The Republican Obama?

Have the Republicans found “the one”?  Read the Washington Post‘s profile of the new Wisconsin governor, 43-year-old Scott Walker, whose hard line with the public employee union has teachers and other state employees taking to the streets.  (Note:  He is not taking away their right to collective bargaining, as is being charged.  Under his bill, which has Democrat legislators hiding out in Illinois to prevent a quorum for the vote, the union would still be able to negotiate wages, just not benefits, which Walker is seeking to trim by making state employees kick in more for their retirement and health insurance.)

At 25, he won election to the state Assembly and served for nine years. But in 2002, Milwaukee County Executive Tom Ament, a Democrat, resigned in the wake of a county pension fund scandal, and Walker became the rare Republican to win office in the area by vowing to clean up the mess.

Friends and foes alike describe Walker as hardworking and amiable, a devoted husband and father of two teenage sons. They also call him a gifted and ambitious politician who has never strayed from his conservative ideals.

“He was tea party before there was a tea party. He’s always been ideologically pure,” said Mordecai Lee, a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee political science professor who sparred with Walker on a weekly television show during his Assembly days. “He would do whatever it took not to raise taxes. He never wavered, never doubted.”

Lee said Walker’s repeated success at the polls, even in Democratic strongholds, came as no surprise. He preached fiscal conservatism but also campaigned on his own frugality, noting that he packed ham-and-cheese sandwiches for lunch and drove a weathered Saturn.

“Scott Walker is the Republican Obama – he’s likable, he’s nice, so voters saw that [side] rather than the very ideological Republican,” Lee said. “He’s one of the most impressive politicians I’ve ever seen.”

via Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has history of going up against unions.

Mordecai Lee is a liberal activist who would always debate Walker on TV and talk radio.  I lived in Wisconsin not far from Milwaukee and remember Walker’s skills.  He somehow got elected as County Executive, against the typical big city corrupt Democratic machine, and just cleaned everything up. That too meant defying the unions and enduring their protests. 

Depending on how the Wisconsin events play out, I wouldn’t be surprised if he becomes a Republican hero with a shot at the presidential nomination. One would think that he would need more experience–at least another term as governor–before going for the presidency, but he certainly has more experience than the current office holder did. But, hey, it’s Presidents Day, so we can speculate.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Carl Vehse

    “The Republican Obama?”

    Uh-oh! Supporters of Gov. Walker’s actions could well think that crossed the line on defamation of character.

  • Carl Vehse

    “The Republican Obama?”

    Uh-oh! Supporters of Gov. Walker’s actions could well think that crossed the line on defamation of character.

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention The Republican Obama? | Cranach: The Blog of Veith -- Topsy.com

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention The Republican Obama? | Cranach: The Blog of Veith -- Topsy.com

  • Bob

    Scott Walker? This has to be a joke thread, right? The only political experience he has is as Milwaukee’s County Executive. Big deal.

    Of course, if he sticks around in Wisconsin for a year, he’ll be recalled. So, maybe Scooter can run for higher office.

    If Walker’s the new GOP White Hope…well, knock yourselves out.

    Chances of a college dropout becoming President?

    Priceless.

  • Bob

    Scott Walker? This has to be a joke thread, right? The only political experience he has is as Milwaukee’s County Executive. Big deal.

    Of course, if he sticks around in Wisconsin for a year, he’ll be recalled. So, maybe Scooter can run for higher office.

    If Walker’s the new GOP White Hope…well, knock yourselves out.

    Chances of a college dropout becoming President?

    Priceless.

  • Bob

    Oh, and Scooter may take a ham-and-cheese sandwich to lunch every day — how sweet — but as Gov, it didn’t take long for him to join the Big Government Ruling Class — let the poor teacher-peasants fight for crumbs, while Scooter lives high on the taxpayer
    hog —

    “State taxpayers shelled out more than $2,000 in fees for the first month of a rental car used by Gov.-Elect Scott Walker.

    “A receipt provided to Isthmus by the state Department of Transportation shows that, between Nov. 5, 2010, at 4:44 p.m., three days after the election, and Dec. 5, 2010, at 4:29 p.m., the car, a 2011 GMC Yukon XL, was driven 5,288 miles.

    As previously reported (“Scott Walker’s Rockin’ New Ride,” 12/14/10), an agreement between the state and Enterprise Rent-A-Car calls for payment of $1,596.50 per month for up to 3,000 miles, plus 20 cents for every additional mile. The receipt provided to Isthmus shows the state was billed $2,054.10 for this first month of use, which conforms to this equation.

    http://my.madison.com/forums/Topic4451057-2890-1.aspx

  • Bob

    Oh, and Scooter may take a ham-and-cheese sandwich to lunch every day — how sweet — but as Gov, it didn’t take long for him to join the Big Government Ruling Class — let the poor teacher-peasants fight for crumbs, while Scooter lives high on the taxpayer
    hog —

    “State taxpayers shelled out more than $2,000 in fees for the first month of a rental car used by Gov.-Elect Scott Walker.

    “A receipt provided to Isthmus by the state Department of Transportation shows that, between Nov. 5, 2010, at 4:44 p.m., three days after the election, and Dec. 5, 2010, at 4:29 p.m., the car, a 2011 GMC Yukon XL, was driven 5,288 miles.

    As previously reported (“Scott Walker’s Rockin’ New Ride,” 12/14/10), an agreement between the state and Enterprise Rent-A-Car calls for payment of $1,596.50 per month for up to 3,000 miles, plus 20 cents for every additional mile. The receipt provided to Isthmus shows the state was billed $2,054.10 for this first month of use, which conforms to this equation.

    http://my.madison.com/forums/Topic4451057-2890-1.aspx

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Why do people lease cars?

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Why do people lease cars?

  • kerner

    The head of the Wisconsin public employees union makes $20k per year more than the governor does. So if the rank and file think they are fighting for crumbs, maybe they should look at their own union leadership. Further, the teachers’ (astronomically expensive)health care insurance plan is owned by WEAC (their union). So again, maybe the rank and file can regain some of their “crumbs” from their own union. If the teachers have to contribute to their own health care plans, maybe the extra expensive union owned plan won’t be the one they choose. Crumbs (maybe a whole loaf) regained.

  • kerner

    The head of the Wisconsin public employees union makes $20k per year more than the governor does. So if the rank and file think they are fighting for crumbs, maybe they should look at their own union leadership. Further, the teachers’ (astronomically expensive)health care insurance plan is owned by WEAC (their union). So again, maybe the rank and file can regain some of their “crumbs” from their own union. If the teachers have to contribute to their own health care plans, maybe the extra expensive union owned plan won’t be the one they choose. Crumbs (maybe a whole loaf) regained.

  • Tom Hering

    Oh come on, Bob. You can’t expect Walker to show up at a private airfield to pick up the Koch brothers in a “weathered Saturn.” Show some compassion, dude.

  • Tom Hering

    Oh come on, Bob. You can’t expect Walker to show up at a private airfield to pick up the Koch brothers in a “weathered Saturn.” Show some compassion, dude.

