Being fair to Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin is very difficult. It is like trying to be fair in analyzing the administration of Benito Mussolini.
There is so much on the negative side and so little on the positive side that it is extraordinarily difficult to be objective. We will try to give his side when it is factual and true. But when his side is patently false or maintains things that are clearly objectively untrue, we must say so.
Walker came into the Wisconsin governorship in a very bad economic time. The Wisconsin economy was in pretty bad shape. People needed jobs. Scott Walker’s main election promise was that he would create 250,000 jobs. But what did he do? First of all, he said he would balance the budget. Whether he has done that, or will do it, is debatable, but one thing not in real dispute is that he has not created jobs.
Didn’t happen. He didn’t create any jobs. At this point, after one year of laying off teachers and cutting the incomes of all government employees and disbanding their rights to negotiate as a group…his record on job growth is the worst of any state in the country.
He says that it isn’t. He has come up with a concoction of various data that says that he has actually created jobs. No economist that has looked at his numbers understands them. Walker says that they will be proved but conveniently only after the recall election. That sounds bad. Every other state and the federal government use Bureau of Labor Statistics, (BLS) and those say he has lost 25,000 jobs or so.
But even if his calculation improves his position, what difference does it make if Wisconsin is last in jobs or next to last or third from last? And no matter what, it is not remotely close to the 250,000 jobs he promised to create. He did make some radical changes. They hurt lots of Wisconsin citizens. One of the first things he did was to give $165 million dollars in tax breaks to wealthy corporations and individuals. But he didn’t create jobs.
Those kinds of numbers–49th and 50th out of all 50 states–are usually reserved for states like Mississippi or Alabama where education is in last place or next to last or somewhere in the bottom tenth. The jobs are usually low pay, slightly above minimum wage, with no benefits and a much smaller chance of getting ahead. But not Wisconsin.
Wisconsin is the proud state of Bob La Follette of the original Republican Party, Populist and Progressive. This is the state of Senator William Proxmire of the famous waste-cutting “Golden Fleece” awards. Wisconsin is not Texas, but now Texas politicians admire what Walker is doing.
The group ALEC is also proud of Scott Walker and his fellow Tea Party Republican governors. We’ll explain why in more detail, but let’s just say for now that under the guise of trimming and making government more efficient, they have decertified public employee labor unions and then taken away workers’ rights. That is not about wages. That is about the power of the people to organize and control their own lives….not be controlled by major corporations. That’s what La Follette was about. Fighting the big corporations of his day…ruthless railroad barons.
The ALEC agenda has a lot on its plate. They make it harder for the elderly and poor and students to vote. They have trimmed regulations on pollution and put more guns in the hands of lunatics. If you want to protest, go ahead. They have privatized prisons. Try to get out of a private prison once sent there by a Bush-appointed Republican judge. It’s all about politics.
Before you dismiss the ALEC activities against unions, remember the facts. Unions are responsible…with no question or debate…for the 48 hour and then the 40 hour work week. They are responsible for child labor laws (that one ALEC state legislator in Missouri wants to repeal.) Labor unions gave us the two-week notice for laid-off workers and the annual mandatory vacation, and many of the employer-sponsored health care plans. They lobbied for OSHA and clean air and safety standards and equal rights for African Americans and women.
Today we often forget that the contributions that unions made to society…and they were significant…changed America and gave us the largest and most prosperous Middle Class in the world. Since the 1950s our Middle Class could own their own homes and have a decent life, good schools for kids, vacations, reliable transportation, and a long weekend now and then. Americans can work in manufacturing or retailing or insurance or teaching or nursing or being a civil servant, like a fireman or a cop…and send kids to college and retire with dignity. At least we all have, until now.
There is a place in the United States for collective bargaining. One worker dealing with one business owner is at a tremendous disadvantage. None of these things would have been possible without the ability of workers to negotiate as a group with business owners.
