Opponents of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's budget repair bill, including C.J. Terrell demonstrate outside the senate parlor at the Wisconsin State Capitol Building as legislators inside voted to move forward on an amended version of the controversial bill Wednesday, March 9, 2011. The new bill removes the fiscal elements from the bill and strips public employees of collective bargaining rights. (AP Photo/Wisconsin State Journal, John Hart) (AP)

Gov. Walker's coup d'etat

Now we know the truth: It really did have nothing to do with balancing Wisconsin's budget


Robert Reich
March 10, 2011 8:27PM (UTC)

This piece originally appeared at Robert Reich's blog

Governor Scott Walker and his Wisconsin senate Republicans have laid bare the motives for their coup d'etat. By severing the financial part of the bill (which couldn't be passed without absent Democrats) from the part eliminating the collective bargaining rights of public employees (which could be), and then doing the latter, Wisconsin Republicans have made it crystal clear that their goal has had nothing whatever to do with the state budget. It's been to bust the unions.

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That's no surprise to most people who have watched this conflict from the start, but like any coup its ultimate outcome will depend on the public. If most citizens of Wisconsin are now convinced that Walker and his cohorts are extremists willing to go to any lengths for their big-business patrons (including the billionaire Koch brothers), those citizens will recall enough Republican senators to right this wrong.

But it's critically important at this stage that Walker's opponents maintain the self-discipline they have shown until this critical point. Walker would like nothing better than disorder to break out in Madison. Like the leader of any coup d'etat, he wants to show the public his strong-arm methods are made necessary by adversaries whose behavior can be characterized on the media as even more extreme.

Be measured. Stay cool. Know that we are a nation of laws, and those laws will prevail. The People's Party is growing across America -- and the actions of Scott Walker and his Republican colleagues are giving it even greater momentum. So are the actions of congressional Republicans who are using the threat of a government shutdown to strong-arm their way in Washington.

The American public may be divided over many things but we stand united behind our democratic process and the rule of law. And we reject coups in whatever form they occur.

 


Robert Reich

Robert B. Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written 15 books, including the best sellers "Aftershock", "The Work of Nations," and"Beyond Outrage," and, his most recent, "The Common Good." He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, "Inequality For All." He's also co-creator of the Netflix original documentary "Saving Capitalism."

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