Nathan Sass

Why Walker has Already Won in Madison

In Politics, Scott Walker, WI Budget Battle on February 22, 2011 at 11:15 AM

Scott Walker has become a household name in the last 2 weeks after submitting his budget repair bill, seeking to close a $160 + million shortfall in the Wisconsin state budget.

Many people are still waiting to see who comes out the victor in this fight over power, control and of course the money associated with government.  Unions, specifically public sector unions, have for decades controlled the reins of power in state and local government, and have used that control to fatten their wallets and perpetuate their power.

I have the come to the conclusion that Walker not only will win, he won before he ever said a word or introduced a bill.  The unions and their Democrat servants in the legislature are fighting an absolute lost cause, and the more they struggle, the more stinging the defeat will be.

Politics is like war without guns and blood.  It’s all about strategy and tactics.  Those that understand how to use strategy can assure victory and avoid defeat with almost perfect precision.  The US military has for years taught the precepts of Sun Tzu, understanding that he laid out the blueprint for victory through strategy.

It seems that Scott Walker has also paid very close attention to Sun Tzu and has deftly and astutely applied his teachings in just his first few months in office.  To be more specific:

If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.

Now the general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought.

In plain english, Walker understood his enemy and their tendencies.  He knows their strengths, and their weaknesses.  He devised a perfect strategy, taking all these factors into account, and assured victory “before the battle is fought”.

The unions and their Democrat allies were defeated before they knew what was happening.

Walker’s strategy understood that the voters would fully support public employees making contributions to their benefits, and that the unions would reflexively fight that provision.  He also knew that the public would care little about changes in the collective bargaining agreements, and would focus on the financial aspects of the bill.

The unions dutifully played right along, and were true to their nature.  Their response was to immediately respond to the financial provisions, and focused all their attention on that item.  By the time they figured out that this was a losing argument it was too late to shift gears.

They tried, in vain, to reverse course and concede to the Governor’s requests and focus on the collective bargaining changes.  This actually made matters far worse for them, and strengthened Walker’s position, making the unions look at least a bit dishonest in the process and handing Walker another arrow in the quiver.  The public is almost entirely non-union and cares little about such “rights”, and remains focused on the financial aspects of this battle.

To make matters worse for the unions, Walker presumed rightly that the teachers’ union would come out in force to protest, conduct “sick outs” and generally make silly fools of themselves.  The unions believed, incorrectly, that the public would join them en masse and Walker would be forced to back down.

Instead, parents were placed in hardship positions in closed districts, and the “its all about the kids” myth was fully exposed as a fraud.  The teachers looked greedy and selfish, and almost indifferent to the kids.  As time passed and they became more desperate, they gave themselves a series of self inflicted wounds.  Phony sick notes, national labor leaders with little public credibility and now threats to those that oppose them all just served to further erode their credibility in the minds of voters.

The Democrats in the state senate, the Fugitive 14 as they are now called, ran out of the state to give the unions and protesters time to apply pressure.  In so doing, they accomplished nothing of value for their side, and look childish and foolish for their efforts.  Any time they gave to the unions to protest only allowed the unions to destroy themselves.

Now the Fugitive 14 are in a no-win position.  If they return, they lose, and if they stay away, they still lose.  If they cave and return they sacrifice the support of the unions forever, and still lose the vote.  If they stay away, they lose any ability to engage in the debate on this topic, and worse yet for them allow the GOP to pass a series of bills with no Democrat input at all, further eroding their power base.

Even if the unions and Democrats had not done any of these things, and quietly put up token resistance to the bill but did not protest or act out, they would have lost just the same.  It would have been a quiet and dignified political death, but a political death just the same.

There was, and is, nothing they could have done to prevent Walker from his victory.  The only option they had was to limit their losses, but they could not resist the urge to do what they have always done, and what used to work for them.  Obama already sees this, and is backpedaling as fast as his feet will carry him.

Walker should be seen as the political genius he is for using such a bold, but well considered and thought out strategy.  He allowed his enemy to defeat itself.  As long as Walker remains true to his strategy, he cannot lose.  His calm in the face of protests is a simple result of knowing that he has already won.

