Jun 06 2012

Print this Post

Scott Walker’s Vindication

Share to Google Plus

Courage When It Counted

An insider tip – if you want to see the best improv comedy on TV today, tune into MSNBC.

There, the haggard and wounded apologists for the American Left will take to the air and attempt to  explain away how the union movement suffered its most crushing defeat since Ronald Reagan fired all the air traffic controllers in 1981.

There will be a lot of talk about the nefarious influence of money, and how the Democrats and their union backers in Wisconsin were outspent 7-1. About the “evil” Koch brothers and all the outside cash that flowed in and overwhelmed and obscured the true expression of Wisconsin’s intent.

There will also be a lot of mutual reassurance that the recall election will have absolutely no impact on the presidential race, the issues that will dominate or the role Wisconsin will play in electing our Chief Executive in November.

What you won’t hear in any of this, is the truth.

Scott Walker won yesterday because voters judged that the dramatic reforms that he and the legislature implemented worked as advertised; keeping state workers on the job, closing a massive budget deficit, generating new private sector jobs – and doing it all without raising taxes.

But to fully grasp the scope of Walker’s victory requires a walk down the recall road.

Walker took on collective bargaining as part of his reform agenda in the birthplace of the public union movement. No small task.

Remember that when Walker’s plan was introduced, outraged union workers and the professional left occupied the state capital and made a filthy circus out of Madison. More unseemly, they harassed and threatened GOP lawmakers and their families.

While elected Democrats fled the state, forsaking their sworn responsibility as members of the state Senate, the unions implemented recall procedures – normally a tool to root out elected officials for malfeasance, not policy differences – to try and defeat state senators and a conservative state Supreme Court judge that favored Walker’s reforms.

When that failed, the unions doubled down to recall Walker himself.

And for what exactly?

Because Walker wanted public union workers to make a small contribution to their taxpayer-subsidized heath-care and pensions as part of a broader plan to return fiscal responsibility to Wisconsin?

 By private sector standards, it wasn’t much. According to a study by the American Enterprise Institute, even after implementation of Walker’s changes to state health-care and pensions, Wisconsin state workers’ total compensation was still $15,000 greater than similarly skilled private sector workers.


The entire union-led effort was an object lesson in special-interest intimidation.

The unions wanted to prove to the nation – and any other upstart governor out there with plans of their own – that limits on collective bargaining and mandatory dues collection for public unions will end a political career.

And they lost – Big Time.

The crucial take away from Wisconsin is that if a leader is bold enough to take on deeply entrenched special interests that, as The Wall Street Journal said, “want a permanent monopoly claim to taxpayer wallets,” they can win so long as they make a clear case to the public at large.

Walker’s victory makes rationalization of collective bargaining rights for public unions a core reform for any state seeking to manage the size of government, providing tools for spending control, property tax reductions and school choice, while providing the foundation for a pro-growth economy.

There are 30 other states with collective bargaining provisions. We will see what lessons they draw from Wisconsin as they tackle their stratospheric pension and health-care obligations, far removed from any practical means to pay for them.

Want to see the union version of victory?  Check out Jerry Brown and California; it’s like Greece, only bigger.

Critically, despite the toxic rhetoric, Walker’s “asks” from the unions were anything but radical. Contribute something to your pensions.  Contribute a bit more to your health insurance. Both asks were well below what private sector workers contribute for their much less attractive pension and health-care.

Combined together, Walker’s modest proposals on collective bargaining, in conjunction with his pro-growth economic changes, closed a $3.6 billion budget hole. New authority that empowered state and local governments to innovate and compete saved $1 billion. Most important – and central to Walker’s success – Wisconsin avoided layoffs of state workers and did it without a tax increase.

That is a victory for the public union employees as well as the taxpayers of Wisconsin.

In our increasingly homogenized, pre-packaged politics, the appearance of leadership is often substituted for actual leadership.

Actual leadership requires conviction.  It requires courage. It requires risk.

And Walker has this.

He campaigned in 2010 as a reformer, and he followed through with a practical plan to improve the state once elected. Despite durable and ferocious opposition to his plans, and at significant risk to his governorship and political career, he stayed the course with steel in his spine, and refused to give up or give in to the thug-like extortion of the unions and their backers.

For his policies, Wisconsin is a better place today than when Walker entered office.

Because of his dedication to all the citizens of Wisconsin, he has won personal and professional vindication; the only governor in American history to win in a recall.

In the process, Walker has defined a set of issues that will play out between now and November.  The massive organization that propelled Walker to victory now changes the electoral college calculus putting Wisconsin in play where, only four years ago, Obama carried the state by 14 points.

The echoes ripple on from there.

This much is certain: America could do worse in November than casting ballots for “courageous doers” who don’t just talk a good game, but are willing to play one as well.









Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>