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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Walker's Fireside Crap

by Michael A Leon

Update: Scott Walker admits objective on collective bargaining: Weakening unions

Gov. Scott Walker's chat with Wisconsin last night has all the sincerity of the AIG derivatives executive's assurance to investors that their money is safely and productively at work months before the economic catastrophe hit.

But Walker goes in for reverse-Enron accounting, claiming a deficit crisis when no such crisis exists.

Unfortunately for Walker, that pesky non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) has debunked the budget crisis notion, as State Rep, Mark Pocan (D-Madison) points out, a fact Walker refuses to address.

Worse, Walker claims he will be forced to lay off workers if he doesn't get his way on the budget; saying he doesn't want to lay people off, even as he refuses to negotciate.

Here is a partial list of highlights and significant omissions from Walker's chat:

  • No mention of the corporate give-aways and their clear relevancy to the budget, or his promises to the super-wealthy
  • Claimed appreciation for working families whose members he is threatening to lay off
  • Using the passive voice to absolve himself of responsibility for laying off workers and devastating families; it's an old politician's trick in the tradition of 'mistakes were made,' Walker said, "If there is no agreement by July 1st, another 5-6 thousand state workers -- as well as 5-6 thousand local government employees would be also laid off," in addition to those workers Walker promises to axe next week if Walker does not get his way on ending collective bargaining, animated by what Walker assures us "isn't a battle with unions," or he would" have gone after the private-sector unions," the Wagner Act notwithstanding in Walker's most bizarre statement of the evening
  • Continued lying about the "budget deficit" as though Walker has no choice but to accept the 6.2 percent increase in state agencies that the LFB says would lead to a short-fall in the vanishingly unlikely event that the legislature adopts the estimate as a budget
  • No mention of the fact that all of Wisconsin's school districts, counties, and municipalities have never asked of Walker to implement his scheme to forbid collective bargaining, and in fact are requesting that he not end collective bargaining (Mosiman). Walker's proposed end to collective bargaining "goes far beyond what we asked for. We were not expecting to abolish the collective bargaining process altogether," said Dan Thompson, executive director of the League of Wisconsin Municipalities. [See also Tarr.]
  • Implying that "millions of taxpayers from across the state" do not include those working families who disagree with Walker
  • Deriding workers demonstrating solidarity as an ominous occurrence as "more and more protesters come in from Nevada, Chicago and elsewhere" overwhelming the voices of the millions of taxpayers from across the state, save public workers who do not pay taxes apparently in Walker world
  • Calling for pension contributions increases without mentioning the unions' offer to do just that as Wisconsin's pension fund remains among the nation's healthiest (Carter)
  • Refusing to mention that public unions have made good-faith offers on pensions, health care, salaries; and that Walker refuses to negotiate
Many more lies are found in the brief address.

The rest is typical divide-and-conquer rhetoric, pitting the unemployed against the employed, the pubic versus the private sector, and demonizing Democratic state senators who are fighting for collective bargain for Wisconsin families.

"Do the job you were elected to do," Walker said. "You don't have to like the outcome, or even vote yes, but as part of the world's greatest democracy, you should be here, in Madison, at the Capitol."

Yes, but aren't Democratic state senators protecting Wisconsin families? Walker refuses to engage the question.

This is not a governor. This is a ruler who is willing to terrorize Wisconsin working families for his petty pursuit of power and narrow ideology. And Walker thinks he is untouchable.

To conclude on a positive note when Walker looks at the camera and lies, he presents a visage more appealing than Richard Nixon's, though a viewer is left with the impression of a well-concealed smirk of someone who just got away with cheating on an exam.

This will change. Walker is desperate as polls show most Americans and an increasing number of GOP governors reject the idea of demonizing public workers and outlawing collective bargaining.

As Alex Pareene writes in Salon of Walker's chat, "It was not a particularly inspiring or convincing performance, and I imagine a lot of Wisconsinites are still suffering from buyer's remorse tonight."

No doubt, but Walker has revitalized the progressive movement in Wisconsin to a degree that this writer has never seen. The world is watching and outside of Appalachia and the Old South, the world stands with Wisconsin workers.
- via mal

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