Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker shot himself in the foot today.
Unfortunately, although it may be his foot, it hurts a good cause: reining in the costs and influence of public unions.
The AP reported he was the victim of a prank phone call where he was tricked into disclosing the closeness of his association with the billionaire Koch brothers. Walker also used an analogy involving how he would take a baseball bat to the unions.
Well, at least it was not a “political bullet to the head” as a local campaign manager recently boasted.
Whatever animosity Walker feels, however, does not lessen the need for serious reform to public union benefits and the inequities of collective bargaining.
I believe the Republican controlled legislature was going to compromise on the collective bargaining restrictions in the Budget Repair Bill. As long as they had a majority there was little chance that the unions could push through unreasonable wage increases, so it would have been a no-brainer. In the meantime, they could use the absence of the Democratic senators to push through non spending related legislation – pure political expediency, but probably very little in the way of substance would have been passed.
While Walker has chosen a hunker-down approach in Madison, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has handled the pension crisis in his state with straightforward resolve, taking his message to public meetings and answering direct questions from union members.
That’s the style we need in California because pension reform is going to move to the top of the agenda very quickly.