  • kerner

    Also, Isthmus is a very liberal media outlet. I can’t tell from the article, but it looks like this is a leased vehicle, which commonly require some kind of down payment on a lease. Sometimes vehicle leases, which include warranties, are the most economical way for large organizations to maintain a fleet of vehicles. I don’t know the long term math of this, and neither do you, because Isthmus didn’t report it.

    Anyway, you’re right if you’re saying that the Governor needs to be as frugal as the rest of state government. But if you are just looking for an excuse to call him names (Scooter?? What the hell is that supposed to mean?), then come back when you have something ratiopnal to say.

  • kerner

    Also, Isthmus is a very liberal media outlet. I can’t tell from the article, but it looks like this is a leased vehicle, which commonly require some kind of down payment on a lease. Sometimes vehicle leases, which include warranties, are the most economical way for large organizations to maintain a fleet of vehicles. I don’t know the long term math of this, and neither do you, because Isthmus didn’t report it.

    Anyway, you’re right if you’re saying that the Governor needs to be as frugal as the rest of state government. But if you are just looking for an excuse to call him names (Scooter?? What the hell is that supposed to mean?), then come back when you have something ratiopnal to say.

  • kerner

    I mean “rational”.

  • kerner

    I mean “rational”.

  • Bob

    ‘The head of the Wisconsin public employees union makes $20k per year more than the governor does.’

    Yeah, but does the head of the union get an extra $24,000 a year for a car? I doubt it. So, actually, if you add that in, Scooter’s making more a year than the union head. Not to count all kinds of other perks he gets as gov. And it’s the taxpayer’s dime that Scooter’s spending.

    sg,

    Right. How uncompassionate of me. Maybe I’m becoming a conservative. :)

  • Bob

    ‘The head of the Wisconsin public employees union makes $20k per year more than the governor does.’

    Yeah, but does the head of the union get an extra $24,000 a year for a car? I doubt it. So, actually, if you add that in, Scooter’s making more a year than the union head. Not to count all kinds of other perks he gets as gov. And it’s the taxpayer’s dime that Scooter’s spending.

    sg,

    Right. How uncompassionate of me. Maybe I’m becoming a conservative. :)

  • Bob

    Kerner,

    Sorry.

    Facts are facts. It matters not a whit who does the research.

    I am talking rational. You’re the one who seems overly passionate and vitriolic.

  • Bob

    Kerner,

    Sorry.

    Facts are facts. It matters not a whit who does the research.

    I am talking rational. You’re the one who seems overly passionate and vitriolic.

  • kerner

    I am neither passionate nor vitiolic. I certainly haven’t called anybody “Scooter”, whatever that is supposed to mean. The fact is that the unions have been gouging the taxpayers in Wisconsin for decades. They continued to gouge us during the last administration only by raiding the transportatuion funds and (illegally) raiding the medical malpractice compensatiion fund and now we’re facing a huge deficit.

    Maybe Walker’s vehicle lease should be renegotiated or should have been better negotiated in the first place. But even if the lease is terrible, it doesn’t erase the damage that the unions have done to this state for decades. But you don’t want anyone to think about that, do you.

  • kerner

    I am neither passionate nor vitiolic. I certainly haven’t called anybody “Scooter”, whatever that is supposed to mean. The fact is that the unions have been gouging the taxpayers in Wisconsin for decades. They continued to gouge us during the last administration only by raiding the transportatuion funds and (illegally) raiding the medical malpractice compensatiion fund and now we’re facing a huge deficit.

    Maybe Walker’s vehicle lease should be renegotiated or should have been better negotiated in the first place. But even if the lease is terrible, it doesn’t erase the damage that the unions have done to this state for decades. But you don’t want anyone to think about that, do you.

  • Bob

    Whether one thinks unions have been “gouging the taxpayers in Wisconsin for decades,” the fact is, Walker is using the situation to BUST THE UNIONS. Period. And keep in mind there is a lot more going on here than just the teacher’s unions. You’re talking UW faculty, police and firefighters, trade workers, state employees, hospital workers (at the UW Hospitals), etc., etc. Walker wants to bust ‘em all. It’s a hell of a lot more than teachers we’re talking here.

    Unions in Wisconsin have already said they’re willing to take pay cuts and pay for health care. Walker doesn’t give a s*it. That’s because the real agenda is to gut the unions. He won’t even discuss it with them. And it’s not going down with Wisconsinites, who are about 75-25 opposed to Walker’s tactics.

    Here’s what Paul Krugman says:

    “In this situation, it makes sense to call for shared sacrifice, including monetary concessions from state workers. And union leaders have signaled that they are, in fact, willing to make such concessions.

    But Mr. Walker isn’t interested in making a deal. Partly that’s because he doesn’t want to share the sacrifice: even as he proclaims that Wisconsin faces a terrible fiscal crisis, he has been pushing through tax cuts that make the deficit worse. Mainly, however, he has made it clear that rather than bargaining with workers, he wants to end workers’ ability to bargain.

    The bill that has inspired the demonstrations would strip away collective bargaining rights for many of the state’s workers, in effect busting public-employee unions. Tellingly, some workers — namely, those who tend to be Republican-leaning — are exempted from the ban; it’s as if Mr. Walker were flaunting the political nature of his actions.

    Why bust the unions? As I said, it has nothing to do with helping Wisconsin deal with its current fiscal crisis. Nor is it likely to help the state’s budget prospects even in the long run: contrary to what you may have heard, public-sector workers in Wisconsin and elsewhere are paid somewhat less than private-sector workers with comparable qualifications, so there’s not much room for further pay squeezes.

    So it’s not about the budget; it’s about the power.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/21/opinion/21krugman.html?_r=2&ref=opinion

  • Bob

    Whether one thinks unions have been “gouging the taxpayers in Wisconsin for decades,” the fact is, Walker is using the situation to BUST THE UNIONS. Period. And keep in mind there is a lot more going on here than just the teacher’s unions. You’re talking UW faculty, police and firefighters, trade workers, state employees, hospital workers (at the UW Hospitals), etc., etc. Walker wants to bust ‘em all. It’s a hell of a lot more than teachers we’re talking here.

    Unions in Wisconsin have already said they’re willing to take pay cuts and pay for health care. Walker doesn’t give a s*it. That’s because the real agenda is to gut the unions. He won’t even discuss it with them. And it’s not going down with Wisconsinites, who are about 75-25 opposed to Walker’s tactics.

    Here’s what Paul Krugman says:

    “In this situation, it makes sense to call for shared sacrifice, including monetary concessions from state workers. And union leaders have signaled that they are, in fact, willing to make such concessions.

    But Mr. Walker isn’t interested in making a deal. Partly that’s because he doesn’t want to share the sacrifice: even as he proclaims that Wisconsin faces a terrible fiscal crisis, he has been pushing through tax cuts that make the deficit worse. Mainly, however, he has made it clear that rather than bargaining with workers, he wants to end workers’ ability to bargain.

    The bill that has inspired the demonstrations would strip away collective bargaining rights for many of the state’s workers, in effect busting public-employee unions. Tellingly, some workers — namely, those who tend to be Republican-leaning — are exempted from the ban; it’s as if Mr. Walker were flaunting the political nature of his actions.

    Why bust the unions? As I said, it has nothing to do with helping Wisconsin deal with its current fiscal crisis. Nor is it likely to help the state’s budget prospects even in the long run: contrary to what you may have heard, public-sector workers in Wisconsin and elsewhere are paid somewhat less than private-sector workers with comparable qualifications, so there’s not much room for further pay squeezes.

    So it’s not about the budget; it’s about the power.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/21/opinion/21krugman.html?_r=2&ref=opinion

  • Porcell

    Why bust the [public employee] unions?. Simply because they have evolved a corrupt system of funneling large sums to presidents, governors and legislators who do their bidding. At all levels of government, public employee unions are involved in serious corruption disguised as the “right” to collective bargaining.
    In the private sector this would be the equivalent of funneling large sums to corporate boards and their negotiators, something that doesn’t happen.

    As to who might be the next Obama or Reagan, that would be would be Mitch Daniels, a bright, charismatic governor with a serious vision to deal with the red ink menace that he thinks is at least among the greatest menaces the nation has ever faced. Also, he has extensive high-level federal government experience and seven years as a governor who successfully solved Indiana’s debt crisis and attracted commerce and industry to his state. Both Walker and Christie lack Daniel’s depth.

  • Porcell

    Why bust the [public employee] unions?. Simply because they have evolved a corrupt system of funneling large sums to presidents, governors and legislators who do their bidding. At all levels of government, public employee unions are involved in serious corruption disguised as the “right” to collective bargaining.
    In the private sector this would be the equivalent of funneling large sums to corporate boards and their negotiators, something that doesn’t happen.

    As to who might be the next Obama or Reagan, that would be would be Mitch Daniels, a bright, charismatic governor with a serious vision to deal with the red ink menace that he thinks is at least among the greatest menaces the nation has ever faced. Also, he has extensive high-level federal government experience and seven years as a governor who successfully solved Indiana’s debt crisis and attracted commerce and industry to his state. Both Walker and Christie lack Daniel’s depth.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “So it’s not about the budget; it’s about the power.”

    Maybe it is about power to balance the budget. The law requires the legislature to balance the budget. So, it must also have the power to do so.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “So it’s not about the budget; it’s about the power.”

    Maybe it is about power to balance the budget. The law requires the legislature to balance the budget. So, it must also have the power to do so.

  • Cincinnatus

    Bob: Yes, Walker is attempting to bust the public-sector unions. Good.

    A minor fact check: I agree that the costs incurred for the governor’s hefty and shiny vehicle are obscene. But that wasn’t Walker’s choice. The permanent security staff (i.e., unionized bureaucrats) who protect the governor’s office and person chose the vehicle themselves, and it’s basically the exact same type of vehicle that Doyle and other previous governors have been shuttled around in. Again, I think it’s overly-expensive in a time of austerity, but it isn’t Walker’s choice, either. He could, I suppose, insist on reclaiming his ratty Saturn, but given what some of the protesters have threatened, I’d stay in the S.U.V. if I were he. The point is that he isn’t reenacting Marie Antoinette’s command to “let them eat cake.”

  • Cincinnatus

    Bob: Yes, Walker is attempting to bust the public-sector unions. Good.

    A minor fact check: I agree that the costs incurred for the governor’s hefty and shiny vehicle are obscene. But that wasn’t Walker’s choice. The permanent security staff (i.e., unionized bureaucrats) who protect the governor’s office and person chose the vehicle themselves, and it’s basically the exact same type of vehicle that Doyle and other previous governors have been shuttled around in. Again, I think it’s overly-expensive in a time of austerity, but it isn’t Walker’s choice, either. He could, I suppose, insist on reclaiming his ratty Saturn, but given what some of the protesters have threatened, I’d stay in the S.U.V. if I were he. The point is that he isn’t reenacting Marie Antoinette’s command to “let them eat cake.”

  • SKPeterson

    I think that what he is doing is holding the collectively bargained feet of the unions and their Democrat legislators to the fire until a deal is signed. Right now, the unions are offering platitudes about “shared sacrifice.” Once they make a definite offer on how much they’re willing to “share,” the negotiations can begin. Right now, Walker is being asked to agree to a unilateral ceasefire.

    And Bob, if you’re right – the Democrats should return to the Legislature, vote against, and then sweep to reelection in two years with an overwhelming mandate of 75+%, and then not only restore the union’s legal benefits, but expand and entrench them further.

  • SKPeterson

    I think that what he is doing is holding the collectively bargained feet of the unions and their Democrat legislators to the fire until a deal is signed. Right now, the unions are offering platitudes about “shared sacrifice.” Once they make a definite offer on how much they’re willing to “share,” the negotiations can begin. Right now, Walker is being asked to agree to a unilateral ceasefire.

    And Bob, if you’re right – the Democrats should return to the Legislature, vote against, and then sweep to reelection in two years with an overwhelming mandate of 75+%, and then not only restore the union’s legal benefits, but expand and entrench them further.

  • Tom Hering

    Wow, SKPeterson @ 16, that’s the nicest piece of double-speak spin I’ve ever seen.

    “… holding the collectively bargained feet of the unions and their Democrat legislators to the fire until a deal is signed.”

    What “deal”? Don’t deals involve negotiations and compromise – things Walker has never done, and refuses to do?

    “Once they make a definite offer on how much they’re willing to ‘share’ …”

    They already have, by accepting the proposed increases in their health and pension contributions.

    “… Walker is being asked to agree to a unilateral ceasefire.”

    Pure baloney. It’s Walker who’s asking others to submit to a firing squad.

  • Tom Hering

    Wow, SKPeterson @ 16, that’s the nicest piece of double-speak spin I’ve ever seen.

    “… holding the collectively bargained feet of the unions and their Democrat legislators to the fire until a deal is signed.”

    What “deal”? Don’t deals involve negotiations and compromise – things Walker has never done, and refuses to do?

    “Once they make a definite offer on how much they’re willing to ‘share’ …”

    They already have, by accepting the proposed increases in their health and pension contributions.

    “… Walker is being asked to agree to a unilateral ceasefire.”

    Pure baloney. It’s Walker who’s asking others to submit to a firing squad.

  • kerner

    Porcell @13:

    I agree with you about Mitch Daniels, and I sincerely hope that he has the political ability he will need to go with his admittedly substantive depth. I also agree that both Christie and Walker lack the depth to be president at this time. Perhaps they will acquire depth over time, but it is just too soon for either one of them at this moment.

  • kerner

    Porcell @13:

    I agree with you about Mitch Daniels, and I sincerely hope that he has the political ability he will need to go with his admittedly substantive depth. I also agree that both Christie and Walker lack the depth to be president at this time. Perhaps they will acquire depth over time, but it is just too soon for either one of them at this moment.

  • helen

    zporcell @13
    “Why bust the [public employee] unions?. Simply because they have evolved a corrupt system of funneling large sums to presidents, governors and legislators who do their bidding”

    When corporations “funnel large sums…..”
    it’s approved by the Supreme Court.

