Penguin Group USA
Walker lays bare his disdain for unions.
There has been much debate on the origins of the Occupy movement. Some point to the "Arab Spring" uprisings, others to Adbusters, the Canadian magazine that floated the idea for a global protest against corporate greed. And still others say it started with the Madison protests over Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to eliminate collective bargaining rights for most public workers. On that last point, Walker agrees, though he sees it as a point of shame, not pride.
In his new book, Unintimidated: A Governor's Story and a Nation's Challenge, Walker unequivocally identifies Madison as the birthplace of Occupy. The Feb. 15, 2011, Joint Finance Committee hearing on the collective bargaining bill, Walker writes, would eventually claim an "ignominious place in history -- as the moment that gave birth to the 'Occupy' movement."
If you read between the lines, Walker seems to be giving former Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs a lot of the credit. He recounts how, at 3 a.m., Rep. Robin Vos (R-Burlington), then committee co-chair, called it quits after 17 hours of public testimony. Democrats continued the hearing in another room.
"Instead of clearing out the crowds camped out in the Rotunda (as they normally would once a late hearing had ended), the police let them stay. And once the protesters had spent one night in the Capitol, they figured they could do it again the next night... and the next... and the next. They never left. The occupation had begun."
Walker, who is mulling a run for president in 2016, has fashioned a narrative to appeal to his base. In his overture to tea party conservatives, Walker draws a stark line between good (conservatives, like himself, who are not afraid to buck powerful special interests to protect taxpayers) and evil (union bosses who protect government workers and their cushy benefits all to further their own power).
Sentinel, a conservative imprint of Penguin Group, is Walker's publisher. According to Sentintel publicist Jacquelynn Burke, Walker will kick off his publicity tour for Unintimidated in New York on Nov. 17, a couple of days before the book’s official publication date.
Walker's first appearance will be on ABC's This Week, followed by Sean Hannity's radio show. Over the next week he will also do an event at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank based in Washington, D.C. Beyond that, says Burke, things are up in the air, though Walker "will be doing media in Wisconsin." The tour will wrap up on Nov. 23.
The company is not releasing information on how many copies of Unintimidated were printed, or on the financial terms of its contract with Walker and coauthor Marc Thiessen.
A racket, not a right
Walker has admitted he did not do a good job selling his collective bargaining plan to the public, a misgiving he repeats in his book. But when he did speak publicly on the topic, he remained dispassionate and on message.
As he recalls in Unintimidated, he began a televised fireside chat during the Capitol protests "by making clear my respect for public workers."
And he consistently argued that he needed to eliminate collective bargaining in order to provide local and state government officials with the "tools" they needed to balance their budgets. Walker said it was the only way to address the state's $3.6 million budget gap.
But Walker's language in the book is considerably sharper, and he lays bare his disdain for unions. He says he had three ways to address the budget hole: lay off 10,000 middle-class workers, raise taxes or "reform the corrupt system of political cronyism and collective bargaining -- in which union bosses collected involuntary dues from every government employee, and had effective veto power over any changes to their pay, benefits or working conditions -- that was driving our state into fiscal ruin."
And he concedes what his enemies have said all along: that his aim was to cut off the flow of money to public unions, which in turn pour funds into the campaigns of Democratic candidates. Walker puts it this way:
We did not only go after the money -- the lavish benefits the unions had extorted from taxpayers over the years. We dismantled the entire system of corruption and cronyism by which the unions perpetuated their political power and dictated spending decisions to state and local government. We took the reins of power from the union bosses and put the taxpayers back in charge.
He later charges that collective bargaining "isn't a right, but a racket." And he lays out a 10-point list on "how the scam works in the public sector." The government automatically collects compulsory union dues from public worker paychecks and then gives the money to the union bosses, he writes. Number 3 is key: "The union bosses then give that money to pro-union politicians in the form of campaign contributions."
'God had a plan for me'
In defense of his book title, Walker devotes considerable ink to the extensive opposition to his collective bargaining plan and the fear felt by his family and other Republicans in the face of angry protesters. He speaks of the "mob combing the building [looking] for the offending legislators" and the "harrowing escape" of lawmakers after voting for his plan.
"The protesters in the building accosted anybody in a suit, shoving cameras in their faces and demanding to know who they were," Walker writes.
Walker is critical of the protesters to the point of derision. He writes of the "odor of unwashed humanity" that wafted through the hallways of the Capitol during the occupation. He and his staff joked about the "protest babies" that would be born in nine months. He also obliquely slights public workers by relaying a top 10 list by the Daily Caller on ways to tell you might be a member of a public union. Number 8: "You get paid twice as much as a private sector person doing the same job but make up the difference by doing half as much work."
Walker mentions his taped call with prankster Ian Murphy, who posed as David Koch, the billionaire funder of conservative causes. But Walker says it proves the opposite of what his union foes were trying to portray: "It showed that I had never spoken to David Koch before in my life.... If I had really been doing Koch's bidding, I would have recognized immediately that it was not Koch on the other end of the line. Instead, I spoke to the fake Koch at length."
The call, says Walker, proved a divine wake-up call: "God had a plan for me with that episode."
In listening to the tape, Walker says it struck him that he sounded “pompous and full of myself." God's plan was to remind him of "the power of humility, the burden of pride," he writes.
"God was sending me a clear message to not do things for personal glory or fame."
Walker acknowledges he took a hit in the polls from his policies but says public opinion shifted when it became clear his reforms were working. That is the reason, he says, he survived the recall attempt against him.
He remembers his first campaign ad of the recall election, called "Results." In it, he claims victory for reining in spending, eliminating the deficit and holding the line on taxes.
"Only after people in Wisconsin had seen with their own eyes, and felt with their own wallets, that our reforms were working -- only then were they ready to listen to me explain why we had done what we had done."
One key policy initiative Walker does not mention is his campaign pledge to create 250,000 jobs during his first term in office. PolitiFact-Wisconsin reported in September the governor is still more than 160,000 jobs short of meeting that promise.