Limbaugh Falsely Claims Wisconsin's Union-Busting Proposal Will Help Resolve State's Budget Deficit
Research ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT & NED RESNIKOFF
Rush Limbaugh claimed that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's proposed union-busting bill is designed to "save union jobs" from a budget crisis that would necessitate layoffs. In reality, the parts of the bill restricting collective bargaining would not affect Wisconsin's budget shortfall.
Limbaugh Denies Walker's Bill Is Anti-Union, Falsely Calls It "Budget Reform"
Limbaugh: "This Is Not Anti-Union Legislation, This Is Budget Reform." From the February 23 edition of The Rush Limbaugh Show:
LIMBAUGH: In reality, Governor Walker is trying to save union jobs here. And if his reforms fail, there will have to be layoffs, possibly as soon as Friday. It's like gravity. It's not a suggestion, it's the law. "The governor says the bill is needed to help solve the state's looming budget deficit, but Democrats see it as an all-out assault on unions, their staunchest campaign ally." And by "staunchest campaign ally," they mean their paymaster and their de facto bosses.
So, note the headline of the story here: "Wisconsin Democrats filibuster to delay anti-union bill." The stenographer here is Todd Richmond of the Associated Press. Mr. Richmond, this is not anti-union legislation, this is budget reform. But you just couldn't see fit to put that in your headline, could you? You couldn't mention that in the story. Budget reform is what this is. That's what this governor is charged with. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 2/23/11]
National Journal: Walker's Proposed Anti-Union Measures "Wouldn't Save Any Money This Year." From a February 23 National Journal article:
The state's entire budget shortfall for this year -- the reason that Walker has said he must push through immediate cuts -- would be covered by the governor's relatively uncontroversial proposal to restructure the state's debt.
By contrast, the proposals that have kicked up a firestorm, especially his call to curtail the collective-bargaining rights of the state's public-employees, wouldn't save any money this year.
"What we're asking for is modest, at least to those of us outside of government," Walker said in a televised address Tuesday night.
In January, the Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau reported that the state would face a $137 million shortfall before the end of the fiscal year on June 30. The governor's budget repair bill proposes a debt restructuring that would save the state $165 million in the near term, more than covering the shortfall.
The legislation would also borrow money from a federal welfare program to cover further state shortfalls, and it includes a provision that would allow the sale of the state's public utilities without a bidding process or public oversight.
While public unions have agreed to almost $30 million in pay cuts this year if they can keep their bargaining rights, Walker and other Republicans argue that restrictions on union bargaining are necessary to maintain the cuts over time. [National Journal, 2/23/11]
Limbaugh Falsely Claims Walker Campaigned On Collective Bargaining Cut
Limbaugh: "It's What He Campaigned On." From the February 23 edition of Limbaugh's radio show:
LIMBAUGH: So, note the headline of the story here: "Wisconsin Democrats filibuster to delay anti-union bill." The stenographer here is Todd Richmond of the Associated Press. Mr. Richmond, this is not anti-union legislation, this is budget reform. But you just couldn't see fit to put that in your headline, could you? You couldn't mention that in the story. Budget reform is what this is. That's what this governor is charged with. It's what he campaigned on, it's what his job is. Why leave it out? Everything the Democrats do is called reform. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 2/23/11]
PolitiFact: Walker Did Not Campaign On Budget Repair Plan. On February 22, PolitiFact Wisconsin gave a "false" rating to Walker's claim that he campaigned on his budget proposals, including curtailing collective bargaining:
In the turbulent wake of his controversial plan to sharply curtail collective bargaining rights, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has faced criticism that he gave no warning of such a dramatic plan during the long 2010 governor's race.
Walker has forcefully challenged that contention, most bluntly at a Feb. 21, 2011 news conference. A reporter asked if the move to limit union power was payback for pro-union moves made by Democrats in the past.
"It's not a tit for tat," Walker responded. "The simple matter is I campaigned on this all throughout the election. Anybody who says they are shocked on this has been asleep for the past two years."
Let's sum up our research.
Walker contends he clearly "campaigned on" his union bargaining plan.
But Walker, who offered many specific proposals during the campaign, did not go public with even the bare-bones of his multi-faceted plans to sharply curb collective bargaining rights. He could not point to any statements where he did. We could find none either.
While Walker often talked about employees paying more for pensions and health care, in his budget-repair bill he connected it to collective bargaining changes that were far different from his campaign rhetoric in terms of how far his plan goes and the way it would be accomplished.
We rate his statement False. [PolitiFact Wisconsin, 2/22/11]