Koch Watch: Was Hidden Provision in Wisconsin Bill Designed to Sell Off State Facilities to Billionaire?
Hats off to the proprietor of the blog, Gin and Tacos, who combed through the bill currently stalled in the Wisconsin legislature that would all but strip Wisconsin state employees of their collective bargaining rights -- and found that's not all that's very, very wrong in the bill, wrong in a very Koch-friendly way.
You'll recall that David Koch of Koch Industries is the billionaire whose backing propelled Scott Walker to the Wisconsin governor's mansion, and that Koch Industries is a conglomerate rooted in the energy sector. In Wisconsin, Koch has significant energy-sector holdings, including a coal company, oil refineries and some 4,000 miles of pipeline. So, who would stand to benefit from a no-bid sell-off of the state's power plants and other energy-producing assets? The anonymous Gin and Tacos author has her or his suspicions.
The lion's share of attention regarding Scott Walker's legislative proposal has been paid to the effort to revoke Wisconsin public employees' collective bargaining rights, but the 144-page bill (more reliable link here) is a far more exhaustive and inclusive list of the fundamentals of Republican politics in the 21st Century. Not many people have the time to plow through the whole bill but those who do will be rewarded with plenty of gems like this:16.896 Sale or contractual operation of state-owned heating, cooling, and power plants. (1) Notwithstanding ss. 13.48 (14) (am) and 16.705 (1), the department may sell any state-owned heating, cooling, and power plant or may contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without solicitation of bids, for any amount that the department determines to be in the best interest of the state. Notwithstanding ss. 196.49 and 196.80, no approval or certification of the public service commission is necessary for a public utility to purchase, or contract for the operation of, such a plant, and any such purchase is considered to be in the public interest and to comply with the criteria for certification of a project under s. 196.49 (3) (b).
If this isn't the best summary of the goals of modern conservatism, I don't know what is.
Hat-tip to Stephanie Condon of the CBS News Web site.