Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for February 18th, 2011

Gov. Scott Walker Miscalculates over “Budget,” Tries to Bust Unions — Battle Ongoing

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Folks, I’ve never seen anything quite like what’s going on in Wisconsin this past week.

I’d said last November, right after Scott Walker won the right to be incoming Governor, that if he and the Republicans believed him being elected was a “mandate” to do anything other than what he’d said he’d do — that is, govern wisely and well, with consensus — he had another think coming.   The Democrats had miscalculated their position in 2008, which is what led to the 2010 elections going so much in the direction of the Republicans . . . and now, with Scott Walker’s insistence on getting rid of the collective bargaining rights for state public employee unions as part of his “Budget Repair Bill,” he, too, has miscalculated.

When Scott Walker campaigned in Wisconsin, he said he was a centrist, who wanted a balanced budget, who would do modest and effective things — and how that was interpreted was that he wouldn’t change very much (trust me, changing whether state public employee unions are allowed to collectively bargain with the state is a huge change, especially as we’ve had these provisions in place for well over fifty years).  Yet Walker’s view of “modest” is exactly what he put up — a bill that would strip all public employee unions of their right to collectively bargain; a bill that would force unions to re-certify every year; a bill that has caused massive unrest throughout the entire state of Wisconsin, massive protests (over 35,000 today was estimated; 30,000 on Thursday; 25,000 on Wednesday; 15,000 to 20,000 on Tuesday, in Madison alone, with additional protests outside Republican lawmakers’ homes throughout the state and at least two protests at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire campus andthe University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh campus, with over 2,000 people showing up to protest at Eau Claire and an unknown number in Oshkosh), and 56% of the state being against Gov. Walker’s so-called “modest proposal.”

Here’s a link to the most recent story, where the Wisconsin Assembly (our lower house) was going to take a vote without the Democratic members even being present; when the Dems showed up and demanded their rights to be heard, the vote was “rescinded” — meaning it’ll have to be taken again, with the Dems present.  That vote will take place next Tuesday, as President’s Day is Monday.

And that’s not all; our Democratic state Senators (upper house) have walked off the job, all fourteen of them, and have gone to neighboring states (currently, they are supposed to be in Illinois) so the Senate will not have a quorum and cannot pass this bill; here’s a link to that story:

There also are many, many stories about how Gov. Walker insists this is a “modest” proposal which shouldn’t “shock anyone,” and a story was aired tonight by Greta Van Susteran on Fox News that quoted Wisconsin’s Lieutenant Governor, Rebecca Kleefisch, as once again calling this a “modest” proposal that “shouldn’t have taken anyone by surprise.”

Yet this is a surprise, folks, precisely because Walker and Kleefisch didn’t explain what they planned to do to balance Wisconsin’s budget.  They certainly didn’t say that they planned to de-certify unions, public or private; they certainly didn’t say anything about that in this particular state, where unions have a rich history, the state that gave the United States as a whole the forty-hour work week, vacation pay, worker’s compensation and a form of Social Security for retirement.  (Yes, Wisconsin was first in the nation for all of those things.)  Because if they had, I can assure you, they would’ve lost.  Big-time.

At this point, Walker and Kleefisch are on the “recall road,” because Wisconsin taxpayers truly didn’t expect this out of their elected officials and are protesting in record numbers against this bill.  The Wisconsin constitution allows for government officials to be recalled if they’ve been in office for one full year; right now, Walker and Kleefisch have been in office only about five weeks, so we have a long way to go before we can recall.  But protests like this will not be forgotten, not in a year, not in five years . . . not ever.

All I can say, aside from the fact that I am against Gov. Walker’s proposal because he didn’t campaign on it and it looks like a naked power-grab to me, is that soon, the (R) in back of both Walker and Kleefisch’s name will not stand for Republican.  Instead, it will stand for “recall,” or better yet, “recall and replace.”

I’m telling you now, and for the record — unless Gov. Walker backs down with the demands to disallow collective bargaining in the state of Wisconsin for public unions, he can and will be recalled.  (Lt. Gov. Kleefisch, too.)   Guaranteed.

So I urge you, please do not believe the hype, or Gov. Walker’s attempt to frame the narrative.  The non-violent, peaceful protests here are because of one thing and one thing only: because Gov. Walker overstepped his authority.   Wisconsin’s voters do not like what Walker has done here even if they think he has a point about the budgetary shortfall. **


** Note: I am in this category.  I also believe that anyone who supported the Tea Party’s right to protest should support these folks’ right to protest against a Governor trying to take too many rights away, too quickly, without a public debate. 

** Gov. Walker proposed this “budget repair bill” last week Friday.  And in a week’s time, the state is up in arms.  (Does that really tell anyone out there the state supports Walker?  How about that survey saying 56% are against him I talked about before?  Were those 56% all in error?)