May 16, 2011
GOP Targets Middle Class
By Jim Hightower in Alternet
WISCONSIN. This is where America's middle class first planted its flag and confronted the civil war. As the Lowdown reported last month, newbie-Gov. Scott Walker's extremist, anti-worker agenda (developed for him by Koch-funded corporate front groups) sparked a massive grassroots rebellion of ordinary Wisconsinites, and they are not going away. In substance, Walker's attack on laboring people is much like his fellow right-wing guvs in other states. But he has been especially arrogant, autocratic, and abusive in trying to ram it into law, essentially operating as an above-the-law, tinhorn tyrant. Walker and his legislative henchmen -- openly backed by Koch money and operatives -- are big government on a rampage. Here are just a few of their ends-justify- the-means tactics:
When 14 stalwart Democratic senators left the state for Illinois to deny Walker the necessary quorum needed to pass his bill killing collective bargaining, his senate leader changed the rules so the 14 could not get their paychecks. When this silliness failed to lure any of them back, Walker's team plotted to send state troopers to arrest them -- even though they had broken no laws.
Furious at the Democrats, Walker got real petty. His legislative leaders decreed that the staffs of the 14 absent senators could not use copying machines in the capitol. That'll teach 'em!
With outraged protestors swarming into the capitol daily, Walker arbitrarily locked it down, illegally shutting peaceful Wisconsin citizens out of their own building.
From the start, Walker loudly insisted that suspending public employee rights was necessary to balance the state budget. Finally, though, with Democrats still denying him a quorum, he suddenly dropped his fiscal responsibility pose, stripped the bill of all budget numbers, and -- in a coup with little advance notice and no debate -- slammed the anti-worker provisions through.
A lawsuit, however, claims the bill's passage was illegal because senate leaders violated the open meetings law to sneak it through. To consider this, a judge has temporarily blocked the statute -- but Walker's agents made an end run and simply declared it enacted. No, said the judge, reinstating her injunction.
With the battle now in court, the GOP senate leader issued a new rule dictating that while the 14 senate Democrats are free to attend committee meetings and cast votes -- "those votes will not count." He was later forced to withdraw this autocratic absurdity.