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“Direct-To-Camera Lies”: Scott Walker Runs Ad Supporting Equal Pay After Repealing Wisconsin’s Equal Pay Law

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) released an ad on Tuesday in which his female lieutenant governor applauds his support for equal pay for women — just two years after the governor signed a bill repealing the state’s equal pay law.

“Under Scott Walker, workplace discrimination will always be illegal for any reason,” Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch says in the ad. “Mary Burke wants to create more opportunities to sue. We want to create more opportunities for women to succeed.”

Walker’s campaign released the ad soon after recent polls showed him and Burke, his Democratic challenger, in a dead heat, with Burke leading heavily among women.

Burke has criticized Walker for quietly signing a measure in 2012 that repealed Wisconsin’s Equal Pay Enforcement Act. The law gave victims of wage discrimination more avenues through which to plead their cases in court.

Walker never publicly commented on his decision to sign the equal pay repeal and his office never released a public statement about it. But Republican lawmakers who backed the repeal said the equal pay law was generating unnecessary hassles for businesses and false claims of pay discrimination.

“It’s an underreported problem, but a huge number of discrimination claims are baseless,” said state Sen. Glenn Grothman (R) shortly after the law was repealed.

But the equal pay law appears to have been effective. Between 2009, when the law was signed, and 2010, Wisconsin women saw a 3 percent spike in median income measured as a percentage of male earnings. In the two years the law was in place, not one pay discrimination lawsuit was filed, and Wisconsin rose from 36th to 24th in the rankings of states with the best ratio of female to male pay.

By contrast, after Walker repealed the legislation in 2012, Wisconsin dropped to 25th in wage gap rankings, according to 2013 data.

One of the Democrats who co-authored the equal pay bill said it clearly had an effect on employers, even without leading to any more lawsuits. “Since the law was put into place, employers actually took notice and were very conscious of the fact that they had to follow this law or they were at risk of a lawsuit,” state Rep. Christine Sinicki said in 2012.

EMILY’s List, a progressive women’s PAC that supports Burke, said Walker’s new equal pay ad is a lie.

“When it comes to the issues that matter to women, Walker has nothing to offer but direct-to-camera lies,” said Marcy Stech, a spokesperson for the group. “Walker and Kleefisch know that their record is out of step with the women of Wisconsin whose votes they are desperate to capture — so blurring their record is their only option.”

“Voters are too smart to fall for these last-ditch efforts to mask Walker’s record of working against economic opportunity for women,” she added.

Burke’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

 

By: Laura Bassett, The Huffington Post BLog, October 28, 2014

 

 

October 29, 2014 Posted by | Pay Equity, Scott Walker, Wisconsin | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“And There You Have It”: Walker On Minimum Wage; ‘I Don’t Think It Serves A Purpose’

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) debated challenger Mary Burke (D) on Friday, and the issue of the minimum wage offered the candidates a chance to highlight their differences. The question posed summarized the situation nicely: can a full-time worker live on $7.25 an hour? And does the state have a responsibility to even set a minimum wage?

Burke “strongly” endorsed a higher legal minimum, but the Republican incumbent largely dodged the question, though he seemed to express opposition to the law itself. “I want jobs that pay two or three times the minimum wage,” Walker said, adding, “The way that you do that is not by an arbitrary level of a state.”

Daniel Bice at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel followed up on that point in an interview with the governor today, asking Walker whether he believes the law should exist. The governor replied:

“Well, I’m not going to repeal it but I don’t think it’s, I don’t think it serves a purpose. Because we’re debating then about what the lowest levels are at. I want people to make, like I said the other night, two or three times that.”

It’s a striking thing for a governor to say during a tough re-election campaign, especially given his economic record – Walker promised Wisconsin voters four years ago that he’d create 250,000 jobs in his first term, and he’s struggling to get to Election Day with roughly half that total.

Indeed, if the governor doesn’t think the minimum wage “serves a purpose,” it’s not too late for Walker to ask someone to explain the law’s rationale.

Establishing a minimum wage is not about creating a target income for an entire population – it’s about creating a floor so that full-time workers don’t have to live in poverty.

Walker’s comments are rather bewildering. When Democrats created the federal minimum wage – after Henry Ford helped prove its value – the point wasn’t to “debate what the lowest levels” would be for most people, but rather, the law was created as a protection against abuse. Its existence did not prevent U.S. workers from creating the world’s most dynamic middle class.

How an incumbent governor of a Midwestern state can still find this confusing is a bit of a mystery.

For that matter, we can look around the country and see plenty of states doing quite well after raising their minimum wage, which makes sense – when more workers have more money in their pockets, they’ll spend more, which creates more economic activity and more jobs.

It’s one of the reasons a higher minimum wage is so popular with so much of the country.

