Free Markets, Free People
Missouri Representative Todd Aiken made one of the most ignorant and foolish statements of the year concerning rape and abortion has quickly spread across the nation.
Full stop. That’s the story. There’s little if any real debate that what he said was uninformed and ignorant.
For the most part, the right has condemned and disassociated themselves with Aiken’s statement. Many have ask him to step down (I say that’s up to the voters of Missouri – if they want to punish the man, they can do so in November). He’s likely given Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill another 6 years in the Senate.
There’s no avoiding the fact, at least for honest people, that what Aiken said was abysmally ignorant and not at all supported by science. One has to wonder where in the world he got such an idea (and why he’s seemingly held it for so long).
But what has me torqued about the incident is nonsense like this:
Two top officials from the Family Research Council said the Missouri congressman is the target of a Democratic smear campaign and chided those Republicans who have condemned Akin.
Connie Mackey, who heads the group’s political action committee, said the group "strongly supports" Todd Akin.
"We feel this is a case of gotcha politics," Mackey told reporters in Tampa, where the Republican National Committee was gathering ahead of the party’s convention next week. "He has been elected five times in that community in Missouri. They know who Todd Akin is. We know who Todd Akin is. We’ve worked with him up on the hill. He’s a defender of life."
"Todd Akin is getting a really bad break here," she added. "I don’t know anything about the science or the legal implications of his statement. I do know politics, and I know gotcha politics when I see it."
Gotcha politics? This wasn’t a case of “gotcha politics”. This was ignorance that caused an unforced error. Had he simply stated his opposition to abortion for any reason, he might have taken some heat from the other side, but it’s a stance he’s had for the 5 terms he’s been in Congress and it’s no big deal, politically.
But he chose to elaborate on the point with this faux-scientific nonsense about the body knowing if it is “legitimate rape” (instead of some playfully rough sex one assumes) and disallowing any chance of pregnancy.
The right, even the pro-life right for the most part, threw up their hands and said, “whoa, sorry, we can’t support that because it’s just not true”.
Except for the boobs above. Instead they “strongly support” Aiken.
Really? How!? By flinging equally uniformed political poo and looking like total fools? Even Aiken doesn’t support what Aiken said (given his apology):
Family Research Council president Tony Perkins fired back at Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, a leading moderate voice in the GOP who called Akin’s remarks "outrageous" and encouraged him to drop his challenge to Democrat Claire McCaskill.
"He should be careful because based on some of his statements there may be some call for him to get out of his race," Perkins said of Brown. "He has been off the reservation on a number of Republican issues, conservative issues I should say. His support among conservatives is very shallow."
Mackey said that Republicans calling on Akin to apologize or drop out should get "backbone."
A “backbone”? The kind of blind and ignorant backing they call for is what causes many to call GOP the “stupid party” (of course it’s not the only reason). One has to be an ignorant ideologue to support such a ridiculous call. And that’s precisely what Perkins and Mackey portray themselves as (and call for the rest of the party to emulate).
One final thing – again social conservative issues, which aren’t even on the public’s political issue radar screen, are being forced to the front and tripping up Republicans. This sort of nonsense allows the left to dictate the topic du jure and avoid the economic elephant in the room.
Refusing to acknowledge the stupidity of the statement and throwing down on those within the GOP who’ve condemned it only prolongs the stupidity surrounding the incident and hands the left what it wants – distraction.
But that doesn’t matter to unthinking ideologues, does it?
As Dale points out in the podcast, while the election polls have yet to reflect it, the atmospherics of this election don’t bode well for Obama. For instance, you have huge crowds turning out for Romney/Ryan events and you have the Obama campaign trying out “we purposely limit crowd size” on the media to excuse the comparatively paltry turnouts they are experiencing. And then there’s the Newsweek cover story by Niall Ferguson telling Obama it’s time he hit the road. It is almost like Newsweek is attempting a return to legitimacy by distancing itself from Obama.
Another indicator, much like the Gallup issues poll in which Obama had a 36% approval rating on the economy, is a Washington Post poll concerning the size and intrusiveness of government.
Call it a mood poll if you wish. But again, taken with all the other polls, it does indeed begin to outline the “atmospherics” surrounding the election. In this poll, a good majority of those polled said that government was both too big and too intrusive … not to mention way to expensive. CNS has the story:
The poll asked: "Would you say you favor a smaller federal government with fewer services, or larger federal government with many services?"
