Feb 212011

Wisconsin Union Protest: Myth vs. Fact – Heritage Foundation sent a team to Madison, WI

MADISON, Wis. — The fight in Wisconsin’s capital is marked by a fundamental disagreement over Gov. Scott Walker’s budget proposal. Protesters claim it’s a blatant assault on labor unions, while the governor’s supporters say it’s about government spending, plain and simple.

The Heritage Foundation sent a team to Wisconsin to report on the action. Our video captures the claims of pro-union protesters as well as state Sen. Leah Vukmir, a Republican supporter of Walker’s budget plan.

For all that protesters said they weren’t marching on the Capitol because of money, the protest had definite overtones of class-consciousness.

Numerous signs proclaimed, “Tax the rich,” and protesters frequently cited that mantra as the solution to budget problems.

The protests were notably organized, with signs posted throughout the Capitol building providing “media talking points” for protesters. At least one taught protesters “how to talk to teabaggers.”

Few protesters we spoke to knew Wisconsin has a deficit of $137 million — a deficit projected to increase to $3.6 billion in the next two years. Fewer still seemed to realize just how generous public worker benefits in Wisconsin are — far more generous than the national average.

Wisconsin Showdown Over Collective Bargaining (Dem senators remain in hiding)

From FOX:Pressure on Wisconsin Unions, Dems Grows as Walkout Drags on

How Long Can Wisconsin Dems Stay in Hiding?

“For us, this is about balancing the budget. We’ve got a $3.6 billion budget deficit. We are broke. Just like nearly every other state across the country, we’re broke. It’s about time somebody stood up and told the truth.”

–Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wisc., on “FOX News Sunday”

The 14 Democratic members of the Wisconsin Senate remain at large, with a handful vowing in interviews from undisclosed locations to stay in hiding as long as necessary to prevent a vote on a budget proposal opposed by government union workers.

But with only one Democrat needed to bring the measure up for vote and Republican resolve deepening, the standoff seems set to soon turn into a showdown.

But amid the high-stakes standoff, there are signs that the union-Democrat coalition is showing some strains.

Union teachers were urged to return to classes by the head of their statewide labor group after repeated complaints from parents who have seen schools in many districts closed since the middle of last week as teachers call in sick. While out of state groups can replace the manpower for the sit-in protest at the capitol, the end of the sick out is a sign that public tolerance of the labor unrest is growing thin.

Remember, just one Democrat needs to be present for a vote to take place. Refusing to go to work for six days while the state capital remains in turmoil has not enhanced their bargaining position. While Walker and Republicans are on television and in newspapers pleading constantly for the legislature to be allowed to function, Democrats have been limited to furtive media appearances and forced to rely on labor leaders to carry their messages.

The Senate president says the body will reconvene on Tuesday in hopes that at least one Democrat may choose to break the boycott.

Democrats argue that there would be a heavy political price for Republicans to pay if the federal government shuts down over a budget impasse – that public patience will wear thin when political disagreements cause disruptions. By the same argument, Wisconsin’s Democrats are inviting a backlash by holding out.

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell (R) Defends Gov. Scott Walker


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