Budget

“Scott Walker, Please Come Home” says Major Wisconsin Editorial

Gov. Scott Walker speaks during the North Carolina Republican Party convention in Raleigh, N.C., earlier this month | Associated Press

DAILY KOS

The headline just says it all. Things are so bad here in the Legislature that the newspaper is begging Scott Walker to come home, if only for a short time.This isn’t from The Onion, but from the most highly read Wisconsin newspaper, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. One that has endorsed Scott Walker, tends to ignore his bad news, and prints his talking points like Gospel.

But here in Wisconsin, the budget he proposed last winter is foundering, and not because of Democratic opposition but because his Republican colleagues can’t come to terms. Last week, Republican leaders were sniping at each other over whether Assembly Republicans wanted to delaythe reconstruction of the Zoo Interchange to build pressure for increasing the gas tax or vehicle registration fees.The impasse is apparently over how to pay for the transportation budget and how to finance a deal for a new arena in downtown Milwaukee. These are big issues, and they deserve Walker’s attention. In addition, as an editorial on Friday on this page noted, there are a host of items in the budget that simply shouldn’t be there. Mainly, they’re non-budget items sneaked into the budget with little discussion or public input, a practice that candidate Walker decried in 2010. In an informal Journal Sentinel poll last week, readers overwhelmingly were giving the Legislature an F grade on its handling of the budget.

(bolding is mine)I’ve also written about the mayhem that Republican Legislators brought to the budget process while Walker has been out campaigning (unannounced) for President. And, in an editorial last week, the newspapers’ editorial staff seemed to agree.

But there’s another problem with this budget: It’s so full of non-budget dead weight that it’s kind of amazing it doesn’t just sink of its own accord.On their own, many of these items are worthy of discussion and may be even worthy of passage. But most are policy matters that have little or nothing to do with the state’s fiscal books. They deserve full and separate consideration — including public hearings and a healthy public debate — before they become law. Instead, they’ve been quietly inserted into the budget, often in the wee hours, to avoid public scrutiny. Citizens should demand they be removed from the budget; legislators should have the decency to do so.

(bolding is mine)

It’s bad enough that Walker has not only completely flip flopped on his 2010 campaign promise to not use the budget for non-budgetary items, but crammed his policy agenda into each and every budget (starting with busting the unions of all public employees in Wisconsin in his infamous Budget Repair Bill).  Now Republican Legislators have followed Walkers’ lead inserting every item on their policy wish list into the budget this year.

For example, in 2010, Gov. Scott Walker’s  campaign website proclaimed he would “Strip policy and pork projects from the state budget. The budget process should be about funding essential government services based on the taxpayers’ ability to pay. It should not be about horse trading for special interest groups or establishing talking points for the next campaign.”The governor was right then, but his office turned its back on that sound good government philosophy by loading up this budget with policy items, including items on education, long-term health care and natural resources. And then the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee got into the act.

Walker has found it to be a great strategy for getting policy items passed since there are so many of them that most go unnoticed in an 1800 page budget. And even those that do get noticed, like his recent attempt to change the mission statement of our State University system, are only occasionally removed when lame excuses (“the University requested the change” – lie) and placing blame elsewhere (“it was a drafting error” – lie) don’t work. The rest simply pass right on through with no debate and no discussion.

Loading up the budget with non-budgetary items is no way to run a government. Walker acknowledged that in 2010.

Yes, he acknowledged that in his campaign. By now, however, we know that Walker says one thing during a campaign and then does something else after he’s elected;  and this should serve as a warning to Republican primary voters. He doesn’t keep his promises.What you get with Walker is government by surprise. Well, not so much “governing” either. It become more like imperial “ruling” than governing. Using his elected office to repay donors and batter real or imagined enemies.

Walker has serious problems back home which have worsened with him away. WEDC, his “job creation agency” is awash in corruption, the budget has turned into a carnival side show, and Republicans, who dominate the State Legislature, are bickering like toddlers over who gets to toss more goodies into the State Budget.

As terrible as Scott Walker has been as Governor of Wisconsin, his absence has created a leadership vacuum that far too many Republicans are fighting to fill. And that chaos is being noticed.

