Wisconsin Debate Puts Focus on Waste, Fraud and Abuse

On Thursday, February 17, Democratic lawmakers in the Wisconsin Senate fled the state to avoid voting on a proposal by Governor Scott Walker to close the $3.6 billion budget deficit by asking government workers to contribute to their pensions and pay a little more of their healthcare premiums. Governor Walker also intends to levy restrictions on their collective bargaining rights, except on salaries, so the state can save scarce taxpayer funds. “Collective bargaining” is the coercive method that public employee unions use to extract extravagant taxpayer-funded benefits from local and state politicians. No less a liberal than FDR opposed collective bargaining for public employee unions.

And what was the reaction? Democratic Senators simply walked out. And it took a little while to find them, hiding out in a resort in neighboring Illinois. (By the way, Michelle Malkin has coined a new term for these cowardly legislators: “fleebaggers.”)

Meanwhile, union bosses, with help from the Obama White House and the Democratic National Committee, stirred the pot by staging protests. According to Politico, “Organizing for America, Obama’s 2008 grass-roots campaign organization posted a statement on its website late Thursday, announcing it ‘is mobilizing on the ground in Wisconsin to defend the rights of public employees from an attempt by the governor to take away their right to organize.'” This president and his leftist “organizing” allies have a remarkable disdain for republican, constitutional government and the rule of law.

President Obama himself inflamed the debate by incorrectly labeling Governor Walker’s plan as an “assault on unions.”

Now, the brush fire that started in Wisconsin is raging across the country as state governments continue to address their own bloated budgets receiving stiff opposition from powerful union bosses and their leftist political allies.

According to CNN:

Legislatures from New Jersey to California are struggling to tackle yawning deficits, longstanding pension obligations and health benefits and some broader questions about how unionized labor will fit into America’s evolving political landscape.

The proposed budget bills of state deficit hawks, whom their critics label union-busters, spawned a second week of demonstrations in at least three states over what protesters view as an attack on workers’ rights.

“Governors all across the United States are talking about cutting billions of dollars,” said Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who defended his budget-repair bill that addresses a $137 million shortfall and increases contributions of public workers to their pensions and health insurance benefits.

Of course the spin from the left is that this is a war between conservatives and the working man. But nothing could be further from the truth. This is about rooting out waste and mismanagement in government and protecting taxpayer dollars. The specifics of any legislation aside, the week’s debate is about reining in taxpayer employee unions who organize not against corporations but against taxpayers. And this is also about stopping rampant public pension abuse, which takes place not only in Wisconsin but across the country.

Did you know, for example, that Iowa Governor Terry Branstad (a Republican, it should be noted) continues to collect a $50,000 pension even though he came out of retirement and banks an annual salary of $130,000? How can he legally do this? Because during a previous term as governor, Branstad presciently signed into law a provision in 1992 that exempts retirees who return as elected officials from pension cuts.

Are we to believe that efforts to curb this sort of nonsense are an affront to the working man? Certainly not! But they are a real and distinct threat to union bosses (the most powerful of which are the public-sector unions) and the liberal political operatives who benefit from their increasing campaign donations.

And that is why you see President Obama, his campaign operation, the DNC, liberal lawmakers and union bosses working together to pull all of the strings with these protests. (This stands, by the way, in stark contrast to the Tea Party protests which organically emanated from the bottom up in response to President Obama’s socialist agenda.)

As many of you know, Judicial Watch is active in several other states, targeting the abuse and out of control spending of taxpayer funds such as are at issue in Wisconsin.

For example, we’ve taken legal action to stop a scheme by Los Angeles County that pays superior court judges in the county approximately $21 million annually in improper perks and supplemental benefits on top of what they already receive from the state. In that case, the judges actually hired a lobbyist to get the California state legislature to change the law after our taxpayer clients beat them in court! So it isn’t just the teachers unions that are out of control, taxpayer-paid judges can treat taxpayers like an ATM, too!

And we also filed a taxpayer lawsuit against the Phoenix Police Pension Board and Phoenix Chief of Police Jack F. Harris to stop the illegal payment of pension benefits to Chief Harris valued at approximately $90,000 per year. (He retired as chief and then came back as chief. So he wants to keep his full-time pay and pension for the same job!)

These are just two examples. Just imagine what takes place in state and local governments across the country. It’s refreshing to see state lawmakers say enough is enough!

Governor Walker has decided to take action to eradicate waste, mismanagement and corruption inside the Wisconsin state government. And his efforts have apparently inspired other governors to do the same. This is a good thing for the working man, and the country.


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