    Can anybody tell me the difference?
    As “corporate wage slaves” years ago already, we were asked to kick in to a political fund, but not asked who the corporation should support with it.

  • helen

    zporcell @13
    “Why bust the [public employee] unions?. Simply because they have evolved a corrupt system of funneling large sums to presidents, governors and legislators who do their bidding”

    When corporations “funnel large sums…..”
    it’s approved by the Supreme Court.

    Can anybody tell me the difference?
    As “corporate wage slaves” years ago already, we were asked to kick in to a political fund, but not asked who the corporation should support with it.

  • Porcell

    Helen, you’re talking about two different things, collective bargaining and free speech including political donations.

    The Supreme Court ruled that corporations have free speech rights, as do individuals. In fact this decision, also, allows unions free speech rights including political contributions

    On the issue of bargaining, unionized corporations bargain with employee unions who make no attempt to financially influence corporate boards and negotiators. Public unions through large contributions to politicians are able to have a large effect on bargaining issues. One of the major reasons for the red ink menace the country faces is has to do this basically corrupt system.

  • Porcell

    Helen, you’re talking about two different things, collective bargaining and free speech including political donations.

    The Supreme Court ruled that corporations have free speech rights, as do individuals. In fact this decision, also, allows unions free speech rights including political contributions

    On the issue of bargaining, unionized corporations bargain with employee unions who make no attempt to financially influence corporate boards and negotiators. Public unions through large contributions to politicians are able to have a large effect on bargaining issues. One of the major reasons for the red ink menace the country faces is has to do this basically corrupt system.

  • DonS

    Walker is hardly the “Republican Obama”. That is as far from the truth as is the notion that Obama is the “Democratic Reagan”. Their philosophies concerning government and the function of the taxpayer are polar opposites. Government employee unions have this idea that the status quo — retirement in your 50′s, guaranteed defined pension benefits, practically free medical care for life, job protections, are all inalienable rights to which they are entitled, regardless of the pain and suffering inflicted on the taxpayers during tough economic times. Obama has already weighed in on the side of the unions on this. Walker has looked at budget realities and realizes that the era of unionized government bureaucracy needs to end — it is no longer affordable or practical to guarantee benefits and perks to “civil servants” that are far beyond what anyone in the private sector can hope to obtain, and ask the taxpayer to pay ever increasing tax rates to fund this excess.

    It is certainly refreshing to finally have politicians appearing on the scene who actually care about the increasing burdens on the taxpayer.

  • DonS

    Walker is hardly the “Republican Obama”. That is as far from the truth as is the notion that Obama is the “Democratic Reagan”. Their philosophies concerning government and the function of the taxpayer are polar opposites. Government employee unions have this idea that the status quo — retirement in your 50′s, guaranteed defined pension benefits, practically free medical care for life, job protections, are all inalienable rights to which they are entitled, regardless of the pain and suffering inflicted on the taxpayers during tough economic times. Obama has already weighed in on the side of the unions on this. Walker has looked at budget realities and realizes that the era of unionized government bureaucracy needs to end — it is no longer affordable or practical to guarantee benefits and perks to “civil servants” that are far beyond what anyone in the private sector can hope to obtain, and ask the taxpayer to pay ever increasing tax rates to fund this excess.

    It is certainly refreshing to finally have politicians appearing on the scene who actually care about the increasing burdens on the taxpayer.

  • DonS

    Helen @ 19: To address your question about union vs. corporate political contributions — there are a number of important differences. Unions exact mandatory dues from their members, and then spend substantial percentages of those dues on political activity, regardless of whether the members support that activity. Technically, union members can opt out of funding this political activity, but it is difficult to do, and most don’t.

    On the other hand, the corporate political speech addressed by the Supreme Court was speech of a corporation (Citizens United), the sole purpose of which was to engage in political activity. Donors expected their contributions to be used for this political speech. Nothing was forcibly extracted from them. What the Supreme Court said was that people have the right to band together and form an entity so that they can pool their resources and afford to buy media time and make political contributions which will influence the political process. To deny them that right would be to effectively deny them the right to free speech, because if they can’t effectively pool their resources they really can’t be heard.

    Now, of course, businesses also have the right to free speech. If you don’t like what a business is saying, you can choose not to invest in their shares, or purchase their products. What I would like to see is strengthened conflict of interest laws. Politicians should not be allowed to negotiate wages or benefits with unions from which they have accepted political contributions. They should have to recuse themselves. Similarly, legislators should have to recuse themselves from voting on legislation that directly and singularly affects a business or person from whom they have accepted contributions.

  • DonS

    Helen @ 19: To address your question about union vs. corporate political contributions — there are a number of important differences. Unions exact mandatory dues from their members, and then spend substantial percentages of those dues on political activity, regardless of whether the members support that activity. Technically, union members can opt out of funding this political activity, but it is difficult to do, and most don’t.

    On the other hand, the corporate political speech addressed by the Supreme Court was speech of a corporation (Citizens United), the sole purpose of which was to engage in political activity. Donors expected their contributions to be used for this political speech. Nothing was forcibly extracted from them. What the Supreme Court said was that people have the right to band together and form an entity so that they can pool their resources and afford to buy media time and make political contributions which will influence the political process. To deny them that right would be to effectively deny them the right to free speech, because if they can’t effectively pool their resources they really can’t be heard.

    Now, of course, businesses also have the right to free speech. If you don’t like what a business is saying, you can choose not to invest in their shares, or purchase their products. What I would like to see is strengthened conflict of interest laws. Politicians should not be allowed to negotiate wages or benefits with unions from which they have accepted political contributions. They should have to recuse themselves. Similarly, legislators should have to recuse themselves from voting on legislation that directly and singularly affects a business or person from whom they have accepted contributions.

  • SKPeterson

    What Tom? Those are typical negotiating tactics used by Democrats, what’s the problem now that the tables have turned?

  • SKPeterson

    What Tom? Those are typical negotiating tactics used by Democrats, what’s the problem now that the tables have turned?

  • Cincinnatus

    SKPeterson@23: Tom is still stuck in his “authoritarian” trope. For Tom, it is apparently inappropriate and undemocratic for a Republican governor, who was elected by the public to propose promised legislation which is subsequently passed by a Republican legislature. For Tom, this is, apparently, literally as bad as making “others submit to a firing squad.” At least when Republicans do it.

    Look, regardless of what you think of Walker and/or this bill, there is nothing dictatorial going on.

  • Cincinnatus

    SKPeterson@23: Tom is still stuck in his “authoritarian” trope. For Tom, it is apparently inappropriate and undemocratic for a Republican governor, who was elected by the public to propose promised legislation which is subsequently passed by a Republican legislature. For Tom, this is, apparently, literally as bad as making “others submit to a firing squad.” At least when Republicans do it.

    Look, regardless of what you think of Walker and/or this bill, there is nothing dictatorial going on.

  • Porcell

    Any governor has a perfect right to propose legislative changes to collective bargaining law without having to negotiate with public employee unions. Governor Walker campaigned clearly on limiting collective bargaining law; the people of Wisconsin elected him and expect him to carry through on his campaign pledge. Public employees have no absolute “right” to collective bargaining. Until the sixties public employees had no laws requiring collective bargaining.

