On Wisconsin!

On Tuesday I’ll drive from Chicago up to Sauk City, Wisconsin, to do voter protection, that is, pollwatching while holding a law degree.  Wisconsin historically has offered exceptionally inclusive voter access, including in-precinct same-day registration.  But one of the many delightful consequences of the Republican takeover of the state is a photo-i.d. law which isn’t supposed to take effect til the first of the year but is unclear enough to make for messy election days–precisely what the sponsors intended.  So I’ll go up there and do what I can to make sure everybody can vote, and hope that the selfsame “everybody” will throw the anti-collective-bargaining rascals out.

(Last weekend at the Bughouse Square debates–the Newberry Library’s annual effort to restore the fine art of soapbox speaking–the central topic was public-sector collective bargaining.   The young man speaking in opposition wore a Solidarity t-shirt as he argued that “public employee collective bargaining inserts needless conflict between citizen and citizen.”  Does he realize that Solidarity was a public-sector union?)

I’m going to Wisconsin because it’s a political situation about which I can do something–contra the whole debt-ceiling mess, about which I can do absolutely nothing.  I disagree with my colleagues on the left who think the President got backed into a corner on the debt ceiling because he’s weak.  He got backed into a corner because he’s actually trying to govern and the people he’s dealing with are not.

When the President was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, skeptics wondered what he could possibly have done to deserve it.  It seemed pretty straightforward to me: his election meant the restoration of constitutional government in the world’s only superpower.  What could be more essential to peace?

Unfortunately, the Constitution had been damaged more than most of us realized, and merely electing a President didn’t guarantee its restoration–not when anti-government idealogues control the legislature and the judiciary.   All the finger-pointing on the left ignores the extent to which the right is engaging in the deliberate destruction of our governmental system.

The idea that people who hate government are controlling ours is actually more frightening than the notion that the President somehow betrayed us by averting a default.  The scary thing is, he did as much as he could.

Author: Kelly Kleiman

Kelly Kleiman is a freelance writer on the arts, feminism, travel and social justice. Her reportage and essays have appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and Christian Science Monitor, among other dailies; in magazines, including In These Times and Dance; in the alternative press; on the BBC; and on Chicago Public Radio, where she’s one of the “Dueling Critics” and a contributor to the Onstage Backstage theater blog. She is also a consultant to charities and editor and publisher of The Nonprofiteer, a blog about charity, philanthropy and nonprofit management. She holds undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Chicago.

41 thoughts on “On Wisconsin!”

  1. Criticizing Republicans for damaging the Constitution might be taken more seriously coming from someone who acknowledges Obama’s violations of the Constitution, such as by holding prisoners indefinitely without due process, including in secret prisons; attempting to assassinate American citizens abroad; and torturing people. Obama stopped torturing Bradley Manning only when more than 250 law professors published a petition stating, “The sum of the treatment that has been widely reported is a violation of the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment and the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee against punishment without trial.” http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2011/apr/28/private-mannings-humiliation/

  2. Are you seriously claiming that Obama was elected to restore the constitution? Bush was bad enough in his day, Barack took over and basically continued the destruction 10 fold. With statement’s like that, this blog looks like nothing but manufactured propaganda. The frightening thing is we’re a country that has allowed itself to be taken over by a bunch of narcissistic politicians and bankers RATHER than operating under a constitution based on individual liberty. Even Obama’s own party is starting to wake up and see the civil violations, lies and crony-capitalism this president fully supports.

  3. Kelly,

    Thank you for going to Wisconsin – it’s my home state (Green Bay) and I am appalled at what is happening. I am also appalled at teh lack of response by Obama. Has systematically avoided meaningful comment on the all out attack on democracy going on there. This, and many other behaviors convinces me that he is really a Republican, with little or no respect for the Constitution. Obama claims to be a Democrat and to respect the Constitution, but his behavior is not consistent with what he has said. That Wisconsin is going through this incredible attack on democracy within the state and is doing so without any significant outrage at the obvious illegality from our national leaders, especially Obama is an outrage. What is happening in this country is no longer a result of eight years of Bush. Obama now owns it, especially the ongoing damage to the Constitution.

