Watching Wisconsin

It’s good to see that NPR has transcribed at least a portion of Steve Inskeep’s interview with the head of Wisconsin Senate Republicans. It was a great example of how illuminating an issue can be when an engaged interviewer is involved.


But I want to make sure I understand this. Mary Bell, the president of the Wisconsin Education Association Council, says: “Money issues are off the table. Public employees have agreed to Gov. Walker’s pension and health care concessions, which he says will solve the budget challenge.” Is she not telling the truth?

She’s telling half the truth. What she’s not really acknowledging is that 80 percent of a school’s budget, 75 percent of a county’s budget in Wisconsin is made up of salaries and benefits.

And she’s saying she’ll give you the concessions. I don’t understand.

Well, and even with those concessions, it still does not allow those locally elected officials the ability to be able to manage that. Everything from workplace safety to some of the egregious items that are part of collective bargaining now in Wisconsin have a fiscal piece to it. And you know, Mary’s not acknowledging that right now.

Unfortunately, NPR didn’t transcribe the full interview. But you can find it here.

Meanwhile, in the New York Times, columnist Paul Krugman isn’t buying the argument:


n principle, every American citizen has an equal say in our political process. In practice, of course, some of us are more equal than others. Billionaires can field armies of lobbyists; they can finance think tanks that put the desired spin on policy issues; they can funnel cash to politicians with sympathetic views (as the Koch brothers did in the case of Mr. Walker). On paper, we’re a one-person-one-vote nation; in reality, we’re more than a bit of an oligarchy, in which a handful of wealthy people dominate.

Given this reality, it’s important to have institutions that can act as counterweights to the power of big money. And unions are among the most important of these institutions.

  • SG

    Krugman was right on in his column today; the governor’s power grab has nothing to do with the budget.

  • KK

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/02/21/947947/-The-Koch-Brothers-End-Game-in-Wisconsin

    Saw this link left elsewhere on an article here on MPR. I do hope this is being looked into.

  • KK

    I saw this link in another comment on MPR. I do hope the allegations made in the blog are being looked at seriously. I agree with SG. Things have gone far beyond budget now. Walker’s refusal to negotiate at this point screams power play.

  • tjswift

    Big Union’s Big Corporation talking points fall flat for government workers.

    Gov workers work for the citizens of a state, county or city…are they suggesting that they need protection from their friends and neighbors? Ridiculous.

    There was a time when unions served a purpose; that time is long past.

  • brian

    //Gov workers work for the citizens of a state, county or city…are they suggesting that they need protection from their friends and neighbors? Ridiculous.

    Do you honestly believe this? I hate to break it to you, but your friends and neighbors don’t always have your best interest at heart.

  • Jamie

    Well, it’s good that the Daily Kos is shining some light on that part of the bill (it’s kind of unbelievable!), but I don’t think we can say that the Koch bros’ and Walker’s plan was to create a separate crisis to hide it. Who knows? I can be naive. Walker and the Republicans in their legislature seem to think they can get away with anything. And I don’t think the teabaggers and others who elected them realize that they’e trying to create a plutocracy in Wisconsin.

    I could hardly believe it when I heard the Republican guy yelling at the Democrat on a conference call, saying “There is no negotiating! This isn’t a negotiation!…” over and over. It’s so unbelievable that one hardly knows how to respond.

  • tjswift

    “I hate to break it to you, but your friends and neighbors don’t always have your best interest at heart.”

    So government employee unions do target citizens as enemies…I give you points for your honesty, brian!