Among all those polled, 55 percent said they wanted a smaller federal government and 40 percent said they wanted a larger federal government.
Among just the registered voters in the poll, 58 percent said they wanted a smaller federal government and 37 percent said they wanted a larger federal government.
The poll also asked: "Do you personally agree or disagree with the following statement. Government controls too much of our daily lives."
Among all those polled, 60 percent said they agreed and 39 percent said they disagreed. Among just the registered voters in the survey, the results were almost identical, with 60 percent saying they agreed and 38 percent saying they disagreed.
CNS points out that the Washington Post analysis says:
“… [T]he results show a deep partisan divide in America. "Partisan polarization presents a potentially insurmountable barrier to governing for whomever wins the White House in November."
Funny how the percentage of those who are for a larger and more intrusive government are at about the same percentage as the Democrats in the poll (35%). So if it is “partisan polarization”, it would seem that the Democrats are losing the battle. It would seem that the big middle is headed to the right.
Now we all know it’s easy to say you want smaller government with fewer services when it costs you nothing but an answer on a poll. And we also understand that most people are fine with real cuts, as long as they effect someone else’s benefits and not theirs. But that doesn’t change the fact that the mood of the country is inclined toward smaller and less intrusive government.
And that doesn’t bode will for big government Democrats – like Obama.
It’s not a poll, but it certainly is an indicator:
Across Florida on Wednesday, President Obama’s campaign scheduled 53 field events to register voters. Last weekend in Virginia, there were at least 78 such events — typical of drills in the past several months on behalf of the incumbent Democrat in the battleground states that are likely to decide the Nov. 6 election.
But a Globe analysis of voter registration data in swing states reveals scant evidence that the massive undertaking is yielding much fresh support for Obama.
In stark contrast to 2008, when a strong partisan tailwind propelled Democratic voter registration to record levels, this year Republican and independent gains are far outpacing those of Democrats.
In Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, Colorado, and Nevada — tossup states where direct election-year comparisons could be drawn — the numbers are striking. Democratic rolls increased by only 39,580, less than one-tenth the amount at the comparable point in the 2008 election.
At the same time, GOP registration has jumped by 145,085, or more than double for the same time four years ago. Independent registration has shown an even stronger surge, to 229,500, almost three times the number at this point in 2008.
Whistling past the graveyard:
“The fact is, there are currently many more Democrats registered in battleground states now than there were before the 2008 primary campaign began, which means there are fewer eligible voters left to register because of the gains we made in 2008,” campaign spokesman Adam Fetcher said in an e-mail.
“We have largely preserved the huge gains we built in 2007 and 2008 and increased our advantage in some areas, while Republicans have failed to make significant gains despite having the primary to themselves this year,” he said.
Support for “whistling past the graveyard”:
Jan Leighley, an American University professor of political science with a specialty in voter turnout, sees merit in the Obama camp’s explanation. “To say ‘We did a lot in 2008 and we’re not going to repeat those numbers in terms of a percentage increase’ is a legitimate point,” said Leighley. “Registration is not the endgame; the endgame for the campaign is to get people to the polls,” she said.
Reality? It’s about enthusiasm. It’s about motivation. Clearly voter registration enthusiasm (which will likely produce actual voters) is up on the side of Republican efforts.
Secondly, it seems the Democrats are prepared to totally ignore what happened in 2010. Guess who made “significant gains” then? Claiming that 2008 gains have been “preserved” is just that, a claim. It certainly didn’t prove itself true during the midterms did it?
Add to that the huge crowds turning out to see Romney and Ryan and the large number of Democratic politicians who’ve decided to skip the Democratic convention and you begin to see a picture that the left is desperately trying to paper over.
To date it’s been an attempt that mostly gets fussy about word usage, but my guess is it will get more pointed:
Gov. Romney is talking nonsense. Bipartisanship requires that you not make up the facts. I did not ‘co-lead a piece of legislation.’ I wrote a policy paper on options for Medicare. Several months after the paper came out I spoke and voted against the Medicare provisions in the Ryan budget. Governor Romney needs to learn you don’t protect seniors by makings things up, and his comments today sure won’t help promote real bipartisanship.
That’s obviously in reaction to a statement by Romney in which he talked about legislation, not a policy paper.
