The “Big Five” Lies in the Walker Budget – in his own words…

To all the hard-working, Democracy loving, fiscally responsible people of Wisconsin,

You have been misled. Governor Scott Walker has completely misrepresented his budget and Wisconsin’s fiscal state. Before, during, and after debate on this budget, Walker has lied to you. His statement released after the Legislature’s budget passage continues these lies:

“I am proud of the work done by the Legislature, which passed a budget today that isn’t built on accounting gimmicks, use of one time money for ongoing expenses, or tax increases.  The budget approved by the Legislature is an honest document that balancesWisconsin’s $3.6 billion budget deficit so that our children and grandchildren aren’t saddled with mountains of debt in the future.” 

Moving forward, I plan on taking time over the next two weeks to review the changes made by the Legislature prior to signing the bill before June 30th.” 

These lies were repeated so many times by Walker, GOP Legislators, and the media they have passed for conventional wisdom. As a service to the people of Wisconsin who may have fallen prey to Scott Walker’s budget hijinks, here are the lies in Scott Walker’s statement exposed:

Piece #1 – The “…budget today…isn’t built on…tax increases.” (see quote above)  In a January 13, 2011 memo from LFB Director Bob Lang, the LFB specifies two significant tax increases. These tax increases affect poor, lower-income residents who rely on the Earned Income Credit and Homestead Tax Credit to simply make ends meet. Through this budget, the state is increasing the tax burden on the lowest wage earners by nearly $70 million over two years. In addition, fees will increase by over $100 million,  targeted primarily at tuition increases for UW students, and vehicle title fees to segregated funds.  A tax is a tax – it is a lie to consider these anything but what they are.

Piece #2 – “The budget…isn’t built on accounting gimmicks”  Scott Walker promised, backed by GOP Legislators, to not raid segregated funds to balance the budget. This was a practice he slammed Jim Doyle over, and repeated this promise again and again. A June 14, 2011 memo, again from LFB Director Bob Lang, proves this to be a blatant lie. The memo itemized over $400 million in segregated fund “transfers”. Most of the raids transfer funds from General and Environmental Funds into Transportation Fund (to fund road construction boondoggles). The LFB memo confirms these funds are “used for purposes other than…the funds have traditionally been used.” The fund raids themselves are gimmicks used to give the appearance of a “balanced” budget.

Piece #3 – “…our children and grandchildren aren’t saddled with mountains of debt…”  In the biennial budget, Scott Walker has given huge tax breaks to corporations and the wealthiest individuals to make Wisconsin more “business friendly.” Regardless of the fact that tax breaks don’t create jobs (see item #3 of the link – includes charts!); there will be a significant price for our children to pay – long after Walker is out of office.  The June 9, 2011 LFB memo from Rob Reinhardt itemized the long-term consequences of these tax cuts for large corporations and the wealthy. The total LFB projection in lost revenue over ten years – over $2.3 Billion. Yes – BILLION. Most of the revenue loss is due to the changes in Capital Gains and Combined Reporting, benefitting the highest income earners and largest corporations in Wisconsin. Scott Walker will be out of office long before this revenue loss impacts Wisconsin’s children.

Piece #4 – “…our children and grandchildren aren’t saddled with mountains of debt…” (part 2) The June 14, 2011 LFB memo from Fiscal Analyst Al Runde unveils the most disturbing lie about the Walker budget. Walker’s debt restructuring plan provides for longer term debt service, incurring greater interest costs for the state. The plan simply allows the Governor to delay debt service payments beginning in 2013. Scott Walker will delay debt payments, accruing higher interest, and literally “kicking the can down the road.”   The impact? The state standard for debt-to-revenue ratio is no greater than 4%, with a target debt ratio of 3-3.5% of General Program Revenue. Table 2 in the linked memo shows the debt-to-revenue ratio projections.  THIS IS CRITICAL – Debt ratio grows from 2.28% this year, to almost 5% next year. In 2013-2014, it grows to OVER 5%, even with a generous 4% growth in revenue. A debt-to-revenue ratio of over 5% is higher than ANY budget under Jim Doyle. This literally saddles Wisconsin with increased debt AFTER Walker’s term is over.  

