Four score and seven months ago, Governor Scott Walker freed the people of Wisconsin from a plight right up there with slavery: Teachers coming together to ask for smaller class sizes, nurses raising safety concerns over 24 hour shifts, and custodians speaking with one voice to ask for fair wages.
While most would think such a comparison is the epitome of absurdity, most also don't have delusions of grandeur. In a recent interview with Wisconsin Eye's Steven Walters, Walker said that the reason he doesn't talk in his recent book about his promise to bring 250,000 jobs to Wisconsin is because the book is just about the passage of Act 10... you know... just like how the the movie Lincoln is just about the passage of legislation that abolished of slavery:
Steven Walters: On page 237, you list four questions on the minds of Wisconsin voters. Two of the four involve jobs. Why does your book not mention your 2010 campaign goal of creating 250,000 new private sector jobs by the end of your first term?Gov. Walker: Legitimate question, I'm very proud of that pledge in my campaign and I'm committed to it and will come back and touch on it in a second, but the reason for the book is simple, this is not a biography, this not a tell-all, this is not the comprehensive review of Scott Walker's life and career, this is really the story of our reforms, which are unique to Wisconsin, which is a story I thought would be interesting. The same reason, similar reason I should say, not the same, to when Steven Spielberg made the movie Lincoln, he didn't take the book Team of Rivals and cover the whole book, he took a piece of it, the 13th amendment, which was one of the more compelling parts of that book and made that into the movie-- that's what we did with the book, we took one part that we thought was the most compelling and most interesting to the people in this state, to the people in this country.
The 13th Amendment, of course, was Lincoln's landmark legislation that abolished slavery in the United States, which is a little bit different than Walker's Act 10 that banned, for the first time in Wisconsin history, public workers from bargaining collectively.
Walker also claims in the interview that the only choices available at the time he came into office were to raise taxes or to bust the unions and balance the budget on the backs of public servants. Unlike neighboring Minnesota, which had a similar budget deficit and chose a shared-sacrifice approach that included asking the wealthy to pay more in taxes, Walker chose to not only balance the budget almost completely on public workers, but also demonize them in the process.
At the time, U.S. Representative and civil rights icon Elijah Cummings was so disgusted with Walker's blaming and demonizing middle class public sector workers for something the wealthy on Wall Street had created, he said:
I strongly oppose efforts to falsely blame middle-class American workers for these current economic problems. We know better than anybody else in this Committee why those problems came about. This recession was not caused by them. Working America, firefighters, teachers, and nurses, and so many others, who are, in the words of Theologian Swindell, so often unseen, unnoticed, unappreciated, and unapplauded, are not responsible for the reckless actions of Wall Street which led to this crisis in the first place. I also strongly object to efforts by politicians who try to use the current economic downturn to strip American workers of their rights. Mr. Chairman, we are a Country who has consistently increased rights, not taken them away. As a matter of fact, if it were not for that principle, I would not be sitting here today, and the women in this Congress would not be sitting here today.
Which brings us back to Lincoln, who faced his own budget problems-- massive debts incurred from the Civil War. Lincoln not only wasn't shy about asking the wealthy to pay their fair share, he required them to pay their fair share by creating a progressive federal income tax.
Lincoln also had a different take on those that Walker reverently calls the "job creators." Lincoln felt that the focus should instead be on the workers: "Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration."