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  • Morning Bell: A Historic Win for Reform in Wisconsin

    The state of Wisconsin has once again lived up to its billing as a Midwestern incubator of Big Ideas. In yesterday’s case, when voters resoundingly defeated a liberal effort to recall Governor Scott Walker (R), the Big Idea was that reformers who come armed with the strength of their convictions can carry the day–even against mobs, labor unions, Hollywood, the media, academia and everything else the left throws up these days. All reformers need to do is lead.

    In Walker’s case, his weapon in the fight against out-of-control government was a promise to the voters of Wisconsin that, were he entrusted with their vote, he would bring sweeping reforms to state government. One year ago, Governor Walker fulfilled that promise, and last night the voters rewarded him for his leadership by resoundingly rejecting an effort to remove him from power.

    It was a historic recall election that focused nationwide attention on what has become an existential threat to state governments — the problem of public-sector employee pensions and benefits running states into the red. Walker unabashedly confronted that threat without straddling a fence or tiptoeing around Big Labor’s Maginot Line. Facing a $3.6 billion deficit and the fourth highest tax burden in the country, Walker instituted policies designed to bring some sanity to state government. Those reforms included asking public sector workers to contribute a modest 5.8 percent of their salaries to their pensions and at least 12.6 percent of their health-care premiums while also limiting the collective bargaining power of public sector unions. (Even that is a small amount, as Heritage’s Jason Richwine shows in a new paper examining the true costs of public pensions.)

    Those moderate policies sent labor unions and their allies into full-on crisis mode. Tens of thousands of protesters stormed Wisconsin’s capitol last spring, Democratic state senators fled the state in hopes of blocking a vote on the measures, and lawsuits were filed to block the law from taking effect. Ultimately, Walker’s reforms were upheld, yet a massive effort to recall the governor was undertaken.

    In short order, a massive campaign to unseat Walker was launched. Unions poured millions of dollars into the race to attack the governor, President Barack Obama weighed in on the eve of the election (albeit timidly, with a Tweet) and endorsed Walker’s opponent, and grassroots armies descended on the state to turn out the vote. Yesterday, the voters of Wisconsin had an opportunity to examine the governor’s reforms and render a verdict on whether they approved of the direction he has taken their state.

    One of Governor Walker’s reforms included giving government workers the option to choose whether they wanted to pay union dues. When given the option, tens of thousands of members chose to leave the union. And according to exit polls, a third of union households backed Walker. But union leadership remains out of touch with the fiscal crisis Wisconsin, and our nation, faces. Yet as the people of Wisconsin know, Walker’s reforms have helped Wisconsin turn the corner. Since Walker took office, the state unemployment rate has fallen from 7.7 percent to 6.8 percent— well below the national average of 8.2 percent. And last year, Wisconsin employers actually created 23,000 jobs. In other words, Wisconsin’s economy is growing all while the rest of the country faces very troubled economic time.

    Walker’s victory will send shockwaves across the country. Last year, the governor took a strong stand for the proposition that public sector unions should not negotiate their taxpayer-funded benefits with politicians they helped elect using mandatory dues. And he also stood for reforms that curbed spending and got his state’s budget under control — without raising taxes. Despite facing a recall election, Walker was ultimately rewarded for a job well done.

    There have only been three gubernatorial recall elections in U.S. history, and Walker was the first one to survive the challenge. As Louisana Governor Bobby Jindal said last night on Fox News, “What Scott Walker has proved tonight is that good policy makes great politics.”

    Quick Hits:

    Posted in Economics [slideshow_deploy]

    40 Responses to Morning Bell: A Historic Win for Reform in Wisconsin

    1. Mary......WI says:


    2. Kevin says:

      !! Walker for President!!

    3. Naomi says:

      As a Wisconsinite…way to go…Congratulations Scott Walker…and the state of Wisconsin

    4. Carol, AZ says:

      Thank you Wisconsin voters! America hears you loud and clear.!

    5. toledofan says:

      A great win for Wisconsin, it's citizens and foir America. The victory in Wisconsin is a breath of fresh air and signals that the tide in America is starting to turn back to the middle or even a little right. I think that the next couple of months are going to be tenacious because the union now will try to force another standoff or create some unnecessary hurdles for Walker. I sure don't see a quick reconciliation between the two.

    6. Mike says:

      Congrats, Governor Walker!

    7. ignoredrealityblog says:

      Millions upon Millions of Dollars spent by obama and the unions. Voters bussed in from other states to illegally vote in that recall. And the very best they could do was 41.2% which INCLUDES all the illegal votes. A very good indicator for the coming elections in November.

      • Jackson says:

        Excellent point. I hope the socialist lefties piddled away a significant amount of $ so as to diminish or Tank their potential to buy another 4 years of Obamania; that would finish off this country as the beacon of freedom and prosperity for us and the rest of the world.

