Republicans were already thought to have a decent chance of taking over the Senate in the 2012 election, but they were given another opportunity to take a seat when Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) announced his retirement at the end of last week:
Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) will announce Friday that he won’t seek reelection in 2012, a Democratic source confirmed.
Kohl, the quiet Wisconsin senator and owner of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, will depart from the Senate after four terms, setting up what could be a tough battle for his seat.
Kohl becomes the sixth senator in the Democrats’ corner to decline reelection next year; Daniel Akaka (Hawaii), Jeff Bingaman (N.M.), Kent Conrad (N.D.) and Jim Webb (Va.) have said they’ll retire at the end of this term, as will Sen. Joe Lieberman (Conn.), an Independent who caucuses with Democrats.
Although former Sen. Russ Feingold, who was defeated by Ron Johnson last year, would be an ideal candidate to run for the seat, Democrats are rumored to be recruiting Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), who would be the first openly gay member fo the Senate if elected.
As you might expect, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is being mentioned as a potential Republican candidate, but he isn’t rushing to a decision. Ryan has faced criticism over his budget proposal, which would almost certainly be demagogued by his Democratic opponent and the DSCC, and also holds important positions where currently sits, including serving as Chairman of the House Budget Committee.
We all know how labor activists, with the support of many Democrats, acted when Gov. Scott Walker and the Wisconsin legislature proposed and acted upon a reasonable proposal to curb collective bargaining for public-sector workers unions to help deal with the state’s budget crisis.
Other states have acted as well, and it’s not just red states. The Massachusetts House of Representatives, which is overwhelmingly controlled by Democrats, easily passed legislation that would allow municipalities to limit collective bargainly for public-sector workers:
House lawmakers voted overwhelmingly last night to strip police officers, teachers, and other municipal employees of most of their rights to bargain over health care, saying the change would save millions of dollars for financially strapped cities and towns.
The 111-to-42 vote followed tougher measures to broadly eliminate collective bargaining rights for public employees in Ohio, Wisconsin, and other states. But unlike those efforts, the push in Massachusetts was led by Democrats who have traditionally stood with labor to oppose any reduction in workers’ rights.
Unions fought hard to stop the bill, launching a radio ad that assailed the plan and warning legislators that if they voted for the measure, they could lose their union backing in the next election. After the vote, labor leaders accused House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo and other Democrats of turning their backs on public employees.
Here is an incredibly biased, though hilarious discussion on teachers unions. While it is biased, the arguments of the union supporter sound so familiar:
H/T: Outside the Beltway
When following the Wisconsin union mess, I found myself agreeing with a lot of what RedState was saying. Both they and I agreed that public service unions needed to step up and understand that their collective bargaining positions in boom times leads to harder bust times than is necessary. They’re still voters after all, and ask former Georgia governor Roy Barnes about pissing off teachers despite their inability to strike.
However today, RedState contributor Moe Lane writes:
The undersigned groups would like your company to publicly oppose Governor Walker’s efforts to virtually eliminate collective bargaining for public employees in Wisconsin. While we appreciate that you may need some time to consider this request, we ask for your response by March 17. In the event that you do not respond to this request by that date, we will assume that you stand with Governor Walker and against the teachers, nurses, police officers, fire fighters, and other dedicated public employees who serve our communities.
In the event that you cannot support this effort to save collective bargaining, please be advised that the undersigned will publicly and formally boycott the goods and services provided by your company.
During the protests over Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to scale back public-sector unions in Wisconsin, Michael Moore - ever the socialist weasel - proclaimed that both the state of Wisconsin and the United States are not broke and that there was plenty of money to plug budget holes. Of course, his way of doing this is confiscation of wealth, something he calls a “natural resource.”
Mary Katharine Ham sets Moore straight by noting that confiscating the wealth of the 400 billionaires in the United States still wouldn’t close the budget deficit for this year and wouldn’t even touch the $14 trillion national debt:
The grand total of the combined net worth of every single one of America’s billionaires is roughly $1.3 trillion. It does indeed sound like a “ton of cash” until one considers that the 2011 deficit alone is $1.6 trillion. So, if the government were to simply confiscate the entire net worth of all of America’s billionaires, we’d still be $300 billion short of making up this year’s deficit.
