Yeah, I know – you’re probably sick of hearing about the protests in Wisconsin by now. But I can’t help myself — leftists on Live Journal and Facebook are driving me absolutely batty. Thus, I give you my responses to three pernicious memes I’ve seen floating around the ‘net:
Myth #1: Walker manufactured the budget crisis by awarding tax cuts to his cronies!
Debunked by Politifact (which calls both Democrats and Republicans on their misleading statements, exaggerations, etc.):
We re-read the fiscal bureau memo, talked to Lang, consulted reporter Jason Stein of the Journal Sentinel’s Madison Bureau, read various news accounts and examined the issue in detail.
Our conclusion: Maddow and the others are wrong.
There is, indeed, a projected deficit that required attention, and Walker and GOP lawmakers did not create it.
More on that second point in a bit.
The confusion, it appears, stems from a section in Lang’s memo that — read on its own — does project a $121 million surplus in the state’s general fund as of June 30, 2011.
But the remainder of the routine memo — consider it the fine print — outlines $258 million in unpaid bills or expected shortfalls in programs such as Medicaid services for the needy ($174 million alone), the public defender’s office and corrections. Additionally, the state owes Minnesota $58.7 million under a discontinued tax reciprocity deal.
The result, by our math and Lang’s, is the $137 million shortfall.
Meanwhile, what about Maddow’s claim — also repeated across the liberal blogosphere — that Walker’s tax-cut bills approved in January are responsible for the $137 million deficit?
Lang’s fiscal bureau report and news accounts addressed that issue as well.
The tax cuts will cost the state a projected $140 million in tax revenue — but not until the next two-year budget, from July 2011 to June 2013. The cuts are not even in effect yet, so they cannot be part of the current problem.
Myth #2: Walker threatened to sic the Wisconsin National Guard on the protestors!
Also debunked at Politifact:
When he spoke later that day to Journal Sentinel reporters and editors, Walker used the example of the National Guard helping run state prisons in the event of a strike by corrections workers.
In an email to PolitiFact Wisconsin, Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie wrote: “In the unlikely event that core government services are disrupted the Guard would be used just to continue those services. That’s what the National Guard does.”
Indeed, demonstrations over Walker’s proposals were held in Madison and elsewhere in Wisconsin on Feb. 14 and 15, with thousands of people showing up, but the National Guard was not summoned.
And on Feb. 15, the Guard issued a news release saying it “has not been mobilized for state active duty” and “we remain in our normal state of readiness.”
Myth #3: The Wisconsin protesters are exercising their rights just like the Tea Partiers did!
At best, this is a half-truth. The pro-union protesters in Wisconsin are largely peaceful, as were the Tea Partiers in 2009-2010. And yes, both the Wisconsin protesters and the Tea Partiers have the right to stage political demonstrations to ensure that their voices are heard. But there are significant differences between the two groups.
First of all, no Tea Party group full-on occupied the Capital for days on end before the Obamacare vote. Tea Partiers raised loud objections to Obamacare at many townhall meetings, and there were several spirited Tea Party protests held in DC and elsewhere, but once the Tea Partiers had said their piece, they went home. They didn’t shirk their jobs to stick around — and they didn’t encourage Congressional Republicans to run away from their duties either.
(Again, don’t believe it when Wisconsin’s protesting teachers claim that they are doing it “for the children.” In staging their sick-out, they have denied thousands of children their right to an education. “For the children” my ass.)
Secondly, to my knowledge, no official RNC organ had a hand in organizing any Tea Party events. Indeed, the relationship between the GOP and the Tea Party is lukewarm at best. On the other hand, Organizing for America, the wing of the DNC that helped to get Barack Obama elected in 2008, has definitely played an active role in keeping the protests alive in Wisconsin.
Third, the Tea Partiers always picked up their trash. The Wisconsin protesters have sometimes failed to do this. This may seem like such a little thing to harp on, but I think the trash issue speaks volumes about the very different attitudes of the two groups. One group believes in personal responsibility. The other group believes in government. The fact that I prefer groups which champion the former does not make me a hypocrite.
The National Mall after the 9/12 rally.
Hope this post helps in your arguments with left-leaning friends and relatives!