All about power

Seattle PI’s Joe Connelly nails it:

How did teachers, nurses and child-care workers find themselves in a bullseye? It’s about power — an underlying campaign by corporate wealth to assume unchallenged command of American democracy.

Government workers did not cause the Great Recession. Nurses did not strip value from 401(k) plans. Schoolteachers did not torpedo Wisconsin school districts’ investments. Care workers did not render WaMu stock worthless, or employees in Washington jobless.

Public employees have not asked for bailouts and then demanded big bonuses as an entitlement. While hidebound at times, their unions have agreed to forgo benefits.

As numerous observers have demonstrated with actual numbers, the actions by Wisconsin Republicans are not about austerity, “saving” the state, or fiscal responsibility. They are a pure Republican attack on public employee unions. The public employees have largely agreed to the fiscal measures in the legislation. They have not agreed to the non-fiscal demands of the legislation–measures that would seriously undermine their rights to collectively bargain.

The public employees offered these concessions even as the Legislature and Governor have engaged in blatant corporate welfare:

Gov. Scott Walker has just signed into law $117 million in corporate tax breaks; the Badger State’s immediate shortfall totals $137 million.

Is it a coincidence that anti-public employee legislation has been introduced nearly simultaneously in Wisconsin, Indiana, and Ohio? I doubt it. Rather I suspect Republicans have taken more from the 2010 elections than the electorate was offering.

Republicans “felt the love” in the 2010 election and proceeded to turn that into a mistaken cocky arrogance. The fact is, in 2010 the electorate was consumed by restlessness and unease over a prolonged nation-wide recession that hit the country under the Bush administration. But political unease almost always swings against the party in power–such is the natural antiphon of politics.

By reading their gains as an endorsement for their war on the middle class, Republicans badly miscalculated. They have overreached. I strongly suspect it will not go unnoticed by the people.

Comments

  1. 1

    FricknFrack spews:

    Thanks Darryl. Not to mention the Republican War on Women:

    60% Of Women Who Come To Planned Parenthood It’s The Only Healthcare They Get
    Moxnews YT: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRMuxXnVN5o

    Run time: 09:33
    Joy Behar talks with Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards and WI Rep. Gwen Moore.
    - – -
    Very powerful discussion!! Especially when they talk about the repeal of the Healthcare Bill – so many woman to be left with NO healthcare whatsoever.

  2. 2

    Another TJ spews:

    Good post. Viva la Cheddar Revolucion!

    Also, FricknFrack is correct; they’re in all-out attack mode against women too. The Republicans badly misread the election, and the American people are fighting back to protect freedom. Republicans have just energized and expanded the Democratic base.

    Also too… But political unease almost swings against the party in power–such is the natural antiphon of politics should either include an “always” after “almost,” or “almost” should be “always.” Or something.

  3. 3

    ld spews:

    Democrats and Union hacks have just spent this country in so deep that all the citizens in this country could not pay the debt off.

    And no one outside the public sector is getting the Cadillac lifetime benefit packages that the public sector are getting.

    So watch WI, it’s coming to a neighborhood in your area very very soon, as the tax payers are fed up with your fat packages

  4. 4

    MikeBoyScout spews:

    By reading their gains as an endorsement for their war on the middle class, Republicans badly miscalculated. They have overreached. I strongly suspect it will not go unnoticed by the people.

    Darryl, as hopeful as this statement is, it is more wishful thinking than anything else.

    The portion of our nation where the war on the middle class is now taking place was saved from economic catastrophe by a Democratic congress and president who fought propaganda and adamant political opposition to rescue the automobile manufacturing base of the mid west. The political outcome of the Democrat’s action was a sweeping in to power of the Republican party.

    While you and I may perfectly understand the logic of correct decisions and believe people will respond accordingly, they don’t. For better or worse, people act and react most frequently because of fear.

    The forces aligned to fund and fuel anti-union sentiment know this. And they will use it to their advantage at every turn.