    Good luck on Tuesday, and again, thank you for doing this.

  4. I have to say, this is where I part ways with various Kleimans. I agree that 4 more Obama years are about the best we can hope for. I strongly disagree that that’s anywhere near good enough. And pretending that he’s somehow protecting the constitution, as Henry notes, is delusional. I don’t believe that all of this is a personal fault of Obama’s – surely the absurdly overreaching attacks on whistle blowing, however, are – much of it is systemic. But cheerleading in the face of his abandonment of the rule of law, attacks on transparency, defense of torturers, and continuance of much of the Bush machinery is hardly reality based. It doesn’t matter that we could do worse. We simply must do better.

  5. Did I mention starting wars without congressional authorization? G is right: we don’t need to read propaganda for Obama on the blog. Obama is a lesser evil, in most respects, than the Republicans; that’s all I can accept.

  6. I say ignore Obama going forward. Don’t give him a cent. He’ll be well-funded by his plutocrats and the professional neoliberal class. He is what he is what he is. Whatever he is…
    But what is going on in Wisconsin is vital for Progressives. That sort of situation is where you want to leverage your political donations.
    Here is why: The Kochs are working their money sotto voce to privatize schools, road building, police work, prisons, firehouses.

    And they are winning. The first step is legislation like Walker’s. The second step is an ongoing recession (if not outright destruction of Federal credit).
    Why would the Koch’s and various billionaires urge austerity through their acolytes in the heart of a recession?
    I mean really, everyone with a brain that doesn’t do the Ditto-head thing knows that austerity is insane, and will only lead to more recession…
    And billionaires aren’t stupid. They know better. Hell even Larry Summers now knows better as he now struts about urging stimuli.

    So why the national fist bump for austerity?

    Because the plunging revenue associated with a recession forces States to fire public employees: Teachers, cops, prison guards, fireman.
    Call it a shock doctrine. And check out this graph I found over on J. Bernstein’s blog:

    http://jaredbernsteinblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Xmarksthespot-UPDATE.jpg

    See what I mean? The Kochs are winning. Public employees are being loaded into boxcars…
    And guess what the Kochs hope to fill the vacuum with?

    Obama doesn’t give a neoliberal’s fart about any of this. Maybe he once did. Or once thought he did. But at best you can say he is in the bubble, at worst you can say, he ought to quit the Democratic party and run as a Republican. But the larger issue is this: A recession is good (like nothing else) for Republican policy making. The S.&P. thing is a perfect example of right-wing collusion to cripple/shock the nation, and fill the leadership vacuum with billionaire company stores. You’ll have pay a toll to drive your kids to a school you’ll have to pay to get them in. And you’ll have to choose between better police protection or a better school for your kid…

    This is your future.
    But Wisconsin is a chance to smash the Kochs plan in the face…

  7. Yeah, the idea of Obama restoring the Constitution is hilarious. At the margins, he’s probably trashed it in slightly different ways than McCain would have… Though only at the margins. But that he would restore any part of it was never in the cards.

  8. All the finger-pointing on the left ignores the extent to which the right is engaging in the deliberate destruction of our governmental system.

    Not true, and insulting.

  9. To the extent that a) proper functioning of our governmental system requires actual compromise among the Senate, House, and President, and not capitulation by the President and Senate to the House, and b) historically our institutions have operated under certain norms (e.g., the filibuster is reserved for issues considered to be of vital importance and not every damned motion to proceed and Assistant Under Secretary) outside the formal rules, it’s fair to say the right is engaging in the deliberate destruction of our governmental system, and is damned proud of it.

  10. Loris- which part is not true? That it is destructive, or deliberate?

    Nothing personal, but I don’t care if people are insulted. From where I sit, the facts look pretty obvious. A lot of people don’t like to be told the truth, but still need to hear it.

