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Wisconsin** law allows state to fund Democratic advocacy group

Democratic attacks on Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker notwithstanding, it appears that good man was indeed willing to compromise with Senate Democrats who fled the state.  It’s only that the state’s minority party proved intransigent:

It appears the Democrats had not accepted the concessions outlined by Walker in an email to some Dem senators (an email his office released). These were discussed below. They allowed collective bargaining over a broader range of issues, but kept the provision ending mandatory union dues checkoff, which is arguably the change unions fear the most. I doubt there was ever a route to a mutually acceptable compromise unless the dues-checkoff provision could itself have somehow been compromise

Read the whole thing (via Instapundit).  Moe Lane explains why unions fear ending that mandatory checkoff:

Simply put, what automatic checkoff does is make it trivially easy for unions to collect dues: the employer (in this case, the state government) simply deducts the money from an union member’s pay and sends it along. No fuss, no muss, no debate… it’s just one more thing that the government takes from your paycheck. This turns the collection of union dues into a guaranteed revenue stream (instead of the colossal pain in the neck that such things usually are); most people don’t even notice, frankly. And it’s from union dues that unions get the money that they use for political advocacy*.

Read that whole thing too.  In short, the bill is indeed about a “power grab” as some have described it; the unions and the Democrats have long since grabbed it.  Not, once the Walker reforms pass, Wisconsin Republicans will have taken the power away from a Democratic interest group — and restored it to individual public employees.

*”Which is, by the way, mostly being used on the behalf of Democrats, at a ratio far out of sync with how their members vote.” [Footnote in original]

**and California law (as well as that in other states).

If Michael Moore claims a right to rich people’s money. . .

. . . can we claim a right to his?

I mean, this guy who acts as if he is today, something he never was, a member of the working class, shocks the audience on Rachel Maddow’s show “by telling the rich and bankers that ‘we have a right to your money!’”  And well, with the success of his movies, the guy can really count himself among the rich.

Noting that Michael Moore had declared in the same clip that “This is War”, Glenn Reynolds quips,

I guess the “new civility bullshit” is officially over. Bear that in mind as you contemplate a response. I don’t think these people realize that they are setting precedents that they may come to regret. They are as feckless in this behavior as they are in their fiscal approach. The consequences are likely to be insalubrious.

As I was reading about the Wisconsin Senate’s vote to curtail the privileges the state had granted pubilc employee unions, I was watching Media Malpractice: How Obama Got Elected and Palin Was Targeted which provided footage of various MSM reporters concerned about allegedly violent rhetoric at McCain-Palin rallies and asking Republicans to denounce it.  Interesting how concerned they were about violent rhetoric when they had no actual evidence of such rhetoric.

I wonder how many reporters will call on Wisconsin Democrats — or any Democrats for that matter — to distance themselves from Mr. Moore’s incitement to violence.

UPDATE:  Yes, the media who seem obsessed with imaginary conservative violence seem oblivious to actual liberal antics as per Bryan Preston’s observation: (more…)

Wisconsin Democrats’ “Affront to Democracy”

You can learn a lot about the silliness of certain liberals just by going to the gym. I say that because that’s where I get my daily dose of CNN which seems to be constantly playing on the television monitors in the cardio area.

First, some background.  When Wisconsin Senate Democrats didn’t like some provisions in the budget bill that the state’s elected governor presented, they fled the state in order to prevent the elected state Senate from voting on the bill.  Democrats were unhappy that the party elected to majority status in the legislative chamber had the votes to pass the bill.  While Republicans had the votes, they lacked a quorum of “20 senators to be present for bills that authorize spending money.

Had Democrats remained in the state, they could have debated the bill, raised objections, offered amendments.  Instead, they preferred life on the lam.  So, after three weeks, Republicans, as John Hinderaker put it finally lost patience.  A committee ”stripped some financial elements from the bill, which they said allowed them to pass it with the presence of a simple majority.”  The remaining provisions curtail the privileges the state had long granted to public employee unions.

As Governor Walker reminded his fellow citizens in a statement, “The Senate Democrats have had three weeks to debate this bill and were offered repeated opportunities to come home, which they refused”.   And now with “exquisite irony,” Allahpundit quips, supporters of the truant Senators “are screeching, ‘This is not democracy!’(more…)

AP takes note of anger brewing over public employees’ benefits

Today, Yahoo! featured an AP article on the brewing anger over government workers’ benefits, suggesting that the stand-off in the Badger State means additional scrutiny of the power of public employee unions.  In the article, writer Geoff Mulvihill interviewed not just individuals upset at the spiraling costs of offering lavish benefits to the public workforce, but also scholars who have studied labor markets:

“It’s the government sector worker who’s the new elite, the highest-paid worker on the block,” said David Gregory, who teaches labor and employment law at New York’s St. John’s University.

