Brinksmanship Continues in Wisconsin

BY David Chalian  February 22, 2011 at 8:22 AM EST

Wisconsin protests

Protesters react to an appearance Monday by Wis. Gov. Scott Walker at a news conference in the state capitol. Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

Even in the age of Twitter and Facebook, the traditional, televised fireside chat still has some clout.

At 7 p.m. ET, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker will directly address the residents of his state [Updated: watch the full video [here](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EkmwJatg-sE)] about the “current fiscal year challenges, the divisions which have arisen over the past week and his positive vision for moving Wisconsin forward,” according to his aides.

On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” the Republican governor made clear that he intended to use his airtime Tuesday to tell the stories of private sector union members from union towns who support his quest to change collective bargaining rights for public sector employees.

The New York Times told one such story that Gov. Walker was eager to mention during the course of his interview.

When pressed about public statements by union leaders ready to concede on pension and health care contributions, Gov. Walker made clear he had no interest in negotiating, saying that since the state was broke, he had nothing with which to negotiate.

Gov. Walker went on to explain that the current battle he’s waging goes far beyond trying to find a solution to his short-term budget gap.

“This is really about a commitment to the future,” he said. “So we don’t have dire consequences every two, four, six years down the road. The reason we got into this trouble is because too many lawmakers and too many previous governors settled the budget through one-time fixes. We need to make a long-term commitment so that our kids aren’t straddled [sic.] with this into the future. The only way you do that is if you change collective bargaining.”

Appearing on the same show, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka argued that the public sector employees in Wisconsin have been willing to carry their share of the burden required by these economic times, but that Gov. Walker’s refusal to negotiate and desire to roll back collective bargaining rights indicates he’s asking more from public sector employees than he is from businesses, taxpayers and other sectors of the state’s economy.

It’s clear that the national labor movement is all in. On Tuesday, it launches a statewide television ad paid for by the Wisconsin AFL-CIO and created by a coalition of advisers to AFL-CIO, SEIU and AFSCME.

“When our crew is face to face with a fire, we stand together, or we fall together. It’s that simple,” says a Wisconsin firefighter in the ad. The firefighter is not subject to the collective bargaining restrictions Gov. Walker seeks, but provides a portrait of a hero standing in solidarity with his labor brethren.

The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent has all the details: LINK

What remains unclear is how the national labor movement will respond if Gov. Walker emerges victorious in the state senate, where he apparently continues to have the votes to push through his budget repair bill. Where would such a public loss leave the national labor movement?

For now the unions are eager to keep the spotlight on Gov. Walker and are pointing to polls they’ve commissioned that suggest the new governor’s reputation is souring through this stalemate.

From POLITICO’s Alex Burns:

“Walker’s favorability ratings are underwater in the poll, with 49 percent saying they have an unfavorable impression of the governor and only 39 percent saying their impression of him was favorable. Just 43 percent of respondents said they supported Walker’s agenda. More importantly, independent voters opposed three major Walker-backed proposals: eliminating collective bargaining for public employees (independents oppose by 26 points), reducing wages for public employees (independents oppose by 25 points) and reducing pension benefits for public employees (independents oppose by 6 points.)”

A FAMILIAR REFRAIN

“Winning the Future” has been the Obama administration’s favorite catchphrase over the last month. The president and a cadre of his economic advisers will take that message for yet another road test Tuesday, convening in a “Winning the Future Forum on Small Business” in Cleveland.

The event, held in association with Cleveland State University and two northeast Ohio economic development organizations, is scheduled to begin at 11:35 a.m. ET and will include breakout sessions on entrepreneurship, access to capital, workforce development, exports and clean energy.

“The Forum will be an opportunity for the President and his economic team to hear directly from small business owners and leaders about their ideas for how we can continue to grow the economy, put Americans back to work, and win the future,” according to the White House.

Among the Cabinet members making the trip are Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, Commerce Secretary Gary Lock, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Small Business Association Administrator Karen Mills and the chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, Austan Goolsbee. The director of the National Economic Council, Gene Sperling, will also attend.

POLITICO’s Mike Allen reports Tuesday that Mills “will announce that over the next several months the administration will hold a series of eight ‘Startup America: Reducing Barriers’ roundtables across the country ‘to hear directly from entrepreneurs on ideas and suggestions for reducing barriers and creating a more supportive environment for growth and innovation.’ Roundtables are planned for: Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Boulder, Durham, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh and Silicon Valley.”

The president will spend about four hours in Cleveland, a once mighty industrial center that has fallen on hard times in recent decades.

Christi Parsons and James Oliphant of the Los Angeles Times preview the president’s visit by looking at the city’s battle for economic recovery.

CHICAGO’S POST-DALEY ERA

As the Chicago Tribune notes Tuesday morning, “It’s the first time in 22 years that Daley will not be a choice for mayor” on the Chicago ballot.

The big remaining question is if the post-Daley era begins in earnest Wednesday with a Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel or do the opponents of the former White House chief of staff keep him below the 50 percent mark and kick off a six-week, one-on-one runoff election.

From the Tribune:

“‘That’s immaterial to me,’ Emanuel said Monday of the potential of winning outright Tuesday. ‘What’s material to me is that they know where the candidate stands and the determination to see it through.’”

Emanuel hit the 69th street Red Line El stop Tuesday morning and plans to address supporters tonight at the Chicago Journeymen Plumbers’ Union Local 130 Hall after the returns come in.

Elections officials in the Windy City predict just more than 50 percent of registered voters will head to the polls today. The Tribune says that’s low for Chicago standards.

The other three main contenders, who have been significantly trailing Emanuel throughout the entire campaign, are former U.S. senator Carol Moseley Braun, former Chicago Board of Education president Gery Chico and City Clerk Miguel del Valle.

Polls close at 8 p.m. ET. Be sure to check the Tribune website and the Board of Elections for results.

For more political coverage, visit our politics page.