Did Scott Walker and the Kochs overplay their hand in Wisconsin?

Angry voters rally in Wisconsin (Reuters)

With 100,000 protesters rallying in Madison, Wisconsin this past Saturday to protest the union-busting tactics of Republican Gov. Scott Walker, the cracks may already be showing in the great tea party takeover of government.

Public opinion polls show a majority of Americans didn’t like Walker’s tactics in Wisconsin. Sarah Palin‘s popularity is dropping while nutcases from the rabid right like Michelle Bachmann makes voters who fell for their “we’re gonna change things in Washington” line regret their decision last November.

Which creates a fascinating politicial conundrum: Voters aren’t happy with Obama and the Demorats, they don’t care much for Republicans and now they are having second thoughts about all those tea party “reformers” they voted into office.

Oh, the fickle American voter.

The problem, of course, is that the typical American voter is just plain fed up with government, politics and the people they elect to office.. The dissatisfaction crosses party lines. Democrats aren’t happy with Obama, Republicans wonder what happened to their party and the tea baggers realized they drank a witch’s brew.

Meanwhile, the Koch brothers sit in their palatial offices back in Wichita, high-fiving each other because all they disarray appears to be playing right into their hands to seize control of the American government for their own profiteering.

But the Kochs and the conservatives and the tea baggers may have overplayed their hand. With a growing number of voters already starting to show signs of buyer’s remorse and excesses like Scott Walker re-energizing the Democratic union base, the voter anger in 2012 just might be directed at them.

When a governor’s action brings 100,000 protesters to a state capital, those who deal in using voter anger to their advantage start to take notice.

The Kochs are used to operating in secret but their involvement in the tea party movement and debacles like Wisconsin have brought them into the public eye and they can’t stand public scrutiny.

As owners of one of the largest privately-held conglomerates in the world, they aren’t used to having to answer to anyone but themselves.  That could change because of Wisconsin and — if it does — it is change that is long overdue.

Their involvement and agenda are out in the open now and a growing number of Americans realize that the phony grassroots operation called the tea party is nothing more than a sham organization fronting for two billionaires who are nothing more than modern-day robber barons who want absolute control of the American government.

I know this because I once worked for the Washington consulting concern — The Eddie Mahe Company — that created Citizens for a Sound Economy, the phony grassroots group that morphed into Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks and — ultimately — the Tea Party.  I created newsletters for Citizens for a Sound Economy.

I helped create other phony grassroots efforts, like Citizens for Rural Broadband Internet Access — a front group for Corning designed to help get funding so rural telephone coops could buy fiber-optic cable from the company.

I’m not proud of that period of my life. I was in it for the money and the money was good but creation of such sham outfits subverts Democracy and we’re seeing the results of the Koch brothers subversion now in Wisconsin and other states where similar attempts are underway to take away the collective bargaining rights of public employees.

It’s just the beginning of a master plan by the Kochs and other corporate fat cats to control government and it won’t stop until they are stopped.

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14 Responses to "Did Scott Walker and the Kochs overplay their hand in Wisconsin?"

  1. Cindy  March 14, 2011 at 11:11 am

    You are definitely right when you say that we don’t care for Obama and the democrats and/or the nutcases in the Republican arena. So why can we not find somebody that is really for the middle class to run against Obama? It is the middle class that pays for everything. We pay more so that the poor and the rich both can continue to receive all these tax credits and both get money back after not paying any taxes. We need to start standing up for the middle class before the rich and poor both destroy us. Go unions! Take this country back from the evil greedy corporations that take our money while sending our jobs overseas!

  2. Pondering It All  March 14, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    Cindy, I wouldn’t worry about the poor’s share of the pie: Their slice is so thin you can see right through it! What we are seeing now is the result of about 30 years of economic policies designed to transfer all the wealth from the middle class to the rich. It has always been sold to the middle class as “their opportunity to join the upper class”, but that is about as likely as winning the lottery.

    What the promoters of this plan failed to realize, is that a prosperous middle class is what makes a country successful. Third world countries, with all of their resources owned by a tiny percentage of their population (or even by a single family) can’t compete economically because very few of their people are educated or have the resources to create new businesses.

    If we want to fix it, we have to do a few things: First, we need to add higher income tax brackets for millionaires and even higher for billionaires. Then we need to add strong tax incentives for business equipment investment, research, and hiring employees. BOTH are necessary to get the wealthy investing in our future. Last, we need to add incentives like scholarships and higher education funding to get those new workers trained. It would also be a good idea to make sure we recognize talented students even in the poorest parts of the country, and make sure they have the resources to earn their place in the middle class.

    • Fivebyfives  March 15, 2011 at 9:33 pm

      PIAll: You’re absolutely spot on in your first paragraph, in that 30 years of a bad theory proving a joke, the answer is to double down on the same theory. Also involved is the “much wants more” attitude, whereby those of great wealth insist it’s not enough. It’s never enough.

