The right wing Governor of Wisconsin comes into office with a budget surplus and creates a modest shortfall by giving tax breaks to big business. He then exaggerates the nature of the fiscal crisis, blames it on the public unions and uses it try to crush the rights of state workers. What is remarkable about the situation in Wisconsin is the unified push back from the Democratic Party and the huge and energetic popular protests in the streets and in the state Capitol.
It is important to understand what is behind this effort. It has little to do with the budget -- indeed the unions can't be blamed for the budget -- and everything to do with politics. As Kevin Drum points out: "It's an effort to destroy one of the few institutions left that fights relentlessly for the economic interests of the middle class." But more than that, it is an attempt to permanently weaken a group that provides the most significant organized opposition to Republican candidates.
The latest news is that the Republicans may be backing down. Chris Bowers reports that before adjourning until March 1st, the Republican-controlled state Assembly rescinded their vote to move to final passage on the bill to strip state employees of the right to collectively bargain, making it possible to amend the bill and suggesting Republicans may be open to compromise. Meanwhile, the protests are going to continue all weekend and all of the Democratic State Senators remain across state lines where they fled to deny the Republicans in the Senate a quorum on the bill.
It is amazing what can happen when you fight back. Show your support for this effort by clicking on the Act Blue badge on the right hand column of the blog under Worthy Causes, and donate $14 to the Wisconsin State Senate Democratic Committee, one for each of the 14 heroic Senators.