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Why Governor Walker and the Neocons Hate Unions

March 12th, 2011 · No Comments · Education, Jobs, Politics, Taxes

The Neocon Republicans believe that government should intrude in our lives when it comes to religion and abortion and tax cuts for the rich and guns not only for hunting but for hunting people clearly dislike programs to put people to work.

The reason they don’t want to put people to work is their Faustian bargain with big corporations. Of course, they don’t understand the term “job” or the meaning of “work” because many of them went directly from daddy’s house, to the frat house to the House of Representatives without ever having looked for or held a real job.

Some Republican smoothed their way into some third-rate law school like Liberty University, non-accredited until 2010 but providing huge numbers of lawyers for the Bush Administration. Then someone else then smoothed their way into some soft government legal position where their primary responsibility, we now know, was to bow to the wishes of Karl Rove.

They like big corporations where they can find their own group among the middle-level executives…their social comfort level. There are no real African-Americans in the Neoconservative middle class. There are people like Thomas Sowell who preach that there are, but there are not.

Neoconservatives may be wrong, and malicious but they are not stupid. They know that the policies of George W. Bush, of the Republicans in the Senate and now of the Tea Party are all designed to appeal to the White corporate employee, with a degree or degrees who wants to move up. The more the CEO can make, the more he or she will make as they climb the ladder.

They know that the political positions they take will hurt people who fall into the category of unemployed…who immediately become lesser individuals…or the permanently precariously employed…those who have skills but no pieces of paper that say that they are “qualified.” And finally, they know without even thinking about it that the Neoconservative policies of Dick Cheney and George W. Bush bring the heavy boot of racist economics down hard on the necks of the African-American community.

The reason that Neocons hate workers is that workers are the true “insiders” in this country. Union workers…electricians, plumbers, cops, teachers…even actors…are members of organizations that stick together and have long-standing traditions of unity, of patriotic service and of community service.

Other workers, some of whom are organized, some who are not…state police, nurses, construction workers, stewardesses, government workers and railroad and airline workers…even many hotel housekeepers…have people who care about them and people whom they can trust to help them in difficult times.

When you see the faces of the people who marched and continue to march in Madison, you see happy smiling faces in contrast to the scowls on the face of the Governor and on the faces of the Neocon billionaire-supported, disgruntled, frowning Tea Party stooges who were bused in to Madison to make up some kind of opposition.

Let’s take Wisconsin first. Here’s what the Wisconsin Democratic Party and their 14 brave members are trying to stop. Here’s the situation Governor Scott Walker created:

• He wants to create a typical Neocon Republican governmental crisis situation…just as George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan did. The idea is to give tax breaks to the wealthy or corporations and then say that the resulting deficit is a fiscal “crisis.” He’s like the person who kills his parents and asks for mercy because he is now an orphan.

• He had a 2011 budget that was in surplus last fall. Not much, but in surplus. After he created $25 million in new business tax incentives, $48 million for private health savings accounts, and another $67 million tax incentive plan he went into the hole and demanded that the workers to pick up the tab for that $137 million deficit.

• Money to pay for the resulting shortfall of $137 million this year is coming primarily from state workers. First they will contribute 5.8% of their pay to their pensions. Understand this. Government pensions which can amount to something like $20,000 a year, have always been part of the reason for taking less money and working for government. Pew Research says that the Wisconsin workers earn approximately 8% less than their comparable private industry counterparts.

• Next, Walker demanded of the union that the workers, in addition to the pensions, (which the workers were already paying for) pay an additional 12.8% into their health care premiums. The unions objected but Walker decided he would just do away with unions, like some dictator. And in an illegal, secret meeting, he tried to do just that. We will see if the law works or if he can get away with it.

• So here is the upshot. If you are an average worker in Wisconsin, already paid less than others by 8% per year, according to the Pew Foundation, you will also now have taken out of your check an additional $8,000.

You will go from being a moderately well-paid middle class worker to becoming a worker right in the place where the Neocons want you…just hanging on to the middle class by the skin of your teeth.

Wisconsin is not in great financial shape. Some people make it sound as if it is. But it is about $3 billion in debt, long term. (On annual revenues which are now around $13 billion a year and with…as you saw…an annual shortfall of about $150 million.) But here is the problem.

Certain big expenses, like Medicaid, which have come about at a time when there is less revenue, have been postponed year after year, and there have not been tax increases to cover them. About half of all Wisconsin’s $3 billion debt is from Medicaid bills from suppliers. (Health industry companies…as expensive as it gets.)

Walker did not increase taxes to begin to address them. But Walker, after taking office, instead of cutting taxes for businesses, could have reduced that long-term debt by about a trillion…but he refused to do so. As a Neocon, he saw a chance to go after workers.

