The Walker Roadmap

Mike Konczal has an excellent post up on the three-pronged approach Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is taking in his stealth budget. In fact, he’s charted the whole thing out:

walker_roadmap

The assault on unions is currently the most obvious and contested part of this plan (despite the health of the public pension system in Wisconsin), but others – like the no-bid contracts and privatization scheme – are now coming to light. The last, and perhaps most significant, is the attack on public services and particularly healthcare for the poor. Mike writes:

This is the most important thing that has gotten the least coverage. The administration of Medicaid would be moved away from the state legislation to be more directly under the control of the Governor’s office. People may be dropped right away and there could be extreme games of chicken with the Federal government over medicaid spending.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services is currently being run by Heritage Senior Fellow Dennis Smith, who has been making his right-wing think tanker bones arguing that states should drop out of Medicaid, the long-time dream of the extreme right. It is telling that “Smith wouldn’t discuss Medicaid provisions in the upcoming budget bill” even though it’s all he’s been writing about for years.

Specifically, one of the last things he wrote had this talking point: “Congress and the Administration have enacted a sweeping overhaul of one-sixth of the American economy, dramatically expanding the scope of federal power….When governors and state legislators realize that they have been reduced to mere agents of and tax collectors for the federal government, bipartisan opposition from the states will be inevitable.”

This power grab by the Governor will be the beachhead for slashing medicaid rolls to record lows and planning the conservative opposition against health care reform more broadly. The people who elected the Governor deserve more information about what his ultimate goals are.

Similar efforts to slash the Medicaid rolls are happening in Arizona, and across the country.

This is blatant overreach on the part of conservatives who are coming at state budgets with all the drunken gusto of Tea Party fever. Walker wants to make any tax increase subject to a 2/3 majority in the legislature. And if you’re not willing to consider tax hikes to help balance the budget you’re just not serious about deficits, period. It’s just not possible to cut your way to a balanced budget while simultaneously slashing taxes for businesses and the wealthy. The myth that low taxes will lead to business investment and job creation is just that – a myth. These myths have wormed their way into the conservative psyche, just like the myth that lower taxes will generate higher revenue.

Furthermore, it’s important to note that all these austerity measures and privatization schemes and slashing of state budgets are completely wrong-headed to begin with. A recession is simply not the right time to make deep cuts (and yes, I realize states can’t borrow money but they do have the ability to raise tax revenue). Austerity measures in Germany – once touted by conservatives as a model for economic recovery – have led to a slowdown in the German economy.

The only silver lining is that I think this overreach will lead to a backlash. Most Americans side with the unions in the Wisconsin fight. And I imagine even more would be up in arms about the no-bid contracts. Top that with severe cutbacks in Medicaid coverage, and you’ve done what the Democrats couldn’t do in 2010: mobilize the Democratic base.

(cross-posted)

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82 replies
  1. 1
    Captain Haddock says:

    I can understand how tea-party voters would be excited about all the union bashing, but how does one accept the no-bid contracts? I am beginning to really believe these peoples’ votes are based on grudges they have against liberal relatives (e.g. my sister in law).

  2. 2
    Ija says:

    Would the 2/3 majority for passing tax increase law requires 2/3 majority to repeal?

  3. 3
    Napoleon says:

    @Ija:

    That law is just flat out unenforceable/illegal. Remember that California is different since it is a change to the constitution. 50% plus 1 in a legislative body can not suddenly make a rule that says it takes 66.7% to pass something.

  4. 4
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Captain Haddock:

    I think they accept the no-bid contracts by deciding that government is useless and doesn’t do anything anyway, so there’s no problem with letting private companies milk it for all the cash they can manage. Plus it keeps government money out of the hands of Those People, which is always good, even if it means cuts in the services they themselves use.

    Crabs in a bucket.

  5. 5
    Joel says:

    @Captain Haddock: It is, of course, pure tribalism. We’re talking about the American Basij here.

  6. 6
    NonyNony says:

    @Captain Haddock:

    I can understand how tea-party voters would be excited about all the union bashing, but how does one accept the no-bid contracts?

    They’re excited about the union bashing and will bitch about the corruption in the government. But of course “Democrats are worse” and so they convince themselves that the corruption they see in Republican administrations is tiny compared to the giveaways that Democratic politicians give to minorities and other groups. (Facts don’t get in the way of a good bit of resentment).