  11. It’s baseline destruction, Swift: We’re destroying the government by not helping it grow as fast as Democrats want.

    Don, there wasn’t any compromise on the Republicans’ part? Man, I didn’t know that the Ryan plan actually got past the Senate, excuse me while I run off to the store for sum champagne and call some friends over to celebrate.

  12. Ryan’s plan was not on the table- he couldn’t get support within his party so it became a non-starter, not a compromise – it is quite a difference. Republicans have been destroying government over the past decade and longer, and taking great glee in doing so.

  13. Republicans sent a debt ceiling increase bill to the Senate. Senate rejected it. Next bill was different. This is compromise. It’s compromise even if you didn’t like it.

    Just as taxing is taxing, even if it’s not as much taxing as you want.

  14. Again I’ll point out that Brett is trolling, since he very well knows that the Ryan plan would not eliminate the deficit for another decade, requiring the debt ceiling to be raised anyways. Flamebait if there ever was…

  15. @Jamie–It’s not true that the left’s criticism of Obama “ignores the extent to which the right is engaging in the deliberate destruction of our governmental system.” We aren’t ignoring it; it’s a given, it’s the context.

  16. To the extent that …b) historically our institutions have operated under certain norms outside the formal rules, it’s fair to say the right is engaging in the deliberate destruction of our governmental system, and is damned proud of it.

    When everything the Supreme Court did or allowed from the Switch in Time to Rehnquist has been reversed to something that it’s imaginable for the court to have do prior, I’ll care.

  17. We’re destroying the government by not helping it grow as fast as Democrats want.

    Not quite right Brett. But that’s okay. I expect you aren’t privy to the meeting sessions of the oligarchs.
    Here is the correct version: We’re destroying the government by not helping the economy grow as fast as Democrats want.
    Let me get you completely up to speed on the matter: Kill revenues so you can drown government in a bathtub. How do you kill revenues? Depress the economy and prevent taxes.

    Krugman gets it, although he doesn’t come out and quite say what I have here. Which is this: In the era of billionaires, there are a group of rogue billionaires who are purposely working against recovery. And if you think that is way off base, I submit that if the Koch billionaires are purposely working to prevent remedies to global warming, how much far-fetched is it to think they are working to torpedo recovery by financing the message of austerity?

    Here is Krugman in his latest column that shows he gets what I am saying, sans the rogue billionaire cherry on top:

    Indeed, slashing spending while the economy is depressed won’t even help the budget situation much, and might well make it worse. On one side, interest rates on federal borrowing are currently very low, so spending cuts now will do little to reduce future interest costs. On the other side, making the economy weaker now will also hurt its long-run prospects, which will in turn reduce future revenue. So those demanding spending cuts now are like medieval doctors who treated the sick by bleeding them, and thereby made them even sicker.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/01/opinion/the-president-surrenders-on-debt-ceiling.html?_r=1&src=tp#&pagewanted=all

  18. I find it amusing that this thread, which contains numerous assertions that the Republicans are set on destroying democracy, started with a discussion of the political situation in Wisconsin. To recap:

