With the stalemate over his partisan overreach in its 14th day, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is now wildly violating the most basic principle of governing: If you want to solve a problem, take the deal that gives you what you need, don't hold out for everything you want.
The workers have already agreed to pension and health care concessions. That's what Walker has said he needs. But he also wants to deny Wisconsin's public service employees their freedom to have a voice at work. The workers rightly have said they won't negotiate over their right to negotiate. Walker doesn't need that to solve the state's budget deficit.
The problem is that Scott just can't let go -- and he's going too far. He insists on putting the interests of his billionaire backers like the Koch Brothers ahead of growing the economy and addressing the financial insecurity of America's working and middle-class families.
People in Wisconsin and across the country are fighting back with extraordinary intensity and resolve. More than 100,000 turned out in Madison to protest this weekend. Hundreds of thousands of people rallied from New York to Los Angeles, in every state capitol and most major cities to support Wisconsin's teachers, correction officers, firefighters, nurses, administrative assistants, sanitation workers, social workers and so many others. The 14 Democratic state senators who have courageously blocked proposed legislative action on the governor's proposal continue to stand firm in the face of daily threats. This is an organic and inspired national movement demanding an end to the attacks on America's middle class -- and for good reason.
If Walker and the Republican extremists get their way, it will tear the fabric of our society and destroy the American Dream. They want to shrink the middle class instead of creating jobs to secure and strengthen our communities. They want to take money out of the pockets of working families and deny small businesses the customers they need to survive. They want to cut taxes for corporations and the super rich instead of helping middle-class families educate their children and make ends meet. Walker and the Republicans like him want to give even more power and wealth to the CEOs of the insurance companies, the banks and other big corporations that don't care about anything except making excessive profits at our expense.
Exhibit A: Buried in Walker's bill to strip public employees of their rights is a provision that would allow the state to sell or contract out management of state-owned power plants without the standard competitive bidding that saves taxpayers money and protects against political corruption. And who might benefit from this special interest legislation? The energy company owned by the billionaire Koch brothers.
Gov. Walker has a fine model for reckless, partisan behavior in Speaker of the House John Boehner. Boehner and the House Republicans are serving two masters: the corporate lobbyists in Washington and the extremist Tea Party Republicans who don't seem to care what damage they do to this country in the pursuit of their partisan goals. The Republican continuing resolution is a case in point. What they cut is as telling as what they don't in these times of "shared sacrifice." The Republicans don't roll back tax cuts for the very wealthy and tax breaks for big corporations like the oil companies.
Instead the Republicans make draconian cuts that hurt the elderly and families and do nothing to create jobs. They cut student loans for working and middle-class parents trying to send their kids to college, do away with Meals on Wheels for elderly shut-ins, and lay off food-safety inspectors. The Republicans reduce the number of law enforcement officers, whack K-12 education, and kick low-income pre-schoolers out of Head Start.
The Republicans' spending plan also defunds the Affordable Care Act, which eliminates the worst health insurance company abuses and frees families, seniors and small businesses from crushing health care costs and devastating denials of care. The GOP attacks health services for women by defunding Title X and Planned Parenthood.
The Republican spending plan will even slow economic growth, according to independent experts. That means fewer jobs, not more. Now the Republicans are proposing a short-term funding extension that is just as bad as what they've proposed for the rest of the year. It is designed to create an impasse with the Senate and could force a government shutdown if they don't reach agreement by March 4.
Walker has created a crisis in Wisconsin by his extremism, and Boehner is willing to shut down the federal government over his. I know they're both more interested in pleasing the corporate lobbyists than the people they were elected to represent, but Walker and Boehner have really gone too far.
Cross posted on the NOW!Blog here.