    I am beginning to really believe these peoples’ votes are based on grudges they have against liberal relatives

    Sometimes, but it’s usually just the politics of resentment. In general most people have moderately crummy lives in the US – not terrible, especially when compared to the rest of the world, but you work a job you hate day in and day out to make ends meet, to save enough money to retire, and to send your kids off to college. Anything that you start to perceive as something that makes your life harder becomes something you resent – like taxes. It doesn’t matter that in the aggregate your taxes return more than you spend, or that if everyone in your state paid a higher tax rate you could spend less on your kids in-state college tuition – what matters is that every month you see money flow out of your paycheck that should be going to your retirement, or your kids college, or a new plasma TV and you resent it. And you resent the people who are making your life harder.

    The flip side is that if you perceive someone as having an easier time in life you resent them too. Especially if their easier time is coming at what you perceive to be your expense – someone in a lower income bracket gets their kids’ daycare covered by the state while you’re shelling out full price? That’s not “fair” – it’s the “Lucky Ducky” phenomenon that Tom Tomorrow lampoons in his comic strips, but it’s real (and why “means testing” for social programs is ALWAYS a bad idea – provide them across the board and everyone feels like they need to support them. Target them at the poor and the politics of resentment kicks in.)

    Conservatives have gotten very, very good over the years at using the politics of resentment. They cut their teeth with it during the Civil Rights days and they’ve refined their ground game with it every year since. They’re also very good at undermining attempts by the other side to do the same thing (every cry of “class warfare” whenever the wealth disparities are brought up is an attempt to nip the politics of resentment in the bud before people realize they could be resenting the guys up the economic ladder instead of the ones below them).

  7. 7
    Bob says:

    Walker has failed at this privatization stuff before.

    http://www.examiner.com/cultur.....on-busting

  8. 8
    Stillwater says:

    This is the new face of the old class war. The linked chart shows that Walker is promoting a very ideologically narrow economic plan here. One part is that the executive branch is given unilateral authority to act in the public interest, thereby neutering state legislature’s power to shape important polciy. Another is that all the proposed policy changes undermine wages protections, compensation packages, and the social safety net, while taxes on the wealthy are unsurprisingly off the table.

    In short, it’s a recipe for the income of the top earners to be insulated from the taxing whims of the electorate, while the lower 90% see their relative share of income decrease, their benefits packages shrink, the social safety net dismantled. With the added bonus of legalizing corruption and crony capitalism at the taxpayers expense.

  9. 9
    MCA says:

    @Captain Haddock – I think that’s along the right lines. The fuel of the Tea Party Movement is Resentment. They’re the culmination of 45 years of the Republican Party’s (incredibly successful) efforts to turn the lower than top 2% economic classes against one another in order to keep the focus off the fact they’re collectively all losing. Big time. They’ve successfully programmed a large percentage of the population to think that their liberal relatives are in fact the source of all our problems, and to not be shy about lashing out about it. It’s a source of constant wonderment to me that, in the midst of the worst financial crisis this country has seen in a century, and the biggest recession since the Depression, the Right managed to avoid even the slightest populist/class-based outrage. Instead, they managed to get fully 25% of the population to rail about immigrants and the size of the federal government, and to believe that tax increases on corporations and the wealthy were evil and disastrous. This episode in Wisconsin has lifted the veil a little bit, but I don’t have much hope it changes anything longterm. The existence of low information voters and a media allergic to telling it like it is aren’t going anywhere.

    Anyway, they’ll get behind no-bid contracts because they’ll be told that a public bidding process = unacceptable layers of bureaucratic meddling in business, and that the goal is to rid the state of its assets in as streamlined a way as possible so as to shrink government and put those assets in the hands of people who know how to make them profitable. Resistance to this idea will be declared a communist wish to have government own the levers of commerce.

  10. 10
    E.D. Kain says:

    @Stillwater: yeah pretty much.

  11. 11
    Scott says:

    @NonyNony:

    “Lucky Ducky” phenomenon that Tom Tomorrow lampoons in his comic strips

    Minor point, but that’s Ruben Bolling’s “Tom the Dancing Bug” strip.

  12. 12
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    EDK,

    Nice post regarding the multi-dimensional nastiness and overreach making up this package.

