The organized tactics of intimidation by the public employee unions in Wisconsin last week came as no surprise to me. I’m from New York, one of the most union-friendly states in the country, and I’ve seen the negative effects of unions my entire life.
Wisconsin’s growing war over public-employee benefits is becoming a major battleground between President Barack Obama and grass-roots conservatives who say the time has come to restore sanity to state, local and federal budgets. As the drama unfolds in America’s heartland, other states are paying close attention and may follow Wisconsin’s example in an effort to restore fiscal discipline.
Read more on Newsmax.com: Wisconsin Becomes Front Line in Battle of Obama vs. Budget Sanity
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American politics just keeps getting more polarized. Be assured that Obama wants it that way. I argue in Radical-in-Chief that Obama’s long-term hope is to divide America along class lines (roughly speaking, tax payers versus tax beneficiaries). Obama’s attack on the Supreme Court at his 2010 State of the Union address, his offensive against the Chamber of Commerce, his exhortation to Hispanics to punish their enemies, and several similar moves were all efforts to jump-start a populist movement of the left. Like his socialist organizing mentors, Obama believes that a country polarized along class lines will eventually realign American politics sharply to the left. Yet the entire strategy is based on the need for an activated, populist movement of the left. So far, Obama has failed to create such a movement. His expensive economic agenda has provoked a populist counter-movement of the right instead: Obama’s nightmare.
Welcome to the reckoning. We have met the fiscal apocalypse, and it is smack dab in the middle of the heartland. As Wisconsin goes, so goes the nation. Let us pray it does not go the way of the decrepit welfare states of the European Union.
The lowdown: State government workers in the Badger State pay piddling amounts for generous taxpayer-subsidized health benefits. Faced with a $3.6 billion budget hole and a state constitutional ban on running a deficit, new GOP Gov. Scott Walker wants public unions to pony up a little more. He has proposed raising the public employee share of health insurance premiums from less than 5 percent to 12.4 percent. He is also pushing for state workers to cover half of their pension contributions. To spare taxpayers the soaring costs of Byzantine union-negotiated work rules, he would rein in Big Labor’s collective bargaining power to cover only wages unless approved at the ballot box.