Ever since Scott Walker started gearing up for his perpetual gubernatorial campaign in 2002, he has been painting himself as the anti-Doyle. This wasn't very practical early in his campaign, but could have been effective given Doyle's dismal approval numbers during the past several months.
Unfortunately for Walker, Doyle threw a big monkey wrench into Walker's campaign strategy by choosing not to run for re-election. This news sent Team Walker into a tailspin, panicked that he would now have to run for the seat based on his track record as Milwaukee County Executive, which has been anything but spectacular. If anything, Walker's record actually makes Doyle's record look good.
His campaign started flailing around, first trying to continue against Doyle. When that failed to gain traction, he tried to smack around primary opponent Mark Neumann. He also started a series of attacks against City of Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who hasn't even decided if he was going to run or not (although more and more people are thinking he won't).
All this has shown is that Walker is terrified of both of these men, either of whom could clean his clock if he was forced to run only on his record.
Now Walker thinks he has a winning game plan again by finding a substitute for Jim Doyle. That substitute is the unions, namely AFSCME.
Walker probably thinks he has nothing to lose, since AFSCME was never going to sponsor him. Also, as I have stated before, it is always easier to run against the unions rather than with them.
Walker started his campaign against AFSCME a long time ago, by continuously refusing to negotiate a new contract, sabotaging and/or delaying negotiations until this fall when he was slapped around by the union via an arbitration ruling. All of this was to set up the unions as pawns in his campaign.
Intense negotiations led to a Tentative Agreement between the County and the union, but it was too late. Too many County Supervisors fed into Walker's doom and gloom tactics, and the Tentative Agreement was first laid over, and then subsequently rejected by the County Board.
Meanwhile, Walker was able to present his 2010 proposed budget, which was not much more than a political campaign statement, and was aimed directly at the unions, asking for unrealistic concessions. (Does he really think that any union, whose main reason for being is to protect jobs and provide a decent and safe work environment, would be willing to give up 16% of their wages and hundreds of jobs?) This is only going to lead to arbitration and an even worse situation for the budget. It also led to Walker and certain Supervisors to be named in a lawsuit calling them out on their bad-faith bargaining and illegal bargaining tactics.
The biggest issue is that Walker refused to bring his proposals to the bargaining table, but instead to chose to try to negotiate through the media and campaign stops. This is a big no-no according to state and federal laws.
Another thing that has not been covered by the main stream media is the fact that Walker has given almost all of his mid-level and upper-level management friends healthy raises over the course of the last year. I would imagine that most people would be willing to give up $8,000 in wages if they first got a $10,000 or more raise.
When the County Board's Finance and Audit Committee finally saw the fiscal irresponsibility in all of Walker's attacks on the unions, they started to reject his political posturing and instead chose to stay with the most cost effective method of staying with the public sector.
This set Walker on the attack again, using irrelevant numbers to conflate Milwaukee County workers' pay. He also tried to argue that his plan would save money, when in fact, as Cory Liebmann points out, the opposite is true. The privatized services almost always cost more than advertised, which has only helped lead us into the dire financial straits Walker has led the County into.
Walker, believing that he has hit on the winning game plan, is even bold enough to openly challenge the entire state's unions by threatening them one year before the election.
The problem with Walker's plan is that there will be a settlement long before next year's election, the smoke from his blustering will have long since dissipated and he will be again shown to be a hoax that doesn't have a clue as to what he is doing.
To further show that it is Walker that is the problem, and not the unions, not only has Mayor Tom Barrett resolved the city's budget crises in a more responsible manner, but it has been reported that other municipalities, like Wauwatosa and Greenfield, have been able to solve their budget crises without the cuts that Walker is proposing.
The biggest differences between those community leaders and Walker are simple to see. One, they chose to work with the unions and bargain in good faith. Secondly, they are not trying to run for governor. Thirdly, they put their communities first, and not their political aspirations, in contrast to what Walker does.