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“Outsourcing Of Jobs”: Scott Walker’s Secret Love For Red China

Just before the 2012 presidential election, a prominent Republican governor appeared on Chinese state television wearing a lapel pin on his dark blazer that depicted that country’s hammer-and-sickle flag.

In an interview, he brushed off his party’s concerns about trade with China, downplayed citizens’ worries about outsourcing, and called the country’s trade practices “good and fair.”

That governor was Scott Walker—the same governor who, on Tuesday, confused just about everyone by saying Obama should make the Chinese president cancel his upcoming state visit. Same guy.

Walker has a record as being extraordinarily comfortable with China and its leaders, even going so far as to praise the country’s trade practices on government TV.

China and international trade issues have become central to the 2016 presidential campaign, especially given that the country’s economic struggles precipitated Monday’s stock market dive. As he’s done with immigration, Walker fast moved to be the furthest right on China, releasing a statement calling for Obama to cancel Chinese president Xi Jinping’s upcoming state visit.

“Given China’s massive cyberattacks against America, its militarization of the South China Sea, continued state interference with its economy, and persistent persecution of Christians and human rights activists, President Obama needs to cancel the state visit,” Walker said in the statement.

But up until yesterday, concerns about Chinese currency manipulation and human rights violations seemed far from Walker’s mind. (Of note: human rights leaders also called for Obama to cancel Xi’s visit.)  Throughout his governorship, Walker adopted rhetoric and policies that sought to build bridges and deepen relationships between China and Wisconsin—even though, according to one analysis, the Badger State lost more than 600,000 jobs during his tenure because of the growing Chinese trade deficit and the country’s currency manipulation. Let’s take a look, shall we?

Walker has criticized Xi Jinping’s upcoming state visit for being mere “pomp and circumstance.” But pomp and circumstance didn’t bother him in 2011, when he attended an official dinner in Chicago for then-Chinese president Hu Jintao. The city’s mayor at the time, Richard Daley, hosted the dinner on Jan. 21, 2011—a little more than a week before Walker’s inauguration. Valerie Jarrett, Sen. Mark Kirk, and Sen. Dick Durbin also attended, according to a press release from the city. Walker and the other guests savored “a traditional Midwestern menu with Asian accents,” and listened to Daley discuss his efforts to promote the study of Chinese language and culture in city public schools.

Over the course of his governorship, Walker didn’t exactly try to put daylight between the Badger State and China. Shortly before the 2012 presidential election, Walker made an appearance on CCTV—a Chinese state television broadcaster—sporting a lapel pin that depicted the American and Chinese flags side by side, waving over Wisconsin (Wisconsin blogger Jud Lounsbury flagged the video on YouTube in 2013).

The conversation was pegged to the criticism that the Republican presidential ticket had leveled at China’s trade practices.

“Despite all the criticism on China from the Romney/Ryan campaign, Gov. Walker has been an advocate of bringing more Chinese investment to his state and increasing trade with China,” said the host, introducing the segment by contrasting him with fellow Wisconsinite Paul Ryan.

Walker said state leaders needed to communicate with Chinese investors about the benefits of trade with Wisconsin.

“[I]t’s our responsibility to show them good investments that will ultimately help put people to work in our state, that will provide a return on investment to those Chinese investors,” Walker said. “It’s not only good for our state, good for our employees, good for the investors, but also good for the people of China.”

He also called the trade status quo “good and fair.”

“The best way for us to show that there’s a good and fair trading system is to do what we’re doing right here. We’re living!” Walker said. “We’re not just talking about — we’re living it this week, we’re putting in place something that’s a mutually beneficial scenario, and I think that’s what most people and most voters ultimately want out of their leaders.”

And he said Wisconsin’s trade with China didn’t result in outsourcing.

“You look at that almost $1.4 billion worth of exports from Wisconsin to China—that’s not exporting jobs, that’s exporting products,” he said. “That’s a win-win.”

Walker backed up that rhetoric with action. A few months after appearing on Chinese state TV, he led a trade mission to China that included representatives from a variety of companies, as well as from the now-troubled Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and the state government. They visited Beijing, Shanghai, and Harbin, according to a press release.

While he was there, Walker attended the U.S.-China Governors Forum. Terry Branstad, the Republican governor of Iowa, led the American governors’ delegation there.Branstad took those two to visit Xi during the trip, according to the Des Moines Register. The paper noted that Xi rarely meets visiting foreign dignitaries, and that Walker benefited from Branstad’s ability to make the introduction.

Walker also opened a Wisconsin/China trade center in Shanghai on the trip.

