"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Walker Seizes the Moment

With the Republican majority in the House of Representatives dithering on continuing resolutions that shave $6 billion off the budget every two weeks (laudable in isolation, ludicrous when considering the magnitude of our debt), the task of seizing the moment on government spending has fallen to Republican governors, primarily Chris Christie for a time, and now Scott Walker.   As someone who lives in Wauwatosa, Walker's hometown, and in Milwaukee County, where Walker was County Supervisor for eight years -- and as a lawyer who was adverse to the County in major pension litigation -- I have to admit that I did not see this coming.   I thought of Walker as a typical career politician.   And maybe he is.  But maybe he sees this moment as a way to make his career, to make himself a national figure.   Even if that's true, he's doing a remarkably good job of it.  

Today Walker pens an op-ed in the Washington Post that basically is a direct challenge to President Obama.   Who would have thought that a minor political figure on a county-scale in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, could overnight turn into a national political heavyweight willing and able to challenge the President?   But, then again, who would have thought that a minor state legislator from Illinois could, within four years, be the President?  

Here are the key paragraphs from Walker's piece:
Contrary to what the Obama administration would lead you to believe, most employees of the federal government do not have collective bargaining for wages and benefits. That means the budget reform plan we signed into law in Wisconsin on Friday is more generous than what President Obama offers federal employees.

Our reform plan calls for a 5.8 percent pension contribution from government workers, including myself, and a 12.6 percent health insurance premium payment. Both are well below what middle-class, private-sector workers pay. Federal workers, however, pay an average of 28 percent of health insurance costs.

It’s enough to make you wonder why there are no protesters circling the White House.
My brother is a banquet manager and occasional bartender at a hotel. He pays nearly $800 a month for his family’s health insurance and can put away only a little bit toward his 401(k). He would love the plan I’m offering to public employees.
Walker here make, in a very economical way, the main two points that need to be understood in considering the issue of public employee unions and their collective bargaining:  (1) that collective bargaining by public employees is not a "right," or else the federal work force would have similar "rights"; and (2) the public employees who are fighting for their pensions and Cadillac health benefits have it very good indeed compared to the vast majority of private sector workers -- they are not "oppressed" under any reasonable meaning of the word.  

No comments:

Post a Comment