Wisconsin vote should make unions, Obama nervous
The Kansas City Star
Unionized public employees nationwide should be as nervous as President Barack Obama over Tuesday’s failed efforts to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
Public service workers should be especially concerned in Kansas. Walker brought on the ire of public service unions after being elected in 2010 by successfully eliminating many of the hard-fought bargaining rights of most organized public service workers. Workers also have been mandated to pay more for their health insurance and pension benefits.
Walker was backed by many conservative donors including the Koch brothers in Kansas, where a conservative governor and Legislature could likely try to plant Walker seeds in the Sunflower State.
Unions in Wisconsin struck back with the recall election on Tuesday. But it failed miserably at the polls.
The vote serves as a public endorsement that it’s OK to strip unions and that the public also is OK with reducing the size of government, cutting funds to public schools and higher education, and instituting other austerity programs. Walker’s efforts had been labeled unpopular, but that’s not how voters apparently saw it.
Walker’s efforts reduced Wisconsin’s budget shortfall from $3.6 billion to a surplus.
That has to concern Obama as conservatives demonize unions — the bread and butter of the president’s re-election campaign. Republicans also are pushing for radical reductions in the federal government and many austerity programs.
That runs counter to Obama’s stimulus efforts to gin up more jobs. The failed recall election — more than making Wisconsin a questionable win for Obama — underscores the lines in the presidential race between Obama and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
The election outcome will turn on Obama’s emphasis of stimulus to create more jobs versus Romney wanting to put government on a crash-cash diet to get the country to reduce its debt and live within its means.
But before U.S. voters cast ballots in November they need to look to Europe and ask: “How’s that austerity stuff with double digit unemployment working for you? And What’s up with the euro?”