.”

Ordinary Wisconsinites aren’t paid to go rallying in the capital. Besides, they “rallied” at the polls last November. They had their say then. And now, Governor Walker and the rest are trying to conduct the people’s business.

At this critical hour, Wisconsin’s elected officials should remember for whom they work. And they should take courage in that remembering. They work for all the citizens, not just the union thugs who can take time off (paid!) to shout and bully.

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | February 18, 2011 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Not jobs.
Not the economy.
Not the debt.
Not manufacturing.
Not energy.
Not Wall Street reform.
Not helping the Middle Class.
Not reducing health care premiums.
Not consumer safety.

Just to pile on...

Not Peace on Earth (that is just for Xmas eve)
Not a great education for all
Not about kids, unless they aren't even born
Not fighting corruption
Not campaign finance transparency
Not freedom and liberty for all
Not truth
Not justice
Republicans: Not the American Way

Posted by: shrink2 | February 18, 2011 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Virginia -- don't worry. I always thought FDR was full of crap too.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | February 18, 2011 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Well, if I were a business, I'd try and strip the rights of my workers. Also, if my main revenue stream was taxes, wouldn't a business owner raise taxes as high as reasonably possible?

But in any case, this is the point I was making last night. That this isn't simply about specific benefits or wages, but it's more of an existential conflict of simple bargaining rights.

Posted by: DDAWD | February 18, 2011 2:02 PM | Report abuse

These “public employees” in Wisconsin remind me of Castro's goons in Cuba. There, the dictatorship sends its thugs to the homes of those suspected of not supporting statism. They scream, beat on things, denounce, and threaten. The idea is, the “disloyal” Cubans are supposed to quake in their homes, and they do. These tactics are called actos de repudio — “acts of repudiation.” They are a mainstay of Cuban revolutionaries.

In Wisconsin, the schoolteachers and other “public employee” beauties are now going to the homes of Republican lawmakers, screaming, denouncing, etc.

The situation has gotten very bad. Republican lawmakers have received threats, and credible ones: threats to their physical well-being. They are not disclosing their movements, whether they are sleeping in their own homes. They are working with law enforcement on how best to protect themselves and their families.
http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/260040/be-republican-lawmaker-madison-jay-nordlinger

This is not democracy. This is thugocracy.

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | February 18, 2011 2:04 PM | Report abuse

@mike: "What does any of that polling prove? That the unions are wrong?"

I'm not sure I'm trying to prove anything, but the polling supports the idea that the argument Walker and others are making is resonating. That is, public worker health and pension benefits are busting state budgets. And it's scaring Democrats because they depend on the union block for votes.

Posted by: sbj3 | February 18, 2011 2:04 PM | Report abuse

sbj3- Do you interpret those polls to mean that people would support ending/restricting collective bargaining rights?

Out of curiousity, I looked for some information on Wisconisn teacher salaries and found this site:
http://teacherportal.com/salary/Wisconsin-teacher-salary

There were some other sites, but the range of average salary I saw was from $46,000 to $52,000. With a starting salary of aroudn $30,000. Now whether that makes teachers overpaid or not, particularly when you take into account pension and health care, is a rather subjective judgment, but these salaries put teachers pretty firmly in the middle to upper middle class.

It also makes skip's claim that they have a lifestyle we can only dream of pretty laughable.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | February 18, 2011 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Nice shrink2, well done!

Posted by: ronnieandrush | February 18, 2011 2:04 PM | Report abuse

@sbj-

Those polls mean squat. I could care less about what people "believe"-I wast actual figures. It may just mean they don't know themeselves and are just parroting talking points.

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | February 18, 2011 2:07 PM | Report abuse

meant to be "I want facts..."

apologize for misstype...

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | February 18, 2011 2:09 PM | Report abuse

"These “public employees” in Wisconsin remind me of Castro's goons in Cuba. "

Just like skip, Kaddafi tries to turn teachers into goons and thugs.

Both of you live in some sort of alternate reality.

And sbj, if you subtract right wing rejects like the two above, knock another 20%-30% off of those polls that don't prove who is right or wrong.

Regardless, perception shaped from deception means jack, no matter how you spin it.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | February 18, 2011 2:10 PM | Report abuse

I think before politicians decide to abolish public sector unions. We the people need to demand the government to abolish all political parties, the biggest public sector unions in the country. Collusion within a party, i.e. Republican party, is no different what unions do to protect their members. Abolish all lobbyist and contributions and move to publicly funded campaigning. Only then can we 'begin' removing the money corrupting politicians.

The Governor of Wisconsin is only placating to his campaign and party contributors. Remove the motivation and what's happening there today would not be happening.

