With Republicans triumphing in the Wisconsin recall elections on Tuesday, political analyst John Fund tells Newsmax it is “astonishing” that Democrats and unions spent so many millions to battle Gov. Scott Walker and his labor reforms and came away with so little to show for it.
Fund, senior editor of American Spectator, says unions never talked about the core issue of labor law reforms in their anti-Republican ads because they were afraid of opening up a “whole can of worms” about the privileges of public employee unions.
He also asserts that the election results are a clear vote of confidence for Gov. Walker, and predicts that unions will now bring their “road show” to Ohio where a similar union battle looms.
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Fund has written extensively for the Wall Street Journal and is the author of the book “Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy.”
Wisconsin Republicans retained control of the state Senate with victories in four out of six recall elections on Tuesday. The results represent a victory for Walker, who used his legislative majorities to place collective-bargaining curbs on most public employee unions in February and March, sparking weeks of protests.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV, Fund stated his view of the election results.
“It was astonishing to see labor unions spend $35 million of their members’ dues money to beat back Scott Walker’s labor reforms. But the astonishing thing is that for all the money they spent, mostly unsuccessfully, their ads against the Republican incumbents they were trying to recall never talked about the labor law reforms,” he says.
“They talked about ending Medicare, which is a federal issue, not a state issue. They talked about Paul Ryan. They talked about cutting budgets for education. They talked about everything except the issue of whether or not labor unions should have the right to withhold dues from their members if they didn’t want them to go to politics.
“That was the core of the issue that brought 75,000 people to the Madison state capital in February and March. And that was the one issue the labor unions didn’t want to bring up because I suspect that would have opened up a whole can of worms about union privileges and how much better public employee unions were paid, and how much better their benefits were than people in the private sector.”
Two more recall elections, involving Democratic incumbents, will be held next week, and one race is very competitive, Fund notes, adding: “So it is possible when all the dust settles Democrats will have spent $35 million to gain one senate seat in one state.”
Asked whether the election results constitute a vote of confidence for Walker, Fund responds: “I think it’s modified, mixed, but clear.
“Republicans retained control of the state Senate. His reforms are working. You’re seeing school districts all over the state being able to avoid layoffs. In fact they’re adding teachers and reducing class size. They’re saving lots of money because the health insurance monopoly that used to be controlled by the teachers’ union has been broken.
“All over the state, you’re seeing the reforms starting to work. I think when parents send their kids back to school in September they’re going to see the schools are still there and in some cases are probably performing better because of the flexibility now that schools boards have in negotiating labor contracts.”
The election results are a good sign for Republicans and other GOP governors who might seek reform of public employee unions, Fund says.
“The next round in this battle will be in Ohio because Ohio allows voters to put on the ballot a referendum challenging any act of the legislature. Gov. [John] Kasich has legislation similar to what Gov. Walker did, and that will be decided in a September referendum.
“So the unions will now move their road show on to Ohio. But I think they should be a little chastened because in the end these reforms often do bring more popular support when people understand them and they kick in.
“And I think with the expenditure of all that money to very little effect, the unions are going to have to wonder, should we save our money for a more pressing fight in 2012, like Barack Obama’s re-election, or should we spend it on these state level contests that may or may not pan out?”
Tuesday election results are the latest in a string of victories for Gov. Walker, Fund tells Newsmax.
“In addition to winning last November and carrying the state legislature to Republican control with him, he passed all those changes in the labor law. Then in April they had a titanic battle over the state’s Supreme Court, which has a narrow 4-to-3 conservative majority. The left spent millions and millions of dollars to try to oust an incumbent justice and they failed.
“So now with Democrats having failed to take over the state senate, it seems there’s a narrow, consistent majority that is willing to back Scott Walker’s agenda and not back that of the unions.”
As for the media’s attempts to portray Walker as a sort of “rogue governor,” Fund observes: “Walker did make some missteps in how he presented his labor reform law, and allowed himself to be caricatured. But it’s not Governor Walker that’s the issue. It’s the fact that the states are broke, and they’re broke because they’ve given away far too much in pensions, healthcare benefits.
“In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie, who has pushed through dramatic pension reform with the help of Democratic legislators, told me teachers are getting a much better deal than anyone else in the state. If we’re going to have shared sacrifice, you need to have shared sacrifice with everyone.
People in the private sector lose their jobs. They’re the ones paying the bills for the public sector. We can have better, more efficient education if we take away layers of bureaucracy, if we have fewer administrators and more teachers in the classroom. But none of these changes are possible because of the archaic and hidebound union rule books.”
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