In the Sunday editiorial, they’ve finally remembered Walkers’ campaign pledge last year that he “only wants to be Governor”.

When he was running for re-election last year, he told a group of Journal Sentinel opinion writers and reporters that he really wanted to be Wisconsin’s governor, and that he would act as such in his second term. He would actually govern. I don’t think he’s doing that; and that’s certainly the perception of many in the public, who think he’s running for president full-time. Maybe he’s working behind the scenes, but if he is, it’s so far back that no one knows he’s there.

Walker wants the Presidency so badly that he’s not even pretending to be Governor anymore. And when your media pals and supporters notice that, it isn’t good.Your media pals need you so come on back home, Governor. Fluffing you up is hard enough already considering how much damage you’ve done to the state. And the current evident corruption and mayhem make your media poodles have to work even harder.

Sue

Stewart Praises Budget Deal: Hallelujah! A Break From All the ‘Congressional F*ckery!

Mediaite

It’s been so long since Congress actually compromised on something, Jon Stewart seemed almost giddy Wednesday night that there’s a budget deal that could very well pass. Stewart even played “Hallelujah” in celebration, though quite frankly, absolutely no one on either side is really happy about this.

Stewart fully expected to do another cursory look at “today’s congressional f*ckery” but was legitimately surprised at the “witchcraft” that must have led to this deal. He mocked all the piling on the deal prior to reading what was actually in it, and John Oliver stridently declares the deal is so good, it “ranks up there with the Civil Rights Act.”

But let’s face it, this isn’t a sexy story, so in the second segment of the show, Jason Jones tried to make it more like Die Hard, but buzzkills like NBC’s Chuck Todd ruined all the fun for him.

Watch the first segment below, via Comedy Central:

Fox’s Hume Details How Right Wing Media Push GOP To Extremes

Media Matters

HUME: I’m not sure they’re calling the shots but make no mistake about it, Bill. These — some of these radio talk show hosts have real influence. They have a huge following, particularly in very conservative areas where they are most popular and where the many members of congress who inhabit those areas are not worried about being reelected if they can get nominated. But they are worried about a primary challenge that could deny them the nomination.

O’REILLY: And that happened —

 

HUME: So they’ll go a long way to avoid it and keeping radio talk show hosts off their back is one way of doing that.

 

O’REILLY: That happened in Indiana to Lugar. He was a very well thought of senator, moderate. And then a more conservative guy got the nomination. He lost in the general race. So you believe that in Congress, if somebody has to run every two years as they do, and they get on the wrong side of a powerful radio voice, that’s beamed into their district, because the guys are national, they can really do them bad damage if they promote the other guy?

 

HUME:  Well, look, it’s not controlling but it’s a factor. I mean, if you’re a pragmatic politician up for reelection, you’re looking at the landscape and you don’t want to a lot of problems. And you don’t — and in many of these districts the Democrats can’t cause you any problems. There are just not enough of them. What there are enough of is conservative Republicans and conservative Republicans around the country today are very disappointed in their party and its leadership. And they think that the control of the House of Representatives should have been able to give them much more leverage than they seem to have been able to demonstrate and they should have been able to do more with it. And so if you’re sitting over in the House of Representatives and some measures of defund Obamacare comes along and you think it’s a suicide mission because it might involve a government shutdown you’re going to be hesitant to oppose it anyway because you don’t want the most conservative — you don’t want the tea party and you don’t want the conservative radio talk show hosts on your back. That doesn’t mean they can defeat you but it means you don’t want it.

See video here…

Paul Ryan: Progressivism Is ‘Arrogant And Condescending’

Pot…meet kettle.

The Huffingtom Post

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) belittled progressives during a speech at the conservative American Enterprise Institute on Wednesday.

“Progressivism is well-intentioned but it is also — in my humble opinion — arrogant and condescending,” Ryan said, according to a transcript. “Instead of helping people make their own decisions, it makes those decisions for them. It makes Washington the center of power and politicians the center of attention.”

While Ryan had harsh words for progressives, he conceded their “vision proved compelling.”

