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Thursday, February 17, 2011

WISCONSIN: The People vs. Tea Party Thuggery



The newly elected Tea Party governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, learned this week what real grass-roots activism is and not fake, paid-for-by-Koch Brothers-Tea Party activism:

From lil bird:

"Wisconsin is in the middle of a massive popular uprising. Last Friday, our newly elected Tea-Party governor, Scott Walker, introduced a "budget repair bill" clearly aimed not at fixing our budget at all, but at eliminating public sector unions in Wisconsin.



This is a naked power grab designed to make the current right-wing control of our state government permanent. It's telling that the only unions exempted from the sweeping provisions are firefighters, police and state troopers - all of which endorsed Walker in the elections. In true dictator style, Governor Walker has threatened to call in the National Guard to suppress resistance if necessary.


This is an unprecedented assault on worker's rights, and the working people of Wisconsin are fighting back. I'm furious about what is happening, but also incredibly inspired by the passion and grit of the people all around me.


The protests began on Monday with a crowd of 1,000 people, which swelled to 13,000 yesterday and as many as 30,000 today [Feb. 16]. So many local teachers called in sick that school was canceled. Even public unions exempted from the changes, such as the firefighters, showed up in force.



People are angry, and rightly so. This bill is being rammed through the legislature at top speed; it was only announced on Friday and the governor wants a vote on it by tomorrow.



In their determination to pass a bill that they know the vast majority of the Wisconsin public is against, the Republican leadership has repeatedly abused their powers to limit public input to the voices they want to hear. The only public hearing, scheduled for Tuesday morning, was announced late Monday by posting a piece of paper in the Capitol building. Seriously, a piece of paper. No notice was given through the website nor any other modern method of communication. Oddly, however, by the time that paper was hung in the Capitol, the right-wing Americans for Prosperity and the Club for Growth had reportedly already reserved buses to bring their members to the state capitol to testify.


Right-wingers were also given VIP treatment at the hearing itself. "Reserved" signs were used to hold open about 30 seats in the small, packed room until the public testimony was about to start, at which point a crowd of right-wing activists waltzed in to testify in favor of the bill. When grilled about this breach of procedure, the Republican leadership claimed that they were just trying to "accommodate" people's schedules. However, those of us who had already waited nearly three hours in line and in the hearing to testify against the bill weren't given any such "accommodations".



Despite repeated assurances that the hearings would be kept open until everyone had a chance to testify, last night the Republicans decided that they'd heard enough from the public, even though hundreds of people were still signed up to speak. This triggered mass pushback, as people jammed the halls chanting loudly and demanding to be heard.


When the Republicans announced that they were cutting short the public hearing, the Democrats, severely in the minority, tried valiantly to convince them to allow the hearings to continue until everyone had their say. But at about 2:30am last night, the Republicans walked out and went home, leaving only the Democrats to continue hearing testimony by themselves. About 1,000 people camped out inside the Capitol building overnight, many waiting to get the chance to speak."



MORE HERE


From the Wisconsin Cap Times:


Walker gins up ‘crisis’ to reward cronies



"Wisconsin is managing in a weak economy. The difference is that Wisconsin is managing better -- or at least it had been managing better until Walker took over. Despite shortfalls in revenue following the economic downturn that hit its peak with the Bush-era stock market collapse, the state has balanced budgets, maintained basic services and high-quality schools, and kept employment and business development steadier than the rest of the country. It has managed so well, in fact, that the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau recently released a memo detailing how the state will end the 2009-2011 budget biennium with a budget surplus.



In its Jan. 31 memo to legislators on the condition of the state’s budget, the Fiscal Bureau determined that the state will end the year with a balance of $121.4 million.


To the extent that there is an imbalance -- Walker claims there is a $137 million deficit -- it is not because of a drop in revenues or increases in the cost of state employee contracts, benefits or pensions. It is because Walker and his allies pushed through $140 million in new spending for special-interest groups in January. If the Legislature were simply to rescind Walker’s new spending schemes -- or delay their implementation until they are offset by fresh revenues -- the “crisis” would not exist.


The Fiscal Bureau memo -- which readers can access at http://legis.wisconsin.gov/lfb/Misc/2011_01_31Vos&Darling.pdf -- makes it clear that Walker did not inherit a budget that required a repair bill.

The facts are not debatable.


Because of the painful choices made by the previous Legislature, Wisconsin is in better shape fiscally than most states.


Wisconsin has lower unemployment than most states.


Wisconsin has better prospects for maintaining great schools, great public services and a great quality of life than most states, even in turbulent economic times.


Unfortunately, Walker has a political agenda that relies on the fantasy that Wisconsin is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy."

GO HERE TO READ JOSH MARSHALL OF TALKING POINTS MEMO'S REPORT.

