Scott Walker's Big Speech That Didn't Change Anything

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Feb. 22 2011 7:17 PM

Scott Walker's Big Speech That Didn't Change Anything

MADISON, Wisc. -- The fireside chat has come and gone. No one expected Scott Walker to soften his stance on unions, and he didn't. He warned that failure to reform collective bargaining would mean fired workers, one way or another. One way: The unions would respond to negotiators by letting members go instead of accepting cuts. Another way: By June 1500 employees would have to be fired, and a month later up to 6000 might be fired.

If anything I think the specificity of those numbers conceded an argument to Democrats. The argument up to today had been "budget repair vote by Friday or 1500 people get fired." But if there's no serious threat of firing until June? That's after the date that activists could force recall votes, of Republican or Democratic members.

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The Assembly didn't pause for the speech, but members, who have laptops at their desk, got to read it. The Democrats didn't think too much of it.

"Given the size of his power grab," said Democratic Rep. Jon Richards, "maybe we should call it The King's Speech."

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at daveweigel@gmail.com, or tweet at him @daveweigel.