Wisconsin Courage

Last night, I saw video from the Wisconsin House as the Republicans passed the new law limiting collective bargaining for public sector unions. It was pretty instructive to see the Democrat lawmakers, many of whom chose not to vote, screaming and acting like spoiled children after the vote ended. It was a foretaste of what will probably occur in the Wisconsin Senate if the Democrats there ever decide to do the job for which they were elected and being paid by the taxpayers. The difference between how Republicans and Democrats are handling the situation is rather stark:

It’s also just as instructive for those who may not be up to speed on public sector unions to see how their members have been acting—occupying the capitol building [reminiscent of 1960s-style mayhem on university campuses], threatening legislators, and practically foaming at the mouth over the presence of Fox News reporters. I think they’ve forgotten one very important thing:

It’s about time the bosses realize they are being fleeced and take a stand. Congratulations to the Wisconsin House for showing courage under some of the most intense pressure imaginable. Now if the Senate gets its opportunity to vote, freedom from these bullying tactics may be achieved. Take note, Ohio and Indiana.

Definitely Not a New Tea Party

The protests in Wisconsin have spread to Ohio and are threatening to pop up in other midwestern states, but Wisconsin is still the most visible nationally. Republican governor Scott Walker continues to remain firm in his desire to bring costs under control, considering his state is looking at a budget shortfall of more than $3 billion. He ran on a platform of getting business up and running again. This is the first step.

On Saturday, for the first time, supporters showed up at the Capitol to encourage him. Keep in mind these are people who thought they should stay at their jobs during the week, unlike the protesters who have besieged the legislature prior to the weekend. Finally there were posters with a different slant:

If anyone tries to equate the current protests with the Tea Party movement, I would like to provide some enlightenment on the distinctions, starting with:

Goals

The Tea Party, while focused on economic issues, has an underpinning of resurrecting constitutionalism. The movement is not simply a protest against current policies, but a re-educational effort on the basics of good government. The driving force behind Tea Party concerns is that government has become too controlling, too large, and too out-of-bounds. The goal is to get it under control and provide more liberty for individuals.

The current Wisconsin protests are also focused on economics, but that focus is primarily self-centered. I hear no concerns raised about the good of the nation as a whole and the fact that we are going down the tubes financially. These protesters want “their” benefits, and they have transformed modest proposals into tyranny in their rhetoric. Gov. Walker is now a new Hitler because he wants to disallow collective bargaining on benefits packages for state employees. The proposal continues to allow the unions to bargain on wages, and all it is requiring is that these government workers do what the private sector workers have been doing all along—pay more toward their own pensions and healthcare costs.

Tactics

The Tea Party certainly holds rallies, but I’m unaware of any Tea Party function that invaded a state legislature and threatened the safety of the legislators and their families. The only intimidation Tea Partiers used was the threat of the ballot box. These new protesters have taken on the persona of thugs, which is to be expected given who is behind the protests [more on that in the next section].

The Tea Party also spends a lot of time on education of the electorate, making sure people grasp the essentials of constitutional limitations on government. These Wisconsin protesters simply demand what they believe belongs to them regardless of what they consider “out-of-date” concepts such as the rule of law. They had their chance in the last election; they lost. Now they are trying to overturn that election by brute force. That is thuggery at its worst.

Another major distinction between the two sides is that Tea Partiers didn’t leave their jobs to be part of the movement, whereas a significant number of the Wisconsin upstarts are teachers who walked away from their jobs to participate, even though it is unlawful that they do so without a legitimate illness or other major family event that might keep them from performing according to their contracts.

Well, that’s being handled readily. There are now confirmed reports that doctors [whether real of fake is uncertain in some instances] are busily writing notes at the protests for the participants, saying they [the doctors] have examined them [the protesters], and they are not at work due to illness. In other words, fraud on a massive scale is being perpetrated, and they don’t even bother to hide what they are doing.

This is inexcusable, and all teachers who are part of this fraud should be fired immediately.

And then there are the fourteen Democrat state senators who are Missing in Action. That’s part of the carefully coordinated plan as well, and they are just as irresponsible as the “sick” teachers. Does Wisconsin have a recall law? If so, now would be a great time to set it in motion.

Organization

The most fascinating aspect of the Tea Party movement is the spontaneity of it all. No one person or organization made this happen. It sprouted throughout the country as a grassroots response to what people saw happening in Washington, DC. Any union that has been formed through this has been voluntary in nature.

Regardless of what the propaganda about the current protests may say, there’s nothing spontaneous about them. They are union-organized and -sponsored. Furthermore, President Obama’s campaign group, Organizing for America, is deeply involved as well. Why might that be?

If union power is diluted, Obama’s reelection bid will be hurt significantly. He truly is “in the pocket” of the unions.

