In the Washington Examiner today, I discuss how Obama and his allies are helping orchestrate the disruptive Wisconsin protests that have shut down many of its schools. The Democrats in the Wisconsin State Senate have fled the state to deprive the legislature of a quorum needed to pass fiscal reforms backed by Wisconsin’s conservative governor that would reduce the privileges of the state’s public-employee unions.
As The Wall Street Journal notes, those reforms would not only reduce gold-plated employee benefits, but also curb the entrenched power of liberal lawmakers by ending the practice of automatically withdrawing money from public-employee paychecks to finance the government-employee unions, which make almost all of their political donations to liberals:
Unions are treating these reforms as Armageddon because they’ve owned the Wisconsin legislature for years and the changes would reduce their dominance. Under Governor Walker’s proposal, the government also would no longer collect union dues from paychecks and then send that money to the unions. Instead, unions would be responsible for their own collection regimes. The bill would also require unions to be recertified annually by a majority of all members. Imagine that: More accountability inside unions.
As David Freddoso notes at the Washington Examiner, Wisconsin government employees are better paid than the state’s taxpayers. At the Daily Caller, CEI’s Ryan Young notes that there are political risks to well-paid public-employees effectively shutting down the government to preserve their perks. On the other hand, liberal bloggers and most liberal journalists seem to be backing the protesters, despite their inflammatory rhetoric (like depicting the governor as Hitler or invoking the words of Lincoln’s assassin) and defiance of a democratically-elected governor and legislature. One exception is The Washington Post‘s Charles Lane, who worries about steadily-rising government-employee pay crowding out other needs, and says that “it’s not progressive when employee compensation takes finite resources away from Medicaid, parks, roads and libraries.”