Point #5 – This budget “…balances Wisconsin’s $3.6 billion budget deficit.” No, it doesn’t. The June 15, 2011 LFB memo specifies the fiscal condition of the Transportation Fund. The fund will operate in a deficit after this fiscal year. Through the raiding of the General Fund (see above), which is a one-time transfer, the Transportation Fund will be in a $244 million deficit for the 2013-2015 bienium.  In addition, because of Walker’s method for debt restructuring (see above), the Transportation Fund will require higher levels of bonding to maintain equal levels. The total deficit, over the 2013-2015 bienium – $319 million. A deficit which will come due AFTER Walker is out of office, and after the Road Construction lobby has been paid – with money raided from the General Fund, and debt sold to our children.

Simply stated, Scott Walker has lied. He has raised taxes, raided funds, created a critical future revenue shortfall, sold debt to future generations, and created a budget deficit. Spread the word, share the facts, and make sure Wisconsin knows the truth about this fiscally (and socially) disastrous budget – which doesn’t work for anyone!

Thanks to all contributing legislators in sharing their research, time, and efforts in this unprecedented time. On Wisconsin!

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On Budget Eve – Letter to Republican Legislators; and Citizen Call to Action

Dear Wisconsin Republican Legislators and Citizens of Wisconsin,

On the eve of what may likely be the passage of the most divisive budget in Wisconsin history, a letter from Badger Democracy to serve as a Call to Action to its citizens; a harbinger of fiscal and social disaster to Republican Lawmakers. It has become apparent that the GOP fully intends to pass Governor Walker’s budget in lockstep. Every sensible amendment being offered by Democrats today, which normally would bring bi-partisan support, have been defeated. The “moral document” being forwarded by the GOP is about to serve its purpose – a re-shaping of the very social and financial structure of Wisconsin. It is an indisputable fact – that is the purpose of this budget.

To the Republican Legislators – History is repeating itself in Wisconsin. Your failure to observe and learn from the lessons of the past doom us all to learn its harsh lessons.Your lazy governing has caused you to be blind to the very consequences of Legislation you are about to impose upon the people of Wisconsin. You object to the term “lazy.” You have been busy, yes – but the accusation is intellectual laziness. Laziness of being seduced by corporate influence and philosophical ideology instead of holding true to the “Wisconsin Idea” – that government is to function in the greatest interest of the greatest number of people. You are leading all of us, as lemmings to the sea, over the cliff and into the sea of a Corporatic State.

“What history,” you ask? Are these ideas of ours not new to Wisconsin? Are these not innovative, bold ideas to lead us out of our fiscal desert? No – had you listened, paid attention, researched, LEARNED…instead of practicing talking points over and over – you would realize this “bold experiment” has been performed before, on a much larger scale. Where? In this hemisphere. Twice, two decades apart. The results in each case had the same outcome – corporations and the wealthy saw incredible profits and prosperity, leading some economists to refer to the events as “miraculous.” In real, human terms, these countries saw a dissolution of the working class that they still have yet to recover – as well as “middle class” jobs. I implore you to read on… 