That’s before we even get to dealing with the long-term debt of $14 trillion, which if you’re keeping score at home, is between 10 to 14 times the entire net worth of all of the country’s billionaires, combined. That includes the all-powerful Koch brothers ($40 billion between them), the all-powerful George Soros ($14.5 billion), all the Walton family (of the Wal-Mart fortune), Steve Jobs, Oprah (at a paltry $2.7 billion), the Google Founders, Michael Bloomberg, and the Mars family (of the candy bar empire).
Following in the footsteps of their Senate counterparts, the Wisconsin Assembly yesterday passed legislation that curtails collective bargaining rights and requires public employees to pay more towards their health insurance and pensions:
The move caps off a dramatic day in the Wisconsin legislature, headlined by the state Senate’s use of a procedural maneuver Wednesday night to pass a revised version the bill without Democrats present. The Assembly passed the measure by a vote of 53-42.
Walker said at a press conference Thursday that he would sign the bill as soon as possible.
The Assembly’s vote is an apparent victory for Walker and state Republicans, who had been stymied on the bill for weeks while taking salvos from waves of pro-union protesters and national Democrats, who criticized the bill as unfair to the working class.
The measure now heads to Gov. Scott Walker, who will sign it into law; giving the state a chance to reform its budget as they close a significant budget gap over the next two years.
Last night, Republicans in the Wisconsin Senate decided to separate and pass part of the budget bill dealing with the limitations on collective bargaining and the increases in the employee contributiions:
After a three-week stalemate, Republican senators pushed the measure through in less than half an hour even as the Senate’s Democrats remained many miles away, trying to block the vote. Democrats in the State Assembly complained bitterly, and protesters, who had spent many days at the Capitol, continued their chants and jeers.
The Republicans control the Senate but had been blocked from voting on the issue after Senate Democrats left the state last month to prevent a quorum. But the Republicans used a procedural maneuver Wednesday to force the collective bargaining measure through: they removed elements of Governor Walker’s bill that were technically related to appropriating funds, thus lifting a requirement that 20 senators be present for a vote. In the end, the Senate’s 19 Republicans approved the measure, 18 to 1, without any debate on the floor or a single Democrat in the room.
The “fleebagging” Democratic Senators are on their way back to Madison, if they’re not already there. Protesters made their presence known last night, as Dave Weigel notes that they were “acting in a way that puts them right at the edge of violence.”
Yesterday, a “journalist” pretending to be David Koch - one of the evil Koch brothers that dare do what George Soros does; fund political activists and think tanks - called Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, attemping to get him to say something damning.
Here is the first half of the call:
It’s pretty unethical for a “journalist” or even a blogger, though the standards are much lower with the latter, to parade around pretending while trying to capture a “gotcha” from a politician that is pushing through a major - though controversial - reform.
Walker didn’t really say anything stupid. The guy playing the part of David Koch says a few things as a trap for Walker, but he didn’t really bite on them. Walker may have tipped his hand on how to end this stalemate with Senate Democrats, as noted by Dave Weigel:
In response to the rhetoric of protesters defending public-sector unions in Wisconsin - including signs depiciting Gov. Scott Walker as Adolf Hitler and crosshairs over his face, Stephen Hayes is encouraging President Barack Obama to encourage civil discourse:
Last Tuesday, hundreds of protesters shut down the road in front of Gov. Walker’s family home in Wauwatosa, Wis. Across the state in Madison, a crowd of 20,000—many of them teachers skipping school—gathered at the Capitol. Signs compared Mr. Walker to Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak, Joseph Stalin and Benito Mussolini. Still others accused him of “terrorism” and “rape.” One sign had a photo of the governor in crosshairs: “Don’t Retreat, Reload.”
Elected officials joined the protests—and the slurs. In a television interview on the sidelines of the demonstration, state Sen. Lena Taylor compared Mr. Walker to Adolf Hitler.
Below is a collection of several links that we didn’t get around to writing about, but still wanted to post for readers to examine. The stories typically range from news about prominent figures in the liberty movement, national politics, the nanny state, foreign policy and free markets.
Countdown to Government Shutdown (National Journal)
DCCC targets House Republicans on budget (The Hill)
2012 Ad Blitz for Obama Planned (Wall Street Journal)
In Turnabout, U.S. Says Marriage Act Blocks Gay Rights (The New York Times)
The capital’s red-light district (Las Vegas Sun)
The reaction to Ron Paul’s straw poll victory reveals the GOP’s hypocrisy (Charleston City Paper)