What’s Up With Wisconsin

Far from echoing the “days of rage” in Egypt, the Democrat-controlled astroturf public-sector union thug-fest in Madison, Wisconsin  is a national disgrace. Unlike the Egyptian protesters, who are pro-democracy, the whiners in Wisconsin are anti-democracy, pretending that November never happened.  Sorry, folks, but elections have consequences.

The people of Wisconsin elected a Republican Governor, who campaigned on reigning in the public-sector unions.  They also elected Republican majorities in the state legislature.  Thus, a bill that reigns in the public-sector unions comes up for a vote.  This is how a representative democracy works.

But what’s in the bill? After the health care debate, we learned that Democrats never read bills before they vote on them, so it’s understandable that the Democrats in the Wisconsin legislature and their union allies would be confused about the content of the bill. Luckily Matthew Boyle of The Daily Caller actually read it:

Public sector union bosses in Wisconsin are saying newly elected Gov. Scott Walker’s budget — designed to combat the state’s large and rapidly growing deficit — isn’t fair to their workers. Wisconsin Senate Democrats turned their backs on the controversy on Thursday, fleeing to avoid a vote. But the details of the governor’s bill have largely been overshadowed by the drama of the debates and protests.

Walker’s proposal, which is part of his plan to address the $137 million deficit in Wisconsin’s current budget and projected $3.6 billion shortfall over the next two years, would allow public sector unions many of the collective bargaining privileges they enjoy now.

Some key points:

  • Public sector employees would still be allowed to collectively bargain on wages, but not on health-care or pension plans.
  • Raises would be tied to the inflation rate, unless the state’s voters deemed the employees worthy of larger raises.
  • Public sector employees would have to pay slightly higher rates for their health care and other benefits, but those rates would remain lower than those of the average private sector employee.
  • Public sector employees would be required to pay 12.6 percent of their health-care premiums; they currently pay about 6 percent.
  • Public sector employees would have to contribute 5.8 percent of their salaries to their pensions under Walker’s plans; currently some pay nothing. From 2000 to 2009, public sector employees paid $55.4 million into a pension system that cost $12.6 billion.
  • Police, firefighters and other public safety workers would be exempt from the new collective bargaining restrictions.

The bill doesn’t seem so bad after all, and union leaders are claiming that they’d be willing to go along with the pension and insurance contributions, if only Gov. Walker had asked them first.  But last time I checked, union leaders aren’t members of the state legislature and have no say in the matter, other than lobbying their Democrat allies to oppose the bill and debate the issue on the floor.  Pathetically, the Democrats ran away to Illinois to block the bill’s passage. Instead of debating the issue, they ran.  You can always count on Democrats to cut and run.

The battle in Wisconsin is about more than dealing a blow to public-sector unions;  It’s about restoring fiscal sanity to this nation.  Other states, like Ohio, for instance,  will be addressing similar public-sector union issues.

Let me be clear. I am not attacking the rank and file union members, many of whom would prefer to spend their union dues on themselves or their families. The union bosses are the ones who deserve our ire.  They are the thugs.

It is our job, as conservatives, to stand against the public-sector unions.  They are part of the big government problem that is shackling this nation. We must not back down.  Long shot GOP Presidential candidate Herman Cain, speaking to Tea Partiers who came out to counter-protest the unions, said, “Wisconsin is Ground Zero for the rest of the nation, and we, the representative majority, will not be intimidated.”

Amen, brother.  Let’s pray for fiscal sanity.

For more insightful commentary from Josh Kaib, visit his blog at http://americantruthmachine.wordpress.com or listen to his internet talk show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/joshkaib.

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About Josh Kaib

Josh Kaib, a junior at American University, is President of AU College Republicans.
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