For weeks, Wisconsin has been the site of an intense battle between a Main Street Movement consisting of middle class Wisconsinites and a radical push by Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) and his allies to strip most of the state’s public employee unions of their collective bargaining rights.
One of the lesser-known assaults on working class people in Walker’s most recent legislative push is his attempt to override federal Medicaid laws to place the state’s subsidized health care system, BadgerCare, under the control of the state’s Health and Human Services office, and then proceed to slash its budget and throw thousands of people off the rolls.
As In These Times’s Lindsay Beyerstein notes, this new provision in the budget is coupled with another policy which seems darkly ironic when seen alongside these Medicaid cuts. The Walker budget “recommends increasing payments to counties to cover the costs of burying Wisconsinites who die destitute” — one of the few major increases in spending to be found in the document. Indeed, on page 248 of the governor’s Health and Human Services budget, Walker recommends an “increase” in “funeral and cemetery aids”:
Yesterday, a “coalition of public-and private-sector unions is holding a jazz funeral for the welfare state in Wisconsin,” complete with a New Orleans-style procession. “If he’s going to let let them die, he’d better beef up the cemeteries,” said protest organizer Jean Ross, a co-president of co-president of National Nurses United, of Walker. “The man has no heart.”