Friday, December 9, 2011

Walker Paying Back the Koch Brothers in Wisconsin With Union Busting and No-Bid Power Plant Sales

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By Heather      

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As Think Progress' Lee Fang discussed with Cenk Uygur today, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is doing more than just busting the unions in his state to help out the Koch brothers. There is also a provision in the budget plan that would allow the state to give no-bid sales of state owned of power plants to his corporate donors.

Koch Industries Slashed WI Jobs, Helped Elect Scott Walker, Now Orchestrating Pro-Walker Protest:
A number of the big business interests standing with Walker are beneficiaries of his administration’s tax giveaways. But the greatest ally to Walker is the dirty energy company Koch Industries. In response to the growing protests in Madison, Koch fronts are busing in Tea Party protesters to support Walker and his union-busting campaign. Last night, MSNBC’s Ed Schultz reported on the involvement of Club for Growth and the Koch-financed Americans for Prosperity in the pro-Walker protest scheduled tomorrow. [...]

Koch Industries was one of the biggest contributors to Walker’s gubernatorial campaign, funneling $43,000 over the course of last year. In return, Koch front groups are closely guiding the Walker agenda. The American Legislative Exchange Council, another Koch-funded group, advised Walker and the GOP legislature on its anti-labor legislation and its first corporate tax cuts.

According to the EPA, Koch businesses are huge polluters, emitting thousands of pounds of toxic pollutants. As soon as he got into office Walker started cutting environmental regulations and appointed a Republican known for her disregard for environmental regulations to lead the Department of Natural Resources. In addition, Walker has stated his opposition to clean energy jobs policies that might draw workers away from Koch-owned interests.
In Budget Bill, Wisconsin Gov. Walker Pushing for No-Bid Sales of State-Owned Power Plants:
Andy Stern frames the debate in Wisconsin correctly as a 15-state power grab to take away worker’s rights. Under the cover of a fiscal crisis created by Wall Street and a deep economic recession, right-wing politicians in Wisconsin and elsewhere are trying to pin the blame on public employees and strip them of their bargaining rights. This is a power grab.

But this wouldn’t be a Republican power grab without some profit-taking for corporate allies, now, would it? [...]

As Mike Konczal explains, this would allow the state to make no-bid sales, overriding public interest concerns, of heating, cooling or power plants. This rider is just an invitation to corruption, and part of a familiar pattern of selling off state-owned property to fill a budget gap in the short term, with disastrous consequences in the long term. See the sale of Chicago’s parking meters. Hat tip to Ed from Ginandtacos on this one, who writes:
If this isn’t the best summary of the goals of modern conservatism, I don’t know what is. It’s like a highlight reel of all of the tomahawk dunks of neo-Gilded Age corporatism: privatization, no-bid contracts, deregulation, and naked cronyism. Extra bonus points for the explicit effort to legally redefine the term “public interest” as “whatever the energy industry lobbyists we appoint to these unelected bureaucratic positions say it is.”
He rightly connects the Koch Brothers, who have been active in purchasing power plants and who basically funded Scott Walker’s gubernatorial run, to this rider. This is corporate cronyism of the worst order.

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