Posted by: ruiz1 | February 18, 2011 2:11 PM | Report abuse

ashot: "but the range of average salary I saw was from $46,000 to $52,000. With a starting salary of around $30,000. "

Considering that many teachers have a masters degree, that's not much money.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | February 18, 2011 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Kadaffi- I do draw the line at threats and going to the actual homes of the Republicans in Wisconsin. That's crossing the line.

I'm not sure if the FDR quote clearly supports what Scott is trying to do and it's even less clear that what Scott is trying to do is even necessary. Not a single poster that I have seen has attempted to say the restrictions proposed by Scott are necessary to get to a balanced budget. Rather the posts largely name call and attack public unions (pro-union posts also name call) while others offer more reasoned critiques of public sector unions, they still don't dispute that furloughs, pension contributions and increased health care contributions could solve the problem.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | February 18, 2011 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Thanks to ronnieandrush on previous thread...

Obvious partisan B.S. from Little Hosni. You'll get no consistency from his little fiefdom regarding "collective bargaining".

Can you imagine what kind of characterizations if it were a Democratic Gov. sticking it to the police?

Actually, all we have to do is read Comrade skip and Friends to see how Faux would paint Democrats...

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | February 18, 2011 2:16 PM | Report abuse

"Just like skip, Kaddafi tries to turn teachers into goons and thugs."

I think we found the reason these two are such bitter clowns.

Their kindergarden teachers forced them to learn how to read and count and they've never gotten over the humiliation of such leftist thuggery.

Of course, they also stopped their education at that point too. Just to, ya know, show em.

Posted by: ronnieandrush | February 18, 2011 2:17 PM | Report abuse

"Their kindergarden teachers forced them to learn how to read and count and they've never gotten over the humiliation of such leftist thuggery."

Maybe they have a point. Remember, these guys think the Bush tax cuts aren't contributing to the deficit, so it's not like their first grade teachers did such a swell job with them.

Posted by: DDAWD | February 18, 2011 2:19 PM | Report abuse

You got it Chuck. You betcha! :)

Posted by: ronnieandrush | February 18, 2011 2:19 PM | Report abuse

To be honest, I don't know why anyone coming from graduate school would want to become a teacher.

As happened in the 80's during Reagan's presidency, states were left on their own to deal with their budgets and tens of thousands of highly skilled teachers left for other professions.

Today, Republican Gov's across the U.S., instead of asking for shared sacrifice during this enormous downturn, target those who vote Democratic traditionally which perpetuates the endless cycle.

The reason they vote Democratic is because Republican's don't give a crap about public teachers. They want the entire system privatized so only the wealthy can afford school and a few unfortunate that win some sort of lottery.

Republicans seem to not care for the greater good of society it appears at times.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | February 18, 2011 2:21 PM | Report abuse

for any who weren't around yesterday: skip advocated KGB-style spying on the protesters by photographing them to see who their employers are for retribution.

So you can describe it as "namecalling" when I call him "Comrade skip", but I appeal to the ghosts of the Warsaw ghettos and the gulags for judgement.

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | February 18, 2011 2:21 PM | Report abuse

@ashot: "They still don't dispute that furloughs, pension contributions and increased health care contributions could solve the problem."

I think the argument is that without collective bargaining reform, the increased contributions will simply be reduced in future negotiations.

Posted by: sbj3 | February 18, 2011 2:21 PM | Report abuse

OMG SHOCKER! (just kidding)

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker: Funded by the Koch Bros.

Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker, whose bill to kill collective bargaining rights for public-sector unions has caused an uproar among state employees, might not be where he is today without the Koch brothers.

...

According to Wisconsin campaign finance filings, Walker's gubernatorial campaign received $43,000 from the Koch Industries PAC during the 2010 election. That donation was his campaign's second-highest, behind $43,125 in contributions from housing and realtor groups in Wisconsin. The Koch's PAC also helped Walker via a familiar and much-used politicial maneuver designed to allow donors to skirt campaign finance limits. The PAC gave $1 million to the Republican Governors Association, which in turn spent $65,000 on independent expenditures to support Walker. The RGA also spent a whopping $3.4 million on TV ads and mailers attacking Walker's opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Walker ended up beating Barrett by 5 points. The Koch money, no doubt, helped greatly.

http://motherjones.com/mojo/2011/02/wisconsin-scott-walker-koch-brothers

Posted by: ronnieandrush | February 18, 2011 2:24 PM | Report abuse

[mikey sneered: "Kaddafi tries to turn teachers into goons and thugs."]

