In addition to "stagflation" which we announced in January would be the word of the year, we now have a new contender in the running for what may soon be the most popular word for the next 10 months: "escalation." To wit: in addition to everything happening in MENA, escalation has now struck right in our own back yard, after Wisconsin governor Walker announced he would fire 1500 state workers unless democrats, who have been fled and are hiding in Illinois to avoid a critical vote on collective bargaining, return to the state. Reuters take on this word: "The threat of layoffs increased the stakes in a bitter battle between Wisconsin Republicans and Democrats, a fight being watched around the nation as other states like Ohio and Indiana weigh rolling back public employee union power as part of budget-cutting efforts." Of course, 'escalation' could go hand in hand with 'broke' which is the third and last "word of the year" contender: "Earlier this week, Walker declared the state "broke" when he unveiled his proposed two-year $59.2 billion budget for fiscal 2012-2013, which eliminates more than 21,000 positions and cuts funding to education, cities and counties." Whether this will result in so far peaceful protests turning violent as "austerity" which was the word of 2010 comes to the shores of the US is for now unknown.
Republican Walker told reporters late on Thursday that "extremist elements" among 14 absent senate Democrats had blocked progress in negotiations on his "budget repair bill."
"Just when we think the process is moving forward, we see no action," Walker said. "We're frustrated."
The Democratic senators fled to Illinois two weeks ago to deny majority Republicans a quorum and a vote on the bill, and behind-the-scenes negotiations have failed to produce a compromise. Just one Democrat is needed for a quorum.
Walker said some of the absent Democrats, who have been threatened with $100-a-day fines and the prospect of being taken into custody if they return to Wisconsin, appear willing to stay away "not only for several more months, but potentially the next two years."
With no action expected on the bill, Walker said he will be forced to send out layoff notices to 1,500 state employees, saving some $30 million.
"The reality is, we shouldn't have to be going down the path of preparing for layoffs." Walker said.
Further validating the farce:
"If they (Democrats) came back tomorrow, for example, we'd still try and see if we could talk to our bank and see if we could push this (refinancing) forward because it's much better than losing $165 million in savings," Walker said.
The Capitol has been besieged by pro-union protesters, some camping out in the stately building, though the last group left late on Thursday after a Wisconsin judge ordered them out to allow cleaning crews to do their work.
Protesters claimed victory in the case, as Wisconsin Judge John Albert said authorities cannot deny the public access to the Capitol building. After business hours, people must leave or be in violation of state law, the judge ruled.
If this is the way politics in America will be done going forward, when any party knows the only way to prevent passage of austere financial measures is by fleeing, one wonders: just what is the point of the US "democratic" system when a minority can hold up the majority just by taking the first one way taxpayer funded private jet out of the state?