27 comments:

libhom said...

The most disturbing aspect of this is that the crooked governor there has made threats of violence against the pro democracy demonstrators. He's another Mubarek.

Shaw Kenawe said...

Yes. He threatened to call in the National Guard against Americans who are legally protesting his agenda.

How perfectly Soviet of this freedom-loving tea bagger.

BB-Idaho said...

Just union-busting, plain and simple. Now that the private sector unions are eliminated or emasculated, these types go after the public sector. The irony is that 2/3 Wisconsin corporations pay no taxes, so the real problem is ignored while the burden
is placed on those who can least afford it. Didn't Wisconsin give us Joe McCarthy too?

The Heathen Republican said...

Why not, "The People vs. Union Thuggery"? Oh, because you disagree with Tea Partiers, and unions get out Democrat votes.

Why aren't Tea Party protests grass-roots? You really don't think union protesters are getting paid while they protest?

Why are protests that you disagree with illegitimate and paid for, yet protests you agree with representative of "the people" and true grass-roots?

okjimm said...

*** up date from the Badger State**

all fourteen Democratic Senators have left the stayin, denying a voting quorum.

Egypt along the Great Lakes. Let's hope this spreads.... like butter!!!

TRUTH 101 said...

You know I love you Shaw. And anyone who's been around here long knows I live and die with the Union.

Here's the "but."

We all knew going in the tea partiers are anti Union, anti worker, anti minimum wage. What were the police and fire Unions thinking by endorsing this guy?

Where were all the Union members on election day when this joker got elected?

Half the Union members in my own local are anti Union. They vote agaisnt their own interests because of some lie about big government or losing their guns.

I'll go into the failures of the Democratic Party and Union leadership elsewhere. But the fact is union members that voted for this clown have themselves to blame. The police and fire Unions deserve it the most. And despite what they may think about loyalty from the governer, it ain't happening. They're next.

TRUTH 101 said...

Heathen: I like you Bro. But as one who's worked to get out Union votes i got news for you. The ones that vote Democrat were going to vote that way anyway.

All the phone calls and letters and knocks on doors in the world don't change the minds of people convince Obama will take their guns or make their sons marry dudes.

Sue said...

Truth makes a great point. Those who voted Russ out and that pig in have only themselves to blame. The voters in this country need to educate themselves or we will never get out of this cycle of doom.

tnlib said...

There is absolutely nothing grass roots about the Tea Party. They have been well financed by the Koch family, Armey, the Coors family and a bunch of other fat cats. People who prostitute themselves by allowing these fat cats to pay their bus transportation, hotel bills, and food costs for rallies are nothing short of whores. They are not grass roots. They'be been bought and sold and they're not bright enough to understand that they are being used.

Good for the union workers. I seriously doubts that any fat cats are paying them.

Shaw Kenawe said...

HR: "Why not, "The People vs. Union Thuggery"? Oh, because you disagree with Tea Partiers, and unions get out Democrat votes."

Because in this instance, the Tea Party candidate who is now the governor of Wisconsin is union busting. And what is wrong with unions getting out the vote? Any different from the Tea Parties around the country that got out the vote in November?

"Why aren't Tea Party protests grass-roots?"

From the several articles I've read, the Koch brothers have a vested interest in the Tea Party movement. Less than 3 months into Obama's administration, people were demanding their country back. What or who gave them the idea that their country had been taken away when it just elected Obama? That was the first time in my life when I observed a wish for voter nullification less than 3 months after an election where the winner won by 7 points. Who riled the TPs up? Where did the idea come from that someone had taken the country away from the TPs?

"You really don't think union protesters are getting paid while they protest?"

They probably are, just like TPs are. That's not new in American politics.

HR: "Why are protests that you disagree with illegitimate and paid for, yet protests you agree with representative of 'the people' and true grass-roots?"

I'm no different from you [actually we're both secularists] You ardently believe in your ideology and, I assume, believe it is the correct one for this country.

I feel the same way about the issues that are important to me.

We just have different ideas on how to solve our very serious problems.

Thanks for stopping by. And do come again.

We're not enemies.

Shaw Kenawe said...

TRUTH 101: "But the fact is union members that voted for this clown have themselves to blame. The police and fire Unions deserve it the most. And despite what they may think about loyalty from the governer, it ain't happening. They're next."

I believe it's called buyer's remorse.

dmarks said...

The protests show nothing but naked greed. Self-service instaad of public-service. Their version of JFK's statement is "Ask not when you can do for your country, but ask what your country can do for you".

And then there is the fraud, perhaps criminal? of the "workers" claiming sick days when they aren't really sick.

