Mr. Walker goes to Washington. He ain’t no Mr. Smith!

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UYGUR: In Washington today, the moment we‘ve all been waiting for, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker going before the House Oversight Committee. Time for answers. You want answers? I want the truth. That was my best “few good men” impression. Pretty sad. Anyway, Scott Walker, the man who crushed the public unions in the state, stripped collective bargaining rights from hundreds of thousands of workers, so brace yourself, Mr. Walker. Chairman Darrell Issa, let‘s hear it, set the tough tone for the hearing. Tell the audience what to expect.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DARRELL ISSA ®, CALIFORNIA: If you agree with them, smile. If you disagree with them, smile.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR: Instructing the witness to smile. That‘s your opening message? All right. Anyway, maybe some other Republicans on the committee will get down to business and really call out Walker.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PATRICK MCHENRY ®, NORTH CAROLINA: Governor Walker has boldly set out to push through similar initiatives in Wisconsin. Even in the face of extremely heated political attacks, Governor Walker has shown that he understands and has a genuine commitment to reform.

REP. DENNIS ROSS ®, FLORIDA: One of the issues that we saw in Wisconsin was that there were senators on the democrat side who left the state and failed to come to the table.

REP. TIM WALBERG ®, MICHIGAN: Governor Walker, I also appreciate the fact that what you build in Milwaukee and enjoy riding my road king, I understand you ride as well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR: Whoa, whoa there, take it easy on him. You‘re killing him out there. By the way, remember, this is the Government Oversight Committee. Where is the oversight? Oh, I love riding motorbikes, you do, too. You‘re awesome, dude. All right. Now, why on earth would these four congressmen treat Governor Scott Walker with such—what could have been? What could have been? Could have been that they all just happened to have received money from the Koch Brothers and their political action committee. That same political action committee that just happened to give $43,000 to Governor Walker‘s campaign? You remember the Koch brothers? Charles and David Koch. The billionaires who own Koch industries?

And give millions of dollars to the extreme right-wring groups and the Republican Party that just happen to push policies that benefit Koch industries? What a coincidence. In fact, 14 members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform got campaign money from the Kochs in the recent election cycle. Thirteen of them, of course, are Republicans. All told, those members took in more than $100,000 from Koch Industries pac. Nicely done, guys, way to cash in. Now, fortunately, there were some Democrats on the committee who came to fight, unloading on Governor Walker for attacking public workers‘ right to collective bargaining.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: I was so strongly object to efforts by politicians who try to use current economic downturn to strip American workers of their rights. We should be helping these workers, not attacking them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR: Another democrat is calling for an investigation of hiring practices by the Walker administration. Check this out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. BRUCE BRALEY (D), IOWA: Are you ready to apologize to the people of Wisconsin for hiring the 27-year-old son of one of your major campaign donors who‘s a lobbyist, and that individual had no college education, very little managerial experience and had two drunk driving convictions and was hired for an $81,000 a year job?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR: Shockingly enough Walker didn‘t apologize. He said that his staff removed the worker once he learned about the cronyism that he had done. I mean, after he learned about the hiring. What an interesting coincidence there as well. But without a doubt, the moment of the day came courtesy of Dennis Kucinich. Congressman Kucinich challenged Walker over a provision that would require union members to vote every year to continue their membership.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D), OHIO: Can you please explain to me and members of this committee how much money this provision saves for your state budget?

GOV. SCOTT WALKER ®, WISCONSIN: It‘s the same reason we gave workers the right to choose which is a fundamental American right, the right to choose whether or not they want to be a part of the union and whether or not they want up to $1,000.

KUCINICH: How much money does it save government, just answer.

WALKER: It doesn‘t save any.

KUCINICH: OK. That‘s right. That‘s the point.

(CROSSTALK)

WALKER: If you read the federal budget—I‘ll answer your question.

KUCINICH: It obviously had no effect whatsoever on the state budget.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UYGUR: And with me now is the man himself, democratic congressman from Ohio, Dennis Kucinich. Wait a minute, Congressman, I thought he had to do all these cuts et cetera and do the collective bargaining, all this stuff was to save money from the budget. If it doesn‘t save money from the budget, golly gee willikers, because I wonder why he did it.