In addition to the revealing “fake billionaire” phone call between Walker and supposedly the Koch brother, several things show Walker’s unapologetic Neocon stance.

First, he put into the budget repair bill a provision for health savings accounts. Health savings accounts are tax breaks for those who are wealthy enough to spend a minimum of $5,000-$10,000 a year out-of-pocket for health care and then have a tax deduction on those expenses plus a deduction on the premiums for a high-end policy with a high-deductible. Basically, rich man’s health insurance.

Maybe he would consider giving the $8,000 he stole from government employees to them to buy health insurance with health savings accounts.

Second, he put a provision in the budget bill that would first knock out union negotiation at all levels of state government…basically kill the unions…and in another provision allow him to appoint his own political pals to certain key civil service jobs, thus further establishing himself as dictator in Wisconsin. It is as blatant a fascist move as has ever been seen…ever…in state government in the United States.

He has been unmoved by any protest or argument against his stand in eliminating collective bargaining. It is no coincidence that seven other governors, all newly elected Tea Party Republicans, have taken the same stand. They are all against unions, the predominant Neocon stand, because unions have a powerful voice for workers.

Finally, Walker’s bill gives the governor new powers over Medicaid and the state’s low income health plan, called Badgercare. New provisions in the budget repair bill give the governor virtually complete control on who is allowed on the rolls, what premium rates are set and what amounts the state will pay. This was formerly decided by the legislature.

Let’s understand what is going on here. In Wisconsin, as in other states, revenues, because of 140,000 people newly unemployed because of the Bush Recession, were down from 2008 by 10.8%. In 2010, they were down another 8% over the 2008 numbers. The costs of government continued, and because of the greater numbers of unemployed, stayed the same or increased slightly.

The state, under Governor Doyle, with the help of the Federal government reduced a 2009 deficit of $6 billion dollars by $3 billion over the 2009-2010 period, with some layoffs and some tax increases. The plan was working. The Wisconsin state government, for 2010, actually had a slight surplus.

But there was still an overhanging $3 billion. It wasn’t anything new. The costs of taking care of poor people, when there were more poor people caused by a Republican recession, was about half of the remaining overhanging debt. If anything, the situation is much easier on Walker. But he is a Neocon, so a crisis had to be created so that he could use the excuse to kill the unions.

It isn’t just Walker. He’s simply the current poster boy for the Corporatist-Fascists. There are others…too many others.

Like Governor Christie in New Jersey, many governors are attacking teachers. Paid too much, they say, although we know that teachers are actually underpaid. Like Wisconsin, which is…with its “overpaid” teachers, whom Rush Limbaugh calls “thugs” and “freeloaders” is (hello!) 2nd in the nation in children’s education according to national rankings. And like New Jersey, also at the very top in education. But Christie and Walker think that they can fool the public.

Just like Governor Ric Perry of Texas. He doesn’t have any teacher’s unions to worry about. No unions. Teachers are underpaid. Texas, which is 50th in the nation in the amount it spends per capita on government is nonetheless $28 billion in debt. It will make up $5 billion of that by cutting K-12 education, and still more by closing…closing…5 community colleges. No unions to worry about here. Texas is 49th in education, almost dead last.

On his first day in office, Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana decertified all unions. Since they were unable to negotiate wages or conditions, union membership effectively ended. It was a clever ploy. With that big battle out of the way, in a basically confederate state above the Mason-Dixon line, he was able to cut many state government agencies and departments and privatize the state’s tollway system. He privatized the welfare system unsing IBM, but the system was so bad that it had to be taken back under government. He pays teachers the 39th highest, or should we say the 11th worst in the nation. But, it is Indiana. He was reelected.

Governor Rick Scott of Florida walked in and immediately slashed the excruciatingly already bad Florida educational system by 15%. Florida ranked 44th in SAT scores. He lost a potential 30,000 jobs in a state with huge unemployment by taking a political stand against the President to turn down, which is his option, high speed rail along the eastern seaboard.

He is the former President of HCA (Hospital Corporation of America) who walked away with $100 million after being fired (but not jailed) for committing fraud against Medicare so bad that it resulted in a $1.7 billion fine, the largest against a corporation in U.S. history.

He’s against health care for seniors, lobbied against health care reform…which is the only way Medicare costs will come down and save it for seniors in the long run (he knows that) and he’s governor of the state with the largest number of seniors. Is this country collectively stupid or what? Yeah, we are. His being governor proves it.

which are fewer; that’s also part of government work…pay lesspartially from give-backs that government employee unions made, under the threat of layoffs. Teachers, nurses and others in the state systems would make large contributions to their benefits out of pocket to help ease the shortfall in government.

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