So Wyden is right, the quote is incorrect.
But Wyden is being a bit disingenuous too. You don’t vote for parts of a budget so claiming you voted “against the Medicare provisions” of a budget are a bit of nonsense as well. Democrats voted against the entire Ryan budget, the Medicare provisions being only a part of that.
Even Think Progress has some problems with the attempted delinking driven by the inconvenient politics of having a Democratic Senator’s name on a plan that Democrats have chosen to mischaracterize and demonize:
The plan Sen. Wyden co-authored with Ryan does bear a striking resemblance to the proposed Medicare changes in Ryan’s latest budget for the House GOP. Both keep traditional Medicare as a kind of public option, in an exchange where it would compete with private plans offering insurance to seniors. The government would give seniors support for purchasing these plans, and that support would be benchmarked to the cost of the second-least expensive plan. The plans would also be prohibited from discriminating based on pre-existing conditions.
Where they begin to differ is Paul supports more market based solutions while Wyden wants government based solutions.
But this sort of linkage is inconvenient when you’re claiming the GOP ticket is “trying to end Medicare as we know it” (even though it is ObamaCare which is pulling $700+ billion out of Medicare). Avik Roy has the “bottom line” on that meme:
The bottom line: if Romney and Ryan leave you the option to remain in the 1965-vintage, fee-for-service, traditional Medicare program, and you claim that Medicare has “ended as we know it,” what you’ve really ended is the English language as we know it.
The point? Ron Wyden did indeed “co-author” a Medicare plan with Paul Ryan. There’s no question about that. And it was indeed a bipartisan plan, by definition. In fact the paper is entitled “Bipartisan Options for the Future” and lists both Wyden and Ryan as the authors.
Finally, their plan contains this paragraph:
We are a Democrat and Republican; a Senator and a Representative; senior members of our respective Budget Committees; and members of the committees that have jurisdiction over Medicare and health care costs. As budgeteers, we understand the difficulty presented by demographic changes over the next several decades. As members with policy oversight, we recognize and encourage the potential for innovation to improve care and hold down costs. And most important, as representatives of hardworking Americans in Oregon and Southern Wisconsin, we realize our absolute responsibility to preserve the Medicare guarantee of affordable, accessible health care for every one of the nation’s seniors for decades to come.
Sounds like a pretty bipartisan effort to me.
Here’s the problem for the Democrats. They need badly to demonize Paul Ryan as an extremist who is out to push granny over the Medicare cliff and end Medicare as we know it. That’s because “Medicscaring” seniors is a tried and true method of gaining votes, and Democrats know it. They’ve deployed it many times in the past.
And bipartisan cooperation? No way, no how, can’t let that sort of thing become public knowledge when you have an active campaign beginning to label Ryan as an extremist ideologue.
But the facts don’t support that sort of branding campaign. Not only has Ryan not attempted in any form or fashion to end Medicare, he’s teamed up with a liberal Senator to put forward a plan to actually save it (even while the loudest critic is pulling that $700+ billion from the program via ObamaCare) and make it sustainable.
That is why Wyden is trying his best to delink from Ryan. And you can imagine from whence the pressure to do so is coming. But it’s a hard sale to make when his name is clearly associated with Ryan’s on a plan he claimed will “preserve the Medicare guarantee of affordable, accessible health care for every one of the nation’s seniors for decades to come”, isn’t it?
Not that it will stop them from trying.
It means the Democrats are facing a strong ticket with the announcement of Ryan as the VP nominee. It also finally focuses the ticket where most Americans want it focused – the budget, the size of government, the economy and jobs.
For Mitt Romney the selection of Paul Ryan is about as strong a choice as he could have made. Ryan has an intricate knowledge of the budget and budget process in Congress. That will be a critical skill in the next four years for an administration to have. In effect, Ryan will become the defacto administration budget expert (dare we say “czar”) for the Romney administration and give that administration a level of expertise unknown to most past administrations.
Romney is a “turn around” guy. He knows how to turn ailing businesses and the like around. The combination of Ryan and Romney is and should be compelling to most Americans.
For critics of Romney’s “conservatism”, the addition of Ryan should cool their angst and shore up the conservative base. Ryan is more of a Tea Party conservative (i.e. fixed on fiscal conservatism rather than social conservatism) but that is the sort of conservatism which is going to attract the most non affiliated voters.