    As long as we are looking at structural diagrams, you might want to take a look at Dani Rodrik’s impossibility diagram regarding globalization, national sovereignty and democracy, and a more detailed unpacking of the implications of Rodrik’s idea in an article about Greece and the EU circa 2010 over at Naked Capitalism. While the latter article is focused on the EU, similarities with the struggle to destroy organized labor and its political allies here in the US are not hard to find.

  13. 13
    MattF says:

    I’m normally vehemently opposed to ‘worse is better’ types of political tactics… But, y’know, the people of Wisconsin voted Walker into office and they voted for big Republican majorities in the state legislature, so worse is just going to happen here without regard to my personal tactical preferences. So, if that turns out to be better for Democrats in the long run… well, good.

  14. 14
    Mike in NC says:

    The myth that low taxes will lead to business investment and job creation is just that – a myth.

    This is conservative bedrock. Challenging it is like telling an evangelical Christian that God is dead.

  15. 15
    gene108 says:

    @NonyNony:

    They’re excited about the union bashing and will bitch about the corruption in the government. But of course “Democrats are worse” and so they convince themselves that the corruption they see in Republican administrations is tiny compared to the giveaways that Democratic politicians give to minorities and other groups. (Facts don’t get in the way of a good bit of resentment).

    Private firm > than government entity.

    It doesn’t matter what the facts say. It doesn’t matter how much money gets wasted by a private firm. A private firm will always be better and more efficient than the government. Period.

    That’s why right-wingers are O.K. with no bid contracts.

  16. 16
    Bob says:

    “There’s class warfare, all right,” Mr. Buffett said, “but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11.....038;st=cse

  17. 17
    eemom says:

    ummm……..where is she?

  18. 18
    Boots Day says:

    What’s going to kill off the Tea Party movement for good is having them actually govern for a while. The Teabaggers are sort of a caricature of the Republican Party, and while Republicans tend to be indifferent at best when it comes to governing, the Tea Partiers are downright malicious.

    I wonder what Scott Walker is going to do once his lone term as Wisconsin governor is up.

  19. 19
    jurassicpork says:

    Just a partial laundry list of Republican lunacy. We used to hear shit like this from militia groups, Tea Baggers and other brain-damaged, wouldbe, right wing terrorists. Now it’s mainstream.

  20. 20
    PaulW says:

    Like the history of no-bid contracting has gone over well.

    No one remembers or cares to remember how we had no-contract bids going into the Iraq War? And how it all turned into a money pit because the corporations double-billed AND had soldiers pay fees for services already contracted? There’s BILLIONS of dollars unaccounted for in that war, and that cronyism and lack of government oversight led to shoddy services (if any) and poor reconstruction efforts.

    I hear no-contract bid, I immediately think “bribery and embezzlement.” It’s a shame no Teabagger (so-called fiscal hawks) does.

  21. 21
    Violet says:

    @Stillwater:

    In short, it’s a recipe for the income of the top earners to be insulated from the taxing whims of the electorate, while the lower 90% see their relative share of income decrease, their benefits packages shrink, the social safety net dismantled. With the added bonus of legalizing corruption and crony capitalism at the taxpayers expense.

    That works out pretty well until something like the French Revolution happens. The top 2% are just stupid if they don’t realize that keeping the majority of people, who obviously earn much, much less than they do, happy is key to their own stability. When the rabble gets angry, all the fences and walls in the world won’t protect them.

  22. 22
    NonyNony says:

    @Scott:

    Gah – you’re right. I got my indie newspaper political comix creators confused!

    @gene108:

    I object. That’s why right-wingers are okay with bidding contracts out by the government. That’s why right-wingers are okay with outsourcing government functions to private entities.

    But specifically “no-bid” contracts? Their slavish devotion to private companies can’t explain why a process that would be a red flag to most any private company’s shareholders, and would cause a hue-and-cry from right-wingers if a Democratic government did it, would be perfectly okay when a Republican government does it. They’re perfectly willing to use no-bid contracts to hammer Democrats as examples of corruption and kick-backs after all.

    I just think that most of them assume that government will be corrupt no matter who is in charge, and that “Democrats are worse” than Republicans. So if some corruption comes with a Republican government, at least the unions will get busted up and it will make some Democrats mad.

  23. 23
    E.D. Kain says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ: thanks i’ll go check it out.

  24. 24

    YES this is exactly why yesterday I highlighted that part of the prank call where Walker gloats about how the governors of Ohio, Florida and Michigan are on board — and I noticed that Konczal linked to that as well.