In my view, the entire Obama tenure has been an assault on the Constitution and the rule of law. What is happening right now in Wisconsin is merely an outgrowth of his philosophy. Republicans must be steadfast and face down this assault or the nation will suffer even more disastrous consequences.

Battles in the Ongoing War

The attempt to reverse our nation’s plunge into moral and fiscal insanity is on. This is a war [pardon my “violent” language] and there are many battles to be fought on multiple fronts. Republicans in Congress are doing their part. Governors such as Scott Walker in Wisconsin are as well.

Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed a number of welcome measures:

  • The Pence Amendment, defunding Planned Parenthood, passed 240-185.
  • The King Amendment, defunding Obamacare implementation, was approved 241-187 [three additional anti-Obamacare provisions also succeeded].
  • The Poe Amendment, blocking funding for EPA enforcement of greenhouse gas regulations, was even more popular, passing 249-177.

House Republicans are doing what they were elected to do. The problem, of course, is that these measures now go to the Democrat-controlled Senate. There is hope that some of them will survive, but they will undoubtedly die on the president’s desk.

Yet, as we are told in Scripture, we should not despise the day of small beginnings. It can lead to greater things.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin’s new Republican governor, Scott Walker, has virtually walked into a maelstrom. His state is a fiscal basketcase after years of Democrat control. He was elected to change things. He and his majority-Republican Senate were about to do that when the firestorm erupted. What was their crime? They concluded a couple of things: first, collective bargaining for public employees is not a good idea; second, those same employees, to help with the fiscal crisis, ought to contribute more to their pension plans and healthcare. Currently, they don’t give nearly as much to them as their counterparts in the private sector.

The response, particularly from teachers, who decided that protesting was more important than doing their jobs, has been disturbing. The protests are shrill, demanding, and even threatening. Law enforcement has had to work with the Republican legislators to protect them from the ire being directed at them. Some protesters are showing up at legislators’ homes and scaring family members. The signs some protesters are carrying also speak to their state of mind:

By the way, that’s supposed to be Gov. Walker. Cute, huh? Connecting any and all conservatives with Hitler has become standard operating procedure. And just to show that it wasn’t a lone loony, here’s another:

These are teachers. Any real questions about what they’re teaching the children of Wisconsin? Would you trust your children to their care and nurturing?

In case you might think these are simply spontaneous outbursts of patriotic rage, it’s also no real secret that the Democrat party is behind this well-orchestrated mob. Obama’s own group, Organizing for America, is in the thick of organizing this portion of America for their boss who, by the way, described the Republicans’ proposed actions as an “assault” on the unions.

Should public employees even have unions? A new poll says 64% of respondents don’t think so. Even 42% of Democrats don’t agree that this type of union should exist. That 42% is in step with Franklin Roosevelt, who stated categorically that government employees had no right to unionize. That’s pretty remarkable, considering that FDR’s biggest voting bloc was unions.

What of the Democrats in the Wisconsin legislature? Well, the fourteen Senate Democrats not only refused to show up for work [keep in mind who pays them to do so], they fled the state, hiding out at a resort in Rockford, Illinois. They did this because there are nineteen Republicans in the Senate and it takes twenty senators to pass a bill.

This is about as outrageous as it gets. All these “fugitives” should be removed from office for dereliction of duty. Their goal is simply to take the legislative process hostage and hope that the pressure of the protests will cause the Republicans to back down.

Thus far, the Republicans are holding firm, and a rally at the Wisconsin capital is scheduled for today to provide moral support for their cause. [Note: supporters of the Republican bill have to rally on weekends because they show up for work on weekdays.] In 1981, President Reagan fired more than 11,000 public-sector employees in one day when they refused to report for work—the air traffic controllers. He showed courage in doing so. That same brand of courage is required now to deal with those who neglect their jobs, be they teachers or legislators. The first can be handled by the state government; the second by the voters.

Making Matters Worse

It’s huge. It’s mind-boggling. It’s the Obama administration’s new budget proposal. A decidedly non-conservative source—the Associated Press—warned,

Not since World War II has the federal budget deficit made up such a big chunk of the U.S. economy. And within two or three years, economists fear the result could be sharply higher interest rates that would slow economic growth.

What led the AP to issue such a dramatic prognosis? The new Obama budget calls for a record deficit of $1.65 trillion this year. The AP continues,

That would be just under 11 percent of the $14 trillion economy—the largest proportion since 1945, when wartime spending swelled the deficit to 21.5 percent of U.S. gross domestic product.