Chile and Argentina in the 1960’s saw an emergence of the “Southern Cone” of the continent. Their prosperity was due to Democratically – elected leaders that established a nationalized, socialist government under which the working middle class thrived. Low unemployment (3%), healthcare, education, low inflation, by all standards a successfully emerging economy with an engaged population. The undoing of that system has been documented extensively in a Senatorial investigation, and first hand documentation. In brief, the multinational corporations doing business in the Southern Cone were unhappy at trade and profit restrictions (Ford, Del Monte, Exxon, etc.). The CIA funded and expedited a coup, placing ruthless dictators in place of elected Presidents. This is fact, indisputable – for the sake of brevity, I leave it to the reader to further research. These dictatorial governments received direct economic policy advice from “The Chicago School,” Milton Friedman and his disciples. Funded with money from Washington and the CIA, Friedman viewed these nations as “labs for practicing radical capitalism” (Gunder Franke, Economic Genocide in Chile, 1976). Previously nationalized utilities, education, healthcare, and industries were privatized. Banks, businesses and trade were de-regulated opening the door for unfettered profits. Unions were broken, and the minimum wage eliminated. The result was an abject failure. Unemployment rose to 30%, the rich got exceedingly richer, and the working class became destitute. Any proclamation of capitalist gains was diminished by the human cost of “radical capitalism.” The brutality of the dictators is not understated here – the point is an economic one – the population lived in terror and torture from the corporate/CIA sponsored regimes, or “junta.” The regime brutality aside, do these economic policies sound familiar?

Bolivia in the 1980’s was emerging from a tyrannical dictator for its first democratic elections in decades. The nation faced hyperinflation (30,000% – not a typo), national debt greater than its national budget, and a full-blown economic crisis. Enter Jeffrey Sachs as economic advisor to the new Bolivian President Victor Estenssoro Paz – with the full blessing and funding of the Reagan Administration (NY Times 9/12/84). Friedman disciples working in the Reagan Administration convinced the President to make aid to Bolivian recovery contingent upon it adopting Sachs’ prescribed “shock route” of fiscal policy – after “Chicago School” principles.

The “shock” prescription? Deep austerity measures including deregulation of banks and commodities, deep budget cuts, freezing government workers’ wages, eliminate unions, lift import tariffs, adopt “free trade” policies, privatize everything from schools, healthcare, public services, and energy utilities. Bolivia created an unfettered capitalist zone in one sweeping budget bill, known as “The Brick” due to its sheer weight and impact (Foronda, Latin American Press 2/16/89). Again, the regime had to brutally control a citizenry resisting these draconian measures – the human cost was terrible. For the purpose of this writing, the fiscal effects on Bolivia were striking. Inflation was brought under control – falling from 14,000% in 1985 to 10% in 1987. A remarkable feat, yes – causing Friedman “Chicago School” proponents to again pronounce a “miracle,” especially considering the record profits generated by multi-national corporations.

The real financial costs – In the same two years, unemployment rose to 30% while real wages dropped by 40%. The top 2% of earners saw wages skyrocket, while the bottom 98% saw wages plummet. The job situation was so dire, that under the new austerity measures, the number of workers eligible for Social Security plummeted by 61%. This created an even more desperate working class while corporations sent record profits home to the United States. When the masses attempted to organize and protest, there was an extra legal “special police” crackdown on the population at large. Setting aside the violence of the regime, do these economic policies sound familiar? They should, they are the same policies Scott Walker has been pushing from day one – privatize, eliminate unions, freeze wages, “business friendly,” free-trade, de-regulate business practices. They have had the same effect every time they have been practiced. Now in Wisconsin.

Call to the Citizens of Wisconsin – The “experiment” being pushed in Wisconsin is nothing new. The proof is in history, which for convenience sake the Republicans have chosen in their intellectual laziness to ignore. There will be record corporate profits, and the working people of Wisconsin will suffer for it. Their laziness in following a hollow ideology will cause a downward shift in the social structure of Wisconsin. We have an obligation to the future of this state to fight this corporatic agenda. This link contains the Republican Senator’s email addresses – all of them.

Badger Democracy is emailing this writing to every Republican Senator – this is a call for everyone reading this to do the same, sending the following statement:

“As Legislators in Wisconsin, you have had a choice in the budget you vote for. You have had options and differing opinions available to you. Your historical and factual ignorance; your intellectual laziness has caused you to follow ideology and not fact. You have chosen to follow, not lead. While you may temporarily rest in security that your corporate sponsors will tend to you when you leave office,  you will receive no respite from the PEOPLE OF WISCONSIN whom you serve. As the impact of this budget unfolds, so will the ire of the people increase. In making this choice, you will feel the quiet and peaceful rage of the people at the polls. As these fiscal policies affect the working families and population of Wisconsin, you will feel the effect of the “silent and peaceful” revolution that is coming.”