      And, adding to this is the repeat of the mantra of the 1920′s and 30′s among the “investing class” that the only role of government in a financial crisis is to promote and sustain “business confidence” for that same class. My neighbor is quite well off, a tea party guy, and truly believes that the top 10% of income earners are the only people that count vis a vis the economy and government. To my mind it is similar to the “good” Germans of the Nazi era who really believed the propaganda floating around. After all, as Goebbels said, a lie repeated often enough becomes the truth. And he didn’t even have Fox News.

      The narrative is so skewed that those earning $250,000 a year, which is about 2% of the population, consider that figure the bottom of the middle class. Everyone below that…well, they simply don’t exist.

    • Almandine  March 15, 2011 at 11:06 pm

      Hi Pondering -

      I’m drawn to economic comparisons from my youth, when the social justice of the Soviet model was all the rage. The proletariat had practically nothing to eat, but they were all pretty much equal. Northern Eurasia teemed with squalor, while the politburo in-crowd lived large. There was no hope of breaking into the middle – much less – upper crust. I fear that is the model being trotted out by our current “dear leader”.

      As for higher education, a college degree is the typical product. And, the availability of opportunities to get college degrees is without end. How many scholarships go wanting every year?

      Too many with degrees are unemployed as it is. What is needed is manual and technological skills, so that whatever manufacturing base can be made more available is populated with workers who can get the job done… or perhaps “skilled” thinkers who can turn their talents to invention and production. Of course, that supposes people will actually work…

      But back to the evil ones… what I’d like to know is the percentage of our own wealthy that were born so, and those that have made it – essentially – by their own effort. Certainly, there are those in both camps, but… again drawing from my youth, America post-WWII has been a cauldron of opportunity and prosperity. Could it be that the vast majority of those now considered wealthy deserve the fruits of their labors?

      What about the middle class… who are they and how did they get there?

      What defines a society that provides opportunity for all… and roadblocks for none?

      Who succeeds… and why?

      • b mcclellan  March 15, 2011 at 11:38 pm

        One should entirely be judged and pass said judgment by his benevolent nature be he of conscience.
        If no product of evil ones ?
        But may be unwittingly a pawn ?
        Middle class America came about as a product of human empathy, plus the oil rich couldn’t readily learn french.
        Pop said , a man is a man, ya get one chance, it’s work..

        • Almandine  March 16, 2011 at 10:34 am

          Yep… one chance… work.

          If you’re lucky, you get to be the empathetic one and not the patsy.

  3. woody188  March 14, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    They need ten times that amount to protest and they need them to shut down Madison for months to make any headway via street protests. Maybe if they all went on a hunger strike for 40 days…

  4. Danny Adams  March 15, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    >>The problem, of course, is that the typical American voter is just plain fed up with government, politics and the people they elect to office.. The dissatisfaction crosses party lines.<<

    Which is very much an additional factor in CHB's ongoing popularity. :)

  5. RBA  March 16, 2011 at 1:11 am

    Almandine,

    >>I’m drawn to economic comparisons from my youth, when the social justice of the Soviet model was all the rage. The proletariat had practically nothing to eat, but they were all pretty much equal. Northern Eurasia teemed with squalor, while the politburo in-crowd lived large. There was no hope of breaking into the middle – much less – upper crust. I fear that is the model being trotted out by our current “dear leader”.<<

    So, we either have to live in a society wherein the highest 10% of wage earners control 90% of the wealth… Where the highest 1% of wage earners control 40+% of the wealth…

    Or we are Soviet Russia? That is a strawman argument. Why does it have to be one extreme or the other?

    Many people look back on the 1950's as the golden age of the 'American Dream.' Why? Because we had a strong middle class. There were still the very rich, every elite segment, but it was not as obscene as it is today.

    When Eisenhower was in office, the average CEO of a major corporation made a median of 30x what the average worker in the company earned. Today, CEOs of the big corporations make 300-500x the salary of the average worker within the company.

    Yeah, we are certainly headed toward a society in which everyone is equal. haha.

    In actuality, there HAS been a massive transfer of wealth in this country over the last 30+ years… But, it hasn't been a transfer that resulted in a socialist or communist system. It has been a transfer of wealth from the middle class to the elite class.

    There are a lot of reasons for this shift, but the fact that it has happened is completely indisputable.

    Now, you throw around cute little phrases like 'Dear Leader' (a reference to Kim Jong Ill, for those unaware) in an attempt to paint Obama as some kind of radical because he wants to push the top marginal tax rate from 37% to 39%… That Communist SOB!

    It was in the 90 percentile under Eisenhower during the greatest period for America's middle class. That would make him what in today's parlance for extreme fiscal conservatives? Karl Marx?

    Richard Nixon — if he ran today — would be a liberal according to the extreme right. Obama has been called a socialist for passing Bob Dole's old health care reform.

    The conservative right has gone so far right that they've completely fallen off of the map and now live in their own reality where anything that attempts to correct the massive transfer of wealth over the last 30+ years will turn us into the USSR. It is truly bizarre.

