Friday, February 18, 2011

Scott Walker: GOP's Man of the Moment

Updated 7 p.m. est Saturday

Depending on which side you tune into for the moment, what is happening in Wisconsin is either a GOP war on the American worker, or a Republican-led belt-tightening epiphany. Either way, it is clearly the latest case of elected leaders pitting neighbor-against-neighbor with no assurances that either side can foresee how it will all play out.

Protesters opposed to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's bill to strip collective bargaining rights from state workers withstood a smaller but boisterous counter demonstration by Tea Party backers today, vowing to remain at the Capitol until the measure is withdrawn. Local authorities said there were upwards of 70,000 protesters in downtown Madison.

A spokesman for Walker, meanwhile, urged Democratic state senators who are on the lamb to return to take a vote on the controversial measure aimed at tearing into union membership. The state workers have signaled a willingness to make a deal on employee contributions to health care and pension funds, but the Republicans say they have no intention of compromising.

Expect the standoff to last for days, if not longer.

The latest updates:

The New York Times on Walker's desire to fight the union-busting battle
The Washington Post on the battle to win public opinion in budget fight
The Wall Street Journal on Democratic senators on the run
All Politics Blog, Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee, Wisc.
Wisconsin State Journal live protest blog
Reuters on dueling protests
Associated Press via Press-Democrat: Hell no, no union-busting in California, Jerry Brown says.
Bloomberg Businessweek

Scott Walker was the Milwaukee County executive who rode the nationwide Tea Party wave to defeat Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in an incendiary campaign for governor of Wisconsin last fall.

Now the freshman governor has propelled himself to the national spotlight with controversial legislation that would take away the collective bargaining rights of his state's public employees, including school teachers.

Late Friday, the unions said they would agree to pay into their pension and health care plans, but Walker signaled no deal, holding out until the public workers agree to give up their collective bargaining rights.

"The reality is we do have a financial crisis in this state," Walker said this evening in Madison, unfazed by the 10s of 1,000s of protesters gathered outside his offices who oppose his bill.

Organized labor says Wisconsin is the front line in a union-busting battle that could soon spread to other states, and they want to stop its progress early. Walker and his allies, including some of the high rollers in GOP money world, are equally committed to standing their ground.

The Latest Updates:

MSNBC Walker signals no compromise (video and text)
The New York Times
All Politics Blog, Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee, Wisc.
The Los Angeles Times
National Journal
Think Progress on Koch's Connection to Walker
Grover Norquist, president of the anti-tax coalition Americans for Tax Reform, on the virtues of Scott Walker
Politico on 2012 GOP Field
The Washington Post on President Obama's role in the Wisconsin uprising
The Business Journal, Milwaukee
AP via Watertown Daily Times

More About Scott Walker

Official Wisconsin Office of the Governor Bio
Project Vote Smart bio, speeches, positions, etc.

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