For instance, most non-uniformed public employees who have worked in New Jersey for 30 years with an ending salary of $85,000 can look forward to retiring at 55 with an annual pension of about $46,000. Working until age 60 and a salary of $90,000 can bring a pension of $57,000. And many of the New Jersey’s public-sector retirees have no or low premiums for their health insurance.

For a private-section worker who retires at 55, relying solely on a 401(k) without an employer match, it would take a $100 contribution to a plan every week for 30 years and getting an annual return over 7 percent to get to the same level of pension benefit as the public worker retiring at that age. Those benefits would run out after 25 years for the 401(k) retiree. . . .

The government entities spent 1.7 times as much on health care per employee-hour worked and nearly twice as much on retirement costs. Public-sector workers — who are more often represented by unions — are far more likely to have defined-benefit pensions with promises to pay for the retirees’ whole lives.

The more people learn not just about the costly benefits which public employees have secured, but also the favors which states have granted their unions (such as requiring local school districts to “buy health insurance from a union company“), the more likely they are to supposed those like the modest one Governor Walker has proposed in Wisconsin.

Truant Wisconsin Democratic Senators Want a “Border Summit”?

This is rich.  In order to resolve the budget “impasse” that they created by fleeing the state, the fourteen Democrats elected to represent various jurisdictions in the Wisconsin state Senate have invited the Republican governor to meet with them near the border of a neighboring state.  That good man wisely dismissed the letter in which they suggested the meeting:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Monday dismissed as “ridiculous” a letter from a Democratic state Senate leader who suggested a meeting “near the Wisconsin-Illinois border” to discuss the state’s budget impasse.

Sen. Mark Miller sent the letter to Walker on Monday, offering a border summit as a way to resume stalled negotiations on the state’s budget.

Border summit?  Huh?  Are they attempting to resolve tense relations between the Badger State and the Land of Lincoln?  Will they need intermediaries from a neutral state?

Shouldn’t they return to Wisconsin if they wish to resolve Wisconsin‘s budget impasse?  Maybe the governor might meet with them if they returned to the state they were elected to serve.

In what Moe Lane calls, “one of the better official political letters“, Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald reminds his Minority counterpart how representative democracies work:

As you know, your opportunity to compromise and amend the bill was on the floor of the state Senate. As you know, you forfeited that right and opportunity when you decided to flee the state instead of doing your job.

Just love the way the Republican who has remained in his jurisdiction doing his job addresses the letter to the flighty Democrat:  ”Sen. Mark Miller/Parts Unknown, IL.”

Public employee unions now (finally!) getting media scrutiny

Perhaps the biggest blunder, public employee unions and the Democratic National Committee made in organizing a practically permanent rally at the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison was in gaining a media focus on the protests.  Now, while they (and Charlie Sheen) may buy into the mantra that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, perhaps the unions, like Charlie, should reconsider.

These protests have put the spotlight on the sweetheart deals Democratic legislators secure for the public employees.  Recall that in the 2010 California elections, where the public employee unions poured tens of millions of dollars into Democratic campaigns, even running the party’s get-out-the-vote efforts, media in the state focused more on the millions the Republican gubernatorial nominee spent on her effort to win the governor’s chair.  And all but ignored the unions.

Now, as blogging law professor William A. Jacobson reminds us, even the New York Times is noticing the intransigence of public employee unions as states face massive budget shortfalls:

The Board of Editors of The New York Times is demanding significant cut backs in public sector union contracts, but refuses to recognize the cause of the problem, which is the entire structure of public employee unions

Jacobson is right.  Read the whole thing.

That said, while the Times‘ editors may diagnose the problem incorrectly, at least they recognize that there is a problem.  This added media focus may make Americans more aware just how big a factor the unions have been in various states’ spending sprees.  This focus could help strengthen the position of Republican governors and legislators seeking to restrain the unions in order to protect taxpayers.