The Corporatic agenda may speak for you as a Republican Legislator – it does not speak for the people.

Sincerely,

Scott Wittkopf for Badger Democracy

Walker telegraphs collective bargaining strategy

In an interview with WTMJ – TV in Milwaukee on Thursday, Governor Scott Walker stated that if the Supreme Court refuses to validate Act 10 by overturning a Dane County Circuit Court ruling; the Legislature would act “later next week.” The interview took place in the relatively “friendly” context of a Special Olympics photo-op for Walker. This statement validates speculation that GOP leaders have planned to bypass committee vetting of collective bargaining legislation, and introduce it as an amendment on the floor during debate of the Budget. The Court may decide to refer back to an appellate court, or simply avoid the highly politicized issue, leaving the door open for Legislative action. Regardless of the outcome in the Court, Walker has made clear the course of action Republicans will follow in the coming days.

Update – A.L.E.C., Destroying individual liberty by promoting Corporate anarchy

 

With the current activity of the Legislature on the budget, this update of a post from March is more relevant than ever. The influence of The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and its corporatic policy pushers need to be exposed for what it is. A dawning of a new “Robber Baron” age, where huge corporations use their financial hold on lawmakers to drive their consolidation and privatization agenda – making it open season on state resources and working families.

As background to an upcoming Badger Democracy post later this week – revealing Governor Walker’s direct ties and activity with ALEC, as well as the corporate sponsors (Koch Industries, etc.) supporting Walker and ALEC “model legislation,” read and share this crucial information about this “semi secret” organization. 

Merriam Webster’s primary definition of  ”anarchy” is a) ”absence of government” and b) “a state of lawlessness or political disorder due to the absence of governmental authority.”

Liberty is defined as  a : the power to do as one pleases b : freedom from physical restraint c : freedom from arbitrary or despotic control d : the positive enjoyment of various social, political, or economic rights and privileges e : the power of choice. The definition liberty invokes is the ability to excercise those freedoms and choices free from despotic control, and with individual rights protected under the law (i.e. a Constitution).

The group ALEC – or “American Legislative Exchange Council” was a virtually unknown prior to a few months ago. That’s the way they wanted it. Thanks to historical scholar William Cronon at The University of Wisconsin, the functions of this group are becoming widely known, and that is a good thing for democracy. The group’s home page can be used as a great source of information for who they are and the policies they hope to forward. It also posts their meeting schedules for co-ordinating protests!  Their “Budget Toolkit” outlines policies and legislation for implementing their plans, including selected “model legislation.”

ALEC is a semi-secretive group formed in 1973 by Henry Hyde, Lou Barnett, and Paul M. Weyrich. The visible, front membership is composed of thousands of state legislators, who pay a small fee for membership and conference attendance. In the past, this has given the group an image of looking non-partisan with broad public support – in truth, its corporate members pay large fees for membership, sponsorship, and access to member legislators. Almost 82% of its income is paid by these large corporations, only about 2% comes from legislator members. In 2009, over 100 ALEC- authored bills were passed in statehouses across the country, including the controversial 2010 Arizona Immigration bill. The list of ALEC supporters reads like a who’s who of big American business and political influence. Koch Industries, Exxon, Enron, Wal Mart, Shell, Pfizer, Philip Morris, RJ Reynolds, AT&T, the list goes on. The legislation drafted and proposed by ALEC serves one purpose – the advancement of interests profitable to these corporate entities. Their documented legislation is proof of their motives – solidify the position of corporate America as the only remaining political influence, eliminating the competition.

