MADISON: Wednesday marked another day of huge protests at the Wisconsin State Capitol over a bill being put forth by Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) that would not only strip rights from state and local workers but also have a negative impact on state healthcare and home care programs. A rally at noon drew larger crowds than Tuesday, when over 15,000 people were at the Capitol expressing their displeasure.
As with Tuesday, there were throngs of ordinary hard working people, families with children, people in wheelchairs and walkers. There were veterans and there were union workers in helmets and work gear. There were nurses, teachers, firefighters and hundreds of high school students. Dozens of unions including private sector labor groups were represented. The Capitol Square was so packed at the noon rally it was reminiscent of Taste of Madison, but serving up slogans instead of small portions of food.
Another rally later in the day drew more people, and the Capitol remained open as the Joint Finance Committee convened to vote on the budget repair bill and proposed amendments.
Thursday will be yet another day of protests with all unions calling for people mo to come to the Capitol and keep up the pressure.
National and international media have now picked up the story of the Wisconsin rebellion against the Walker administration policies.
Even the Guardian UK ran an article, as did the New York Times. Here is an excerpt from the Guardian article:
Wisconsin is at the cutting edge of that transformation. Under its Tea Party-favoured new Republican governor, Scott Walker, and with a state legislature that recently flipped from blue to red (that is, from Democratic control to Republican), it is pushing a rightwing agenda that is shocking to American progressives. First up is an astonishing attack on unions. As part of spending cuts ostensibly aimed at digging Wisconsin out of a budgetary mess, Walker wants to brutally strip-mine state workers’ benefits and pensions. He has also launched a full-frontal attack on the collective bargaining rights of 175,000 state and local employees, allowing workers instead to negotiate only over salary. It is a shocking attempt at union-busting that has caused outrage – and scores of demonstrations across the state.
Yet, in the face of that, Walker threatened to call out the state’s national guard. But union-busting is only the beginning.
Walker is also aiming at a massive extension of power over the state’s health programmes, covering more than 1 million residents. Cuts are likely to aim at nursing homes, medical care for children and prescriptions for the elderly, among other targets. Walker and the Republicans also plan changes to Wisconsin’s electoral laws: scrapping voter registration on election day and tightening photo ID rules. Traditionally, such measures hit at Democratic-supporting low-income groups, students, minorities and the elderly. Now they have power, Walker and the Republicans want to cement it. — Wisconsin’s Tea Party takeover – Led by Governor Scott Walker, Republicans are using the midwest state as a testbed for radical right policies. It’s not pretty
It’s clear the Guardian is correct and what Walker is attempting is not about repairing broken budgets or really even unions. It is far larger. This is really a battle for soul of the state and the nation being waged in increments. When each level is achieved, a new plan is executed. It’s really about subverting the nation and remaking it into a world of just two classes. As someone noted, a simple one-cent increase in the sales tax would resolve the budget shortfalls that Walker claims his bill would fix. But in the no tax increase world of rigid GOP ideologues, that flexibility is not possible.
It takes great fear and great insult to attract everyday people in huge numbers to the Capitol, day after day. But, if this fight is lost and a wide swath of Wisconsin is reduced, what comes next? Pursuit of these policies only exacerbates the state’s brain drain. One can’t help but feel that every act Walker has taken since taking office has been counterproductive to the people and welfare of the state. A real leader does not lead by terror. Scaring workers, the disabled and others without negotiation or the flexibility to examine a range of options is not leadership. It is following the orders of those pulling Walker and his Republican legislative allies strings.