UPDATE:  Michael Barone addressed this very matter in his must-read column on Saturday:

Voters are beginning to realize, thanks to governors like Chris Christie of New Jersey and Scott Walker of Wisconsin, that public sector unions have negotiated unsustainable levels of pensions and benefits — and that public sector unions are a mechanism for involuntary transfers of money from taxpayers to the Democratic Party.

It’s Barone.  Read the whole thing.

Questions to ask about public employee power in Wisconsin*

Earlier today, Glenn linked datechguy’s post posing two questions that aren’t being asked about Wisconsin. In a update to those two question, the techie blogger poses three additional questions in response to the “CBS and PPP polls that are being trumpeted” (trumpeted, I gather, by allies of the Badger State public employee unions).  ”If these polls were true,” he asks, among other things,

Why aren’t the democrats (sic) who have fled confidently returning knowing that this vote will only be the prelude to them retaking everything in Wisconsin?

DaTechGuy’s got a great point, if the Wisconsin Senate Democrats are so confident that Walker’s plan is so unpopular, why aren’t they returning to vote against and watching in glee as their Republican colleagues pay the consequences for their unpopular vote.  In further updates, said blogger links fellow bloggers who, crunching the numbers of those “trumpeted” polls, (including Ed Morrissey’s piece which I had caught earlier in the day), question the credibility of said surveys.

Perhaps, Democrats fear passage of the bill because they they realize that when details of the plan leak out, most people will see just how sensible are most, if not all, of the reforms Governor Walker has proposed.  Sometimes, it seems our media have focused not so much on the actual provisions of the plan, but instead on the rhetoric of the public employee unions.

So, let me ask some questions of my own.  How would people feel about public employee unions if they knew

  1. these unions campaign for the legislators who set their salaries, with public employee unions (led by the teachers’ representatives) the largest spenders in Wisconsin campaigns, making public employee unions effectively an auxiliary of the Democratic Party?
  2. that teachers’ unions are the most active lobbyists in the Badger State?
  3. that, through collective bargaining, said unions make Wisconsin counties, cities, and school districts to purchase employees health care from the union carrier, rather than from the state’s plan, as Governor Walker proposes?
  4. that public employees pay a lower percentage of their health insurance premium than do most private-sector employees?
  5. that the state serves as the collection agency for public employee unions, with resources directly transfered from the public treasury (you know the collected funds of taxpayers) into the coffers of institutions which regularly back one political party and the individual government employees cannot opt out of this system, that is, they cannot prevent a portion of their income from automatically siphoned off?
  6. just how political (and uncivil) these unions have become? (more…)

Truant Wisconsin Democratic Senators Received Far Greater Percentage of Campaign Funds from Public Employee Unions than Governor Walker Received from Koch Brothers

According to John Hinderaker, the “$43,000 that the Koch Industries PAC contributed to Walker’s campaign represents one-tenth of 1 percent of the money that was spent on Wisconsin’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign.” (Via Instapundit.)

It seems that that one-tenth of one percent applies to the total amount spent on the 2010 campaign; the actual percentage of Walker’s total take is actually a bit higher.  According to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, “Republican Governor Scott Walker and running mate Rebecca Kleefisch . .  spent a combined $11.34 million” on their campaign.”  That means the Koch contribution of $43,000 was approximately 0.38% of their spending.

Public employee unions, however, gave a little more heavily to the Wisconsin Democratic Senators now resident in Illinois:

The 14 Wisconsin Democratic senators who fled to Illinois share more than just political sympathy with the public employees and unions targeted by Gov. Scott Walker’s budget-repair bill.

The Senate Democrats count on those in the public sector as a key funding source for their campaigns.

In fact, nearly one out of every five dollars raised by those Democratic senators in the past two election cycles came from public employees, such as teachers and firefighters, and their unions, a Journal Sentinel analysis of campaign records shows. . . .

According to records compiled by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, the 14 Senate Democrats have raised a total of $1.9 million in campaign dollars since the start of 2007. Out of that sum, public-employee unions and individual government workers contributed at least $344,000.

In truth, the figure may be even higher, but candidates don’t have to identify the occupations of those giving $100 or less.

The public-employee unions gave more money to the Democratic state senators than the Koch brothers gave to the Republican governor.  Wonder if the New York Times has any plans to run an article on these unions’ influence.

Let’s round that 0.38% up to 0.4%.  And to be fair, I did the math myself on the numbers provided above and found that public employee unions’ donations made up only 18% of the total Democratic state senators received, or proportionally 45 times as much as the Koch Brothers gave to Governor Walker.