In the long term this victory is bigger than a simple $160 million.  It spells doom for Democrats in WI, and nationwide.  Democrats can expect to see this strategy employed again and again in state after state, with defeat all but assured each time.  When the dust finally settles, the public sector unions will have had its membership leave in droves voluntarily, losing money and manpower that can no longer benefit their chosen Democrat candidates.

Wherever these unions had become accustomed to running roughshod over the electorate, be it school board elections or presidential ones, they will now see defeats and frustration.  The cycle will continue until the public sector has union membership rates similar to the private sector, and they are virtually impotent.

Soon after Democrats will be forced to abandon them in favor of other more powerful interests that are able to raise the funds they need to survive, and the entire debate will be reshaped.

Wisconsin was the birthplace of public sector unions and progressivism, and Wisconsin is where they have come to die.

  1. Wonderful! This is the best account I’ve read!

  2. Unfortunately there is the villain that will ride to the rescue of those Democrates/Union bosses. They are called the Moderate Republicans.

    • Janet, while I would be on the look out for squishy RINO’s, in WI the GOP bloc is solidly conservative, as in some other key states like IN and OH. Once the wave begins to roll, even the RINO’s will feel emboldened.

    • I don’t think so, Not this time I have been arguing it on the forms and the comment sections of the news media and the opposition is weak at best. The strongest fight I have had to date was that the union members were taxpayers too.

      Yes are taxpayers. They are also government employees, which means that they are the government. So in essence the government is organizing against the taxpayer.

      Normally collective bar…gaining is an adversarial process where the business looks out its interest and the union looks out for the employees.

      As taxpayers (and a large voting block) they are negotiating with a subordinate.

      The unholy alliance between the Unions and the Democratic party further prostitutes the issue.

      Even FDR (the patron saint of unions) was against public sector unions.

  3. They have certainly lost any sympathy they may have started out having. The process to recall the Fugitive 14 Senator in my district has begun with a petition drive. The crude behavior of the protesters in Madison and their walkout on the students, fraudulent “sick slips”, and mob mentality have discredited them beyond repair.
    They are the embarrassment that keeps on giving.

  4. I respectfully think you have this wrong. The tide is slowly starting to turn against Scott Walker. Other Republican governor’s are backing off bills to take away collective bargaining. Many moderate republicans are coming out in support of unions. The more the public sees what’s going on with this bill, the less they like it. I am not talking about what I hope will happen; just what I have seen start to happen in Wisconsin. Only time will tell, I guess.

  5. Walker has two balls in the air and Labor is ignoring the second one but the taxpayers should not. He wants to privatize state-owned power plants, i.e., sell them to the Koch Brothers under a no-bid clause in his Senate Bill 11 that is at the heat of discussion.

    Even if he loses on the bargaining issue he wins. Private companies can give campaign contributions and government entities cannot. And the Kochs have been very generous to him (4th highest contributor).

    See walkers-behind-the-scenes-work

    • After a careful reading of the section of SB-11, commonly referred to at the Budget Repair Bill, does in fact allow for the sale or contracted support and upkeep of any state owned power, heating and/or cooling plants to a private entity “with or without solicitation of bids”.

      The legislation also states that any purchaser to submit to the jurisdiction of the Public Service Commission related to all post purchase operations.

      As for the no bid / bid distinction, I am certainly uncomfortable with any no-bid contracts from a government agency. There is too much room for corruption in this scenario. I have not heard the defense of this provision from the Walker administration, nor have I heard any of the Democrat opposition highlight this as an issue in the bill.

      Should the bill pass, and there appear to be a “sweetheart” arrangement with any private purchaser, there is plenty of cause to raise severe objections, which I will support provided that the allegations are factually based and take into account the accepted purchase price as compared to fair market value. If the purchaser pays fair market value, there is no call for allegations of special treatment.

      In summary, the language could lead to disturbing events, but it is not, in and of itself a non-starter and is far more common in privatization language in legislation than one would expect. The nature of privatization and the market place sometimes requires the ability to reject or ignore bid that may be lower because they are not legitimately believed to be workable and likely to result in bad outcomes for the government body outsourcing the impacted services.

  6. And incidentally, that $160M shortfall was created by Walker’s $160M tax breaks to corporations last month. So the gap he is trying to close was created by himself.