“This trade center strengthens our relationship with China and provides Wisconsin businesses the resources and assistance to pursue export opportunities in this growing market,” he said, according to a press release. “Through the years, Wisconsin has built a strong trade relationship with China, and the opening of the Wisconsin Center China will help Wisconsin businesses continue to strengthen our trade relationships and grow export opportunities.”

(Note: Nothing on persecution of Christians or human rights abuses.)

Back home in Wisconsin, concerns about China got him in a bit of trouble. Walker’s 2013-2015 biennial budget proposal included a provision that would have foreign individuals and corporations own unlimited amounts of land in the state, even if they didn’t live there.

“[T]here’s no question that this would allow the Chinese government to buy a big chunk of land in northwest Wisconsin if it wanted to,” said then Republican state Sen. Dale Schultz at the time, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

Republicans yanked that provision from the budget after it drew outrage.

But that didn’t constrain the governor’s energy for improving relations with China. On his trade trip, he oversaw the finalization of a handful of trade deals, including one in which one of the country’s biggest medicine companies promised it would only sell ginseng in its stores if it was from Wisconsin. According to WBNS-10TV, the Chinese prize Wisconsin ginseng, but the market is riddled with counterfeit products that claiming to be from Wisconsin but aren’t. Walker estimated the deal could be worth up to $200 million to businesses in the state.

Since then, Wisconsin’s Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch has lavishly praised the state’s relationship with China. On Dec. 8, 2014, her office put out a press release touting the ginseng deal and saying she and Walker were committed to “diplomatic relationships that will position Wisconsin to benefit from Asia’s rise.”

The New York Times reported in July that Walker “met or [spoke] with” Xi Jinpeng at some point in the last few months, as well as other world leaders.

All this is to say that Walker helmed energetic efforts to improve Wisconsin’s trade relationship with China. But he doesn’t appear to have done much to check the nation’s currency manipulation and unfair trade practices.

Robert Scott, the director of trade and manufacturing policy research at the Economic Policy Institute—a labor-affiliated think tank—said Walker could have gone much further in pushing back against China. Scott said Walker could have filed an unfair trade practices complaint with the World Trade Organization or pressured the Treasury to do more about China’s currency manipulation.

“I’ve heard no efforts from the governor or anyone else on that front, until last week,” Scott said.

A spokesperson for the Wisconsin governor’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment on if Walker had (or could have) pursued any of those remedies.

Scott added that canceling Xi’s state visit “could cause China to overreact.”

“The Chinese are very sensitive to saving face,” he said, “and I think if you were just to insult the Chinese president, just for the sake of insulting him, I don’t think it would be useful in improving the relationship.”

“I think it could cause China to dig in his heels,” he added.

And, Scott noted, that could be particularly tough on Wisconsin. Scott’s research indicates that Wisconsin would stand to benefit more than any other state if China and other countries stopped manipulating their currencies because of the state’s sizable durable goods industry.

Scott’s research also tracks how many jobs individual states lose each year because of outsourcing. He estimates that, thus far in Walker’s governorship, Wisconsin has netted 600,000 lost jobs because of outsourcing to China.

 

By: Betsy Woodruff, The Daily Beast, August 26, 2015

August 26, 2015 Posted by | China, Scott Walker | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“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

“Money Doesn’t Talk, It Screams”: Walker Wins Recall, Democrats Win Control Of The Senate

After a 16-month long fight, an astonishing $63.5 million spent, and a people’s uprising that attracted international attention and laid the groundwork for a movement that will last for years to come, Governor Scott Walker will keep his seat after Tuesday’s recall election, winning 53-46 over challenger Tom Barrett. Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch also survived her recall challenge.

In the early hours of the morning, word came from Southeastern Wisconsin that former state Sen. John Lehman, D-Racine, beat incumbent Republican Sen. Van Wanggaard, with 36,255 votes to Wanggaard’s 35,476 votes, according to unofficial results with all precincts reporting. Combined with two other successful Senate recalls in August of 2011, this win means Democrats flipped the Senate from Republican control and put a halt to the Walker agenda.

A Historic Struggle Over Tremendous Odds

Walker was voted into office in 2010 with a promise to create 250,000 jobs in his first term — which was appealing to residents of a state suffering from the economic downturn. During the campaign, Walker indicated that he would ask public sector employees to pay more into their health care and pensions, but never suggested that he would attack their right to collectively bargain, which public workers in Wisconsin have had for fifty years.