It’s heartening, I guess, that Scott Walker isn’t pushing for the repeal of the wage law, but the fact that he doesn’t see its “purpose” seems like the sort of thing Wisconsin voters will be hearing again in the campaign’s final three weeks.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, October 14, 2014

October 15, 2014 Posted by | Minimum Wage, Scott Walker, Wisconsin | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Problem That Doesn’t Exist”: Walker Struggles To Defend Wisconsin Voting Restrictions

Wisconsin’s voter-ID law is such a fiasco, it’s hard not to wonder sometimes how anyone could defend it. In a debate on Friday night, Gov. Scott Walker (R), who fought to impose voting restrictions before his re-election bid, made his best case.

Walker said that the voter ID law, which the U.S. Supreme Court just blocked from being enforced, is worthwhile if it stops one person from fraudulently casting a ballot.

“It doesn’t matter if there’s one, 100 or 1,000,” Walker said. “Amongst us who would be that one person who would like to have our vote canceled out by a vote that was cast illegally?”

This isn’t a good argument, but it’s important to evaluate in the context of the Republican “war on voting” in general.

Walker realizes that there are no documented incidents in modern Wisconsin history of a voter committing voter fraud, at least not in a way that could be prevented by a voter-ID law. The Republican governor also realizes that independent estimates suggest more than 300,000 legal, eligible Wisconsin voters could be disenfranchised by this voter-ID law, which addresses a problem that doesn’t exist.

But note the calculus Walker makes: disenfranchising 300,000 legal voters is a price he’s willing to pay to ensure that one – not one percent, just one literal individual – fraudulent-but-hypothetical vote isn’t cast. Wisconsin’s governor is prepared to create the worst election-related chaos in the nation, on purpose, regardless of the costs or consequences, if it means one individual who might cast a fraudulent vote is prevented from doing so.

If this is the best argument Walker can come up with, voter-suppression proponents really need to come up with new talking points.

Of course, I should mention that the governor’s defense is, at least for now, a moot point. The U.S. Supreme Court blocked implementation of Wisconsin’s ridiculous law last week.

That said, Walker’s administration, and Wisconsin’s Republican state attorney general, are still looking for ways to impose this and related voting restrictions in this year’s election.

This is no small matter for the governor’s personal prospects – polls show him in a very tight race against challenger Mary Burke (D), and if Walker can disenfranchise 300,000 voters, his odds of winning improve. In other words, the Republican incumbent has a strong incentive to prevent many of his constituents from voting, and he continues to look for new ways to make that happen.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, october 13, 2014

October 14, 2014 Posted by | Scott Walker, Voter Suppression, Wisconsin | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Not A Good Sign”: Wisconsin’s Walker, Struggling, Rolls Out New Platform

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) had a plan: win a second term, take advantage of a good year for Republicans, and soon after prepare for a national campaign. The plan is looking a little shaky right now, with polls show him in the midst of a very competitive re-election campaign against Democratic businesswoman Mary Burke.

A month ago, the Republican incumbent and his allies tried moving to the left, blasting Burke as an “outsourcing one-percenter.”

That didn’t do much to improve Walker’s standing, so the governor is now moving back to the right, promising big tax cuts and drug testing for those receiving public aid in a second term.

With less than two months to go in a tight re-election race, the Republican governor put forward a 62-page plan that sums up the actions of his first term, defends them against the critique of his Democratic rival, former Trek Bicycle executive Mary Burke, and offers several new proposals.

“It’s our next wave of the Wisconsin comeback. It’s our plan to make sure that everyone who wants a job can find a job,” Walker said in a telephone interview.

As a rule, when an incumbent is still scrambling seven weeks before Election Day, looking for a platform while struggling to defend his record, it’s not a good sign.

Walker, referencing a one-page summary of his agenda, told the AP, “That’s our plan of action for the next four years. Tear it off. Hang it up. Put it next to your computer. Put it on your fridge.”

Part of the trouble is, Walker used similar rhetoric four years ago, when he promised Wisconsin he’d create 250,000 private sector jobs by the end of his first term – and said he should be judged according to that standard. Nearly four years later, the governor is less than halfway to his goal, and has yet to explain why he couldn’t keep his highest-profile promise.

But even putting that aside, the two key tenets of the Republican’s new agenda – tax cuts and drug testing – probably polled well, but they each come with one big flaw.

On the former, Walker already cut taxes in his first term, and it’s caused a mess for Wisconsin’s state finances. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorialized last week:

Wisconsin’s state budget may be out of balance by nearly $1.8 billion when the new two-year cycle begins next July, and for that you can thank Gov. Scott Walker’s fiscal policies.

While the expected shortfall may end up being smaller – or larger – than it appears to be now, it’s clear that a combination of Walker policies and lagging growth in tax revenue blew a hole in the state’s finances.

The governor, facing this reality, is calling for more tax breaks. Perfect.

