Wed. May 22nd, 2024

Written by Keith Olbermann

If you were standing at an ATM machine that spit out a thousand dollar bill every time you pushed any button – and you knew there was no real chance you’d ever be punished for keeping each one of them – how long would you stand there?

Presumably you’d stand there until you passed out. Or until you ran out of room in your pockets because they were stuffed full of thousands. Or until you could call your very best friends to bring over bags and empty pillowcases and wheelbarrows. Or until you realized that there was a finite number of thousand dollar bills in the universe and you’d better make arrangements to get the treasury to print more. Or until you calculated the tax implications of the product of the bottomless ATM and you realized you’d better use some of your thousands to bribe politicians to change those tax laws. Or until you had successfully done all that – and every other connivance you could think of to make sure the ATM kept spewing thousands – at which point you might let your friends take your place in line. Or, if not, screw ’em – you got yours.

This is, of course, the answer to the most macro of the questions I get asked every day: why are the Republicans trying to do things like what they’re trying to do in Wisconsin? Why do they want to impoverish the middle class, bust unions, cut staples like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, postpone the retirement age, stop government expenditures on everybody except the rich, increase government expenditures on everybody who’s already rich, smother real small business, redefine “small business” by counting not the number of employees but the number of owners, and a thousand other scams worthy of an economic version of the Spanish Inquisition?

Because they’re standing at an ATM machine that’s spewing out thousand dollar bills. They know some day it will stop, or they will be stopped from grabbing them. They know that there is a tipping point coming in this country when – to borrow cartoonist Clay Bennett’s priceless imagery – the mice will realize they are mice and the Republicans are cats. They saw the polling that showed that it took barely six weeks for Scott Walker to lose the state GOP its Republican Union members. They know what the changing demographics of the nation suggest about the extinction of Conservatism.

They’re grabbing those thousand dollar bills.

Why do you think Hosni Mubarak waited to leave Egypt? He couldn’t get a flight? He was bagging his bills. Why do you think George W. Bush never bothered to line up a successor for the 2008 election? Because he didn’t care whether or not any of his successors got any of those thousand (ok, billion) dollar bills – he just wanted them to think he’d promised them his spot in line while they helped him stuff the thousands in Dick Cheney’s orifices. Karl Rove’s “Permanent Republican Majority” was simply a means of keeping potential in-house rivals from trying to push their way to the front of the ATM line.

There is new polling today about how Wisconsin is reacting to Scott Walker’s amateurish impression of the Bush-Cheney-Rove visit to our magical ATM, and it’s pretty stark:

On the biggest picture question: do you side with Governor Walker or do you side with the public employee unions 51% of voters in the state go with the unions to 47% who stand with the Governor. On another broad question: do you side more with Governor Walker or with the Democrats in the state Senate, 52% of voters go with the Senate Democrats to 47% who go for Walker.

Walker’s approval number has also sunk – to 46%. But there are more interesting results on the more philosophical questions:

57% of voters think that workers should have the right to collectively bargain for wages, benefits, and working environment rules compared to only 37% who think they shouldn’t have those rights. And 55% of voters think that public employees should have at least the same rights they have now, if not more, compared to only 41% who believe they should have fewer rights.

Even non-union Wisconsin households support those collective bargaining rights for public employees, by 51% to 45%. There are also numbers about the prospects of a recall, and right now it’s an even split.

And lastly, for all the polling and the thumb-sucking, the Republicans have one riposte which they believe devastating and unanswerable: There still is a budget problem in Wisconsin, a $137,000,000 one now, and as much as a $3.6 billion one by 2013, and what the hell are you actually going to do about it, Mr. Bleeding Heart?

The answer is, increase Wisconsin’s corporate taxes so much that they reach the national average!:

a study by the Institute for Wisconsin’s Future documented, Wisconsin corporations underpay state and local taxes by more than $1.3 billion annually: This is the difference between what businesses actually pay in state and local taxes and what they would be contributing if paying at the average national rate.

It would be nice to see the guy standing in front when the ATM starts spitting out those thousands, suddenly have to start depositing them back in. Just once in awhile.

See you late spring, you know where, at 8 PM Eastern.


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