Posted tagged ‘scott walker’

Primary Dynamics?

May 9, 2015

Have you noticed that the usually outspoken GOP Sunday Talk Show participants have been reserved and many are keeping out of the national spot light? It could be that President Obama has taken his sail out of their wind. Or, it could be that the high pollen count has put each of these candidates off their mark. Or, is it related to primary dynamics and the long odds strategies each must be considering if they really are serious about winning the GOP nomination?

Before the quadrennial primary season, GOP hopefuls like Ted Cruz, Lindsay Graham, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, or Rick Perry wanted to attract attention and make the public realize they were “players”. With their advisors, each picked issues and venues where they could be interviewed and make some audacious statement.  Their words were designed to project them as decisive, experienced, and destined for greatness. It mattered less whether their position was actionable or whether real events would produce superior or completely contrary results. The point of these public statements was to create an “impression” and hope that the public would forget the details.

So now the GOP is about to gather over a dozen Presidential hopefuls into a primary process. Strangely the process begins with three totally unrepresentative States (Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina). In past times, these States were important despite their lack of resemblance to national demographic…  they were the path to funding.

Win in one or more of these States and your campaign stood a great chance to attract big money. Big money might then help the candidate win States with more convention votes. Hmmm.

In 2015, big money has pretty much already sought out their candidates (preferred and at least one back up). So what might the strategy be for a Ted Cruz, a Carly Fiorina, a Rand Paul, or a Lindsay Graham who aren’t the likely preferred candidates?

This group plus Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, and John Kasick must realize that there is almost no chance they can win the nomination. They are still relatively unknown nationally and they lack the really big money.

On the other hand, as long as they stay in the race they allow for the chance that something strange could happen. Leading candidates could go bust or a second coming might pick one of the second tier candidates out of the crowd (less likely).

Most probable is the notion that the longer they last as a candidate, the better the offer they will get from the ultimate GOP nominee, the offer being tied to one of the also rans withdrawing and throwing support to the ultimate winner.

In a strange turn of events, it seems that leaders such as Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, and even Marco Rubio find it to their advantage to remain relatively quiet in terms of audacious statements and stick to “chicken in every pot” type promises. “Obama is bad”, “Hillary is an insider”, and “no new taxes” are all safe statements. What the “leaders” do is what the second tier think they should do too.

Sooner or later the gloves will come off. For now, however, standing tall and looking wise is a better strategy than opening one’s mouth and proving otherwise.  Enjoy the relative peace and quiet for a while.

The Heart Of The Difference

May 1, 2014

This past week saw a Wisconsin voter photo ID struck down by a Federal Appeals Court. The grounds: the Court determined that too many poor and elderly people would be in properly inconvenienced in an attempt to obtain photo IDs.  Consequently these previous voters would be denied the vote for unfair reasons.

Governor Walker has said he will appeal the finding and if necessary take it to the Supreme Court. The Governor says the law is constitutional. Hmmm.

Opponents of voter photo ID cheered the Court’s decision. Opponents have long maintained that instituting mandatory voter photo ID would place undue burden on the poor and elderly.  Opponents also alleged the law was aimed at discouraging large blocks of voters who were thought to be Democrat leaning.

The rush to voter photo IDs has been a phenomena of GOP controlled States.  These laws were premised on ensuring that future votes were free of fraud. A worthy goal but but not supported by recent incidents of voter fraud. Fixing something not broken?

So what is the basis of Governor Scott’s appeal?

The appeal will emphasize the constitutional procedure used to enact the voter photo ID law. The Governor will assert that the State acted in accordance with its constitution and therefore the law should stand, full stop.  In other words, the State followed the correct procedure in enacting a law and therefore it should stand.  Hmmm.

The Heart of the Difference is glaringly simple. These GOP controlled States say their law are “legal”, that is they followed their State Constitutional principles. The Federal Appeals Courts, on the other hand does not question the States ability to enact voter requirements but says these requirements must be reasonable and fair to all voters.  The Appeals Court concluded  the law’s consequences were disproportionate and negative in impacting minorities and the elderly.   The law does not meet the test of treating all citizens the same under the law.

This controversy will make wonderful case study materials for law students. Weigh the correctness of a properly  enacted law versus whether the law is fundamentally fair to residents. Until States can accumulate evidence that voter fraud is taking placing on a large scale, it is hard to see how States can implement voter photo ID laws as “precautions”.

Wisconsin Speaks

June 6, 2012

Governor Scott Walker won yesterday and survived a recall bid.  He won convincingly with over 50% of the vote in what was considered a voter turn out equal to or greater than for a Presidential election.  Wisconsin voters spoke loudly.

