Forget about Act 10: Walker can be beaten with these 3 easy catchphrases
Honestly, the Supreme Court’s decision last week upholding Act 10 was a bit anticlimactic. It sort of felt like that time you waited around after the credits of The Empire Strikes Back to see if Darth Vader declaring his parentage and cutting off Luke’s hand was just some Wookiee fever dream. Nope. Your Good ‘n’ Plenty box was not spiked with peyote while you scanned Carrie Fisher’s face for any evidence that she received your gushing love letter while on the set of the ice planet Hoth.* All that gloomy stuff happened. You’ll just have to wait until the next movie, kids.
This has been a long, strange trip to be sure, but the Supremes’ decision has a distinct air of finality about it. Act 10 — a sick, mangy rabbit Gov. Walker pulled out of his hat shortly after being elected — has served as the heart and sinew of a years-long protest effort against the governor’s anti-union overreach, but to be frank, the public workers’ last chance probably evaporated two years ago with the failed recall effort. This latest lawsuit had the feel of a Hail Mary pass all along, and it fell incomplete. Time to move on.
But it’s not all bad news. Two consecutive Marquette Law School polls have found that Scott Walker is vulnerable to defeat, and for now at least, talk of the governor’s presidential prospects seems downright risible. If he loses in November — or barely squeaks by — he’ll have about as much chance of winning the presidency as the governor of Guam.
That said, the messaging against the governor could stand to be tightened up a bit. Act 10 energized progressives in this state — to say the least — but it’s up for debate whether it registered all that much with the general populous outside of Dane County.
Here, then, are three easy, breezy — as well as lurid and sensational (but 100% true) — phrases that should be on the lips of all Wisconsin progressives as they make their case against the governor during this campaign season:
“The Walker jobs gap”: I’ve seen different figures for this, but one thing is clear. The Walker jobs gap is yawning. This is an easy-to-remember phrase about a vital issue on which the governor is particularly vulnerable. In the simplest terms, the Walker jobs gap can be expressed this way: How many more jobs would Wisconsin have today if we’d merely kept up with other states’ pace of job growth?
One of the more credible figures is this: 45,000.
That’s how many fewer jobs we have today, under Gov. Walker, than we would have had if we’d kept up with our neighboring states, according to UW-Oshkosh economics professor Kevin McGee.
Here’s McGee in a guest column for the Oshkosh Northwestern:
So you can conclude with great certainty that under Scott Walker, Wisconsin has a job gap, having created roughly 45,000 fewer jobs than if it had kept up with our neighboring states. That at the end of the previous governor’s term, we had significantly reduced our recession-induced job gap, to 13,000 jobs. But that since Walker took over, that job gap has grown progressively worse, to about 28,000 jobs by Dec. 2011, about 35,000 jobs by Dec. 2012, and then about 45,000 jobs by Sept 2013. That since Walker took over, we’ve recovered only an additional 42 percent of the jobs we lost in the Great Recession, close to last among our neighbors.
McGee concludes this wasn’t just an accident born of bad luck. Walker’s policies made it so. Here, Act 10 rears its ugly head again.
In a column for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, McGee writes:
Under Gov. Jim Doyle, state workers absorbed pay cuts in the form of temporary furloughs. According to Milton Friedman’s permanent income hypothesis, those furloughs would reduce consumer spending only a little. Under Gov. Scott Walker, the furloughs were replaced by significant permanent pay cuts, in the form of higher pension and insurance contributions. By the permanent income hypothesis, those cuts would reduce spending nearly dollar for dollar.
Add to that the significant federal money (i.e., our own taxpayer money) Walker rejected in the form of transportation and Medicaid dollars, and it’s no surprise that we’re lagging.
“Walker’s extreme anti-woman agenda”: Does this overstate the issue? Not really. Much has been made of Walker’s support and eventual signing of the odious anti-choice bill requiring ultrasounds (in some cases intrusive transvaginal ultrasounds) for women seeking abortions, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
If Walker had his druthers, women would be unable to get abortions even in the case of rape or incest. A Tom Barrett ad from the 2012 recall election campaign noted the following: “Scott Walker wants to make abortion illegal, even in cases of rape, incest, or to protect the life of the mother.”
Politifact rated the statement true, the Walker campaign confirmed its accuracy, and every woman in the state of Wisconsin should be appalled.
So if Walker had his way, a 14-year-old girl who is raped by a relative — and would endanger her life by taking a child to term — would be out of options. It’s an extreme example, yes, but it could feasibly come to pass if Scott Walker were re-elected, used his re-election as a springboard to the presidency, and appointed a far-right-wing Supreme Court justice or two.
“Walker’s extremism may endanger your health care”: Walker has put up every roadblock imaginable to derail Obamacare. He rejected an expansion of Medicaid under the law, refused to set up a statewide exchange, and bashed the law at every opportunity.
Later, of course, he tried to take credit for an increase in the number of Wisconsites who had health insurance. His plan? Basically, it was to shift a bunch of people onto the Obamacare exchanges he hates.
Well, if Walker gets his original wish (i.e., that Obamacare die a quick death), those people the governor sent to the exchanges will be left out in the cold again.
And that could happen. A recent lawsuit, Halbig vs. Burwell, could essentially kill Obamacare by making subsidies for people buying insurance on the federal health care exchange illegal. So for people who bought insurance on the federal exchange (those U.S. citizens who live in states, like Wisconsin, that opted not to set up their own exchanges), there’s a real danger that they could once again become uninsured.
Halbig vs. Burwell could make its way to the Supreme Court, and if Justice Scalia, et al., rule that the federal government can’t hand out subsidies, the 140,000 Wisconsinites who bought policies on the federal exchange will be, well, screwed. And if that happens, Walker will have a lot of explaining to do.
Walker can be beat. That’s clear enough now. But there’s no need to flog Act 10 any further. The litany of Walker’s sins provides plenty more fuel for the fire.
*This is in no way rooted in soul-crushing personal experience. Honestly.
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