Oh, and, just wondering, are those public employee unions chipping in for the Wisconsin Democrats’ Illinois expenses?

Michael Barone Takes E.J. Dionne to the Woodshed

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 4:22 pm - February 28, 2011.
Filed under: Public Employee Unions

If you want to know why Michael Barone has earned a place in my pantheon of praiseworthy pundits, just check out his piece today taking apart E.J. Dionne’s latest lament on the parlous plight of public employee unions:

The liberal columnist E. J. Dionne is crying in his column today about the plight of the public sector unions. He accuses Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker of seeking “a shift in the long-term balance of political power that undercutting collective bargaining.”

. . . .

[Dionne's argument] is a variant on the argument that Democrats need the money they receive from public sector unions in order to balance the money Republicans receive from greedy corporations. But of course there are some factual problems with that argument. The Republicans, as my Examiner colleague Timothy Carney points out with a wealth of example, don’t monopolize contributions from business interests and in the past several campaign cycles have in fact received less business money than Democrats.

. . . .

It’s interesting to see Democrats bewail the unfairness—unfairness, unfairness!—of Republicans being able to raise in the 2010 cycle almost as much money as they did.

Read the whole thing!

Union boss won’t condemn HItler comparisons

Something to bear in mind next time you hear some from the left complain about the declining civility in our political discourse and the supposedly increasing number of right-wingers, particularly Tea Partiers, comparing the president to Hitler:

The head of one of the nation’s most powerful labor unions did not condemn the violent rhetoric in placards and signs held by union supporters demonstrating in Wisconsin despite two direct attempts Sunday to get him on the record declaring them inappropriate.

On several occasions over the past two weeks of demonstrations in the Wisconsin capital of Madison news media have zeroed in on signs that liken Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and recently ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Appearing Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka was twice asked whether he found the tone at the nearly two-week long demonstrations “wrong” or “inappropriate.”

Trumka did not answer, instead saying, “We should be sitting down trying to create jobs. … “

H/t Instapundit.

If it’s wrong to compare the president of the United States to the late German Führer (and it is), then it’s wrong to compare the governor of Wisconsin to the same bloodthirsty fascist.

Help Find the Missing 14

In the interest of helping law enforcement in the Mid-west, we are posting this important public service announcement.

(Via Badger 14, via Instapundit.)

Public Employee Unions’ “Cozy Setup” with the Democratic Party

In his column today, Charles Krauthammer, like George Will in his earlier this week, gets at the essence of events in the Badger State and explains the difference between a private enterprise negotiating with a union and a government agency doing the same:

In the private sector, the capitalist knows that when he negotiates with the union, if he gives away the store, he loses his shirt. In the public sector, the politicians who approve any deal have none of their own money at stake. On the contrary, the more favorably they dispose of union demands, the more likely they are to be the beneficiary of union largess in the next election. It’s the perfect cozy setup.

And those who benefit from union largesse are, by and large, Democrats.  Heck, here in California, the unions (most them representing state employees) provided the phone banks for the Democrats’ get-out-the-vote efforts.  No wonder Democrats have become so upset by Walker’s modest and sensible reforms:

To redress these perverse incentives that benefit both negotiating parties at the expense of the taxpayer, Walker’s bill would restrict future government-union negotiations to wages only. Excluded from negotiations would be benefits, the more easily hidden sweeteners that come due long after the politicians who negotiated them are gone. The bill would also require that unions be recertified every year and that dues be voluntary.

Recognizing this threat to union power, the Democratic Party is pouring money and fury into the fight. Fewer than 7 percent of private-sector workers are unionized. The Democrats’ strength lies in government workers, who now constitute a majority of union members and provide massive support to the party. For them, Wisconsin represents a dangerous contagion.

Read the whole thing to see just why the Apollo of punditry dubs “Obama’s Democrats” as “the party of no.”

Oh, and this post about providing the The ”Untold” Story of Scott Walker’s Longstanding History with Labor shows that when Scott Walker ran for governor of Wisconsin, he already had a record of taking on unions.  And he still won by a comfortable margin over a candidate backed by the labor unions.

Wisconsin House Passes Budget Reform Bill; Senate Democrats Block Vote, Blame Republican for holding things up

Wisconsin Democrat Jon Erpenbach is a real piece of work; he flees his job as an elected representative of the people of Wisconsin’s 27th Senate district and blames the state’s Republican governor for his absence! And as he holds up the business of the chamber to which, I repeat, he was elected, he says the governor is the one responsible for the delay.

