From parliamentary intrigue to popular contestation

Once Wisconsin’s Republican Senators made hash out of parliamentary procedure to cleave the union-busting component of Scott Walker’s Budget Repair Bill, it seems as though the Wisconsin GOP had triumphed over their partisan and popular adversaries. The Senators even included no-strike by public employee measures in the new bill. Their will and that of Governor Walker appeared firm as police — but not the Wisconsin National Guard! — began to remove protesters from the antechamber to the Assembly while permitting entry into the Capitol Building through an entrance that included weapons screening. Despite their having to face this repression, the demonstrators refused to yield. The New York Times now reports that:

As thousands of demonstrators converged on the Capitol, the police cut off access to the building on Thursday, creating a taut atmosphere in which Republican State Assembly members were seeking to maintain order long enough to vote on a bill that sharply curtails bargaining rights for government workers.

The State Assembly had been scheduled to vote on the bill Thursday morning. Though it is virtually certain to pass, it was now unclear when that vote might take place.

So, the protest campaign continues. Meanwhile, the demonstrators, their supporters and their opponents can only wait for the appearance of the legal challenges to this bill, challenges which will come soon enough.


Wisconsin’s State Assembly finished its nasty chore and passed the anti-union bill 53-42. Rep. Robin Vos, R-Rochester, expressed well the absurdity of the moment when he claimed: “‘It will show to people in Wisconsin and throughout the country that we are not afraid to make hard decisions’.” Let us hope that over the coming months that members of the Wisconsin GOP will have many occasions to display their brave nature.

Cross-posted at FireDogLake

Legitimacy be damned

Mary Spicuzza and Clay Barbour of The Wisconsin State Journal report:

In a surprise move late Wednesday, Senate Republicans used a series of parliamentary maneuvers to overcome a three-week stalemate with Democrats and pass an amended version of the governor’s controversial budget repair bill.

With a crowd of protesters chanting outside their chambers, Senators approved an amended version of Gov. Scott Walker’s bill, which would strip most collective bargaining rights from public employees.

The new bill removes fiscal elements of the proposal but still curbs collective bargaining and increases employee payments in pension and health benefits. The changes would amount to an approximate 8 percent pay cut for public workers.

The House will pass the amended bill tomorrow. But the law will likely need to pass a number of legal and political tests. These tests may include: A general strike, new demonstrations and multiple legal challenges based upon the legally suspect parliamentary maneuvering that enabled the Senate to overcome the quorum problem created by the Democrats.

This event also reveals with undeniable clarity Wisconsin Republicans to be shameless hypocrites. It shows that the union-busting component of Walker’s Budget Repair Bill was a non-fiscal and decidedly political goal.

Let’s take out unions at the knees

Americans for Prosperity, a Koch astroturf project, makes union-busting a key component of political project:

Pittsburghers support Wisconsin’s public unions

The contagion effect touched Pittsburgh, PA on Thursday (2.24.2011).

Rick Santorum supports Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin

Governor Walker recently proposed an austerity budget for the state of Wisconsin, one which quickly generated demonstrations protesting the proposal’s attempt to strip some of Wisconsin’s public employees of their collective bargaining rights. The viciousness of Walker’s budget along with the strength of the opposition put Republican legislators on the defensive while Democratic Senators used the occasion to flee the state for Illinois, doing so in order to deprive Walker and the Republicans of a Senate quorum. Walker recently claimed that he and his party would stand firm while also claiming that his budget would leave these collective bargaining rights intact, a claim debunked here. Rick Santorum does not mind Wisconsin’s efforts to strip some Wisconsin citizens of their rights. He instead

“… commend[s] Governor Walker for having the fortitude to stand up against the fiscal irresponsibility that is plaguing our country. He is showing tremendous courage to put an end to spending that his state and many like his can simply no longer afford,” Santorum stated. “Americans are looking for this kind of commitment to fiscal responsibility in Washington and in state houses across the country.”

Why would Santorum fail to support Walker’s union-busting work? For Santorum and the rest of the Republican Party, it’s crude class war all day, every day. It’s what the Republicans do.