Wisconsin GOP Laughs, Mocks as Dems Filibuster Union-Busting Bill Overnight
Wisconsin Democrats spent all night in Assembly drawing out a long filibuster, in another strategic attempt to block Governor Scott Walker's union-busting bill. In a hearing that began yesterday morning, Dems introduced amendments and gave speeches as, on the steps of the State capitol, the Assembly could hear the chants of tens of thousands of workers, now in their ninth day of protest. Naturally, some Dems got riled up or emotional during their speeches, which led some Republicans to show exactly how much they don't give a shit about the throngs of constituents fighting for their families. Incredibly, according to CBS, the GOP actually laughed at the Dems:
Republicans sat mostly in silence as the debate dragged into the wee hours, though tempers flared when two Democrats lashed out at Republican lawmakers and aides for laughing at them during the debate.
"This is not a game! We're dealing with people's lives! This isn't funny!" Rep. Andy Jorgensen shouted in the chamber, his face red. "I haven't laughed in a long time, especially not on a day like this!"
Dems introduced 42 separate amendments last night in an effort to protect union workers from the bill, which would strip public worker unions' bargaining rights in addition to inflating their contributions to pension and health insurance benefits. Last night, Republican Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald echoed Walker's bogus claims that the state cannot afford collective bargaining, but neglected to mention the fact that the it could certainly afford to give huge corporate tax breaks last month before Walker went Koch-happy and signed away its surplus.
It's striking to note that the main focus of this conversation is no longer on the state of Wisconsin's finances. It's now all about workers' rights to engage in collective bargaining, something that has been enshrined in bipartisan consensus for decades. This is partly Walker's fault: His decision to reject the union's offer to accept his fiscal demands in exchange for preserving their rights did a great deal to shift the conversation into one no longer focused on Wisconsin's budgetary needs. The entry of outside groups like Americans for Prosperity into the fight also fuels a sense that this is no longer a budget dispute, but something else entirely, something far more ideologically charged.
Spot on, and there's evidence: Yesterday Indiana Dems left their House, Wisconsin-style, in order to block another union-busting bill, while Ohio saw thousands of protesters on its state capitol. It's spreading.