Gov. Walker claims that his war on the public workers in his state is simply about balancing Wisconsin's budget; believe that and there's a collapsed bridge in MInnesota I'd like to sell you. UPDATE: TPM's Brian Beutler reports that half of Wisconsin's budget shortfall results from three of Walker's own business-coddling initiatives. According to the Capitol Times, as quoted in Beutler's piece, in January, Walker pushed through "$140 million in spending for special interest groups." Walker claims a budget shortfall of $137 million. You do the math.
The fact is, Walker is carrying out the wishes of his corporate master, David Koch, who calls the tune these days for Wisconsin Republicans. Walker is just one among many Wisconsin Republicans supported by Koch Industries -- run by David Koch and his brother, Charles -- and Americans For Prosperity, the astroturf group founded and funded by David Koch. The Koch brothers are hell-bent on destroying the labor movement once and for all.
During his election campaign, Walker received the maximum $15,000 contribution from Koch Industries, according to Think Progress, and support worth untold hundreds of thousands from the Koch-funded astroturf group, Americans For Prosperity. AlterNet recently reported the role of Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and Americans For Prosperity in a vote-caging scheme apparently designed to suppress the votes of African-Americans and college students in Milwaukee. In 2008, Walker served as emcee for an awards ceremony held by Americans For Prosperity. There, he conferred the "Defender of the American Dream" award on Rep. Paul Ryan, now chairman of the House Budget Committee.
But this isn't a local thing. It's a national campaign:
It's said that states are the laboratories of democracy, but the Kochs are determined to make Wisconsin a laboratory of corporate oligarchy. Nationwide, the war on public workers -- and government in general -- is not simply a facet of an ideological notion about the virtues of small government. The war on government is a war against the labor movement, which has much higher rates of union membership in the public sector than it does in the private sector.
Labor is seen by corporate leaders as the last strong line of resistance against the wholesale takeover of government (and your tax dollars) by corporations. So, by this line of thought, labor must die.
The demonization of the public sector unions -- police, firefighters, teachers, forest rangers, all those devils who are sucking the lifeblood of decent Americans everywhere --- has been going on for a long time, but has really picked up speed lately. It's not being to paranoid to wonder if those Koch gathering had something to do with it.
Stan's entire article is a must-read to understand just how influential the Kochs are in Wisconsin. For instance:
You'd think that a big business like Koch Industries would love the idea of stimulus spending, since it's bound to improve the economy. So, what gives? Why do these guys hate the stimulus funds so much?
Well, it seems that too much of it, in their view, goes to preserve the jobs of unionized workers -- like autoworkers and teachers -- which, in turn, preserves unions as part of the U.S. workforce. So that's why, presumably, Americans For Prosperity President Tim Phillips today sent out a newsletter touting an anti-stimulus bill introduced by a House member from the Midwest Frontier Province of Kochistan:
By the way, newly-elected Congressman Sean Duffy from Wisconsin (emphasis mine) made one of his first efforts in Congress a bill that returns non-obligated stimulus funding to the taxpayers. Now his bill has been included in the continuing resolution the House is working on this week. It’s great to see our efforts to end government overspending become the core of actual legislation and not just something we all rally for.
And Wisconsin isn't the only place.
This uprising couldn't have happened in a more important place or illustrate the threat of corporate dominance in our culture and economy any better. It's a full-blown war on workers, and not just union workers. After all, if union wages and benefits are stripped, all wages and benefits will go down. That's the point.
And, by the way, as I keep pointing out, this is an allegedly libertarian Tea party governor who is threatening to unleash the "men with guns" of the government on American citizens and it doesn't seem to aise an eyebrow. Why is that?
Update: Not one fatuous gasbag on television this morning has yet reported that the budget problems in Wisconsin are due to this Koch puppet's tax cuts of last month. Not one. They are just going on and on and on about how broke the country is. Norah O'Donnell was practically crying just now about the "crisis".