Friday, February 25, 2011


As the fight to preserve the rights of workers plays out in Wisconsin, it is important to keep a couple of FACTS in mind.  The first is that before Wisconsin's budget went bust, the GOP controlled senate and house passed, and Governor Walker signed, $117 million in corporate tax breaks into law. The deficit in Wisconsin is $137 million, and amount only $20 million more than the tax breaks. A piece of "old" news but a very important piece to keep at the forefront when Mr. Walker talks about the dire straights that make his draconian proposals and actions warranted.

The second fact comes from a look at the results of the 2010 general election that put these folks into office. Governor Walker is fond of saying that he is not going to let a "few thousand" (there were at least 70,000 at last Saturday's rally) to drown out the voice of 6,000,000 ( actually 5,654,774 according to the census bureau) in Wisconsin who spoke in the last election.  Before getting to the actual numbers, note how he under represents the number of those opposing his actions, and over states the population in Wisconsin.

The overstatement of the population is particularly relevant because the total votes garnered by Mr. Walker in 2010, according to the official elections website of Wisconsin (, was 1,128,941. While this was 52.25% of the 2,160,832 votes cast in the contest for governor, it represents only 32.32% of the 3,493,306 total registered voters in Wisconsin.  To carry the analysis further the votes he got represents exactly 19.964% of the total population of Wisconsin. This meager representation of the "electorate" must be the reason he inflated the population by 345,226 people or a number equal to 30.57% of the total vote he received.

Now elections do matter, he did win, but claiming a resounding mandate based on getting the vote of less than a third of registered voters and a bit less than 20% of the entire population is the kind of hubris and slight of hand that these new Republicans are fond of using to sell their patent medicine policies. To be fair the turnout of 61%+ was a record for mid-term elections in Wisconsin, but I can't help but wonder what the outcome would have been had just another 10% showed up at the polls last November.

How many of those were disillusioned President Obama supporters who really did expect miracles?  How many were young people who defied the conventional wisdom that said they were strong enough to help candidate Obama get the nomination but would not turn out to vote in '08, and then stayed true to conventional wisdom and sat out the mid-term elections? Well as the saying goes, the chickens are coming home to roost, and as any farmer knows, chicken manure is a great fertilizer for any crop, even one that grows like crazy but does not produce any fruit.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Snookered AGAIN !

The GOP rode a mantra of jobs, jobs, jobs to a majority in the U.S. House, majorities in many state houses and state legislatures, but as we have seen with the reins of power in their hands they have been singing a much different tune. Their first actions have been to re-ignite culture wars with all out assaults on the rights of women, rights of workers, and in the case of the Congress, taking more days off than working. 

In Congress, and in my state of Minnesota where the GOP has control of both houses of the legislature, there is yet to be one measure of substance introduced related to job creation.  Instead we see measures that will mean the LOSS of jobs, cuts that will most affect children, elderly and those living in poverty. No cuts to oil company subsidies even thought they, individually and collectively, had record profits last year. I have not heard one speech from Mr. Boehner or Mr. Cantor about innovations or strategies to create jobs.  Nothing new from them-they are staying with the trickle down theory of economics. As Hubert Humphrey once said about trickle-down economics, well when the cows have enough to eat, eventually the birds will too. I guess the GOP thinks they can staisfying us by just serving up more cow pies.

Although a large majority of economists, left, right and center agree that curing deficits requires a combination spending reductions and tax increases, the GOP refusal to even consider tax increases has reached near zealous proportions.  Mr. Boehner says, "read my lips, there will be cuts" with not one hint of embarrassment for being a major player in exacting tax cuts for the well-to-do that added billions to the current deficit, will continue to increase the national debt and are equal to what most of us make in a lifetime.  So much for bringing rational consideration to the fore and as Michele Bachmann likes to say, saving our way of life.  Little did we know that it is about saving the way of life for those of privilege, while the rest of us snarl at one another over the crumbs.

The lesson of this is that the promises from the GOP to stand for the people really meant only some people and for sure not "those people".  I am one of "those people", a woman into my 6th decade and what I see is that those who gave their votes to the GOP were snookered into believing that because the Republican and Tea Party candidates, talked plain and simple, and were not elites, that they really would stand with the people and everyday joes.  I say we were snookered because no matter what they say, there is nothing about working for the common person in their agenda, and everything about more for the real elites-the 1% who hold most of the wealth.

The only way they are standing with the everyday joes is to stoke the fires of anger, blame and fear while they are emptying our bank accounts and our children’s piggy banks to put even more money and privilege into the hands of the few.  Amazing that there is so much ire directed at public employees who show up everyday to keep the wheels of our society moving, and such support for the GOP majority in the Congress who have scheduled floor sessions for less than 20% of the days of the current Congress. 

Elections do matter and it is unfortunate that a majority of us stayed home for the last one and gave these scoundrels the reins of government.  As the saying goes, fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.  I hope we have finally learned the lesson that going after children, elderly and disadvantage only makes all of us more impoverished in wages, work and spirit.