Donald Lambro

WASHINGTON -- This has been a rotten week for big spending, liberals and President Obama, and a great one for conservatives in the effort to reduce the size and cost of government.

Senate Democrats were having a hard time rounding up support for a muscular alternative to the House Republicans' $61 billion, mid-year budget-cutting plan. The Democrats' alternative -- essentially keeping spending where it is and running up a $1.6 trillion deficit -- has become the laughing stock of the nation.

National Public Radio -- the liberals' holy grail of big government propaganda -- has been hit by a series of embarrassing scandals, which have strengthened the case for ending taxpayer-funded public broadcasting entirely.

NPR's chief executive has resigned under pressure after the network's top fundraiser attacked Republicans as "anti-intellectual," called tea party activists "racists," and suggested that Jews controlled the nation's newspapers. He gave conservative budget cutters even more ammunition to use in their crusade to end public broadcasting when he acknowledged that NPR could do just fine without government subsidies.

In the meantime, conservatives have won a major victory in Wisconsin -- in what has become a nationwide battle to slash state-government spending -- by significantly curtailing collective bargaining for public employees, who have sent pension and other benefit costs through the roof.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who has emerged as the national leader of the struggle against collective bargaining, pushed his plan through the state Senate late Wednesday night, using a legislative maneuver to pass the measure without the 14 Democratic lawmakers who fled the state in a failed attempt to prevent the vote. It was expected to easily pass the state assembly, which is controlled by the Republicans.

Labor unions, with the support of the White House, have waged a three-week battle to block the legislation in a fight that has spread across the country, where many states are facing unprecedented budget deficits and the prospect of major spending cuts, layoffs and similar efforts to curb union-bargaining powers.

Walker's preliminary victory has not only given conservatives bragging rights about slowly winning the war against the big spenders and bigger government, but it will embolden governors in other states -- Indiana, Ohio, New Jersey and even New York -- to forcefully press ahead with their own sweeping spending reforms.

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.