So, when Governor Walker, in the now infamous videotaped conversation with one of his billionaire campaign contributors, the conservative Diane Hendricks, conveys his intention to “divide and conquer” (an unsettling phrase for those who are history buffs of the Hitler era) he was talking about reducing the power of the workers to collectively bargain. He means that he will turn the private workers and farmers against the government unionized employees.
Diane Hendricks, by the way, is the widow of a billionaire and now–not one of the top one percent–but one of the top one-tenth of one percent…one of the richest women in the world. Apparently, for her, that is still not enough. She asked the governor when he would be able to make Wisconsin a “right-to-work” state. In other words, when will she be able to have total control over her workers…when they come and go…when they can be fired on the spot…how many hours she can make them work in a row…cut their pay and benefits…to make even more profits.
Pay attention to this: in 2010, which segment of society came out of the Recession (now a technically a Depression) better? Well, in 2010, 93% of all income earned in the U.S. went to the top 1%. In the U.S. we now have about 312 million people, so those in the top 1% were delivering that income to families that all-told accounted for only 312,000 people. And about 280,000,000 million people shared just 7% of all the income earned.
That is an astounding number. Look, taxes don’t matter that much, really. If we had 5% unemployment, a national budget almost in balance, and people with jobs that paid more than the current average wage, and government guaranteed, affordable health care…plus solvent Social Security…would anyone care how much money the unbelievably greedy Diane Hendricks makes? Of course not. But she wants to take more income out of your hide.
But the fact is that, as a country and as a people, we need schools and roads and hospitals and libraries and city halls. And we need the money that we all put into Social Security that was taken out, stolen really, by the Bush Administration and given to people in 3 huge tax cuts and used to fund at least one war that was totally unnecessary.
That money, which is at least $4 trillion and perhaps $5 trillion…just for those items…would bring us into a much more comfortable economic situation. Remember this. When George W. Bush took office, the national debt was $5.6 trillion. When he left office it was $13 trillion. And he left an economy that had 15 million people unemployed and a Republican Senate that filibustered every jobs bill that would have created the revenues to cut the deficits. As a result, we added $2 trillion more debt.
Now the rich, like Diane Hendricks, who are still making billions—they are not the ones out of work—do not want to pay more taxes so that the elderly can continue to have Social Security or Medical care when they no longer can work. Scott Walker, for good or ill—is a member of their organization called ALEC that is working to keep the middle class from returning.
Walker doesn’t deny it. He simply says that he is trying to be “fiscally sound” so that jobs can be created. He gave tax breaks to multi-millionaire businessmen a year ago as one of his first pieces of legislation. Result: no jobs. But less money came in from the rich and more of the bill was paid from the $6,000 paid by firefighters, nurses and teachers. Businessmen got tax cuts and public workers paid more for benefits out of their meager $46,000 per year salaries. And they lost collective bargaining rights…divide and conquer.
So here’s what Walker’s and Hendricks’ right-to-work laws do. They attempt to attract the growth of business in a state by making it more difficult for unions to organize workers. This may or may not lead to more businesses in a right-to-work state but it definitely leads to lower wages and fewer benefits for workers.
In right-to-work states workers’ incomes are not always lower than in worker’s rights states. But the decision to join a union is made more difficult. Since it is already made so difficult that only about 7% of all workers in private businesses are in a union, it hardly seems relevant.
Today, without a union, a business owner can simply decide to send all his jobs to China, have products made there, import them free back here, sell the products, take the money and bypass American workers. That is ALEC’s plan. That is the Republican plan. That is what Scott Walker supports.
Bush cost the country 8 million jobs on top of 7 million who were already unemployed. Now Romney wants to do what Bush did. And Walker is his guy in Wisconsin. Romney is the poster boy for closing down plants, selling off assets, dumping the pensions onto the taxpayers, and sending any remaining jobs to China. (While making four or five million bucks for himself.)
Scott Walker is a Republican. Mitt Romney will soon be the leader of the Republican Party.
Because Walker has been working for the ALEC pro-corporate legislative group for several years, it was only logical that he would introduce one of the pieces of anti-union legislation written and proposed by the corporate sponsors. Walker is their man in Wisconsin. He has received over $400,000 in campaign contributions from them.