    This is, as I’ve said a thousand gazillion times, a coordinated effort. We’ve all talked about this piecemeal — this is the kind of shit they cook up at those invitation-only Koch Industries meetings like the one they just had in Palm Springs. And at ALEC annual meetings, like the one coming in 2011 in New Orleans.

    People need to wake the hell up because this is extremist stuff and it’s well-funded and coordinated and it’s been put into action across the country and when it hits the federal level we’re all screwed.

  25. 25
    Violet says:

    @Southern Beale:
    Why can’t someone infiltrate one of those Koch meetings? Pose as a caterer or busboy or something? There has to be a way.

  26. 26
    Waldo says:

    Just a thought about “the myth that low taxes will lead to business investment and job creation…”

    What makes it a myth is that some people — in this case, the teatards and other true believers — have completely swallowed it. When it comes to the folks who know better but continue to push the idea because they stand to gain personally, we ought to call it what it is: a lie.

  27. 27
    Pangloss says:

    I just heard a Crossroads GPS spot on WBBM radio praising freshman Republican Rep. Bob Dold for voting against the Obama-Pelosi spending agenda.

    First of all, it’s fricken February 2011, more than 20 months until the 2012 election.

    Second, Pelosi has almost no power as the minority leader, yet she’s still being used as a boogeyman.

    Third, the bill Dold voted for included a complete cutoff of Planned Parenthood funding (among other things), which will lead to more cancers, more unplanned pregnancies, more deaths, and

    Scott Walker’s election and his actions in Wisconsin– and this commercial I heard today— are the manifestations of the Citizens United decision in the Supreme Court. The right wing has the funding and the willingness to create as many boogeymen as they need, whether it’s unions, Nancy Pelosi, Planned Parenthood, ACORN, Fannie Mae, etc. The announcement of the 5-4 Citizens United decision on January 21, 2010 was for all intents and purposes the final blow to our democracy.

  28. 28
    maya says:

    But where’s the 4th prong where Walker plans to start growing bananas in Wisconcin?

  29. 29
    Violet says:

    @Pangloss:

    The announcement of the 5-4 Citizens United decision on January 21, 2010 was for all intents and purposes the final blow to our democracy.

    So what do you suggest? Just giving up?

  30. 30
    Davis X. Machina says:

    No-bid contracting is a revolutionary act. You’re just expropriating the expropriators (the state) for the service of the people (defined as people-with-shitloads-of-money).

    Government is the kulaks.

    The GOP is the last Leninist parliamentary party in the developed world.

    These are the people who told me in 2000 that Bush was fitter for the presidency than Gore because Bush had the balls to steal it, and Gore didn’t, and you need that toughness in the President. The more closely the bidding process — or lack of it approximates outright theft, the better it is in their eyes.

  31. 31
    Pangloss says:

    @Violet: Koch Industries has all their busboys and caterers ground into a paste that is the principle ingredient in the fine products sold by Koch Fertilizer, LLC.

  32. 32
    debbie says:

    Wouldn’t Walker be happier if he just bought himself an island and made himself king?

  33. 33
    Shrillhouse says:

    These myths lies have wormed their way into the conservative psyche, been propagated by conservatives for years now.

    Fixed.

  34. 34
    Pangloss says:

    @Violet: Identifying the problem for the public and taking corrective legislative action, such as the Disclose Act.

    If that doesn’t work, I have a passport and am studying Portuguese. Did you know that they have a different word for “Thank You” depending on whether it’s being said by a man or a woman?

  35. 35
    StevenDS says:

    E.D.-

    You are on a real roll here with reasonable, intelligent posts. However, you sound like a mainstream somewhat liberal blogger.

    Honest question- if you hadn’t begun writing at B.J., do you think your perspective on the issues would be the same as it is now?

    The only reason I say this is because these recent posts seem different from what you were writing about a year ago.

  36. 36
    cleek says:

    bidding on contracts is anti-liberty

  37. 37
    Violet says:

    @Pangloss:
    Yes, I am aware of that. Are you thinking of moving to Brazil or Portugal? Brazilian Portuguese is distinctly different from Portugal’s.

  38. 38
    13th Generation says:

    @EDK

    I hereby apologize and take back all the rude, knee jerk comments I made about you in the past. Welcome to the reality based community.