Not I. This thuggery is orchestrated by their union thug handlers. The cited EVIDENCE demonstrates this-- don't beat the messenger.
http://www.examiner.com/conservative-in-spokane/is-the-president-responsible-for-threats-and-violence-wisconsin

Recall, it was SEIU union-goons (inspired by Obama's calls to "punch back twice as hard") who actually assaulted black tax protester, Ken Gladney, while screaming racial epithets.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTXBOgPCh9w

*so progressive*

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | February 18, 2011 2:26 PM | Report abuse

I'm tired of these Koch brothers trying to subvert Democracy and undermine our laws so they can game the system even further.

They are pushing their libertarian utopia on this country. Those two are a danger to American traditions and our society as a whole.

Enemies of the state as far as I'm concerned.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | February 18, 2011 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Welcome to the tax revolt reckoning. Elections have consequences.

Your revolution is over, progressives. Condolences.

The bums lost. My advice is to do what your parents did; get a job, sir.

The bums will always lose. Do you hear me, Lebowski? The bums will always lose!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBFaaDmpieI&feature=related

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | February 18, 2011 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Kaddafi, better hide under your bed. Your kindergarten teacher is coming after you with a club and tommy gun!

Posted by: mikefromArlington | February 18, 2011 2:30 PM | Report abuse

America- the best democracy money can buy.

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | February 18, 2011 2:31 PM | Report abuse

"To be honest, I don't know why anyone coming from graduate school would want to become a teacher."

I do! I know lots of them. It isn't for the money. They can't do it for free and the good ones deserve to be paid very well. $30,000 to start going up into the 50s and 60s, wow...salary is not the issue. Not at all. Neither are working conditions, nor benefits.

I can tell you why some elements of the educated (who knows what is wrong with Republicans) American public does not like teachers' unions. They protect the few, the terrible teachers. They do. If teachers' unions could figure out how to stop protecting terrible teachers, it wouldn't change any Republican minds (conservative and change don't ride together) but it would be a good thing for the schools.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 18, 2011 2:31 PM | Report abuse

"Your revolution is just starting"

There, fixed it for you.

Now, I wonder if your buddy, tweedle dumb will come to defend you and ask me if I want to violently revolt, or something.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | February 18, 2011 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Kaddafi-

You must be a Liberal plant because you can't possibly post the Big Lebowski quote without knowledge of the entire movie or the context of that scene.
If you are serious,...well, I just can't help you there.

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | February 18, 2011 2:34 PM | Report abuse

mikey we already know you're revolting.

Your revolution is over, progressives. Condolences.

The bums lost. My advice is to do what your parents did; get a job, sir.

The bums will always lose. Do you hear me, Lebowski? The bums will always lose!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBFaaDmpieI&feature=related

*Hippies Smell*

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | February 18, 2011 2:35 PM | Report abuse

"They want the entire system privatized so only the wealthy can afford school and a few unfortunate that win some sort of lottery."

If you don't want nonsense like no child left behind, or religious bigots in Texas dictating what textbooks are bought, and idiotic zero-tolerance policies, better to remove the entire system from the political arena.

This is a great way to make a dinner party go deathly silent --

"we should just close all the public schools."

and amazingly enough, the push back is about child-care concerns, teachers and the desire to not spend their own money when the taxpayers can do it for you -- it's never about the kids and the quality of education. and i live NoVA, which is getting more progressive by the minute


Posted by: NoVAHockey | February 18, 2011 2:37 PM | Report abuse

I would hope the governor can suspend the pay of the fleeing Democrats. If they want to grandstand, fine, but they can do it on their own dime, not the taxpayer's.

Posted by: sold2u | February 18, 2011 2:37 PM | Report abuse

@shrink2 "If teachers' unions could figure out how to stop protecting terrible teachers, it wouldn't change any Republican minds (conservative and change don't ride together) but it would be a good thing for the schools."

There's nothing to figure out, simply the will to change. However, the purpose of the teachers union is to protect the teachers jobs, including the bad ones, and increase their salaries and benefits not improve education.

Posted by: jnc4p | February 18, 2011 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Breaking: "Mahatma Obama Condemns* Violence Against Middle East Protesters"
http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_OBAMA_MIDEAST?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2011-02-18-13-17-20

[*Condemnation of DNC-union thuggery in Wisconsin tax excluded.]
http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/0211/DNC_playing_role_in_Wisconsin_protests.html

*leadership*

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | February 18, 2011 2:40 PM | Report abuse

"A Little Rebellion Now and Then Is A Good Thing" - Thomas Jefferson (Author of the Declaration of Independence; framer of the US Constitution)

Posted by: ruiz1 | February 18, 2011 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Also shrink2:

