Ezra nails it on the situation in Wisconsin:
In English: The governor signed two business tax breaks and a conservative health-care policy experiment that lowers overall tax revenues. The new legislation was not offset, and it turned a surplus into a deficit. As Brian Beutler writes, “public workers are being asked to pick up the tab for this agenda.”
But even that’s not the full story here. Public employees aren’t being asked to make a one-time payment into the state’s coffers. Rather, Walker is proposing to sharply curtail their right to bargain collectively. A cyclical downturn that isn’t their fault, plus an unexpected reversal in Wisconsin’s budget picture that wasn’t their doing, is being used to permanently end their ability to sit across the table from their employer and negotiate what their health insurance should look like.
That’s how you keep a crisis from going to waste: You take a complicated problem that requires the apparent need for bold action and use it to achieve a longtime ideological objective. In this case, permanently weakening public-employee unions, a group much-loathed by Republicans in general and by the Republican legislators who have to battle them in elections in particular.
This crisis has not restored the balance between labor and capital, which isn’t surprising, because the theoretical pendulum swing has not been operational for three decades. Batting back these attacks on unions is a huge test for the long-term viability of the labor movement in the US. If labor can’t win a battle on such a cut-and-dry issue, what can it win?