A silly budget from a silly governor for a silly time
The consensus from the left side of the aisle is that certain provisions in the recently passed state budget were designed to beef up Scott Walker’s conservative bona fides in advance of a 2016 presidential run.
Much like Sarah Palin made her (kinda, sorta) rejection of the “Bridge to Nowhere” a key talking point in 2008, Scott Walker appears to be positioning himself as a federal funds-rejecting maverick who doesn’t want D.C. interlopers encroaching on his plans to remake Wisconsin into a laboratory of libertarian economics, complete with a coin-operated emergency eye-wash station. (Don’t want those chemical-burned parasites getting something for nothing now, do we?)
Given that Walker first rejected federal funds for high-speed rail and now for an expansion of Medicaid, one seriously has to wonder whether he understands that we’re part of a federal union. Hey Scott, just because we recently ranked 49th in the nation in the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s index of leading economic growth indicators doesn’t mean we should attempt to drop off the list altogether. Some of us enjoy being part of the United States, flawed though it may be. (Pros: Democracy, liberty, easy access to cheap Canadian beer and pharmaceuticals, paradigm-shifting innovations like stem cell technology and Cool Ranch Doritos-flavored taco shells. Cons: Xenophobia; open borders and lax worker visa program, which in the past have led ineluctably to national tragedies like Alan Thicke and Celine Dion.)
Far be it from me to invite a scriptural donnybrook with a leading Christian conservative, but I went to Catholic school for 11 years myself, and I happen to know that Jesus said, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s” not “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and if Caesar tries to build a modern lifesaving aqueduct in Judea, tell him to stick it somewhere a little less parched.”
This is a silly budget, endorsed by an increasingly silly man. This is a governor who has made job creation his number one priority but has nevertheless created jobs like a Bangkok john builds young women’s self-esteem. Yet he appears to believe that he could be president. (Possible watershed accomplishments should this actually happen: Making teachers across the country feel like the dirty, conniving leeches they are and being the first president in history to institute a universal seven-day weekend.)
I’ve noted before how absurd a Scott Walker presidential run would be, but the delusion train just keeps on steaming. He can’t even get out of his own way in his own backyard. How can he be expected to lead the country?
More to the point, how exactly does turning down Medicaid funds help our state? We pay taxes to the federal government, too, and we’ve traditionally been near the back of the pack when it comes to getting a return on our federal tax dollars, but somehow Walker and his confederates in state government think there’s honor in rejecting federal money that would greatly benefit our people and our economy.
And what’s wrong with tilting the GOP’s proposed tax cuts more toward the middle class, which Senate Dems tried (and failed) to do with an 11th hour amendment? Wealth inequality still not high enough for you? Money doesn’t gravitate to the super-rich fast enough on its own? We actually need to herd it uphill?
And do we really want to siphon money from our public schools in order to funnel it to less-accountable private schools, as the expanded voucher program will likely do? Northern Wisconsin was not clamoring for an expansion of the voucher program. Why are we giving it to them?
All these budget items (as well as a lovely little provision making it easier for the state to sell public properties like prisons, power plants, and highways) will no doubt make Scott Walker appear like a hero to the Fox News-addled tea partiers, but they’re not going to help our state out of the economic doldrums.
I noted last week how determined national Republicans appear to be to hasten their own extinction. Goofball budgets like this certainly aren’t going to help their prospects. Maybe the wisest course of action is simply to keep handing them more and more rope. Unfortunately, they can do plenty of damage before the hangman’s noose takes hold.
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