Streams's Wisconsin Message: Pot, Kettle, Black

Thursday, March 10, 2011 - 12:33 PM

I've signed up for dozens of political organizations' emails, among them left wing groups, right wing groups, libertarians and everything in between. I like to at least know the gist of what these groups are saying to their own members, without anyone filtering it, and occasionally I get something that really shows how blinded some people can be by their own beliefs. In this case, the ideological perspective of the most well-known liberal organization in the country has conveniently forgotten its own position from just last year.

Related: Politics of Destruction and Distraction in Wisconsin has been shooting out more missives than normal in recent weeks, most of them related to the situation in Wisconsin. Most of the communications they put out are your standard preach-to-the-choir fare, but this little piece from a recent email caught my eye:

Minutes ago, Wisconsin Republicans made a shocking power grab—ramming through their partisan attack on workers' rights without a single Democrat present. It's shameful, unprecedented, and probably illegal. We can't let them get away with this.

The legislation passed without a single Democrat present because the Democratic lawmakers left the state, abandoning their elected posts and have refused to come back. I don't agree with a lot of what Scott Walker is pushing, but this is no excuse to leave the state.

That issue has been discussed at length all over the place, but it is that last sentence that really sticks out to me here. knows that the way the bill has been passed is legal. Moreso, this is precisely the manner in which the Democrats in our nation's capital passed the landmark health care bill last year.

In both cases, the majority party could not pass a piece of legislation because of some form of stonewalling. The Democrats just couldn't get enough votes to pass changes to the Senate's version of the healthcare bill without using reconciliation, allowing the Democrats to pass it with less than the 60 votes necessary to overcome a filibuster. All they needed was a majority vote, just like what Scott Walker and the Wisconsin Republicans did.

In Wisconsin, the rule in question says that a bill can be passed with a mere majority of legislators present, as opposed to the sixty percent quorum normally necessary - which dems have blocked since the GOP is one seat short of that, if it does not involve spending measues. The Republicans stripped the parts of the bill in question of all spending, leaving only the parts that put limits on various aspects of union collective bargaining, aside from police and fire departments.

It is just as hypocritical for the various Republican constituency groups who were complaining about the use of reconciliation to pass parts of the health care bill. As is typical with most politicians, regardless of their ideological stripes, all sides are more than willing to take a "principled stand" when the issue in question is in opposition to their views, but when the tables are turned those principles dissolve into thin air.

Solomon Kleinsmith is a nonprofit worker, serial social entrepreneur and strident centrist independent blogger from Omaha, Nebraska. His website, Rise of the Center, is the fastest growing blog targeting centrist independents and moderates. He is currently collaborating with other centrist independent and moderate bloggers on a news aggregation and social networking site, and is always looking for ways to help the independent groundswell as more and more people become disaffected with the two major parties.


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Comments [5]


I read the related article on and yours sums it all up pretty well. To tell the truth, reading this has really made me think - I have never considered the matter so seriously and thoroughly. I'll keep watching the blog for updates.


Mar. 28 2012 11:35 AM
B. K. Bogen from Westchester County

“Precise parliamentary”??? I knew more about parliamentary procedure 50 years ago. Anarchists and Royalists talking like that should go back in the woodwork.

The amended bill ‘precisely’ betrayed the dishonesty of the Governor’s cretins, claiming to be about balancing the budget and then eliminating money from the bill!!! Mussolini called that Fascism: Corporate Government.

At this late date in history and concentration of unsustainable democracy with obscene personal and corporate wealth don’t whine about any logic in Libertarianism as anything else but.

Mar. 14 2011 01:54 PM
Lynn Wilson from 61109

Let me say first of all, Solomon, you are not the know it all blogger, are you?
Well then how could you compare Wisconsin government with federal government? Apples and oranges. Different rules for each and different criteria.
Secondly, the senators had a right to leave. Mr Walker gave them no choice. They can protest by not participating in the vote. The rule is there must be 20 senators present to vote. But Mr Walker threatened to arrest them if they did not come to the capitol building. This man is on a mission, per his won words. He wants to be the president and be more famous than Reagan. He is looney toons! Crazy, or so full of himself, narcissistic, that it really is scary, because he does not care about right and wrong, or following the rules. He will go to any lengths to get what he wants. Read some of the news articles about him 2years ago or more. Actually there are problems Milwaukee is still dealing with from his craziness.
Those senators did what they had to do to try to protect people who are helpless against someone like him. That is our biggest complaint about Obama, he does not stand up for his base. That is exactly what those men did, and 77% Badgers agreed!

Mar. 13 2011 06:17 PM
Solomon Kleinsmith from Omaha, NE

This rule they used is just as clear as reconciliation.

I sure hope you can do better than the flawed reasoning used in the two posts above.

Mar. 10 2011 03:51 PM
Justin Krebs from NYC

Solomon -

Tomorrow, I'll be writing a post that will focus more on why I agree with MoveOn that the move by Wisconsin is "shameful."

On the "illegal" question, I'm no lawyer. However, I have to take exception with your claim that: " knows that the way the bill has been passed is legal."

Here are two posts that dig in on that a little more deeply. It's not totally clear.

From FireDogLake:

From Naked Capitalism:

Mar. 10 2011 02:06 PM

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