Our fiscal house is broken and in bad need of repair. This is a team with all the credentials to do that, or at least begin a positive effort to do that (I doubt that it can be fixed in 4 years, but a lot of progress can be made in that time).
And, of course, that means trouble for the Obama administration, whose record is anything but compelling and whose leadership has been anything but inspiring. Ryan, therefore, must be “destroyed” in a political sense. So in the name of “vetting” – something that was never really done for our present president — we will see all sorts of wild stories and opinions flying around concerning the new VP pick.
I’m not sure any of that will matter much though. Why?
Well, there are indicators seem to be pointing out a momentum shift that polls aren’t showing yet (we discuss that on the podcast). A half-full fundraiser for Obama in his home town of Chicago vs an enthusiastic crowd who packed a Romney/Ryan rally at a furniture store in North Carolina. Or the turnout at this event:
Earlier in the day, Romney and Ryan campaigned at the NASCAR Technical Institute in Mooresville, N.C. The Hickory Daily Record reported that the two were “greeted by thousands.” A Romney campaign official told TheDC that an estimated 4,700 people showed up, with 1,700 people inside the event and 3,000 outside.
If the Obama campaign isn’t worried, then they are even more insulated from reality than I thought.
Fundraising is another indicator that all is not well in Obamaland. Romney, even without Ryan as the VP pick, has been consistently bringing in more campaign donations. And not by a little. He’s been crushing the Obama effort. That may be the truest indication to this point of how far the Obama brand has fallen. Donors don’t like to back losers. Indications are that the choice of Ryan will only exacerbate that problem for Obama.
So Paul Ryan means even more trouble for an already troubled Obama campaign.
What should we expect, then? A full-court press by the left and as dirty a campaign as you’ve ever witnessed. The Obama campaign and its media surrogates and pundits are going to be in attack mode from now on. In fact, just peruse some of the stuff already out there today. Expect it to get worse. The “Palin treatment” is called for because … because it worked the last time. I would guess, however, that Ryan may be equal to the task ahead and perhaps turn that treatment back on those who attempt to apply it.
In the meantime, we have the opportunity over the next few months to actually discuss the most important and compelling issues facing us as a nation – if the media will let us. Unfortunately, they usually focus on the horse race after picking sides. And we all know whose side they were shamelessly on last go-round.
So I expect stories like this vs. stories about budget, spending and employment. I expect, given the abysmal Obama record to see continued attempts by media surrogates to distract rather than inform or discuss relevant and important topics.
But then, that seems to be American politics today. What’s surprising is how the left has managed, since the 2010 election, to pretend they never happened and that they’re back in the happy days of 2008 again. I see a lot of “whistling past the graveyard” among them. I see them and the media ignoring some pretty bold indicators that they’re in deep trouble. And I hope they continue to do so.
Look, an economy that’s banging along the bottom of a recessionary dip and an unemployment rate seemingly stuck at about the 8% mark (or 14% if you’re looking at the U6) are not something any president wants to run on and, they’re certainly not something I’d assume he’d be keen about discussing.
If Romney/Ryan will focus and force the debate about those issues without letting the Obama campaign successfully distract and divert that debate, I think they win. And I think Paul Ryan is a strong enough personality to make that happen.
That is what his nomination means. And that means big trouble for Obama.
Like in the MN Senate race that put Al Franken in office and provided Senate Democrats with their 60th vote.
Byron York provides the short version of the story and what was found subsequently:
In the ’08 campaign, Republican Sen. Norm Coleman was running for re-election against Democrat Al Franken. It was impossibly close; on the morning after the election, after 2.9 million people had voted, Coleman led Franken by 725 votes.
Franken and his Democratic allies dispatched an army of lawyers to challenge the results. After the first canvass, Coleman’s lead was down to 206 votes. That was followed by months of wrangling and litigation. In the end, Franken was declared the winner by 312 votes. He was sworn into office in July 2009, eight months after the election.
During the controversy a conservative group called Minnesota Majority began to look into claims of voter fraud. Comparing criminal records with voting rolls, the group identified 1,099 felons — all ineligible to vote — who had voted in the Franken-Coleman race.
And what has happened since?
