As Wisconsin Republicans move to restore some semblance of fiscal sanity to the Badger State, the professional Left is reacting predictably, which is to say, poorly. The DNC and Organizing For America (BarackObama.com) have mobilized to buttress massive union protests at the state Capitol -- which have forced numerous schools across the state to close. Elected Democrats are literally fleeing the state in a stunt designed to avoid a vote on Gov. Scott Walker's proposal, which would limit many public sector unions' ability to collectively negotiate. In accordance with state law, police have been dispatched to force truant Democrats to return to work. A vote cannot be called on the Walker-backed bill without at least one Democrat present. Mary Katherine Ham sums it up nicely:
"Wisconsin teachers abandon students in the name of devotion to students; Wisconsin Democrats abandon vote in the name of devotion to democracy."
Meanwhile, protesters have overrun the Capitol rotunda, comparing Walker and his GOP colleagues to Hitler, Mussolini, and Hosni Mubarak and chanting slogans. A visual:
Ever the watchful guardians of civility, these Left-wing, Obama-backed protesters have even besieged the Republican State Senate leader's home, forcing his family to flee:
Still, some lawmakers here appeared rattled by the crowds cramming the building.
Scott Fitzgerald, the Republican leader in the State Senate, slipped out of the Capitol Wednesday morning with his sunglasses on, head down. Protesters had gone to his home earlier in the week, forcing his family (including his wife, a school guidance counselor) to go elsewhere for a bit.
As Elisabeth notes below, newly elected Senator Ron Johnson has released a statement applauding Gov. Walker for his leadership in tackling a very difficult and complex problem. Several hundred tea party demonstrators have also reportedly arrived in Madison to support the bill. House Speaker John Boehner has also lent his support to Wisconsin Republicans' efforts, criticizing the president for his remarks accusing Gov. Walker of launching an "assault" on unions.
Walker, a former county executive and state assembly member, has an ambitious list of reforms he would like to see enacted. To start with, he announced last Friday that he wants to eliminate most collective-bargaining rights for the majority of public employees, exempting only police, firefighters, and state troopers.
He also wants public employees to begin contributing 5.8 percent to their pension plans. (Currently, most of them contribute nothing to their plans.) On health care, he would like them to increase their contributions to 12.6 percent, up from 4 to 6 percent. Taken together, the two measures would result in what amounts to 8 percent pay cuts for state workers. The changes would also save the state — which is facing a budget shortfall of $137 million this fiscal year — $30 million over the next few months. More important, they would save $300 million over the following two fiscal years, when Wisconsin is facing a $3.6 billion deficit.
The crux of the unions' argument is that Walker is seizing their sacred "right" to collectively bargain for contracts (they've also compared the prospect of contributing modestly to their own pensions to slavery). Over to you, father of the New Deal, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (via Tim Carney):
"The process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service.” ~FDR
UPDATE - An emailer (contact me at email@example.com) reminds me that this isn't the first time Democrats have high-tailed it out of a state legislature to avoid doing what they're paid to do.
UPDATE II - Townhall has obtained exclusive footage of Wisconsin Democrats: