Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy
A political panel debates the motives behind the GOP’s battle on public unions.
>>> coming up, how the battle in wisconsin might actually be the right wing’s waterloo. yeah, you heard me. i said it. this is where they may have hit a turning point and suffered a serious defeat. governor scott walker has now been exposed a radical. he’s shown he’s driven by a right-wing ideology. yesterday, he was joking about taking a baseball bat top democrats who he thought was a ballaire donor fropd. walker hads state troop troopers sent out to round up the democrats. the second thing we learned is he doesn’t really care about jobs much, certainly not middle class jobs.
>> i got layoff notices ready. we put out the at-risk notices. we’ll announce thursday and they’ll go out early next week, and we’ll probably get 5,000 to 6 now state wo 6,000 state workers will get notices for layoffs. we might ratchet that up a little bit, you know.
>> does he look like he’s trying to help the average wisconsin voter in do you think he cares about you? he doesn’t care about you. it’s obvious. look, it’s not just about you and i recognizing them, it’s about the voters of wisconsin that just voted for him going wait a minute, this guy told me he was going to create jobs and here he is tellinge donor friend, don’t worry, i’ve got 5,000 to 6,000 layoff notices coming. we’re going to hit him hard. that’s not what they elected you for. and the third thing walker has taught is that his real bos and his real aim is to help the koch brother. those are his bosses. that prank call made it crystal clear who he actually reports to. let me give you better context as to why walker cares so much are you ready for this? i hope you’re sitting down. it turns out, it’s all about the money. not just the $43,000 the koch industries gave to walker’s campaign directly. it’s also the $3.4 million the republican governor’s association chipped in for ads attacking his opponent. now, where did they get that money? well, at least $1 million of it came from the koch brothers. look, you can tell from the tapes that walker’s conversation with the fake david koch, that he thinks he’s, you know, pretty much untouchable. look, i have these guys running scared. i’m not top of this. i’m never going to bend. i’m going to grab a bat. he thinks he can’t lose. but the reality is the tide is turning. similar protests in ohio and indiana have legislators back ped pedalling. those are republicans back pedalling. their bills have been weakened or killed all together organize. john kasich and mitch daniels almost sound like they’re praising the democrats who left their states to prevent the votes.
>> you know, i could have seen a day in washington when i was down there as a congressman where the democrats were using dictatorial rule where we would just get out and walk out of the chamber, okay? let’s be fair, if you were down there you might walk out of the chamber, okay?
>> the activities of today are a perfectly legitimate part of the process, even the smallest minority. that’s what we’ve heard from the last couple of days has every right to express their views and i salute those who do.
>> they’re saluting the democratic protesters. that’s a fullback pedal, back pedal, back pedal. that’s better than spitz. the old swimmer, right? okay, now even chris christie of new jersey is running away from this issue. he said, quote, he was ready to embrace the collective bargaining situation. they got christie embracing the situation. no, not that one, the collective bargaining situation. ? now, not only are the other governors running away from him, he’s actually become a bit of a punch line for other republicans.
>> i want to thank you for coming. i was detained. i had a phone call from david koch and that lasted almost 20 minutes, but i was finally able to be with you.
>> look, he’s joking around about walker, but huckabee says he might not even run for president because he hates raising money. guys like walker relish talking to the billionaires and firing you if they have to if that’s the orders they go the. — got. some governor walk ear er’s republican buddies might be losing heart. themajori majority leader’s wife got a layoff notice today. is he in a little bit of a panic now that it’s his family that might get affected? his wife who might get fired. i’ve got to find those democrats. oh, my god, my family might be affected. yeah, all our families are affected if you go off these guys. the bottom line is this, as walker remains intransgent, whether he wins in the short run on this particular bill, it appears he might have done great damage to himself and even worse damage to the right-wing idea of going after the middle class, saying it’s their fault, they caused the deficit, i’m going to take it out of their hide. that idea might be losing. so win or lose on this bill, this might be the right wing’s waterloo since the people in wisconsin and the american people overall are realizing how radical they are, where they get the money and just how little they care about the average voter. joining me now is milwaukee mayor tom barrett. he lost to walker in the 2010 gubernatorial election. mayor, they spent a lot of that money against you. $3.4 million came from the republican governor’s association. when you see the koch brothers uk access to the with their ? governor, knowing that some of that money got funneled through the koch brothers to him, are you surprised at all? or do you think, well, of course, that’s who he works for.
>> well, cenk i really don’t look back to 2010. to me, that’s water over the dam. but what i’m concerned about is what’s happening to the state. this is a state where historically, we’ve had strong democrats and republicans. if you listen to that transcript of what he was talking about yesterday, governor walker when he thought he was talking to mr. koch, it was clear this is not about a budget crisis. it’s consider clear this is all about an attack on people’s right to organize and bargain. that’s what the agenda is here. it’s a national agenda. unfortunately the state that i love, wisconsin, has been kwhochosen to play this out in. i realize we’re the butt of late-night tv jokes and other politicians around the country. but the sad part is, these are real people and real lives are being affected by this. and what i want to do is see a resolution to this. and there is a path to resolve this so you do have public enl pl — employees pay more for their pensions and health care, but you don’t have to rip apart the rights that were established in thf state 50 years ago to collectively bargain and organize.
