Wisconsin Follow Up: A Campaign Bait and Switch?

As a follow up to yesterday’s guest blog post (Thanks again, Corey!) I thought I’d share the conclusion of this interesting fact check from PolitiFact Wisconsin on Gov. Walker’s claim that he campaigned on his plan to pass the legislation that has been at the center of the protests. Here is the conclusion. Please feel free to read the whole thing.

Let’s sum up our research.

Walker contends he clearly “campaigned on” his union bargaining plan.

But Walker, who offered many specific proposals during the campaign, did not go public with even the bare-bones of his multi-faceted plans to sharply curb collective bargaining rights. He could not point to any statements where he did. We could find none either.

While Walker often talked about employees paying more for pensions and health care, in his budget-repair bill he connected it to collective bargaining changes that were far different from his campaign rhetoric in terms of how far his plan goes and the way it would be accomplished.

We rate his statement False.

If this claim is true, and there is certainly plenty of evidence quoted in the article to back this up, this is shameful. If Gov. Walker intentionally downplayed and misrepresented his intentions, this is politics as usual of the worst kind. How can he claim a mandate from the people to do this if the people didn’t know they were voting for a candidate who would do this? As I’ve said before, I am registered Republican, and I find this appalling. I can imagine why the Democrats in Wisconsin are so up in arms. (Note that the same organization fact checked Gov. Walker’s claim about increasing health care share and still being below the national average and found it to be true. They seem to be relatively even handed, having checked out a couple of their other checks.)

Also, for those of my friends who believe in the power of prayer, and there are many of you, please be in prayer for those on both sides in Wisconsin. Certainly, wisdom and discernment are in need. Also, humility to consider the views of political opponents without demonizing them would also be helpful. I would especially ask that you be in prayer for Corey. His reading of the signs of the times indicate that there are many jobs at risk, including his wife’s. Couple that with the unavoidable pay cut that this legislation will require, and there is good reason to believe that the home he has been remodeling with his own hands may be an untenable dream for him and his family. Please pray for wisdom and grace for him, and that the hovering clouds would not impact his ability to teach the students who are entrusted to him. He is a man with considerable God-given talents (even if he does not believe in God), and it pains me to see my friend having to “see the writing on the wall” (the Daniel 5 reference seems oddly appropriate) in this way.

9 comments on “Wisconsin Follow Up: A Campaign Bait and Switch?

  1. […] In response to my friend Sam and his blog posts: here and here. […]

  2. Agreed, this sounds like politics as usual and I’m disappointed in Walker in taking that road. In fairness, we need to remember that such things occurred when President Obama took office, when the Democrats took congressional power, etc. They never said precisely what the were going to do, just that they were going to bring about change. Politics is politics and as I said elsewhere, I’m increasingly becoming convinced that when Christians get involved with politics, the church loses.

    That said, on a practical matter, I was pondering something today. Currently, the sticking point in the debate in Wisconsin is the collective bargaining rights of the public sector unions, rights given to them by the state 50 or more years ago. The first part of my pondering has to do with that fact of who gave them the rights. When the framers of the US constitution and the US declaration of independence outlined rights, they outlined rights that they believed were inherent in all human beings and are not given by any earthly power but instead are gifts given by their Creator. Gifts such as the right to speak as you wish, the right to worship as you wish, the right to determine what to do with your property, the right to freedom from oppressive government practices, and so on. The Constitution does not give these rights to the people, it simply highlights that the government cannot take them away because they weren’t given by the government.

    When it comes to collective bargaining rights, these are rights that were given by the government and outlined by the International Council of Human Rights. If my various readings are accurate, no specific discussion of whether or not the Creator is involved in giving those rights ever came up. Perhaps this right is God given, perhaps not. However, I am not sure where to find any support that it is the right of an organization to bargain with a place of business or a government when it comes to compensation for employment. My readings of Scripture, OT and NT, seem to give indications to the employers to treat their employees fairly and employees to respect their employers and their decisions. Generally, the “Love your neighbor” concept comes out strongly. We can bounce this back and forth on theological grounds but my point is that if government legislated to give the right, then it is within the power of the same government to take it away. Gerald Ford once said, “A government powerful enough to give you everything you want is also powerful enough to take it away.”

    Now, political philosophy aside, on the practical financial matters, it is a good thing that the unions are conceding to things like pension and health plan contributions. That’s good. But the problem is, as I highlighted in a comment on your other article, that the demographics of population growth, retirement age, etc., make it necessary for the government to consider beyond just the current situation. Thinking about only the current situation is what is bankrupting Social Security today, not planning for the possibility of increased lifespan, increased health, etc. So, if the concessions for pension and health care are taken but there is no restriction on collective bargaining on those self-same benefits, then what is to prevent the bargaining process to continue to exacerbate the problem of pensions and health care benefits that are paying out more money than they are taking in?

