All over this land
The all-out effort to force Wisconsin to back down on public sector unions will eventually fail because there isn't enough money to pay for a leftist victory. The Washington Post conveyed the stark message of National Governor's Association: the states are broke. Between the budget cuts Congress is proposing and demands by the public sector unions, the state budgets are caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. Don't the unions know that? They probably do. What the unions are probably aiming for is something more subtle: control over the process of any reductions to their entitlements so that they still stay in charge.
The depth of the financial crisis facing the states is illustrated by the fact that the most of Wisconsin's budget deficit is driven by Medicaid shortfalls. Like many other states, Wisconsin is trapped in a perpetual budget crisis caused by an expansion in the program's beneficiaries coupled with a lack of money to serve them. Wisconsin is in fact seeking a waiver from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sibelius to tighten Medicaid requirements, something that will no longer be possible once Obamacare is fully implemented. The unions are only part of the problem. What's driving the crisis is that it probably the only part of the problem that Walker can get at.
But even if Walker wins, it will not solve the basic problem. A blog at the Loyola Law School summarizes the situation. The states are being bankrupted from above as well. The Medicaid program is going bankrupt and providers are leaving the system, leaving those it is supposed to care for high and dry. And when Obamacare kicks in, what isn't taken by the unions will be swallowed up in the entitlement programs. The system is going to process the taxpayer so thoroughly, they'll even get to can the squeal.
The only problem, from the liberal point of view, is that the global economy is bad. But it will get better and they want to be in charge when it does. Even the Democrats understand the that cuts have to be accepted for now, yet would prefer to deal with the problem -- insofar as they actually deal with the problem -- by leaving it in the hands of the boys. The Washington Post explains:
In contrast to Wisconsin's Republican governor, who has targeted public-worker unions as the chief villain of his state's budget-cutting drama, Democratic governors who face similar challenges have tried to avoid confrontation by quietly cutting deals with labor leaders.
California Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed largely sparing schools and prisons from deep cuts as he tries to close the state's $25 billion deficit, and powerful unions representing teachers and corrections officers that spent millions to help elect Brown are backing his plan.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has angered public-sector unions by calling for deep reductions in benefits, has worked closely with some labor officials on proposed cutbacks and is promising more dialogue in the coming days.
Since the soak the taxpayer business is bad right now, the strategy appears to be to talk the boys into taking voluntary reductions in their take until things get better. Walker is being unreasonable about things and therefore needs to be brought into line. Behind the Peter Yarrow 1960s nostalgia performances in Wisconsin is an older refrain: nice capitol you have there, it would be too bad if something happened to it. AFL-CIO Chief Richard Trumka said it best. Raising taxes will create jobs.
"We need to create jobs. The best way to do that is through infrastructure development." ... Trumka didn't say specifically how much he would raise the gas tax, but mentioned he's shown the President a $256 billion plan to improve infrastructure. If every billion spent on infrastructure creates 35,000 jobs, as he claims, this package would create close to 9 million jobs over the next five years.
And Trumka is perfectly right. It will create jobs for the boys. He didn't necessarily promise net jobs. Somebody else's jobs are somebody else's problem.
But the foxes cannot be left in charge of the henhouse; not for any length of time, anyway, because they can't help themselves. Eventually they'll take a little over, and a little more and still more ... It's a pity Walker can't use the old movie line, "the only way we can break the mob is to stop letting them get away with murder." People don't talk that way any more. It's hurtful.
If the unions "win" in Madison it will be a pyrrhic triumph. The system is being bled at both ends, and the Democrats are wrong: the "recovery" is not coming. And that means that the unions and Big Government types are digging their own political graves. The music may play a little longer, but not forever. Consequences can be delayed, but they can never be denied. "The mill of the gods grinds slowly, but they grind exceeding small."
Below, Ann Althouse learns that what rights you think you have are not necessarily the same rights the public sector unions think you have. So, pay them more.
"No Way In" print edition at Amazon