    • I welcome all opinions, but please be sure to use facts. The Milwaukee Journal, no friend of Scott Walker, has already shown that your allegation is false. I respectfully ask you to retract it, or cease posting comments here. Thanks.

  7. Oh, so Walker did not issue $160M in tax cuts??? Tell that to the businesses that think he did.

    Here’s a JS article that pegs it just $33.5 million, but whatever the number, you miss the point. Tax cuts do not increase jobs, only an “increase in demand” does. Our corporations are fatter than even but they are not adding jobs because demand has not increased!!! But tax cuts DO increase campaign contributions!

    • I will ask you one more time to use facts in your arguments, or I will no longer allow you to post comments on this blog. This is essential to responsible and cordial debate.

      Walker’s tax cuts do not impact the current budget, so your point is moot.

      Furthermore, the tax cuts that were passed are tied directly to the hiring of new employees by WI businesses, not income. Therefore, the tax cuts are only tied to growth in employment, therefore can be said to be, at least in part, responsible for job creation. The “cost” of these tax credits will be, at least in part, offset by additional income tax receipts from newly employed people AND reductions in state outlays for unemployment insurance. Therefore the $160 Million price tag is overstated and only reflects the “costs” of the credits and does not take into account additional state receipts or lower costs in other areas.

  8. Well, let me make your job easier: I will no longer post on your blog. You are obviously ignorant of business.

    I was a business owner for 25 years, and NO AMOUNT of tax cuts would have caused me to add personnel UNLESS an increase in demand were present. And Walker has done NOTHING to increase demand.

    And for the record I supported his cuts for business, but they didn’t go far enough. Business taxes should be ZERO because they are simply passed on to the consumer at the cash register. And thus, are regressive.


    • It is unfortunate that you feel that way. I do welcome all posters to give their opinions, provided they are supported by facts and truth.

      In this case, I take no issue with your contentions regarding job creation, as that is open to debate and discussion, and your experience is certainly germane to that point. We can reasonably disagree regarding the extent of impacts of tax credit for job growth. We agree on the basic premise and are simply debating the degree to which these credits will be effective.

      What I take issue with was your mischaracterization of the tax credits recently passed. You plainly stated that they are responsible for the current budget shortfall, which is factually false. I cannot allow false statements to be portrayed as factual as it only leads to harsh disagreement and degenerates the debating process. I am sure you would agree that the use of outright falsehoods have no place in civil debate.

      Opinions are an entirely different matter, and I welcome all to express them. My only request, which I believe is reasonable and responsible, is that those expressing their points of view use true factual evidence to support their positions.

      I sincerely hope you reconsider your position regarding posting on this site. I do not believe it is beneficial to have posters or readers from only one point of view, and that we all benefit from the open exchange of ideas and opinion.

    • “MoneyPoliticias” ID makes clear his/her bias. Perhaps there was/is no future demand for his business but that’s a private issue, not a universal one and has no bearing on the right or wrong of proposed public policy. His use of past tense implies he’s no longer a business owner. I wouldn’t know but it may well be a lack of business acumen, as demonstrated in his ranting posts, may provide the reason for the past tense. Just sayin’.

      And, for crying out loud, the man’s been in office all of 52 days! Not surprising – these silly demands of Walker’s foes. At his inauguration I found protesters with signs reading, “Where are all these jobs you promised, Governor?” BEFORE he had even taken the oath.

      Reality and reason would lend value to such debates, dontcha think?

  9. Go to it Scott. Why should public employees get better salaries, pensions, health, dental, days off, sick days, vacations, overtime, retirement age and on and on then the rest of us that have far worse benefits???

  10. “Pretend to be weak that the opponent will grow arrogant.” Already the right, including this blog, reveal breathtaking arrogance. The left will lost many battles, to be sure, but ultimately the moral trajectory of the “war” is on the side of the left. So, go ahead an fume and blow. It only feeds your arrogance – good for the other side!

    • Tom, I invite you to re-read what you wrote. You display the same sort of arrogance you claim this blog and the right in general are guilty of.

