First published 3/10/11 on Health Policy and Marketplace Review
Just how is the way Wisconsin Republicans have handled the political confrontation over worker rights different than the way Washington, DC Democrats handled last year’s health care vote?
With apologies in advance to Ezra for taking some liberties with his column yesterday evening in the Washington Post:
What happened in Wisconsin [Washington DC] tonight [last March]
By Ezra Klein [Bob Laszewski]
Here’s what just happened [last March] in Wisconsin [Washington, DC]: The rules of the state’s [U.S.] Senate require a quorum [60 votes] for any measures that do [don’t] spend money. That’s how the absence of the Senate’s Democrats [the election loss in Massachusetts] could stymie Gov. Scott Walker’s [the Democrat’s efforts] to block [pass] the proposed budget law [the new health care bill] — it spent [parts didn’t spend] money, and thus it needed a quorum [60 votes].
But in a surprise move earlier today [after the Massachusetts loss], Wisconsin’s [Washington’s] Senate Republicans [Democrats] rewrote the bill [using reconciliation rules] and left out all the parts that spent [didn’t spend] money. Then they quickly convened and passed the new law, which included the provisions stripping most public-employee unions of their collective bargaining rights [a bill that dramatically impacted 14% of the economy and the delivery of everyone’s health care] but excluding everything in the law [by crafting a special a reconciliation bill leaving everything out that] that spent [didn’t spend] money.
What happens [happened] next? Expect the protests over the next few days [ensuing months] to be ferocious. But unless a judge [the Supreme Court] rules the move illegal — and I don’t know how to judge the likelihood of that — Walker’s [the Democrat’s] proposed [new health] law will go forward. The question is whether Walker and the Republicans [Obama and the Democrats] who voted for it will do the same.
Polls in Wisconsin [across the country] clearly showed that Republicans [Democrats] had failed to persuade the public of their cause. Walker’s [Obama’s, Reed and Pelosi’s] numbers dropped, while Democrats and unions [Republicans and the Tea Party] found themselves suddenly flush with volunteers, money and favorable media coverage. And they plan to [did] take advantage of it: Eight Wisconsin Republicans have served for long enough to be vulnerable to a recall election next year, and Democrats have already begun gathering signatures. Now their efforts will accelerate. “We now put our total focus on recalling the eligible Republican senators who voted for this heinous bill,” said Mike Tate, chairman of the Wisconsin Democratic Party. “And we also begin counting the days remaining before Scott Walker is himself eligible for recall.” [The Republicans scored the biggest off-year election victory in a lifetime.]
Bob Laszewski is a DC-based health policy analyst who writes at Health Policy and Marketplace Review.