"The last example of that is education reform and all I'll say about this, is that in my state, where we spend $17,620 per pupil per year, the highest in America, $24,000 per pupil in city of Newark, $28,000 in Asbury Park, and we have 104,000 students trapped in 200 failing schools across NJ and the education establishment says "don't worry help is on the way". And the help that's on the way is more money, more money. Well more money is not going to solve this problem until we take on the issues that really causing the problem, and until we as Americans are willing to do that final tough thing, which is to look the teacher's union across America in the eye and say to them 'you do not represent the best the teachers have to offer, you often represent the worst'. And it's time for us to honestly say, that we can separate the teachers from the union. We have great teachers in New Jersey, working hard and making a huge difference in the lives of many children, but we don't have enough of them. And one of the reason why we don't have enough of them is because the bad teachers who remain with lifetime tenure are crowding out opportunity for the good ones, and then when you have reductions the last ones in are the first ones out, because all that matters is seniority, and not talent. And so we send a new generation of teachers, good enthusiastic teachers away because we have built a system, as Michelle Rhee put better than I could, that cares more about the feelings of adults than it cares about the future of our children. I will not take responsibility for that approach. I will not take responsibility for leaving a generation of children behind in America. I won't do it. And we need to speak out and say it's time to fix that system. Tell me where else in America, well really there's two places, left in America where there's a profession where there is no reward for excellence and no consequence for failure. Of course we all the first one is weathermen. It doesn't matter, it's going to snow 6 inches, it snows 18. Well I said it was going to snow what's the difference? And they're right back on TV the next night. Unfortunately the second one is teaching. Because the great teacher, the only reward they get is the psychic reward of knowing that they've done a great job for the children in their classroom. And the teacher next door, the lousy teacher who doesn't care gets paid the same as the teacher who stays late and comes early, the same as the teacher who communicates with parents, the same as the teacher who feels it his or her their personal responsibility to lift each child up to the next grade.

That's not what America is. America is built on rewarding excellence and having consequence for failure."

It's Time to Do the Big Things
By Gov. Chris Christie | A Speech at The American Enterprise Institute
(February 16, 2011)

http://www.aei.org/speech/100195

Posted by: jnc4p | February 18, 2011 2:42 PM | Report abuse

It's certain that unions are held in lower regard than they were 40 or 30 or 20 years ago. The assault on unionism that took place under Reagan here and Thatcher in Britain was a consequence not merely of their affection for Hayek but of a concerted effort from the corporate sector to paint unions in a negative light. Unions, like governments, stood as institutions which had the size, organization and power to block or temper capitalist dynamics - they weren't seen as allies or even as legitimate competitors in the community, they were seen as enemies to be done away with. If you perceive a similar attitude and set of strategies from the corporate sector presently towards government, you'd have it right.

Posted by: bernielatham | February 18, 2011 2:43 PM | Report abuse

"...I live NoVA, which is getting more progressive by the minute..."

But I thought Gillespie sold Bob McDonnell to NoVA, Mr. Confederate Hx week, the alt-conservative. So, does NoVA have buyer's remorse too?

Posted by: shrink2 | February 18, 2011 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Tennessee Republicans Move To Eliminate Labor Rights For Teachers

Wheeeeeeee!

The Senate Education Committee voted along party lines Wednesday to abolish collective bargaining between teachers unions and school boards across the state.

The vote was 6-3, with all Republicans on the panel voting for the bill and all Democrats against.

http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/02/tennessee-republicans-move-to-eliminate-labor-rights-for-teachers.php

Down with teachers!

Stop Teaching!

We are broke and can't afford to educate our children any more. The only thing we can do is STOP THE TEACHING! And of course, we must all bow down to our Koch overlords (or they release the dogs and goons on camel-back with whips and chains). Ommmmmm! Yes Koch. Anything you say Koch. We will do anything for Koch. Ommmmmmmmmm!

Posted by: ronnieandrush | February 18, 2011 2:44 PM | Report abuse

sbj3- "I think the argument is that without collective bargaining reform, the increased contributions will simply be reduced in future negotiations."

You're the first I've seen make that argument. Maybe that will be true, but maybe the contributions can be reduced in the future because tax revenues will increase thanks to all the business Governor Scott will bring in with his other budget moves.

Your response also reinforces the idea that this crisis is going to be used to try and kill off these unions, even if the crisis has to be manufactured.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | February 18, 2011 2:47 PM | Report abuse

ChuckinDenton: Serious? My instructive video demonstrates how serious Governor Scott is about spending cuts.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBFaaDmpieI&feature=related

*hippies still smell*

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | February 18, 2011 2:47 PM | Report abuse

@ashotinthedark "Your response also reinforces the idea that this crisis is going to be used to try and kill off these unions, even if the crisis has to be manufactured. "

AKA solving the long term problem.