    I hope others (like M_C) will make the same apologies.

  39. 39
    Pangloss says:

    @Violet: My father was from Brazil, and I visited there with him several times.

  40. 40
    p.a. says:

    @StevenDS: He’s changed focus so much, if his next post is about a stuffy nose, a fractured finger and how he is taking a break from posting for a week- after which he posts multiple times daily throughout the sabbatical week- I’d think JC did away with the real ED and was covering by false-posting.

  41. 41
    Paul in KY says:

    @Captain Haddock: I think that holds in 75% of the time.

  42. 42
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @debbie:

    Wouldn’t Walker be happier if he just bought himself an island and made himself king?

    Remember the old joke about how a Purtian is somebody who is haunted by the fear that somewhere somebody is having fun?

    In this case we are dealing with economic Puritans; folks who are haunted by the fear that somewhere somebody is getting something they havene’t earned through the sweat of their brow and don’t deserve.

    More specifically, they are economic Calvinists. They believe in economic Predestination and that they are members of the elect, and everybody else is a productivity sinner who deserves to go to econ-Hell. Once you understand this theology, it becomes clear that Galt’s Gulch is a Left Behind story for economic Calvinists, and Ayn Rand is their Tim LeHaye.

  43. 43
    Davis X. Machina says:

    Voter ID laws represent a fourth prong.

    Turnout suppression always benefits the GOP.

  44. 44
    Paul in KY says:

    @maya: I was thinking of where he steals underpants and then….Profit!!!

  45. 45
    Violet says:

    @Pangloss:
    That’s great. You should have an easier time if you want to move there. Brazil is a really interesting country. Their government seems to be focusing a lot more on making sure the poor people have more and get more rather than just taking it all away like we’re doing here. It’s still got problems of course, but there has been a big change in the last decade. Brazil loaned money to the IMF, for crying out loud. That’s a huge shift.

  46. 46
    Pangloss says:

    Most Americans side with the unions in the Wisconsin fight.

    Are you refering to the recent USA TODAY/Gallup Poll that found 61% would oppose a law in their state similar to the Wisconsin proposal, compared with 33% who would favor it?

  47. 47
    jman says:

    Bless me Father for I have sinned, it has been 16 years since I voted for a Republican. This is what turned me around the corner, discovering Newt Gingrich and his a-hole Republicans didn’t give a crap about the USA or the people in it.

    With the highest unemployment and lowest labor participation since the Great Depression, here we are stuck in the Republican agenda, trying to forestall austerity measures which include increasing Corporate tax cuts, cutting social welfare programs, increasing unemployment using layoffs from public service jobs and busting the unions that lean towards the Democratic party.

    What the hell is this? Why isn’t Democratic leadership fighting back and talking about unemployment running out for thousands of long term unemployed every week? What happened to the Jobs issue? Instead of talking about ways to increase jobs, we are talking about increasing furloughs and layoffs.

    Why are we talking about how broke we are when long term interest on treasuries are at historic lows? I can’t even get close to a percent on my long term Certificates of Deposit or Money Markets.

    I thought Obama was looking forward to the debate over tax policy and budget. What debate? Are we waiting for a double dip recession? What the hell?

    It is like Keven Drum says about the Democratic party not caring about what the middle class thinks. That give-a-crap attitude is sure to fire up the base.

    FerChristsakes, is this rocket surgery or what?

  48. 48
    BobS says:

    Your diagram looks like the structural adjustment programs that the US (and it’s economic ‘hitmen’ in the IMF) have imposed on much of the rest of the world (particularly Latin America, labeled “Empire’s Workshop” by historian Greg Grandin) for the past 4 decades.

  49. 49
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    . Most Americans side with the unions in the Wisconsin fight.

    Oh, dear. This is going to be the hardest part of being a liberal, Kain. We always have majority polling and we always lose.

  50. 50
    El Cid says:

    When discussing the horrors of deficits and debts in today’s political environment, you have to remember that there is no such thing as revenue.

    Government budgets do not have to follow the ordinary bookkeeping notion that deficits happen when less money is taken in than is spent.

    Deficits are entirely caused by spending, and only spending on social programs which conservatives hate.

    A long time ago, crazy people thought that a government could provide lots of programs to do things if there were taxes to pay for them.

    Now we know that taxes are entirely a punishment forced on citizens, and the punishment is greatest for those making the most money, because the more you make, it hurts even more for every dollar stolen from you.