    At what point does the Top 10% and, more accurately, the Top 1% own enough of the nation's wealth to where it actually becomes a problem for you? Is it even conceivable?

  6. Almandine  March 16, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    Nice effort RBA, but you missed my points… or turned them into strawmen of your own.

    My comparison with the Soviet system was to show both the immediate and long-term effects of collectivist economic control, which – although well known generally – often escapes much of the writings, carpings, bemoanings, and political discourse… as if we’d be much better off with a centrally-controlled system that equilibrates everybody’s wealth in the name of “fairness”. Govt flattening-out of our system would mean an overall lower standard of living… especially for those at the bottom.

    In that regard, our dear leader (no reference to Kim) is on record as saying that he’s quite aware that raising capital gains taxes on the “rich” will reduce tax receipts by the govt, but it’s all a matter of fairness. Cutting off one’s nose to spite? He has also surrounded himself with some of the most rabid collectivists ever to draw a breath in this country. His policies – taxes, energy, healthcare, etc – are indeed cut from anti-American cloth that will, iof allowed to endure, diminish our national capability through govt mandated redistribution schemes. Radical indeed.

    And then there’s the income tax equation that you raise, as if Eisenhower’s time is the model of how it ought to be. The 50s were indeed a sort of golden age, as the end of WWII brought about a reorienting of our manufacturing base toward consumer goods and the military personnel who had been trained technologically (to a degree) were prepared to return home and fulfill expanded production roles. Another plus of that time was the sense of nationalism and common purpose than vanquishing our enemies had brought, not to mention the social and cultural norms that were much more benign than today. Our country was a model to the world because of freedom and opportunity, our high taxes being the reimbursement for their liberation, much of which has never been repaid.

    As for the distribution of wealth, I certainly wish I had my “fair share” although I guess my labor equals my returns. That top 1% you reference earned 20% of total US income and paid 38% of all income taxes in 2008, with the top 10% earning 46% of all income and paying 70% of all income taxes. This compares with a 2.6% tax rate for the bottom 50% of all taxpayers, although about 41% of taxpayers had zero or negative tax liability (47% in 2009). Data from 2004 show that the bottom 20% of taxpayers got $8.21 in govt spending per tax dollar, while the top 20% got $0.41 in govt spending per tax dollar paid. Yes, there is quite an economic disparity among our people, but it’s not just wealth accumulated, but also skin-in-the-game. One might genuinely conclude that if all the wealth in this country were doled out equally among the population, our economy would grind to a halt as soon as it was spent on consumption. Oh wait, that’s happened already!

    You ask at what point would someone else’s wealth become a problem for me. I reply… why would it, unless their success somehow diminished my own… unless their success closed doors of opportunity for me… unless their success somehow stole my freedom. But then, I don’t look to them for my worth, my happiness, my measure of success, my liberty… and most of all I don’t look at them as evil for having made it, themselves. That, my friend, has always been the American dream.

    Yes, there are the crooks who have hijacked our economic apparatus and the power of our govt for their own gain, and they should be held accountable. Then there are the “wannabe” crooks who are just plain envious of those with more than they have, and who would steal the labors of those they envy in the name of “fairness”.

  7. Jeffery Haas  March 16, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    “…and the tea baggers realized they drank a witch’s brew.”

    Hate to say it Doug but MOST Tea Party members DO NOT realize this yet.
    As I am sure you already know, 98% of all major socio-political action is based on comfort and the Tea Baggers aren’t very uncomfortable yet.

    Oh, don’t get me wrong, they are about to taste the results of their efforts very soon, but the actual consequences of their actions are only just now starting to be felt by those who are most aware, and awareness is in short supply when you’re dealing with a populist group largely based on fantasies of “patriots” wearing tri-corner hats moving us back to a time that would make even Charles Dickens shudder.

    When the kiddies come home and report that the Tea Party plan for sound education consists of burning books to keep the students warm, THAT is when the bitter pill and the rotten pudding will cross their lips.

    For now, most of them are still gloating as the trays of gruel get passed to their moderate and liberal middle class counterparts. They haven’t gotten a sample of it yet and until it starts to make the gorge buoyant in their craw, they’ll continue to whoop and holler and tell each other that they have “taken America back!”

  8. KerriK  March 17, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    It is mind bogging that the REpublicans will fight so hard to scrap programs for the lower levels of society and fight so hard to keep tax breaks for the very wealthy and corporations. Consequently, it’s the middle class that gets the squeeze and as soon as the Tea Partiers realize this the better.

  9. slo grey  March 20, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    The more I live, the more I laugh. But this isn’t funny.

    If you want to live a better life, you have to make better decisions.

    JOIN THE REVOLUTION
    Read “Common Sense 3.1” at ( http://www.revolution2.osixs.org )

    We don’t have to live like this anymore. “Spread the News”
    FIGHT THE CAUSE – NOT THE SYMPTOM

    • Almandine  March 20, 2011 at 11:02 pm

      If only your platform wasn’t so collectivist.

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