Saturday, February 26, 2011

Recall the Governor, keep the Republic

Hi everybody,

So, here we are again.

Saturday's column.

Recall the governor, keep the republic

Gov. Walker, who now compares himself to Ronald Reagan, has not had a great week. Everyone in the country sees his “Budget Repair Bill” for what it was: union busting wrapped up in the flag of a fake “financial crisis” – a strategy he used to squeeze Wisconsin workers out of their county building security jobs last year, inappropriately if not illegally, as the arbitrator has now ruled.

Everyone sees it, that is, except for the indignant Walker-supporter castaways in the news stream and the Americans for Prosperity and Club for Growth funded advertisers who continue to pound their shoes on the table. like howler monkeys having a bad hair day, repeating the whole “public employees don’t want to pay their fair share” bull hockey. You don’t hear self-righteous anger in their tone anymore. It’s fear – they sound like resentful guard dogs barking to protect the huge tax breaks Mr. Walker promised their owners.

But it’s just barking and, as usual, barking up the wrong tree.

The “fair share” decoy never really floated. The money is off the table, in fact, it’s been off the table for a while. A lot of the latest concessions were drafted and ready to go late last fall during that round of contracts the lame duck legislative session voted down. In the meantime, public employees have come forward and, once again, said “no problem, we’ll take a hit for the team” by paying more on their pensions and health insurance.

Of course, a truth like this gets in the way of an emotionally satisfying fit of barking. I suspect we’ll be hearing a lot more barking – especially if people keep feeding the dogs.

But the barking isn’t working very well. In fact, it’s alienated some of the most important sectors of Wisconsin’s population. The Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee and the Diocese of LaCrosse issued statements of support for state workers. The Wisconsin State Firefighters Association showed up to support the protesters and the executive board president of the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Association says he now regrets endorsing Walker for governor. Even former Green Bay Packer members of the National Football Player’s Association have issued statements of support for Wisconsin workers.

When you’ve alienated both the Catholic Church and the Green Bay Packers, you really need to re-think what you’re doing.

Oh, and Time magazine reports that people are phoning into local pizza parlors in Madison to buy pizza for the protesters. They’re phoning in from all over the world, including Cairo.

Even Egypt is sending pizza.

On top of all that, the governor got caught admitting to going after Wisconsin union families in a telephone call from someone impersonating one of the Koch brothers. Apparently a fake billionaire can reach the governor on the phone when real Democratic senators cannot. That tells us everything we need to know.

But wait, there’s more.

Gov. Walker is just getting warmed up. All of this hubbub is only the beginning. Like I said, there’s going to be a lot more barking and a lot more pain for Wisconsin families. Even the sunny new, non-threatening Club for Growth ads showing happy Wisconsin cows (as opposed to their initial, menacing and divisive ads that tried to drive a wedge between union and nonunion families) won’t keep the pain away. These cuts to public employee salaries will only take care of about 8 percent of the budget problem. That other 92 percent is still on the horizon, like a storm rolling in from Iowa.

Make sure your windows are up.

If you think the public employees got irritable having their union rights threatened, and if you think the effect of cutting their salaries (which will drain $42.4 million out of the local economy in Ozaukee, Washington and Dodge counties alone) just wait until Gov. Walker asks your local municipalities to cover the rest – wait until they cut your town’s snow- plowing budget and garbage pick-up in order to cover the lavish and delicious tax cuts Mr. Walker promised his buddies.

It doesn’t have to be like this. We can ask the Legislature to figure out a smarter way to balance this budget, and in a way that addresses the budget rather than the political promises Mr. Walker made to Big Money.

Or we can recall the rascal in 2012.

Hey, Wisconsin is good at this. What if we stood up to Wall Street fat cats – like Gov. Walker’s friends the Koch brothers (who opened up a brand new lobbying office across from the Capitol) – and made government work for the other 98 percent of us for a change?

Let’s remember how this great American Party got started.

As Benjamin Franklin left the Constitutional Convention on Sept. 18, 1787, a Mrs. Powell from Philadelphia shouted out to him: “Well, doctor, what have we got?”

“A Republic," Ben responded, "if you can keep it.”

Let’s keep it.

What do you say?


No comments: