Monday, September 22, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Pennsylvania the new Wisconsin? Please God, no

Just because the wind chill outside is minus-10, our division-winning football teams aren't in the Super Bowl, our basketball teams are, ahem, "rebuilding" and we share a certain affection/affliction for yellow artery-clogging goo, that does NOT make Pennsylvania the next Wisconsin.

Pennsylvania the new Wisconsin? Please God, no

An unidentified Packer fans show support (Cheesehead-painted)
Credit: Donald Miralle/Getty Images
SetNumber: D73279
An unidentified Packer fans show support (Cheesehead-painted) Credit: Donald Miralle/Getty Images SetNumber: D73279

Just because the wind chill outside is minus-10, our division-winning football teams aren't in the Super Bowl, our basketball teams are, ahem, "rebuilding" and we share a certain affection/affliction for yellow artery-clogging goo, that does NOT make Pennsylvania the next Wisconsin.

Will somebody please explain that to America-crushing Grover Norquist?

The Wisconsin state capitol was the site of massive protests in 2011 during the fight to pass Republican Governor Scott Walker’s labor reforms. The following year Big Labor staged demonstrations in Michigan against Republican Governor Rick Snyder’s right-to-work bill, which ultimately passed. Now Pennsylvania’s state capitol is set to reach fever pitch, as unions plan to bus in hundreds of protestors this week to fight legislation that, if bad for union bosses, could be a boon to rank-and-file workers.

Pennsylvania is a longtime labor stronghold. Consider that a plaque directly across from the state capitol commemorates the unionization of government workers. But Pennsylvania lawmakers are now poised to pass a law to end automatic deduction of union dues from government employee paychecks.

It's not clear how "poised" those lawmakers are (more on that in a second) but according to the conservative lobbyist-king (and some other dude who co-authored this op-ed called "Pennsylvania as the new Wisconsin in union fights") the ability of government workers to deduct their union dues is the one thing -- the ONE THING -- that is killing our once-fantastical life here in the Keystone State:

It now seems clear that a key factor in many major problems facing the Keystone State is the taxpayer-funded union dues collection system. It enables unions to block the policy reforms that would help make sure the state pension plans are funded and sustainable, fix a broken education system or change an uncompetitive tax and regulatory system that puts Pennsylvania at a disadvantage in attracting jobs and investment.

Expect a lot of bluster and hyperbole to come out of the demonstrations at the Pennsylvania capitol this week. According to a recent Commonwealth Foundation survey, however, 79 percent of Pennsylvania voters are opposed to the use of state resources for political activities.

You have to say this about Grover Norquist -- he's done an amazing job selling America the myth of Ronald Reagan. But Wisconsin's Scott Walker, sir, is no Ronald Reagan. A worker's paycheck is the money he or she has earned and this is HIS or HER resources, not the state's resources -- but the kind of deceit that the Commonwealth Foundation uses in that survey is kind of how conservatives roll these days. It is the same kind of deceitful politics that has tried since 1980 to destroy the working man and woman in America at the behest of wealthy interests like the Koch Brothers, who are surely salivating over the idea of this happening in Harrisburg if they are not out and out funding it.

Just like Walker and partners in crime in Madison who never told voters they would roll back worker protections and then tried to do so in the dead of night, the Republicans pushing this measure in Pennsylvania aren't pushing this because it's good government, but because it's good politics. You see, there's one more thing that Wisconsin and Pennsylvania have in common -- they're increasingly blue states, especially in presidential elections, yet they've have GOP governors and legislatures. Here in the Keystone State, the smart money is that a Democrat will be in the governor's mansion in 2015, and so the Koch crowd is desperate to take a swing at labor on the way out. (I also hear the bill in question probably won't pass, because Pa. does still have a handful of pro-labor GOP state senators.)

But if and when Gov. Corbett (and maybe some extreme GOP lawmakers) gets the boot in November, it won't be because a few dollars of union members' paychecks get deducted in order to fight bills that are actually anti-union. The things that Norquist is whining about -- especially the worst of the Corbett agenda, like school vouchers or turning a healthy lottery system that's working over to a company that would siphon out profits -- didn't happen because they are terrible, counterproductive ideas. And there's one other important thing that we can never forget, which is...

Where the hell does Grover Norquist even get off, trying to tell Pennsylvania -- a state that this Beltway insider and corporate lobbyist has never lived (or more relevantly, paid taxes) in -- what to do and how it can or can't pay for vital services. It was Norquist who had Corbett and the Legislature quaking in their faux cowboy boots if they dared tax their fracking-fluid-drenched campaign contributors the same rational way that every other energy states taxes their gas producers. We're sick of Norquist's posturing.

Just because you wake up and there's snow on the ground doesn't mean you're in Wisconsin. Get lost, Grover.

About this blog
Will Bunch, a senior writer at the Philadelphia Daily News, blogs about his obsessions, including national and local politics and world affairs, the media, pop music, the Philadelphia Phillies, soccer and other sports, not necessarily in that order.

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