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Posted at 11:08 AM ET, 02/18/2011

Who's been overreaching?

By Jennifer Rubin

E.J. Dionne decries Wisconsin GOP Gov. Scott Walker's "overreach," declaring the governor is "drumming up a crisis to change the very nature of the relationship between public workers and the government."

Let's talk about overreach. Here's how the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's editorial board put it:

Democrats in the state Senate threw a temper tantrum Thursday - essentially they took their ball and went home.

Actually, they didn't go home. They apparently went to Illinois, just out of reach of their obligations.

By boycotting an expected vote on Gov. Scott Walker's budget repair bill, they were able to prevent action on the measure. Twenty senators are required for a quorum; the Republicans have only 19. . . .

One leading Democrat - Obama was his name, as we recall - put it well after winning the White House in 2008: "Elections have consequences," he told Republicans at the time. Indeed they do. The Democrats' childish prank mocks the democratic process.

Overreach would be choosing extra-legislative means (flight) to prevent the voters' elected representatives from working their will. Overreach would be threatening Republican officials in their homes. Overreach would be a flurry of Hitlerian imagery (good for the National Jewish Democratic Council in denouncing the widespread signage, but where is the George Soros-backed Jewish Funds for Justice and the anti-Glenn Beck crowd when you need them?) Overreach would be a massive sick-out, in essence a dishonest strike. (The schools should dock pay for anyone not actually ill who didn't show up.)

So, yes, Walker is seeking a revamping of the state's relationship with its public employee unions. It's about time. The Journal Sentinel's editorial board argues:

The Walker plan is deeply divisive. We're not supportive of some aspects of the bill, either, including those that will make it nearly impossible for unions to negotiate. And we think that police and firefighter unions should not be excluded as they are now. But public worker benefits need to be reined in, and Walker is right to target them.

This is, of course, not a crisis manufactured by the governor. It is, as we see in virtually all states around the country, a crisis years in the making in which public employee unions have played a major role. As another editorial board put it:

Mr. Walker says he has no choice but to make these changes because unions refuse to negotiate any compensation changes, which is similar to the experience Chris Christie had upon taking office in New Jersey. Wisconsin is running a $137 million deficit this year and anticipates coming up another $3.6 billion short in the next two-year budget. Governor Walker's office estimates the proposals would save the state $300 million over the next two years, and the alternative would be to lay off 5,500 public employees.

Walker's proposal to limit collective bargaining rights of public employees is bold but hardly original. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels did the same thing. A similar effort is underway in Tennessee.

I would suggest it is not Walker who has gone too far, but public employee unions who for years have ruled the roost in many blue states. The voters sent a signal last November not only to Washington, but to Madison, Lansing, Columbus and elsewhere. We're going to see whether their will, or the ambitions of union leaders, prevails.

By Jennifer Rubin  | February 18, 2011; 11:08 AM ET
Categories:  Budget  
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Comments

Gov. Walker has hardly gone too far. He's doing exactly what he said he would do last fall when he was elected. It's the Democrats who are going too far by backing the thuggish public employee unions over the taxpayers.

The public is disgusted with politicians who have cut sweetheart deals with public unions in exchange for their campaign donations. Many of those pols were thrown out in the last election. These deals are bankrupting the states and must be rolled back. But Obama and the DNC stand with the greedy public employee unions.

Posted by: eoniii | February 18, 2011 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Kudos to Jennifer for managing to work George Soros into a column about unions. It's nice to see her all out fascination with him continues unabated.

And of course Jennifer still fails to explain how her argument works in terms of Gov. Walker's actual bill. Surely the police and firefighter unions are just as much a drain on Wisconsin coffers as the other public sector unions, no? Yet, they are completely exempted from the effects of the bill.

Posted by: mustangs79 | February 18, 2011 12:17 PM | Report abuse

"Kudos to Jennifer for managing to work George Soros into a column about unions. It's nice to see her all out fascination with him continues unabated.

And of course Jennifer still fails to explain how her argument works in terms of Gov. Walker's actual bill. Surely the police and firefighter unions are just as much a drain on Wisconsin coffers as the other public sector unions, no? Yet, they are completely exempted from the effects of the bill."

She failed more or less than your attempt to rebut what she wrote? Goooooooo Donkeys!!!!!

Posted by: permagrin | February 18, 2011 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Well done, Jennifer.

The Wisconsin public employee issues are small midwestern hills compared to the Himalayan-sized public employee issues in California and Illinois.

