Where in the world is Scott Walker? This week, he’s in Israel, conveniently far away from the press and Wisconsin’s budget woes. Not that Wisconsinites or the press should expect anything else — the governor has a habit of disappearing when things get tough and his advisers are likely terrified of another foreign policy slip up.
Between his flub-filled trip to London in February and comparing hard working union members to ISIS, Walker already has more than his fair share of gaffes. But that’s no excuse for leaving the country when his state’s budget faces severe cuts to education, health care, and emergency services. Walker is just too busy not running for president to take care of his governing responsibilities. It looks like, for now, Wisconsin will have to fend for itself.
Washington Post: Will Scott Walker’s budget troubles hurt his potential 2016 bid?
The promised revenue from the Republican governor’s previous budget moves has not fully materialized, leading Walker and GOP lawmakers to propose another round of reductions — including cuts in funding for public schools, the university system, health-care programs, and a slew of other programs. The Republican-controlled legislature says it won’t be raising taxes, no matter what, though it might increase fees for registering a car or visiting a state park.
[Critics] also complain that Walker — currently on a tour of Israel sponsored by political allies — spends too much of his time traveling in anticipation of a 2016 bid.
“He’s running for president, and he has checked out of here and has used people here in this state to further his political ambition,” said state Sen. Jon Erpenbach, a Democrat from Middleton. “He lands in Wisconsin, does his laundry, gets back on the plane and leaves.”
Although Wisconsin’s unemployment rate is well below the national average, its rate of private-sector job growth is one of the worst in the nation, and wages have remained stagnant while other states see substantial gains. A recent study by the Pew Charitable Trusts found that Wisconsin’s middle class — households earning between about $34,500 and $103,000 — has shrunk at a faster rate than any other state in the country.
Politico: Scott Walker in Israel: Listening or hiding?
Ahead of the trip, Walker described it as a “listening tour” and told reporters, “It’s an educational trip. It’s not a photo op.” But there Walker was on Monday, greeting worshippers at the Western wall in a photo posted to his Twitter account. In photos posted to the Twitter feed of Matt Brooks, the executive director of the RJC – which funded the trip in conjunction with Walker’s leadership PAC – Walker looked concerned atop the Golan Heights and met with Israeli politician Natan Sharansky. Brooks, meanwhile, tweeted out his permission to television news producers asking to use the photos.
Walker’s decision to hold only low-pressure private events offers him the best of all worlds: he can boast of his travel to Israel — a must-stop for GOP presidential prospects — without getting grilled abroad on the complexities of Middle East politics, where he risks tripping on unexpected questions from the foreign and domestic press corps.
Published: May 13, 2015