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.