Myerson & Dionne need better arguments because this fight will be repeated in 20 more states beore it's done.

Posted by: pilsener | February 18, 2011 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, Ms. Rubin, for your fine coverage of the rebellious unions and Democratic politicians in Wisconsin. You are putting the MSM to shame, especially the television networks. I would add that teachers or parents who are taking their children to the protests are teaching that power trumps ethics and principles of governance. Let us hope that their children start practicing this lesson at their schools and in their neighborhoods.

Posted by: JohnMarshall3 | February 18, 2011 12:50 PM | Report abuse

These are the words of Jennifer Rubin:

"This is, of course, not a crisis manufactured by the governor. It is, as we see in virtually all states around the country, a crisis years in the making in which public employee unions have played a major role. As another editorial board put it:...'Wisconsin is running a $137 million deficit this year'"

The actual truth -- one which Rubin deliberately avoids telling the reader -- is that Wisconsin's $137 million deficit is a brand-new deficit, created entirely by Walker in just the past few weeks after signing legislation for a variety of tax credits and tax breaks for some of his cronies. The wages and benefits of Wisconsin's public employees played absolutely no role in the creation of Walker's self-made deficit.

Difficult to come to grips with the almost pathological lack of honesty that many of these "conservative" commentators apparently are proud to display.

Posted by: henry_blankett | February 18, 2011 12:50 PM | Report abuse

I am curious about whether this move will save as much $$$$$$ as Gov. Walker thinks it will.

First, we know the law will be challenged in the courts. In all likelihood, the law will be suspended pending the judicial outcome and that could take years.

Second, my understanding is there's a federal law that guarantees the full gamut of collective bargaining rights for unionized state employees who work at agencies that receive federal funds. If that's the case, won't that limit the impact of this bill?

Posted by: MsJS | February 18, 2011 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Mustangs79 seems to confuse Ms. Rubin's essay with editorial she quotes. And while it might be preferable to revise all the state employee contracts it does not logically follow that it is wrong to start with only some of them. Oh, and I backtracked 25 posts and no mention of Soros. Not much of an obsession.

Posted by: mtm1259 | February 18, 2011 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Mustangs79 seems to confuse Ms. Rubin's opinion with that of the editorial she quotes. And while it might be preferable to revise all the state employee contracts it does not logically follow that it is wrong to start with only some of them. Oh, and I backtracked 25 posts and no mention of Soros. Not much of an obsession.

Posted by: mtm1259 | February 18, 2011 12:54 PM | Report abuse

The Wisconsin Democrats are staging a sort of filibuster, right? Maybe Rubin, Dionne, et al. have expressed opinions about filibusters in the U.S. Senate which are worth comparing to this.

Posted by: wwoods2 | February 18, 2011 12:55 PM | Report abuse

The unions didn't mind sending purple shirts to bite off old people's fingers, nor did they cry when GM was stolen for a gift to the UAW, their minions cried for Obamacare, and now when the sleeping giant awakens and pushes back, they cry foul. Like all union members, sooner or later they'll look at the coming disaster their leaders caused them and they'll wonder why they ever listened.

Society is not without blame,though, for it ignored passive, underpaid teachers for decades allowing unions to enter the profession amd gain strength and bargaining power. Benefits in lieu of "the pay raise we can't afford now" have backfired on society and they are now blaming teachers for many of the problems they've brought on themselves.

And now the chickens have come home to roost for both sides.

Posted by: DonL1 | February 18, 2011 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Jennifer,
Just because you quote editorial boards doesn't mean you are providing good evidence to attack public employees fighting, not against wage and benefit reductions, but to maintain the state's collective bargaining laws as they apply to public employee unions. For example, this quote is completely misleading: "Mr. Walker says he has no choice but to make these changes because unions refuse to negotiate any compensation changes..."
Don't you understand that under the terms of collective bargaining, that refusal to bargain is an unfair labor practice? Don't you understand that, under the law, the state or local government entity can impose its "last, best, and final offer" if negotiations are not settled?
Inform yourself with the truth of the existing laws. Then you might wish you had union protection too.

Posted by: gregoryvgray | February 18, 2011 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Mustangs79 seems to confuse Ms. Rubin's opinion with that of the editorial she quotes. And while it might be preferable to revise all the state employee contracts it does not logically follow that it is wrong to start with only some of them.
**************************
Actually, it does logically follow. You can't claim your state is in dire financial straits, and then offer up a bill that exempts your political allies from having to suffer the consequences of those alleged dire straits, while only punishing your political enemies. It destroys whatever budget argument you are making and makes clear the bill is really more about acheiving a partisan aim than solving the budget problem.

