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David Walker
Political/Philanthropic leader

David Walker

Former Comptroller General of the United States, David Walker is founder and CEO of the Comeback America Initiative.

Gov. Walker is overreaching on some solutions

Question: Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin continues to demand an end to collective bargaining rights for state employees even after winning their agreement on the benefit reductions he sought. These are the same state employees he must rely on to operate state government and implement his policies. How should he strike the balance between the urgent need to restore the state's fiscal health and his longer-term challenge of leading a large governmental enterprise?

Governor Scott Walker (R-Wis.), no relation, is rightly concerned about the impact of government pension and health plans, especially retiree health plans, on the current and future fiscal outlook of Wisconsin's state, county and city governments. He also has some legitimate concerns regarding certain aspects of the collective bargaining process. However, he seems to have overreached in connection with some of his proposed solutions.

While there are many reasons that government workers should not be able to bargain over pension and health benefit levels, it is reasonable for them to be able to bargain over current pay, employee benefit contributions and normal work rules. The truth is that there are not enough checks and balances to protect future taxpayers in connection with retirement benefit promises but there are in connection with current wages, contributions and work rules.

Irrespective of whether these benefits are bargained or not, there needs to be more transparency regarding the design of these government plans as compared to major employers in the private sector. In the final analysis, government pension and health plans need to be competitive to attract and retain top talent. They also have to be affordable and sustainable.

By David Walker

 |  February 28, 2011; 5:09 PM ET
Category:  Economic crisis , Government leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: TV perpetuates old boys club | Next: Unions, the government's low-hanging fruit

Comments

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Best bet anywhere is for government employees at whatever level to have no more collective bargaining rights or "insiders privilege" regarding legislation than is available to Federal Employees.

Then everyone will know where we stand ~ with no secret entanglements.

Also be a good idea to strip elected and appointed officials OUT of the employee retirement plans.

Posted by: muawiyah | March 4, 2011 3:23 PM
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I can't help but wonder how Bob Dylan would feel being quoted by a tea party follower. When Dylan first wrote 'The times they are a Changing' public unions were a fledgling enterprise just beginning to sweep the nation. Now his own words are used to promote exactly the opposite of his intent. So continues the twisted logic of the new right. I'll sit back and take what happens for the most part since we do live in a democracy, but, Tes Party people using Dylan as a tool is to much. Then when you consider his main early influence, Woody Guthrie, a man who spent his entire life fighting for what now is being destroyed, your crossing the line. Woody did more for the working man in his own special way than any one else could even come close to. I sure wish he was here now to walk from migrant camp to migrant camp, frequently beaten along the way, to sing some sense into what has turned into a nightmare that will most likely end with this country once again in the flames of civil war. Yes, I know that sounds extreme, though the realities of what is now going on in this country only point to that end. One only has to read the comments on almost any newsworthy item on Yahoo to see where were at. A recent story as simple as weather patterns in the southwest brings out the hatred and racism lying just under the surface of our nation. It is unbelievable. I thought after decades of spending hundreds of thousands of miles on the highways and byways of this country, trying to gain the insight of what Bob and Woody sang about, we were a better nation than so many said we were. I've followed the Rio Grande from start to finsih. Followed the Colorado until it meets the Sea of Cortez, sleeping on the damp sand in search of what these men sang about. The Platte, Missouri, Columbia, San Juan, Chattooga, Hiwassa, Snake, Gila;I've listened to the special tone of each. And for a short time thought my search had been in vain. That the time had passed for those who need to fight for what is right and just. That at least a certain level of fairness had been somewhat achieved in America. How wrong I was, how lazy I became. Watching the struggles of our current president has once again brought all my fears to light. Nothing ever changes, it merely repeats itself in new forms. The civil war has never ended. Everything fought for in the last two hundred plus years can be put aside in a second. All those who truly care about this country have somehow fallen asleep. We took to much for granted, losing sight of the fact that every day,is a test of our humanity. We the People, have become we the narcoleptic. Lost in our flat screens and ipods. Where are the people smart enough and fair enough to elect Mr. Obama.You need to stand up now and follow through. Without him we would now be in either ww3 or a great depression. He's a good man, but he needs our help. Don't let him stand alone out of fear. Buck up and help the man out. He's done his part, time to do our's.

Posted by: bryanholz | March 3, 2011 5:17 PM
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NewsBusters: CNN.com Story on Gov. Walker's 'Overreach' Loaded with Unanimous Anti-Walker 'Experts'
http://newsbusters.org/blogs/matthew-balan/2011/03/01/cnn-forwards-idea-overreach-gov-walker-through-quoted-experts

Posted by: StewartIII | March 2, 2011 1:01 AM
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Governments throughout the US (including the federal government) would probably find it much more affordable and sustainable to pay public servants decent wages and benefits if they weren't so busy handing out all the plums and cherries to their corporate owners. Given that our representatives are universally bought and paid for by corporate creeps, what else can you expect but bully-boys driving down the wages of people who actually PRODUCE something for their salaries? As for pensions and benefits going ballistic, much of this is projections, which of course can always be manipulated, while another significant fraction is the result of the banks' little blowup the year before last that destroyed 30-50% of investment value in funds set aside to cover these items. And pray tell just how that was the fault of teachers and court clerks, as opposed to politicians who repeatedly refuse to regulate professional con artists or punish swindlers and cheats? As the Wisconsin native pointed out, there's plenty of money out there, if you take it from the people who profited most from ruining our economy instead of handing them more freebies.

