Is Governor Scott Walker really a Koch whore?
On the heels of his admission that he actually considered dispatching operatives to infiltrate and disrupt the protests against his union-busting budget bill (this was in the prank phone call from a journalist whom Walker believed to be one of the Koch brothers), the real Kochs have leapt to his aid with a new TV ad-buy, an astro-turf support group, and a new right-wing lobbying HQ across the street from Wisconsin’s Capitol building.
And so what if Walker ushered in $117 million in corporate tax breaks within a fortnight of taking office? The claim that two thirds of Wisconsin corporations don’t pay taxes appears to be correct: according to the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, 65.6% of filing corporations paid no taxes at all in 2007.
It turns out the Wisconsin Association of School Boards—not a pro-union outfit by any measure—is less-than-comfortable with the Governor’s efforts to do away with collective bargaining:
…our members are deeply divided over the dramatic curtailment of collective bargaining rights proposed in the bill. Many members are gravely concerned that the changes in the bill limiting the scope of collective
bargaining would wipe away the ability of local school boards to use the bargaining process in ways that
enhance local control by telling local school boards they are prohibited from deciding whether to enter
into a contract on any item other than wages; and would immeasurably harm the collaborative
relationships that exist between school boards and teachers and may lead to job actions and other
disruptions of educational services that will harm the educational quality in our public schools.
The Washington Post’s Valerie Strauss doesn’t let President Obama off the hook for his role in helping create an atmosphere of hostility toward American teachers.
For those of us who missed it in the crush of events last week, here is the Packers’ original statement of support for working Wisconsonites (Wisconsonians?). As usual, Dave Zirin at The Nation gave it some helpful context.
All of us have the odd friend or family member who needs someone to hold their hand and patiently explain why battles like the one being fought in Wisconsin should matter to all Americans. This, and this, may help.
In an interview on Democracy Now, journalist Matt Taibbi put our national “public pension crisis” in the context of one of the financial sector’s greatest scams ever:
…this, broadly, was really what the mortgage bubble and the financial crisis was all about. It was essentially a gigantic criminal fraud scheme where all the banks were taking mismarked mortgage-backed securities, very, very dangerous, toxic subprime loans, they were chopping them up and then packaging them as AAA-rated investments, and then selling them to state pension funds, to insurance companies, to Chinese banks and Dutch banks and Icelandic banks. And, of course, these things were blowing up, and all those funds were going broke. But what they’re doing now is they’re blaming the people who were collecting these pensions—they’re blaming the workers, they’re blaming the firemen, they’re blaming the policemen—whereas, in reality, they were actually the victims of this fraud scheme.
And the only reason that people aren’t angrier about this, I think, is because they don’t really understand what happened. If these were car companies that had sold a trillion dollars’ worth of defective cars to the citizens of the United States, there would be riots right now. But these were mortgage-backed securities, it’s complicated, people don’t understand it, and they’re only now, I think, beginning to realize that they were defrauded.
Meanwhile, in solidly-Democratic Illinois, collective Bargaining and other rights of education employees are now being threatened under the guise of school reform legislation written–and literally purchased–by Stand For Children, a national group run in significant part by financial sector players. Rich Miller at Capitolfax offered a revealing break-down of the group’s funding in Illinois:
All of the money raised by Stand for Children’s Illinois PAC came in five- or six-figure contributions from some very major Chicago-area business types. Members of the famed billionaire Pritzker family kicked in a total of $250,000 on Dec. 29, two days before the end of the old campaign finance system, which allowed for unlimited contributions to groups like Stand for Children’s PAC.
Ken Griffin, CEO of the Citadel Group, contributed $500,000 on Dec. 15. Griffin gave hundreds of thousands of dollars last year to Illinois House Republicans and GOP gubernatorial nominee Bill Brady’s campaign. Sam Zell, owner of Tribune Co., contributed $100,000 on Dec. 20. Members of the Henry Crown family kicked in $400,000. And Paul Finnegan, co-CEO of Madison Dearborn Partners LLC, contributed $500,000.
The group’s political action committee made history last year with the single largest non-leadership contribution in modern Illinois times — a $175,000 check to Republican state House candidate Ryan Higgins, who ended up losing his race. The PAC contributed a total of $610,000 during the fall campaign to legislative candidates in both parties.