TPM News

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) may be drawing a hard line on collective bargaining with thousands of his state's union workers, but there are signs that some state Republicans are willing to bend as the governing crisis deepens and accede to the Democrats' demand that unions be allowed to negotiate benefits for their workers.

What's not clear is if the Republican opposition to Walker's anti-collective bargaining stance is enough to bring the state Senate Democrats back and get the legislature back on track.

The Wall Street Journal reports that one moderate Republican, state Sen. Dale Schultz, has proposed changing the budget proposal supported by Walker slightly but fundamentally: instead of losing their collective bargaining rights in perpetuity, as the governor wants, they would only lose the right to negotiate for benefits through 2013.

Schultz' chief of staff sounded positively Democratic when discussing the proposal with the Journal.

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According to Donald Rumsfeld, the Bush administration handled the "War On Terror" just fine, as proven by the fact that President Obama is now such a big fan of their work.

Appearing on CNN with Candy Crowley, Rumsfeld noted that Obama -- despite criticizing Bush on the campaign trail -- has perpetuated several highly contentious Bush-era policies since taking office.

"They have now switched from campaign mode," Rumsfeld said. "They are keeping Guantanamo Bay, they are keeping indefinite detention, they are keeping military commissions. So obviously they have come to the conclusion that it's easier to campaign than it is to govern."

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It's the sign of a successful car launch: Dealers add blatant markups to the sticker price, charging thousands of dollars extra because buyer demand exceeds supply, and dealers have the only supply.

Now it's happening to the 2011 Chevrolet Volt, the range-extended electric car that went on sale in December and has generated huge public interest.

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Tracy Fuller, the head of the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Association, has pulled down the statement that he posted online, in which he regretted the endorsement that the Wisconsin Troopers Association -- of which he is a member, but is not officially qualified to speak on its behalf -- had given to Gov. Scott Walker (R).

"I am in no position to speak for the Troopers Association on any issue, other than just being -- I am a member, that's the truth. Because the reason that I am a member, and I'll give you this piece of information, the Troopers' Association does a lot of beneficial things in this state."

The local CBS affiliatein Madison, Channel 3000, had reported Fuller's statement constituted a repudiation of the endorsement by the organization itself; and we here at TPM picked up on the story. In fact, the two organizations, the WLEA and Troopers Association, are different groups with overlapping memberships -- the WLEA also includes state Capitol Police, University of Wisconsin police, Department of Transportation field agents, and dispatchers for the State Patrol and Capitol Police.

The snafu and Fuller's quick decision to pull down the statement is a further sign of the tensions in organized labor in Wisconsin and the rapid pace of events in the unfolding crisis. Divisions within Fuller's union are due to Walker having exempted the State Patrol but not other WLEA members from his budget proposal to remove most collective bargaining rights and place other heavy restrictions on public employee unions.

"There are many intertwinements of the two organizations," Fuller told TPM in a subsequent interview Sunday night. "But the decision about what candidates it supported and all that, the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Association doesn't ever support, has never endorsed a candidate, ever. The Trooper's Association commonly does that. They do lots of things that are politically connected."

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Tensions remained high in Wisconsin on Sunday as Gov. Scott Walker (R) remained in a standoff with state public employees unions and Democratic legislators over a proposal that would not only require greater employee contributions to state benefits packages but also strip state employees of most of their collective bargaining and union rights.

In one development, the President of the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Association, who is also a member of the Wisconsin Trooper's Association, created a stir by issuing a statement repudiating the Trooper's Association's endorsement of Governor Walker. While the two groups are not formally affiliated, they have overlapping memberships. The Trooper's Association's members are also members of the WLEA, while the WLEA is also made up many other law enforcement officers. Fuller's statement prompted a press report from the local CBS affiliate in Madison which incorrectly suggested that the WLEA itself had repudiated an earlier endorsement -- a report picked up by TPM. In response, Fuller pulled his statement from the union web site.