Shortly after Walker was elected in 2010, he asked his Republican controlled legislature to pass legislation taking away public sector workers’ rights to collective bargaining.  This was a surprise since Walker had never mentioned this possibility during the campaign.  Protests erupted, and in time recall petitions were collected forcing a recall election.

With over 10 points margin of victory, Walker can say the voters have spoken.  In a few days we will be told what voters said and why.   Pundits will sift through the demographics behind this margin and make their pronouncements.

Some will assert it was a referendum on President Obama.  Others will say the Union overstepped its safety zone and the defeat reflects what most voters think about unions.  Still others may say that Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett did not run hard enough or spend enough to get elected.  Who knows?

What seems clear after the election is that (1) out of State money played a huge role.  This seems patently wrong regardless of which party it favors.  It also seems clear that (2) Unions are going the way of dinosaurs and there is little time remaining for them to remake themselves if they wished to stay relevant.  (Since losing collective bargaining rights, Wisconsin’s public service workers union has also lost a large amount of dues paying members.)

The irony of out of State money is that its flagrant use is an endorsement of Federal over States rights, something most of these “out of State” donors would never support.  Surely, if it is ok to affect the vote in another State, there will be less need to restrict Federal powers since it will impact all States the same.

Unions have long been in a survival mode.  They do little to encourage the skill or productivity development of their members deferring instead to sucking out money from members for all sorts of political activity.  What is tragic is that at a time when there are no systemic levers to reverse the trend of income inequality, unions seem to be impotent and unlikely to play a constructive role.

In America, however, if the elections is deemed fair, we respect the majority decision and get on with life.  Wisconsin should be no different.

Why I’m Fighting in Wisconsin

March 11, 2011

With this headline, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker introduced his “Opinion” article in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal.  Finally, we were all going to know why the Governor chose to try and bust the public sector unions in his efforts to balance the Wisconsin budget.

Walker told us about a young teacher in Milwaukee who after winning the State First Year Teacher Award was laid off.  The reason was union rules mandating seniority, he said.  How can that be fair?

The Governor also pointed out that he wanted State workers to contribute more to their health insurance and pensions.  In comparison to private industry, he said, this was quite reasonable.  So this is why he is fighting for Wisconsin.

Even though pay and benefit concessions from State workers will not fix the budget problems alone, most of Walker’s financial requests seem eminently reasonable considering the times.  In fact, Unions have been woefully remiss in not stepping up sooner and offering to renegotiate.   But that has little to do with “how” Governor Walker is fighting.

The Governor is using bully and sneak attack tactics, and jumped into the gutter even before the Union could get there.  (That is really an accomplishment.)

The Governor ought to be the leader for all residents.  Of all people, he should use the most above board strategies and tactics, with transparency of the process a first priority.  He is the State’s top elected official.

The Governor could have campaigned upon the principle that he would seek the end of collective bargaining and a reduction in pay and benefits when he was running for office.  The Governor could have invited the unions to the negotiating table and introduced his set of demands (along with the rational of why they were necessary).  The Governor could have pursued these negotiations to conclusion or impasse.  If impasse occurred, the Governor could then have gone to the Wisconsin voters and told them, “you know my position from the campaign, I have tried to reason with the unions, they are adamant and will not move, I have bargained in good faith and now I will impose a solution, there could be a work action so I want you to know why”

What Governor Scott has really told everyone in Wisconsin is process does not matter.  He has also told Wisconsin residents be prepared.  This man will throw the first punch and do what is necessary to achieve his own ends.  Most importantly, everyone should realize that the Scott’s of this world apply this approach on everything they believe in.  After State workers, it could be treatment of minorities, the poor, women, or any other personal freedom issue.  It could also be your health care.


Right to Work Compromise?

February 27, 2011

It is not clear at all whether a compromise in the standoff with Governor Scott Walker is possible.  It could be his way or the highway.  But consider this…

Collective bargaining is a bed rock principle with American labor.  With a rich history of weak kneed or unabashedly opportunistic State political leaders, unionized State workers should make everyone take notice.  Unless performed well, public sector unions represent an outright license to take advantage of tax payers.

On top of the bargaining process, unions have insisted upon “closed shops”.  This requires any State worker covered by a union agreement to be a “dues paying” member.  No dues, no work.

As a consequence, State workers’ unions have large sums of money with which to back politicians or influence the public through advertisements.  Teachers’ unions have been very effective at expanding their influence.  But now the pendulum is poised to retreat in a less generous direction.

At the bottom of the forces driving this reversal is the resistance of citizens to pay higher taxes.  It is not that they would not pay more in taxes if they thought it was necessary and fair, but they do not.  The average voter feels the tax burden is falling disproportionately upon their shoulders.