Posted by: jnc4p | February 18, 2011 2:48 PM | Report abuse

All, new polling on public employee unions:

http://wapo.st/hhx9Z8

Posted by: Greg Sargent | February 18, 2011 2:48 PM | Report abuse

"That's not what America is. America is built on rewarding excellence and having consequence for failure."

Nice, comfortable myth. But the examples of counter-factuals here are so broad and deep as to make the notion laughable.

Posted by: bernielatham | February 18, 2011 2:48 PM | Report abuse

"So, does NoVA have buyer's remorse too?"

Do you mean me or the area? The relationship with the gov is weird here, because he's limited to one term. so nobody gets worked up about throwing him out office or talking about how great he is. cause he's gone in few years.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | February 18, 2011 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Why are they not including cops and firemen in this? Aren't they also not "protecting" bad employees? Jeebus, you see some of those lazy cops eating donuts or how fat and slovenly those fireman are?

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | February 18, 2011 2:49 PM | Report abuse

"However, the purpose of the teachers union is to protect the teachers jobs, including the bad ones, and increase their salaries and benefits not improve education."


Hmmm...sounds eerily similar to what the purpose of corporations are. They are just there to make profit not improve the country. Odd that one is a menace that must be stopped and the other an American tradition that must be protected.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | February 18, 2011 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Gov. Christie is a dick. It takes no creativity to cut costs and taxes for Corp's and Rich. Indirectly raise taxes on the middle class by cutting subsidies for public transportation and towns. He asks again, a typical Republican command, that the middle class carry the load. The Poor can't get to work if they can't afford to take the train or Bus to where the jobs are.

My America is also about social responsibility.

Posted by: ruiz1 | February 18, 2011 2:52 PM | Report abuse

jnc, don't push my buttons, I've said it before, I am rooting for that guy.

"There's nothing to figure out, simply the will to change."

I have had this talk, about measuring teaching quality and rewarding it, the whole nation has. It isn't just about test results but that matters, it isn't about productivity benchmarks, but showing up prepared matters. We know bad teaching when we see it and we know good teaching...it is a little close to home because psychoTx is a very complex form of education. A separate topic though, we should get back to hurling insults.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 18, 2011 2:52 PM | Report abuse

wow is this interesting:
============
But this isn't just about budgets -- or even primarily about budgets. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is drumming up a crisis to change the very nature of the relationship between public workers and the government
===================


Is the govenor drumming up a crisis? I doubt it. that's just more weenie liberal hand wringing. Who was it that said: never let a crisis go to waste?

Came back to bite ya didn't it my marxists co commenters?

next, you bet we're trying to change the nature of the relationship.

And the liberals are acting like wife beaters who cannot believe that their spouses won't take it anymore. Instead of simply putting up with the abuse we're fighting back. And like wife beaters, the liberals have absolutely no idea what to do now.

Beating the Missus has always worked before. "what do you mean we can't just continue to beat you? You never complained about getting beat before. Why is it an issue now?"

And yes, these people in streets of Madison are thugs. If they were teachers they would be in the class room. Instead they are issuing threats and attempting to thwart the will of the people. The govenor was clear about what he would do if elected. Let's take a page from the Obama play book: He won, the union backed Democrats lost. Elections have consequences.

Poor babies on the left. It looks like grim times coming for liberalism. Apparently the marxists in America have run out of other people's money.


Posted by: skipsailing28 | February 18, 2011 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Chris Christie said: ""That's not what America is. America is built on rewarding excellence and having consequence for failure.""

... unless you're in banking, finance or insurance. Then, you can rob, rape, pillage and murder with impunity.
.

Posted by: jprestonian | February 18, 2011 3:01 PM | Report abuse

"Is the govenor drumming up a crisis? I doubt it. that's just more weenie liberal hand wringing."

Several links have been provided over the last several days supporting this position.

"The govenor was clear about what he would do if elected."

He said he would end collective bargaining rights for public unions that didn't vote for him, but keep them in place for public unions that voted for him? You have a link to suppor that he was "clear" about this?

Posted by: ashotinthedark | February 18, 2011 3:01 PM | Report abuse

By sbj3 February 18, 2011 -

""Do you think government employees should be represented by labor unions that bargain for higher pay, benefits and pensions ... or do you think government employees should not be represented by labor unions?

"A full 64% of the respondents said "no.""

How many voters were paid by corporations? It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that the corporations staged this entire mess, and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that they will do anything to make it appear as an invalid fight. COLLECTIVE BARGAINING HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE ECONOMIC CRISIS SO CLAIMED BY THE GOVERNOR. It does however have to do with the future income of not only the union employees, but the private sector in the very near future.