In another development, the head of the state's largest teachers union called upon teachers -- many of whom have called in sick over the past week and shut down schools throughout the state -- to return to work this week. "It's time for educators to be back in the classroom with the students," Wisconsin Education Association Council president Mary Bell told reports in a teleconference, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports. However, Bell has also said that teachers who have the day off for President's Day should come to Madison to continue the protests against Republican Gov. Scott Walker's budget plan.

"We are speaking about Monday and Tuesday," Bell added. "I have no idea where things will be next week. But we are saying it is time for educators to be back in the classroom with their students. And it will be a continuing of the actions in Madison in communities around the state and we will continue to speak with our members and we will continue to advocate with legislators and whatever comes next will be determined by the actions we see."

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Walker: Public Employee Benefits 'LIke A Virus That Eats Up More And More of The Budget' Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) appeared on Fox News Sunday, advocating his budget package -- which in addition to requiring greater contributions from public employees to their benefits packages, would also strip public employees of most collective bargaining rights. "If we're going to be in this together, (cut) our $3.6 billion budget deficit, it's going to take a whole lot more than just employee contributions when it comes to pensions and health care," Walker said. "But it's got to be a piece of the puzzle because as I saw at the local level, it's like a virus that eats up more and more of the budget if you don't get it under control."

Schumer: 'There Are Lots Of People On The Hard Right Clamoring For A Shutdown' Appearing on State of the Union, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) accused Republicans of not wanting to avoid a government shutdown. "Here's the bottom line: we have said shutdown is off the table," Schumer said. "Speaker (John) Boehner, (Senate Minority Leader) Mitch McConnell, other Republican leaders have not taken it off the table when asked and there are lots of people on the hard right clamoring for a shutdown."

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Demonstrations continued today in at the state Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin, against Republican Gov. Scott Walker's budget proposal -- which in addition to requiring greater contributions from public employees to their benefits packages, would also strip public employees of most collective bargaining rights. And today, pro-Walker protesters turned out, as well -- but were seriously outnumbered by the continued throngs of pro-union demonstrators.

The pro-Walker Tea Party rally featured something of all-star cast: Andrew Breitbart, Joe "The Plumber" Wurzelbacher, Herman Cain and more. However, every estimate in the media has shown that the pro-Walker demonstration was outnumbered several times over by the pro-union demonstrators.

Reuters reports: "Both sides drew thousands to the state capital Madison on Saturday -- unofficial estimates put the total near 40,000 -- but opponents appeared to have several times as many as those backed by Tea Party groups, the first appearance by members of the conservative, limited-government movement this week."

Separately, WisPolitics reports that the state Department of Administration has estimated 55,000 demonstrators -- 50,000 outside the Capitol, and 5,000 inside. They also add: "This is the first day there has been a significant number of people demonstrating in favor of Gov. Scott Walker's bill. The number of bill supporters, however, was dwarfed by the massive throng of bill opponents."

And amazingly, there have been no arrests or incidents reported. So as a former Madison resident, I must say: Wisconsin is a place where even the angry mobs are polite and friendly.

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Obama At Intel Plant: 'We've Got To Win The Global Competition To Educate Our People' President Obama recorded this weekend's YouTube address from the Intel plant near Portland, Oregon, discussing the need for strong education policies in order to maintain business competitiveness for the country.

"Companies like Intel are proving that we can compete - that instead of just being a nation that buys what's made overseas, we can make things in America and sell them around the globe. Winning this competition depends on the ingenuity and creativity of our private sector - which was on display in my visit today. But it's also going to depend on what we do as a nation to make America the best place on earth to do business. "Over the next ten years, nearly half of all new jobs will require education beyond high school, many requiring proficiency in math and science. And yet today we've fallen behind in math, science, and graduation rates. As a result, companies like Intel struggle to hire American workers with the skills that fit their needs. If we want to win the global competition for new jobs and industries, we've got to win the global competition to educate our people. We've got to have the best trained, best skilled workforce in the world. That's how we'll ensure that the next Intel, the next Google, or the next Microsoft is created in America, and hires American workers."

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Clinton Postpones Trip To Charlotte

In a statement released Friday evening, Hillary Clinton's campaign announced that the Democratic nominee…