The group specializes in research and drafting legislation to consolidate power. Creating a form of corporate management, with reduction of legislative oversight to drastically cut services they consider ”low priority.” Members are taught at expense – paid conventions and seminars to “prioritize” spending as necessary functions of government. The group admits in their “toolkit” that this will bring about ideological battles – an intentional action that will pit middle class workers against each other. These seminars are attended by legislators who are given “cut-and-paste” bills ready for enacting in their state. Under current political donation statutes, these “donations” in the form of “education” do not need to be reported, even though they amount to hundreds of millions of dollars (NPR Report). Resolutions such as this have appeared almost simultaneously in multiple states; this one calling for a resolution to withdraw said state from Regional Climate Initiatives based on the groups denial of climate change science:

WHEREAS, there has been no credible economic analysis of the costs associated with carbon reduction mandates and the consequential effect of the increasing costs of doing business in the State of ______;
WHEREAS, forcing business, industry, and food producers to reduce carbon emissions through government mandates and cap-and-trade policies under consideration for the regional climate initiative will increase the cost of doing business, push companies to do business with other states or nations, and increase consumer costs for electricity, fuel, and food;
WHEREAS, the Congressional Budget Office warns that the cost of cap-and-trade policies will be borne by consumers and will place a disproportionately high burden on poorer families;
WHEREAS, simply reducing carbon emissions in the State of ______ will not have a significant impact on international carbon reduction, especially while countries like China, Russia, Mexico, and India emit an ever-increasing amount of carbon into the atmosphere;
WHEREAS, a tremendous amount of economic growth would be sacrificed for a reduction in carbon emissions that would have no appreciable impact on global concentrations of CO2;
WHEREAS, no state or nation has enhanced economic opportunities for its citizens or increased Gross Domestic Product through cap and trade or other carbon reduction policies; and
WHEREAS, Europe’s cap and trade system has been undermined by political favoritism, accounting tricks and has failed to achieve the carbon reduction targets,
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the legislature of the State of ______ urges the Governor to withdraw [state] from the regional climate initiative.

The group’s initiatives have influenced legislation in Health Care Reform (“Repeal Obamacare” movement), Anti-Environmentalism, Climate Change, Telecom fronting (legislation prohibiting municipalities from offering broadband service), Tobbacco Policy, and Immigration reform. Looking at the list of corporate sponsors, it is not hard to draw the line to who benefits from this legislation – and who is harmed.

Up until a few months ago this grouped functioned under a cloak of partial secrecy. Millions of dollars being spent to further the profiteering goals of a select group of companies, creating a myth of “junk science” to discredit climate change data, feeding self-serving legislation to easily manipulated lawmakers – all without any public oversight or accountability. It is imperative to understand what is at stake. The success of ALEC means the death of democracy as we know it. A single party controlled government, elections funded by big corporations for their own interests, no corporate regulation or oversight, private profiteers performing essential services at the lowest bottom line (again no oversight or public accountability). Also, these corporations paying no taxes, with people being employed at the whim of the employer (it’s happening already – as in the case of GE showing record profits and paying no taxes). The tax burden on the working middle class will increase, and the middle class will disappear. 98% of the population working at a barely living wage because they have to – working for the benefit of the other 2% – how far away from this vision are we today? That is corporate anarchy – a small group of wealthy individuals divesting any oversight power and authority  away from the government for the corporate benefit. Taking away, little by little, the balance of power previously afforded individuals protecting their rights to participate in a fair and representative republic.

Here’s the good news – in their greed and arrogance, they forgot a crucial factor in the equation. The people of Wisconsin. This is still a state and nation of laws and rights. We are still one person, one vote. And we are greater in number than they – that needs to be the moral of the story. The knowledge of this group and the ability to defend and protect Wisconsin from the Corporate Anarchists is thanks to William Cronon; who will undoubtedly energe as one of the heroes of this movement. Spread the information, freedom is knowledge – and knowledge is power.

