August 6, 2011
The past few weeks debt-ceiling jabberwocky in Washington D.C. has produced only one clear winner – Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.
Watching our nations’ leaders flop around like carp in a bucket trying to concoct some incomprehensible mix of bullsnot and pixie dust that will make doing nothing look like doing something has become even more boring than it is pathetic, and that is no mean feat. Markets have not lost confidence in America; they have lost faith in America’s President and our Congressional leaders. We all have.
Governor Walker is looking like Winston Churchill next to these cobs. Residents of the Badger state are lucky to have a Governor and legislature who did their jobs and passed responsible budget reform as their first order of business. The results have been immediate, remarkable, and indisputable. Washington could learn something from Wisconsin, and here it is: you balance a budget by balancing a budget. Go do your job.
Walker inherited a $3.3 billion deficit mess from his predecessor, including a cynical $144 million turd dropped in the punchbowl on his way out the door. Unlike some U.S. President who shall remain nameless, Governor Walker did not make blaming the last guy his re-election strategy on day one of his first term. He went to work; he did his job; he fixed the budget. It was not easy; doing the right thing rarely is.
The socialists unleashed a torrent of hate at the new Governor more furious than anyone ever feared might be directed at our first black President, but Walker did not sulk or pout or pitch a fit in prime time. He did not berate his adversaries. He did not say an unkind word about the public employees whose unions vilified him and his supporters. While the opposition party abandoned their posts and fled to another state, the Governor quietly went to work each day and moved his plan through the legislature.
Walker’s budget fix liberated the state from the fiscal death grip of its public sector unions. He saved taxpayers hundreds of millions, and he saved the jobs of tens of thousands of state workers, municipal employees, and teachers who would otherwise have been laid off, as was the case in Milwaukee and Madison where teachers’ unions shot themselves in the foot by extending contracts before the Walker budget reforms took effect. Those workers whose jobs were saved won’t say it, but I will:
Thank you, Scott Walker.
All over the state, local government and school districts are saving money, instituting merit pay for teachers, reducing class sizes, improving services, and reducing tax burdens on the real working class. The rank-and-file teachers in Milwaukee have now mutinied, forcing their own union leaders to re-open contract negotiations to bring back teachers laid off by their union’s intransigence. Whose plan do they demand their unions adopt? Governor Scott Walker’s plan – imagine that.
Wisconsin has already paid back its long-overdue debt to the state of Minnesota, and it is paying back its debts to trust funds raided over the past decade. Walker’s fiscal responsibility led to favorable borrowing terms, saving millions each month in lower interest and fees. Paying down debt improves credit ratings – did you catch that, junk-bond U.S. President who shall remain nameless?
Governor Walker began his term by announcing, “Wisconsin is Open For Business”. With changes both overt and subtle, he has turned a hostile business climate into a far more favorable place for businesses to operate. While a certain anti-business President’s state-suckling show ponies used their subsidies to move overseas – GM to Mexico and GE to China – Walker’s Wisconsin companies stayed here and led the nation in job creation in June, creating over half of all net jobs in the country. 40,000 jobs have been created since he took office in January – that is how you raise revenue without increasing tax rates on anybody.
Employers across Wisconsin have thousands more job openings we can’t fill for the lack of qualified, educated workers. The Governor has announced an initiative to reform our education system to improve the relevance and effectiveness of our schools, once the best in the nation. The state teachers’ union, still seething that Walker’s budget fix did not cause the sky to fall, refuses to participate. Thank God for that, and now Governor Walker is going ahead without them.
It is ridiculous that Wisconsin taxpayers must indulge the vengeful unionists who are trying to recall Walkers’ legislative allies out of pure spite. Those legislators did nothing wrong; they did their jobs – unlike a certain U.S. President who shall remain nameless, or a certain U.S. Senate who has not passed a budget in two years, or a certain Wisconsin former Governor and his legislatures who spent eight years digging the hole Scott Walker filled in only six months on the job.
Recall? Here’s what I recall: I recall that the Democrats who preceded Walker raised billions in taxes and still left the state billions in the red. I recall they looted state trust funds earmarked for transportation and malpractice insurance to feather their union nests and then pleaded for federal rail and health care. I recall that the eighth graders who spent all eight grades under a liberal Democrat governor and legislature tested out at 39% proficient in math. I recall an attorney general’s DUI, springing a legislator out of jail to vote a bill, a prosecutor hitting on rape victims, and bonuses paid to Capitol staffers while 300,000 Wisconsinites lost their jobs. And I recall a few million dollar pile of useless train cars the former Governor bought in secret on a junket to Spain. Drum on that.
All those millions being spent this summer by the unions to recall a handful of State Senators could have been used to help their members meet those new contributions to their own health premiums and pensions that caused them to come unglued. That is, if the unions gave a spit about their members. But they don’t; this week’s union priority is harassing a charity for the developmentally disabled that the Governor supports. You can’t wash off that kind of scum with a chemical peel.
Libertarians like me can find plenty to criticize in Governor Walker’s first six months. He killed Constitutional Carry, supports the smoking ban on private property, is dragging his feet on raw milk, sold out micro-breweries, extended unemployment benefits, is on the wrong side of medical marijuana, and should have passed school choice and Right To Work while the AWOL Democrats were channeling their inner Jay Cutler down in Illinois, moping on the sidelines with their hoodies pulled up tight.
But for the life of me, I cannot understand why Republicans in this state have not turned this recall nonsense into a victory dance. Walker took on the unions and he won. He had a plan and it worked. The left revealed its vile and corrupted true self for the whole nation to see. Each day’s new clown act in D.C. reminds us of how much chaos the voters of Wisconsin avoided by having that little recall of our own last November that gave the GOP a shot at governing in Wisconsin.
If they don’t have the nards for it, let me say it for them and every other fiscally responsible citizen of this state: Thank you, Scott Walker.
“Moment Of Clarity” is a weekly commentary by Libertarian writer and speaker Tim Nerenz, Ph.D. Visit Tim’s website www.timnerenz.com to find your moment.