Posted by: pythia53 | March 1, 2011 5:50 PM
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I'm sorry, I was unaware that the Washington Post had become such a bastion of right-wing bs.

Have any of these panelists ever even BEEN to Wisconsin?

I live in Wisconsin. Walker NEVER claimed to be running an anti-union campaign, and NEVER spelled out any of his plan for this budget "repair" bill. By the way, "repair" is in quotes, because there wouldn't be any need to "repair" anything, but for Walker. The Legislative Fiscal Bureau reported on 1/31/11 that WI would have had a $1.24M budget SURPLUS (i.e., we ain't broke) but for the $140M in tax breaks that Walker handed out in January to his corporate campaign contributors and cronies. Repeal THAT, and the public sector employees wouldn't have to make the monetary concessions that Walker asked them, and they've agreed, to make. Note: when they agreed to make those concessions, Walker said "no, not enough" - they have to lose their rights as well.

And yes, it IS a right. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Art. 23, sec. 4, recognizes the right of all persons to join a trade union. The primary purpose of joining a trade union is to gain the benefits of being able to bargain collectively; without the right to collective bargaining, the right to join the union is meaningless. The right to join a union and collectively bargain has also been held to be a part of the First Amendment's right to peaceably assemble.

Walker went way too far, and showed his desperation, when he attempted to shut the capitol building to protesters (and, in at least one case, elected officials) yesterday. That was overturned by a Dane County Circuit Judge this morning, when a restraining order went into effect until a further hearing can be held.

Walker's bill calls for non-recourse, no-bid sales of state-owned power plants to private interests. If you're going to sell a power plant (even one that is supposedly crumbling, according to Scott Fitzgerald), why wouldn't you try to get the most money you could possibly get for it, by holding an auction and selling to the highest bidder? The Koch brothers issued a press release disclaiming all interest in a potention plant purchase - but gee, they're already posting job openings for a plant they don't yet own, and the response address is their Madison lobbyists' office.

Can it be any plainer that this bill is not about money, but about power, pure and simple?

If you're going to report, report accurately. If you're going to state uninformed opinions based on something you heard on Fox News, label it that.

Shame on you, Washington Post. I expect better.

Posted by: awashburn | March 1, 2011 1:56 PM
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Should of NEVER let 'public'workers unionize.This isn't about fairness,it's about these over paid and over benefited Union workers that don't want the taxpayers golden eggs to stop rolling to them.Problem is, these incredibly greedy Unions(along with the cradle to the grave Democrats} are killing the goose that lays them. And they have a NERVE to say Tea party protest are bad and ugly."for the times they ARE a changing"

Posted by: votingrevolution1 | March 1, 2011 1:04 PM
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"Irrespective of whether these benefits are bargained or not, there needs to be more transparency regarding the design of these government plans as compared to major employers in the private sector. In the final analysis, government pension and health plans need to be competitive to attract and retain top talent. They also have to be affordable and sustainable."

The key words are "government plans". These are not pensions run by the unions. They are run by the state. Some pensions are run by unions themselves. To control the pensions was a decision made by the state.

Posted by: timothy2me | March 1, 2011 10:57 AM
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I am not a government worker!!!! The lack of respect toward government workers amazes me. It also amazes me people who receive government money at the other end of the trough in the form of farm subsidies, non combat VA disabilities, college loans for their children, and tax breaks among other governmental give a ways complain.

Yes Craised you are a good foot soldier for the Koch family. Remember taxes are paid for by the middle class. A shrinking middle class. A middle class that is decreasing; all because of the low level of right wing American politics. Politicians, who are afraid to go against Wall Street banks and the monies $$$ like the Koch family. I am sure Walker felt if he did a god job at screwing Wisconsin he might get a job with Koch, or at the least a good recommendation.

Posted by: bm66535 | March 1, 2011 8:05 AM
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Check your facts, Mr. Journalist."Out of every dollar that funds Wisconsin' s pension and health insurance plans for state workers, 100 cents comes from the state workers."

http://www.tax.com/taxcom/taxblog.nsf/Permalink/UBEN-8EDJYS?OpenDocument

Posted by: jcbarrett44 | March 1, 2011 7:37 AM
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Ideological Union busting, plain and simple. The days of accusing Unions of being evil Commies out to destroy America are long past. Unless your a Corporate-funded, anti-government Party, in which case you attack anything that can inhibit Corporate interests. Cheap labor, pollutions, unsafe goods, monopolies, secret campaign pay-offs? Is that what Republicans are claiming the last election was about?

Posted by: thebobbob | March 1, 2011 1:38 AM
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Any farmer will tell you Pigs always squeal when you chase them away from the trough. It doesn't concern the farmer much though; because he has a business to run. If the pigs are allowed to eat up the entire yearly allotment of food in one month the farmer will go broke trying to feed them. And that is what is happening in Wisconsin, and other places around our country. The fact of the matter is that the people of Wisconsin elected this Governor, and the Republican Congressmen because they promised to chase the pigs away from the trough, and keep the farm from going bankrupt. Judging from the amount of "Squealing" going on it looks to me like they are keeping their promise, and doing a darned good job. And it's about time. As for the cowardly Democratic legislators involved. I say let's have Pork Chops for dinner, and a heaping helping of Bacon for breakfast.

Posted by: craised | February 28, 2011 7:24 PM
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