    Actually, today in the private sector most workers prefer not to be involved with unions with their self-serving expensive bureaucracies and restrictive work rules.

  • Porcell

    Any governor has a perfect right to propose legislative changes to collective bargaining law without having to negotiate with public employee unions. Governor Walker campaigned clearly on limiting collective bargaining law; the people of Wisconsin elected him and expect him to carry through on his campaign pledge. Public employees have no absolute “right” to collective bargaining. Until the sixties public employees had no laws requiring collective bargaining.

    Actually, today in the private sector most workers prefer not to be involved with unions with their self-serving expensive bureaucracies and restrictive work rules.

  • Tom Hering

    Cincinnatus, quote one statement from Walker’s campaign that promises to limit the collective bargaining rights of public employees to wage increases alone, with such bargaining further limited to cost-of-living increases alone. Which means teachers and other highly-qualified public employees in Wisconsin would have no real raises for the rest of their careers in the State. Can you find that quote for me, Cincinnatus?

  • Tom Hering

    Cincinnatus, quote one statement from Walker’s campaign that promises to limit the collective bargaining rights of public employees to wage increases alone, with such bargaining further limited to cost-of-living increases alone. Which means teachers and other highly-qualified public employees in Wisconsin would have no real raises for the rest of their careers in the State. Can you find that quote for me, Cincinnatus?

  • Cincinnatus

    Tom: http://gazettextra.com/news/2011/feb/18/were-walkers-plans-clear/

    Barry Burden, by the way, is a colleague of mine; very accomplished–and also very liberal. In short, Walker did promise to curtail union power and increase employee contributions to pensions and healthcare. Did he promise specifically that wage increases would “be limited to wage increases alone,” etc.? Um, probably not (not that I recall anyway). For better or worse (worse, in my opinion), no candidate of whom I am aware ever makes specific promises, for obvious reasons. Obama promised to reform healthcare and prioritize the War in Afghanistan during his campaign. Did he promise that his reform plans would involve an “individual mandate” or that he would appoint Petraeus as our new general in Afghanistan? Hint: no, he did not.

    In other words, I’m still not sure what you’re getting at. Is this bill invalid because he didn’t specify it’s every detail before he was elected? That’s just absurd. Is it invalid because he’s not conforming the bill to the demands of the minority opposition party? In a more perfect world than ours (but not entirely perfect: a perfect world wouldn’t be a democracy ;-P), perhaps he would, but as it is, your request is absurd. Do you still fail to understand how the actual democratic process in the United States works?

    In short, you’ve still failed to provide a coherent–much less convincing–argument for the bulk of your assertions. Remember how I asked you to do that yesterday? Right now, you’re sounding rather like the Democrats who have fled the state; that is, you sound rather like a spoiled sport. Look, I don’t like many of the policies that were passed with no input from the opposition by Obama’s unified government between 2009-2011, but nothing “undemocratic” happened. I was never made to “submit to a firing squad,” and I never would have condoned it if the minority party had fled Washington to avoid their duty. Nor, for that matter, was I upset because Obama hadn’t specified every detail of his legislative program before taking office. I wasn’t aware that that requirement had been added to the Constitution.

  • Cincinnatus

    Tom: http://gazettextra.com/news/2011/feb/18/were-walkers-plans-clear/

    Barry Burden, by the way, is a colleague of mine; very accomplished–and also very liberal. In short, Walker did promise to curtail union power and increase employee contributions to pensions and healthcare. Did he promise specifically that wage increases would “be limited to wage increases alone,” etc.? Um, probably not (not that I recall anyway). For better or worse (worse, in my opinion), no candidate of whom I am aware ever makes specific promises, for obvious reasons. Obama promised to reform healthcare and prioritize the War in Afghanistan during his campaign. Did he promise that his reform plans would involve an “individual mandate” or that he would appoint Petraeus as our new general in Afghanistan? Hint: no, he did not.

    In other words, I’m still not sure what you’re getting at. Is this bill invalid because he didn’t specify it’s every detail before he was elected? That’s just absurd. Is it invalid because he’s not conforming the bill to the demands of the minority opposition party? In a more perfect world than ours (but not entirely perfect: a perfect world wouldn’t be a democracy ;-P), perhaps he would, but as it is, your request is absurd. Do you still fail to understand how the actual democratic process in the United States works?

    In short, you’ve still failed to provide a coherent–much less convincing–argument for the bulk of your assertions. Remember how I asked you to do that yesterday? Right now, you’re sounding rather like the Democrats who have fled the state; that is, you sound rather like a spoiled sport. Look, I don’t like many of the policies that were passed with no input from the opposition by Obama’s unified government between 2009-2011, but nothing “undemocratic” happened. I was never made to “submit to a firing squad,” and I never would have condoned it if the minority party had fled Washington to avoid their duty. Nor, for that matter, was I upset because Obama hadn’t specified every detail of his legislative program before taking office. I wasn’t aware that that requirement had been added to the Constitution.

  • Cincinnatus

    did he promise that wage increases would be limited to cost-of-living adjustments alone***

  • Cincinnatus

    did he promise that wage increases would be limited to cost-of-living adjustments alone***

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell said (@13), “they have evolved a corrupt system of funneling large sums to presidents, governors and legislators who do their bidding”, but I can’t remember now whether he was talking about unions or corporations.

    Don (@22), in reply to Helen, contrasts “union vs. corporate political contributions” by saying that “unions exact mandatory dues from their members, and then spend substantial percentages of those dues on political activity, regardless of whether the members support that activity”. But Don fails to draw the parallel, which is that corporations give a substantial chunk of their profits to politicians and their PACs, regardless of whether their customers support that activity.

    Of course, Don makes unions look more evil in the process, because they “exact mandatory dues”! Booo! (Of course, he then goes on to say that you can opt out of this, but it is “difficult”, so might as well go with the original claim, right?) Ah, but is anyone forcing people to be in these unions. Was Cincinnatus forced to be in his union? Doubtless, some will say yes, but only if you frame it right, in a way that excludes other choices that were made.

    Politicians should not be allowed to negotiate wages or benefits with unions from which they have accepted political contributions. They should have to recuse themselves. Similarly, legislators should have to recuse themselves from voting on legislation that directly and singularly affects a business or person from whom they have accepted contributions.

    It’s so funny to see such suggestions from someone so opposed to McCain-Feingold. But what about our free speech! Don’t we all (unions excepted, of course) have a Constitutionally guaranteed right to “speak” with our money to our elected representatives? If those representatives are forced, by my speech to not be able to represent me on an issue — the same issue for which I “spoke” with my money — then how in the world does that solve anything? And why wouldn’t I be sending out $5 to every legislator whose vote I don’t want to count on legislation that affects me?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell said (@13), “they have evolved a corrupt system of funneling large sums to presidents, governors and legislators who do their bidding”, but I can’t remember now whether he was talking about unions or corporations.