    We need to move past old thinking and get to a stage when governments collect no taxes, but people voluntarily fund programs such as prisons, and free property and benefits to lure businesses, and such.

    Now though we are still having to deal with extremists who keep asking about “revenue”, when there is no such thing.

  51. 51
    kdaug says:

    @Boots Day:

    I wonder what Scott Walker is going to do once his lone term as Wisconsin governor is up.

    He’ll be getting to know the other inmates. Up close and personal.

  52. 52
    Paul in KY says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead: Man, don’t be harshing his buzz right now. I thought we’d let him in on some of the downsides of Liberalism after 6 months or so.

  53. 53
    Poopyman says:

    @jman:

    What the hell is this? Why isn’t Democratic leadership fighting back and talking about unemployment running out for thousands of long term unemployed every week? What happened to the Jobs issue? Instead of talking about ways to increase jobs, we are talking about increasing furloughs and layoffs.

    On the off chance that these aren’t rhetorical questions, I’ll just point out that “Democratic leadership” appears to be just as bought off as the Republicans. Ergo, we’re going to have to reconstitute “Democratic leadership” or some other liberal power base from the ground up.

    But not to fear! Leaders have historically emerged from events and movements like those being birthed now in the rust belt. It’ll take some time, and I hope we have the time, but I think the pendulum is starting to swing the other way, and we’ll see the older corrupted power base moved (not swept) out of the way.

  54. 54
    jman says:

    I support Democrats because they at least offer some resistance to Republicans but they aren’t offering enough resistance anymore. I hate to disturb this post partisan nirvana Obama is living in but I’m getting tired of waiting and hoping for the Democrats to step up. Oh, wait, there is that prostitution issue in Nevada.

  55. 55

    @Poopyman:
    It would seem, from this distance, that the lesson learned by Democrats in ’94 was that even more buttlicking of the plutocrats is what is called for in the face of losses.

    Ask Rahm.

    You propose an electorate that understands what is happening to it and why it is – hmmm.

  56. 56
    p.a. says:

    @kdaug: Puh-Leez. Senior Fellow at Heritage Institute

  57. 57
    Poopyman says:

    @Chuck Butcher: For the first time people are seeing that there’s a direct link to their paycheck, and for the first (?) time the MSM is pointing out that link. It took them a while — totally the result of the WI Senate Dems buying time — but the common wisdom is coming around against the Rep governors’ evil plans.

    It definitely needs to continue and not be derailed by some bright shiny object. A fragile hope, but right now it’s all I’ve got. Got anything better?

  58. 58

    @Poopyman:
    Than hope?

    nope

    wish in one hand …

  59. 59
    Arclite says:

    Serious questions:

    1. Why don’t conservatives care about the poor? Why kill/restrict/defund medicaid? I thought care for the poor was a key conservative ideal, even if not exclusively theirs.

    2. Why no-bid contracts? I thought conservatives were all about the free market and open competition.

    3. Why no oversight? I thought in theory conservatives hated corruption, even if they had difficulty following that rule in practice.

    I’m really trying to figure out what’s going on here. Is it just that Walker isn’t a true conservative and is trying to consolidate his power?

  60. 60
    agrippa says:

    Blatant overreach?
    Perhaps. We shall see.

    It will take a lot of power to stop them.

  61. 61

    @Arclite:
    He’s a straight up tool of plutocracy, he just dresses up as a conservative.

    or – WTF does “conservative” actually mean today?

  62. 62
    rikryah says:

    you all continue to break it down. thank you for just bringing the truth about this clown and his ilk

  63. 63
    Calouste says:

    @Arclite:

    You have the wrong assumption that these people are conservatives. They might call themselves that, but they really are reactionairies. They not just want to slow down change, they actually want to turn it back.

  64. 64
    Aaron says:

    @Chuck Butcher:

    Being a conservative means never having to say you’re sorry . . . or that you’re wrong.

  65. 65

    @Aaron:
    I realize that we’re stuck with the term but the umbrella it provides is pretty strange.

    That said, I have some idea what people mean when they say liberal or progressive, but I call myself left which 50 years ago would have been silly.

