The battle is over for now, but the war has just begun. Scott Walker has responsibly and successfully led duly-elected officials in an historic effort to permanently change this nation’s course. You don’t need a PhD. in math to understand that our government is headed toward fiscal Armageddon, principally because elected officials have made reckless decisions and promises whose effects on future generations were never considered. At last, we now have a genuine hope to regain America’s future.
In 1958, New York Mayor Robert F. Wagner Jr. signed an executive order allowing the formation of public-employee unions. This was duplicated at the federal level in 1962 by President John F. Kennedy, who was deeply indebted to the unions for catapulting him into office. Since then, the number and clout of unionized public employees has soared – along with the size and cost of government.
A combination of three events then accelerated the downhill spiral. First, union leaders convinced legislators to compel automatic deduction of dues from employee paychecks and required all new workers to become union members as a condition of employment. Second, they used those coerced dues to purchase elected officials (through campaign contributions and other mechanisms), an initiative so successful that in many states and municipalities unions now maintain a relentless hammerlock on public policy. Third, they used this clout to provide their members with outrageous salaries and benefits, thereby generating ever-larger amounts of dues that only reinforced the cycle of manipulation.
We can get past all the mayhem that happened in Wisconsin to focus on the material. We can now put aside the fact that just questioning the status quo prompted the Left to call the Governor a “bomb-thrower,” or that those courageous legislators that dared to challenge an overblown government that feeds the pigs at the trough were considered the embodiment of evil. We can also put aside the fact that Democrats ran to Illinois and hid like children instead of honoring the votes of their fellow residents and acting like grownups. And, finally, we can put aside the failed attempts to recall state senators, state Supreme Court justices, and, ultimately, the governor and lieutenant-governor, in a vain attempt to overturn the will of a responsible electorate.
We can put all these aside, but we can never, ever forget them. In Wisconsin, this death spiral has been stopped in its tracks.
Mr. Walker accomplished two momentous things that will have a lasting effect in Wisconsin, and will hopefully spread throughout the nation. First, he proved that you can cut the size of government, balance a budget (which was $3.6 billion in the red) without raising taxes, and improve the economy all at the same time. Clueless elitists in America and Europe brand responsible actions like this with the pejorative term “austerity,” but Governor Walker made it work. Unemployment is down and the business environment is vastly improved. Teachers’ jobs, which the union leadership was willing to sacrifice just to line their own pockets, have been saved. Since Walker became Governor – only 17 months ago! – Wisconsin has jumped 21 spots in surveys that measure the climate for business owners and entrepreneurs. He has single-handedly defeated the liberal assumption that growth requires you to “stimulate” the economy using borrowed or printed money.
His bigger accomplishment was to kick-start something that many Republicans have wanted to do for ages, only to be undermined by spineless and wavering elected officials. Walker has begun to defund the Left. Through its two largest financial sources, the Left has for decades used government funds to promote liberal Democrats at the expense of the taxpayers. Both trial lawyers and unions that feed off government funds continually influence legislation and budgets to perpetuate their income stream and power. Democrats happily hand taxpayer resources over to these favored constituents, who then use the money to keep their favored children in office.
Through his experience as County Executive for Milwaukee County (the second largest government in Wisconsin), Scott Walker knew how the game was played. He knew that if he was going to straighten out the state budget without penalizing the working people of Wisconsin, he would have to take on the unions. Incidentally, don’t feel too sorry for the Wisconsin public employee union members. Their average salary after reform is $81,000 along with benefits. Private sector employees get $67,000 for the same job, which means there is still work to do.
About a year ago, a friend of mine asked me when will the people of America wake up to the crisis in pay, pensions, and health care benefits for our public employees. I told him that it was coming, little by little. With the leadership of Scott Walker, we’ve now have taken a giant step. With the 2-1 votes in San Jose and San Diego to restructure public employee pensions even deranged Californians have caught on to the pending disaster. There are many, many battles ahead. Winning this war will require hand-to-hand combat in cities, counties, and states throughout the country, but we have no choice because the future of America is at stake.
Scott Walker has given us inspiration, and a huge leap forward. That is why he is an American hero.