And so far, Fund and von Spakovsky report, 177 people have been convicted — not just accused, but convicted — of voting fraudulently in the Senate race. Another 66 are awaiting trial. "The numbers aren’t greater," the authors say, "because the standard for convicting someone of voter fraud in Minnesota is that they must have been both ineligible, and ‘knowingly’ voted unlawfully." The accused can get off by claiming not to have known they did anything wrong.
Still, that’s a total of 243 people either convicted of voter fraud or awaiting trial in an election that was decided by 312 votes.
And, of course, the probability is these felons absolutely knew they were breaking the law and fraudulently voted anyway.
Obviously making a connection between them and Democrats is likely impossible, but it does point to something that the left consistently denies – the existence of voter fraud.
It exists. Denying it exists, as the left does, only damages their credibility.
Many times it is the system itself which enables fraud to be carried out. Incompetence and inefficiency within government agencies charged with supervising voting are as much the problem as the frauds. For instance:
The Houston-based True the Vote said it has identified 160 counties across 19 states with more registered voters on their rolls than eligible live voters. This chart highlights the 19 states and how they voted in the 2008 election.
Keeping the voter roles current and ensuring all registered voters are eligible would seem to be a primary mission of any state’s voter bureaucracy, wouldn’t it?
Yet what did we recently see – the Obama DoJ go after the state of Florida for doing its job and purging it’s voter roles of the dead and ineligible. You’d think that they’d encourage such an action because it helps guarantee the integrity of the voting system.
But instead, it tried to stop it.
There is all sorts of fraud. That like York points out. That like this case in Miami:
It’s a shady world, as the case of 56-year-old Deisy Cabrera in Hialeah shows.
Cabrera was charged Wednesday with a state felony for allegedly forging an elderly woman’s signature on an absentee ballot, and with two counts of violating a Miami-Dade County ordinance banning the possession of more than two filled-out absentee ballots.
Much of the fraud takes place within the early voting venues. As the above case illustrates, preying on nursing home residents is only one of many ways fraudulent ballots are cast.
However the Democrats contend that voter ID laws are a means of stopping a problem that doesn’t exist. They claim there is very little if any fraud to be found in same day voting. Of course that’s hard to substantiate when voter roles are larger than the pool of eligible voters in many areas and no on is asked to prove who they are.
The other complaint is that voter ID laws “disenfranchise” minorities and the poor. Yet Georgia’s experience directly contradicts that claim with minority and overall voter turnout increasing in the elections following the implementation of a voter ID law.
Bottom line: the integrity of the voting system is paramount to instilling confidence in the citizenry that their voices are being truly heard. If ever there seemed to an issue that should be truly bi-partisan, this would be it. Yet there are very clear battle-lines drawn with one side claiming fraud doesn’t exist (and they’re factually incorrect about that) and the other saying it does and something should be done about it.
Guess which side I come down on?
President Obama is on his newest attempt to change the subject and find something to take to the people that might interest them and distract from his abysmal economic performance. It’s taxes. Specifically, he’s decided to make an issue of the automatic tax increases that will take effect in January and claim he does not want to see taxes increase on anyone but those nasty rich who need to “pay their fair share”. Or, back to class warfare.
A) He likes to refer to these as the “Bush tax cuts”. In fact, they’re the current tax rate. Have been for years. What he wants to do is see a tax increase on the rich, but no one else. I’m not sure how else one characterizes that but “class warfare”, especially given the percentage of total taxes that top income group pays already.
B) Republicans are saying no tax increases on anyone. Democrats like to characterize that as protecting the rich. I like to characterize it as an attempt to address the real problem – out of control government spending.
C) The nasty “rich” Obama wants to tax also include almost a million small businesses. That’s one of the primary reasons, in this weakening economy, that Republicans are right not to agree to any tax increases. It is both stupid and economically suicidal. But then you have to know about economics and the business world to understand that.
D) Democrats had two years of a complete monopoly on government to get this done and didn’t. It’s not the Republicans who have prevented anything. It is total incompetence on the Democratic side of the aisle. And, as Obama’s favorite pastor likes to say, “those chickens are coming home to roost”.
E) Finally, Barack Obama has already raised taxes on the middle class despite his statement in a speech yesterday claiming he had no desire to raise middle class taxes.
The tax is called the mandate in ObamaCare. It goes like this:
75% of the mandate tax falls on the middle class. That is a middle class tax hike in anyone’s book.
So when he claims he has no desire to raise the taxes on the middle class, that may be true … now. Because, in fact, he’s already done it.