    The electoral losses in 2010 are chickens coming home to roost. Unless and until severe political and economic penalties are accessed by the electorate, the people with political power and the economic power will push their advantage to the limit. The right to collective bargaining took many years and much blood to obtain. Don’t fool yourself or your readers that the struggle to retain that right will be any easier as a result of logical arguments.

  5. 5

    MarkS spews:

    @3

    What altenative reality do you live in?

    How’s your 401K doing? I suppose you blame its shortfall on public sector unions.

    What a tool.

  6. 9

    Another TJ spews:

    What ld doesn’t comprehend is that his vision of America is one in which ALL workers get screwed, not just contract workers. He hates what America is and wants to destroy it. But freedom loving Americans will continue to oppose him. We outnumber him, and we will win.

  7. 10

    ld spews:

    How do YOU plan to balance the State’s 5 Billion dollar budget mess, by taxing the unemployed and workers who are losing their homes and 401k’s…Oh I get it, so your all paid for Cadillac benefits are preserved…I sure wouldn’t want to ask you to participate in doing your share to alleviate this states democrats fiscal mess. Just retire on your Cadillac pension and watch the other people suffer. I see

  8. 11

    rhp6033 spews:

    Gov. Walker’s campaign in Wisconson is encountering significant problems, as his rhetoric is becoming unmasked. Consider the news over the last 48 hours or so:

    1. Walker said it’s all because of a budget crisis. But the mainstream media has picked up, and is publishing, the fact that the budget crisis is all of Walker’s making. Within one month of attaining office he took a balanced budget and gave away significant portions of the revenue in tax breaks to Republican interests.

    2. After insisting it’s all about the budget crisis, he was cornered on national TV. When asked if the unions agreed to all the salary and pension reductions he proposed, as long as they could keep the right of collective bargaining, he replied “No.”

    3. The bill allowing him to sell public utilities to corporations in no-bid contracts has received unexpected attention. He had hoped to slip that one right on through in the turmoil over his union-busting tactics.

    4. The link between Walker and the Kock brothers was curious, but difficult to pin down. But then Kochs’ company started advertising to hire new management to run the Wisconsin untilities, before the legislation was even passed allowing the utilities to be sold by direction of the Governor.

    5. Yesterday, a blogger pretending to be David Koch called the governor’s office and got through to the governor. He recorded the call, and there is supposed to be a link to it up on Mother Jones (I haven’t had time to check it out yet). The reports I’m hearing say that Walker, thinking he was talking to one of the Koch brothers, pretty much admitted it was all a plot to steal the public utilities and bust the employee unions.

  9. 12

    rhp6033 spews:

    I wondered why the Republicans were taking on the employee unions, right now. The employee unions have been pretty quiet lately, taking wage and benefit cuts without threatening strikes, etc.

    Then it occured to me. Under the recent Citizens United decision, both corporations and unions can make unrestricted campaign donations. If the unions are abolished, then only corporations will enjoy that priviledge.

  10. 13

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    I too think the Republicans overplayed their hand this time. They may win legislative skirmishes in Wisconsin and a couple other states; but, just as we enter the runup to the 2012 election, they’ve united the Democratic base behind a president who was losing the support of his own party.

    Of course, Republicans are acutely conscious of the fact the workers they’re trying to screw vastly outnumber the tiny number of millionaires and billionaires who benefit from economic collapses, wealth concentration, and giving away publicly owned assets to corporate interests. That’s why they work so hard to disenfranchise voters and suppress voter turnout.

    It’s also why they try to pit worker groups against each other. For example, by giving certain unions favored treatment as they try to break other unions. Republicans understand that, when you’re a tiny group of elitists bent on subjugating the majority of people in a society, the only strategy that will work is divide-and-conquer. What the cops and firefighters don’t grasp is that if this strategy is successful, they’re next. The fascist juggernaut stops for no one.

    Small-town shopowners who may have voted Republican and may currently support Gov. Walker should pause and think about where this all leads, because they’re on the “they’re next” list, too. These are their customers who are being economically ground to dust. When their customers can’t afford to buy from them anymore, these shopowners won’t have a business or a livelihood anymore. Do they really think the Koch brothers are concerned about their fate?