This is just rich:

Erpenbach, who was in the Chicago area, said all 14 [Democratic] senators remained outside of Wisconsin.

“It’s not so much the Democrats holding things up,” Erpenbach said. “It’s really a matter of Gov. Walker holding things up.”

Amazing, just amazing.   The cheek of this guy.  He demands the elected governor of his state yield to his demands or he won’t participate in the legislative process.

Meanwhile, the Wisconsin House approved the governor’s budget plan while left-wing protestors have taken over the public areas of the state capitol, creating suck a ruckus  ”pounding on drums and chanting . . . loudly that police who are providing security have resorted to ear plugs.”  If these guys were Tea Party protesters, we’d hear an earful about their antics disturbing the peace!

Oh, and these union sympathizers are overnighting on public property.

(The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel headlines its article on the vote, “Budget-repair bill approved in early-morning vote“ whereas Yahoo! headlines the AP piece, “Wis. Assembly passes bill taking away union rights“.  The Wisconsin paper reports that the “61-hour debate that was the longest in living memory.”  ”Democrats offered more than 100 amendments”.  He cites a diva to make his point:

Democrats launched a filibuster, throwing out dozens of amendments and delivering rambling speeches. Each time Republicans tried to speed up the proceedings, Democrats rose from their seats and wailed that the GOP was stifling them.

Doesn’t seem like the governor is demanding his “own way” as one of Erpenbach’s colleagues put it.  Instead, his  package must first pass through the legislative process.  That said, the Wisconsin House Republican leadership should have been more sensitive to their Democratic colleagues when calling the vote and made clear they knew they were voting on final passage.

Still, this is a step in the right direction.  It’s too bad truant Democratic Senators are preventing an elected legislature from doing its job.

UPDATE:  Seems I was a bit hasty in saying Republicans should have been more sensitive to their Democratic colleagues.  The minority party stretched the patience of those elected to run the Wisconsin House to the limit.  The AP, Sonicfrog writes, “altered” its “story to make the Republicans look bad.”  He cites a diva to make his point:

Democrats launched a filibuster, throwing out dozens of amendments and delivering rambling speeches. Each time Republicans tried to speed up the proceedings, Democrats rose from their seats and wailed that the GOP was stifling them.

“The Democrats,” Ann Althouse writes, “were playing games and the Republicans decided to play one of their own.”  The Democrats were trying to gum up the works and whined when Republicans tried to speed up a long-drawn out operation.

UP-UPDATE:  Ed Morrissey has fun with Wisconsin Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller’s statement that Governor Walker has “got to realize there’s more to leadership than just demanding your own way“:

Er … like stamping one’s feet and fleeing the state, with the minority refusing to participate and do their jobs unless Walker makes changes to a bill that would easily pass the legislature?  That kind of “just demanding your own way” is exactly what the minority caucus has been doing for over a week.  If Miller wants to negotiate, the state of Wisconsin has a forum for that: the legislature.

WI Survey Skewed Against GOP Shows Strong Support for Walker’s Budget Plan

In last fall’s gubernatorial election in the Badger State, Republican Scott Walker bested Democrat Tom Barrett by nearly 6 points, winning with 52.25% of the vote to Barrett’s 46.48% of the vote.  In a sample of 500 likely Wisconsin voters where only 46% said they voted for Walker, 71% thought the Republican’s “budget changes that include unions to pay 5.8% of their salary toward the cost of their pensions plans and double their contributions for health care premiums to 12.6% are fair“.

Although they consider the plan fair, Wisconsinites are split on the governor’s overall budget repair bill, with 50% having a somewhat or very favorable opinion of the package and 49% having a somewhat or very favorable view of the union protesters.  Interestingly 69% of Wisconsinites think government workers in their community “have better benefits than private sector workers” while 48% think they are better compensated that private employees, with 29% disagreeing and 23% not sure.

Now, to be sure, 56% favor collective bargaining for public employees.  That said, in all, these numbers suggest that the public employee compensation issue could hurt Democrats in upcoming elections should they appear too cozy with their unions, especially when private sector workers have had to take pay cuts to keep their jobs.

It would be interesting to see what these numbers are for the Golden State.

(H/t: Washington Examiner and Memeorandum.)

