Thursday, April 14, 2011

Walker, Wisconsin Liar

On Thursday, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker took a trip to the Capitol Hill to answer a few basic questions before the US House Committee on Oversight and Reform regarding his decision to strip the collective bargaining powers of public state employees, with Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) doing the grilling.  Here's a short transcript of the juicy part courtesy of ThinkProgress:
KUCINICH: Let me ask you about some of the specific provisions in your proposals to strip collective bargaining rights. First, your proposal would require unions to hold annual votes to continue representing their own members. Can you please explain to me and members of this committee how much money this provision saves for your state budget?
WALKER: That and a number of other provisions we put in because if you’re going to ask, if you’re going to put in place a change like that, we wanted to make sure we protected the workers of our state, so they got value out of that. [...]
KUCINICH: Would you answer the question? How much money does it save, Governor?
WALKER: It doesn’t save any. [...]
KUCINICH: I want to ask about another one of your proposals. Under your plan you would prohibit paying union member dues from their paychecks. How much money would this provision save your state budget?
WALKER: It would save employees a thousand dollars a year they could use to pay for their pensions and health care contributions.
KUCINICH: Governor, it wouldn’t save anything. [Goes on to present letter from LRF and is denied unanimous request for it to be placed in the public record by Issa]

After a lot of rambling trying to find the right words to avoid answering Kucinich's first question, Walker finally admitted that it actually does not save the state any money.  Moving on, Kucinich then asks another question about union dues. Clearly grasping at straws, Walker pulls a number out of thin air ($1000) and touts that amount as yearly savings for an employee.  Enough is enough, and that's when Kucinich had to call bull and reveal the card in his hand.  Well, actually it wasn't a card but a letter from the fiscal bureau of WI (the equivalent of the CBO at the state level in WI).  In the letter, it states that the items listed are of a non-fiscal nature.  At the end of the document, there are these items:

COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AND EMPLOYMENT RELATIONS PROVISIONS
• Public Employee Collective Bargaining Modifications (Page 36, #1)
• Repeal Collective Bargaining Rights for University of Wisconsin System Faculty and Academic Staff (Page 44, #2)

What this is saying, to put it plainly, is that the public employees' collective bargaining modifications in the legislation passed has nothing to do with balancing the state budget.  Truly, this is a moment to remember.  After so many months of viciously touting that the public employees' collective bargaining power was such a key element to helping the state balance the budget, this report clearly blows that theory out of the water.

What, then, is the reason for Walker's adamant push to end collective bargaining for public employees?  Of course, many of us progressives already know the answer: it's just to simply weaken the voice and power of the middle class so that he can more easily push through the right-wing corporatist agenda.  By using the budget as a ploy to hold hostage the public employees' right to bargain, Walker pulled a fast one on the people of Wisconsin.  I am glad that Kucinich called him out today and was able to eventually put the letter from the fiscal bureau on the record for the hearing. 

It is always great to see untruths debunked, especially with hard evidence such as this.  The GOP has been giving the public a big show of smoke and mirrors, using insidious lies to confuse and spread FUD so that they can use that as a tool to implement their own agenda.  I hope this is a coming trend of calling out the GOP, just as President Barack Obama called out Paul Ryan's "Highway to Hell" budget plan on Wednesday during his smackdown speech.  In addition to this one, there was also another calling out moment today on Capitol Hill when Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY) called out the GOP House members for not having done anything about jobs after 100 days, even though they promised that that was going to be their priority.  These untruths must be revealed and its debunking widely circulated so that the public will see what a mistake it was for them to hand back the keys to the ones who helped put us into this mess in the first place.

Below is the full video of the exchange between Rep. Kucinich and Gov. Walker:

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