        I truly believe this Wisconsin election is a harbinger for the November squash obambi festival. Congratulations to the level-headed Conservatives of the great state of Wisconsin, Thank You All.

        Jackson; Texas

    8. Jeanne Stotler says:

      Thank God!, I am a widow on a fixed income so I could not help in that way, BUT I did pray as we need to Put GOD back in charge, this country was founded as "ONE NATION NDER GOD" now we need to pray for sucess in NOV.

    9. US Citizen says:

      This is the first recall election, in the history of our entire nation, that was solely based upon one party NOT LIKING how the winning party was running the ship. In the past, recalls have been based upon ethics issues, morals issues, unlawful acts, etc. THIS is a historic day in our nation. Just because you don't agree with a winners plan and ideals is NO reason to do a recall election. It is a waste of time, resources, money. SHAME ON YOU democrats. Shame on you. Wisconsin, we are so proud you showed up at the polls and let your voices be heard. Demos….do you hear them now? This is only the beginning.

    10. John says:

      This is more important than the public knows. As a union fire fighter for two years (I left because I could not stand the union goon mentality) and then as a Washington State employee for 28 years (in management so not once did I join the unon) it is time to re-define "working man and woman." It is time to refute "balancing the budget on the backs of public sector workers." It is time to understand that thinkers, genuine contributers will always be stifled by union strong-arm tactics. What happened in Wisconsin, beginning with Walker's initiatives, through the recall process shows clearly that fiscal responsibility will always face mob mentality but it can and must win. The sole purpose of the public sector (i.e. 'monopolistic provider of services") is to provide service, not preservation as its own entity. I hope in the next decade we witness more contracting for state services (cities and counties as well) and an end (I don't think Romney is tough enough for this) of the union-only public sector contracts bidding requirements. Unions really are big business and they are very destructive to individuals and productivity. Congratulations Mr. Walker. You done good!

    11. J E Houser says:

      Yippie ! A grand salute to the people of Wisconsin ! A signal that America's foundation can be restored.

    12. Lloyd Scallan says:

      Before we finish patting each other on the backs for defeating the left and unions in Wisconsin, we must understand that by bragging about the results, we are giving the left added incentive to sharpen their voter fraud skills for November. In Madison alone, over 110% of voters were recorded, and that's after Eric Holder's DOJ monitored the voting process. Of course this victory was sweet, but let's not forget the communist/Marxist/socialist are not going to just go away. If 110% of voters can be recorded in just one city, can you imagine what will happen in the most important election in this nation's history.

    13. chyatt says:

      The next recall election will be in November of 2012. It has taken 4 long years. The outcome of that recall election will be "recall". Congratulations to Gov. Walker, his team and his policies.

    14. Southern Girl says:

      What a man to be admired! And, the people of Wisconsin are to be admired as well. Keep up the good work!

    15. Juan Vega says:

      The win is not just Walker's but the people of Wisconsin- It is not unlike the shots at Concord Bridge. It is time for the conservative movement and with the Heritage Foundation leading the charge together with the likes of Paul Ryan to start a simple educational campaign that shows the economics of run away expendture in the public sector caused by polticians – Republicans and Democrats- that failed miserably by giving into union demands for more without regards to how the taxes that fund the pensions, benefits, salaries and operating costs of their largesse pay fo for such programs. A simple start would be the fact that during the real estate boom- property values were used to grow state, county, and municipal budgets based on the assumption that the growth would be linear. (see other follow up comment).

    16. Juan Vega says:

      The reality hit when real estate values collapsed and taxes and budgets did not follow. In locations where demographics changes affect the tax rates and taxable base the effect is more pernicious such as when and elderly couple paid of their mortgage over 30 years counting on savings and social security, etc to fund retirement under the assumption that property taxes and insurance ould stay reasonable. In Florida between the taxes and the hurricane and property insurance costs it is more that the mortgage is or ever was. So that time bomb is yet to explode specially as inflation starts creeping past 6% to 8%. Also with home ownership becoming harder those retirees will be hard pressed to sell with sufficient equity or maybe not at all.

    17. joefrat says:

      Today, I am SO PROUD to stand with the voters of Wisconsin!! God bless Gov. Walker for his courage of conviction!

    18. Linda says:

      I guess it's nice to be able to celebrate Walker's win. Two things are disturbing. He may lose control of the Senate. That will not be good.
      Also, I heard last night that exit polls showed that although people voted for Walker, they would still vote for Obama for President. That makes no sense. Why would you vote for Walker, who is trying to clean up a mess left by Democrats in Wisconsin and then turn around and vote for a man who wants to destroy our entire economy and get more and more people dependent on the government so they can be controlled? These Wisconsin people have to do some serious thinking.

    19. Hal Kelly says:

      A new name for our (?) pres "Tweet" Obama.

    20. Clearhead says:

      Thank you Wisconson/American Patriots. Praise God from whom all blessings flow !!!

