Update 2/27/2011: POLICE:State Capitol of Wisconsin: ‘We have been ordered by the legislature to kick you all out at 4:00 today. But we know what’s right from wrong. We will not be kicking anyone out, in fact, we will be sleeping here with you! (understory.ran.org)
A huge upwelling is happening in the heart of humanity and it is an internal thing. It is coming from an unseen place and it can’t be defended against by those seeking to hinder its growth. . . We are awakening and we are seeing that we have a deeply shared common cause. (Source)
Why is Wisconsin Governor Walker leading such a visible attack on Wisconsin’s public employees?
Bashing public employee unions is a smokescreen to hide yet another fat cat scam to grab State assets.
Right now everyone thinks this is about unions and collective bargaining and the rights of the worker. BUT, what Wisconsin Governor Walker really wants is for Democrats to just “compromise” and pass his budget law “as is”–a budget law that authorizes selling off of Wisconsin’s state-owned power plants for pennies on the dollar in closed unsolicitated bids for which there will be no oversight.
It’s Enron-style cronyism all over again.
Here’s how the scam is set up:
1) Koch Brothers get their puppet Governor Walker in power
2) Governor Walker gins up a crisis
3) Democrats and Progressives take the bait and counter-protest on collective bargaining
4) Governor Walker will compromise on collective bargaining if the rest of the budget is passed as is
5) Bill passes, with trojan horse give-a-way to the Koch Brothers nested in
6) Koch Brothers will buy Wisconsin state-owned power plants for pennies on the dollar in closed unsolicitated bids for which there will be no oversight
7) Koch Brothers get the best vertical monopoly in a generation (Source)
Here’s the actual language in Governor Walker’s pending budget law. Read it for yourself. It will authorize him to sell off Wisconsin’s state-owned power utilities for pennies on the dollar, in closed unsolicitated bids, for which there will be no oversight:
State of Wisconsin
SENATE BILL 11
Bottom of Page 23:
SECTION 44. 16.896 of the statutes is created to read:
16.896 Sale or contractual operation of state−owned heating, cooling, and power plants. (1) Notwithstanding ss. 13.48 (14) (am) and 16.705 (1), the department may sell any state−owned heating, cooling, and power plant or may contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without solicitation of bids, for any amount that the department determines to be in the best interest of the state. Notwithstanding ss. 196.49 and 196.80, no approval or certification of the public service commission is necessary for a public utility to purchase, or contract for the operation of, such a plant, and any such purchase is considered to be in the public interest and to comply with the criteria for certification of a project under s. 196.49 (3) (b).
Get that? Read it again.
There are two big whoppers in this section of Walker’s pending budget law:
- It will allow the Koch Brothers to buy or contract to operate state−owned heating, cooling, and power plants in Wisconsin without a solicitation of bids.
- Not only that, Walker’s budget law will redefine “public interest”! Who gets to decide? Not the public, Governor Walker by fiat!
This is what it is about at the end of the day. Governor Walker will repay his backers, the Koch brothers, by selling the Koch brothers the state-owned utility system of Wisconsin for pennies on the dollar.
Governor Walker has intentionally muddied the waters concerning unions to muddy waters hoping no one will see the wholescale give-a-way of the state-owned public infrastructure to private interests.
Getting control of Wisconsin’s energy utilities will consolidate Koch Brothers’ existing operations in Wisconsin. Here’s what they already own: (Source: http://www.kochind.com/…)
- Flint Hills Resources, LLC, through its subsidiaries, is a leading refining and chemicals company. Its subsidiaries market products such as gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, ethanol, olefins, polymers and intermediate chemicals, as well as base oils and asphalt. A subsidiary distributes refined fuel through its strategically located pipelines and terminals in Junction City, Waupun, Madison and Milwaukee. Another subsidiary manufactures asphalt that is distributed to terminals in Green Bay and Stevens Point.
- Koch Pipeline Company, L.P. operates a pipeline system that crosses Wisconsin, part of the nearly 4,000 miles of pipelines owned or operated by the company.
- The C. Reiss Coal Company is a leading supplier of coal used to generate power. The company has locations in Green Bay, Manitowoc, Ashland and Sheboygan.
And just imagine the profits! Their investment in Walker is gonna pay out big time.
Which was the plan all along.
Now we know the end game, who is going to block it? (Source)
It’s not hard to see that these deals are going to be the sort of “heads I win, tails you lose” arrangements that bankers are so skilled at cutting with the great unwashed public. (Source)
Cui bono? Who could possibly benefit from giving the governor the ability to sell the state’s “heating, cooling, and power plants” (there are 32 of them), or “contract with a private entity” to operate them, without a bid process or any regulatory oversight? (Source)
Misdirection at Work
There is a kernel of truth in Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s claim of a “budget shortfall” of $137 million. But Walker, a Republican, failed to tell the state that less than two weeks into his term as governor, he, with his swollen Republican majorities in the Wisconsin legislature, pushed through $117 million in tax breaks for business allies of the GOP. There is your crisis. (Source)
Look at how easy it is to solve Wisconsin’s budget deficit, as Paul Jay stated on The Real News Network:
“How about Wisconsin passes a law that takes the estate tax level back to 2001? And let’s say the first million’s tax free. The collective net worth of the esteemed group on the Forbes 400 from Wisconsin comes to around $21.7 billion. That would make Wisconsin’s share of their estates at the time of passing around $4 billion. We just paid down the debt.”
The Great American Giveaway (Source)
One of the Lootocracy’s objectives is to confiscate all the assets that the middle class has built with its tax dollars. For decades the “privatization” movement has been a front for this plunder of the public’s resources, allowing private corporations to enrich themselves by providing services that were once provided at lower cost by the government itself.