  11. 14

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @3 “Democrats and Union hacks have just spent this country in so deep that all the citizens in this country could not pay the debt off.”

    What a load of unabashed lying crap. This economic crisis was “Made in G.O.P.” Every bit of it.

  12. 15

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @5 Chances are his 401(k) is doing very well. Corporations and investors are prospering. The reason is economic growth in developing countries even while our own country stagnates. Today two-thirds of the profits of U.S. corporations come from overseas. They not only don’t need American workers anymore, they don’t need American consumers either.

  13. 16

    Another TJ spews:

    5. Yesterday, a blogger pretending to be David Koch called the governor’s office and got through to the governor. He recorded the call, and there is supposed to be a link to it up on Mother Jones (I haven’t had time to check it out yet). The reports I’m hearing say that Walker, thinking he was talking to one of the Koch brothers, pretty much admitted it was all a plot to steal the public utilities and bust the employee unions.

    You can listen to it here. Walker’s toast.

  14. 18

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @6 Yep, I’m one of those fat, happy, public retirees living high on the hog. What I want to know is, where is my $158 million retirement package? I didn’t get one of those. All I get is a pension I paid for myself with a lifetime of payroll deductions.

    If I’m relatively better off than much of America’s suffering middle class — which is suffering because of Republican looting and raping of the economy — it’s for two reasons, neither of which have anything to do with taxpayers.

    Reason #1: While everyone else was living high on the high with borrowed money, I was paying off my debts, one-by-one, and now I don’t have any debts.

    Reason #2: My net worth came from the stock market, not my state salary or my state pension. If you’ve got a beef about how well I’m doing, wingnuts, go bitch to Wall Street about it.

  15. 19

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @7 We had millions of good family wage jobs with health benefits and pensions in this country until Republicans dismantled them.

  16. 20

    Don Joe spews:

    @ 8

    I’ll call your “time to get bloody,” and raise you a “live ammo.”

    We can play this Democrats bad, Republicans worse game as many times as one wants, and I’ll win it every time.

  17. 21

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @8 The irony is that, historically, all the bleeding has been done by workers, strikers, and unionists. Yep, the good Democratic representative from Massachusetts is telling us we may have to suffer again, because employers and their goons are on the warpath against the working class again.

    Thanks for pointing that out.

    Oh, and by the way, it isn’t Democrats who are using “civil war” rhetoric or flashing guns at public meetings. As far as that goes, you rightwing assholes who are itching for a bloody fight may find out, if you push things far enough, that those who ride the tiger sometimes get eaten by the tiger.

  18. 22

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @10 “How do YOU plan to balance the State’s 5 Billion dollar budget mess, by taxing the unemployed and workers who are losing their homes and 401k’s…”

    Nope, by closing tax loopholes that exempt our wealthiest corporations and households from paying any state taxes.

    Since you’ve had your head up your ass all your life, and therefore have been unable to read newspapers, let me point out a fact of which you’re unaware:

    In Washington, the poorest 20% of households pay 17% of their income in state and local taxes while the richest 20% pay only 3% of theirs.

    Obviously, when you’re faced with drastically declining revenue that threatens your ability to maintain basic public services, you should go to those who haven’t been paying at all much less paying their fair share. Just take away their special tax privileges and make them pay the same taxes everyone else does. It’s as simple as that.

    “Oh I get it,”

    You get nothing. You’re as stupid as they come.

  19. 23

    Another TJ spews:

    @ 20,

    He also said “when necessary.” There was never any implied violence from Dems or the unions. Just that it may be necessary to take a few blows from GOP thugs.

    The full quote: “I’m proud to be here with people who understand that it’s more than just sending an email to get you going. Every once and awhile you need to get out on the streets and get a little bloody when necessary.”

  20. 24

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @12 Unions are a major source of financial and manpower support for the Democratic Party, and the public sector is the only part of the economy where unions haven’t been losing membership. This isn’t just an assault on unions, it’s an attempt to destroy the Democratic Party.