  66. 66
    woody says:

    If this has been mentioned already, then sue me:
    Who says it’s “conservative over-reach?”
    Especially the “over-reach” part.
    I’m not aware of up-wellings of public support and endorsement of the Wisconsin state workers. Or?
    I’m not at ALL certain the Right cannot/will not actually succeed at this and similar stratagems in other places, in at least some particulars.
    Anything we lose to these sumbitches, you gotta reckon, is gone for good. Think “the fairness doctrine,’ and/or Glass-Steagal…

  67. 67
    Aaron says:

    @Chuck Butcher:

    Yeah, I was originally going to try to summarize the “Conservative” position and then realized it is completely futile. It is basically a catch-all term and the only similarity between all of its components is their dislike of anything that is left of center-right.

    Related to this, and your comments on the left – I find it incredibly odd that to many conservatives there is no different between Bill Clinton and Noam Chomsky. It just boggles the mind . . .

  68. 68
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Calouste:

    They might call themselves that, but they really are reactionairies. They not just want to slow down change, they actually want to turn it back.

    Seems to me that Movement Conservatism today is a very odd (but effective) alliance of classic plutocratic reactionaries and radical utopian social engineers. The latter want to take us not so much backward but rather to a society which never existed. Somehow these two groups manage to combine strengths and cover for each other’s weaknesses. The Plutocrats bring money and institutional influence to the table, which is crucial in the media and also in co-opting the political opposition (e.g. Blue Dog Dems). The radical uptopians contribute zeal, populist influence, and they are the ground game come election time. The Plutocrats use their influence over the media to prevent the radicals from being exposed as such, and the lower socio-economic status of the radicals is used as a fig-leaf to conceal the oligarchic nature of their allies and money men. This works well because politically disengaged voters aren’t interested in looking behind the curtain to see what is going on.

    We need to do to this coalition what the right did to the New Deal coaltion; find the wedge issues which split them and hammer at them for decades in a single minded and unrelenting fashion. Problem is, liberals aren’t good at that. We tend to suffer from political ADHD.

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    Paul in KY says:

    @Aaron: That’s why I prefer to use ‘Right Wing’ or ‘Republican’ rather than conservative. There’s nothing ‘conservative’ about these jerks (except trying to conserve all their money & power).

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    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

    We tend to suffer from political ADHD.

    That is a pretty polite description

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    Aaron says:

    @Paul in KY:

    I find myself in a constant struggle on this point. On the one hand, much of what passes for contemporary conservative thought it pretty insane. On the other hand, I think many of the followers of the conservative moment have a valid set of complaints against the way things are – the problem is who they blame for them.

    I am thinking here of something like “What’s the Matter with Kansas” but on a national level. Everyone can see that there are problems – some people chose to blame those with no power (conservatives) and some chose to blame those with all the power (liberals?)

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    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Aaron:

    I think there is a more subtle divide working as well. A lot of the folks I know who lean right without to the extent of being Movement Conservatives are what I call “No Hope’rs”. Their view is that our society is corrupt, they are screwed, etc., etc., but what are you going to do about it? The fix is in, there is no hope, nothing that we attempt to do via our democracy is going to make much of a dent on this sad state of affairs. If that is the case, then one might as well either tune out politics altogether as just a bunch of bad news that drags you down, so why bother, or if they stay politically engaged they become Spite Voters; pick a group of people who you don’t like because they aren’t like you, and vote against them, just for spite.

    So some of this “What’s the matter with Kansas” type of analysis goes wrong (I think) in assuming that voters perceive themselves as having any economic interest left, at least any which is capable of being defended. If they’ve given up all hope of that and view anybody who tries to tell them otherwise as a self-serving and opportunistic bullshit salesman and peddler of false hopes, and if you are that cynical few things are going to piss you off more than that.

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    catpal says:

    @MattF: but the pain to be endured until Dems are in power again (if ever) is going to be horrific.

    Wisc voter turnout dropped from 72% in 2008 to 51% in 2010.

    I cannot find stats per party turnout, but I know in PA too many Dems did Not Vote in 2010. I went door to door and many Dems said “why bother, nothing changed.” They still lost their jobs, they didn’t think Dems and Obama fought hard enough for them.

    It was sad to hear these comments, and now this is what happens when you cannot motivate Dems to Vote.

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    Paul in KY says:

    @Aaron: (and ThatLeftTurnInABQ), good points both of y’all. I think it is also some deluded ‘well, I plan on being rich someday, after I win the lottery or that Nigerian grant comes in, and I don’t want the damned government taking away my hard earned money’.