    Don (@22), in reply to Helen, contrasts “union vs. corporate political contributions” by saying that “unions exact mandatory dues from their members, and then spend substantial percentages of those dues on political activity, regardless of whether the members support that activity”. But Don fails to draw the parallel, which is that corporations give a substantial chunk of their profits to politicians and their PACs, regardless of whether their customers support that activity.

    Of course, Don makes unions look more evil in the process, because they “exact mandatory dues”! Booo! (Of course, he then goes on to say that you can opt out of this, but it is “difficult”, so might as well go with the original claim, right?) Ah, but is anyone forcing people to be in these unions. Was Cincinnatus forced to be in his union? Doubtless, some will say yes, but only if you frame it right, in a way that excludes other choices that were made.

    Politicians should not be allowed to negotiate wages or benefits with unions from which they have accepted political contributions. They should have to recuse themselves. Similarly, legislators should have to recuse themselves from voting on legislation that directly and singularly affects a business or person from whom they have accepted contributions.

    It’s so funny to see such suggestions from someone so opposed to McCain-Feingold. But what about our free speech! Don’t we all (unions excepted, of course) have a Constitutionally guaranteed right to “speak” with our money to our elected representatives? If those representatives are forced, by my speech to not be able to represent me on an issue — the same issue for which I “spoke” with my money — then how in the world does that solve anything? And why wouldn’t I be sending out $5 to every legislator whose vote I don’t want to count on legislation that affects me?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    As to the nominal topic here of “The Republican Obama” — aka, “the one”, the Conservative Messiah, the Change the GOP has been Hoping for …

    You’d think the frequency and variety of Republican Messiah sightings (“Look, here is the one!” or, “There he is!”) would concern conservatives, Republicans, and the like. Isn’t it clear they don’t have a leader, that they don’t know what they want — all they know is they want the anti-Obama.

    When Obama appeared little more than a young, dark-skinned man with fresh ideas, the “Republican Obama” was Bobby Jindal. Don’t hear a lot about him now. Of course, Sarah Palin was also the “Republican Obama” before that (I think Jindal was sort of a “rebound” date for the GOP), back when the Republicans proved they, too, could nominate someone without much experience, and, for all their accusations of Obama’s crazy ideas (you remember: socialism, Alinskyism, etc.), Palin could match those three-to-one.

    No, what the Republicans need now is somebody that nobody’d heard of a year ago, but is in the news just now. (“Maybe this guy in the headlines is the one? Who else have we got?”) I mean, Walker’s only just been elected to office, having been governor for, what, two months (mission accomplished; time to move on, Palin style!). He’s young. He’s acting unilaterally, refusing to listen to the opposition or negotiate. “He’s everything we decried in Obama in 2008! But he’s a Republican! He must be the one!”

    At least, until the GOP trend-spotting team moves on. Again.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    As to the nominal topic here of “The Republican Obama” — aka, “the one”, the Conservative Messiah, the Change the GOP has been Hoping for …

    You’d think the frequency and variety of Republican Messiah sightings (“Look, here is the one!” or, “There he is!”) would concern conservatives, Republicans, and the like. Isn’t it clear they don’t have a leader, that they don’t know what they want — all they know is they want the anti-Obama.

    When Obama appeared little more than a young, dark-skinned man with fresh ideas, the “Republican Obama” was Bobby Jindal. Don’t hear a lot about him now. Of course, Sarah Palin was also the “Republican Obama” before that (I think Jindal was sort of a “rebound” date for the GOP), back when the Republicans proved they, too, could nominate someone without much experience, and, for all their accusations of Obama’s crazy ideas (you remember: socialism, Alinskyism, etc.), Palin could match those three-to-one.

    No, what the Republicans need now is somebody that nobody’d heard of a year ago, but is in the news just now. (“Maybe this guy in the headlines is the one? Who else have we got?”) I mean, Walker’s only just been elected to office, having been governor for, what, two months (mission accomplished; time to move on, Palin style!). He’s young. He’s acting unilaterally, refusing to listen to the opposition or negotiate. “He’s everything we decried in Obama in 2008! But he’s a Republican! He must be the one!”

    At least, until the GOP trend-spotting team moves on. Again.

  • Tom Hering

    I hope Walker remains “The One.” He’s done more than anyone to to inspire and unite progressives in Wisconsin. I think he could do the same for the nation.

  • Tom Hering

    I hope Walker remains “The One.” He’s done more than anyone to to inspire and unite progressives in Wisconsin. I think he could do the same for the nation.

  • Tom Hering

    “In short, you’ve still failed to provide a coherent–much less convincing–argument for the bulk of your assertions.” – Cincinnatus @ 27.

    I can’t fail at something I’ve never tried to do, much less promised to do. So quit expecting it already, okay? Thanks. :-D

  • Tom Hering

    “In short, you’ve still failed to provide a coherent–much less convincing–argument for the bulk of your assertions.” – Cincinnatus @ 27.

    I can’t fail at something I’ve never tried to do, much less promised to do. So quit expecting it already, okay? Thanks. :-D

  • DonS

    tODD @ 29:

    As you know (or I would guess you know), in non right-to-work states you don’t have the option not to join a union to be employed in certain jobs, such as a public school teacher. You just don’t. They’ll tell you that you don’t have to be a member, but you have to pay the union the exact same amount in “fees” for bargaining on your behalf. In great contrast, you never are forced to be a shareholder or customer of a corporation. That is a huge difference.

    If those representatives are forced, by my speech to not be able to represent me on an issue — the same issue for which I “spoke” with my money — then how in the world does that solve anything? And why wouldn’t I be sending out $5 to every legislator whose vote I don’t want to count on legislation that affects me?

    Read my comment again. I’m not talking about issues. I am talking about matters that directly affect the contributor. In the case of unions, it’s bargaining between that union and the politician to whom the union contributed. Certainly you can see how bad that is. In the case of legislation, I’m only talking about legislation directly involving the contributor — i.e. a military contractor and legislation involving an appropriation to that contractor. That doesn’t affect the union or corporation’s free speech. They could still expend as much as they wanted on advertising, etc. — they just couldn’t contribute to politicians with whom they were later going to later have direct dealings.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 29:

    As you know (or I would guess you know), in non right-to-work states you don’t have the option not to join a union to be employed in certain jobs, such as a public school teacher. You just don’t. They’ll tell you that you don’t have to be a member, but you have to pay the union the exact same amount in “fees” for bargaining on your behalf. In great contrast, you never are forced to be a shareholder or customer of a corporation. That is a huge difference.

    If those representatives are forced, by my speech to not be able to represent me on an issue — the same issue for which I “spoke” with my money — then how in the world does that solve anything? And why wouldn’t I be sending out $5 to every legislator whose vote I don’t want to count on legislation that affects me?

    Read my comment again. I’m not talking about issues. I am talking about matters that directly affect the contributor. In the case of unions, it’s bargaining between that union and the politician to whom the union contributed. Certainly you can see how bad that is. In the case of legislation, I’m only talking about legislation directly involving the contributor — i.e. a military contractor and legislation involving an appropriation to that contractor. That doesn’t affect the union or corporation’s free speech. They could still expend as much as they wanted on advertising, etc. — they just couldn’t contribute to politicians with whom they were later going to later have direct dealings.

