On her MSNBC program, Rachel Maddow revealed that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has whipped up a budget crisis before as a pretext for breaking unions. Maddow said, “The play book here is clear. The priority is to get rid of the unions, to break them up. The pretext to do that is financial, but it is clear that it is just a pretext.” His real goals are union busting and privatization.
Here’s the video from MSNBC:
Maddow began with a history of Scott Walker’s union busting efforts, “The governor of Wisconsin who has thrown his state into chaos by trying to strip union rights from people that work in the state has tried this before with disastrous results, and with Wackenhut. This is the Milwaukee County Courthouse. As you can see, it is a pretty building. When Scott Walker was in charge in Milwaukee, he decided to fire the security guards that worked at the courthouse and two other buildings. They were public employees, represented by a union, and Scott Walker just fired them. Now, the county board was opposed to that. They rejected his plan.”
She continued with the story of Milwaukee, “Then after he was blocked by the Walker just unilaterally insisted he could do it anyway. He just seized the power to do it, claiming he had the right because there was a budget emergency. So all of those union security guards got fired, and Scott Walker replaced them with the butt vodka company guys. Replaced them with Wackenhut. With a private company. The company based in the UK, and uses nonunion security guards. Walker fired all the union guards, replaced them with private nonunion guards. This is like the dress rehearsal for what Scott Walker is doing at the state level right now, and it may offer a little bit of foreshadowing as to how this is all going to work out.”
Maddow used the Milwaukee incident as an example of Walker’s habit creating ginned up budget emergencies, “An arbitrator in Wisconsin ruled last month that the so-called budget emergency Scott Walker used to justify hiring the butt vodka company guys by decree, doing it unilaterally, that justification was ginned up. Quote, the county did not have a true budget crisis at the time, according to the decision from the arbitrator. It is true the county was facing budget shortfall, but according to the arbitrator, not big enough to justify his hair on fire it’s an emergency, I can do what I want actions.”
She pointed out the most important thing. Privatization doesn’t save money, “Also, firing all the union guards didn’t save the money walker said it was going to save. Since Scott Walker hired the coconut bra vodka guys, the county since had to revise down, way down, how much money that would save. Turns out they over guessed by more than $330,000. But wait, there’s more. An arbitrator just ruled Walker overstepped his authority, and now the county must give those guards their jobs back and provide back pay. Scott Walker’s last big cost-saving bust the union stunt could ultimately end up costing his former employer, Milwaukee County, close to a half million after all is said and done.”
Rachel Maddow later laid out the Walker playbook, “The play book here is clear. The priority is to get rid of the unions, to break them up. The pretext to do that is financial, but it is clear that it is just a pretext. The unions at the center of this fight offered to the governor, they said they would essentially give him all the financial concessions he said he wanted. But he said no to that. He doesn’t want the financial concessions. He wants to strip them of their union rights or he wants nothing. Finances are just a pretext.”
She continued, “Among the most expensive benefit package, the state pays for any union employees, are the ones for the unions that supported Walker when he ran for governor. Also happen to be the only ones exempted from his union stripping plan. If this was really about money, those would be the first ones on the chopping block, but it is not all about money. Finances are just a pretext. In the midst of the supposed budget deficit emergency that makes necessary this dramatic anti-union bill, the governor supported adding about $140 million to the state’s deficit, when he passed a bunch of tax cuts without paying for them. Finances are just a pretext.”
After repeating her point that Walker’s goal in Wisconsin is to destroy one of the few financial powerhouses of Democratic support, she discussed why Republicans talk about hating government, yet lust after governmental power, “That’s always the great awkwardness at the heart of Republicans campaigning for political office. If you don’t like government so much, if you think that government is the problem, why do you want to be in charge of it? But there are two things that Republicans really like about having government power. One is the opportunity to take things government does and give them to private companies that do it instead…The other thing they have passion for using public policy to attack and dismantle institutions that support Democrats electorally.”
Maddow moved on to talking about how Wisconsin Republicans have turned their attention to passing a voter ID bill, As an example, the way they use public policy for partisan ends, to benefit their own party and hurt Democrats, registering new voters has long been a great source of Democratic electoral strength. Why is that? Because young voters and people that haven’t voted before do tend to vote Democratic. So if Republicans can make it hard to register to vote, they can take away one of the ways that Democrats win in elections. If you make it harder to register to vote, you make it harder for Democrats to win elections.”
Rachel Maddow concluded, “Republicans understand what institutions help Democrats win elections and they are using public policy to dismantle those things, for partisan purposes. So while they are waiting to destroy the unions in say Wisconsin, in the meantime, while they are waiting to do that, they will use their time to destroy voter registration drives. Republicans understand Democrats well enough to know what to attack in order to weaken Democrats. The question now is do Democrats understand their own institutions and their own strengths well enough to know that they ought to be defending them.”
Republicans love to tout privatization as a way of saving taxpayers money, but the truth is whether it is schools, prisons, busing, the military, or virtually every other public sector function, privatization will cost the state or locality more than performing the service with public employees.
Why do Republicans love privatization so much? Republicans advocate privatization because it fits in with their ideological belief that nothing is more efficient than the private sector. Republicans also view privatization as a way of shrinking government, when the truth is that all privatization accomplishes is moving government employees off the books usually at a much higher rate of compensation.
Gov. Walker’s plan for Wisconsin is twofold. First he will break the unions, and then he will privatize those jobs.
Republicans will keep pushing privatization as the answer because to them governing is not about problem solving. Governing is the implementation of their ideology. They don’t care if their ideology solves any problems. If a problem or two gets solved, great. If it doesn’t, oh well. At least we stayed true to out beliefs Problem solving is secondary to ideological purity.
Rachel Maddow not only exposed Gov. Walker’s past, but she provided us with a pretty good idea of his plans for the future, and Republican governors all around the country are watching Walker. If he succeeds, he will set off a wave of union busting and privatization.
As Maddow demonstrated, Wisconsin was never about the budget. The true significance of Wisconsin is that the state is the biggest the most immediate front in the Republican battle to turn back the march of progress and impose their Gilded Age ideology upon us all.