If you all think for one minute that the corporations are not on an organized mission, you are sadly mistaken. Biblically, these rich corporations, hording all they can and taking more are satanic.

Posted by: TessTy | February 18, 2011 3:08 PM | Report abuse

skip: ""Is the govenor drumming up a crisis? I doubt it. that's just more weenie liberal hand wringing. Who was it that said: never let a crisis go to waste?""

If you come into office with a budget surplus, immediately pass tax cuts that put you in the hole... uh, yes. That's the very definition of a manufactured crisis. It's income redistribution, plain and simple.
.

Posted by: jprestonian | February 18, 2011 3:08 PM | Report abuse

@shrink2:
you said this: "(conservative and change don't ride together) "

Yet who is it that is fomenting change now? Who is it that wants things to be different? The headlines themselves prove you wrong. It is just that simple.

@ashot.

You'd like to think that wouldn't you? It is important for the liberals here to downplay the financial situation in WI because that's an easy way to change the subject away from the indefensible union deals in the indefensable union behavior.

and even if it were a drummed up crisis, so what? Is it only the devotees of Rahm Emanuel that can take advantage of a bad situation to do things that they otherwise couldn't?

Unless we eliminate the closed loop of politicians and civil service unions our pocketbooks will never be safe. This is a great time to do this.

Better now than when states start to default wouldn't you say? Or are you a cloward-piven acolyte? Do you think that a sovereign debt crisis would offer the left an opportunity to so destroy America that there will be no alternative but the installation of a communist regime?

Posted by: skipsailing28 | February 18, 2011 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Hey, skip. Want to watch progressive toady heads explode?

Gov. Scott is preparing to file suit to declare the Democratic legislators who have fled the state to have vacated their legislative seats. They are clearly derelict in their duties to the public.

Gov. Scott can then make emergency appointments.

There would then be a quorum to proceed.

*checkmate*

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | February 18, 2011 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Hey Sargent, why haven't you criticized the union thugs for their "uncivil discourse" in their protests? You are always pointing out the supposed radicals in the tea party, and now when your side is likening the Wisconsin governor to Hitler you are silent. You are a blatant democrat hack, hypocrite, and joke of a columnist. No wonder newspapers are in such terrible shape when the keep employing clowns like you and Ezra Klein.

Posted by: octopi213 | February 18, 2011 3:15 PM | Report abuse

skip: ""Better now than when states start to default wouldn't you say? Or are you a cloward-piven acolyte? Do you think that a sovereign debt crisis would offer the left an opportunity to so destroy America that there will be no alternative but the installation of a communist regime?""

Yeah, it's a rel crisis. We certainly can't look back to our past and see what's been done to **effectively** resolve such a situation, before.

HINT: You really only get to whine about it if you make $250K/year or more, which is about 6x the average union teacher salary. Got that?
.

Posted by: jprestonian | February 18, 2011 3:17 PM | Report abuse

You'd like to think that wouldn't you? It is important for the liberals here to downplay the financial situation in WI because that's an easy way to change the subject away from the indefensible union deals in the indefensable union behavior.
----------------------------------------

What do you mean downplay the crisis? He entered with a budget surplus. Wisconsin unemployment is at 7%, well below the national average and it has been steadily decreasing since its peak in 2008. If it's such a crisis, whey exclude police and firefighters (who incidentally voted for him)

I think there is a difference between taking advantage of a crisis and creating a crisis, then taking advantage of it.


"Better now than when states start to default wouldn't you say? "

Wisconsin had a surplus! It was/is in no danger of defaulting. They managed to survive 50 plus years of public unions in Wisconsin, I don't see what changed between Gov Walker's election and today that made mutual survival impossible.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | February 18, 2011 3:20 PM | Report abuse

I'm just glad it is starting to come out how Walker started with a budget surplus and caused the current problem by giving tax cuts to the rich and powerful.

This is about union busting and attempting create a one party state, pure and simple.

Posted by: Alex3 | February 18, 2011 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Welcome to the tax revolt reckoning. Elections have consequences.

Your revolution is over, progressives. Condolences.

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

I guess to the left the only time a policy is legitimate is when liberals win. Otherwise it's a dictatorship.

Posted by: bbface21 | February 18, 2011 3:32 PM | Report abuse

The "surplus" in Wisconsin was because of fraudulent accounting practices by the previous government. There was no surplus, and their per-capita debt rivals that of California.

http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/109275069.html

Posted by: octopi213 | February 18, 2011 3:33 PM | Report abuse

The "surplus" in Wisconsin was because of fraudulent accounting practices by the previous government. There was no surplus, and their per-capita debt rivals that of California.

http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/109275069.html
------------------------------------

Yet Governor Walker managed to find money to give to his supporters and the debt crisis isn't so bad that public unions that supported him need to give up their collective bargaining rights. Fascinating.

