Wisconsin: 10 Facts That Deny Former U.S. Secretary of Labor's Coup

Brett McMahon
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Posted: Mar 15, 2013 12:01 AM
Wisconsin: 10 Facts That Deny Former U.S. Secretary of Labor's  Coup

Has there ever been a statement more clearly demonstrating the liberal and union sense of entitlement than “Governor Walker’s Coup D’Etat,” the headline of former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich's latest whine at Talking Points Memo?

By describing the vote in Wisconsin as a coup, Reich expresses more perfectly and more completely his side's elitist mentality than any words yet written or spoken. The tone of his rant is a combination of outrage and condescension — like he can’t believe anyone could have the nerve to challenge big labor and get away with it.

And it appears Reich really can’t bring himself to believe or understand what happened, or else he wouldn’t call it a coup and he would be forced to more accurately describe it as the first sane act in what is to become a nationwide fight for our future.

Merriam-Webster defines “coup d’etat” as: “a sudden decisive exercise of force in politics; especially: the violent overthrow or alteration of an existing government by a small group.” Most definitions also note the overthrow is accomplished through illegal or unconstitutional means.

Forget for the moment the Wisconsin Democrats who fled the state in an effort to monkey wrench the legislative process. Forget the bussed-in union activists and the protesters who occupied the capitol building. Focus instead on the band of Midwestern guerrillas, as Reich must imagine them, who toppled the Wisconsin government. Here are the facts behind that “violent overthrow”:

1) The legislature and Governor of Wisconsin were freely and fairly elected.

2) The legislation was passed within the rules of both bodies of legislature.

3) Only about 5 percent of the state's population is directly affected by the legislation. That percentage is from the U.S. Census Bureau, which listed 284,963 full-time equivalent state and local employees in its most recent 2009 data. The total population of Wisconsin in 2009 was 5,654,774.

4) That minority is paid by the overwhelming majority of the state's population.

5) That minority has accrued significant debt obligations for which the balance of the state's population is directly financially responsible. Wisconsin’s unfunded pension obligations equal a 32 percent share of its GDP.

6) That financial responsibility is the direct result of the negotiations conducted for the small minority's benefit.

7) Those negotiations were conducted between that minority and prior elected officials.

8) Those prior elected officials received millions of dollars in campaign contributions and “volunteer” work on their behalf from that minority. Unions contributed millions of dollars directly and indirectly to Wisconsin Democrats. The Wisconsin Education Association Council PAC alone spent almost $1.6 million supporting Democrat candidates during the 2010 elections.

9) Those contributions were collected from a small minority by the state as a withholding from their paychecks.

10) Those paychecks are only possible from the taxes extracted from the majority of the population.

No wonder Reich is so upset. Wisconsin has finally freed itself from the fiscal and political shackles imposed on it by a small percent of its population, ending decades of pay-to-play politics between state Democrats and unions. Not only that, but his side lost by, of all things, a vote in the legislature that unions have spent so much time and money to secure.

And now all that is left for Reich are hyperbolic statements about overthrown government, blustery threats of recall and a tired canard about the Koch brothers. Reich has been forced to come to grips with the realization that his position is only supportable through the blunt force of the state.

The rest of us are arriving at a far different conclusion: that we have to take care of promises we have made to working Americans but kill a structure that will kill our economy if we do not act. In that sense, we do not have a coup detat but we could certainly use a coup de grace.