Cheesehead hats have never been so chic. The foam wedges could be spotted on the heads of people gathered in crowds throughout the U.S. yesterday, as protesters in all 50 states rallied in support of Wisconsin workers. The events were organized by MoveOn.org. Here's a brief roundup of some of the action from across the nation:
10:51 p.m. - Jonathan Rosenblum sends this photo of Representative Brett Husley's office door papered with post-its from unions, students and regular citizens thanking him for staying around the Capitol to oppose SB 11. He and Representaive Kelda Roys were present through the announcement around 7:00 p.m. tonight that protesters of the bill would not be expelled from the Capitol.
8:48 p.m. - Jonathan Rosenblum reports that he is in line for official occupation manna (more pizza) with Andrew Rohn and Cat Capellaro who wrote the musicals Temp Slave and Walmartopia. They say they have contributed the following chant to the rotunda: "Unions make Wisconsin better. This revolution is fueled by cheddar.
They may look more Slayer than healer, but the hand-printed medic logo safety-pinned to their sweatshirts suggest otherwise. The street medics, a loose organization of volunteer healthcare providers tied together by a shared ethic of collaborative service, have helped keep the Madison protests healthy and safe.
While news coverage has focused on how Governor Scott Walker's budget repair bill attacks the state's 300,000 public sector workers (and by extension, the entire middle class), the law is increasingly recognized as an attack on the poor. It curtails (and perhaps eliminates) access to the Medicaid programs relied upon by 1.2 million Wisconsinites, limits access to public transportation, and hinders rural community access to broadband internet. The bill keeps the poor unhealthy, immobile, and uninformed.
Governor Walker and the GOP have said they will not balance the state's alleged "budget deficit" by raising taxes and increasing revenue. Instead, they will focus on decreasing expenditures in a way that disproportionately impacts the poor and middle class. At an event at Wisconsin Law School on February 24, former U.S. Solicitor of Labor and professor emeritus of law Carin Clauss said, "We have to acknowledge that we are imposing what amounts to a de facto tax hike" on the poor. She noted that "this bill will kick people off medicare, require increased payments into health and pension funds," and "could hamstring mass public transport," all of which decrease take-home pay and increase costs for poor- and middle- class Wisconsinites.
Embattled Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker came under fire today after news broke about statements he made in a 20-minute phone call from a Buffalo-area alternative news reporter, Ian Murphy of the Daily Beast, posing as David Koch, a billionaire whose corporate PAC directly supported Walker and who has given millions to groups that have run ads to aid Walker's rise to the state's highest office. (Listen to the call here.)
As the Center for Media and Democracy has reported, the Koch PAC not only spent $43,000 directly on Walker's race, but Koch personally donated $1 million to the Republican Governors Association which spent $5 million in the state. Besides the Governor, the Koch brothers have other "vested interests" in the state.
Guest Opinion by Mike Konczal
Tim Fernholz wrote an excellent article in the National Journal about the "bait and switch" of Governor Walker's Wisconsin plan. Fernholz points out that the short-term deficit problem can be covered by debt restructuring, and that the big pieces of the bill that relate to dismantling public sector unions, control over Medicaid and creating a no-bid energy asset sale process are not directly budget related. (See Bait and Switch?).
There's a three-prong approach in Governor Walker's plan that highlights a blueprint for conservative governorship after the 2010 election. The first is breaking public sector unions and public sector workers generally. The second is streamlining benefits away from legislative authority, especially for health care and in fighting the Health Care Reform Act. The third is the selling of public assets to private interests under firesale and crony capitalist situations.
SATURDAY NIGHT ENERGY AT CAMP CAPITOL
11:00 p.m. - Lynn Welch reporting: On the last night the State Capitol will officially be open to the public, those inside describe a festive atmosphere as a larger crowd has gathered. A circle of drummers and dancers engaged a larger group of overnighters with a real "Saturday night energy," described Oma Vic McMurray, a Madison resident staying her second night in the building.
Visit MoveOn.org to find information about a rally in your state.
In Wisconsin and around our country, the American Dream is under fierce attack. Instead of creating jobs, Republicans are giving tax breaks to corporations and the very rich—and then cutting funding for education, police, emergency response, and vital human services.
Saturday, February 26 · 12:00pm - 3:00pm
Location: First United Methodist Church, 203 Wisconsin Ave.
The Labor & Working Class Studies Project Presents a Public Teach-in on...
"THE POLITICS OF THE WISCONSIN LABOR STRUGGLE"
* Christine Neumann-Ortiz, Executive Director, Voces de la Frontera
* Will Jones, Associate Professor, UW-Madison Department of History
* David Newby, Past President of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO
* Don Taylor, Assistant Professor, School for Workers
From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Here's a complete transcript of the Buffalo Beast prank conversation with Governor Scott Walker Tuesday, from recordings by the Beast. Ian Murphy of the Beast poses in the call as David Koch, a billionaire contributor of Walker's.
Walker: Hi; this is Scott Walker.