Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Will Wisconsin win embolden N.C. GOP?

Welcome to O-Pinion. I'm associate editor Fannie Flono, hosting the conversation today.

So, what does Republican Gov. Scott Walker's win in the recall election in Wisconsin say about the fate of public-sector unions and about the November presidential elections? That's what a lot pundits are pontificating about this morning. Some say not much to both. Others say quite a lot. And for those saying a lot - most of what they're saying is that public-sector unions are in trouble, with their political and negotiating clout taking a hit and not just in Wisconsin. They're also saying the vote may be a harbinger of bad news for President Barack Obama, who took the state in his last election. He could lose Wisconsin this fall, and if Mitt Romney takes it it would be the first time a Republican has done so since Ronald Reagan won in 1984.

Stephen Hayes of the conservative Weekly Standard writes: "Scott Walker won for a simple reason: He did what he promised to do as a candidate and it worked." He contends that his results in his 16 months as governor mattered more to more people than the anger he engendered by unilaterally taking away collective-bargaining rights for state worksrs and the deep cuts in services and wages he demanded. "Walker turned a $3.6 billion deficit into a $154 million surplus. Unemployment is down. So are property taxes... Results matter," he said.

From the National Journal, Reid Wilson writes: "It's difficult to draw national conclusions from a special election. The electorate is far from representative of general election voter turnout, the margin by which (Scott) Walker outspent (challenger Tom) Barrett won't be repeated over the next several months, and the issues in a gubernatorial race focused on collective bargaining are hardly the same as those that will drive the presidential contest... And yet several Democratic strategists said today that, in their darkest moments, they view the results in Wisconsin as troubling foreshadows for Obama's re-election bid. After all, labor unions -- a key pillar of the Democratic electorate -- turned out at higher percentages than they did in previous years, and Walker still won."

But he writes that money was a key factor. Reid quoted one Democratic strategist who pinpointed the edge: "Citizens United has fundamentally changed politics and campaigns. Scott Walker and his soft money Death Star spent over $40 million," said John Lapp, a Democratic operative involved in several House campaigns this year. "If they care about the future of this country and Democratic politics, it's time for progressives of means to wake up and join the fight." Reid said Republicans said what "they could learn from Tuesday's results is that coordination works. Several outside groups -- the Republican Governors Association, Americans for Prosperity and other super PACs -- went up with television ads when Walker went off the air in March. The RGA spent its time tearing down Democrat Barrett, while more local organizations spent their dollars bolstering Walker's reforms."

Dan Balz of the Washington Post takes up that thread: "Scott Walker provided a template for Republicans looking ahead to the presidential race with his victory in Tuesday’s recall election: big money, powerful organization and enormous enthusiasm among his base. Can Mitt Romney match that in November?"

Interesting stuff.

What's as interesting to me is whether Walker's success will embolden Republican legislatures like ours in North Carolina to move as aggressively on austerity measures and on trying to dilute the power of professional organizations? We don't have public-sector unions in our Right to Work state. But some Republican leaders view professional groups like the teachers association, who the N.C. legislature stripped of its ability to automatically collect dues from teachers' paychecks in an infamous late night override of Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue's veto of the move, in that light.
The teachers group has sued the legislature over that.

What do you think? Will there be fallout over Wisconsin's win beyond that state?


Jason K. said...

Our nation is wracked with debt... From Federal Defecits, to State House Budget Crisis, to cities as large as Harrisburg PA declaring Bankruptcy, to underwater mortgages, college debt, consumer debt... We are a nation from the individual, to the largest collective, in hock to others.

We have to make a choice, to either continue to punt the ball down the fieled, and pass the debt to the next generation (who may not be able to pay for it), or we have to tax our way out of it, which removes money from you and I so we have more difficulty paying back out own debt, or we have to cut spending.

When we punt the ball down the field, we steal from our children, and their children, when we tax, we shrink our economy, and when we cut spending well it does shrink the public sector of the economy, but hopefully it allows business to stay afloat, and employ people at good wages.

You and I in the private sector do not have the luxury of pension anymore, and yet, we are expected to pay for the pension of the public sector employee.

Us private sector employees continue to see our benefits costs go up, while our benefits actually get slashed, and yet we are expected to pay for generous benefits for public sector employees.

If we want to give our Children the promise of tomorrow, and a nation built on prosperity, we have to make some tough choices today.

