BY FRANK SALVATO – There are many in the pundit-sphere who are dissecting Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s recall victory and declaring that Mr. Walker’s retention means one thing or another. Truth be told, many of their declarations hold merit as far as political science is concerned. But, American politics being what it is, the November General Elections are an eternity away and any perceived misstep – or an effectively marketed October surprise – can swing public support from a clear front-runner to a dark horse. That said, a few things were exposed in the Wisconsin recall election as irrefutable. Some of those things are good…while some of those things are disturbing.
One of the preeminent facts to come out of the Wisconsin recall election was this: Scott Walker’s fiscally Conservative policies work. Looking back to Mr. Walker’s first campaign for governor – all the way back to 2010, Wisconsin had a $3.6 billion – billion with a “B” – budget deficit. By invoking fiscal reforms outlined in Wisconsin Act 10, today, the State of Wisconsin is running a $154 million surplus.
In addressing the benefits of the Act 10 reforms, Jennifer Stefano, a TEA Party activist and Pennsylvania state director for Americans for Prosperity, wrote:
“Nowhere was that felt more powerfully than in Wisconsin’s schools. The Kaukauna School District, near Appleton, Wisconsin, had a $400,000 deficit for the upcoming school year and was going to be forced to lay off teachers. By instituting the changes to pension and health care payments, Kaukauna swung to a $1.5 million surplus allowing class sizes to fall and was able to institute over $300,000 in merit pay for teachers.”
Indeed, across the State of Wisconsin, wherever the ACT 10 reforms were employed with fidelity, jobs cuts were avoided and budget deficits were transformed into budget surpluses; jobs were saved and exasperated fiscal coffers were afforded relief.
In fact, with an unemployment rate of 6.7 percent – quite a bit better than the U-3 national average of 8.2 percent (the U-6 national average is 14.8 percent and when all demographics are included, the SGS national unemployment rate stands at 22.7 percent), and job creation numbers in the black, Wisconsin has joined the ranks of States that are actually looking attractive to business creators; to job creators.
Another prescient point made in the polling that led up to the recall election is that when public-sector employees are afforded the choice of whether to join a labor union or not, many are opting out.
FOX News reports:
“Wisconsin membership in the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees – the state’s second-largest public-sector union after the National Education Association, which represents teachers – fell to 28,745 in February from 62,818 in March 2011, according to a person who has viewed AFSCME’s figures.
“Much of that decline came from AFSCME Council 24, which represents Wisconsin state workers, whose membership plunged by two-thirds to 7,100 from 22,300 last year.”
And according to the Wall Street Journal, the American Federation of Teachers’ Wisconsin Chapter, a labor organization representing 17,000 public school teachers, has seen 6,000 members leave its ranks.
Yet another pertinent point codified as fact via the recall election is that labor union leadership, along with their most ardent rank-and-file lock-steppers, will do anything – anything – to win elections and advance their agenda, even if it is to the detriment to the very communities in which they live.
During the course and immediate aftermath of the Wisconsin recall election, labor union leaders and their henchmen operatives exhibited such an incredible disregard for the truth; for professional and personal ethics, that it is incredibly hard to accept their routine declaration that they stand as champions of the worker; of “the little guy,” in the face of the oppressive corporation (in this instance, read: government).
Labor union spokesmen routinely misled the voting public by saying that Wisconsin Act 10 “stripped” public-sector unions of their collective bargaining rights when, in fact, it did no such thing. Act 10 limited public-sector unions to collectively bargaining their wages, excluding pensions and employment-perk benefits, elements where labor union negotiators exhibited little restraint – and a tremendous amount of greed – given the financial abilities of the State of Wisconsin. The big crime against the public-sector union workers culminated in state workers being asked to pay just under six percent of their salaries towards benefits and a little over twelve percent to their premiums, financial burdens still less than what those in the private-sector have to bear.
The truth regarding the reasons why the union-backed candidate, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D), lost was also manipulated beyond recognition. Labor union mouthpiece after mouthpiece took to the airwaves and print media even before the recall voting had started in a desperate attempt at political damage control, with almost every one of them parroting the talking point that the loss had everything to do with the “disproportionate” amount of money spent in advertising during the recall campaign. Of course, the union mouthpieces didn’t bother to include in their calculations: 1) the amount of money spent bringing about the recall election in the first place, and 2) the dedicated man hours their organizations used in executing the recall campaign from start to finish.