Americans Oppose Flight of Wisconsin 14 (& their Indiana Brethren)

Given the responses on the comment threads of my liberal Facebook friends backing the pusillanimous Wisconsin Democrats who would rather flee the state that let the elected majority party vote on legislation they support, this poll doesn’t surprise me:

Half of America’s voters favor public sector unions for government workers, but they strongly oppose the tactic by Wisconsin state senators to flee their state to prevent a vote that would limit the rights of such unions.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that only 25% of Likely U.S. Voters approve of this tactic, while 67% disapprove. State legislators in Indiana have used the same approach to avoid a vote in their state.

Many (but not all) left-of-center friends of my liberal friends, while opposing Governor Walker’s common-sense reforms, take their fellow Democrats to task for their flight.  ”Democrats,” Rasmussen reports, “are fairly evenly divided, with 48% approving and 44% disapproving.”

Given that roughly half of American voters support the idea of government workers organizing in unions, it is no wonder many in the MSM, as in a recent AP article, are saying the bill would take “away public workers’ collective bargaining rights.”  Curtailing does not mean eliminating.  Seem they’re trying to gin up opposition to the bill.

It would be interesting to see if American favor governments serving as collection agencies for these unions and their of use this government-generated largesse to lobby said governments – and also to see if they favor allowing individual employees to opt out of such unions.  Of course, the responses, in many cases, will depend upon the phrasing of the questions.  :-)

Public Employee Unions: mechanism forcing taxpayers to fund Democrats

Whereas various liberal commentators and left-of-center bloggers have contended, to borrow the mild language of CNN’s Roland S. Martin, that Governor Walker seeks to “to end the collective bargaining rights of the various public employees“, that Republican, in fact, in the words of Ed Morrissey proposes only “to limit collective bargaining to wages only — not policy and work environment issues — and to end the ‘closed shop’ in the government sector.

Walker is not, as some have suggested, trying to bust unions, but merely standing up for the state’s taxpayers against public employee unions.  And those unions, as Michael Barone reminds us, siphon money from taxpayers and into the hands of the Democrats:

Follow the money, Washington reporters like to say. The money in this case comes from taxpayers, present and future, who are the source of every penny of dues paid to public employee unions, who in turn spend much of that money on politics, almost all of it for Democrats. In effect, public employee unions are a mechanism by which every taxpayer is forced to fund the Democratic Party.

It’s Barone, read the whole thing.  Would the Democrats and their media allies be fighting so hard if Walker and his fellow elected Republicans weren’t challenging a mainstay of Democratic campaign finance?  There is, as I noted before, a clear conflict of interest when public employee unions engaging in politicking.

Let’s hope that the media firestorm generated by Governor Walker’s modest proposal will cause us to promote an open debate about such politicking.  Recall that in the California gubernatorial race last fall, much ado was made of Republican nominee Meg Whitman pouring tens of millions of her own funds into her campaign, but little reporting was done about the tens of millions public employee unions poured into the campaign of her opponent (and his Democratic allies). (more…)

With media help, Unions and their left-wing allies pull out all stops to undermine Wisconsin Republicans’ electoral mandate

My, how the MSM give into left-wing spin, with Yahoo! offering this headline, “Prank call adds to Wis. governor’s woes: A candid chat with a “billionaire donor” turns into a PR nightmare as the tape goes viral” on its home page.  ”The call,” AP writer Ryan Foley contends, “also revealed Walker’s cozy relationship with two billionaire brothers who have poured millions of dollars into conservative political causes, including Walker’s campaign last year.”

How much tilting of the news to the favored narrative can we find in one sentence?  Not until later in the article do we learn that the Koch’s PAC only gave “$43,000 to Walker’s campaign” while David Koch “gave $1 million to the Republican Governors’ Association, which funded ads attacking Walker’s opponent in last year’s election.”  (Seems Mr. Foley got the message that the Kochs are now high on the approved left-wing list of conservatives to demonize.)  His line makes it sound like Walker received millions in their billionaires’ largesse.

“Cozy relationship” with those billionaires?  Huh?  If the relationship were so cozy, the governor would have recognized that the prankster was not David Koch.  The call, Michelle Malkin notes, shows “that Walker is not in deep, dark cahoots or collusion with Koch. If he were, he would have caught on quickly.” And despite Foley’s spin, consistent with the blather on the left-wing blogs, Walker, Jim Geraghty reminds us, “simply explains why he’s approaching the issue the way he is, and pretty much shrugs off the ‘zany’ comments from the faux-Koch, like, ‘you’re not talking with these Democrat bastards, are you?’

