A lot of people focus on the federal level when they think about politics. On the day after the 2010 election, I urged people to continue the fights at the state level. The unions -- and especially the public employee unions -- know that. Recall that in October of last year, the Wall Street Journal broke a very important story that found that AFSCME, the main non-teacher public employee union in the country, was the largest spender of the 2010 election. Their political director said, "we're the big dog."
I urge you to turn your eyes to the state level. The National Institute on Money in State Politics has an excellent site on money in state politics. Who are the #1 spenders in state politics? The public employee unions. #2 the gambling industry. In Wisconsin? The teachers unions are first and third, with the trial lawyers in fourth. Oh, and the Democrats themselves are in second.
And ultimately, that's why the Democrats in the state legislature are AWOL. They are worried about their money getting cut off. You can see what the unions get for their money. They get state legislators who won't even allow for a vote to ask public employees contribute to their health care and pension, even at levels below the national or Wisconsin average.
However, one of the Democrats has realized the flaw in their plans. A budget requires 20 votes to pass in the state senate. But simply removing the collecting bargaining rights only requires a simple majority. Let's hope that the Republicans take the opportunity of Democratic absence to deal with the situation appropriately.