Wisconsin

Wisconsin Supreme Court upholds collective bargaining reform law

Putting an end to a legal high-profile legal battle, the Wisconsin Supreme Court has upheld a law yesterday passed back in March by the state legislature that reforms public-sector unions and would help resolve a significant budget deficit:

Wisconsin’s top court Tuesday reinstated a contentious law that curbs the collective bargaining rights of most state employees. Opponents of the law said the fight will now be taken to those who supported it.

The state’s Supreme Court, by a 4-3 vote, set aside a ruling by a lower court judge who had placed a permanent injunction against the law. The court ruled the state Legislature did not violate the state’s constitution when it passed the legislation.

The ruling was a major victory for Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who pushed for the bill over a chorus of angry teachers, union members and others who said it was an attack on worker rights.

“The Supreme Court’s ruling provides our state the opportunity to move forward together and focus on getting Wisconsin working again,” Walker said in a statement.

A lower court judge, Maryann Sumi, claimed that the legislature had violated an open meetings law that requires 24-hour notice before a hearing. She took an expansive view of the open meetings law to fit what seems like a preconceived decision and voided the law, which would have required the legislature to pass it again.

Wisconsin Supreme Court election results are official

The recount is over in the Wisconsin Supreme Court race between JoAnne Kloppenburg, who was supported by Democrats and labor interest, and David Prosser, the conservative/Republican-backed incumbent. Despite a the uproar over the Republican-controlled Senate’s reasonable measures in reigning in collective bargaining for public-sector workers, Prosser won and Kloppenburg won’t challenge the results:

JoAnne Kloppenburg will not challenge the results of the Wisconsin Supreme Court race, bringing to close an election that had become a referendum of sorts on Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s controversial law restricting collective bargaining for most of the state’s public employees.

Kloppenburg had until Tuesday to decide whether to file a lawsuit challenging the election’s result, after a recount by the state’s Government Accountability Board that had conservative incumbent David Prosser leading by 7,004 votes. The recount was finalized early last week.

“David Prosser has won this election and I congratulate him,” Kloppenburg, an assistant state attorney general, said at a press conference late Tuesday morning.

Kloppenburg had requested the recount and while the state board was at work earlier this month, Kloppenburg wrote in an op-ed in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that the recount had uncovered “significant and widespread errors and anomalies” in the election process.

Yes, Tommy Thompson backed ObamaCare

Potential Wisconsin Senate candidate Tommy Thompson, a former governor of the state and secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, isn’t happy about the portrayal of his record by the Club for Growth.

Last week, the Club for Growth slammed Thompson, calling him a “big-government pro-tax Republican whose time has come and gone.” They also launched a web ad featuring President Barack Obama noting Thompson’s support of his health care “reform” proposal:

Thompson called into a Milwaukee radio station - apparently without advance notice - in an effort to set the record straight:

In a clear effort to answer growing gripes from the right, the former Health and Human Services Secretary also said he never supported President Obama’s health care plan and pointed to 150 speeches he’s delivered speaking against the law.

Club for Growth to Tommy Thompson: No thanks

The Club for Growth hasn’t wasted any time in expressing concern over Tommy Thompson’s potential candidacy for US Senate in Wisconsin:

Tommy Thompson raised taxes as Governor, supported ObamaCare, and now he wants to run for the United States Senate? April Fools was weeks ago,” said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola. “Wisconsin Republicans should recruit a pro-growth conservative to run, not recall some big-government pro-tax Republican whose time has come and gone. Club members are watching Wisconsin’s Senate race closely.

Thompson, a former Governor of Wisconsin, was Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services when Medicare Part D was passed in 2003. During this time, his department downplayed cost estimates of the new entitlement; going as far as threatening to fire the Medicare Actuary if the true cost estimate were made public.

Admittedly, I’m not too familiar with Thompson. I know more about his brother, libertarian icon Ed Thompson. I do remember watching him in the early presidential debates for the Republican nomination in 2007. I wasn’t too terribly impressed. During a question on spending cuts, Thompson named off some program that no one had ever heard of; while others were talking about eliminating departments or other, more serious cuts.

Hopefully, a real fiscal conseratives will show up in this race.

Ryan will not run for US Senate

Last night over at Politico, David Catanese wrote that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) has been dropping hints that he would not run for the seat being left open by Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI):

Rep. Paul Ryan is reaching out to potential Senate candidates in Wisconsin, informing them he’s unlikely to run for Herb Kohl’s seat next year, according to two sources familiar with the conversations.

The House Budget Committee chairman, who was in Chicago Monday defending his polarizing debt reduction plan in front of the city’s Economic Club, told one prospective candidate he was “leaning heavily against a run,” an adviser confirmed to POLITICO.

Another consultant said that the congressman conveyed he was “95 percent sure” he would not enter the race for the open seat.

Ryan confirmed this morning that he wouldn’t run:

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will not run for Senate next year.

“Our nation is quickly approaching a debt crisis that will do serious damage to Wisconsinites and all Americans if it is not properly addressed,” Ryan said Tuesday morning. “I believe continuing to serve as Chairman of the House Budget Committee allows me to have a greater impact in averting this debt-fueled economic crisis than if I were to run for the United States Senate.”

Ryan’s name immediately came up in discussions about the seat being vacated by Sen. Herb Kohl (D). Ryan has risen to national prominence in the past few months as the face of House Republicans’ budget plans. Both Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (R-Texas) spoke with Ryan about a bid.

WI Senate: With Kohl retiring, will Ryan run?

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.

Why do Democrats hate labor unions? Wait…what?

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.

Teachers unions explained

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

Sorry Moe, but they’re within their rights.

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:

It would seem that loyalty to their union masters take precedence over loyalty to the people of Wisconsin.  From a contemptible letter written to M&I Bank threatening a boycott:

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.

Mary Katharine Ham destroys the Socialist Weasel

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).


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