Our political Quote of the Day comes from Marc Ambinder, who notes that although Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has the power in his state (in fact I predict this will end with public unions’ collective bargaining right stripped) every day the budget impasse goes on weakens Walker and his and his GOP supporters’ position:
The Democrats, without leverage to move Walker an inch and facing his veto power, benefit the longer their walkabout from the state Senate goes on. The delay has given the public time to digest features of the bill less popular than sticking it to the unions, like a new executive power to sell off the state’s power plants in no-bid deals. The unions, for their part, have had time to pivot to a stance that consents to the state’s taking a bigger chunk out of public workers’ paychecks — which makes Walker’s threat to lay off thousands of state workers, should his further demands not be met, seem less a budgetary necessity and more a political retaliation. Most importantly, each day of impasse further energizes Democratic voters who didn’t show up in 2010 — and Democrats will need them next cycle. Walker’s attempt to kneecap the public sector unions is probably best seen as a way of crimping a reliable source of financial support for future Democratic candidates. The Walker administration seems devoted to placing GOP thumbs on as many electoral scales as is legally permissible. The Wisconsin Troopers Association, which endorsed Walker, was specifically exempted from the budget repair bill, and a new law requiring a photo ID at polling places is expected to depress Democratic turnout in Milwaukee and Madison (student IDs don’t cut it, natch). The 2011 legislative redistricting will surely be aimed at consolidating Republican control of the Capitol, as well. The Democrats and the unions may well lose the collective bargaining fight; but they’re planning to lose it, if they must, as successfully as possible.
Ambinder notes here what we have said many times on TMV: yues, there is a budget issue and a financial problem but Walker is engaging in a thinly disguised form of partisan and ideological politics — exactly the kind of figleaf embracing spin that many Americans (of both parties) are sick of getting from politicians of both parties.
Walker’s use of the budget as a way of arguing that this is all for altruistic financial reasons is an example of what I call a pretext message. What is unfolding is politics — as Ambinder details by giving us the context of what else Walker is proposing. Are Republicans overreaching in Wisconsin on several fronts? Here’s one view.
See THIS POST on two polls yesterday that are not good news for Walker or the GOP on the issue of stripping public unions of collective bargaining.
By a modest margin, more say they back Wisconsin’s public employee unions rather than the state’s governor in their continuing dispute over collective bargaining rights.
Roughly four-in-ten (42%) say they side more with the public employee unions, while 31% say they side more with the governor, Scott Walker, according to the latest Pew Research Center survey, conducted Feb. 24-27 among 1,009 adults.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.