    21. KC - NM says:

      Congratulations Gov Walker! This is a great message to the rest of America – federal and state governments need to know that we the people want real change that means improvement for our country. Tax based unions need to get out – they are not needed. Tax based workers and leaders need to start earning their pay.

    22. Roy Callahan says:

      Nobody seems to be mentioning or taking the fact this "recall" election was a farce from the get go. Governor Scott did nothing wrong to warrant "recall." Also not mentioned in the criminal behavior by Democrats who walked out of the legislature during debate over the reform issue, and took taxpayer money while they were absent. Guess we should forget the damage done to the state house by the activists they incited which was criminal but never dealt with. If nobody has learned anything else, I hope everyone understands the democrats tried to render meaningless the "rule of law." Walker's win reestablished the concept to whatever extent wimpy politicians are willing to recognize and use it.

    23. Bobbie says:

      Governor Walker, Rebecca Kleefisch and the great people of Wisconsin have one of many things in common, the most important is PRINCIPLE! Republicans lead by principle (why I switched) with the strength and courage it takes to stand true that democrats and the unions democrats work for, can't bring themselves to and fight against principle for compromise, which shows their true weakness of character. If we weren't so unfairly taxed by democratic leadership in our state, we would've donated with pride! You are all heroes of America! Bless your hearts and good will.

    24. bucko36 says:

      I have never been to Wisconsin, but it appears to me as though there are many "VERY" intelligent people living there!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      It's time for the other 49 States, to now do their part and take back this great "Republic", that our Founding Father's conceived.

      By that I mean to vote out the "Socialist's in either Party" and "YES" we have a few, that are trying to make us like Europe or worse.


      "God Bless America"!!!!

    25. Foxy says:

      God's blessings on Gov Walker & the intelligence of the Wisconsin voters.

      Now the next extremely important agenda, Heritage, is to see that every state makes it law to show positive indentification before they are allowed in the polls. It should be federal law. One cannot board a plane, purchase with a credit card & numerous other places without displaying a photo ID. This HAS to be done. The liberals won the last election illegally with all the dead names & thousands that voted numerous times in numerous state. WHEN is this going to be addressed thorughout our land so we can defeat the mob in Washington?

    26. RennyG says:

      I thank God and all the people who stood up for Walker!!! Now if the "O" care would be reversed I think that the big "O" won't know what to do with himself!! Oh, I know, he will take everyone and everything to court, "his" courts!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    27. Blair Franconia, NH says:


    28. Peg Fisk says:

      Stayed up past my bedtime to listen to the courageous Gov. Scott Walker speak to his people. Now, he is America's politician. I am a New Yorker whose eyes were teary when I saw what a true American looks and sounds like. Thank you, Wisconsin!

    29. Coggy says:

      Someone please succinctly bring me up to speed on how a guy like Scott Walker poses a threat to the unions?

      There is only one true threat to any union. That's a strike breaker. Are there any strike breakers out and about?

      No? Then what's the problem?

    30. Wes Evans says:

      FDR had it right abut one thing. Government employies should neve be alowed collective barging rights. It gives to much power to a small special interest group, Union Bosses.

    31. Ray Burke says:

      Scott Walker opened the door to a renewed America. Let's watch and see how many of our elected leaders
      have the good sense and courage to walk thru that door and take the steps necessary to get us back to Constitutional government and personal freedom for all. What are the odds?

    32. lrios99 says:


    33. 2D Okie says:

      PROGRESSIVES aren't …and the demonstrators were VANDALS that deserve maximum punishment. Only a complete simpleton refuses to recognise that public services must be economically feasible or must be put out for competitive bid.

    34. Julie Decker says:

      I'm from Michigan and I am VERY proud of our neighbors in Wisconsin!! Thank you for doing the right thing. I hope Michigan is next.

    35. Joseph McKennan says:

      The letters that I have read here are all optimistic– for the first time in a long, long time. 3 1/2 years. I am proud to be an American and a fellow citizen with the Wisconsin voters. Thank you all for going out to vote.

    36. Pete says:

      I would add the insert < > to the enemies list above: "–even against mobs, labor unions, Hollywood, the media, academia and "<a tweeting President!>. Is he a joke or what?

    37. WayneA says:

      This election showed that there are many union members (one third) who were not greedy. They cared about their State and its taxpayers, even though it might hurt them financially. They voted for real change (not Obama change). Hurray for that. Neither State employees nor Federal employees should not be unionized. It makes no sense and that is what Walker was trying to bring about in Wisconsin: the end to public unions. PS Can you get a Scott Walker clone in Maryland for us here?

    38. Greg from NJ says:

      Great victory for Wisconsin! And great article! My commnet is this : It should be illegal at both the Federal and State level for any Labor Union to collect dues from members and then use those funds to contribute to political campaigns as noted in the article "the proposition that public sector unions should not negotiate their taxpayer-funded benefits with politicians they helped elect using mandatory dues." Anywhere else in the U.S. it would be a crime to do this. Why can the unions do it?

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