It’s always nice to hear directly from the folks who are out to eat your lunch. I’m on a lot of different lists for a lot of different reasons, so I’ve received several fundraising calls from the Walker camp in the last week and a mailing, too. That’s a lot of action for a guv who is less than three months into a four-year term and for whom I never contributed in the first place.
The pitch is consistent and it rests on three pillars of fantasy, along with one unspoken truth, which is this: Walker’s in a ton of political trouble and so are his enablers in the legislature. But let’s go through the big bullet points here and talk about them a little:
- “Former Governor Jim Doyle and his Democrat majorities in the previous legislature created this financial mess.”
- “Scott Walker ran for Governor promising to enact the very proposal he has now put forth.”
- “Wisconsin taxpayers can no longer afford to be held hostage by Union Bosses.”
Well, not exactly. Back when Governor Doyle and the legislature were preparing to pass Doyle’s first biennial budget, George Mason University Professor of Government and Politics in the Department of Public and International Affairs Dr. James K. Conant penned an article in the June 2003 edition of Public Budgeting & Finance. Here’s what it said:
“Wisconsin’s lawmakers increased spending and cut taxes during the 1990s. Then, in January of 2001, they faced an estimated $2.4 billion budget gap or deficit for the FY 2001–2003 biennium. They cut spending and generated additional revenue by borrowing against future tobacco settlement income. Still, by January of 2002, the estimated deficit had grown by an additional $1.3 billion, and more cutting and borrowing took place. Despite these actions, a $3.5 billion deficit was projected for FY 2003–2005.”
The truth is that the structural deficit was almost the same when Doyle began his first term as it is today. It was inherited from Republican governors Tommy Thompson and his short-term successor, Scott McCallum. It’s also worth noting that as the 2003 session of the Wisconsin legislature opened, the GOP held the majority in the Assembly 58-41 and in the Senate 18-15.
While that structural deficit persists today, a lot has happened since 2003. One trifling matter, for example, was the Great Recession under Republican President George W. Bush. Those Bush tax cuts didn’t do much for employment or prosperity for anyone except the very wealthy:
States all across the U.S. are facing fiscal challenges, so to say that our problems here can legitimately be pinned on Doyle and the Democrats, given the history, is beyond ridiculous. (I guess it’s hard to raise money by admitting that a good share of the blame belongs to your own party and the policies it has promoted, including the single most significant factor in play, which is the aftermath of the worst financial crisis since the 1930s.)
No, he didn’t. Show me where he talked about busting unions. In talking with editorial board members, going back over coverage, researching statements and reviewing advertising, Scott Walker absolutely did NOT promise “the very proposal he has now put forth.” As the frequent, massive demonstrations and post election polls are showing, he would not have been elected if he had. (He would also not need to be breathlessly trying to raise money right now because most people would be pleased with him. There’s nothing to worry about with recalls when the majority is behind what you’re doing, right?)
Since that certainly isn’t the case, it’s a moot point. What might be more appropriate to ask is whether we can we afford to be held hostage by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce. How about the Republican Governors Association and all their Wisconsin corporate donors? The Koch Brothers? The Club for Growth? Karl Rove’s American Crossroads PAC? All of them poured big money into the GOP ticket and Wisconsin’s state elections last fall. Besides, a lot of people are looking at Scott Walker contributor lists these days and I don’t want them thinking about me the way I know they’re thinking about a lot of the other Walker contributors.
No, if Scott Walker and the Republicans need more money than they’ve already got, I would suggest that they get it from the very same folks they’ve been getting it from all along – (and it sure as hell wasn’t me.) Look, it’s only fair that the people who are getting a return on their investment be the very same people to make it. I realize that’s not the majority of folks, but hey, that’s just the way it is when you run an agenda that only benefits narrow interests. If the prime beneficiaries of GOP policies don’t want to take a share of their booty to keep their acolytes in office, then that’s just tough luck.
I always like a letter with a punchy close and this one saved the biggest laugh for last, in the P.S. portion. “I have sent this urgent letter to you because you are one of the most generous and loyal Republicans in our state.” Gee, I sure hope that part is true. Because if that’s the case, then the GOP has even bigger problems than they might have imagined… J