KUCINICH: Well, that‘s exactly right, Cenk. And, you know, this hearing was important but not for the reason that it was—that was important because finally, we put Governor Walker on the spot and got him to admit that his attack on collective bargaining didn‘t save the state any money. He just used the state budget crisis as an opportunity to go after public workers, and to try to knock out their collective bargaining rights in the process.

UYGUR: So, what I‘m confused by is why did the Republicans call this, right? I mean, it‘s supposed to be oversight, but they come in and they play patty cakes with them and tell them to smile, and, you know, talk about all the fun things they‘re going to do together. What was the point of this here?

KUCINICH: Well, I‘m glad they called it. I mean, it turned out, it worked out pretty well to be able to demonstrate that there was no fiscal reason behind Governor Walker‘s attack on collective bargaining. And it‘s not just an issue in Wisconsin. In Ohio, in Michigan and other states, there are similar administrations that are attacking workers‘ rights. And this is, you know, they try to make it a fiscal issue when in facts it‘s a fundamental issue of whether or not we have a democratic society, so the right to click the bargaining center of that.

And I think the reason why they called the hearing was to try this, promote this propaganda that somehow the rights of workers are the problems facing states. That‘s hard wash. I mean, the fact of the matter is, that if states have budget problems like Wisconsin, they could have addressed their budget problem, Cenk, by, you know, returning to their state tax that they let expire, it would have covered their short term deficit like that. And if they went after the wealthiest, the billionaires in Wisconsin, they could have covered their whole deficit problem by just reinstating their state tax.

UYGUR: Well, there are some billionaires named the Koch brothers as we were just explaining. And they have given money to the Republicans on that committee. They‘ve given money to Governor Walker, and they don‘t seem to love workers‘ rights. They seem to love their tax cuts. Could that have been—is that just a coincidence or could that have something to do with these hearings and how they treated Governor Walker?

KUCINICH: Well, you know, I think that, you know, I don‘t want to impugn the position of any member of the committee, but I will say this, we understand that our republican friends continue to push for tax cuts as, you know, even they use the deficit as a cover to keep pushing for tax cuts. I mean, that‘s what my friend Paul Ryan is doing, but the attack on collective bargaining rights is a whole different phase in our democratic tradition. Because people have spent the last 70 years and more trying to have the right to organize, the right to collective bargaining, the right to strike, the right to decent wages and benefits. The right to a safe workplace.

And that‘s all under attack right now. And it‘s totally ideological, and they‘re trying to crush workers in the middle class. And this was one moment, just one moment, Cenk. And when I was sitting there in that committee meeting, I was thinking about the thousands of people that I saw in Wisconsin, the thousands of people I stood with in Ohio, and the people, workers who are gathering all over America waiting for an opportunity to get an answer to the question, why did you go after collective bargaining? And today we proved it wasn‘t a fiscal issue at all.

UYGUR: All right. Congressman Dennis Kucinich, that was an important moment today, thank you so much for joining us and talking to us about it.

KUCINICH: I really appreciate being on your show. Thank you.

UYGUR: Thank you.

About William Brighenti

William Brighenti is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, and Certified Business Valuation Analyst. Bill began his career in public accounting in 1979. Since then he has worked at various public accounting firms throughout Connecticut. Bill received a Master of Science in Professional Accounting degree from the University of Hartford, after attending the University of Connecticut and Central Connecticut State University for his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees. He subsequently attended Purdue University for doctoral studies in Accounting and Quantitative Methods in Business. Bill has instructed graduate and undergraduate courses in Accounting, Auditing, and other subjects at the University of Hartford, Central Connecticut State University, Hartford State Technical College, and Purdue University. He also taught GMAT and CPA Exam Review Classes at the Stanley H. Kaplan Educational Center and at Person-Wolinsky, and is certified to teach trade-related subjects at Connecticut Vocational Technical Schools. His articles on tax and accounting have been published in several professional journals throughout the country as well as on several accounting websites. William was born and raised in New Britain, Connecticut, and served on the City's Board of Finance and Taxation as well as its City Plan Commission. In addition to the blog, Accounting and Taxes Simplified, Bill writes a blog, "The Barefoot Accountant", for the Accounting Web, a Sift Media publication.
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