Paul Krugman's op-ed on the "Wisconsin Power Play" (New York Times, Feb. 20, 2011) is worth reading. As he notes, it isn't about the deficit (not much is that the GOP claims to be these days). It's about power--the power to bust public employee unions (before private workers get dangerous ideas about the benefits of collective bargaining).
You might also want to catch the comments on Thoma's post of same at Economist's View, including this one from E Michael who notes that in Wisconsin Governor Walker's budget bill is a proviso for the sale of state-owned heating, cooling and power plants:
"16.896 Sale or contractual operation of state−owned heating, cooling, and power plants. (1) Notwithstanding ss. 13.48 (14) (am) and 16.705 (1), the department may sell any state−owned heating, cooling, and power plant or may contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without solicitation of bids, for any amount that the department determines to be in the best interest of the state. Notwithstanding ss. 196.49 and 196.80, no approval or certification of the public service commission is necessary for a public utility to purchase, or contract for the operation of, such a plant, and any such purchase is considered to be in the public interest and to comply with the criteria for certification of a project under s. 196.49 (3) (b)."
The bill would allow for the selling of state-owned heating/cooling/power plants without bids. And E Michael quotes another blogger who notes that this is "like a highlight reel of all of the tomahawk dunks of neo-Gilded Age corporatism: privatization, no-bid contracts, deregulation, and naked cronyism. Extra bonus points for the explicit effort to legally redefine the term “public interest” as “whatever the energy industry lobbyists we appoint to these unelected bureaucratic positions say it is.”
This is the agenda initiated by Ronald Reagan--deregulation, privatization, tax cuts, and militarization--laid bare. Remove power from ordinary people. Put state assets in the hands of the already well-heeled through exercises of naked cronyism. Cut taxes for big business and the wealthy even while cutting back on services for the middle class and poor and increasing taxes (sales taxes, payroll taxes) for those same groups. The only part of the Reagan destructive agenda that Walker apparently isn't doing is increasing the military budget for ridiculous projects that line the coffers of the wealthy military-industrial complex.