Madison, Wisconsin

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Feb. 22 2011 8:08 AM

Madison, Wisconsin

I'm here right now to cover the standoff between Republicans on one side, Democrats and labor on the other, over a budget reform bill that would strip public sector unions of collective bargaining rights. (Wisconsin was the first state to grant these rights, in 1959.) A longer piece about this will be on the main page soon, and there's a slideshow coming. But first: The Koch phenomenon.

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No theme pops up as often in protest signs as anger at David and Charles Koch, the industrialists who fund a plenitude of libertarian think tanks. Anger at the Kochs comes up in interviews before I've even asked about them. Protesters call Gov. Scott Walker a puppet of the Kochs, and some of them say his budget reform bill will result in a no-bid contract win for the brothers. There's a lot to learn here, but the most basic lesson is: A lot of people in Madison read The New Yorker .

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.