I'm all for what the governor is doing. Government should focus on public service, rather than overpaying these self-servants without any regard to the fair market value of the work, or its impact on the budget.

As for the national guard, they have been called out to do the jobs these "workers" are too lazy to do and have walked away from.

Sue said...

I'm afraid dmarks is way off the mark on this one. The union workers have said they will sacrifice more but Walker will not negotiate. This is union busting and it is spearheaded by the rightwing machine, Koch brothers. The right wants unions eliminated because they are campaign contributors for the Democratic party. Is this crazy sounding? Watch Ed Schultz for the story behind the rally story.

Shaw Kenawe said...

dmarks,

Those college graduate public servants that you label as "greedy" make 4.5% LESS at what they do than do the people in the same jobs in the private sector. And now the governor wants to make it more difficult for those lesser paid public servants to bargain.

From The Madison Capital Times:

"While conservative zealots talk about '2nd amendment remedies' for the challenges faced by civil society, the Wisconsinites who took to the streets to protest an assault on labor rights opted for another amendment to the founding document that the right tries so very hard to claim as the property of a single ideology.

The sign that David Vines carried as he marched Thursday declared for: 'First Amendment Remedies!'

Why did he mean? Read the First Amendment: 'Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.'

The founders, fresh from a revolution against a imperial monarch and his crown corporations did not outline a right of the people peaceably to assemble so that folks could get together to attend a baseball game — or even to see the Green Bay Packers win a Super Bowl.

The founders did not guarantee a right to petition the Government for a redress of grievances so that Americans could gripe about the cold in winter.

The purpose of the First Amendment — the essential amendment for those who believe in a real and robust democracy experiment — was to detail the rights of citizens to object when wrongheaded and dangerous policies are proposed by their elected officials.

That is what happened in Wisconsin this week.

State senators, the elected representatives of the people looked out the windows of the state Capital and saw tens of thousands of their constituents assembling peaceably to petition for the redress of grievances. “Tens of thousands of Wisconsinites were demanding to be heard,” explained state Senator Mark Miller, the Democratic minority leader in the chamber. 'We hear them.'

And they responded.

At the rally Thursday night where those tens of thousands of Wisconsinites celebrated the walk out by the Democratic senators, the chanted: 'This is what democracy looks like.'

They were right."

The Heathen Republican said...

Those college graduate public servants that you label as "greedy" make 4.5% LESS at what they do than do the people in the same jobs in the private sector.

I'll match you editorial for editorial. Quoting David Harsanyi of the Denver Post:

"But according to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics report -- a new one is due next month -- state and local government employees, all told, are already making approximately $12 more per hour than private workers. Last year, a USA Today analysis found that federal employees' average compensation had grown to be more than double what their private-sector counterparts were making."

okjimm said...

re: Dmarks //And then there is the fraud//
Yes indeed, in essence Walker passed some pet projects two weeks ago at a cost of $140 MM and then claimed a $137 fiscal year deficit.

From the Madison Capital Times...

"In its Jan. 31 memo to legislators on the condition of the state's budget, the Fiscal Bureau determined that the state will end the year with a balance of $121.4 million. To the extent that there is an imbalance -- Walker claims there is a $137 million deficit -- it is not because of a drop in revenues or increases in the cost of state employee contracts, benefits or pensions. It is because Walker and his allies pushed through $140 million in new spending for special-interest groups in January. Including
* $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 -- a perennial Republican favorite.
* $67 million for a tax incentive plan that benefits employers, but at levels too low to spur hiring.
Fraud indeed.

Sue said...

so whats your point HR? Any time a working class American makes a decent wage they get called greedy. But if someone calls a billionaire who doesn't pay his fair share in taxes a scumbag they get vilified! Why can't a union worker earn a living wage without being blamed for states going bankrupt? Crunch the numbers for Wisconsin before Walker then after Walker, then come back here and defend the teabagger.

The Heathen Republican said...

Hi Sue, I thought my point was obvious. Shaw says union workers make less than the private sector, but the BLS says public employee unions make substantially more. Sorry if that wasn't clear.

I don't know Walker and I'm not defending him. Maybe he's worthy of my defense, but I haven't made the effort to find out.

Public employee unions are a minority of the working population. All of their wages are paid by the majority's tax dollars. People like me think that is unfair.

They should not be paid more than the equivalent in private industry (they also shouldn't be paid less), and they are not entitled to keep pensions that aren't paid for. Any company that had those pension obligations without the money in the bank would have to declare bankruptcy.

Shaw Kenawe said...

In May 2009, preschool teachers in Wisconsin earned an average salary of $23,460, elementary school teachers earned $51,240, and secondary school teachers earned $49,400. Education and experience level also make a difference in teacher salaries: secondary school teachers in the 90th wage percentile earned $69,550, while the entry-level teacher salary is generally in the $30,000s.