So, who is ALEC and why does Scott Walker work with them? ALEC is the American Legislative Exchange Council. It is an organization of the nations largest and wealthiest firms, like Coca Cola, Exxon/Mobil, FEDEX, Kraft foods, Dow Chemical, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Pfizer, Motorola, Nestle, Phllip Morris, Peabody Coal, Proctor and Gamble, Pepsi-Cola, Outback Steakhouses and the National Rifle Association. But there are many many more.
All these organizations are paying huge fees each year to state legislators who will introduce legislation on things that are important to the corporations. Relaxing gun laws and regulations on pollution and safety of facilities or introducing legislation to create opportunities for privatizing public services.
Whether he was pushed or acted on his own initiative—and it doesn’t matter very much what motivated him—he clearly did not negotiate in good faith with the union representatives of Wisconsin’s teachers, nurses and firefighters. He pretty clearly set out to destroy representation for public workers, either for his own purposes or on behalf of ALEC.
One of ALEC’s key legislative goals—and this is quite clear from the legislative proposals that they have tried to introduce through their contracted state representatives in all 50 states–is to eliminate as many unions as possible. The reason for this is not merely to reduce wages and benefits to create more profits but also to diminish or completely remove the political power of unions.
Why do we make the connection between Scott Walker and this somewhat secretive and most assuredly Right Wing organization, ALEC? Scott Walker was elected by the people of Wisconsin to serve them, not America’s richest corporations and their lobbying organizations.
What Walker is trying to do, and what his backers, the lunatic, Right Wing Koch Family plus ALEC are trying to do is destroy the middle class. Divide and conquer. That is what Walker said on tape and millions of Americans have seen when speaking with billionaire Right Winger Diane Hendricks last week when she asked him how he would defeat unions and bring “right-to-work” legislation to Wisconsin.
ALEC has been working under the radar to sabotage the safeguards for Wisconsin families. Thus far, 32 bills sponsored by corporations and written by ALEC for your legislators have been introduced and 21 have already been passed.
Governor Walker has received $400,000 from ALEC sponsors for his campaigns. Other Wisconsin state legislators have amassed over $276,000 since 2008. And you wonder why you cannot get clean air, clean water and why teachers are being cut from Wisconsin public schools? Those 49 Wisconsin state legislators have secretly undermined the Wisconsin state government.
So, concerning the recall, the main thrust of Walker’s campaign was that he would create 250,000 in one year. It has been one year and he has cut 16,700 jobs and another 6,000 were lost. Wisconsin has become one of the least job producing states, at the very bottom. Those statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, (BLS) and they are the standard by which all states are measured.
So why would Walker lie? Here is one scenario. Walker is heavily committed to ALEC and those huge corporations have spent much money on him. If he loses, then the $400,000 in contributions and even worse, the roughly $25 million it has been estimated in television commercials that the Republican Party and ALEC members have spent to see that he is reelected…would be lost.
We believe that Walker simply made up his own statistics. They are so very convoluted. And, he says, they can only be verified…after the election? What? This does not pass the smell test, especially after we know how many times he has lied. Has he lied? Don’t take our word for it, as we did not take others word for it. We went to the best source.
Politifact.com, the independent fact-checking organization for all political parties and individual campaigns has recorded 48 significant political statements Governor Walker has made. Of the 48 statements only ten are listed as true, and of those, four are listed as “mostly true.” So is he a liar?
If he is, combined with his ALEC activities, the comments to a Right Wing billionaire that he wants to “divide and conquer” and his questionable associates, people who work directly with him who have been indicted for politically related activities….we think Walker should be recalled. How good is his opponent? We don’t know. We know that he was a good mayor of Milwaukee. And we know one more important thing.
Tom Barrett will never work for anyone but the people of Wisconsin. He is a progressive in the best traditions of the farmer-and-worker Populists, a man who will follow in the footsteps of people like Bob La Follette and Teddy Roosevelt. Not bad company.