    There are two significant political parties in Wisconsin – Party A and Party B

    1) Party A won big in the most recent (November) statewide elections in Wisconsin. Those elections were free and open.
    2) So Party A attempted to pass a legislative agenda that was completely in keeping with the governing philosophy of Party A and fully within the proper legal authority of the state government. This agenda was, according to opinion polls conducted in Wisconsin after the November election, broadly popular with the people of Wisconsin but in any event if it were not those same people of Wisconsin would have had the opportunity to vote the representatives of Party A out of office in the next statewide election if they felt that Party A was not governing in accordance with their wishes.
    3) A number of legislators from Party B, realizing that Party A was likely to soon pass their preferred legislative agenda given the fact that Party A held a solid majority in the Wisconsin legislature (having won those free elections the prior November) and the Wisconsin Governor’s mansion, decided to flee the state in order to prevent legislative business from moving forward. In so doing, they took advantage of quorum rules that were designed to prevent a minority from imposing its will on the state in the event that the opposing majority was physically unable to be present for legislative votes. Ironically, in fleeing the state this minority was seeking to deny the majority the proper legal right to enact legislation. During this period, many hundreds of activists sympathetic to Party B, including a large number from out of state, occupied the Wisconsin statehouse, effectively making it difficult for the duly elected legislature of Wisconsin to conduct business.
    4) Party A was ultimately able to pass its legislative agenda. In response, activists associated with Party B immediately filed legal challenges, which was well within their right and the norms of democratic governance.
    5) But those same activists from Party B also simultaneously initiated a campaign to politicize a state supreme court election featuring an incumbent who was genrally thought to be sympathetic to Party A, despite a longstanding tradition in the state of judicial elections being relatively free of partisan politics. When the incumbent won, the losing candidate from Party B mounted a multi-week legal challenge against the outcome of the election despite there being no evidence that the result was anything but legitimate and despite the largin of vistory being significantly larger than what could be explained by mis-counts in voting. Activists associated with Party B actively circulated conspiracy theories suggesting that Party A had committed fraud in the election, theories which had no basis in fact but which served to undermine public confidence in the legitimate institutions of government. The state supreme court was expected to subsequently rule on the legality of the legislation advocated by Party A and passed in the state legislature.
    6) Subsequently, another member of the Wisconsin supreme court who is generally thought to be sympathetic to Party B accused the justice who had won said election of physical assault, a charge which, if true, would have likely warranted his disbarment removal from the state supreme court. Despite the alleged assualt occuring in the presence of multiple other parties, no charges have been filed and sources close to the event have subsequently come forward to claim that the iniator of the physical altercation was in fact the justice who had made the original accusation.
    7) Also, activists associated with Party B initiated recall elections against selected legislators associated with Party A. Recall elections are traditionally reserved for situations where a sitting legislator is tied up in significant scandal, or has otherwise failed to execute his or her duties. Recall elections have not historically been used to undue the political ramifications of general elections, since using special elections in this manner undermines the integarity of the general election. It is generally believed that unlike general elections, in which a large percentage of the population typically votes, special elections are characterized by low voter turnout, allowing a well-organized minority to win despite not being popular with the majority of citizens.

    And so in conclusion, I agree that one of the major political parties in Wisconsin is attempting to undermine democracy in the state.

  19. sd, we’re dealing with the problem here that the Republican party in Wisconson (and some other states) wishes to undermine the basic human right to form and join trade unions, as enshrined in article 23 (4) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Various forms of civil disobedience have been a traditional practice to counter attempted abridgements of human rights, so I find it hard to blame the Democratic party here for engaging in just that. This is just the nature of human right violations, where recourse to the protections of one’s state’s laws is often not possible in the face of an abuse of the power by that very state.

    Note that having a legislative majority does not grant a party the right to abridge fundamental human rights; fundamental human rights are not meant to be at the mercy of majority rule.

    That historically trade unions and trade-union friendly state government have engaged in similarly questionable practices (e.g., closed shops) does not change that. Two wrongs do not make a right.

  20. “sd, we’re dealing with the problem here that the Republican party in Wisconsin (and some other states) wishes to undermine the basic human right to form and join trade unions,”

    Nah, they can join ’em, the state has simply declared that it won’t negotiate with them on certain topics, and won’t collect their dues for them. And that law has nothing to do with private sector trade unions, only government sector.

  21. Brett: “Nah, they can join ‘em, the state has simply declared that it won’t negotiate with them on certain topics, and won’t collect their dues for them. And that law has nothing to do with private sector trade unions, only government sector.”

    A trade union that can’t bargain collectively is not a trade union. It’s like saying that you have the right of freedom of speech, the state simply has declared that it reserves the right to censorship on certain topics, such as criticism of the government.

    Erosion of rights by making them ineffective so that they only exist on paper is not any better than outright prohibition.

