Scott Walker Recall: A Referendum on American Democracy

Beneath the Spin * Eric L. Wattree

Scott Walker Recall: A Referendum on American Democracy

The effort to recall Gov. Scott Walker in tomorrow’s Wisconsin election will undoubtedly have repercussions far beyond the boundaries of the state. Walker has come to be seen as the point man in the GOP’s concerted assault on the American middle class. All across the country GOP governors and Republican-controlled legislatures have launched aggressive campaigns to obstruct voting, bust unions, make draconian cuts to the police, fire departments, education, and social programs, all in the name of deficit reduction, only to use the resulting revenue to give huge tax cuts to large corporations and the top 1% of the population.

In August of 2011 reported that Walker turned away more than $9 million in grants from the Affordable Care Act. The funds were intend to address the state’s problems with drug and alcohol abuse, assessing the impact of public policies on the health of its citizens, and for signing up residents who qualify for state health programs. According to the article, health commissioners were "outraged." Reportedly, Walker indicated that the funds "duplicated existing efforts." This, in spite of the fact that Walker had "slashed $500 million from Department of Health Services and instituted a $1.6 billion reduction in public school funding." In addition, "Wisconsin is also near the very bottom of states for public health funding, ranking 49th in the nation for state funding of prevention services per capita."

And according to an article in "Labor Notes," written by Eleni Schirmer and Lenora Hanson,"When Walker entered office in January 2011, the state had a budget surplus of more than $120 million. Walker made quick work of creating a budget crisis, allocating $140 million in corporate tax write-offs and giveaways during his first weeks in office." Thus, the GOP’s ostensible concern for the deficit appears to be nothing more than a pretext to redirect funds to corporations, the top 1% of the population, and to make absolutely certain that the poor and middle class remain miserable, angry, and divided until after the next election.

Did I say this is a concerted effort on the part of the GOP? Absolutely.

The Republican Party has done everything in their power to ensure that the American people remain miserable, divided, and angry until the 2012 election every since Rush Limbaugh gave them their marching orders early in Obama’s presidency. Limbaugh said, "I don't want this to work . . . I hope he [Obama] fails." And the Republicans have been on a single-minded mission to ensure Obama’s failure every since - which also means America’s failure. Thus, the GOP has, literally, been on a mission to sabotage America.

From the moment Rush Limbaugh gave the Republican Party their marching orders, every initiative that President Obama has put forward to improve the economy and create new jobs has been met with fierce Republican opposition. They could care less that America is suffering. In fact, they want America to suffer - the more the better. All the GOP cares about is making absolutely sure that President Obama doesn’t succeed in bringing relief to the misery they caused the American people under eight years of George W. Bush.

To that end, the Republicans in congress have engaged in a record number of filibusters in an attempt to block every initiative that Obama has put forward to rescue the American people. Their determination is so fierce in that regard that any Republican who fails to go along with their strategy is in dire jeopardy of being banished from congress. The attack on Utah Republican Orrin Hatch, who has spent 36 years in the U.S. Senate, is clear warning to all others who fail to fall in line.

And even those initiatives that did manage to miraculously survive were being blocked from implementation by Republican Governors across the country, under the pretense that rescuing America constituted "wasteful spending." But their concern over the budget deficit didn’t prevent Republicans for a minute from holding the unemployed hostage to extend the Bush tax cut for the rich which, to a large extent, is what brought us to this point in the first place. The Houston Chronicle reported Texas governor, Rick Perry, as saying the following regarding federal money allocated for Texas to assist the unemployed:

"The money would come with too many strings attached. Taking the half billion would require the state to assist qualified out-of-work residents seeking part-time jobs, an idea that Perry said the state has rejected before, partly because it could discourage them from seeking full-time employment. The federal money injection would also make Texas extend benefits to more low-paid workers, and Perry said the overall expansion would force business to make higher unemployment insurance payments."

Perry neglected to point out that the money would also be used by the unemployed to purchase goods and services. That would stimulate the economy, and the Republicans can’t have that. Yet, after initially turning down federal money targeted at creating jobs, Perry eventually took the stimulus money. But instead of using it to create jobs and bring relief to the poor and middle class, he used it to plug his budget shortfalls and save his "rainy day fund." CNN Money reports the following:

"Texas, which crafts a budget every two years, was facing a $6.6 billion shortfall for its 2010-2011 fiscal years. It plugged nearly all of that deficit with $6.4 billion in Recovery Act money, allowing it to leave its $9.1 billion rainy day fund untouched . . . Now that the stimulus money has dried up, state lawmakers last week unveiled an austere budget for the 2012-2013 fiscal years that cuts $31 billion in spending. Schools, colleges, Medicaid and social services for the needy will be hit especially hard."

So while Gov. Rick Perry of Texas has undoubtedly done his part to promote the GOP obstructionist agenda, in terms of symbolism, he pales in comparison to Scott Walker. Walker’s shamelessly blatant assault on the rights and livelihood of the poor and middle class makes him the walking, breathing, embodiment of the Republican effort to lower the standard of living of working-class America. That’s what makes it essential that he’s recalled in tomorrow’s election. He represents the GOP’s trial balloon. If Walker survives, the Republican assault on the rights and livelihood of the working class will go into high gear all across America.

Eric L. Wattree wattree


Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everyone who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does.

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