The deficit is getting to the point where it’s virtually out of control:

Ah, but not to fear, we’re told there are spending cuts contained within:

Here’s another way to illustrate it:

Republicans have rejected the Obama budget outright, saying it’s not really dealing with the problem. Will they have a better approach? Will they have the stomach to do what’s necessary to get this under control, which includes entitlement reform? I remain hopeful. Even if they don’t do everything they should, it ought to be better than what the president has proposed:

Yet the Obama administration refuses to yield on the idea that massive spending is required to pull us out of the recession. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said yesterday that it would be a mistake to stop “investing” in the economy. Of course, “investing” has been given a brand new definition lately:

This is economic lunacy. Republicans now have to inject a sense of responsibility into the process. Both sides are talking about having an adult conversation on the economy. If this is what Obama calls an adult conversation, it appears the Republicans are going to have to talk to themselves.

The Economy & the Political Will

The budget battle looms. Debate over how to reinvigorate the economy is ongoing. At least now the Republicans have a voice in this debate and can have an effect on the budget. If they make their case well, they can frame it in a way most Americans will grasp. They actually have a lot going for them, considering the president’s track record:

In his State of the Union Address, Obama kept talking about “investing.” He repeated that theme when speaking to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce the other day. Some translation, though, is necessary when he uses certain terms:

If he continues to have his way, we’re going to have to revise the charts we use to gauge the deficit:

Or build larger rooms.

And who can forget the proverbial 800-pound gorilla in that room—the one nobody wishes to touch?

Unless we’re willing to tackle the entitlements, all the debate will be for nothing. Bold moves are necessary. Is there enough political will to make those moves?

Repealing Obamacare

Finally. Debate began yesterday in the House of Representatives over a bill that would repeal Obamacare. Republicans ran on this message for the November elections, so they are holding true to their promise. They are doing what their constituents required of them:

The monster has not yet been fully implemented, so now is a perfect time to kill it [oops, I ventured into dangerous dialogue territory—please, don’t anyone take that too seriously. Remember, Sarah Palin is to blame for everything, not me.]

Democrats are declaring that this would be a big mistake because repeal would raise the deficit, while keeping it would reduce the deficit. Proof? Why, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says so. Yes, as long as it is constrained to use the phony numbers given to it by Democrat leaders. There’s a principle at work here:

It is true, though, that Republicans are going to have to be in this struggle for the long haul. Repeal is not going to occur soon:

Harry Reid has already promised that if the House passes the repeal bill, he won’t allow it to come to a vote in the Senate. If only all the Senate seats had been up for that last election instead of just one-third. I do believe in the Founders’ provision to stagger the Senate elections for the sake of stability, but sometimes it would be nice to have wholesale “repeal” of most of these senators:

But at least one thing will change. In light of last week’s call for civility, we can be sure that a new tone will be set in these debates, right? Right?

Sometimes, a public repentance isn’t what it appears to be. We’ll see.

Return of the Constitution

I remember standing in the freezing rain outside the Capitol on inaugural day 2001, watching George W. Bush replace Bill Clinton as president. It’s hard to describe the relief that swept through the crowd once he took the oath of office. Eight years of one of the sleaziest episodes in American presidential history had mercifully come to an end.

I wasn’t present on Wednesday when the Republicans once again took control of the House of Representatives, but something similar to that 2001 feeling returned. At least one step had been taken to redeem the congressional follies of the past four years.

I’m not going to speculate what was going through John Boehner’s mind in this picture as he held the gavel, but for many of us, this political cartoon captures the emotion accurately:

New Speaker Boehner, once Nancy Pelosi finally yielded the floor to him, gave a sober, humble address about taking care of the nation’s business. While Boehner is not a charismatic speaker, he spoke words of truth. Aren’t we tired yet of charismatic speakers who spout little else but platitudes? Wednesday’s transfer of authority will hopefully give us more responsible leadership in the House:

Then yesterday, the new Republican leadership made its first order of business a reading of the Constitution on the House floor. Critics called it a publicity stunt, yet when all members were sworn in, what were they pledging to do? Uphold the Constitution. Why then is the reading of the document they pledge to follow and maintain a stunt? I fear that for some of those representatives, this was the first time they’ve heard some of these provisions.

Yes, I know it won’t change anyone’s mind about what is constitutional. Progressives will mouth the pledge and proceed to undermine the authority of the Constitution. But reading it publicly served a good purpose—it was a reminder to the entire nation that lawmakers are not supposed to flout its authority. The Republicans’ new rule that each piece of legislation must also include a specific constitutional authorization serves that same purpose. Some lawmakers will have to be very creative to provide their constitutional rationales for what they want. At the very least, it opens up a much-needed debate on original intent.

For many years, I have been a voice calling for a return to the governmental limitations found in the Constitution. Please forgive me if I feel a sense of elation at this turn of events. I realize that this is only a beginning, and that the representatives’ resolve will be tested, but I rejoice still to see this day. Will even better days arrive?