Newly elected Presidents, Governors and County Executives are often tested early in their terms.
Ronald Reagan’s steel was tested by the Air Traffic Controllers. He won. They lost. And thereafter no one dared challenge Reagan absent consideration of the consequences.
Carter was tested by his own Congress early in his term over money for water projects. Congress won. Carter lost, and Carter never quite recovered the stature he lost by losing.
This is Scott Walker’s Reagan moment. If he loses the battle, his stature will be forever diminished. Worse, other would-be courageous Governors and Executives will stare at his political carcass and ponder the price of confronting public employee unions, their money and their power to instantaneously rent a riot.
What is at stake? States across the land face more than $130 billion in budget deficits. Absent the power to manage their workforce and its cost, Governors which must govern through the collective bargaining straightjacket find spending growth hard to contain and budgets nearly impossible to balance.
The distortions caused by collective bargaining rules impede intelligent decision making. Because of skyrocketing pension, health care and Medicaid costs, the Governor of New York is cutting funding for education. And because of collective bargaining rules, outstanding young teachers are being laid off and less deserving and more senior teachers are being left on the public payroll. The kids and the taxpayers who foot the bill are the ones who suffer. Even Democrat Governors like Cuomo are trying to chip away the power of public employee unions, though at a decibel level far below that of Wisconsin.
Some will never admit it, and Democratic Governors won’t dare say it, but nearly all are hoping that Walker prevails in his battle. The country needs for him to win.