Friday, February 18, 2011

Cheesehead Government

We at the Egg are classic fiscal conservatives, by which we mean compulsive tightwads. We have been known to spend an afternoon walking the dusty streets of third-world villages, looking for the best price on a haircut. (We paid under a dollar in the Dominican Republic, and were very pleased with the cut; don't ask us about India, we still have bad dreams). We believe that governments should live within their means, at least over the long term, and that doing so will often involve unpopular decisions.

Still, there is a difference between "living within your means" and "screwing people out of sheer meanness," a distinction that seems lost on Wisconsin's feckless governor, Scott Walker. In response to a modest budget shortfall, Walker hopes to strip state workers of their right to collective bargaining. In other words, he wants to break the union -- no surprise there. And he's pretending that there is a "crisis" when in fact there is, by the standards of California or New Jersey, barely a problem. As TPM tells the story,
... the state's fiscal bureau -- the Wisconsin equivalent of the Congressional Budget Office -- concluded that Wisconsin isn't even in need of austerity measures, and could conclude the fiscal year with a surplus.
Worse yet, what little "crisis" Wisconsin actually faces was created by Walker's own financial incompetence:
In fact, they say that the current budget shortfall is a direct result of tax cut policies Walker enacted in his first days in office.
Yes, it's just another case of the well-known Republican strategy, which is to argue that government is the problem, and to prove the case by governing badly. This strategy, and the case at hand, simply elevate an abstract theory -- "taxes/unions are bad" -- over the commonsense details of government -- "the trash gets picked up and the roads get repaired." But this instance is so overtly, even cynically, deliberate that it deserves special attention.

We wonder whether Wisconsin, like California, has a provision for recalling its governor?


Mark C. said...

The shenangans of the new Wisconsin governor makes me relieved that I moved back to Minnesota over the summer. That this is a bald faced attempt to break the unions is further supported by the fact that Gov. Walker has refused to talk to the unions in an attempt to get concessions to solve the supposed fiscal "crisis."

Wisconsin does have provisions to recall a governor. I don't know all the details, but it appears that they would have to gather over 533,000 recall signatures in 60 days (25% of votes cast for the position in the last election) to force the recall election. Would it happen? I have no idea.

Joelle said...

Yea it isn't the requirement to pay more into their pension and health fund that is bringing the public employees out to protest. It is the union busting tactics. This is so disappointing. I lived in Wisconsin for 15 years. Even under Republican governors it was always a fairly progressive state. This is so upsetting.