TO: Interested Parties
FROM: Jessica Mackler
RE: Extreme and Ineffective: Scott Walker Jumps In
DATE: July 10th, 2015
Darling of the GOP’s far right wing and Koch fanboy Scott Walker will officially join the horde of Republicans running for president on Monday. The base is thrilled for a reason: Walker has paired an opposition to any exemptions to abortion bans with a desire to amend the Constitution and undo marriage equality with a Trumpian run to the right on immigration, now saying that he thinks we should cut legal immigration.
Don’t be fooled: It’s these same positions, along with a disastrous economic record, that are leaving him high and dry when it comes to support from mainstream Americans.
Ignoring what is best for Wisconsin, Walker has used the state’s budget to pander to the far right wingers in early states, leading to a crisis. Walker’s economy has seen a downturn, with more than 6,686 people losing their jobs in 2015 and the state’s job growth ranking slowest in the Midwest. Walker’s flagship jobs program, the WEDC, has been deemed a complete failure, loaning 124.4 million taxpayer dollars without proper review, including to companies that then outsourced Wisconsin jobs.
And all this from a career politician carrying the sort of resume line that’s anathema to the Republican base. Monday will mark Walker’s 14th run for office, more times than Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio combined. Walker’s long track record has cast light on the themes he’s hoping to embrace. Here are some of the arguments Walker will likely make, and why he doesn’t have a leg to stand on:
1. Claim: Walker Is An Everyman Anti-Washington Outsider
Why It’s False:
Walker Is A Political Lifer
Walker is a “political lifer.” First running for office at 22, Walker is no average middle class American. Scott Walker has held a public office since 1993, his only experience in the private sector is a short tenure as a fundraiser at the Red Cross.
Government By Surprise
Over the years, Walker has learned to campaign in generalities but govern with policies that bear little resemblance to his promises. This has led one commentator to describe him as believing in “government by surprise.” In 2014 Walker hid his stances on a 20-week abortion ban and right-to-work legislation, refusing to answer questions about them during his campaign. However, once elected, Walker announced support for both measures.
2. Claim: Walker’s Experience Means He Will Be Most Effective At Governing
Why It’s False:
The dysfunction surrounding the Wisconsin budget negotiations is the perfect example of Walker’s poor governing. Even Wisconsin Republicans have been rejecting Walker’s leadership during the crisis in what Politico described as a “revolt.” One state representative went so far as to call the governor’s proposal a “crap budget.” Yet while the budget was floundering in the legislature, Walker was nowhere to be found. Instead of focusing on his state’s impending funding problems, he was frequently leaving the state for political events, even heading to Israel to beef up his foreign policy “resume.”
Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC)
Not only has WEDC failed to meet its own job creation goal each year, it’s lost millions of taxpayers’ money. WEDC awarded loans and tax credits to companies without proper scrutiny, including one company that outsourced American jobs to Mexico.
Recent and previous audits have been highly critical of the WEDC’s accounting and recording procedures and have revealed that the Agency does not have adequate safeguards in place for tracking taxpayer funds. After the most recent 2015 audit, Walker was removed from his post as chairman of the WEDC. In addition, WEDC favored large corporations in awarding funds, while ignoring smaller businesses and poorer regions.
Walker has also gotten flack for his plan to fund the Milwaukee Bucks Arena from both sides of the aisle as well as his billionaire buddies, the Kochs. In January 2015, Scott Walker proposed $220 million in state bonds to help construct a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team. Actual costs for the proposal, including interest, could have been as high as $488 million. Once again Republicans in the legislature rejected his plan, causing Walker to withdraw it. In June, Walker, with Democrats Tom Barrett, the Mayor Of Milwaukee, and Chris Abele, the Milwaukee County Executive, proposed a new plan that capped the state’s cost at $80 million. However, the total cost of the plan to the public, including interest, was still over $400 million.
3. Claim: Walker Is The Most Electable Republican
Why It’s False:
Walker loves to talk about his electability, showing off his win in a Midwestern state against a woman. But not even his own state supports his bid for president. A Marquette Law School poll shows 67 percent of Wisconsinites don’t want Walker to run. Although he’s been elected in a “purple” state, his actions are responsible for making Wisconsin more polarized.
March 2011: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Walker Has “Become The Most Polarizing Governor In The Country.” According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Since his inauguration, Walker has displayed a strong ideological bent at times that distracts him from the work at hand: creating an efficient state government and formulating government policy to promote job growth. He has, in short order, become the most polarizing governor in the country. So isn’t this a classic bait and-switch? If so, why not ‘recall’ him for his transgressions? I think it’s too soon to make such a sweeping judgment. And there are many of Walker’s initiatives that we agree with. One example: His decision to try to close the state’s chronic budget gap.” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 3/23/11]
US Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner Introduced Walker As A “Very Polarizing Figure” Before Congressional Hearing. According to The Capital Times, “The Republican gives himself a B+ and is quick to say his first 100 days in office have been the most productive of any governor Wisconsin has seen in the last few decades. But it’s also been one of the most unsettling politically in Wisconsin history and could either change the state’s landscape or end up putting him in a deep hole as he motors toward re-election, insiders say. Even backers like U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner note Walker’s growing reputation as a lightning rod, introducing him at a congressional hearing as ‘a very polarizing figure.’” [The Capital Times, 4/20/11]
State Senator Risser: Walker Behaved In “Dictatorial” Way. According to The Capital Times, “It’s gotten so bad that the senior member of the Legislature, former state Senate President Fred Risser, D-Madison, has described Walker’s actions as ‘dictatorial.’ State Rep. Mark Pocan, the former co-chair of the powerful Joint Finance Committee, simply describes the state as ‘Fitzwalkerstan.’” [The Capital Times, 3/23/11]
4. Claim: Walker Will Bring Economic Success To The Nation
Why It’s False:
In June, Walker tweeted, “If we enact bold reforms across the rest of the country like we have in Wisco[nsin], we can make sure everyone has the opportunity to succeed.” But take one look at the Wisconsin economy and it becomes clear that those “bold reforms” are hurting more than they’re helping.
Wisconsin is last in the Midwest for job growth during Walker’s tenure and the governor is over 100,000 jobs short of reaching the 250,000 jobs he said he would create during his first term. A 2014 study found that, under Walker, Wisconsin’s job growth stalled behind its neighbors, and that if historic trends prior to Walker’s assumption of office had held true. Wisconsin should have had 45,000 more jobs. The study blamed consumer uncertainty caused by Walker’s “disruptive policy shifts.”
Walker claims that his “common sense” tax reforms worked in Wisconsin by giving money back to taxpayers, but the tax policies have disproportionately benefited the rich. Walker’s 2011 budget proposal raised taxes on the poorest Wisconsinites by $69.8 million by reducing the Earned Income Tax Credit and ending indexation of the homestead tax credit to inflation. Meanwhile the same budget proposal provided hundreds of millions in tax breaks for corporations and businesses. PolitiFact agrees: Walker’s tax breaks benefitted corporations and wealthier residents rather than average taxpayers.
Walker passed another tax reform plan in 2014, further reducing income tax brackets, and providing funds to reduce local property taxes. The cuts again primarily helped the wealthiest 20% of earners through the property tax cuts.
Attacks on Unions and Working Families Will Increase Inequality
Published: Jul 10, 2015