The latest little dust up is about President Obama claiming we need to hire more teachers (i.e. we need more government jobs) and the Romney campaign saying we really don’t. Who is right?
Former Gov. John Sununu steps in with the following:
Former New Hampshire Gov. John H. Sununu, a surrogate for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, defended the presumptive Republican nominee’s comments that the nation should have fewer teachers, firefighters and police officers, saying there was "wisdom" in Romney’s remarks.
"There are municipalities, there are states where there is flight of population, and as the population goes down, you need fewer teachers. As technology contributes to community security and dealing with issues that firefighters have to issue, you would hope that you can as a taxpayer see the benefits of the efficiency in personnel you can get out of that," Sununu said during an interview on MSNBC’s "Jansing & Co." Monday, prefacing that he was speaking "as a taxpayer" and not a representative of the Romney campaign. "There may be others who run away from those comments, but I’m going to tell you that there are places where just pumping money in to add to the public payroll is not what the taxpayers of this country want."
So do we or don’t we need more teachers? That should be fairly easy to determine, shouldn’t it? And, as it turns out it is:
Since 1970 we’ve seen a 100% increase in Public School employment and a, what, an 8% increase in Public School enrollment?
Am I missing something here? It would seem we have a plethora of educators available. Or at least education employees. If they’re not educators, then my suggestion is perhaps the way to get “more teachers”, if they’re really needed, is to look at the current employee mix and reduce administrative overhead while increasing the number of teachers. Problem solved.
That, of course, could be done without spending a dime. And that, as Sununu points out, would certainly be satisfactory to taxpayers. Oh, wait, teacher’s unions – yeah, not going to happen is it?.
But let’s get real about this Obama gambit – it is the usual appeal. Whenever the Democrats want to increase the size of government, the first jobs they talk about are “teachers, firemen and cops”. Without exception. It is a tired old ploy that most people ought to be on too by now.
And yet we continue to see it employed and, unfortunately, it works. The scare factor. See the above chart if you don’t believe me.
In the case of schools, what has it given us over the years as the taxpayer has answered the inevitable appeal and thrown money at schools?
A 90% increase in cost and flatlined (and even subpar) achievement.
We don’t need more teachers.
We need less government.
On Wisconsin – the horrific drubbing the unions took, not the fight song. What if anything did the left learn?
There is lots of interesting (and not so interesting) “introspection” going on among lefties about why what happened in Wisconsin happened – and why it was so resounding a defeat.
Ed Rendell, former Democratic governor of Pennsylvania, just thought the attempt was dumb, politically:
"It was a dumb political fight — I would have waited until Walker’s reelection," Rendell told The Hill when asked if the recall push had been a mistake. The former governor and head of the Democratic National Committee pointed to exit polls that showed a number of independents and Democrats who opposed Walker’s policies nonetheless voted for him because they opposed a recall.
Yeah, there’s some merit to Rendell’s point, but if there were indies and Dems who voted for Walker, it may have been not just because they opposed the recall, but because they were actually been objective enough (i.e. not blinded by ideology) to understand the problem the state faced and had seen progress in resolving it.
Even Barney Frank thought it was a fight the unions shouldn’t have picked (and that too is a key point – the unions picked this fight):
"My side picked a fight they shouldn’t have picked. The recall was upsetting to people, the rerun of the election with [Democratic Milwaukee Mayor] Tom Barrett — it’s not a fight I would have picked."
But instead of cool heads prevailing, emotion took over and ended up with a resounding loss. Their first indication that the unions were in trouble was when they couldn’t even get their chosen candidate across the line in the Democratic primary.
Here’s a stat that I see being tossed around that ostensibly supports the Rendell point (i.e. these union members voted for Walker because they “opposed the recall”).
The network exit poll for the special election showed that Walker won the votes of 38 percent of voters who said they were a union member or lived in a household with a union member.
What they don’t point out is whether that 38% were members of a household with a “public service union member”.
Because that’s what this was about. The state, the public service unions, etc. My guess is most of these 38% were members of private unions who were among those getting 28% less in benefits than the public unions.
And, frankly, when the public service union members threw their collective tantrums prior to the recall effort, they turned a lot of people off, to include other union members. Finally, when public service union members were given the choice of whether or not to pay union dues (the state quit collecting them automatically), public union membership in the state dropped dramatically. The AFCME saw its membership drop by 55%. And the Wisconsin Education Association Council (which spent $4 million of members dues on the recall)?