Wiley Coyote said...

Comical.... Fannie didn't get the talking points memo from Democrats until this morning, pushing the same, lame argument that the only reason why Walker won, was because of money.

Had nothing to do with people actually being engaged and voting their conscience, even the Democrats who crossed over and voted for Walker because they thought it was a bad precendent to recall him.

Fannie conveniently forgets the whiney, tuck-their-tails-between-their-legs Democrats who fled to a neighboring state to KEEP FROM doing their duly elected jobs.

Tell us Fannie, when is Obama going to give up the hundreds of millions more in campaigm funds HE has raised to equalize the discrepancy between he and Romney?

I didn't think so.

Anonymous said...

Tens of millions of union money went into this race as well-funny how we see hear that mentioned above. Call it Mr Barretts "soft money Death Star"

Unknown said...

I'm a private sector employee...if you'd let my HR manager know about these luxurious benefits, I'd sure appreciate it.

John said...

No public sector employee should rate better benefits than afforded to those whose taxes pay their salary. The one exception I'd make to that rule is our active-duty and retired military. They've earned it!

Faithfulteacher said...

The war on teachers needs to end. It is undeserved and frightening. I have never seen such hatred toward such a needed profession.

Anonymous said...

MSM biased reporting. Note these facts:

The Wisconsin “survival” election:

Scott Walker – 53 percent

Tom Barrett – 46 percent

The 2008 audacious Barack Obama presidential election – AKA: “historic blowout victory,” ”a national catharsis,” “landslide,” etc…

Barack Obama – 53 percent

John McCain – 46 percent

Roger Hudson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Not_a_hypocrit said...

Fannie...I am a diehard conservative and yet I find most of your writings to be fairly balanced. Now if you could just give a few lessons to the others on the Observer staff who write opinion pieces.

BleedCrimson&White '98 said...

Well, when Walker spent $31 million to Barrett's $4 for a governorship, when more out of state money came to Walker than to Barrett yeah, it's an easy argument to make that the money is all about who got control. Citizens United was a huge blow to what little power the voters of America had in elections- Walker routinely received the $500,000 per donations as he headed down the stretch here. If that makes you feel comfortable about our democracy right now, then you and those like you scare me.

Reggie Mantle said...

The Wisconsin results are far and away the biggest news story of the week.

It's (not really) surprising to find almost no mention of it on the Observer's website. This blog post is about all there is.

Now had the results gone the other way....

Fair and balanced? Not so much.

Anonymous said...

Lots of twists here. Some contrarian views:

*This might be the jolt a lot of people need. I'm guessing emboldened conservatives are going to go even wilder now, attacking working people and the middle class (the great irony, or couse, is that conservatives for the most part are themselves working people and the middle class, who've been hoodwinked into acting against their own interests) to the extent that rational people might be scared into action against Walker and his kind.
*This is a vivid demonstration of the absurdity of the Supreme Court super PAC ruling. Sure, unions contributed, but they were overwhelmed by out-of-state Republican billionnaires. Maybe this will shock some sense into people.
*Maybe people will awaken to the fact that the death of unions in this country is a major factor leading to high unemployment. Yes, high unemployment. Reason? Without unions, we've gone back to sweat shops. We blithely refer to this as productivity, but in reality, it's the old -fashioned speed-up and wage suppression that led to the rise of unions in the Industrial Revolution. Why should employers hire more workers when they can demand more and more production from existing ones, replace full-time workers with 30-hour, no-benefits temps, and know that because of high unemployment, existing workers can't leave? What we have here, at the expense of the American worker, is employer heaven.
*We live in a service economy now, or so we're told. Well, the public jobs that Walker and his ilk are sacking are in fact, jobs just like any other. These people perform valuable services, get paid in green money, spend it, and it circulates through the economy, just the same as all other.

Not_a_hypocrit said...

One thing that gets overlooked is that Rebulicans have to purchase what comes freely to liberal candidates. With over 90 percent of the print media being left leaning and with the same being true for network and cable news the liberal candidates have a decided edge in unpaid for exposure. And that does not include sources like NPR. Plus it does not include the decidedly liberal views of the daytime talk shows like The View and all of the late night hosts who openly endorse liberal candidates. Even if you assume that the spending number being tossed about is accurate (which is questionable) then Walker was battling uphill.13