Additionally, there were numerous reports of voter fraud and attempts by outside groups from Illinois and Michigan to affect the outcome of what was supposed to be a recall election by the people of the State of Wisconsin, including this eyewitness account from someone calling The Chris Plante Show, broadcast on WMAL radio, from inside a bus leaving Michigan in route to Wisconsin on recall election day:
“On WMAL’s The Chris Plante Show today a Michigan resident by the name of ‘Mike’ called in to discuss how he had infiltrated a Michigan Union’s organized bus convoy, en-route to vote in the Wisconsin recall election for Democrats.
“The caller claimed that Michigan’s ‘Democrat Unions’ had organized a convoy of 4 buses, filled with Michigan Democrats, with the intention of voting for Tom Barrett in the Wisconsin recall election.
“Caller ‘Mike’ describes ‘Greyhound size buses, filled to capacity’ with a good amount of ‘freebies’ available, ‘They treated me to lunch!’
“The caller also points out that the organizers did not tell union riders that it is illegal to vote in Wisconsin if you’re from another state.”
Of course, this account is subject to scrutiny. But having been born and raised in a western suburb of Chicago, and having been active and engaged in Illinois politics from a young age, I am more inclined than not to believe that “Caller Mike” was truthful, knowing Chicago and union politics the way that I do.
Even in losing, union operatives and their political Democrat kin couldn’t be forthright and honest with the citizens of Wisconsin and, by virtue of the attention the Wisconsin recall election garnered, the American public.
In describing the “too-close-to-call” results from Wisconsin’s 21st Legislative District between former Wisconsin State Sen. John Lehman (D) and retiring incumbent Van Wanggaard (R), where the results stand at Lehman with 36,255 and Wanggaard with 35,476 (which should absolutely garner a recount), Wisconsin Senate Democrat Leader Mark Miller said:
“Tonight, Wisconsinites across the 21st Senate District elected a new State Senator. By electing a Democrat Senate, the people of Wisconsin have opened the door to responsible dialogue and if needed provide a bulwark against continued political extremism, and restored checks and balances to the Wisconsin Legislature. I look forward to working again with Senator-elect Lehman in the State Senate in the coming months.”
The 10,000lbs. gorilla in this room is that Wisconsin’s legislature won’t be in session from June 13, 2012 until after the November elections; elections where 16 of the 33 Senate seats are up for election. That said, anyone who believes that any elected body can achieve anything in an election year in just six days, well…
Aside from all of these indisputable points, perhaps the most important result in all of this is that truth has become a casualty of politics where Progressives, labor unions and Democrats are concerned.
Now, I am not naïve enough to believe that the truth isn’t, bent, manipulated, spun and bastradized on the Right side of the aisle as well, but the difference is this: when the truth is found to have been circumvented by elected officials, candidates and operative surrogates on the Right, the electorate of the Right objects; we hold those who lie, cheat and steal accountable, most often affecting the ends of their careers. In contrast, how many times have Republicans and Conservatives had to resign for doing the exact same thing that their Progressive, Liberal and/or Democrat counterparts have done; things that garner those on the Left little if no rebuke? A perfect example would be the Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters ethics issues…and I won’t get into seated presidents lying under oath because that would require defining what the word “is” means.
When the facts are manipulated for political purposes; when the truth suffers at the hands of political opportunists and power-seekers, it damages society and divides the citizenry against itself. This is evidenced by the societal divide that exists today in Wisconsin, courtesy of the political operatives of the many labor union organizations who purposely misled the voting public of that State for their own narcissistic gain. And as the labor union leaders and operatives board their Lear Jets and buses (respectively) bound for the next political battleground, they leave, in their wake, damaged relationships between neighbors, between friends and family; divided communities where it will take years, if not lifetimes in some cases, to heal the wounds inflicted by the reckless, the greedy and the opportunistic of the political class.
In the end, 36 percent of Wisconsin’s labor union workforce voted to retain Gov. Scott Walker. In the end, after all the divisive and untruthful rhetoric that surrounded this unnecessary event, the notion of not spending more than you make; not spending more than your budget will afford – whether you are the head of a household, a corporation or a government entity – won out over the Grecian model of purposefully borrowing into debt to satisfy the unsustainable demands of those who don’t have to live the economic consequences.
Maybe, just maybe, the electorate doesn’t want to suffer the slings and arrows of a Greek existence; of European-style austerity. Maybe, just maybe, this generation of Americans isn’t narcissistic enough to saddle their children with unmanageable debt; debt that will rob them of opportunity and the real American Dream. Maybe, just maybe, the American citizenry is waking up to the very real possibility that should we continue to tax-and-spend; should we continue to indebt ourselves beyond recovery, we will lose this country.
Maybe, just maybe, the country is waking-up. We’ll find out on November 6th.