The more I hear about Wisconsin, the more it makes me angry. Kevin Drum finds yet another way for my anger to find focus.

As an aside, why do we think it helps the country to screw over teachers? I'll never get this.

Defunding the Democratic Party:
from Kevin Drum
"Wisconsin, the birthplace of public sector unions, is now ground zero for the Republican jihad to destroy them, with a GOP-sponsored bill to strip Wisconsin's public unions of their collective bargaining rights now seemingly certain to pass. The cynicism of the bill might not be entirely clear until you hear the details:

[The bill] would require most public workers to pay half their pension costs — typically 5.8% of pay for state workers — and at least 12% of their health care costs. It applies to most state and local employees but does not apply to police, firefighters and state troopers, who would continue to bargain for their benefits.

Except for police, firefighters and troopers, raises would be limited to inflation unless a bigger increase was approved in a referendum. The non-law enforcement unions would lose their rights to bargain over anything but wages, would have to hold annual elections to keep their organizations intact and would lose the ability to have union dues deducted from state paychecks.

Now why would this be? Is it because collective bargaining is somehow less of a problem for public safety employees than for teachers? Because strikes by cops are less hazardous than strikes by teachers? Because public safety employees tend not to be hard bargainers anyway? Because public safety employees are poorly paid?

Or is it because teachers tend to vote pretty reliably for Democrats and public safety employees don't? Bingo.

The irony here is that when you hear those cherry-picked horror stories of vastly overpaid civil servants (usually the result of overtime abuse of some kind), nine times out of ten it involves a public safety employee. It's not teachers who get to retire at age 50 and it's not teachers who end up padding their hours in their last year of work and retiring on 120% of their usual income. Most of the time, it's police, firefighters, and state troopers.

But they're the ones exempt from the Wisconsin GOP's union bashing drive. Go figure."


You've seen all the polls that show how Americans don't want government spending cut on their favorite programs (which seems like all of them when the questions are asked). In the back of my mind that's always there, like a great card you're just waiting for the right opportunity to play. Let the GOP go all cut crazy; in the end, everybody will wake-up, realized what's happening and then we can fix this nonsense. That's what's been in my head anyway. Probably like a 90% confidence factor.

This cuts through my crap. I shouldn't be so confident.

Chris Christie on Budget Cuts and Electability:
from Weigel

"Chris Christie's speech at AEI yesterday was a compelling little sidebar to the scene in Wisconsin, where a governor working on the Christie model is getting a harsh and immediate confrontation with public sector unions. I'm always struck by how much Christie goes meta and talks about his own popularity -- something Republicans have been paying a lot of attention to. Here's the bluntest that Christie got:

I said to those firefighters you may hate me now but 15 years from now when you have a pension to collect because of what I did you'll be looking for my address on the internet so you can send me a thank you note.

But he also got more specific about his own polling than pols usually get, in public.

I was elected with 49% of the vote, in a three way race in November of 2009. The first Republican elected to statewide office in 12 years in New Jersey, but not with a majority. 49% of the vote and when I started to say we were going to cut k-12 education funding by more than a billion dollars, we're going to cut municipal aid by more than half a billion dollars, we're going to cut every program that we can find in
government and balance without raising taxes. I had everybody telling me, Governor you can't do it. Your approval ratings will go in the toilet. People love these programs... 

And what's happened? After 13 months of fighting and arguing and pushing and impatience, my approval rating's at 54%. No disaster, in fact, more popular today than the day I was elected and that's in a state that is as Democratic as any state in America for a Republican governor. But if you really want to see eye-popping numbers, look across the river. At the person who was recently characterized as my soul mate -- I wonder how he feels about that! Governor Andrew Cuomo, in a poll that just came out 2 days ago, his job approval is at 77%, 77%. And all he's talked about is cutting spending, not raising taxes, addressing entitlement programs, Medicaid, pensions, taking on public sector unions, capping superintendent pay, the hard things. The things that people tell you will lead to political ruin, they don't.

Thus why Republicans are confident they can cut everything, and Democrats are underestimating them."

Paul Ryan is not my favorite politician

The more I read about Ryan, the more obnoxious I find him. And yet he becomes more and more prominent in the GOP. His claim to fame is 'seriousness about cutting budget deficits'. But he's obviously a fraud on this topic. Here's more expose from Jonathan Chait.

Paul Ryan Keeps Attacking Obama For Opposing Ryan-Opposed Plan:
from Jonathan Chait
"Paul Ryan isn't letting go of his Obama-ignored-the-deficit-commission talking point. Here's his interview with Politico's Mike Allen.

Ryan: President Obama, through an executive order, created his own commission to solve this plan.

Q: You were on it.

Ryan: I was on the commission. And you know what he did? He didn't accept -- he didn't take one of the big recommendations of the commission, he basically disavowed the commission. And now, after the commission said we have an economic ruin on our hands, he put out a budget that said, that Erskine Bowles, the Democrat-appointed chairman of the commission says, doesn't go anywhere near where we have to go to solve our fiscal nightmare.

Q: So, do you think the commission was worth having?

Ryan: I thought it was great worth having [sic]. I thought it advanced an adult conversation that we needed to have. But the president just took us a few steps backwards by ignoring the commissions' findings, by ignoring its conclusions. It was mostly Democrats on the commission, which came from his point of view, and [shaking head] he didn't even take the recommendations.

You know what a good follow-up question would be? "So, Paul Ryan you voted against the commission's proposals! How can you attack Obama for failing to endorse policies you voted against?"

Here was Allen's actual follow up question:

Q: Mr. Chairman, you've been talking about entitlements about as long as I've known you. Based on the outreach you've gotten from the the White House in the past, how sincere do you think their current comments about this are?

Guess what? Ryan decided the White House isn't very sincere.

In many ways, this interview was very typical of Ryan's fawning press coverage. The reporter took as a given Ryan's premises that the national debt is our greatest crisis, that "leadership" is synonymous with cutting entitlement programs (and that raising taxes is not "leadership," and that the Bowles-Simpson commission represents the epitome of sound public policy. Now, I disagree with all these premises, but put that aside.

Even by these premises, which are often accepted uncritically within the media, Ryan is not a fiscal hawk. He voted for George W. Bush's 100% debt-financed Medicare expansion. He voted against the Bowles-Simpson plan. Isn't his authority on these issues just a wee bit suspect? Why do the media not only fail to question his sincerity at all, but give him an uncritical platform to question the sincerity of others? It's bizarre."