Welcome to the reckoning. We have met the fiscal apocalypse, and it is smack dab in the middle of the heartland. As Wisconsin goes, so goes the nation. Let us pray it does not go the way of the decrepit welfare states of the European Union.
The lowdown: State government workers in the Badger State pay piddling amounts for generous taxpayer-subsidized health benefits. Faced with a $3.6 billion budget hole and a state constitutional ban on running a deficit, new GOP Gov. Scott Walker wants public unions to pony up a little more. He has proposed raising the public employee share of health insurance premiums from less than 5 percent to 12.4 percent. He is also pushing for state workers to cover half of their pension contributions. To spare taxpayers the soaring costs of Byzantine union-negotiated work rules, he would rein in Big Labor's collective bargaining power to cover only wages unless approved at the ballot box.
Good Morning America on Friday spun the protests in Wisconsin from the perspective of the unions and Democratic lawmakers who oppose Republican efforts to reform collective bargaining. Co-host George Stephanopoulos even interviewed a Democratic lawmaker from a top secret location outside the state.
Correspondent Chris Bury's piece on the protest featured five clips of those protesting the efforts by Republican Governor Scott Walker to make government employees contribute to their retirement plans. He allowed just one in support.
The reporter narrated, "Last night, more public workers, including these firemen, poured into the capitol. Some families camping out overnight, in a last-ditch effort to protest budget cuts they fear would cripple their union rights."
On Friday's CBS Early Show, co-host Chris Wragge attempted to portray Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's efforts to curb costly benefits for public sector unions in his state as purely political: "Your teachers union, which votes Democratic...hit very hard. Yet your police, state trooper, firemen unions, who all supported and endorsed you, did not get touched in any of this. Why is that?" [Audio available here]
In the live interview, Walker quickly dismantled the entire premise of Wragge's attack: "Chris that actually is not true. There are 314 fire and police unions in the state. Four of them endorsed me. All the rest endorsed my opponent." Wragge was undeterred in his follow up question: "But you understand their position with some of the state workers, saying you're essentially taking away their voice by trying to break these unions. You understand that, correct?"
A prominent Tea Party group has announced that it will stage a counter-protest in Wisconsin on Saturday aimed at supporting a measure in that state to revoke public employee unions' collective bargaining rights and to force them to pay a slightly larger amount into their own health and pension plans.
That measure sparked large protests in Madison Thursday by union groups, and a walkout by Democratic legislators in a successful effort to deny the State Senate a voting quorum.
ABC on Thursday night championed a “mutiny in America” by public employees in Wisconsin whom NBC’s Brian Williams trumpeted for “rising up and saying no to some of the most extreme cuts in the nation.” ABC’s Diane Sawyer teased: “Tonight on World News, a mutiny in America. Public workers take to the streets as governors try to cut their pay and perks.” Sawyer framed coverage from the grievance of the unionized workers:
Today, we saw America's money trouble meet a reality, a human reality, as teachers, nurses, tens of thousands of state workers took to the streets in this country protesting cuts by the governors, saying to these governors, a promise is a promise. One lawmaker looked out at the crowds gathered in the Wisconsin capital today said it's like Cairo moved to Madison. [Audio available here]
NBC’s Williams also offered a comparison to “citizen uprisings” overseas: “Tonight after watching citizen uprisings now across the globe for weeks, how about a big one here in the United States.”
Though Governor Scott Walker is merely asking the coddled workers for a slight increase, from six to twelve percent, in the portion of the generous health coverage they must pay, ABC reporter Chris Bury painted it as a dire burden, citing how Walker is “demanding that public employees pay more for their pensions and health care, the equivalent of a seven percent pay cut,” adding that “what really upsets state workers is a budget that strips away nearly all of their union bargaining rights over health care, pensions, and work rules.”
In the weeks following the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) there was a constant media barrage dishonestly contending liberals never use violent rhetoric or imagery.
As Wisconsin's Republican Governor Scott Walker tries to balance his state's budget with a bold move limiting the collective bargaining rights of public employees, the Left have come out in force dispelling the myth that only the Right uses harsh tones to make its point (video follows with commentary):