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ThePlumLIneGS whorunsgov plumline
Posted at 12:18 PM ET, 03/16/2011

Wisconsin GOPer targeted by recall shows signs of panic

Here’s the clearest sign yet that one of the top targets of the Dem drive to recall Wisconsin GOP state senators is running scared in a big way.

State senator Randy Hopper is up with a remarkably nauseating radio ad in his defense that badly distorts the history of the Wisconsin standoff and contains at least one other distortion designed to smear public employees as greedy swindlers of unsuspecting taxpayers.

The ad, audio of which is posted at WisPolitics, intones:

Another day, another protest in Madison. With nearly eight percent unemployment, you’d think asking government workers for five percent towards their retirement and 12 percent for their health care costs would be acceptable. It’s reasonable. But union bosses want to keep bargaining for more perks.

But again, the unions themselves have said those concessions are acceptable -- union leaders agreed to them way back in February. But this makes it sound as if unions unreasonably refused to agree to them. That’s because Wisconsinites have clearly registered their support for the public employees on the issue that really led to the standoff — Walker’s rollback of their bargaining rights.

In a recent Survey USA poll commissioned by MoveOn, 54 percent in in Hopper’s district said they would vote for someone else in a recall election, versus only 43 percent who said they’d back him. That was before allegations surfaced that Hopper had an affair and now lives mostly in Madison — charges that will only make his recall more likely. So you can see why Hopper has now gone up with this sneering new ad.

By the way, the ad also traffics in the myth of the overpaid public employee, decrying a “union bus driver in Madison making $160,000 a year.” But this, too, is a distortion: It turns out that this is not the bus driver’s annual salary at all. Rather, as local Wisconsin media reported widely, he made that money because he put in lots of overtime, clocking nearly 4,000 hours last year, and the manager of the Madison metro transit system said the driver did nothing wrong.

Reprehensible.

UPDATE: Because of a technical problem, all the links I originally inserted in the piece are directing readers back to WisPolitics. So I’ve removed them for the time being, and will restore the right links when we have the problem resolved.

UPDATE II: I misstated the bus driver’s hours: In fact, he clocked close to 4,000 hours total — but his high pay was still a function of his overtime. I’ve edited the above to fix — apologies for the error.

UPDATE III: A quick correction: It was not fair of me to say that Hopper’s ad implies that $160,000 is the bus driver’s annual baseline salary. In fact, the ad explicitly states that the driver made “much of it from overtime due to collective bargaining.” It was a sloppy oversight on my part to leave that part of the quote out, and I deeply regret the error. This sort of inaccurate representation of context is inexcusable.

That said, the other points in this post still stand. It remains deeply misleading that the ad claimed the driver is “making $160,000 a year,” as this falsely implies that this has been an ongoing problem from year to year that has not been sorted out.

What’s more, the ad’s core suggestion — that the unions didn’t agree to accept Scott Walker’s fiscal concessions — remains a serious distortion. The ad is highly misleading.

By  |  12:18 PM ET, 03/16/2011

 
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