Since the collective bargaining measure was enacted last year, WEAC’s membership has dropped from around 90,000 to 70,000 but the remaining membership became energized by the recall and union leaders are hopeful that passion will continue as the union rallies around issues such as public school funding. The union is working on membership drives this summer.
Over at Reason, Shikha Dalmia cites Alec MacGillis at TNR’s rationalization for the loss:
Over at The New Republic Alec MacGillis enumerates all the reasons why public unions experienced an utter rout yesterday in Wisconsin: they were outspent; they should have attempted a referendum like their more successful comrades in Ohio rather than a recall; voters were in a pro-incumbent mood; Walker is a wily bastard who exempted cop and firefighter unions and thereby splintered the union vote.
I talked about MacGillis’ nonsense the other day. It is hardly a “pro-incumbent” mood out there. And we’ve also come to know that the “we were outspent" assertion is nonsense as well. Dalmia contends there’s also another reason MacGillis avoided:
The only reason he neglected to mention happens to also be the correct one: taxpayers straining under out-of-control union demands finally cried: “ENUFF.”
I don’t think the public service unions yet understand this. They don’t seem to understand that their “special case” puts them in a position where they’re “bargaining” with the people they’ve elected and the public understands and doesn’t like that. And so they’ve gotten completely out of hand and what they’ve “bargained” for is unsustainable. Dalmia makes the point:
Whatever the flaws of private sector unions, they have a right to collectively bargain to get as big a share of company profits as is sustainable. What is sustainable? Something in line with the value they help generate. If they ask for more, employers can’t summarily fire them and hire someone else given how our labor law is currently written. But unions can’t make limitless demands forever without sucking the company dry. Hence there is some market discipline that they have to hew to even when labor law arguably gives them unfair latitude.
But there is no equivalent discipline that public sector unions have to submit to. They don’t generate profits. So there is no objective way to measure the value of their work. The main purpose of their collective bargaining powers – it is a misnomer to call them “rights” — is to extract the most lavish wages and benefits they can possibly get from their government employer. Meanwhile, the employer, who pays from taxpayer pockets not her own, has little incentive to insist on reasonableness, especially if unions have helped put her in office. Collective bargaining powers in the public sector, then, virtually invite abuse. And so long as unions have these powers, they will have little reason to “self reform" beyond minor, cosmetic changes.
An example of a private union which was their own worst enemy was the Eastern Airline union. It refused to compromise, refused to work until the company caved into its demands and when it finally got what it wanted, it had put the company in an unrecoverable position. Consequence? They got 100% of nothing.
Private sector unions, for the most part, understand that lesson and exercise a sort of discipline that keeps that line from being crossed (for the most part).
Public unions have no such governor. There is no line for them. They see the taxpayers as an unlimited source of funds. They see themselves as an entitled class. And even in the face of what any reasonable person would classify as unsustainable debt, they clamor for more. Recall the public service union members chanting “raise taxes” when they were confronted with the unsustainability of their benefits in Illinois? So do voters.
Bill Frezza sums up the point:
"The power of private sector unions was long ago broken by many heavily unionized companies going bankrupt. While this was painful for both workers and shareholders, the economy motored on as nimbler non-union competitors picked up the slack. This approach is problematic for the public sector because bankrupt state and local governments cannot be replaced by competitors waiting in the wings. Yes, citizens can always vote with their feet, emptying out cities like Detroit, leaving the blighted wreckage behind. But isn’t Walker’s targeted fiscal retrenchment less painful than scorched-earth abandonment?"
Yes, it is. And that’s what the voting public is discovering. Walker delivered results. And those results will serve as an example to other states. Reality is a bitch and reality is finally arriving in the public service union sector.
Finally, the big question: Does this victory in Wisconsin mean anything nationally?
The White House, unsurprisingly, says “no”.
"The President supported and stood by Tom Barrett, but I certainly wouldn’t read much into yesterday’s result beyond its effect on who’s occupying the governor’s seat in Wisconsin," Carney said in a question-and-answer session aboard Air Force One. "What you had was an incumbent governor in a repeat election that he had won once, in which he outspent his challenger by a magnitude of 7 or 8 to 1, with an enormous amount of outside corporate money and huge donations, and you got essentially the same result," Carney said.
