Two Ways to Report the Wisconsin Protests

February/24/2011 16:59PM
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I have seen no less than a dozen TV reports and have read at least 6 newspaper accounts of the budget protests in Wisconsin.

With the exception of one in the Wall Street Journal, all were pro-protest accounts. Basically, they all stated with hundreds of protesters gathered at the Capitol in Madison to show their outrage at the governor’s bill to take away their union right to collective bargain and to force them to pay for medical and pension benefits they now receive. President Obama weighted in by saying he saw it as an attack on the unions. Pubic employees in Wisconsin are outraged that the newly elected Republican Governor, Scott Walker, a businessman, is trying to balance his budget on the backs of the union workers. They say it’s an extreme piece of legislation that is tearing this state apart. Wow, asking public union workers to trade losing 5,000 jobs for beginning to pay 5.8% (0% now) toward pensions and an additional 6.5% toward medical is extreme? Or, is the problem the little deal where union dues are no longer collected from paychecks by the state for the union? To show support for the public unions, Democrats vacated the Capitol to prevent a vote.

In all of the accounts I saw the focus was on the protests, the price the public employees were being asked to pay, and the solidarity of the Democratic state senators were showing by not being present.

Would you like to see at least one report that took this approach?

Governor Scott Walker, elected on a campaign promise to cut expenses in state government in Wisconsin is being thwarted by Democratic legislators who vacated the Capitol knowing the bill Walker proposed to cut public employee expenses would pass. Facing a $3 billion budget shortfall, Walker has offer the public unions a trade. He won’t cut 5,000 jobs, which he can do without a vote, in return for union concessions that put union worker contributions to medical and pension benefits in line with the private sector. The protests are being organized by various union groups who are manning phones and providing transportation. President Obama commented during a speech in Wisconsin by saying, ” it looked to him like an attack on the unions.” Governor Walker responded by saying, when the president gets his budget mess fixed he can comment, but until he does, keep his nose out of Walker’s business. With cities and states in serious financial straits, actions like Walker’s will be needed all across the country. Sacrifices will be needed. Look at the millions of private sector workers who have had no jobs for the past two or three years.

Politicians have given more to public unions than governments can afford to pay. Now, there needs to be a recalibration of that excess. Sure, it’s hard to give back what you have, but at least you keep our job. And, you are not being asked to go fight for your country in Iraq or Afghanistan. Now, those are real sacrifices.

Governor Walker is doing what the majority of people in Wisconsin expected him to do when the elected him. He is doing what he has to do to keep the state out of bankruptcy. If some don’t approve, let them protest, but let’s be objective about what a small minority they represent and the degree of pain they are being asked to take. And, let’s be truthful about the groups organizing, funding, and pushing the protests. The groups that had a big role in Obama’s election. And, let’s be objective about Obama’s comments on the situation. Does he really mean the unions come before the majority in Wisconsin? Sure he does. Does he mean the unions come before a balanced budget, sure he does.

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