Over at Verum Serum, John does find one comment in this 20 minute call that gets ”close to embarrassing” when “the crank caller suggests putting some ‘troublemakers’ in the crowd. Gov. Walker says we ‘thought about that’ but then goes on to say that he’s hoping there is no trouble so that the media gets tired of covering the protests.”

Ann Althouse finds that Walker ignores the “over-the-line things the Koch impersonator said“, going on instead “with his standard points, which is probably the standard strategy that most politicians use when people interact with them.” (more…)

Fleeing to Illinois to block a vote, Wisconsin Democratic Senator whines that Republicans won’t let him vote

You got to love the cheek of Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton), one of ring-leaders of 14 truant Wisconsin Democratic Senators who’ve fled the Badger State for the Land of Lincoln.  (Guess they must like the tax rates there, considering the number of tax increases Wisconsin Democrats passed when they ran the state legislature).  This guy flees the state so as to prevent a vote on one issue, yet whines that a committee chairman won’t let him vote on another.

Poor baby!

Sen. Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin), the chair of the chamber’s Committee on Transportation and Elections (on which Mr. Erpenach serves), ”refused to let him vote because he and the 13 other Senate Democrats left the state Thursday“:

Senators routinely participate in committee meetings by phone and are allowed to debate, offer amendments and vote on measures. But Lazich said she wasn’t allowing Erpenbach to vote because he had an invalid reasons for being absent.

“I won’t extend courtesies for unethical behavior,” Lazich told Erpenbach.

“Do you want the headline to be, ‘Republicans won’t let Democrats vote,’ even though we’ve allowed that many, many times?” Erpenbach said.

Emphasis added.  Skipping out to avoid voting on one issue seems a pretty invalid excuse for not being in town to vote on another issue..

Oh, and Jon, you got the headline wrong.  It’s not that Republicans won’t let Democrats vote.  It’s that Democrats have fled the state so Republicans can’t vote, even though Wisconsin voters elected them to run the state legislature and to serve in the governor’s mansion.  What cheek, saying Republicans won’t let him vote when he flees the state expressly to block a vote scheduled by majority Republicans! Oh, some Democrats today just don’t realize how silly they sound! (more…)

Governor Walker Makes His Case

Just watched Governor Scott Walker’s talk to the people of his state (and given the ink this story has generated nationwide) the American people as well.  I think it’s well worth your time:

I liked how he began, saluting the state’s public employees, then went on to compare they benefits they receive to those of private sector employees.  Starting at 5:16, he takes on the problems posed by collective bargaining for public employees and why he seeks to limit its use in his state.

On the whole, his delivery was sound, but he did eat a few words.  His speech was, in many ways, Reaganesque with his effective interweaving of personal anecdotes, yet he lacked the Gipper’s velveteen voice and avuncular manner of delivery.  And he acknowledge that Midwestern “trait” of passionate, but civil debate.

I agree with Ann Althouse (my source for the video) who “thought Walker did an excellent job of articulating his side of the controversy.”  (Via Instapundit.)

Wisconsin Republicans Confront Obstructionist Democrats

“Isn’t it good,” Michelle Malkin asks, “to see Republicans playing hardball with delinquent Democrats?”  Indeed, it is, Michelle.  Indeed, it is.  And let’s hope this is how Republicans start treating Democrats who believe election returns should only result in a governing agenda when they win.

If you hadn’t heard already, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is reporting that state Senate Republicans plan to withhold Democrats’ pay, well, that is, those Democrats who don’t show up to do the job to which they were elected (which is the Badger State is none of them):

Senate Republicans voted Tuesday to make Democrats hiding out in Illinois come back to Wisconsin to pick up their paychecks.

The Senate Committee on Organization voted on a 3-2 party line vote, with Republicans voting in favor and Democrats against, to change Senate rules so that senators who miss two consecutive floor days can no longer have their paychecks dropped automatically into their bank accounts. The vote was taken by paper ballot, which allowed Democrats to cast their votes from out-of-state.

Democrats who have already missed two consecutive floor sessions will now have to come to get their paychecks directly from Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) on the floor of the Senate.

Love it.  Let’s hope Republicans across the country take heed to what Wisconsin Senate Republicans are doing.  If the Democrats try to undermine their efforts at real government reform, they need to pull out all stops (as provided by the provisions of their state constitutions and the rules of their respective legislative chambers) to combat these obstructionist tactics.