    Also, the gullible seem to think every rich person is a Horatio Alger story.

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    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Paul in KY:

    I think it is also some deluded ‘well, I plan on being rich someday

    That is quite possible. I just don’t know anybody personally who is stuck in the so-called “Middle Class” and thinks that some day they too may be rich. I haven’t come across anyone who is that delusional about the chances of them picking that metaphorical winning lottery ticket. Much more common is the attitude that we’ve fallen down a deep, deep well and there is no Lassie and nobody is coming to rescue us, so the only options are catatonia or cannibalism, take your pick.

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    Damn, if you look at the election of RMN you should get some idea of what has happened over the course of decades. That wedge has never been removed, somehow the 60s continue to haunt politics. The social progress/economic wedge got firmly implanted in this nation’s posterior.

    The defections to St Ronnie just continued that mess and got the media its talking points. What Democrats seemed to learn is the DLC model. That’s not exactly a road map to something other than where we are today.

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    Paul in KY says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ: There’s probably more in your demographic than mine. We just have a high quality of stupid here in KY.

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    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:
    There is a lack of awareness among a huge group that, morality aside, if you drive enough of your fellows down you will follow them. You can call it a race to the bottom, but that idea includes the concept that all participants know there is a race going on.

    The “we’re getting somewhere” folks should ask themselves this question, “Do you see more union shops in the future?” The percentage of union membership of workers is important in this equation.

    Are politicians going to start talking to people about plutocracy? I know perfectly good and well that the term is poison – smacking of soshuliztic commmie rhetoric. Matters not that it is accurate.

    How many liberals are going to jump on the badwagon of “excessive” reforms/actions that would actually address the situation rather than gloss it over?

    I did not say Democrats = GOP, but I do say that in regard to actually doing anything to correct it they’re pointless in operation despite the ones that could be. I also understand about getting elected, so?

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    Triassic Sands says:

    The only silver lining is that I think this overreach will lead to a backlash.

    But the key is to find a way to move Americans from being willing to passively offer answers to pollsters to becoming activists willing to do things that make a difference. Sure Americans are willing to tell a pollster that they favor collective bargaining rights for unions, but are they willing to do anything — anything — that would ensure those rights?

    The Republicans clearly have leaders willing to draw lines in the sand and refuse to budge. Because their ideas range from nonsensical to dangerous these leaders, among whom Walker is a prime example, offer nothing positive for the the majority of Americans.

    But where are the Democratic leaders?

    @Aaron:

    On the other hand, I think many of the followers of the conservative moment have a valid set of complaints against the way things are…

    And what are their complaints? That taxes are too high? That the safety net is too generous? That businesses are crippled by regulations?

    It seems to me that today’s conservatives have built up a phony set of complaints that fly in the face of reality into an agenda that calls for policies that have already been tried and failed — for everyone but the rich. That seems to be the substance of conservatives’ economic complaints. I’m saddened if you think they are legitimate.

    On the social side, conservative complaints arise out of their desire to have a Christian theocracy, where laws are rooted in the Bible and the government, largely absent in the economy, plays a huge role in telling people what they can and can’t do. Abortion must be illegal, birth control too. Students must be taught creationism, after praying to their Christian God. Women must accept the second-class citizenship that the Bible allows them, and men must dominate. Again, if you think those complaints are valid, then I’m both mystified and saddened.

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    AhabTRuler says:

    Chart@top: Yes, that’s how neoliberalism works (cf. The Shock Doctrine)

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    Aaron says:

    @Triassic Sands:

    The set of complaints I was referring to was more of a practical sense: they see lower wages, shrinking benefits, more expensive health care, high deficits, wars without end, no social safety net (for them), etc. They are seeing actual problems, and the problems they are seeing are generally accurate.

    The problem is not the problems they see – it is that they almost universally attribute the causes of these problems to those without the power to disagree. The problems are all the fault of the gays, immigrants, minorities, feminists, union members, etc.

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    Stillwater says:

    @Southern Beale:

    People need to wake the hell up because this is extremist stuff and it’s well-funded and coordinated and it’s been put into action across the country and when it hits the federal level we’re all screwed.

    This needs to be repeated to everyone GETS IT.

    People need to wake the hell up because this is extremist stuff and it’s well-funded and coordinated and it’s been put into action across the country and when it hits the federal level we’re all screwed.

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