On Friday, in the first ever blog post on this website, I mentioned why Wisconsin matters to the national debate about the power of unions and their relation to the soaring debt and deficits nearly all 50 states are running.
At first glance, the 14 Democratic Wisconsin State Senators self-imposed exile to the state of Illinois was cute. Their exodus broadcast on all of the 24-hour news networks as well as the nightly news on the three majors.
As their absence was continued throughout the weekend, with Presidents Day coming on Monday, nary the long drawn out reports of death in the struggle of Libya to free itself from Qaddafi's rule could stagnate the buzz that Wisconsin continues to garner.
We're now about to close the second day of this week's news cycle, and the major news papers have been flooded with stories and op-eds that range from timid to downright bombastic in their support or disapproval of what is going on in Madison.
On Monday morning, readers of the NY Times were treated to Paul Krugman's two cents on the situation in Madison. The schizophrenic "economist" at least concedes that Wisconsin does face a budget problem, but chides Governor Scott Walker over tax breaks given to business that he contends will only make deficits more problematic.
But Krugman's main point, which has been followed up by several prominent columnists today, is very clear. Liberals and the political left simply can't afford to lose the fight in Wisconsin.
The full scale defense of public sector unions by these commentators surrounds a central theme. If we lose in Wisconsin, it could be the end of big labor everywhere else.
Governor Walker is no dummy. Part of the reason he wants to ease the state of the burden of these collective bargaining rights is because they are what got the sweetheart deals the Wisconsin Senate Democrats are somehow OK parting with now.
Eugene Robinson, Washington Post columnist and frequent MSNBC analyst wrote today, concluding:
"This is pure, unadulterated union-busting -- not with goons and brickbats, but with the stroke of a scheming governor's pen."
Prior to drawing the conclusion, Robinson basically admitted that public sector unions are the Democrats major campaign helpers, and that if Wisconsin Democrats cave, and a vote is had, it could basically lead to a domino effect (my euphemism) among other cash-strapped states.
This is why there is such an uproar on the left. Steve Malanga of the Wall Street Journal wrote an excellent story on just how powerful public sectors are, and at what type of costs they operate with.
While labor has dwindled over the years, we've seen what its last standing leg can do.
With the power it currently wields, unions are free to wage war on state budgets--rendering public spending on programs that are already cashed starved useless as states scramble to find the money to pay the ridiculous benefit plans and pensions unions have negotiated with their "harmless" collective bargaining rights.
No matter what is said about the stand off in Madison, Wisconsin from here on out, only one thing can remain true.
The left cannot lose this battle, because if they do, as just about every liberal with a voice has pointed out, without powerful public sector labor, Democrats on the whole will have to come up with a way to deal with another type of deficit--the one that laws like the one proposed in Wisconsin will bring to the campaign account for future candidates in the Wisconsin Democratic party.