  • Cincinnatus

    tODD@29: I see what you’re saying, and, in general, I agree with you, particularly vis-a-vis the enormous problem of corporate money in politics.

    But I think you skirt the problem of unions and compulsory unionization. No, I was not “forced” to join a union if you extend my line of life choices back to the time when I voluntarily chose to attend graduate school in Wisconsin. But that’s like saying Jews weren’t forced into Auschwitz because, at some point in the past, many of them chose not to leave Germany when they had the chance.

    Ok, obviously my situation is not that extreme, and I don’t wish to make light of the Holocaust, but the point is that your logic is a bit flawed. The problem with unions is that they are monopolies. In general, we don’t accept monopolies in the business world for very good reasons: because they exclude and preclude personal choice, because they stifle the market, and because they cripple efficiency, amongst other vices. All these complaints can be applied with equal validity to unions both public and private. In the state of Wisconsin, if I wish to serve as a teaching assistant, I have no choice but to join a union, pay dues, and thus passively consent to whatever agenda and whatever actions my union takes. On the other–and arguably more important–end of the deal, the state of Wisconsin–i.e., the taxpayers–has no choice but to negotiate with the union, which has monopolized the pool of labor in this particular discipline/trade/vocation, and to capitulate to some degree to its demands. At this point, this is not a good or fair deal for the citizens of Wisconsin (though its been great for the public employees).

    Now, this process may not be a problem, except economically, in the private sector (in that it’s none of my business what two private organizations decide between themselves), but it is a bit problematic when applied in the public-sector, don’t you think?

  • Cincinnatus

    tODD@29: I see what you’re saying, and, in general, I agree with you, particularly vis-a-vis the enormous problem of corporate money in politics.

    But I think you skirt the problem of unions and compulsory unionization. No, I was not “forced” to join a union if you extend my line of life choices back to the time when I voluntarily chose to attend graduate school in Wisconsin. But that’s like saying Jews weren’t forced into Auschwitz because, at some point in the past, many of them chose not to leave Germany when they had the chance.

    Ok, obviously my situation is not that extreme, and I don’t wish to make light of the Holocaust, but the point is that your logic is a bit flawed. The problem with unions is that they are monopolies. In general, we don’t accept monopolies in the business world for very good reasons: because they exclude and preclude personal choice, because they stifle the market, and because they cripple efficiency, amongst other vices. All these complaints can be applied with equal validity to unions both public and private. In the state of Wisconsin, if I wish to serve as a teaching assistant, I have no choice but to join a union, pay dues, and thus passively consent to whatever agenda and whatever actions my union takes. On the other–and arguably more important–end of the deal, the state of Wisconsin–i.e., the taxpayers–has no choice but to negotiate with the union, which has monopolized the pool of labor in this particular discipline/trade/vocation, and to capitulate to some degree to its demands. At this point, this is not a good or fair deal for the citizens of Wisconsin (though its been great for the public employees).

    Now, this process may not be a problem, except economically, in the private sector (in that it’s none of my business what two private organizations decide between themselves), but it is a bit problematic when applied in the public-sector, don’t you think?

  • kerner

    I dunno, Don. While I agree that your point is a good reason for not allowing collective bargaining for public employees, I’m not sure that we can prevent a person, corporation or union, who in the exercise of their free speech right supports a candidate financially, from ever lobbying that same politician in favor of something that directly benefits the contributor.

    I mean, wouldn’t that prevent Wisconsin Right to Life from ever asking a legislator to further restrict abortion? Wouldn’t that force a defense contractor to choose between its right to free speech and bidding on defense contracts? And if the unions are partly deprived of collective bargaining, their only recourse will be to contribute to and lobby their legislators. The right to petition the legislature for redress of grievances (i.e. lobbying) is a constitutionally protected activity.

    Besides, even if you could stop unions or corporations from lobbying politicians they had supported, all that would do would be to encourage the development of front organizations to do either the lobbying or the contributing. I think it might be better to simply make public who contributes to whom, and let the public judge accordingly.

  • kerner

    I dunno, Don. While I agree that your point is a good reason for not allowing collective bargaining for public employees, I’m not sure that we can prevent a person, corporation or union, who in the exercise of their free speech right supports a candidate financially, from ever lobbying that same politician in favor of something that directly benefits the contributor.

    I mean, wouldn’t that prevent Wisconsin Right to Life from ever asking a legislator to further restrict abortion? Wouldn’t that force a defense contractor to choose between its right to free speech and bidding on defense contracts? And if the unions are partly deprived of collective bargaining, their only recourse will be to contribute to and lobby their legislators. The right to petition the legislature for redress of grievances (i.e. lobbying) is a constitutionally protected activity.

    Besides, even if you could stop unions or corporations from lobbying politicians they had supported, all that would do would be to encourage the development of front organizations to do either the lobbying or the contributing. I think it might be better to simply make public who contributes to whom, and let the public judge accordingly.

  • DonS

    Kerner: Your example of Wisconsin Right to Life is broader than I intended. I wasn’t talking about laws of general applicability, or winning legislation that furthers your political point of view. I was talking about specific laws that concern a particular party (i.e. a defense contract with a particular contractor) and a direct pecuniary benefit uniquely to that party. And realistically, the conflict would only exist while that legislation was pending in the legislative body, not forever.

    However, I do get your point. As with all campaign finance legislation, including disclosure laws, it would be difficult to enforce and easy to circumvent. The focus should certainly be on the worst ethical abuse of all — that of collective bargaining by public employee unions with politicians they have contributed large sums of money to.

  • DonS

    Kerner: Your example of Wisconsin Right to Life is broader than I intended. I wasn’t talking about laws of general applicability, or winning legislation that furthers your political point of view. I was talking about specific laws that concern a particular party (i.e. a defense contract with a particular contractor) and a direct pecuniary benefit uniquely to that party. And realistically, the conflict would only exist while that legislation was pending in the legislative body, not forever.

    However, I do get your point. As with all campaign finance legislation, including disclosure laws, it would be difficult to enforce and easy to circumvent. The focus should certainly be on the worst ethical abuse of all — that of collective bargaining by public employee unions with politicians they have contributed large sums of money to.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@33) said, “in non right-to-work states you don’t have the option not to join a union to be employed in certain jobs”. That is true. But, again, no one is forcing you to choose those certain jobs, nor are you forced to live in a certain state.

    The states, as conservatives like to remind us, are little laboratories, and if you don’t like things in one state, you can always move to another.

    I mean, if I want truly high-speed (> 6 Mbps) Internet in my home, I only have one choice. I could move to an area (just a nearby suburb, even) that has different options, but as it is, I am “forced” to pay money to Comcast, and thereby subsidize their lobbying of the government and whatever deals and laws they may get passed, as such. Provided that I want what they have and don’t want to move. But I really don’t think that counts as being forced, even if it kind of sucks.

    As to Cincinnatus’ claim (@34) that “the state of Wisconsin–i.e., the taxpayers–has no choice but to negotiate with the union”, that seems more than a bit belied by recent events, right? Doesn’t your entire argument hinge on the fact that, several decades ago, the state did voluntarily enter into agreement with the unions, and recently, it has decided to end that agreement?