But the latter is arguably even more offensive. The plan would require “drug testing at an undisclosed cost for able-bodied adults receiving unemployment insurance payments or benefits under FoodShare, the successor to the food stamps program.” It’s part of a political phenomenon we discussed earlier this year: conservative policymakers keep targeting welfare recipients with drug tests, and the policies keep failing rather spectacularly.

We know exactly what drives these efforts. For many, especially on the right, it makes sense to assume those who are struggling are to blame for their plight. If you’re relying on TANF aid to help your family keep its head above water, maybe there’s something wrong with your lifestyle. Maybe the state should assume you have a drug problem.

But recent real-world evidence points in a different direction. Requiring those who are relying on the safety net to give the government their bodily fluids in exchange for benefits is not only legally dubious; it’s also ineffective and a waste of money.

If Walker doesn’t know these previous experiments have failed, he should. If he does know and chooses to push the idea anyway, it would seem the governor’s plan for the next seven weeks is built on little more than callous cynicism.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, September 16, 2014

September 17, 2014 Posted by | Scott Walker, Wisconsin | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Cheese Head Guv’s Sleazy Past”: Scott Walker, One Of The Most Divisive Governors In The Country

Tens of thousands of protesters make for much better television than court documents, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be paying attention to Scott Walker’s scandal-plagued re-election bid this year—even if it is unaccompanied by the hoopla of his 2012 recall election. In that year, Walker was able to best a weak Democratic candidate in an election where some voters backed him because of concerns about whether a recall was appropriate, and not because they supported his union-busting legislation.

This year, the most recent poll has Walker trailing the Democratic nominee, Mary Burke, by two percentage points among likely voters, and the embattled GOP incumbent has faced new allegations that he illegally coordinated outside spending during his recall election with groups like the Wisconsin Club for Growth. But while the 2012 recall excited liberals across the country (it seemed at times during that election that MSNBC’s Ed Schultz had moved to the Badger State), this year liberals can barely muster a shrug.

Part of this ennui, as Noam Scheiber at The New Republic points out, is that it’s not in anyone’s interest to make a big deal about Walker, despite the fact that he might be running for president in a couple years. After losing to him in 2012, liberals have a kind of political PTSD when it comes to Wisconsin, and are afraid of raising the stakes in the campaign.

Plus, Burke is a relatively moderate former business executive, which makes her a good candidate for a general election, but not exactly the best one to excite the progressive base. And without shots of hordes of protesters like the kind that swarmed the state capital in Madison two years ago, the campaign becomes far less compelling for television, and is thus unlikely to receive much national coverage.

The outrage that Walker is provoking is of a less exciting variety this time around. In 2012, there were teachers and small-town government workers made furious by Walker’s efforts to quash collective bargaining rights for public employees. In 2014, however, there is far less uproar over Walker potentially violating campaign finance laws to encourage corporations to give unlimited donations to the Wisconsin Club for Growth—and only the Wisconsin Club for Growth. In an email to a consultant for that group who also served as an adviser to the governor in 2011, a Walker aide emphasized that the incumbent wanted “all the issue advocacy efforts run thru one group to ensure correct messaging.”

These efforts are further illustrated in an email that Kelly Rindfleisch, a former Walker aide, sent the governor before a fundraising trip in 2011, which told him to “stress that donations to [Wisconsin Club for Growth] are not disclosed and can accept corporate donations without limits.”

Rindfleisch, who has since been convicted of misconduct in office as a result of one of the many investigations surrounding Walker, added that the governor should stress to donors that he could accept corporate contributions that wouldn’t be reported.

A national Democratic consultant familiar with the race took pains to point out what a big prize Walker would be for the left. The Wisconsin governor “is very vulnerable, in a very dangerous spot for an incumbent and the fact that he hasn’t committed to serve out his next term means that what happens in Wisconsin is likely to have an effect on ’16.” But most importantly for Democrats, knocking off Walker would be a major consolation prize if they lose control of the Senate in 2014.

With prospects of holding on to a majority in the Senate uncertain, Walker offers Democrats an enviable scalp to wave in November. After all, he has been one of the most divisive governors in the country, and serves in a key swing state. Plus, Walker evokes so much anger among parts of the Democratic base that would lessen the bite of potential losses in national races.

Although some national progressive groups are starting to focus on the race—Democracy for America announced Thursday that it was backing Burke to “put a stop to the flow of extreme right-wing legislation that has been poisoning” Wisconsin under Walker—the attention is still far less than in 2012, when outside Democratic groups flooded the Badger State with money. The result is that Walker still has a significant fundraising advantage heading into final two months of campaigning.

The question, though, is whether the incumbent can hold on and win in the swing state. Because while Walker may savor the absence of protesters demonstrating against him, his poll numbers are still worse than they were in 2012.

 

By: Ben Jacobs, The Daily Beast, August 28, 2014

August 30, 2014 Posted by | Scott Walker, Wisconsin | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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