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Aug 3, 201504:07 PMVan Lines

with Joe Vanden Plas

About Walker’s jobs record …

From the pages of In Business magazine.

The day after Donald Trump’s rambling screed introducing himself as a presidential candidate — God help us — America’s favorite real estate mogul/egomaniac was asked to handicap the rest of the Republican primary field. When he got to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who recently announced his candidacy, “The Donald” noted the problems Walker has in Wisconsin.

I’m not exactly sure what he was referring to. Perhaps it was Walker’s controversial UW System cuts, which have hurt his standing, or maybe it’s the wildly divergent data about his job-creation record. Wisconsin ranked a disappointing 35th in job creation during Walker’s first term, falling well short of his goal of 250,000 new jobs, and the state ranks dead last in new business startups, according to the Kauffman Foundation.

Still, the latest employment data shows that Wisconsin’s unemployment rate, now 4.6%, is below the national rate of 5.3%. Moreover, the state’s labor participation rate of 67.9%, while nowhere near past high-water marks, is well above the national rate of 62.6%. That means Wisconsin residents are more confident they will find work than national job seekers.

In the presidential race, I’m not convinced Walker is electable, primarily due to his extreme stance on abortion (no exception for rape). While that didn’t hurt him in his quest for a second term as governor, it could hurt him badly as a presidential candidate.

The UW System cuts are another potential liability. In retrospect, Walker should have placed every penny of past tax revenue surpluses in the state’s rainy day fund, which could have made the cuts unnecessary.

That said, here’s a prediction about the Republican Primary. When GOP opponents rip Walker’s jobs record, here’s a general approximation of what he’ll say: “Yes, I set a goal of 250,000 jobs in my first four years because that’s how many new jobs were created during former Gov. Tommy Thompson’s first term. The difference is Tommy had President Reagan’s pro-growth policies at his back, and I’ve have President Obama’s policies as a headwind.”

An example of superficial reasoning? Yes, but the opportunity to note that contrast will be too tempting to pass up.

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