Posted by: mustangs79 | February 18, 2011 1:33 PM | Report abuse

This is union busting--not a job creation or money saving move. Unions support democrats. They must be disbanded, because the republicans cannot handle anyone who does not vote for them.

Breitbart is coming to town on saturday to counter protest. Is he trying to incite a riot? His attempt to smear federal workers and blacks (Sherrod) backfired and he is trying to redeem himself. I'm afraid he has picked the wrong place at the wrong time. His followers are the gun-toting types.

Posted by: tafffy | February 18, 2011 1:36 PM | Report abuse

This is union busting--not a job creation or money saving move. Unions support democrats. They must be disbanded, because the republicans cannot handle anyone who does not vote for them.

Breitbart is coming to town on saturday to counter protest. Is he trying to incite a riot? His attempt to smear federal workers and blacks (Sherrod) backfired and he is trying to redeem himself. I'm afraid he has picked the wrong place at the wrong time. His followers are the gun-toting types.

Posted by: tafffy

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

Why would an appearance By Breitbart be an incitement to riot? He has a right like anyone else to be there, unless you're suggesting that liberlas and union folks can't abide by the civility Obama has called for.

Posted by: bbface21 | February 18, 2011 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Jennifer is Right, and wrong. Try again, little girl.

Posted by: donspecht | February 18, 2011 1:48 PM | Report abuse

I just spoke with a neighbor who will be taking home 700.00 less a month because both she and her husband work at a state run hospital.

She is o.k. with that, but thinks that the collective bargaining rights section of the bill is extreme.

This bill should be slowed down so that Wisconsinites have a chance to see what is in it and how it will effect us.

The Democrats here did nothing illegal. They simply want to "Slow it down" so that we can see what is in the bill

Is that overreaching? Out here in Wisconsin it is called American democracy.

Posted by: georgia198305 | February 18, 2011 1:57 PM | Report abuse

If EJ knew anything he would be dangerous. The unions in Wisc have been like the union in Mich and Ill. No one had the guts to tell them NO. Finally, someone is and they are whinning all the way to the WH. Obama in his usual pansy character is backing the union. Remember folks he is President for ALL of us. I thought!!!

Posted by: ariver31112 | February 18, 2011 1:58 PM | Report abuse

The following sequence of events is the only truth worth knowing on this subject. 1. Republicans destroy private sector unions and enrich the wealthy at the expense of the middle class. 2. Public-sector union members are then making more than workers in the the private sector. 3. Republicans complain that public sector union members make too much money, because they make more than private sector workers!

There is another choice: increase the income of private sector workers so that they make as much or more as the public sector union members.

Posted by: lrichardson1 | February 18, 2011 2:01 PM | Report abuse

I wonder how long the WaPo editorial board going to stand having Rubin calling them out and making them look like idiots?

They better do something soon. Otherwise, these guys might actually have to start fact checking their stuff.

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


We have a President that is fomenting Civil Unrest.

'12 CANNOT Come Soon Enough !!

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

The Model-T Ford
The NAACP
Unions
etc...

Once innovative and necessary. Now useless relics.

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

California is Wisconsin on steroids. In CA poltiticians actually gave the state's union employees the right to extend their term of employment five years prior to retirement for a nominal fee- I kid you not.

Wisky just exposes the corrupt and unaffordable public employee union contracts all over the country.

Keep it up Walker! Ridiculous that he exempted police and fire though...

Posted by: cjroses | February 18, 2011 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Forest for the Trees Syndrome:
This State Revenue dilemma is merely one more symptom of the bigger disease that is working on us. We are collecting 30% less revenue for Government in 2010 than we did in 2007,and yet our experts are saying that GDP is increasing.LOL
We are in the first decade of Great Depression 2,and like many forms of what is still called mental illness,lack of insight into 0ur disease is the primary symptom.

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

"The actual truth -- one which Rubin deliberately avoids telling the reader -- is that Wisconsin's $137 million deficit is a brand-new deficit, created entirely by Walker in just the past few weeks after signing legislation for a variety of tax credits and tax breaks for some of his cronies. "

This is an absolute crock. The projected deficit LAST year for fiscal 2012 was even higher, before Walker ever took office.

Posted by: TheLastBrainLeft | February 18, 2011 3:05 PM | Report abuse

This is fun. "henry_blankett" complains about the tax reductions of about $110 million, but Rubin references an impending budget deficit of $3.4 billion. Hence, dear Henry, the problem is much bigger than you seem to have noticed.

