Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s anti-union antics are spreading to other Republican governors, who have chosen to portray public employees as largely responsible for gaping budget shortfalls. (Wisconsin doesn’t have a huge shortfall, by the way. It has a deficit, but it’s hardly gaping.) From the WaPo:
The budget fights initiated by Republican governors represent a multi-state effort by like-minded politicians to solve budgetary problems in part by weakening public employee unions and demanding significant concessions from workers. After the November elections, Republicans now control many more state legislatures and governorships.
Although the particulars may differ – some governors are seeking to end collective bargaining rights, others are not – the state executives share both a political philosophy and a conviction that the public is prepared to support these measures if they help fix long-term budgetary problems.
That approach has won raves from union-hating conservatives, who have flocked to Wisconsin in droves to support Walker. Tea party activists, rallied in part by Americans for Prosperity (funded by the Koch brothers), have descended on the state capitol for counter-protests.
But Walker’s union busting is not so popular with the public, according to a new poll. From USA Today:
Americans strongly oppose laws taking away the collective bargaining power of public employee unions, according to a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll. The poll found 61% would oppose a law in their state similar to such a proposal in Wisconsin, compared with 33% who would favor such a law.
As others have observed, Walker is not trying to balance a budget. He’s engaged in a power-grab, trying to destroy collective bargaining. Like many politicians, he would probably say he doesn’t care what the polls show.
But even if he doesn’t, many Republicans in the state legislature will. They many not be willing to pursue Walker’s scorched-earth, don’t-negotiate campaign much longer.
— Cynthia Tucker