“The Left keeps winning elections,” Ryan continued. “Why? Well, you can see the appeal. In uncertain times, people look for security. Progressives seem to have an answer … the progressive state offers a sense of security. But it’s a false sense of security because government can’t keep all its promises.”

Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, is the de-facto spokesperson for the GOP on fiscal austerity. In March, the House passed Ryan’s budget, which would balance the federal budget in 10 years by slashing spending on safety-net programs for the poor. The text of his budget cited a well-known study from Harvard economists on government debt that was recently repudiated by a group of scholars at the University of Massachusetts, who said the study had “serious errors.”

Despite the blow to Ryan’s austerity argument, he declared on Wednesday that “we have to stop spending money we don’t have.”

After defining conservative principles, Ryan said the Republican Party “must go” into “our inner cities, our barrios and our poor rural communities” and “demonstrate our full vision of freedom and community.”

“This vision is our response to progressivism,” he said.

Paul Ryan claims he ‘misspoke’ when he called military leaders liars

Daily KosPaul Ryan

Republican Rep. Paul Ryan is walking back his recent claim that U.S. military leaders are liars:

“I really misspoke,” Ryan said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I didn’t mean to make that kind of an impression. So, I was clumsy in how I was describing the point I was trying to make.” […]“What I was attempting to say is, President Obama put out his budget number for the Pentagon first, $500 billion cut, and then they began the strategy review to conform the budget to meet that number,” Ryan said. “We think it should have been the other way around.”

So, how did he so clumsily put it the first time?

We don’t think the generals are giving us their true advice. We don’t think the generals believe that their budget is really the right budget. I believe that the president’s budget by virtue of the fact that when he released his budget number of about $500 billion, the number was announced at the same time they announced the beginning of their strategy review of the Pentagon’s budget. So what we get from the Pentagon is more of a budget driven strategy, not a strategy driven budget.

Huh. So what Ryan really meant to say was the same thing … except the part where he called U.S. Generals a bunch of liars. Except of course he’s still calling them liars:

Gen. Dempsey, the military’s top officer, took sharp exception to the chairman’s comments. […]”My response is: I stand by my testimony. This was very much a strategy-driven process to which we mapped the budget.”

Try again, Mr. Ryan.

West Wing Week: 4/22/11 or “My Old Number, 23”

The White House Blog

Welcome to the West Wing Week, your guide to everything that’s happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. This week, President Obama held townhalls in Northern Virginia, California, and Nevada, to speak directly to the American people about his vision for reducing our debt and bringing down our deficit based on the values of shared responsibility and shared prosperity.

Scott Walker’s Budget Bans Birth Control Coverage And Eliminates Access To Health Care Services For Women

The right-wing’s over-reaching agenda is going to make more Americans wake up to the nightmare called corporatism.

Think Progress

In the midst of fighting his union-busting crusade, Wisconsin’s embattled Gov. Scott Walker (R) unveiled his budget on Tuesday. Insisting on balancing the budget without raising taxes or fees, Walker proposed a two-year plan in which he expects students, participants in the SeniorCare prescription drug plan, poor families receiving health care or welfare, and local schools to make sacrifices. As one state lawmaker put it, his $900 million cut in state aid to schools is “an absolute annihilation” of public education. But targeting students, teachers, seniors, and poor people is not enough. He is also proposing to repeal Wisconsin’s Contraceptive Equity Law because, apparently for Walker, a budget also has to attack women’s health:

Gov. Scott Walker’s budget would repeal a state law requiring insurance companies cover prescription birth control.

Walker’s budget released Tuesday would undo the law signed in 2009 by his Democratic predecessor Gov. Jim Doyle. Passage of the bill, which took effect last year, came after more than a decade of trying by Democrats.

The mandate had been fought by anti-abortion groups and Catholics but supported by Planned Parenthood and public health groups.

 

What’s Happening in Wisconsin Explained

Now that the public service workers have conceded to two of the three demands Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker presented for their State Budget, the only thing left on the table is taking away “collective bargaining” for the unions.   Scott said this was all about saving money for the state.  Yet, if he refuses to omit the collective bargaining issue then it is obvious even to a non observer that Scott simply wants to dismantle the Unions in Wisconsin.