    Again, I’m not saying that I think that public employee unions are a good idea. I just don’t think the “conservative” rhetoric with respect to political funds and free speech is terribly consistent, is all.

    More to the point, I think DonS is more interested in prohibiting public employee unions than he is in guaranteeing the right of the people to use their money to “speak” how they want to.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@33) said, “in non right-to-work states you don’t have the option not to join a union to be employed in certain jobs”. That is true. But, again, no one is forcing you to choose those certain jobs, nor are you forced to live in a certain state.

    The states, as conservatives like to remind us, are little laboratories, and if you don’t like things in one state, you can always move to another.

    I mean, if I want truly high-speed (> 6 Mbps) Internet in my home, I only have one choice. I could move to an area (just a nearby suburb, even) that has different options, but as it is, I am “forced” to pay money to Comcast, and thereby subsidize their lobbying of the government and whatever deals and laws they may get passed, as such. Provided that I want what they have and don’t want to move. But I really don’t think that counts as being forced, even if it kind of sucks.

    As to Cincinnatus’ claim (@34) that “the state of Wisconsin–i.e., the taxpayers–has no choice but to negotiate with the union”, that seems more than a bit belied by recent events, right? Doesn’t your entire argument hinge on the fact that, several decades ago, the state did voluntarily enter into agreement with the unions, and recently, it has decided to end that agreement?

    Again, I’m not saying that I think that public employee unions are a good idea. I just don’t think the “conservative” rhetoric with respect to political funds and free speech is terribly consistent, is all.

    More to the point, I think DonS is more interested in prohibiting public employee unions than he is in guaranteeing the right of the people to use their money to “speak” how they want to.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 37: I think we need to reset the conversation a bit, because I am, quite frankly, confused. So, here is a summary of what I believe:

    1. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is preeminent to any statutory law. It provides for the right of free speech, specifically political speech. McCain-Feingold placed undue burdens on that right to free speech, and was therefore unconstitutional. Specifically, Citizens United had to bring suit because they were prohibited from producing and distributing a movie which criticized Hillary Clinton. Why? Because it was within thirty days of a federal primary election in which she was a candidate. The upshot of this statutory restriction? Only rich people who can afford to make their own movie had true freedom of speech under McCain-Feingold. Everyone else, who needed to form an organization and pool their resources to effectively engage in political speech, using their chosen method, was denied that right by statutory law. Of course such a scheme was unconstitutional.

    2. Political contributions have been held to be a form of free speech. I accept that holding, basically for the same reason I stated above. I hate that rich people can fund their own campaigns and run for office practically unfettered, as Meg Whitman did here in CA last year, and regular people are stuck with horribly restrictive campaign finance laws limiting contributions to relatively low amounts, requiring onerous disclosure, etc. I hate that scheme. I’m with Kerner, in a sense, because I would prefer no amount restrictions, but full disclosure for donations over a certain amount. One reason for this is because there have always been huge loopholes in campaign finance law. One of those loopholes is for unions — they can coordinate and offer unlimited in-kind contributions without restriction. Worse, the donations they give are from mandatory dues, meaning that the workers they represent had no choice but to involuntarily donate to candidates union bosses chose.

    3. I am a lawyer. As such, I am very familiar with conflict of interest considerations. In my ideal world, there would be no restrictions with respect to points 1 and 2 above. Any body or any entity can donate to whom they want and whatever amounts or in-kind contributions they want, at any time, and can freely engage in whatever other kind of free political speech they want to. The only restrictions I would impose are: a) full disclosure of all contributions having a value over a set amount (say $250). b) any politician accepting a contribution over the set amount must recuse themselves from any matter creating a potential conflict of interest with the donor, whether that be negotiating wages or benefits with a union or having any involvement with legislation or regulation uniquely impacting that donor. I don’t think that is an unreasonable restriction, and it would avoid some of the horrible benefits packages taxpayers have been stuck with, as well as some of the horrible corporate welfare legislation we have been stuck with over the years.

    I do not deny my strong interest in eliminating public employee unions. I have stated my abhorrence of them many times. Why do “progressives” believe that public employees need to be unionized for protection from government, which progressives also believe to be a great good? Why should the people be so anxious to trust government to guard their health care and other alleged rights, if it cannot even be trusted to protect the basic employee rights of public servants? No one has ever actually addressed that question, that I know of.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 37: I think we need to reset the conversation a bit, because I am, quite frankly, confused. So, here is a summary of what I believe:

    1. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is preeminent to any statutory law. It provides for the right of free speech, specifically political speech. McCain-Feingold placed undue burdens on that right to free speech, and was therefore unconstitutional. Specifically, Citizens United had to bring suit because they were prohibited from producing and distributing a movie which criticized Hillary Clinton. Why? Because it was within thirty days of a federal primary election in which she was a candidate. The upshot of this statutory restriction? Only rich people who can afford to make their own movie had true freedom of speech under McCain-Feingold. Everyone else, who needed to form an organization and pool their resources to effectively engage in political speech, using their chosen method, was denied that right by statutory law. Of course such a scheme was unconstitutional.

    2. Political contributions have been held to be a form of free speech. I accept that holding, basically for the same reason I stated above. I hate that rich people can fund their own campaigns and run for office practically unfettered, as Meg Whitman did here in CA last year, and regular people are stuck with horribly restrictive campaign finance laws limiting contributions to relatively low amounts, requiring onerous disclosure, etc. I hate that scheme. I’m with Kerner, in a sense, because I would prefer no amount restrictions, but full disclosure for donations over a certain amount. One reason for this is because there have always been huge loopholes in campaign finance law. One of those loopholes is for unions — they can coordinate and offer unlimited in-kind contributions without restriction. Worse, the donations they give are from mandatory dues, meaning that the workers they represent had no choice but to involuntarily donate to candidates union bosses chose.

    3. I am a lawyer. As such, I am very familiar with conflict of interest considerations. In my ideal world, there would be no restrictions with respect to points 1 and 2 above. Any body or any entity can donate to whom they want and whatever amounts or in-kind contributions they want, at any time, and can freely engage in whatever other kind of free political speech they want to. The only restrictions I would impose are: a) full disclosure of all contributions having a value over a set amount (say $250). b) any politician accepting a contribution over the set amount must recuse themselves from any matter creating a potential conflict of interest with the donor, whether that be negotiating wages or benefits with a union or having any involvement with legislation or regulation uniquely impacting that donor. I don’t think that is an unreasonable restriction, and it would avoid some of the horrible benefits packages taxpayers have been stuck with, as well as some of the horrible corporate welfare legislation we have been stuck with over the years.

    I do not deny my strong interest in eliminating public employee unions. I have stated my abhorrence of them many times. Why do “progressives” believe that public employees need to be unionized for protection from government, which progressives also believe to be a great good? Why should the people be so anxious to trust government to guard their health care and other alleged rights, if it cannot even be trusted to protect the basic employee rights of public servants? No one has ever actually addressed that question, that I know of.


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