Wis. unrest exposed GOP strategy to split lower classes, liberal author says
The labor unrest in Wisconsin exposed the Republican Party’s plan to essentially divide-and-conquer the lower classes in America, a liberal author recently wrote.
“The Republican strategy is to split the vast middle and working class – pitting unionized workers against non-unionized, public-sector workers against non-public, older workers within sight of Medicare and Social Security against younger workers who don’t believe these programs will be there for them, and the poor against the working middle class,” Robert Reich wrote on his blog Thursday.
He continued, “Wisconsin’s Republican governor Scott Walker and his GOP legislature are seeking to end almost all union rights for teachers.”
Reich, the author of “Supercapitalism,” who served as President Bill Clinton’s secretary of labor, explained that blaming of public workers for budgetary matters at state levels is part of the GOP’s overall goal: to hide the economic excesses of the wealthiest Americans.
“Republicans would rather no one notice their campaign to shrink the pie even further with additional tax cuts for the rich – making the Bush tax cuts permanent, further reducing the estate tax, and allowing the wealthy to shift ever more of their income into capital gains taxed at 15 percent,” Reich wrote.
Specifically, the two other parts of the GOP’s three-pronged strategy included debate on the federal budget in Washington and the polarization of the US Supreme Court along ideological lines, he said.
Reich explained that the recent attacks on US labor unions in the public sector is predicated on the lie that workers in the private sector make less money than public employees.
“They don’t, when you take account of their education,” he said. “In fact over the last fifteen years the pay of public-sector workers, including teachers, has dropped relative to private-sector employees with the same level of education – even including health and retirement benefits.”
The heart of the protests in Wisconsin lies with the governor’s assertion that the public workers’ right to collectively bargain for better treatment has mushroomed state deficits. States where employees have no bargaining rights, like Nevada, North Carolina, and Arizona, have huge budget deficits, some totaling 30 percent over spending, he said.
Reich pointed out that the managers of Wall Street who caused the current unemployment crisis would have lost their jobs had it not been for their taxpayer-supported bailout two years ago. He noted that taxes on the earnings of some 13 hedge-fund managers could pay for 300,000 teachers.
“Who is more valuable: One hedge fund manager or one teacher?” he asked.
Wis. Gov. Walker indicated Sunday that he is not willing to compromise his position on eliminating collective bargaining rights for state employees.