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Thursday, March 17, 2011 05:50 am

The corporate/GOP attack on America’s middle class

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Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker
PHOTO BY TOM LYNN

The most revealing comments by politicians are rarely revealed. This is because they’re made in unrecorded conversations, when politicos let their guard down.

However, in a recent sting, blogger Ian Murphy recorded a revealing phone call he made to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Murphy pretended to be David Koch, the far-right-wing billionaire who pumped more than a million dollars into Walker’s election last year. The governor is very busy, but he spent 20 minutes regaling the fake David Koch with details of his effort to kill the collective bargaining rights of state workers.

Walker’s power play was being blocked by 14 Democratic senators, who had left the state to prevent any Senate action. Walker giddily told “Koch” that his legislative troops were ramming through a rule to require all senators to pick up their paychecks in person, apparently assuming the 14 absentees would care as much about money as he does and rush back.

The governor was especially excited about his scheme to use state workers as political pawns: “I’ve got layoff notices ready (for 5,000 or 6,000 employees),” he exulted, delighted to sacrifice them as pressure on the senators to return.

“Beautiful,” responded the Koch masquerader, who then suggested “planting some troublemakers” among the crowds protesting the governor’s union-busting.

“We thought about that,” Walker assured him, but dropped the idea because “the public is not really fond of this.” Besides, he said, the public’s protesting is “not going to affect us.”

 “Well, good,” said the billionaire imitator, adding, “Once you crush these bastards, I’ll fly you out (to California) and really show you a good time.”

Now this offer from his super-rich corporate co-conspirator really excited the guv. “All right,” he replied, “that would be outstanding. Thanks a million!”

Actually, Scott, Koch is into you for more than a million, which explains why Walker’s autocratic attempt to abrogate the democratic right of public employees to bargain with their governmental bosses is not wearing well with the public.

Recent polls show that a mere one-third of Wisconsinites favor his blatantly political power play and that if he had told voters in the last year’s election that he intended to do this, he would’ve lost.

After only one month in office, Walker’s approval rating has plummeted, and he’s become a national poster boy for right-wing anti-union extremism – indeed, he’s so out of step that he’s even being jeered by democracy fighters in Egypt!

Yet, Walker is but one of a flock of far-right, corporate-crested Republican governors and congress-critters who’re waging an all-out class war on unionized workers. It’s a shameful effort to bust the wage structure and legal protections that support America’s already endangered middle class.

In Washington, for example, loopy GOP leaders are out to abolish the legal mechanism through which workers can form a union and have their bargaining rights protected. Meanwhile, war-whooping Republican governors in Ohio, New Jersey, Indiana and elsewhere are slashing the health care and pension benefits owed to public employees, blaming these middle-class workers for their states’ fiscal messes.

But state budgets have been depleted by the economic crash caused by Wall Street greed and massive tax giveaways to wealthy elites – not by a firefighter’s pension or a teacher’s health plan.

And check out Nevada, where the Chamber of Commerce is even pushing to eliminate the minimum wage. This corporate-funded Republican assault is not about fiscal responsibility. The corporate powers intend nothing less than to dismantle the entire framework of America’s economic democracy and return us to the dark days of Robber Baron plutocracy.

To the barricades, people!

Jim Hightower is a national radio commentator, columnist and author.

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