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."
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.