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US faces budget showdowns from Wisconsin to Washington

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Simon Mann
Sydney Morning Herald
Feb 20, 2011

Wisconsin’s bitter public scrap over a proposed clamp on the salaries and collective bargaining rights of state employees brought 70,000 people on to the streets of the capital, Madison, for a fifth consecutive day of protests. In Washington, a budget stand-off between Republicans and Democrats threatens a government shutdown in March.

Teachers, firefighters and other public workers rallied against a plan by the new Republican governor, Scott Walker, to remove their bargaining rights while doubling workers’ health insurance contributions and forcing them to put 5.8 per cent of their salary towards their pensions.

Chanting ”this is what democracy looks like” and waving placards, some of which drew inspiration from the recent Egyptian uprising, the protesters circled the state assembly, where legislators have been unable to vote on the proposals because of a walkout by elected Democrats.

The demonstration also included supporters of the plan, with an estimated 5000 Tea Party-backed protesters joining the throng and carrying signs reading ”Your Gravy Train Is Over … Welcome to the Recession” and ”Sorry we’re late Scott. We work for a living.”

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This article was posted: Sunday, February 20, 2011 at 7:17 am

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