“Mary Burke served as Jim Doyle’s commerce secretary. She said, ‘I support Governor Doyle’s policies entirely,'” the narrator in the Walker ad says. “And when Doyle’s term ended, Wisconsin had lost 133,000 jobs.”
It kind of makes you think that Mary Burke had something to do with Wisconsin losing all those jobs, doesn’t it? But that’s not the case. Mary Burke was commerce secretary from January 2005 until November 2007. During that time, Wisconsin added more than 72,400 jobs. The unemployment rate dropped from 4.8 percent to 4.6 percent. In fact, if Walker had added jobs at the same rate as Wisconsin jobs were being added during Mary Burke’s 34 months as Commerce Secretary, he would have around 35,000 more jobs to his credit by now. Instead, he will come in at less than half of the 250,000-job promise that was the pillar of his 2010 campaign.
In August of 2013, Walker tried to walk back his promise. It didn’t work. Then he tried to reaffirm it. That didn’t work, either:
Walker can’t even blame his commerce secretary, because essentially, it’s him. He chairs the scandal-plagued Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., which replaced the Wisconsin Dept. of Commerce. Last year, the non-partisan Legislative Audit Bureau found the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. “did not have sufficient policies, including some that were statutorily required, to administer its programs effectively.” More recently, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. approved a $6 million tax credit to Ashley Furniture, whose officers then quickly gave $20,000 to Gov. Scott Walker’s re-election campaign. It’s something that seems to fit a pattern, according to observers.
“We’ve seen Gov. Walker use our tax dollars for companies that outsource Wisconsin jobs overseas and give over $500 million in tax dollars to companies that have given his campaign over $1 million. If we were looking for a return to the days of corruption, cronyism and incompetence, then Gov. Walker’s got a ‘Wisconsin Comeback’ for you,” One Wisconsin Now Director Scot Ross said.
As for Gov. Doyle, he had the unfortunate timing of happening to be in office during the Great Recession, which began under Republican President George W. Bush. The U.S. lost 8.7 million jobs as a result of the recession and some of those were in Wisconsin, but Republicans don’t like to talk about that happening under Bush. Instead, they are trying desperately to blame it all on Doyle and then, by extension, to tie it to Burke. The problem is that even if you wanted to blame everything on Doyle – which is ridiculous – the job losses didn’t occur while Mary Burke was serving as commerce secretary.
More importantly, people need to understand that as the handmaiden of far right-wing interests, any talk about more jobs and better pay coming from people like Scott Walker is going to be exactly that: talk. The only reason that Walker talks about jobs at all is because he has to. Even cursory polling will tell any politician that jobs and the economy represent the Number 1 issue for voters, as has been the case for many years. But what some people on the right really want when it comes to labor is very different from what most people want. Instead of a rising tide for all, they want a buyer’s market for labor; where pay, benefits and upward mobility are all very limited; where people are grateful to have any job at all and will take whatever they can get. That is what is eroding the middle class in this county and that is the unfavorable environment for workers in Wisconsin that Walker has been able to consistently deliver during his term. And plenty of his biggest campaign donors like that situation just fine.