  22. Basic human right? Oh please. There has been no movement whatsoever to abridge the rights of state workers to form unions, and no movement whatsoever to end collective bargaining on matters of wages, short term benefits and working conditions. Rather, the current government in Wisconsin, duly and legitimately elected by the people of Wisconsin in fair and open elections, has said that it will not engage in collective bargaining with the state employees’ unions on matters of long term benefits. And the reasons for doing so are patently obvious to anyone who surveys the landscape of fiscal desolation facing numerous state and local governments who have have allowed themselves, over the course of many decades, to amass unfunded liabilities that they simply cannot honor without eliminating vast swaths of their annual operating budgets.

    This isn’t a private sector issue where there is a tension between how much of the economic benefits of a business activiity will accrue to the owners of the business vs. the workers in the business. This is a public sector issue where there is a tension between how much of the future tax revenue of the state will go to support the needs of the future citizens of the state, many of whom are economically needy, vs. how much will go to support pension and other retirement benefits (significantly more generous than those available to comparable private sector workers) for state workers, many of whom earn well in excess of the median state income.

    When a private sector enterprise negotiates with a labor union on long term benefits there is a check in place to make sure that management does not make promises to current workers which threaten the long term survivability of the enterprise. Namely, if management agrees to an overly-generous, open-ended committment to workers then the capital markets can signal the threat that this poses to the future owners (and workers!) of the business by de-valueing the enterprise. But a state faces no such check on its spending. This isn’t management and labor bargaining over labor’s faior share. This is management and labor colluding together to make peace in the short term at the expense of the future citizens and workers of the state. For matters of wages, short term benefits and working conditions this doesn;t cause problems as both parties are facing real constraints. But for matters of long term benefits neither management nor labor faces any real constraint because its possible to spend lavishly now (or rather, to make committments to spend lavishly in the future) while passing the cost burden off to the next generation in tot.

  23. But a state faces no such check on its spending.

    Most states, including Wisconsin, have balanced budget requirements. I’m certainly no expert in this area, but I would truly be flabbergasted to find that pension funds are exempt from these requirements. But if they are, it seems to me a more reasonable and humane solution might be to make them so. And, I suspect, there are likely a few other effective approaches to address these real problems. The governor chose the union hobbling approach because, I suspect, he hates the concept of unions and so do his rich campaign-contributing patrons.

  24. I find it amusing that this thread, which contains numerous assertions that the Republicans are set on destroying democracy…

    Nothing amusing about it. But this isn’t about destroying democracy. It is about destroying the US government by destroying the economy.
    In support of a statement I made above: “The S.&P. thing is a perfect example of right-wing collusion to cripple/shock the nation…”
    Check out this hyperlink pull quote from Brad DeLong’s site:

    In a document provided to Treasury on Friday afternoon, Standard and Poor’s (S&P) presented a judgment about the credit rating of the U.S. that was based on a $2 trillion mistake. After Treasury pointed out this error – a basic math error of significant consequence – S&P still chose to proceed with their flawed judgment by simply changing their principal rationale for their credit rating decision from an economic one to a political one.

    How is it that you can make a 2 trillion dollar error and rather than regroup and ponder, spot change your analysis to get the same conclusion?
    That’s just blatantly absurd…

    http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2011/08/the-rating-agency-clown-show.html

  25. Tim says:

    “Most states, including Wisconsin, have balanced budget requirements. I’m certainly no expert in this area, but I would truly be flabbergasted to find that pension funds are exempt from these requirements.”

    Well then prepare your gasts for flabbering. This is precisely the issue. The state promises a certain level of benefits to future retirees. But it accounts for a budget expense only for those benefits that are paid out in year. In theory this wouldn’t be a big deal as long as:

    1) The population of retired state employees (relative to the size of the overall population) weren’t growing

    and

    2) The costs of delivering healthcare weren’t rising

    and

    3) The lifespan of retirees weren’t increasing

    However in the world we actually live in the population of retirees is growing, the costs of delivering healthcare are rising and the expected lifespan of retirees is going up. Thus if the state makes a promise to provide a certain level of benefits today, it needs to only recognize a fraction of the cost of that promise in its budget, kicking a significant portion of the cost down the road to be dealt with by the citizens of 10, 20, 30 year from now. For years companies in the private sector as well as most state governments have been happy with that tradeoff, as it allowed them to placate unions in the near term on the cheap. And unions have been happy with the deal too, because current members vote in union elections. The union members of 10, 20 or 30 years from now don’t.