While there are many reasons for this, one important factor has been the stagnation of middle class wages and salaries over the past 25 years.  During this same period, globalization has blossomed and thousands of American jobs have disappear.  In their place are goods and services imported from countries in Southeast Asia.  The middle class now sees the rich getting richer and themselves getting squeezed.

Enter public sector service jobs.  All of a sudden, their wages, salaries, and benefits look very attractive.  No good politician has ever lost the opportunity to pick on some group if the politician thought he could divert the public’s attention.  An enemy exposed is time bought.

There are arguments to be made that public service workers should pay more for their health care or retirement funds.  They should at least be on a par with similar private sector employees.  And the notion of closed shops and automatic dues deductions seems a bit outdated.  There certainly seems room for movement without unilaterally repealing workers rights to organize.

There are two questions.

  • Will the unions and the State governors be willing to compromise?
  • Why does anyone think that when the State workers’ beast is slain, life will be any better for the middle class?

The real issue facing all State workers and taxpayers is how can we begin to grow in the general economy, and raise all boats (public and private sector).


What’s Missing?

February 26, 2011

Politics and life in general are missing something today.  It certainly is not rage.  We have all too much of that.  It certainly is not tragedy.  We have too much of that too.  It is not the unexplained either.  That happens all the time.

Is it the sense of helplessness?  Is it a paucity of hope?  Is it the lost American dream?

It could be a lack of perspective.  (If it is an American it cannot be credible.)  It also could be a limited view of history and the lessons readily available from the past.  It could be naivety or plain laziness.  Critical thinking seems a good candidate too.

Maybe there is a lot of rage or tragedy or the unexplained today.  And maybe there is an abundance of helplessness and hopelessness.  And maybe the American dream, as we remember it, has drifted away.

All of this might be limiting our sense of perspective.  It could be dimming our view of history and the lessons from it.  And critical thinking may have been crowded out by the immediateness of social media.

But while these are important, they are not what is missing.

It is fairness, openness, and the sense of practicality.

Consider the debate over health care.  How can it be ok for some to receive a high level of coverage (like Federal employees) and others to receive none or worse be denied insurance coverage which makes health care prohibitively expensive and practically unavailable?   How can it be that health care insurance costs are increasing each year and no clear explanation is given?  How can the national health care debate continue to say the US has the best health care in the world when outcome data shows otherwise, annual premiums are hurting the competitiveness of businesses, and not all Americans are included?

Or, the Wisconsin debate over the collective bargaining rights of public sector employees.  How can the State think they can simply take away the negotiated benfits, without negotiations?  How can the State say it is about balancing the State budget and attempt to eliminate collective bargaining, especially when the worker’s union has agreed to concessions?  Why can’t all Americans see that if it can happen there, it can happen next to them.  After State workers, it could be private sector employees until everyone in the bottom 98% of earners are earning a lot less.  Why can’t people see this?

The answer is not to continue as we are.  And the answer is not to simply take from some.  There must be some across the board belt tightening for sure.  And, in the sense of fairness, openness, and practicality, there must be a sharing of both the cuts and any tax increases.

Steady stable growth is the best long term answer.  The greater wealth that this creates must be shared and invested wisely.  If not, we can expect to cycle wildly through period of feast or famine.  Fairness, openness, and a sense of practicality will do us all well.

Greed and “me first” lurk behind every bush and tree ready to bring us back to where we are today.


Does Majority Rule?

February 23, 2011

Most of us have been brought up to understand that if a majority votes for something, that’s the way it will be.  So what’s the big deal in Wisconsin.  Republicans won the election and now have a majority.  Why can’t they repeal collective bargaining for State workers?

Well, there are two views on this subject.  First by Wisconsin law, the legislature certainly can repeal the collective bargaining laws.  That is straight forward.

But there is an unwritten commonsense law which Republicans, especially Governor Scott Walker is not considering.  Commonsense tells you that you have picked a poor option when there exists a large, enthusiastically opposed faction.

The US Constitution requires a 2/3rds majority to overcome a veto or to pass a Treaty or Constitutional amendment.   This is a direct reference to respecting the wishes of a strong minority.

Commonsense should also inform Republicans that even if they win this battle, they are setting themselves up for a greater defeat.  Americans understand compromise but they do not like bullies.  The Wisconsin public workers have agreed to the demanded pay and benefit reductions.  The public thinks that is enough.  The Governor does not.  All or nothing is a dangerous political game.

There is a bigger reason Republicans should reconsider their current strategy.  Further tax cuts can only be funded by going back to these same State employees and taking more from them.  This has not been lost on Fire and Police employees who were cleverly exempted in this go around.  They are next, they realize.

We cannot live by mob rule either.  The demonstrations taking place in Wisconsin, however, are broad based.  Elected officials would be well advised to consider where the finish line really is.  A win on this collective bargaining issue may be in reality a much bigger loss in the future.