Scott Walker, GOP governor of Wisconsin, tells people that he “loves being governor” when he’s asked if he plans to aim for the presidency in 2016. He also said that he might not finish his next term as governor. It’s pretty obvious that, although he has only 4 percent of support from Republicans, he’s aiming for the White House.
He’s published a book (written “with” Republican pundit Marc Thiessen, a Washington Post columnist and former President George W. Bush speechwriter), Unintimidated: A Governor’s Story and a Nation’s Challenge, and he’s giving speeches across the country. This is what presidential candidates do, not candidates for governor.
Walker’s theme is that the GOP needs to stop being the party of “no.” The debt and deficit are “moral issues,” according to Walker. The GOP needs to frame the debate as wanting “a better life for our children and grandchildren and to get there, we’re about reforming things.”
People who live in Wisconsin, however, know that “no” is Walker’s favorite word:
Women’s reproductive rights: Walker passed bills that cut state funding for Planned Parenthood, tighten requirements for abortion providers that eliminated half of them in the state, and require women seeking abortions to first get medically-unnecessary ultrasounds. Walker says “no” to rights for women and “no” to doctors making medical decisions for women.
Recalls: Less than a month ago, Walker headed up new restrictions on recalling elected officials. A proposed constitutional amendment passed by the Assembly would limit the recall power that has been part of the state constitution for eighty years to only felony or ethics violation charges. Fortunately, a constitutional amendment must pass the full legislature two consecutive sessions and then be approved by a statewide vote.
Walker did manage to pass a similar restriction on recall for municipal and school officials because only the Senate needs to pass this bill. If Wisconsin had had this law in 2002, they could have stopped the recall that led to Walker’s rise: Walker was aligned then with an attempted recall against then-Milwaukee County Executive Tom Ament, who hadn’t been convicted of a felony or ethics violation. Ament resigned, and Walker was elected County Executive.
Education: Walker instituted severe cuts in the education budget while giving the money for corporations. “No” to funding for kids.
Judicial system: Walker is also pushing a constitutional amendment that would oust Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, an independent in the midst of corporate-supported judges. The amendment would change the selection process from seniority to peer selection. Out-of-state money has moved the state supreme court to the right in recent years.
Public access: Another Walker “no” is to limit public access to a proposed iron ore mine site in northern Wisconsin tourist areas.
Organized labor: Walker’s Act 10 took healthcare and pensions from collective bargaining for most public employees allowing local governments and schools to impose cost-sharing for those benefits instead of negotiating with labor leaders. Public employees also lost some of their wages because of mandated increased donations to pensions and health care.
Economic development: Walker claimed that taking money from taxpayers to give to corporations was to create jobs. Within six months, Wisconsin ranked 49th out of 50 in job creation, going up to 44th now. The year before Walker took office, Wisconsin was 10th in the nation. He promised 250,000 new jobs during his first term. Two-thirds of the way through the term, he still has two-thirds of the jobs to find—170,000. Now he says that his goal wasn’t actually a “magic number.” Walker continued, “I said, ‘it’s not really about jobs.’” So “no” to jobs.
Singing: Dozens of people were arrested in Wisconsin’s state capitol for singing. “No” to singing. Sometimes, Walker wouldn’t let people in the capitol. “No” to entry. His “no” to singing got pulled back after tourists in the state capitol were arrested.
Nursing home abuse: Walker passed the Wisconsin Omnibus Tort Reform Act, making any state records of abuse and/or neglect in the state’s nursing homes declared inadmissable and unavailable to attorneys seeking damages on behalf of the victims of this abuse and/or neglect. The state also says no to enough investigators for these facilities.
Voter Suppression: After President Obama won Wisconsin in the last election, Walker decided that a Democrat wouldn’t win the state again. He has said no to same-day voter registration law to keep the voter turnout down. The 2011 voter ID law that would have disenfranchised more than 300,000 voters was struck down by two separate state courts. The law is also being challenged in federal court. Another Walker bill limits early voting. Thus Walker’s “no” is three for three in popular voter suppression laws: restrict registration, restriction voting, and restrict voters.
Marriage equality: Walker said: “I don’t talk about it at all. I don’t talk about anything but fiscal and economic issues in the state.” I think that means “no.”
Audience: When Walker tours the state to get opinions, he limits the crowd to invited guests. He says “no” to many of his constituents because they might not agree with him.
Unfortunately for Walker, Politifact examined Walker’s book for veracity of his claims:
Property taxes would not have gone up without Walker’s “reforms,” the way he claimed. His radical changes did save the average homeowner $20 for the first two years. Walker again said that taxpayers would save $680 over four years, but again the bill lacked that impact.
Walker used the excuse that the state is broke to do whatever he wanted, such as refusing $810 million in federal money to build a high-speed rail line between Milwaukee and Madison and forcing state employees to pay more for health care and pensions. Wisconsin was not broke and not $3 billion in debt.
The claim that 94 percent of employers now think that Wisconsin is heading in the right direction used a small non-representative survey that oversampled large employers and manufacturers.
An amusing episode from the Wisconsin 2011 labor battles was a prank call from journalist Ian Murphy who pretended to be conservative billionaire David Koch. Murphy asked if Walker would plant “some troublemakers” in the peaceful crowds protesting the anti-union legislation. Walker responded that his office had “thought about that.” In the book, Walker claims that they had never considered such an act, despite his having admitted he actually did consider the option in a press conference the day after the call. “God had a plan for me with that episode,” Walker wrote in the book in an attempt to spin away his lies.
Walker sometimes says yes. He said yes to new specialty license plates that read “In God We Trust” and “Choose Life.” He also says yes to the Koch brothers because of the money they give him for his campaigns.
He also scores high in cronyism, scandal, mismanagement and excessive partisanship. He said yes in his mismanagement of the national mortgage settlement funds and creation of the privatized and highly dysfunctional Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, which lost track of some $12 million in taxpayer funds.
Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) used his office to promote donors’ interests, illegally used state troopers to track down his political opponents, and is being investigated for his aides’ illegal activity.
From the Walker campaign came this email:
“This year, we are celebrating the Holiday Season with a Black Friday special that is better than any deal found in stores. Instead of electronics or toys that will undoubtedly be outdated, broken, or lost by the next Holiday Season, help give your children the gift of a Wisconsin that we can all be proud of.”
The aide who wrote the email has been fired for demeaning Hispanics, but his message remains: Give up everything and give it to the GOP.
Walker is a prime example of the GOP “party of no” and a frightening symbol of future events with Republican leadership.