Wednesday, March 9, 2011

When Lawmakers Become Lawbreakers

... democracy is doomed. TPM:

In a brief meeting that lasted barely five minutes, Wisconsin Republicans appear to have jammed through the union-busting, anti-collective-bargaining provision that has been the focus of the protests and political turmoil in the state for the past month.

Here, as best we understand it, is what just happened:

The Republican leadership convened a special conference committee late in the day to take up the collective bargaining provision only, separate and apart from the budget bill it was a part of. By a vote of 4-2, the conference committee just approved sending the union-related provisions alone to the floor of each chamber.

And here's the key part: Because it's no longer part of a budget bill, the collective bargaining provision can now get a final vote in the Senate with or without the Senate Democrats who fled the state to deny Republicans a quorum. It renders their protest-by-absence moot. 

The will of the Masters of the Universe superseded the will of the people... just like that. If the people of Wisconsin chose to revolt, I wouldn't fault them for it.

OBVIOUS AFTERTHOUGHT:  by breaking off the collective bargaining provisions from the budget bill, Republans proved they were lying from the start about their having anything to do with budget woes. This was raw power, pure and simple, having nothing to do with governing, and everything to giving corporations power over their employees. I wonder whether it took the R's three weeks to think of this, or whether it was their last-resort intention from the beginning. I'm betting on the latter.

MORE INFORMATION:  David Dayen of FDL outlines some of the avenues of response. Obviously there will be a court challenge: if the union provisions have fiscal implications, then they are not separable from the budget bill and require a quorum vote under the state constitution; if they have no fiscal implications, then Walker was lying from the beginning in attaching them to the budget bill. Equally obviously, efforts to recall state Senate Republans will go forward, and (eventually, no sooner than January) a recall of King Gov. Walker. But there is also talk of a general strike by organized labor; it's not clear if it's just in Madison or in all of Wisconsin. Shades of the late 19th and early 20th centuries!


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Sorry, Scott H., I may (or may not) agree with what you have to say in your rock videos, but ads and self-promotions without other content are not welcome on these threads.



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