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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Burke has criticized Walker for quietly signing a measure in 2012 that repealed Wisconsin’s Equal Pay Enforcement Act.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 Glenn Grothman (R) shortly after the law was repealed.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By contrast, after Walker repealed the legislation in 2012, Wisconsin dropped to 25th in wage gap rankings, according to 2013 data.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

“The Broader GOP Benefits Of Walker Losing”: Intra-Party ‘Feud’ Complicates Walker’s Race In Wisconsin

No gubernatorial race in the country is as competitive as Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) re-election bid in Wisconsin. The last four publicly released polls have shown the race either tied or within one percentage point.

And with just a week until Election Day, the incumbent governor isn’t convinced the Republican Machine is rallying to his defense to the degree he’d prefer.

At a morning campaign stop in Mayville, Wisconsin, Walker openly groused that the outside spending supporting his campaign “pales” in comparison to the Democratic effort to defeat him. He spoke dismissively of an upcoming campaign visit from [New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie], telling reporters that the Garden Stater was visiting because “he asked if he could come and we weren’t going to say no.”

Ouch.

In fairness, Walker later clarified that he’s grateful for Christie’s support, but he’s frustrated because he believes Democrats are rallying behind Mary Burke’s campaign with even stronger support.

The result is an awkward “feud” of sorts – Walker desperately needs backing from the Republican Governors Association, which is chaired by Christie, but at the same time, Walker believes the RGA is holding back, in part because of 2016. And he may have a point – both Christie and Walker are preparing to run for president, and if the Wisconsin governor comes up short, Christie will have one less credible rival for the GOP nomination.

It’s created a dynamic in which Christie’s RGA wants Walker to win, but it also sees the broader benefits of Walker losing.

And that in turn has generated chatter about whether the New Jersey Republican is undermining his Wisconsin ally on purpose to advance Christie’s ambitions.

The Weekly Standard, which is clearly attuned to Republican insiders’ thinking, had an interesting report on this late last week.

Is New Jersey governor and Republican Governors Association chairman Chris Christie undercutting Wisconsin governor Scott Walker’s reelection effort? That’s a question a number of influential Wisconsin Republicans have been asking behind the scenes over the past week after an October 16 Associated Press report indicated that Walker and his allies were being outspent by Democratic challenger Mary Burke and her allies. […]

Why would the RGA spend more on Rick Snyder than Scott Walker? A number of top Wisconsin Republicans have expressed the same concern in separate conversations with THE WEEKLY STANDARD: That RGA chairman Chris Christie might be tanking Walker, a potential rival for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. As Republican governors who took on public employee unions in blue states, Christie and Walker would be chasing after some of the same donors and voters in the 2016 race (if both men decide to run). Knocking Walker out of the running now (while giving extra help to Rick Snyder, a governor of an important early GOP primary state) could be in Christie’s interest.

As for Democrats, President Obama will be in Wisconsin today, rallying support for Burke’s campaign, which “comes on the heels of high-profile events with Michelle Obama and former President Bill Clinton.”

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, October 28, 2014

October 28, 2014 Posted by | Chris Christie, Midterm Elections, Scott Walker | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“An Issue People Understand”: What Republicans Don’t Get About The Minimum Wage

Republicans don’t like talking about the minimum wage, which is only natural given that their position is one that is extremely unpopular (raising the minimum to $10.10 an hour, the level advocated by Democrats, regularly polls at 70 percent or more). But while their political problem on the issue stems from their policy stance, the way they do talk about it, when they absolutely have to, makes the problem worse. Witness what New Jersey governor and likely presidential candidate Chris Christie now has to say about it:

“I’m tired of hearing about the minimum wage,” Christie said in a keynote speech at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “I really am. I don’t think there’s a mother or a father sitting around the kitchen table tonight in America saying, ‘You know, honey, if our son or daughter could just make a higher minimum wage, my God, all of our dreams would be realized.’ “

“Is that what parents aspire to for our children?” Christie continued, “They aspire to a greater, growing America, where their children have the ability to make much more money and have much great success than they have, and that’s not about a higher minimum wage.”

That is some weird logic. We need to keep the minimum wage low, because everybody wants to make a lot more than minimum wage, and an increase won’t make anyone’s dreams come true. It’s kind of like saying to a hungry person: “I could give you a sandwich, but I know what you’d really love is an eight-course meal at the Four Seasons. So no sandwich.” Or saying to the public: “It would be great if we could magically eliminate 100 percent of crime, but since we can’t, we’re not going to bother to have a police force.”

Christie’s exasperation is no doubt widely shared among Republicans. They just can’t seem to grasp why anyone would care about the minimum wage. No matter how many times you explain to them that it isn’t just teenage kids working their after-school jobs who make it, but people trying to raise families (the Economic Policy Institute estimates that increasing the minimum wage would directly or indirectly give a raise to 27.8 million American workers), that fact just doesn’t register.

I could make a conjecture about the psychological underpinnings of that, which would have something to do with the natural contempt many on the right feel for people who are economically struggling. But let’s look at what Florida governor Rick Scott said in a debate last night:

Q: Do you support the concept of a minimum wage?

Scott: Sure.

Q: What should it be?

Scott: How would I know? The private sector decides wages.

Right, and the point of a minimum wage is that the government is setting the minimum, because we have collectively decided what the minimum should be. Either you think there ought to be a minimum wage, or you think the private sector should decide the minimum. You can’t believe in both.

Wisconsin governor Scott Walker got asked the same question last week. “I’m not going to repeal it,” he said. “But 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.”

I suppose this is now the standard Republican dodge to questions about the minimum wage — we shouldn’t raise it, because it would be even better if people made more! — and it’s so transparently dumb that even voters can see through it. For her part, Walker’s opponent Mary Burke has been pushing the issue hard ever since Walker ran into trouble on it, and the race is currently close to tied.

There’s no question that Republicans aren’t helped by the simple fact that this is an issue people understand and have clear ideas about, and most voters are at odds with the GOP position. But the Republicans’ scorn for the idea that anyone cares about raising the minimum wage seems particularly misguided, given that the GOP is already widely seen as the party of the rich.

This year there are initiatives to raise the minimum wage on five state ballots, including three — Arkansas, Alaska, and South Dakota — where there are close Senate races. Because the federal minimum wage was last increased in 2009 and its value erodes every year, there has been tremendous momentum to increase it at the state and local level. In 2014 alone, bills to increase the minimum wage have been introduced in 34 states, and increases have been enacted in 10 states plus D.C. Minimum wage initiatives that appear on the ballot almost always win. If nobody cared about what the minimum wage is, that wouldn’t be the case. You’d think by now Republicans would have figured that out.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect; The Plum Line, The Washington Post, October 22, 2014

October 24, 2014 Posted by | Chris Christie, Minimum Wage, Republicans | , , , , , , | 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

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