>> what’s your sense of the people in wisconsin? i get the sense — because i see the national polls, nearly 2 to 1 advantage, people saying of course you need collective gr bargaining. we saw the afl-cio poll within wisconsin. nor polls are going to come out showing walker in trouble here. do you think the people of wisconsin are saying this guy is too right wing, too radical?
>> well, my sense the majority of the people in the state agree that public employees have to pay more for health care and pensions. that’s something he ran on, that’s something he talked about during the campaign. i talked about that during the campaign, but what he didn’t talk about was — this came out of thin air, the whole notion that the rights to collectively bargain and collectively organize would be thrown out the window. that’s all just occurred really in the last three weeks. ? and so it has sparked a fire across the state where people in many communities are very, very upset about this. he said he was going to exclude firefighters and police, and then we have firefighters from around the state who are there in madison saying they’re opposed to this bill because they know what’s going on. they might be excluded now, but they’ll be the next ones. they’ll be the next ones that will be included. the private unions feel the same way, they may have be excluded from this, but this is the natural step the right to work people want. first they go after public employees then public safety unions, then private unions.
>> does he back down? or is he just going to sit there and go to the bitter end here, no matter what the people of wisconsin say?
>> well, cenk, you have to look at who he’s talking f iing to. you could see it yesterday with the conversation with mr. koch. the people he’s talking to are on the far right of this country. that’s his constituency. he was making fun of the a democratic state senator saying he’s just a pragmatic person saying that as a negative term. he’s pragmatic, he wants to get things done. his base, they’re loving this. i think he’s having the time of his life because he has the national spotlight on his state right now what he’s doing to try to break unions. and for his bread and butter, his constituency, this couldn’t be better for him. this could not be better for him because he can really play to the hard, hard right base.
>> that’s a good point, he seems to be trying to address the nation saying look, i’m more right wing than anybody else and the real constituency are those who got them elected. his huge, huge donors. pointing out with his constituency is, that’s exactly right, i think.
>> well, i think those donors love it, but i don’t think the general populous here in the state of wisconsin likes it.
>> that’s his problem. we’re going to see how that gets resolved the next time ?he’s up for an election. thanks for your time tonight. really appreciate it.
>> thanks, cenk. joining me now is the president of the international association of firefighters. and i want to talk to you about the national scope here. what do you think? do you think the momentum for the hard right wing ideology has stopped cold in its tracks, given what you’re seeing out of the governors, daniel in indiana, kasich in ohio or even chris christie saying oh, no, no, no collective bargaining is totally okay.
>> first, this is truly an organized, coordinated earffort all across the country to try to silence workers’ voices and try to deny them their basic rights. many of those rights, as in wisconsin they’ve enjoyed for over 50 years, if you take a look at what’s going on, this is about governors promoting, collective bargaining withdrawal or undermining collective bargaining rights. in at least eight states, nebraska, ohio, oklahoma, michigan, wisconsin, ohio. if you layer that on top of 12 states, right to work laws, now being considered, new hampshire, just passing it in their house of representatives, a bill to undermine and gut workers’ rights an unions to represent workers. if you take a look at paycheck deception laws, that they call protection laws, to silence workers in the political arena, 15 states. if you take a look at the laws passed in alabama to deny workers the ability to simply deduct dues from their paycheck so that they could be members of their yuan i don’t saunion, now in tenne ssee, moving into other states. ? this is a coordinated attack to try to assault and gut america’s labor movement. hoping that we would battle amongst ourselves while they just stand on the sidelines. and that’s not working. we are united in wisconsin.
>> and it’s a credit to the firefighters who say hey, look, even though this didn’t affect me, i’m still going to fight for my fellow worker. the real critical question i want to ask is did this work against the republican. they wanted to spread it to other states. we’ve been showing it all week, their attempts to spread it to other states. but now it looks like they’re in a little bit of a retreat. was this a tactical mistake? did they lose?
>> well, it does look like we have some governors that are taking another look at this strategy. obviously you mentioned indiana, and now it appears that right to work that was moving through that legislature has been withdrawn. mumy, the governor there looks like he’s slowing down the effort to undermine their i don’t underestimate governor walker’s resolve. he says he’s not going to bend or break. this is what’s really sad, the public needs to understand, the employees in wisconsin have been trying to meet with the governor. he refuses to meet with them. they’ve made it clear they understand they have to pay more towards their pension, more towards their health care. but this isn’t about the budget. this is just old fashioned union busting right now and he sees this as an opportunity to be ground zero to start undermining and dismantling america’s labor movement. and we are taking a stand and we are fighting back.
>> and it looks like your stand is working to some