During tax season each year, Henry Block used to appear on television with his 17 reasons why you should have your taxes done by H&R Block. Today, I use Turbotax, it’s election season — and I’ve got 18 reasons why Scott Walker should not be re-elected governor of Wisconsin. I suppose some may try to debate all this stuff in the comments section. As entertaining as wading through all of that tortured logic might be, I think those who want to do that should just write their own blog. I also apologize in advance for not talking about why Mary Burke is the far superior candidate in her own right, but I’ll be way over my word count just talking about why Walker needs to be put out on the curb.
1. Walker ran for office promising 250,000 private sector jobs. He won’t come in with half that number and a lot of that is his own fault. The sum of his efforts has been to make Wisconsin a laggard in the Midwest in job creation and it is because his policies are creating a lower standard of living for much of Wisconsin’s middle class. When you operate in an economy that is more than two-thirds consumer-driven, giving tax breaks to wealthy people who don’t need to invest or spend it in Wisconsin is not an effective way to drive job growth. Giving Walker more time is only asking for more of the same. The state sank from 11th in job creation to as low as 37th. We lost thousands of jobs in August. Walker regularly switches gears on which numbers he wants to use. Walker either doesn’t understand economics or he refuses to respond correctly to the conditions that we have in Wisconsin.
2. Wisconsin is open for business? Think again. In addition to the substandard performance on producing jobs, Walker has also managed to position Wisconsin as third worst in the nation in terms of new business startups that actually have employees. http://www.jsonline.com/business/new-census-data-shows-states-2012-start-up-rate-third-lowest-in-us-b99360146z1-277290161.html
3. Scott Walker made the decision to deny tens of thousands of Wisconsin people of health care under the Affordable Care Act by refusing to expand Medicaid under the most advantageous federal rules. This not only kept hundreds of millions of dollars out of Wisconsin, but it’s costing Wisconsin taxpayers tens of millions more to inadequately attempt to shore up health care providers who are not receiving payment for services. I’d say it was dumb, but it’s really a lot worse than that. It illustrates Walker’s propensity to put ideology over serving the most people in this state in the best and most cost-effective way possible. Republican governors across the country are accepting the expansion because it makes fiscal sense. Walker is more interested in scapegoating the poor and acting like they’re responsible for their own failures and some of his.
4. The high-speed rail fiasco lost Wisconsin a train manufacturer and will cost Wisconsin many millions of dollars in a lawsuit from Talgo, along with maintenance and upgrades that would have been covered by federal dollars and will now be covered by state taxpayers. It also cost us jobs and even more importantly, it will cost the state the ability to be a vital link between Chicago, Milwaukee and Minneapolis-St. Paul. It was short-sighted and it costs Wisconsin money.
5. You can’t trust Scott Walker to tell you his agenda. Walker’s signature legislation was Act 10 in 2011 and whether you like it or not, it was not something he campaigned on. Who knows what Walker will do to impress his out-of-state donors as he tries to ramp up his aspirations for higher office? Some guesses? Forget about increasing the minimum wage and think about what being a “right to work” (for less) state really means.
6. There is no particular reason to believe Rebecca Kleefisch would be a good governor, but that may be who you’re voting for, if you vote for Walker. It’s not that Walker will be elected President, because he won’t. It’s because also-rans tend to pick up cabinet jobs in the event that their party carries the Presidential election and Walker is only too eager to play on the national stage, no matter what the role may end up being.
7. Scott Walker is not honest. Of 109 statements ruled on by Politifact, 68 percent were only rated half-true or worse; 53 were rated mostly false, false or “pants on fire.” http://www.politifact.com/personalities/scott-walker/
8. There are far too many indicators of corruption to just shrug them off. The John Doe investigation has brought up a troubling pattern of flaunting Wisconsin’s election laws and a number of Walker’s past staffers have been convicted of wrongdoing. There are quid pro quos with actions and campaign contributions. There are unqualified people who have been put into high-ranking positions for which there is no particular reason to believe that they can do the job. Some of them have had to be pulled back when it became too embarrassing for even Walker, who has proven very difficult to shame. Others continue on in an environment where political loyalty to Walker is far more important than qualifications or competence. Then there are those who have already been convicted while investigations still continue. Kelly Rindfleisch, deputy chief of staff while Walker was Milwaukee County executive, was convicted of illegal campaign activity. Tim Russell, a Walker appointee who headed a veterans group while Walker was county executive was convicted of stealing more than $20,000 and sentenced to two years in prison. Darlene Wink, constituent services director while Walker was county executive was convicted for working on the Walker campaign on county time. Kevin Kavanaugh, Walker-appointed member of the Milwaukee County Veteran Service Commission, was convicted of stealing $51,000 from donations for military veterans and families and sentenced to two years in prison. Bill Gardner, Walker campaign worker and president of Wisconsin & Southern Railroad convicted of violating campaign finance laws during Walker’s first gubernatorial run and received two years’ probation. Brian Pierick, Walker website administrator, who sent lewd text messages to 17-year-old. This is more than just a run of bad luck.