  21. 25

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @8 “It’s all about thuggery”

    You do have that part of it right. This is indeed about Republican thuggery. And, for the first time in living memory, Democratic electeds are showing some spine and standing up to it. Hooray for them!

  22. 28

    spews:

    10. ld spews:

    How do YOU plan to balance the State’s 5 Billion dollar budget mess, by taxing the unemployed and workers who are losing their homes and 401k’s…Oh I get it, so your all paid for Cadillac benefits are preserved…I sure wouldn’t want to ask you to participate in doing your share to alleviate this states democrats fiscal mess. Just retire on your Cadillac pension and watch the other people suffer. I see

    02/23/2011 at 6:47 am

    (I think we actually have to go back to the Cyniklown’s cabana boy…Marvin Stamn to find another troll this mind-numbingly stupid.)

    OK asshole…simple solution.

    Raise revenue. Eliminate corporate tax breaks. “Share the sacrifice.”

    Makes too much sense for a pea-brain like you though.

  23. 29

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @27 Got it. That recording is damning. I hope the MSM picks it up. There are signs Walker’s dike is leaking and may fail — several Republican governors have already come out against him. And, according to Mother Jones, polls show Walker’s popularity plummeting in Wisconsin — and show that state’s public backing the unions.

  24. 31

    Politically Incorrect spews:

    rodent said:

    “All I get is a pension I paid for myself with a lifetime of payroll deductions.”

    You funded your entire defined benefit plan yourself without any contributions from “guvmint?” I’m finding that hard to believe.

  25. 32

    Politically Incorrect spews:

    “… it’s an attempt to destroy the Democratic Party.”

    Well, I’m sure the Dems would love to destroy the Reps if they get the chance. I have no problem with both parties destroying themselves. There’s not much difference between them anyway.

  26. 33

    Don Joe spews:

    @ 31

    I’m finding that hard to believe.

    Some people find it hard to believe that Pres. Obama was born in Hawaii. Still others find it hard to believe that the Earth is spheroid.

    What you do, or do not, find “hard to believe” is risibly irrelevant.

  27. 34

    Politically Incorrect spews:

    @33,

    It would take quite a fortune to accumulate enough money to fund a defined benefit plan. It requires the knowledge of an actuary, and they don’t come cheap. For a relatively simple idea – a set payment for life – defined benefit plans are quite complex. Just ask the private companies saddled with these dinosaurs. Defined benefit plans only work when people die on time, and, dammit, they’ve been living longer and longer for decades!

    The rodent isn’t smart enough to run his own defined benefit plan: there was government contributions and management of the plan if he indeed has a defined benefit plan. What is most likely true is that he, like you, doens’t know what he’s talking about.

  28. 36

    Xar spews:

    @31: Hard to say. Depends on how long he was in state service, what plan he’s in, and how long he’s been retired. I’d guess he probably hasn’t, but he sure as hell accepted lower pay in order to get the good pension. Are you seriously suggesting that the state gets to default on its contractual obligations whenever they’re inconvenient? I kind of doubt you’d be okay with the state breaking contracts with private businesses.

    @32: Except that when given the chance, they didn’t. They subjected corporations to a tiny bit more of oversight, but didn’t try to drive them all out of existence the way that Republicans are trying to destroy unions. If unions go away, there’s no entities nearly large enough to go toe-to-toe with corporations in political donations. It’s already not a fair fight (since unions have to disclose and corporations don’t, and because corporations are much larger), but Republicans see a way to buy the government they want for the next fifty years, and thus ensure that we never have a rational or moderate enough Supreme Court to overturn Citizens United.

  29. 37

    Xar spews:

    @34: Defined benefit plans actually work fine, as long as your corporate masters don’t raid the piggy bank anytime they think they can get away with it, leaving taxpayers on the hook.

  30. 38

    Don Joe spews:

    @ 34

    What is most likely true is that he, like you, doens’t know what he’s talking about.

    Well, what I’m talking about is the difference between speculation and fact, and, apparently, you haven’t a clue as to that distinction. Not surprising, actually.

