Is Scott Walker Finally Ready to Bargain?

After weeks of protest by hundreds of thousands of angry constituents, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker may finally be ready to compromise. Emails between the governor's aides and Senate Democrats include specifics and details of negotiations and counteroffers, and show a slightly softened stance on bargaining particulars, reports the Journal Sentinel. The emails were released by the governor's office through an open-records request. The new information is contrary to Walker's tough-father stance -- just a few days ago he was furiously trying to pass the buck. But some Democrats are worried whether the negotiations will stall now that they've gone public. The JS:

The bill as proposed by Walker and approved by the Assembly last month would repeal bargaining by public employee unions over their benefits and work conditions, leaving only bargaining over wages with a cap based on the rate of inflation, barring a referendum. The measure has sparked massive protests in recent weeks.

The two Democratic senators, Bob Jauch of Poplar and Tim Cullen of Janesville, have had face-to-face meetings in recent days with Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) and Walker aides.

Jauch cautioned that the two sides had never reached a deal. Cullen characterized the talks as "discussions" rather than negotiations, because he and Jauch weren't speaking on behalf of other Democrats, and said he was disappointed the details on them were sent out in a news release.

"I've never seen negotiations be done successfully in public," he said. "I thought they were bargaining in good faith."

Still, Walker's willingness to budge isn't entirely based in a newfound respect for his constituents -- it's that he knows what's at stake. Efforts to recall GOP Senators by Progressive Change Campaign Committee have been wildly popular, and the governor's numbers are slipping. While Walker cannot be legally recalled for another eight months, after he's served a year in office, the prospect weighs heavily partywide. The Huffington Post:

Senate Republicans spent hours going over the compromise plan Tuesday morning in a closed-door meeting, Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said. He acknowledged that pressure was increasing on the senators, saying the recall efforts launched against eight Republicans was "on everybody's minds."

"Everybody's obviously receiving a lot of pressure," Fitzgerald said. "I had people on my front porch before I left this morning."

He didn't say whether Senate Republicans agreed with the concessions Walker proposed on Sunday said support for the underlying bill remained strong.

"We're rock solid, we're fine," he said.

Read the details of the potential compromise at theJournal Sentinel.

AlterNet / By Julianne Escobedo Shepherd

Posted at March 9, 2011, 4:16am

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