It turns out that Wisconsin doesn’t have the $3.6 billion budget shortfall as claimed by Koch Industries lapdog governor Scott “Hosni” Walker. Instead, this is an all out war on labor. Though Wisconsin is resisting, other states are also under attack by both Democrats and Republicans.
Brendan Fischer at PRWatch notes: “Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker alleges that dismantling public sector collective bargaining rights is made necessary by a $3.6 billion deficit in the next budget, and a $137 million shortfall this year. Setting aside the fact that the ability to negotiate shifts, seniority, benefits and conditions of employment would have a negligible impact on the deficit, and looking beyond Walker’s deceptive claim that the alternative to union-busting is to kick 200,000 children off Medicaid (called “false” by Politifact), how deep is the state’s economic crisis?
“Representative Mark Pocan (D- Madison) has looked more closely at the numbers and writes that the $3.6 billion deficit is bogus. The alleged deficit is based on $3.9 billion in new agency requests for the 2011-2013 budget, a 7.2% spending increase. However, these are merely requests, not dollars actually allocated or spent….
“For this year’s budget, any shortfalls are a direct result of Walker’s policies. The Fiscal Bureau told legislators in January that the state will end the year with a balance of $121.4 million. The $137 million deficit Walker uses as an excuse to crush collective bargaining results from the tax cuts and incentives Walker has pushed through since taking office; this includes the loss of $48 million in revenue from private health savings account taxation, a move lauded by the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce business lobby (who spent nearly $1 million on Walker’s campaign).”
The Capital Times‘ headline reads “Despite budget woes, state less in crisis now than two years ago.” Mike Ivey backs that up with the following info:
“A Jan. 31 memo from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimates the state will actually finish the fiscal year on June 30 with a $56 million surplus. That is $54 million more than state administrators estimated and far more than the $137 million in red ink” the governor claims. “[T]hose accounting differences have Democrats claiming Republicans are overstating the depth of the problem to push a hard-right agenda and break public worker unions.”
Indeed. Adele M. Stan at AlterNet filed an in-depth report tying Koch Industries to Wisconsin’s move to bust the unions. “Wisconsin is a Battleground against the billionaire Kochs’ plan to break labor’s back. The war on Wisconsin employees isn’t just about the budget or Wisconsin: Koch toady Gov. Walker is just one soldier in the billionaire’s offensive to kill labor….
“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…. 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….
“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.
“But it’s even deeper than that. The labor movement holds whatever modicum of workplace fairness standards exist for the rest of workers, be they organized or not. Contracts won by organized workers function as a ceiling for what the rest of the workforce is able to demand. Without the labor movement, there’s not a worker anywhere in the nation who has much of a bargaining position with her or his employer. And that’s the way David Koch and his brother, Charles, want it.”
A Socialist Worker editorial takes a national look at the public union busting move by billionaires:
“Turns out that the bankers who scored trillions of dollars in government bailout money aren’t responsible for the federal budget deficit in any way. Neither are the super-rich who will continue to enjoy an immensely lucrative tax breaks enacted during the Bush administration thanks to a bipartisan deal brokered late last year.
“And don’t point the finger at the Pentagon. The brass have accepted a $78 billion cut over the next five years–though they still want a budget-blowing $708 billion just next year to fund the endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and maintain a military machine that spends more than all its rivals combined.
“No, the cause of the U.S. government’s record budget deficits is that greedy public-sector retiree who pulls in an outrageous $19,000-a-year pension.
“That’s what America’s political leaders want you to believe, anyway. Thus, the Republican governor of Indiana calls public-sector employees a ‘new privileged class,’ and his fellow GOP counterpart in New Jersey has been bashing teachers unions for the past year. And the newly elected Republican governors of Wisconsin and Ohio are out to turn those historic labor bastions into ‘right-to-work’ states, with laws restricting or even banning public-sector unions.
“It’s not just Republicans, either. Newly elected Democratic governors in New York and California have also targeted the wages and pensions of public-sector workers for further cuts, as a means of balancing the budget. And in Washington, as he was arriving at a deal with Republicans late last year to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, Barack Obama told federal workers they would be the ones to sacrifice–he announced a two-year wage freeze for all nonmilitary personnel.
“It’s the kind of bipartisanship only a boss could love.”
SW then goes on to cite several mainstream news sources that have been filling the air with outrageous lies about public sector unions, closing with:
“The offensive against public-sector workers is a classic divide-and-conquer strategy–concessions won from public workers will put even more pressure on private-sector workers who have been hammered by corporations taking advantage of high unemployment to force those who still have jobs to work harder for less.
“The only way to defeat a divide-and-conquer strategy is to not let our rulers divide us. Whoever signs their paychecks, workers an interest in organizing together to defend and improve their living standards–and challenging their common enemy, the corporate bosses and Wall Street bankers, and the bipartisan establishment that serves the elite.
“Public-sector workers and their unions are under an enormous assault, and need our support and solidarity. The unions can and should call on that support–and launch an unapologetic defense of social services and a campaign to tax the wealthy to pay for them.”
Hear, hear. This is class war.