      Sadly, it is clear that you have never studied Sun Tzu, and are not aware of the context of that partial quote. The full quote reveals that Sun Tzu is referring to using the enemy’s own predispositions against him.

      I would also add that arrogance is not to be confused with confidence. The former is self assuredness without any supporting information or evidence, while the latter is self assuredness based on supporting information and evidence.

      In the case of this particular political issue, the left has no real evidence that the public fully supports them, while the right has not only many polling results supporting their positions but far more importantly a recent actual election doing the same.

      I thank you for joining in the discussion here, and invite you to continue the free exchange of ideas. I hope the discussion remains friendly and cordial. We, after all, are not seeking to make enemies, but convince others of the validity of our positions.

      • I like the tone of your argument, Nate. I wish I could be as calm. The simple truth is that the vast majority of working taxpayers voted for Governor Walker because he promised to bring the same fiscal sanity that he brought to Milwaukee County to the State of Wisconsin. Governor Walker is simply doing that which the majority of Wisconsin voters elected him to do. This is not a personal fight for me. I appreciate anyone who works for a living. But just as my compensation is subject to the marketplace, I believe government employee compensation should be subject to the marketplace as well. There has been an alliance between public employee unions and the Democrat party for 50 years. But it’s wrong to force people to pay dues to a union they want no part of, and that is a major part of the immoral situation that Governor Walker is redressing.

  11. I’ve read all the responses, and just want to say that I believe “most” unions are all about power. My father was a union steward (50+ years ago) when the union actually helped. I applaud Governor Walker for what he is doing. And, I think all governors should try to be as responsible as he is.

    It’s too bad that the union had to bring all those other people in. I would bet that most of those in the state house are not even residents of Wisconsin.

    I, also, don’t think much of people who use the (good of the children) as an “excuse” for walking off the job, and leaving the children and their parents stranded. They are acting like immature children themselves. If it was for the good of the children, they would have stayed on the job, and kept teaching.

  12. Why is it I keep hearing that ” I would bet that most of those in the state house are not even residents of Wisconsin.”
    Those of us who live north of the Wis Dells are still part of this state, we just don’t go south of the dells unless we need to.

    I am one of those public workers, and have been for the past 27 years. In those 27 years my hourly wage increase has never kept up with the cost of living, due largely in part the union and states agreament back in 84 to trade away the annuall cost of living increase for 8 hours of time off (ie personal holiday as it is called) I have gone as long as 6 years in a row without so much as a 1 cent increas in pay, yet I have watched my union dues increas, income tax increase, health insurance cost increase every year.
    Two years ago we accepted a 3% decrease in wages in order to help balance the state budget, and as it stands now if and when SB11 passes I will see another 10% decrease in my take home pay.

    Scott Walker says by removeing the unions right to bargain benifits will help balance the budget and limit bargaining to only wages up the CPI.
    YET in his new two year budget it clearly states there will be no monies available for the next 2 years for any wage increase for state employees.

    In my opinion the only reason Scott Walker wants to remove bargaining rights is so at the end of the next 2 year budget cycle he can dictate what the hourly wage will be, and what any benifit will be is any.
    I know all about the civil service pertection clause you are about to remind me of, but befor you do, remember this, just who appoints the head of the civil service.

  13. When the unions are busing people in from all over the country, that is what I meant about being out of the state. I know that north of the Wisconsin Dells is still part of the state.

    • Lonny,

      I have taken 25% in pay cuts over the last three years. My expenses have gone up just like yours. My employer determines what my services are worth and what they can afford to pay for them. If I don’t like it, I can go find another job.

      A significant percentage of the protesters in Madison were imported by union organizers from as far away as California. They were interviewed on the news. You are free to protest regarding the budget repair bill if you don’t like it. You are not free to squat in state buildings and refuse to leave when the building needs to be cleaned. Nor should you be free to intimidate legislators, reporters, or other Wisconsin citizens who disagree with you. You didn’t do that, I’m sure, but some union supporters did. Rightly or wrongly it makes all union members look like thugs. Just my opinion.

  14. […] said at the outset of this battle in a previous post that Walker had already won, and the death of the entire Progressive movement was well underway in […]

  15. […] Why Walker has Already Won in Madison – 2/22/2011 […]

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