It's so rich hearing that elections have consequences after the way Republicans obstructed everything in the last Congress.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | February 18, 2011 3:42 PM | Report abuse

FLASHBACK 2008: Remember when Leftists publicly demonstrated how spitting, rock-throwing, poison-spraying, and Cub Scout-harassing were "the highest form of patriotism"?
http://michellemalkin.com/2008/09/02/rnc-protest-update-spitting-rock-throwing-poison-spraying-and-cub-scout-harassing/

*plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose*

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | February 18, 2011 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Remember what happened after Reagan broke up PATCO: wages have stagnated, but management compensation has increased 10 times as much!

Posted by: AMviennaVA | February 18, 2011 3:55 PM | Report abuse

By the way, and out of idle curiosity:

1. Where are the JOBS? It was priority #1 (so be it, I suppose?)
2. Where is the replacement? They said it has been on the shelf, ready to roll out;
3. Where is the $100 billion in savings this year (I assume before the tax give-away they insisted on last December, so it better be much more)?

Posted by: AMviennaVA | February 18, 2011 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Where is the National Labor Relations Board? Aren't they the ones who make sure workers can collectively bargain?

This is just the beginning. Wisconsin unions will not go out with a whimper. Bring in the mad hatters of the tea party!!! Cheeseheads will show them what a real protest rally looks like!!

Posted by: tafffy | February 18, 2011 4:03 PM | Report abuse

my goodness -- wisconsin needs to dismiss every single protesting teacher! schools closed. OMG! --- get this under control.

you are kidding me -- the Dems actually left the state -- this is incredible.

Fire every employee protesting now!

Thank Goodness Gov. Wisconsin is holding on!

And the WH weighing in on this --- disgusting!

Posted by: fngVP | February 18, 2011 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Not sure why JSonline is claiming there is a $2billion dollar deficit when not even Gov. Walker is claiming that.

Here are the facts according to the Wisconsin fiscal bureau (which is like the CBO in that it is non-partisan). http://legis.wisconsin.gov/lfb/Misc/2011_01_31Vos&Darling.pdf

According to the Fiscal Bureau there was a surplus and the governor spent it on:

* $25 million for an economic development fund for job creation, which still holds $73 million because of anemic job growth.

* $48 million for private health savings accounts

* $67 million for a tax incentive plan that benefits employers, but at levels too low to spur hiring

Public employees are being asked to make up the difference buy giving away there rights.

Looking at the facts it is hard not to conclude that the Governor ginned up this crisis specifically to do union busting.

Posted by: Alex3 | February 18, 2011 4:14 PM | Report abuse

The public sector are government workers and should have no right to collective bargaining. It is not the same as in the private sector. The public sector elects and funds candidates who give them benefits and wage increases. It is really a form of extortion. Elected official are bribed with union dues to vote unrealistic benefits to public workers. The state gets dues from public workers who use it to fund and elect officials who then vote them unrealistic and unsustainable benefits. Not only is this process corrupt but the country, the states and the cities are bankrupt.

Posted by: jsands2 | February 18, 2011 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Pendulums rarely stop in the center. For all the talk of the ideologues of the left about compromises they might support, the only reason those compromises might be acceptable is the likely prospect of something worse. I did not see much union support for giving back on Cadillac health care benefits in an effort to achieve a more equitable health care plan. In the private sector, these kind of issues have largely been resolved through bankruptcies. Without some guidance from a bankruptcy judge in the public sector these issues are likely to swing from one extreme to the other.

Posted by: dnjake | February 18, 2011 4:50 PM | Report abuse

For once Mr. Sargent is right.
This is just the beginning.
It's the beginning of Hope and Change.

Government employee unions never made any sense. The deals they made with corrupt politicians to increase their wages nd benefits have destroyed state and local finances.

Every journey starts with a first step. Wisconsin is talking the first step back toward sanity.

Others will follow.

Posted by: jfv123 | February 18, 2011 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Public sector union jobs are already the lowest paid jobs to their counter parts in the private sector, but have the highest education requirements. This issue has nothing to do with money. It has to do with the right for people to collectively come together from a position of power, a strong voice. We live in a republic. Negotiation is the basis of this country's freedom.

"In order to form a more perfect union..." Declaration of Independence

Bust the unions, and non-union jobs are next.

Bust non-union jobs, small business is next.

Be careful what you ask for. The voters of Wisconsin were duped. Don't be a pawn of a few rich white guys.

Posted by: ruiz1 | February 18, 2011 6:28 PM | Report abuse

Once again a Communist inspired democratic president interferes with the rights of an american state,,Alabama was invaded by another socialist president and the power of his govt forces,The great Gov. George Corlee Wallace stood in the breach defying that invasion.Let Wisconsin and all its forces,police ,,guardsmen ,protect its borders against any federal invasion led by the kenyon prince.

Posted by: schmidt1 | February 18, 2011 6:31 PM | Report abuse

RIGHTIST THUG GOVERNOR WALKER CREATED THE BUDGET CRISIS IN WISCONSIN OUT OF THIN AIR !!!


Walker and the new Republican-controlled state legislature in Wisconsin largely created the deficit problem they claim must be solved on the backs of public servants.


Walker claims that the state is broke. However, the Wisconsin Fiscal Bureau, a sort of in-state CBO, disagrees with Walker and projects a net positive balance of 56 million for the state by the end of June, 2011. Further, the Bureau argues that the state would have had an additional $139.7 $202.8 million to work with over the next two years if not for the tax cuts already passed during Walker’s brief administration. Yet further, as recently as February 1st, Walker did not announce his plans on how to pay for those cuts:


The measure joins three others Walker has signed in his first month in office that he said will send a message that Wisconsin is more business friendly. Walker, a Republican, has seen his legislative agenda speed through the Republican-controlled Legislature even though he has yet to explain how he'll pay for everything in light of the state's projected $3 billion budget shortfall.


WALKER IS EXAGGERATING AND FUELING WISCONSIN'S FISCAL CRISIS AS AN EXCUSE TO BUST UNIONS !!!


http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/02/wisconsin-gov-walker-ginned-up-budget-shortfall-to-undercut-worker-rights.php


The top salaries for gov't workers in Wisconsin would include Walker and his Republican pals, who are currently taking a sh^t on their lower wage counter parts.


Why isn't anyone demanding that Walker and Co take a severe pay cut and give up their benefits?


There is no budget crisis in Wisconsin, that's why.


Walker created this "crisis" out of thin air just for the opportunity to bust Wisconsin unions.


PASS IT ON, DEMOCRATS !


LET'S TAKE BACK OUR FREEDOM FROM THE DICTATOR RIGHTIST GOONS !!!


IMPEACH MULLAH WALKER AND THE RIGHTIST TEABAGGER THUG GOV'T IN WISCONSIN !!!

.

Posted by: DrainYou | February 18, 2011 7:24 PM | Report abuse

DrainYou, you stole my thunder.
Also, Walker is being funded and is a puppet of the Koch bros.

Posted by: vwcat | February 18, 2011 7:47 PM | Report abuse

Not sure why JSonline is claiming there is a $2billion dollar deficit when not even Gov. Walker is claiming that.

Here are the facts according to the Wisconsin fiscal bureau (which is like the CBO in that it is non-partisan). http://legis.wisconsin.gov/lfb/Misc/2011_01_31Vos&Darling.pdf

According to the Fiscal Bureau there was a surplus and the governor spent it on:

* $25 million for an economic development fund for job creation, which still holds $73 million because of anemic job growth.

* $48 million for private health savings accounts

* $67 million for a tax incentive plan that benefits employers, but at levels too low to spur hiring

Public employees are being asked to make up the difference buy giving away there rights.

Looking at the facts it is hard not to conclude that the Governor ginned up this crisis specifically to do union busting.
************************************

It's the next two-year budget that will have multi-billions in deficit. The "surplus" is from the end of the current budget, and is peanuts; basically breaking even. It's like arguing about having filet mingon for dinner while your house is getting foreclosed on. True you shouldn't be spending that money, but it won't make any bit of difference in getting foreclosed.

Posted by: octopi213 | February 19, 2011 1:31 AM | Report abuse

The "surplus" in Wisconsin was because of fraudulent accounting practices by the previous government. There was no surplus, and their per-capita debt rivals that of California.

http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/109275069.html
------------------------------------

Yet Governor Walker managed to find money to give to his supporters and the debt crisis isn't so bad that public unions that supported him need to give up their collective bargaining rights. Fascinating.

It's so rich hearing that elections have consequences after the way Republicans obstructed everything in the last Congress.
****************************************8
Would you care to provide any credible projections that show the next Wisconsin budget not showing a $2-$3+ Billion deficit? The "surplus" is chump change, and will have zero effect on the $2B hole that state will be in.

What you call obstruction is simply the GOP playing by the rules that existed in congress. The democrats in Wisconsin are refusing to show up to the job they are paid to do. Are they going to reimburse the taxpayers for the time they weren't actually on the clock during business hours?

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