How did that work out? Xe, the Company Formerly Known as Blackwater, provides mercenaries for our Middle Eastern wars — at great public expense, and sometimes acting outside the law in ways that harm our national security. The privatization of prisons and reform schools gave us the case of the monstrous judges who railroaded innocent kids into incarceration in return for bribes from a private youth detention facility contractor.
On a national scale, money intended for worthy college students got diverted into private jets and fat salaries after the privatization of the student loan enterprise Sallie Mae, and the privatization of mortgage backers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac led to a series of scandals, multimillion dollar payouts for incompetent executives, and a worsening of our financial crisis.
With a record like that, you’d think the privatization movement would be dead. And you’d be right — if it weren’t for the billions being provided to it by the Koch Brothers and other private financiers. They’re major backers of “ALEC” — the “American Legislative Exchange Council” — an organization that proves how smart and determined the armies of the Lootocrats really are. There are two very smart strategies behind ALEC:
1) While everybody’s focused on what goes on in Washington, ALEC is able to plunder the massive resources of state and local government.
2) State legislatures are the “farm league” for tomorrow’s governors, Senators, and Presidents. ALEC isn’t just buying state government. It’s buying tomorrow’s national leaders too.
This secret army has a clear agenda: Attain power, give away the “store” once in office, and decimate programs that help the middle class and lower income people. Scott Walker’s actions fit the playbook perfectly. In fact, his bill was reportedly drafted by ALEC, whose primary objectives include the drafting of “model legislation.”
Two enterprising representatives from People for the American Way were able to get into an ALEC meeting in 2005 and, as Joshua Holland reported, they cast a light on ALEC’s role as ” the connective tissue that links state legislators with right-wing think tanks, leading anti-tax activists and corporate money.” They were also able to collect information on the breadth and audacious scope of the ALEC agenda, which is mirrored by other groups offering support for Walker’s efforts — groups such as “Americans For Prosperity,” another Koch-funded front group.
The war on unions is an essential part of the ALEC Assault. Unions are a double threat: First, they interfere with the Lootocracy’s ability to treat its private-sector employees as badly as the law will allow. And government employees are fighting for pay and benefits that interfere with the broader agenda of strangling all forms of government spending so that taxes can be kept low for the Lootocrats. That’s why, as Harold Meyerson points out, unions are under attack in a number of GOP-led states, and by Republican members of Congress who are trying to strip funding from the National Labor Relations Board.
All across the nation Republican governors are using the same playbook: Cry “poor” while giving tax cuts to the rich, then use the resulting crises to bust unions and gut services for the poor and middle class. They’re all reading from the same script, and if their line readings aren’t convincing it doesn’t really matter. Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger have already taught us that Republicans don’t need to be good actors to succeed.
As Wisconsin Goes
Gov. Walker insists that the state’s pension plan is a key driver of the state’s fiscal problems. But the state is actually projected to have a small surplus next year, depending on how it handles its debt to Minnesota and a couple of other key issues. In any case, the state’s pension plan is extremely well-funded, with 99.67% already in its accounts.
What happened in Wisconsin? The Governor cut taxes for the wealthy, then declared a budget emergency. In classic “Shock Doctrine” fashion, he used that emergency to slash a retirement plan that’s highly stable financially, along with medical services for middle-class and lower-income people.
What’s happening in Washington? In the name of “austerity economics” and deficit-cutting, a deal was cut that extends tax cuts for the wealthy. Now the conventional wisdom is that we must cut Social Security, a benefit program that’s much more solvent than most government programs, and then gut medical assistance programs like Medicare and Medicaid.
Let’s see: A tax cut for the wealthy, followed by the declaration of a budget emergency and the gutting of retirement and medical programs. And along the way, a giveaway of public resources to private corporations. That’s not coincidence: It’s the plan.
The Home Front
So, cui bono? The richest 1% of Americans, along with the corporations — and politicians — they own. We know who the warriors are, we know their strategy. We know they’re winning, too. Can the tide be turned? Not if the people opposed to this Lootocracy refuse to acknowledge what’s happening. (Source)
We’re used to politicians stretching the truth, but the level of deception and dishonesty Wisconsin’s governor has exhibited in the battle over his union-busting budget repair bill (even the name is a falsehood) sinks to astounding new lows. [List of 20+ lies told by Gov. Walker.] (Source)
- In Budget Bill, Wisconsin Gov. Walker Pushing for No-Bid Sales of State-Owned Power Plants
- Why Did The Koch Brothers Donate To To Scott Walker? (oliverwillis.com)
- Walker Paying Back the Koch Brothers in Wisconsin With Union Busting and No-Bid Power Plant Sales (crooksandliars.com)
- “Wisconsin Surprise: Walker Bill Likely Handing State Assets To Walker-Supporter Koch Industries” and related posts (prwatch.org)
- The other part of the Scott Walker plan: Firesale of Wisconsin state assets (dailykos.com)
- “Kochs Behind Wisconsin Union-Busting Effort” and related posts (prwatch.org)
- The Less Discussed Part of Walker’s Wisconsin Plan: No-Bid Energy Assets Firesales. (rortybomb.wordpress.com)
- “The Koch Brothers Have a Hand in Wisconsin’s Unrest” and related posts (nymag.com)
- “Krugman Explains the Wisconsin Power Game (Then calls for the unions to grab the power)” and related posts (economicpolicyjournal.com)
- Shock Doctrine, U.S.A.
- Billionaire Koch Brothers’ Money Plays Role In Wisconsin Fight Against Unions (huffingtonpost.com)
- The Wisconsin Lie Exposed – Taxpayers Actually Contribute Nothing To Public Employee Pensions