But here’s the key point that those saying “no” seem to miss:
Walker’s surprisingly easy win over Democrat Tom Barrett on Tuesday was fueled by a big turnout from a motivated Republican base of voters, and by heavy spending by out-of-state conservatives who flooded Wisconsin with campaign cash.
Both trends raised difficult questions for Obama’s re-election campaign, which has struggled to match the enthusiasm of his 2008 White House run and compete financially with the huge sums of money being raised by conservative outside groups ahead of the November 6 election.
That’s right … what was exercised and proven in Wisconsin was a template that included cash and a ground game.
It worked. And it put WI in play in November (pretending that the wildly inaccurate exit polls prove otherwise is simply an exercise in whistling past the graveyard).
Which brings us to a question posed by Jim Geraghty in his Morning Jolt this morning:
A Blasphemous Question: What if Axelrod & Company Were More Lucky than Good in 2008?
Here’s a simple, basic explanation about David Axelrod and the Obama campaign, and their performance four years ago and now: When the wind is at your back, it’s easy to look smart. When the wind is in your face, it’s very hard to look good.
In 2008, Obama had a series of big gusts at his back. Yes, glowing media coverage was one, but he probably wouldn’t have done as well if he had brought the same resume and style to the 2004 political environment or the 2000 one. His ascension to the White House required eight years of the opposition party’s rule, an unpopular war, a series of scandals involving the opposition, and finally the Lehman collapse and the resulting economic meltdown. Almost a perfect storm.
And now, he’s got a record – and a poor one at that – combined with a stagnant economy, massive unemployment and, well you name it on the negative side and you’re likely to find it.
So, yes – it isn’t at all hard, given the number of missteps and misfires his re-election campaign has had to come down on the “lucky” side for 2008, is it?
I have no idea how the vote in Wisconsin will go today. All polls seem to point to a victory by incumbent governor Scott Walker and my guess is that’s how it will turn out.
But the left, or at leas part of the left in the guise of The New Republic’s Alec MacGillis, is trying to walk back the national significance of a possible Walker victory.
Citing the conventional wisdom that a loss today would bode ill for Obama in Wisconsin and nationally come November, well, he’s not on board with that:
I don’t buy it. And that goes the other way, too — I don’t think Democrats should take away too much optimism for their fall prospects if Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett pulls off an upset win. Part of this has to with all the usual reasons why state contests should not be taken as barometers of national sentiment, as listed in a smart guest post by Will Oremus on David Weigel’s Slate blog: "1) It’s a recall. 2) It’s happening in June. 3) The incumbent is a Republican. 4) Neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney is running. 5) A significant number of states (49 by my count) will not be participating. 6) Need I go on?"
Seems to be missing a few numbers, doesn’t it?
7) the left initiated the recall, has poured millions upon millions of dollars into a state which Obama took by 14 points, and is seemingly failing in its attempt to oust a sitting Republican governor.
8)if the left and unions can’t motivate voters in this state, what does that say about their chances nationally?
9)the left elevated this into an election with “national implications”, not the right.
10)the left began the meme that this would foretell the November national election, not the right.
11)Barack Obama is avoiding WI like the plague because he understands the national implications of being associated with a loss there by the left.
MacGillis is pretty sure he can figure out a way that such a loss would actually be good for Obama.
My colleague Noam Scheiber adds an interesting conjecture on the lessons that the parties will take from the Wisconsin results about the allocation of resources this fall, arguing that a Walker win might also help the Democrats in that regard.
Oh, well, then certainly a loss would be much less biting then (really?). The Democrats would learn a valuable lesson about “the allocation of resources this fall”? Yippee.
But how does MacGillis think this is a good thing for Obama? Well, he manages to ignore 7-11(+) above (and pretty much everything else of significance) and reduces his analysis to the absurd:
So beware the pundits who turn Tuesday’s vote into nothing but a grand partisan referendum and fail to take into account a less cable-ready way of assessing a Walker victory: as a statement of grudging pro-incumbent sentiment in a time of cautious optimism about a painfully gradual economic recovery.
Anyone who actually believes it’s a “grudging pro-incumbent sentiment” being expressed in Wisconsin is doing an admirable and obvious job of whistling past the graveyard. They also don’t have any real clue about what’s happening there today.