  31. 39

    helpmerhonda spews:

    Labor lawyer Ida Klaus said in 1965, “the subject of labor relations in public employment could not have meant less to more people, both in and out of government.” To the extent that people thought about it, most politicians, labor leaders, economists, and judges opposed collective bargaining in the public sector.

    President Franklin Roosevelt, a friend of private-sector unionism, drew a line when it came to government workers: “Meticulous attention,” the president insisted in 1937, “should be paid to the special relations and obligations of public servants to the public itself and to the Government….The process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service.” F.D.R. believed that “a strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to obstruct the operations of government until their demands are satisfied. Such action looking toward the paralysis of government by those who have sworn to support it is unthinkable and intolerable.” Roosevelt was hardly alone in holding these views, even among the champions of organized labor.

    The first president of the AFL-CIO, George Meany, believed it was “impossible to bargain collectively with the government.”

    All these Liberal Democrats were right.
    All Public Employee Unions are is money-laundering machines for the democrat party.
    raises=higher dues=more money to democrat party.

  32. 41

    Michael spews:

    @7

    Ask all the contract workers in America what they are getting for benies and retirements eh

    And they’ll tell you not nearly enough. Meanwhile the rich keep getting richer.

  33. 42

    spews:

    bawk bawk bawk Koch brothers???

    When David Koch calls to discuss “Democrat bastards”, Gov. Walker takes the call..

    Thank goodness someone is out there willing to commit an act of journalism.

  34. 43

    rhp6033 spews:

    MSNBC has picked up the story:

    “Thinking he was talking to one of his major campaign backers, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker yesterday compared his stand against Wisconsin public employee unions to Ronald Reagan’s 1981 firing of the air traffic controllers, saying that it was a moment that changed the course of history and led to the fall of communism….

    Walker in prank call: ‘This is our moment’

    So Walker thinks that Reagan gutting the air traffic controller’s union in 1981 led to the fall of Communism?

    Apparantly he hasn’t heard anything about Lech Wolensa, the Solidarity Union and the Gdansk Shipyards, and a Polish pope who supported them.

  35. 45

    Michael spews:

    @43
    Or the Soviets invasion of Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia flooding the oil markets with oil and under cutting the Soviets on oil.

  36. 48

    maximum overdrive spews:

    Hmmm..so how come no comments on the story of fraud in the Seattle school district costing tax payers $1.8 million…guess nobody cares.

    Someone brings it up and everyone pretends it doesnt exist.

    oh, but we need to raise taxes….fuck that.

  37. 49

    proud leftist spews:

    I’ve now listened to the whole recorded conversation between “David Koch” and Walker. Wow. What becomes crystal clear is that Walker is (1) a megalomaniac; (2) in way over his head; (3) not too bright; and (4) as rabidly partisan as someone can be. If he retains any credibility now with anyone who can think independently, I’d be shocked. It is so satisfying to watch wingnuts implode.

  38. 50

    maximum overdrive spews:

    @20

    ya..nice version of “winning”…we all lose you stupid asshole…go blow your boyfriend.

  39. 51

    Ekim spews:

    47. Another TJ spews:

    @ 43 and 45,

    Oh, come on. Everyone knows the Soviet Union fell because of Sputnik.

    No. it was Ronny Raygun saying “Tear down that wall” that did it. He gets all the credit.

  40. 52

    czechsaaz spews:

    More than just wishful thinking…

    This was my lifelong friend, neighbor born 5 days after me pre-through-high classmate’s, facebook over the weekend:

    “I am a public employee. I am not the problem. Wall Street made billions, crashed the economy, and got a tax cut. Average Americans followed the rules and got thrown to the wolves. Teachers, librarians, police officers, paramedics, firefighters, parks & recreation staff and others are NOT the enemy. We live here, pay taxes, work hard, and contribute to our own pensions and are trying to support our families. I care.” (BTW, he’s a firefighter.)

    He’s a committed Christian of the somewhat crazy evangelical wing who I suspect has never voted ‘D’ in his lifetime.