The fun begins when we note the tax reductions are design to help business and, maybe lure some businesses from Illinois where their Democrats just raised taxes just raised taxes. So, Wisconsin is trying to import jobs from Illinois while trading Democratic Senators to Illinois. Sound like Wisconsin is getting way better of that trade. Maybe they can throw in "henry_blankett", too, but that might be more than Illinois could take.

Posted by: RickCaird | February 18, 2011 4:01 PM | Report abuse

I pay attention (and respect the opinion) of E. J. Dionne about as much as I did that of "Baghdad Bob." He is simply the left's unofficial press secretary, nothing more. Nothing to see here, folks, move it along.

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

Progressive/Liberals only support democratic institutions when they are in their favor...just as last year, the rumblings iin the US Senate against the use of the Filibuster by the party in the minority grew strangly quiescent AFTER the landslide defeat suffered by the Democrats in the House.

Knowing that they face the serious possibility of the losss of upwards of 10-14 seats in the Senate in 2012, there was absolutely NO POSSIBILITY of them changing the rules on it now.

So, in WI, we have a minority party refusing to participate in democratic process since they will lose...so they ran away. Local papers there are seriously putting forth the possibility of recall elections on 10 of the 14 State Senators...because they are refusing to do the job they were sent to the State House to do...that would be the true shocker, if their constituents held them accountable for their irresponsible behavior!

Posted by: ravail136 | February 18, 2011 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps the Bahrainian government can loan us some army troops who don't mind massacring demonstrators. Bust all public employees down to a dollar an hour, kill any who talk back! If God wanted them to have 'rights' he'd have seen to it they were born billionaires.

Posted by: member8 | February 18, 2011 4:19 PM | Report abuse

C’mon, youse guys, we know who’s really to blame: Bush.

Methinks the Obami and the Dems are picking the wrong fights, and their poor choice will have long-term negative consequences for them. Walker will prevail, as will Kasich in Ohio, as Illinois and California sink further into the mire.

As for Obama, mark February, 2011 as the month in which he doomed his reelection bid.

Posted by: SCMike1 | February 18, 2011 5:26 PM | Report abuse

RickCaird wrote:

"This is fun. "henry_blankett" complains about the tax reductions of about $110 million, but Rubin references an impending budget deficit of $3.4 billion. Hence, dear Henry, the problem is much bigger than you seem to have noticed."

Thank you for taking the bait. The figures reveal that Walker added at least $117 million to a projected long-term deficit:

http://wisconsinbudgetproject.blogspot.com/2011/02/doa-document-puts-2011-13-deficit-at-36.html

Posted by: henry_blankett | February 18, 2011 6:26 PM | Report abuse

A comment from PJM sums it up:
'The whole concept of public unions should be illegal, in that it allows members to be represented twice, once directly at the negotiating table as a union member, and again at the polling booth as a citizen of the locality. Simultaneously, each of those privately-employed citizens who together pay the bulk of the union members’ salaries have but one vote, and effectively no power to fight off the unions’ ever-greedier demands. One man, one vote? Not when there are public unions, who offer nothing but specious rationalizations and thuggery when challenged. Public unions are undemocratic in theory, and stink of nothing but corruption in reality. They must all be dissolved."

Posted by: djman1141 | February 19, 2011 9:24 AM | Report abuse

You never want an unserious comment to go to waste. So here it goes again:

"Two, four, six, eight, Unions won't negotiate!"

Heckuva slogan, but the only problem is, which side should use it?

Posted by: aardunza | February 19, 2011 7:47 PM | Report abuse

A fine example of a serious overreacher was Harpo Marx. He could get anything off the top shelf with those nifty extending tongs of his, remember?

Posted by: aardunza | February 20, 2011 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Overreaching? Talk about overreaching: I don't follow Fox news, so please correct me if I heard this wrong. Glenn Beck is giving tech advice? Tech as in science? Again, correct me if I am wrong, but it seems to me, Glenn Beck would hate Albert Einstein is the Mathamatician were alive. Still the mistakes Beck makes couldn't be any different than Microsoft's insulting errors to their investors. Customers don't purchase Glenn Beck's computers, but customers pay when they pay for Microsoft's products. I guess Microsoft's opinion is similar to Beck. They are self-righteous. They feel they can do no wrong.

Thomas Chi
Author
PresidentSarah.Net

Posted by: ThomasChi | February 20, 2011 11:58 PM | Report abuse

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