As Budget Battle Looms, Import of Recalls and Collective Bargaining Rights Remain Paramount

As this is being written Walkerville is in full swing; Russ Feingold has marched with firefighters, police, nurses, and workers to the Capitol; the State Supreme Court is hearing arguments as to whether they should take action in Judge Sumi’s Open Meetings Law ruling voiding Act 10, and the Legislature begins work on the full budget this week. Overwhelmed? Protests and presence at the Capitol must increase this week, as a message to Republican Legislators that Progressives are more engaged than ever. Being engaged also means remaining focused on key issues – those of pending recalls and preserving collective bargaining rights. While protesting at the Capitol will require our physical presence en masse, the recalls and collective bargaining issue will require mental and “spiritual” engagement as well. Here is food for your political soul.

Recall Governor Walker – With the Wisconsin Democratic Party announcement last week that it will engage in the recall of Governor Walker, the movement has great momentum and resources joining forces with United Wisconsin. The ability to coordinate county-to-county canvassing, provide a unified direction, and financial resources all point to a much higher likelihood for success. What remains is for all interested parties to commit to working together toward this ambitious goal. As written in a previous blog (May 22), the effort requires complete unity and setting aside of individual agendas and egos. Badger Democracy issues a call and challenge for every person and group committed to the recall of Governor Walker to come together in a “strategy summit” after the Senatorial recalls are complete. This summit should arrive at a unified agreement as to the timetable and strategy for implementing this effort. ALL of us have a vested interest in the accomplishment at this goal – it can only happen through all of us working in unison – late summer summit to recall Walker!  

Senatorial Recalls – This is a historic time. Never before in US history have so many recalls taken place in such a short and tumultuous time. The Government Accountability Board has been literally overwhelmed with certifying petitions, to the point of being allowed an extension by a Dane County Judge to complete the process. While Republican committees to recall Democrat Senators have alleged political favoritism, the GAB link above shows in detail the severity of challenges to the petitions for Democrat Senators Holperin, Wirch, and Hansen. A meeting of the Government Accountability Board on June 8 will finalize the status of the Democratic recalls – which would be held on July 19 if validated by the GAB. The scheduled special recall election to be held on July 12 (or this date would act as a primary election if needed) are for the following Senatorial Districts:

18th Senatorial District – Jessica King (D)  will challenge Randy Hopper (R) in the Fox Valley area

32nd Senatorial District – Jennifer Shilling (D) will challenge Dan Kapanke (R) in the LaCrosse area

14th Senatorial District – Fred Clark (D) will challenge Luther Olsen (R) in the Baraboo area

10th Senatorial District – Shelly Moore (D) will challenge Sheila Harsdorf (R) in the River Falls area

8th Senatorial District – Sandy Pasch (D) will challenge Alberta Darling (R) in Milwaukee’s North Shore area 

2nd Senatorial District – Nancy Nusbaum (D) will challenge Robert Cowles (R) in the Green Bay area

 All recall elections above have a real possibility of changing the face of the Senate. With only three seats determining the balance of power in the Senate, there is a good probability of them changing the face of the Senate (pending GAB action on the pending Democrat recalls – and their potential outcome). The reality of this has caused a great amount of anxiety in the GOP. So much so, that Republicans are now plotting to run “false Democrats” just to force a primary – delaying the final election, giving them time to fill their coffers and further their legislative agenda. This activity has been confirmed by the LaCrosse Tribune (Kapanke), Milwaukee Journal Sentinel , and the State Republican Chair himself. This opportunity cannot be squandered. These quality, highly qualified candidates deserve all our support financially and as volunteers to assure their election to the Senate – especially in the light of continued unethical actions by the GOP. It is important as well to inform voters that the newly passed “Voter ID” law will not prevent people from voting in the recall elections. Voters will be ASKED to show photo ID, but MAY vote without it – they will be informed that it will be required in the fall 2012 election. This has been confirmed by an Erpenbach Staff Member.  We cannot allow people to be dissuaded to vote, and have time to educate and mobilize voters to obtain proper ID for the 2012 elections.