SOURCE

In education, you get what you pay for.

TAO said...

Lets figure this one out....

The marchers in Wisconsin are out there either as union members or as union supporters...unions get their money from member dues.

Thus these marchers, with whatever assistance they are getting from the unions are out there on their own dime.

The Tea Party on the other hand gets its financial support from the Koch Brothers...

Big difference.

Can't help but notice that the more profitable our corporations become the more in debt our government becomes and the less financially stable our country becomes...

As unions have lost their influence the greater the inequality in the distribution of wealth in this country and the further we fall behind other countries in every meaningful statistic their is...

Dmarks is getting like Sarah Palin....they keep wanting the middle class and the working class to make sacrifices but you never hear them say a word about the wealthly or corporations making sacrifices for THEIR country do you?

Octopus said...

It appears the Heathen Republican has no analytical skills whatsoever. First of all, HR provides a quote with no attribution link. Then HR confuses polemics with authority. David Harsanyi is a right-wing journalist with no economics credentials. Worst of all, HR quotes a journalist who quotes a Department of Labor statistic taken out of context.

The actual DoL statistic fails to make a distinction between unionized versus non-unionized public sector wages. Without this detail, it is impossible to make the claim that unions are receiving an unfair wage advantage over non-union personnel. IOW, both HR and his dog whistle dogmatist commit the same analytical error. Bottom line: all cant, no proof; although HR and his journalist would have you believe that these assertions are authoritative. “Bogus” is the word.

Furthermore, how convenient of them to ignore an obvious sequence of events: There was no budget shortfall before Walker took office; Walker rigged the books and blamed the shortfall on unions; Walker was the Tea Party candidate bought and paid for by the Koch brothers who would like nothing more than to bust all unions; the controversy is manufactured … and a vicious ploy. Most offensive of all …

HR: “Public employee unions are a minority of the working population.”

Got news for you. When you slice and dice any segment of the population, you get a minority, and the aim of the plutocracy is to atomize the opposition to bits and render them impotent and unable to organize.

HR: “ Any company that had those pension obligations without the money in the bank would have to declare bankruptcy

Got news for you. When USAir declared bankruptcy after 9/11, and management defaulted on pension claims, lawyers representing the pilot union found that management had removed billions in pension money to offshore accounts. Several lawsuits later, those pensions are now being administered by the PBGC under the ERISA laws. In other words: DECEPTION and FRAUD. And that is exactly what the Koch brothers are trying to get away with.

I am getting damn sick and tired of right wing deception and pandering, and if people like HR insist on passing off crap as scholarship, then they should STFU or just go away.

The Heathen Republican said...

Octopus, I note you are shredding my argument, but have you shredded Shaw's for offering a 4.5% statistic without an attribution link, or by quoting a left-wing journalist?

And bashing my analytical skills when I clearly stated I was battling editorial against editorial demonstrates your own inability to think clearly.

I'm so tired of hearing about the Koch brothers. You all sound like truthers and birthers. Go to the next Tea Party rally in your city and poll 10 people to see how many of them received a check from the Koch brothers to attend the rally.

Octopus said...

Wisconsin Is a Battleground Against the Billionaire Kochs' Plan to Break Labor's Back

The Billionaires Bankrolling the Tea Party

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker Funded by Koch Brothers

Heathen, take your talking points and SHOVE IT UP YOUR ASS!

Shaw Kenawe said...

Since HR is still wondering where I got that 4.5% stat, I'm happy to tell him. I heard it on the Ed Schultz show. I couldn't link to a cable news stat.

I know HR will say that because it was MSNBC, that stat can't be correct. Meanwhile, I will continue to search for a link.

Shaw Kenawe said...

There is no question that public-sector unions and the thousands of contracts they have negotiated over the years have improved wages and pensions of government workers and made government service more attractive. But union leaders are quick to point to studies showing that overall compensation for government employees is slightly lower than for private-sector employees of comparable age and education.

NYTimes

Shaw Kenawe said...

Okay, HR. I found a link to my stat, which was incorrect:

"The basic theme here is that public employees are overpaid. According to a study by Jeffrey Keefe, professor of Labor and Employment Relations at Rutgers, public employees are compensated 3.75% less than similarly skilled and educated private-sector counterparts."

I quoted 4.5%, and was wrong--or my source was wrong. It's 3.75%.

SOURCE

h/t Nameless Cynic at The Swash Zone

The Heathen Republican said...

You were alright with me Shaw, I didn't ask you to source your statements. I offered what I thought was a tit-for-tat rebuttal, and accepted your statements at face value.

Since I wasn't offered the same friendly courtesy, I felt compelled to call out Octo's hipocrisy.