    If the attitude and actions of Rs toward labor are losing his type of voter, game over.

    In comparative terms, the R’s are betting their pocket rockets hard but haven’t noticed that a flush draw came up on the flop and don’t have the sense not to toss more money into the pot.

  41. 53

    Another TJ spews:

    @ 51,

    You can’t be suggesting that Sarah Palin was wrong about something, can you? That’s unpossible!

  42. 54

    Don Joe spews:

    @ 48

    “Hmmm..so how come no comments on the story of fraud in the Seattle school district”

    Hold that thought…

    @ 50

    @20

    ya..nice version of “winning”…we all lose you stupid asshole…go blow your boyfriend

    So, the only thing you have to say about “time to get bloody” vs “live ammunition” is to tell someone to go perform fellatio, but you want folks here to discuss reports of fraud before we have all of the facts.

    Does someone pay you to be this stupid?

  43. 56

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @31 What’s hard to believe about funding modest pensions with 6% of the employees’ before-tax earnings when you have 30 years to invest it? Most of the pension payments come from investment earnings. Theoretically, the state was supposed to pay an “employer contribution” into the fund, but the legislature has been welshing this payments for years; and, in any case, as part of the employees’ “total compensation” that money, too, is the employees’ money.

  44. 57

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @34 “It would take quite a fortune to accumulate enough money to fund a defined benefit plan. It requires the knowledge of an actuary, and they don’t come cheap.”

    You can look up online how much the state actuary gets paid. I’d guess about $100,000 a year, which is considerably less than a first-year banker with a freshly minted MBA gets. As an overhead cost of operating the state’s $50 billion of pension plans, that’s peanuts.

  45. 58

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @34 I have absolutely no say in how my state pension is run. Regarding my financial management abilities, I ran my own IRA and 20 years after starting it, it was worth 14 times what I put into it.

  46. 59

    rhp6033 spews:

    Proud Leftist @ 49: Walker’s talking about starting “recall campaigns” to try to force the Wisconsin Senate Democrats out of office.

    After these revelations, I’m wondering how well Walker would do in his own recall campaign. I’m pretty sure a majority of the people of Wisconsin are feeling like they were duped in the last guvenatorial election, they didn’t sign on for their state government to become the laughing stock of the nation.

  47. 60

    MarkS spews:

    @59

    My understanding is in Wisconson any politician can be recalled after serving at least one year. Those opposing Scott Walker have considered a recall but will have to wait since Walker was recently sworn in as governor.

  48. 61

    proud leftist spews:

    rhp
    I think a lot of Wisconsinites are wondering how they got duped by this guy. Given the generally blue nature of the state, the last election is a real anomaly. In putting the GOP in power, I’m quite certain that the electorate didn’t vote to roll the calendar back 60 or 80 years. I have to believe that Walker and friends have grossly overplayed their hand and that the GOP is going to be getting kicked in Wisconsin for quite a long time.

  49. 62

    spews:

    Walker pulled all kind of whacked stunts while county executive of Milwaukee County.

    The last stunt cost the the county 430 large before he left office there..

    The guy is a freaking nut. But teabaggers were motivated and Dems were disheartened in 2010.

    Always vote. Always…

  50. 63

    ld spews:

    Yeh Roger, please tell me how much you personally donated into your defined Pension Plan. I gotta hear this one.

    I personally know someone who has worked only 7 years for the State, and they will retie in 3 with a defined pension fund.

    Show me a company where that is the case, other than the top execs.

  51. 65

    Mary P spews:

    Seven year vesting in private pension plans is not unusual. Weyerhaeuser continues to offer defined benefit plans to most of its employees with seven year vesting.

    Boeing has non-union employees in denfined contributions as well as defined benefit plans both of which vest after seven years (less if employees are retired military and can count a fraction of their military years).

    Simpson Timber employee retirementment benefits vest at 5 years. Some represented employees are in union plans. The company plan for non-union employees combines defined benefit and profit sharing.

    These are but a few examples but 5 year vesting is not at all unusual for major firms. Seven year vesting is more common for smaller companies.