One old trick is to suggest a thought experiment that asks readers to consider the mirror image of what is going on. In this case, you'd be asked what the reaction would be from Republicans and business interests if a newly elected Democratic governor and legislature proposed to deal with a budget deficit by first raising unemployment benefits and then pushing through a big corporate tax increase for all but the Democratic-leaning tech sector. For good measure, the package would also contain a ban on corporations making political donations without getting the permission of each shareholder, lest they use their power to repeal the tax increase and push the budget out of balance.
I love a good analogy. Remember: the plutocrats went nuts when the Democrats passed very modest healthcare reform -- something President Obama campaigned on, I might add (whereas Walker did not campaign on destroying unions’ bargaining power). It was nothing close to the extremism on display in our state legislatures around the country but good lord they squealed like stuck pigs. Let's remember the town brawls and Teanuts with guns and the member of Congress hung in effigy and another member of Congress nearly killed by a gunman at a public event.
This is analogous, of course, to what Gov. Scott Walker has proposed for dealing with Wisconsin's budget gap: the tax breaks for businesses, the benefit cuts for all state employees except Republican-leaning police and firefighters, the automatic decertification of all public-sector unions and the stripping of their right to bargain anything but wages. Looking at Walker's reflection in the political fun-house mirror makes it abundantly clear that the governor has a more ambitious agenda than merely closing a modest budget gap.
Well duh. That’s what we’ve all been saying, for days now. That was why I transcribed that part of Walker’s phone call with Fake David Koch where he talks about the other governors he says were elected “to do something big.”
[Elected by whom? You really think the voters elected you to destroy unions? Was that what the November elections were about? I don’t think so. Elected by Koch Industries to do so? Yeah. That's more probable.]
Anyway, for more on that ambitious agenda, today’s must read is Mike Konczal‘s “Conservative Road Map for State Governance”. Konczal lays it all out for you (here is where I give a hat-tip to E.D. Kain at Balloon Juice) and if anyone harbors any delusions that this has squat to do with state finances or budgets or anything other than a blatant power grab and transfer of wealth from the public to corporate interests, well, this should disabuse you of such notions post-haste:
There’s a three-prong approach in Governor Walker’s plan that highlights a blueprint for conservative governorship after the 2010 election. The first is breaking public sector unions and public sector workers generally. The second is streamlining benefits away from legislative authority, especially for health care and in fighting the Health Care Reform Act. The third is the selling of public assets to private interests under firesale and crony capitalist situations.
This is, as has been noted elsewhere, the industrialist’s wet dream. It took them a while, but finally they have a chance to turn the clock back ... not to the 1950s, when the top marginal tax rate was over 90% GOD NO we can’t have that, but back to 1900. The era of the Robber Barons and industrialists. The “gilded age” when folks like Andrew Carnegie and John Pierpont Morgan ruled. And also the era of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, and no minimum wage and child labor. You know, the good ol’ days.
This is what this fight is about.
This is what we DFH’s have been saying ... for years. I’m not joking, we’ve been talking about this on blogs and in lefty magazines like The Nation and Mother Jones and other places where the mushy-middle pragmatic centrist “Third Way” approach is generally regarded to be bullshit because the modern right’s agenda is extreme! And they don’t give a crap about bipartisanship.
Wake up, people! Once upon a time we could disagree without being disagreeable and there could be some issues where everyone could find common ground. Those days passed a long, long time ago. Hell, none other than Republican Christie Todd Whitman noticed the shift toward extremism in the Republican Party when she penned ”It’s My Party, Too!” And we lefties have been warning for years that as the Republicans get more extreme, and the Democrats bend over backwards to make concessions in the interest of “bi-partisanship” they are moving the country futher to the right and basically enabling an extreme agenda.
And here is where we are.