Last night on Twitter, some enraged union sympathizer said the senate’s passage of the bill was like a progressive 9/11. Which, I guess, makes the assembly’s passage of the bill — what? The progressive Alderaan? The progressive asteroid-that-wiped-out-the-dinosaurs? Anyway, it’s really, really bad.
A reminder: These allegedly sacred collective bargaining rights, for which America’s richest redistributionist is prepared to wage political war, don’t exist at the federal level. Wisconsin public employees still get to bargain collectively for wages. Obama’s federal work force, by comparison, gets squat — along with a two-year pay freeze. And of course, he’s catching no significant static for it from his union-cartel pals, who are now weeping blood over Scott Walker. That’s how unserious they are about this fight on the merits. As a political issue, insofar as weaker unions means weaker Democrats and vice versa, it’s pure dynamite. As an economic issue? Eh.
After police carried demonstrators out of the state Assembly Thursday, Republicans entered the chamber and approved Gov. Scott Walker’s bill repealing most collective bargaining by public employee unions.
The body voted 53-42 in favor of the proposal, sending the bill to the Republican governor after an epic month of struggle unlike anything in living memory in Wisconsin politics.
All Democrats voted against the bill and were joined by four Republicans – Dean Kaufert of Neenah, Lee Nerison of Westby, Travis Tranel of Cuba City and Richard Spanbauer of Oshkosh. All other Republicans and the body’s lone independent, Bob Ziegelbauer of Manitowoc, voted for the bill…
In a statement, Walker hailed the vote.
“I applaud all members of the Assembly for showing up, debating the legislation and participating in democracy,” he said. “Their action will save jobs, protect taxpayers, reform government, and help balance the budget. Moving forward we will continue to focus on ensuring Wisconsin has a business climate that allows the private sector to create 250,000 new jobs.”
I’ve got more links coming, but let’s get this up now. Stand by for updates. Exit question via Mickey Kaus: Did Walker win? Will he still have won if the polls turn even worse and the GOP starts passing amendments aimed at softening the bill?
Update: I take it everyone’s already seen the harrowing death threat received by GOP senators last night, yes? In that context, let me give you two quotes to contrast. First, from Robert Costa’s report on the scene at the Capitol:
Mayhem engulfed the state capitol following the vote. Thousands of protesters streamed into the four wings of the historic white-granite building, screaming at the GOP lawmakers, who were quickly escorted out by police. College students from the University of Wisconsin’s Madison campus mingled with union leaders, teachers raised fists with progressive organizers. Cries of “Shame!” echoed throughout the marble halls.
Senate Republicans were harried by swarming crowds. “We tried to get out of the building after the vote, because they were rushing the chamber, and we were escorted by security through a tunnel system to another building. But, after being tipped off by a Democrat, they mobbed the exit at that building, and were literally trying to break the windows of the cars we were in as we were driving away,” Republican senator Randy Hopper tells NRO. Such tactics, he sighs, were hardly unexpected. “I got a phone call yesterday saying that we should be executed. I’ve had messages saying that they want to beat me with a billy club.”
Remember, Michelle Litjens described the need for police escorts for Republicans inside the Capitol 10 days ago. Now, compare what Hopper said to this:
Police in riot gear at Capitol, for chicken shit Republicans to enter building. Unbelievable.
That’s a photo caption of police indeed decked out in riot gear posted on Facebook by — ta da — Democratic assemblyman Mark Pocan. Death threats are happening, the cops have their shields out, and yet somehow Republicans are “chicken shit” for worrying about security. There’s your daily reminder of what a fraud the “new civility” is.
Update: A little bonus on the “new civility” front: Here’s Jesse Jackson in Madison today, like a moth to the flame of a left-wing media circus, warning that the protests will “escalate” and vowing that “either you’re going to have collective bargaining through a vehicle called ‘collective bargaining’ or you’re going to have it through the streets.” All he means is there’ll be wider demonstrations, but no conservative mouthing ambiguous, vaguely ominous sentiments like that would be given the benefit of the doubt. Complaints about media double standards are the oldest lament in the righty playbook, but in this case it can’t be emphasized enough: Imagine if Republicans blocked a Democratic labor measure by absconding from the state and their tea-party supporters took over the state capitol in rage, necessitating police protection for Dems. Does anyone, even on the left, dispute that the tone of the coverage would be drastically different? Click the image to watch.
Update: Echoing my point above about how the left is incensed at a political defeat here, not an economic one, NRO hails Walker’s “very modest victory”:
The worst that government employees will endure is a requirement that they pay 12.6 percent of their own health-insurance premiums and 5.6 percent of their own pension contributions. And they all will receive something of value: a regularly scheduled vote about whether to be represented by their unions, which often serve no one’s interests but those of the union bosses themselves.
And that is the real source of the rage on the left: Mandatory union representation, empowered by mandatory collective bargaining and mandatory dues deductions enforced by the state, creates an enormous flow of cash for Democratic political candidates and their pet causes. From 1989 to the present, five of the ten biggest donors to American political campaigns have been labor unions, including public-sector unions such as the National Education Association and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees. The overwhelming majority of those donations go to Democrats. The union bosses and their Democratic patrons know that giving workers more of a choice about union representation will diminish that power and reduce that cash flow. That is what this is about, for all of the cheap talk about “civil rights” — as though federal employees in Washington were being treated like second-class citizens because their unions do not enjoy the same princely powers until now wielded by Wisconsin’s.
It’s a modest victory with major repercussions, enough so that lefty Greg Sargent claims an early poll from Survey USA shows two GOP senators in grave danger of being recalled. Eight are being targeted; the left would need to replace only three to gain control of the senate. The GOP will still control the assembly and Walker’s not eligible to be recalled for another 10 months, so there’ll be no undoing the bill in the near term, but Republicans should pay close attention to their tactics and learn. Everything that’s happened these past three weeks — the fleebagging, the mob takeovers of public buildings, and especially the recalls — is now completely fair game for the right. Those things always were fair game in theory, but we know how the double standard works, don’t we? That’s why so many liberal bloggers who’ve been whinging about the filibuster since Democrats took back the Senate suddenly find fleeing the state to destroy a quorum copacetic. So enjoy your new, expanded array of tactical options, tea partiers. And be sure to thank a Democrat and/or union protester for giving them to you!