“A Tough Sell”: As His Austerity Agenda Melts Down, Scott Walker Blames Protests For Record Job Losses
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker rarely does interviews with Wisconsin reporters who might ask him difficult questions. He prefers making the rounds of Fox New and CNBC programs, where he gets softball questions and an opportunity to promote his campaign website to the wealthy out-of-state donors who have sustained his recall run.
But this week he appeared on a popular Sunday news show, UpFront with Mike Gousha, and faced some of the most serious questioning he’s gotten since the last time he appeared on Gousha’s show.
Specifically, Walker was asked about the news that over the year since his policies began to take hold, Wisconsin has been the only state in the nation to experience what the Bureau of Labor Statistics describes as “statistically significant” job losses. Noting the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel headline that declared, “State Job Losses Worst in US,” Gousha asked, “Wasn’t that headline in the state’s biggest newspaper last week, the one that screams ‘job losses,’ isn’t that as about as damaging as anything that can happen to you five weeks before an election?”
Walker responded by blaming last year’s protests against his assault on public employees, public-school teachers, public education and public services. “Those [job loss] numbers reflect early on last year when we saw all the things that were happening around our state Capitol. I think there’s no doubt anyone logically would look at that and say ‘of course that had an impact.’ ”
Then Walker said the June 5 recall election—in which he could be replaced by the voters of Wisconsin—has become the problem.
“The biggest single worry they [businesses that might create jobs] have is what’s going to happen in these recalls. They don’t want to see the positive foundation reversed for us to go back in time—not only back to [the policies of former Democratic Governor Jim Doyle]—but even back to what we see in Illinois right now,” said Walker. “That’s where [Democratic gubernatorial candidate] Tom Barrett, that’s where [Democratic gubernatorial candidate] Kathleen Falk would take us.”
But in the last year of Doyle’s governorship, after several years of dealing with the challenges created by the Bush-Cheney recession, Wisconsin’s unemployment dipped and the state created 30,000 new jobs.
In contrast, in the year after Walker’s policies began to be implemented in March of 2011, Wisconsin lost 24,000.
During that same period, Illinois added 41,000 jobs.
So Walker’s spin is a tough sell.
Even with Walker.
Indeed, when he appeared on Gousha’s show in January of this year, he was also asked about jobs.
The conversation turned to the influence of the protests and the recall election on job growth.
Walker mentioned the recalls but then, according to the recap of the UpFront program by the show’s producers: “Walker immediately walked back the comment, adding the recalls alone weren’t responsible for the state’s sluggish economy. He also insisted he wasn’t saying recalls are a factor in business decisions.”
The recap continued by noting that “[Walker] said no business leaders have told them they have decided against investing in Wisconsin or creating jobs here because of the recalls.” And Walker added that “he didn’t want to ‘over inflate’ any role the recalls have played in business decisions, saying it was largely attributed to the state’s manufacturing-heavy economy and a lack of demand in foreign markets because of the economic troubles seen in Europe, particularly Greece.”
So what changed from January to April?
Walker presumed, as everyone did in January, that Wisconsin would follow national job growth patterns in the months leading toward the recall election on June 5. Instead, while other states began to boom, Wisconsin kept shedding jobs.
Now, the governor faces the fight of his political life. And he is willing to say anything that will save him—even if it contradicts what he said just three months earlier.
The one thing Scott Walker is unwilling to do is acknowledge what everyone else is coming to recognize: that his policies are not working.
By: John Nichols, The Nation, April 30, 2012
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