    But as demographics have shifted and the cost of healthcare has risen much faster than inflation, this has created enormous fiscal pain. The capital markets realized this many years ago and started punishing private sector companies that didn’t migrate their benefits packages from defined benefit to defined contribution models. But there has been no such pressure on governments because the they are not answerable to sophisticated intermediaries that understand the full financial impact of these decisions.

    But the current downturn has been very severe and it comes right as the baby boom generation is nearing retirement and as healthcare costs have continued to shoot upward. Thus many governments are facing extremely difficult circumstances. I live in Chicago, IL and both my state and local governments are currently trying to figure out how they will deal with massive unfunded liabilities associated with public emplyee retirement benefits. These benefits simply cannot be paid with current tax revenues. And so both the state and local governments are sorting through options that involve massive tax increases (which will almost certainly spur re-location of businesses and high income individuals to move to lower tax locations, further eroding the revenue base) or massive cuts in current government operating expenses, cuts which will certainly harmn the most vulnerable members of society. It ain’t pretty.

    Now, if you’re a Wisconsinite you can certainly disagree with the notion that this is a problem. Or you can disagree that the right solution to the problem is to cease granting defined benefit retirement programs to state employees. And guess what – the next time there are legislative general elections in Wisconsin, you can pull the lever for the Democratic candidate and participate in a change in course for the state government. That’s called democracy.

    But taking the opposite side in the debate, making the case to the people, winning big in general elections and then implementing legislation that is precisely in line with your well-known and well-understood governing philosophy isn’t “subverting the government” or “subverting democracy.” It’s called democracy too.

    Now – fleeing the state so that the majority can’t pass laws in the normal course of business or organizing a wave of unprecedented recall elections against legislators who have not done anything scandalous or illegal simply because you don’t like their politics. That, my friend is subverting both the government and the current democratic system.

  26. Koreyel says:

    “How is it that you can make a 2 trillion dollar error and rather than regroup and ponder, spot change your analysis to get the same conclusion?
    That’s just blatantly absurd…”

    I agree. S&P are idiots and have been for many years. How that’s the fault of the Republican Party is beyond me though.

  27. “Basic human right? Oh please. There has been no movement whatsoever to abridge the rights of state workers to form unions, and no movement whatsoever to end collective bargaining on matters of wages, short term benefits and working conditions. Rather, the current government in Wisconsin, duly and legitimately elected by the people of Wisconsin in fair and open elections, has said that it will not engage in collective bargaining with the state employees’ unions on matters of long term benefits. And the reasons for doing so are patently obvious to anyone who surveys the landscape of fiscal desolation facing numerous state and local governments who have have allowed themselves, over the course of many decades, to amass unfunded liabilities that they simply cannot honor without eliminating vast swaths of their annual operating budgets.”

    Have you read the actual bill? The part about long term benefits is only one of the provision (which is still someone dubious, but we can get to that later). However, it contains also other gems, such as:

    “Under current law, University of Wisconsin (UW) System employees, employees of the UW Hospitals and Clinics Authority, and certain home care and child care providers have the right to collectively bargain over wages, hours, and conditions of employment. This bill eliminates the rights of these employees to collectively bargain.

    It would appear that this directly contradicts your claim that there is “no movement whatsoever to end collective bargaining on matters of wages, short term benefits and working conditions”.

    There are various and sundry other provisions that aim at eroding unions, such as a forced annual recertification process and the elimination of the possibility of payroll deductions for union dues.

  28. And if unions can’t get their members to agree that they want the union annually, or convince them to voluntarily cough up dues, why the heck should the unions be re-certified, or get the money? The right we’re talking about here are rights of the employees, which the unions exercise only as the employees’ agents. It can’t automatically be assumed that any given union genuinely represents the employees it claims to represent. Our elected representatives have to face regular reelection. Why not unions?