Collective Bargaining – The State Supreme Court is now hearing arguments in regard to the Open Meetings Law ruling of Judge Sumi. While most legal scholars agree that her ruling was not only appropriate but sound, it is difficult to tell which way the court is leaning while listening to arguments. The questioning is very obviously along political and ideological lines. That being said, the action of the Supreme court is anyone’s guess – especially based on current politics. Collective Bargaining is the lynchpin of the Walker agenda. His privatization and consolidation agenda cannot succeed while strong Public Unions remain in place. His assault on the working families of Wisconsin will have less momentum with strong Public Unions in place. As this is written, civil disobedience is beginning. Protestors entered the Capitol through restricted doors, chanted in the rotunda, blocked traffic on the square, were arrested for exercising their freedom of speech peacefully, and have begun putting the pressure back on Legislators who have to choose between the Governor’s Budget, and the People of Wisconsin. It is our responsibility to make our voices and expectations heard of these lawmakers to do the right thing. Should Act 10 become law through the Supreme Court, Unions should mobilize for a General Strike and march (peaceful) on the Capitol. Should Collective Bargaining be inserted into the budget on the floor, in the middle  of the night, a General Strike should be called. Even non-union employees should strike based on the draconian effects of this budget all the people of Wisconsin.

This will be a hot summer in Wisconsin. Focus on the recall elections, win back the Senate. Develop a sound strategy for recalling Governor Walker. Turn up the heat on Legislators pondering the budget – let them know we are as engaged as ever in a civil but passionate discourse about the direction of Wisconsin. Be prepared to act in a General Strike should Collective Bargaining rights be struck down. We must remain vigilant, civil, active, and achieve the high ground to take back Wisconsin. Stand together for the Wisconsin Idea of Government and those who can’t buy their influence in Scott Walker’s Government.

Protests Disrupting Joint Finance Committee Hearings Disruptive to the Cause

It should have been understood and (by now) accepted that the draconian budget of Scott Walker would be rubber-stamped in the Joint Finance Committee. It should also be understood that since protests began, Republicans have been looking for ammunition to use against the progressive movement. How many times were we warned during mass protests at the Capitol to not engage counter-protestors…don’t give them any video to use against us. Even when protestors (who had slept under the dome for many nights) were “removed” from the Capitol, it was voluntary. The actions of protestors in Joint Finance in recent days has jeopardized recalls, and the very movement. There is a time and place for civil disobedience, yes, and that time may well be coming soon. There may be a time for a General Strike coming soon as well; depending on the actions of the JFC tonight, and whether Collective Bargaining changes are inserted into the budget in committee. These disruptions in committee have given the Republicans exactly what they need to discredit the movement. Video and audio of unruly protestors in a Committee hearing where public input is not the accepted policy or rule. The protestors even shouted over Democrats Jauch, Schilling, and Taylor as they implored them to stop. Democratic Legislators who have had to endure firsthand the insanity of this budget deserve our respect more than anyone.

I was proud to be asked to sign onto the letter from Jenni Dye to the Isthmus on Friday, and agree wholeheartedly with her view. I also address this message to all in pursuit of Democracy and the restoration of Progressive values to Wisconsin. On May 22, Badger Democracy posted the blog “Envision the Walker Recall – an Open Letter to Lovers of Democracy.” If you haven’t already, read it. If you have, read it again. There are those who place their own moments in the sun ahead of the cause. Those who take action without considering consequences for the entire movement imperil the cause itself. The Republicans only need a small amount of sympathy from the public to hold their ground. We MUST stand united in every effort. We MUST exercise restraint and resist the desire to act in a manner that can be used against us – individually or collectively.

There will be time for organized and collective action – perhaps General Strike, perhaps civil disobedience in occupying the Capitol if need be. As a collective group, we will know when the time has come. That time has not been in this Committee meeting. The Republicans have a 12-4 majority in this committee – what other outcome would you expect? Stay united. Show up in mass numbers again as the Legislature takes up the budget on Monday. Show them we are still paying attention and they are accountable. Deluge their offices with email, calls, letters. RECALL – work and struggle legally and ethically to take back the Senate – then UNITE to recall Walker behind a United front from every corner of the state. THAT is how we can win. That is how we will win.

Solidarity, and Forward!