Mother Jones

If you need to know the basics of what’s going on in Wisconsin, read on. If you’re already up to speed, you can follow the action on Twitter or jump straight to today’s updates from our reporter on the ground in Madison.

With additional reporting by Nick Baumann and Siddhartha Mahanta

The basics:

For days, demonstrators have been pouring into the streets of Madison, Wisconsin—and the halls of the state’s Capitol building—to protest rookie Republican Governor Scott Walker’s anti-union proposals. Big national unions, both major political parties, the Tea Party, and Andrew Breitbart are already involved. Democratic state senators have fled the state to prevent the legislature from voting on Walker’s proposals. And the protests could soon spread to other states, including Ohio.

Is this like Egypt?

No.

What’s actually being proposed?

Walker says his legislation, which would strip most state employees of any meaningful collective bargaining rights, is necessary to close the state’s $137 million budget gap. There are a number of problems with that argument, though. The unions are not to blame for the deficit, and stripping unionized workers of their collective bargaining rights won’t in and of itself save any money. Walker says he needs to strip the unions of their rights to close the gap. But public safety officers’ unions, which have members who are more likely to support Republicans and who also tend to have the highest salaries and benefits, are exempted from the new rules. Meanwhile, a series of tax breaks and other goodies that Walker and the Republican legislature passed just after his inauguration dramatically increased the deficit that Walker now says he’s trying to close. And Wisconsin has closed a much larger budget gap in the past without scrapping worker organizing rights.

What’s really going on, as Kevin Drum has explained, is pure partisan warfare: Walker is trying to de-fund the unions that form the backbone of the Democratic party. The unions and the Democrats are, of course, fighting back. The Washington Post‘s Ezra Klein drops some knowledge [emphasis added]:

The best way to understand Walker’s proposal is as a multi-part attack on the state’s labor unions. In part one, their ability to bargain benefits for their members is reduced. In part two, their ability to collect dues, and thus spend money organizing members or lobbying the legislature, is undercut. And in part three, workers have to vote the union back into existence every single year. Put it all together and it looks like this: Wisconsin’s unions can’t deliver value to their members, they’re deprived of the resources to change the rules so they can start delivering value to their members again, and because of that, their members eventually give in to employer pressure and shut the union down in one of the annual certification elections.

You may think Walker’s proposal is a good idea or a bad idea. But that’s what it does. And it’s telling that he’s exempting the unions that supported him and is trying to obscure his plan’s specifics behind misleading language about what unions can still bargain for and misleading rhetoric about the state’s budget.

Walker’s proposals do have important fiscal elements: they roughly double health care premiums for many state employees. But the heart of the proposals, and the controversy, are the provisions that will effectively destroy public-sector unions in the Badger State. As Matt Yglesias notes, this won’t destroy the Democratic party. But it will force the party to seek funding from sources other than unions, and that usually means the same rich businessmen who are the main financial backers for the Republican party. Speaking of which….

Who is Scott Walker? 

Walker was elected governor in the GOP landslide of 2010, when Republicans also gained control of the Wisconsin state senate and house of representatives. His political career has been bankrolled by Charles and David Koch, the very rich, very conservative, and very anti-union oil-and-gas magnates. Koch-backed groups like Americans for Prosperity, the Cato Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and the Reason Foundation have long taken a very antagonistic view toward public-sector unions. They’ve used their vast fortunes to fight key Obama initiatives on health care and the environment, while writing fat checks to Republican candidates across the country. Walker’s take for the 2010 election: $43,000 from the Koch Industries PAC, his second highest intake from any one donor. But that’s not all!:

The Koch’s PAC also helped Walker via a familiar and much-used political maneuver designed to allow donors to skirt campaign finance limits. The PAC gave $1 million to the Republican Governors Association, which in turn spent $65,000 on independent expenditures to support Walker. The RGA also spent a whopping $3.4 million on TV ads and mailers attacking Walker’s opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Walker ended up beating Barrett by 5 points. The Koch money, no doubt, helped greatly.

More on this article…

 

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