As I'm sure you know by now, Gov. Scott Walker's rationale for stripping collective-bargaining rights from public employees is Wisconsin's budget deficit. With a $137 million shortfall, Walker wants to end collective bargaining as a means to cutting other benefits and reducing the shortfall. If the goal is a balanced budget, then Walker should be willing to take this offer:
The head of the largest state workers union said Friday that his group is willing to give in to Gov. Scott Walker's demand for concessions on their benefits if the governor gives up his bid to repeal nearly all bargaining rights for public worker unions.
Marty Beil, head of the Wisconsin State Employees Union, which represents some 23,000 blue-collar state workers, said his group would agree to pay more of their pension contributions and health insurance benefits.
"We are prepared to implement the financial concessions proposed to help bring our state's budget into balance, but we will not be denied our God-given right to join a real union...we will not - I repeat we will not - be denied our rights to collectively bargain," Beil said in a statement.
If Walker were acting in good faith, then this would be a win-win situation: Workers keep their right to collectively bargain, and the governor can close the budget shortfall. But, given the situation -- a ginned up crisis -- it's clear that this has less to do with finding middle ground and more to do with an ideological crusade against public-sector unions. Walker wants to break his political opponents; the budget is a secondary concern.
This dynamic is also playing out on in the House of Representatives, where Republicans just passed a bill to defund Planned Parenthood. The organization hasn't done anything wrong, but it is loathed by a large swath of the conservative base. And so, naturally, Republicans killed its funding. Anti-choicers are jubilant, but the joke's on them; each year, federal funding for family planning -- a large portion of which goes to Planned Parenthood -- prevents 1.94 million unintended pregnancies, including 810,000 abortions. According to the Guttmacher Institute, absent this funding, the U.S abortion rate would be nearly two-thirds higher than it currently is.
Yesterday, I described the GOP pattern for cutting services to poor people. This is just a classic case of disingenuous bullshit. On issue after issue, Republicans come to office with faux-concern -- "the deficit is too high," "we perform too many abortions," "we need to create jobs!" -- and on each issue, Republicans take every step to exacerbate the problem, from blocking funding to prevent abortions, to ending programs that improve the labor market.
Of course, this all makes sense as long as you remember the GOP's chief concern: cutting taxes for rich people.
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