    I suppose next you’ll start complaining about the requirement for secret ballots during the certification elections?

  29. “And if unions can’t get their members to agree that they want the union annually, or convince them to voluntarily cough up dues, why the heck should the unions be re-certified, or get the money? The right we’re talking about here are rights of the employees, which the unions exercise only as the employees’ agents. It can’t automatically be assumed that any given union genuinely represents the employees it claims to represent. Our elected representatives have to face regular reelection. Why not unions?”

    It’s not the election part; it’s the annual requirement and the absolute majority among all employees requirement. Do Wisconsin senators get re-elected annually? No, senators are elected for four years (but oddly, are complaining about recalls that may subject them to similar requirements, because, apparently, they do not like even a bi-annual review for themselves [1]). Is the Wisconsin’s governor’s post left empty because 51% of voters didn’t vote for him? No, a plurality of actual voters is generally good enough.

    This is basically just a “let’s strangle unions with red tape” approach. It aims not at making sure that unions are properly legitimized democratic representatives (by those standards, most current elected office holders would fall short), but at making union certification as difficult as possible. The whole thing is pretty transparent.

    [1] For what it’s worth, I think recalls do not work well in a representative democracy; but the hypocrisy here is thick enough to cut it with a knife.

  30. So by extension, Brett presumably favors dissolving all governments annually unless a majority of its citizens explicitly vote for representation in government. All unsubmitted votes are votes against representation.

  31. I suppose next you’ll start complaining about the requirement for secret ballots during the certification elections?

    No not really. That’s a red state herring. You are knee deep in absurdities. Seeing a sapling instead of the forest.
    This is wheat Wisconsin is about: The richest 10% of Americans control 66% of our net worth. The top 1% control 35%.

    I’m sure you and your bud upthread can convince some unlettered dummies with black hearts that the problem is teachers are now living too long. (Good one!)
    But I don’t think you’ll win that argument for long. In fact I suspect the teaboyz in Wisconsin are going down the garbage disposal.
    They grabbed too much for their oligarchs. Got a little too greedy a little too fast…
    Or as Mother Jones put it: It’s the inequality stupid.

  32. Tim,

    Most states, including Wisconsin, have balanced budget requirements.

    Not really true. A quick check reveals that Wisconsin, for example, has $40 billion in debt outstanding, about $7000 per capita. Other “balanced budget” states also have substantial debt.

    This is yet one more example of the simple-mindedness of arguments for a federal BBA.(blowhard politician explains that he was able to balance the state budget, etc.) The states generally have capital and operating budgets. Borrowing for the capital budget, bit not the operating budget, is usually OK. (This is a general description.)

  33. sd: Thank you for your efforts. It’s so unusual for reality to actually make an appearance on the RBC blog. I must warn you, however, that most of the commentors (and all of the authorized contributors) on RBC live in fantasyland.

  34. Redwave72: Compared to the fantasy land inhabited by conservative Republicans, RBC is a bracing blast of fresh air.

    As to why one might think Republicans are responsible for the downgrade – go read their analysis, they credit the intransigence of the Republican Party for the gridlock on the budget and deficit and as the primary cause of the downgrade.

    It is good to check one’s facts – e.g. what did S&P say they based their downgrade on – before making erroneous assertions.

  35. If Governor Walker had only cut the state’s budget, that wouldn’t have triggered such bitter acrimony and spurred the Senate recall efforts. What upset so many people was Walker’s attack on the bargaining and organizing rights of certain public worker’s unions, with teachers as the primary target while police and firefighters unions were spared. Make no mistake, the budget was used as a pretext to weaken unions and that’s why recall supporters were able to get the necessary signatures to have six Senate elections tomorrow.

  36. Kelly, I’m watching the returns with hope and, no matter how I may feel about the quality of Obama’s leadership, I’m deeply grateful that you are there in Wisconsin doing the work you are doing.

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