On Saturday, April 30, the fight for collective bargaining will bring a different type of activist to Madison's Capitol Square. As many as 10,000 motorcyclists from around Wisconsin and across the Midwest will ride in support of Wisconsin workers at the "Thunda Around the Rotunda" event.
Union supporters celebrated and right-wingers raged when the Associated Press reported on April 15 that Governor Scott Walker admitted Wisconsin saves no money by "weakening government workers' collective bargaining rights." When responding to a question from Rep. Dennis Kucinich during congressional testimony, did Walker really admit the union-busting bill costs no money? And will implementing the annual recertification requirement actually cost Wisconsin taxpayers?
The Institute for One Wisconsin, a non-partisan organization, released a report (pdf) last week that says that "despite claims from Governor Scott Walker, Wisconsin is not 'broke.'" Their research found that the state's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has risen in the past twenty years, and though the state is overall quite wealthy, the bulk of that wealth has shifted to the richest people of the state, while Wisconsin's tax structure "is built around the middle class."
How does this shift in wealth make the state look as though it was broke? One Wisconsin stated that "this discrepancy has led to tax revenues failing to keep pace with Wisconsin's GDP, an over tax-burdened middle class, and budget shortfalls, instead of surpluses." While tax cuts for the wealthiest of the country and state have been extended, the tax burden has now been handed over to the middle class of the state, creating a disparity in people's falling incomes and rising taxes in the middle class.
At a rally held in front of Chase Bank on Capitol Square in Madison, Wisconsin today, a few dozen people gathered to air their grievances against Chase and other U.S. corporations who will pay no taxes for 2010. Jeff Kravat of MoveOn hosted the rally along with Gene Lundergan, who gathered a group of four or five people to present a tax bill of almost $2 billion to the branch bank manager. This bill, for $1.988 billion, was drawn up using Chase's 2010 10-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and a December 2008 U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report (pdf). When Lundergan, Steve Hughes of Young Progressives and several others approached the front entrance of the bank, they were refused admission by the security guard, so they left the bill propped in the front window.
Tax Day was approaching and the righties were out to denigrate government workers and government spending. Sarah Palin, former Governor of Alaska who quit her job in 2009, headlined a rally in Madison, Wisconsin, bought and paid for by the front-group Americans for Prosperity (AFP), but billed as a "grassroots" Tea Party event.
MADISON -- Sarah Palin graced Wisconsin with her maverickness on a cold, wet Saturday where counter-protesters outnumbered Tea Party supporters. Wisconsin Wave held an early rally on the opposite side of the capitol, giving progressives a platform for the day but ending in time for attendees to march in opposition to Palin's speech.
The wet snow and tense atmosphere did not deter thousands of people from coming to the capitol for Americans for Prosperity's Tax Day Rally. The major draw was former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who was announced as a speaker days before the event on Saturday. Crowd estimates vary from hundreds to thousands, but the majority of people were there to protest -- not applaud -- Palin. One local reporter paced-off the area where the majority of AFP protesters clustered and said it totaled 20 by 35 feet.
The ex-girlfriend of Wisconsin & Southern Railroad CEO William Gardner is speaking out about her decision to tell authorities about his illegal campaign activities and their apparent pay-for-play relationship.
On April 14 the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, chaired by Darrell Issa (R-California), held a hearing on state and municipal debt where the key question was State Budget Cuts: Choice or Necessity?
Chairman Issa started off by framing the issue in a manner that was thrilling to Wall Street barons and corporate big wigs. He said that states will face a shortfall of $112 billion in 2012 and the reasons for this were "obvious." The primary reasons, according to Issa, are reckless spending and unfunded or underfunded pension funds. The 2008 Wall Street financial crisis and the staggering job loss, which caused state and federal tax revenues to tank, were not mentioned.
And so it went. Flying in the face of fact and reason, Republicans insisted that states spend too much and that the best way to attack the state deficit problem is on the back of unionized workers, their only organized opposition in the electoral arena.