9. Walker is inaccessible to the people of Wisconsin. He makes very few public appearances and instead opts for controlled environments; often on private property in which he carefully controls who is there and then allows “credentialed media” for photo ops. His security costs are astronomical in comparison to his predecessors. He spends an inordinate time out of state courting donors to fund his campaigns and trying to burnish his far-right bonafides. His private and public air travel expenses alone are more than most Wisconsinites earn in a lifetime. A man of the people is something Walker definitely is not.
10. Walker and the GOP legislature are following the right-wing script in diminishing women’s rights. Scott Walker signed a Republican bill to require women seeking abortions to undergo an ultrasound and ban doctors who lack admitting privileges at nearby hospitals from performing the procedures. He repealed the 2009 Equal Pay Enforcement Act, removing state legal recourse for women who are victims of pay discrimination. Five Planned Parenthood clinics have closed in Wisconsin thanks to state budget cuts directed at them. None of them provided abortions. Walker told the Journal-Sentinel editorial board in 2010 that he opposed the right to choose abortion even in cases of rape or incest. Despite a sincere-sounding ad he made trying to sound reasonable, he’s an anti-choice extremist and he always has been, which why he is so strongly supported by that crowd.
11. Walker wasted Wisconsin taxpayer money defending the state’s unconstitutional ban on same-sex marriage while presenting an image of backwards, reactionary leadership that is not attractive to progressive companies who might want to locate in the state.
12. Wisconsin is one of only three states to end residents’ access to increased food assistance paid for by the federal government through “heat-and-eat” programs. We will now see cuts in federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps) benefits as a result of the states’ decisions not to increase the amount of heating assistance given to people in poverty. States could contribute $20 per household in order to receive federal food stamp funding averaging $1,080 in additional food stamps. What governor turns down leverage of $54 to $1 to help poor families? Answer: Scott Walker. It’s more evidence of his contempt for the poor and it matches up well with his move to slash the Earned Income Credit to help fund tax breaks for the wealthy. While Minnesota was beefing up funding for heating assistance during the most brutal winter many Wisconsinites have seen in their lifetimes, Walker was offering to loan money to the fuel suppliers. It takes a real ideologue to refuse spending 20 cents to help a poor family get $10. That’s what Walker is.
13. Even though Wisconsin did more than enough to get rid of its deficit and be in the black through cuts, Wisconsin now faces a looming $1.8 billion structural deficit because Walker and the GOP thought it was time to play Santa Claus with tax cuts and now revenues aren’t matching up to expenses. Enjoy the 22 cents a day that Walker is touting in his campaign ads (because that’s what the average tax savings adds up to, although it isn’t being expressed that way in the ads. Go ahead, do the math.)
14. Allowing Walker to continue as governor will mean more years of a Wisconsin government that has no checks and balances. The reason the state is miserably gerrymandered, growing its debt and building an ever-larger structural deficit is because it suits Walker and the Republican legislature just fine. Things won’t get fixed by the people who are breaking them and their thinking doesn’t reflect Wisconsin values. Between a compliant GOP legislature and the fact that Club for Growth/WMC bought seats on the Supreme Court, Walker can operate with impunity and that is exactly what he does. It’s also why Walker truly owns his failures; he’s had every advantage.
15. Walker and the GOP are weakening public schools and higher education by choking them off from resources needed to maintain a quality program. The longer they have unfettered power, the more damage they will do – and they’ve done plenty already.
16. Forget about anything related to improving the environment. In Walker’s Wisconsin, degradation for private profit is the order of the day.
17. Republicans used to be about local control. Forget that with Walker and the GOP. They’re all about expedience for their campaign donors. Ditto for consumer protection, where they have also gutted and rewritten the rules on behalf of their big business supporters at WMC.
18. I played softball with Tommy Thompson. Doyle was everywhere. There were compromises and middle ground in those days. Not only is Scott Walker unable to appear in public or reach across the aisle, he can’t hear or see across the aisle because instead of building bridges, he builds walls and serves his own interests instead of the people’s.
Times were not good when Scott Walker came into office, but looking across the river to Minnesota, it is clear that a more progressive, collaborative approach to governing produced much better results with income, unemployment and more. Walker is a polarizing figure and Wisconsin won’t be able to perform to its capacity until we stop trying to alienate and marginalize half the team, but that is what Walker is constantly doing. He’s a poor leader because he fancies himself as a ruler – and no, it’s NOT working.
The sad truth is that If Walker and the Republicans had spent half as much time trying to serve the people of Wisconsin as they did figuring out how to stack the deck for themselves in upcoming elections, perhaps we actually would all be better off. It’s well past time for this experiment with the far-right wing agenda to end in Wisconsin. Scott Walker needs to go.