    As Walker himself said in an interview yesterday, the collective bargaining restrictions are a matter of fixing the budget not just for the current situation but for preparing and planning for what is yet to come. Considering the history of union bargaining, it’s difficult to believe that the unions will refrain from bargaining to restore either their original contribution levels or increase the benefits themselves, making the contributions inadequate. Not to say that they won’t, but the history of unions, at least in recent years, has not been one of restraint when it comes to representing their constituency.

    Is it going to be difficult and problematic for Corey and his family if this bill passes? Most assuredly, no doubt there. And yes, I do pray for all people in this country as they try and make ends meet in difficult and trying times. But the answer to this is not necessarily to give in and give the unions what they want, but it may simply be a matter of having even union employees begin to make some of the same sacrifices that others in society have had to make in the past two years. I wish that it did not have to be so, that we could all be 100% financially secure, but that is unrealistic in our global economy. Pragmatically speaking, sometimes we have to take a little pain for a while in order to correct some pretty big problems.

    • Rob, as for the fiscal necessity, check out this from the Huffington Post:

      WASHINGTON — Budget referees and transportation officials in Wisconsin have informed Gov. Scott Walker (R) that if he were to pass his controversial anti-union legislation into law, he could be forfeiting tens of millions of dollars in federal funds for transportation.

      Under an obscure provision of federal labor law, states risk losing federal funds should they eliminate “collective bargaining rights” that existed at the time when federal assistance was first granted. The provision, known as “protective arrangements” or “Section 13C arrangements,” is meant as a means of cushioning union (and even some non-union) members who, while working on local projects, are affected by federal grants.

      It also could potentially hamstring governors like Walker who want dramatic changes to labor laws in their states. Wisconsin received $74 million in federal transit funds this fiscal year. Of that, $46.6 million would be put at risk should the collective-bargaining bill come to pass — in the process creating an even more difficult fiscal situation than the one that, ostensibly, compelled Walker to push the legislation in the first place.

      See the full article. Note, I don’t like this federal technicality. I think it violates the limited federal government I believe the constitution established, but I fear that ship has sailed. For me, if Walker has known about this, and is pushing it anyway, knowing it will make things worse for the budget, not better … I hate politics. 😛

      • Listening to Walker’s interview with Greta right now… and considering the numbers he’s tossing around (taking with a grain of salt, mind you), $46.6 million is a drop in the bucket considering the amount of money that he claims will be saved by limiting collective bargaining. Note the term I used… collective bargaining WILL still exist in Wisconsin, it will not be eliminated, just limited and more tightly regulated.

        And I’m with you, politics sucks…

      • Did you see Juan Williams on Fox News? Interesting take.

      • Didn’t see Juan yet tonight… saw him a bit the other day talking about it but I wasn’t focused on it… Can you summarize?

      • It was from tonight (said something about Wednesday’s with Juan). Anyway, his take is that the argument now has NOTHING to do with finances of the budget, and EVERYTHING to do with finances of future campaigns. The other host quotes that among the top 10 donors to campaigns last fall, 7 were wealthy donors to Repubs, while the other three were unions donating to Dems. This is, according to Juan, an attempt to target those unions and take money from Dem campaigns. They specifically mention the Koch brothers who donated heavily to Walker during the campaign, and are big business types who would potentially benefit from weakened unions. Once again, politics. 😦

        Once again, I don’t mind hitting the big donors, if we hit both sides. Only removing the big money on one side seems dangerous in a “two-party” system. Wish there really were more viable options across the spectrum, rather than it devolving into lesser of two evils, one of two extremes, or two different ways of keeping the status quo. Wisconsin seems like it is on the two extremes case right now, which the Tea Party seems to have encouraged. I guess that is better than the other two, but I’d rather people have a variety of honest, up-front choices to choose from, rather than choosing which extreme we are closer to, when that varies by issue sometimes.

  3. I agree with Juan to a point, but one of the things to consider is where the donor money is originating. The Koch brothers are taking their own money, earned in their own businesses, and investing it. The labor unions are taking tax-payer monies and union dues and shunting it to the Democrat party. Much of the union dues in Wisconsin are paid by non-union workers. And union workers have little to no say in where their dues get spent, so even if they are conservatives, their money goes to liberal policies. Beyond that, to say that the unions are being removed from the donor-pool is to again go with the thinking that the unions are being abolished. They are not. They are being limited, their demands are being capped, but they will still be there.

  4. […] (For the motivation for these recall elections, you can see this post from a guest blogger and this post on the accusations aimed at the governors campaign, and the discussion in the comments sections.) […]

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