Yet, the fact that the fourteen AWOL senators are even having a discussion with Walker is a sign that they’re looking for a way out. The governor upped the ante last week on a number of fronts. On a personal level, Walker declared that the senators are subject to arrest the moment they re-enter Wisconsin at any time. Previously, the arrest order only applied when the legislature was in session. This means that the fourteen senators are taking a risk if they try to sneak back to enjoy a quick visit with their families. Walker also suspended their pay, putting further pressure on the senators and their backers.
On the legislative front, Walker is making moves to lay-off about 1,500 state workers whose duties are deemed “non-essential” by the governor’s office. Preliminary notices of the governor’s intent to pursue this action have been sent to the public employee unions that may be affected, including AFSCME, Association of State Prosecutors and Wisconsin Education Association Council. Walker says that he will have to proceed with the lay-offs, unless recalcitrant Democratic senators return so that the state can cut the budget using the governor’s original plan. If that scenario plays out, Democrats and their union allies hope that public opinion will turn against Walker, reinforcing the leftist idea that the governor is a mean-spirited, uncompromising tyrant. That’s the best-case scenario on the left, but it seems unlikely to come to fruition. The public as a whole is far more sympathetic about the need to economize than it was just two years ago. If Walker does make the lay-offs, one doubts that public opinion will shift much and – if it does – it will likely cause more people to move toward the governor’s camp.
Political strategist and pundit Dick Morris believes that a face-saving surrender for the Democrats in Wisconsin is already in the works. According to Morris, Walker will ultimately give up two relatively unimportant features of his plan: 1) pay increases in excess of the Consumer Price Index rate having to be approved by referendum, and 2) the requirement for union members to vote to recertify their unions on an annual basis. The most important features of the plan, including the pension and health care concessions and eliminating collective bargaining for wages and benefits, would be retained. That would be a tremendous victory for Scott Walker, the state of Wisconsin and conservatives across the country. It would also be something of a defeat for Michael Moore, but there’s no need to worry. Unlike the state of Wisconsin, Moore isn’t in any danger of missing a meal anytime soon.
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