Walker first announced his plans to roll back collective bargaining rights on February 11, 2011 and anticipated the fight would be over in less than a week. Walker announced his “Budget Repair Bill” (Act 10) on a Friday and planned a vote the following Wednesday, leaving almost no time for public debate or deliberation. He even scheduled a bill signing at the end of the week.

Things did not go according to plan. Students, firefighters, and many others occupied the capitol for 18 days. Hundreds of thousands of people marched on the Capitol after 14 Senate Democrats delayed the vote by exiting the state. When the vote was eventually lost in March of 2011, many protesters vowed to recall Walker.

The task was not a small one. Wisconsin’s recall law, which had never been used in a statewide election since it was added to the state constitution in 1926, first required that protesters wait a year before initiating a recall. Next, it required that advocates gather signatures equivalent to 25 percent of ballots cast in the last election — which would require 540,000 signatures to trigger a Walker recall — one of the highest recall thresholds in the nation (and much greater than the 12 percent required in California). But starting in November 2011, 30,000 volunteers braved a cold Wisconsin winter and collected over 930,000 signatures in 60 days, greatly exceeding expectations.This is the largest percentage of voters to petition for the recall of an elected official in U.S. history.

At that point, another problem with the process quickly emerged. A campaign finance loophole allows a politician facing recall to accept unlimited campaign donations. This meant Walker could receive checks for $100,000, $250,000, and $500,000 — for a total of $30.5 million — while his opponents engaged in a Democratic primary had to abide by a $10,000 contribution cap. No opponent could overcome this astonishing financial advantage. Finally, after the Democratic primary on May 8, there were only four weeks for the winner to raise money, cut ads and campaign around the state.

Democrats Unable to Match Avalanche of Outside Money

Around $63.5 million was spent in the election, according to most recent reports. $45 million of that $63.5 million — more than 70 percent — came from Walker’s campaign and supporters. Because of the loophole in Wisconsin campaign finance law, Walker out-raised Barrett 7.5 to 1 ($30.5 million to $4 million at last count). Two-thirds of Walker’s money came from out-of-state, versus only one-fourth of Barrett’s money coming from outside Wisconsin.

According to Mike McCabe of the nonpartisan Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, which tracks money in politics, “Money doesn’t talk, it screams. And that is what we saw in this election.”

Wisconsin’s recall election was widely viewed as a preview of November’s presidential election and as a referendum on the strength and power of unions.

But for many observers, the key question was whether grassroots gumption was enough to win in a post-Citizens United world. The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision made it even easier for outside special interests to flood a state with money. While Walker had a significant financial advantage with his own campaign funds, he received additional help from secretive special interests.

Because of the money spent to support Walker, for months Wisconsin residents have heard a consistent drumbeat of ads claiming that Walker’s reforms have created new jobs and benefitted the state. The Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity, for example, spent more than $10 million on ads and bus tours since November to push the message that “It’s Working!” This was more than twice the amount of money Barrett even raised. Walker received additional support from groups like the Republican Governors Association, which spent $10 million beating up Walker’s opponents.

Because of the disparity in spending between Republicans and Democrats, Wisconsinites have not heard a consistent counter-message about how Wisconsin was dead last in job growth among the 50 states, or about how Walker’s cuts to schools might affect education quality, or more about the ongoing “John Doe” criminal investigation into the actions of Walker’s former staff and associates during his time as Milwaukee County Executive. While labor spent big for Barrett, the estimated $20 million spent by unions was easily matched by RGA and AFP alone. Barrett received very little support from the Democratic National Committee or President Obama. Obama stayed out of the race, although he tweeted his support for Barrett the day before the election — an act that some found offensive in its insignificance.

Still, although Walker originally expected the entire fight to be done in less than a week, Wisconsin residents rose up, like citizens in countries around the world, and inspired a much broader discussion about austerity politics in the land of plenty, the lack of shared sacrifice, and how to create a fairer economy that works for all. In the process, they raised awareness of the role of right-wing institutions like the American Legislative Exchange Council that facilitated Walker’s attacks on working people, and laid the groundwork for the victory over anti-union measures in Ohio, and for the Occupy Wall Street movement.

All players in the Wisconsin recall fight know that this battle will continue long after June 5.

 

By: Brendan Fischer, Center For Media and Democracy, June 6, 2012

June 7, 2012 Posted by | Wisconsin | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“An Expensive And Unnecessary Political Gambit”: Scott Walker’s Recall Hypocrisy

Last Friday night’s Wisconsin recall election debatebegan a series of bizarre exchanges between Republican Governor Scott Walker and his Democratic challenger, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, over Walker’s attitudes regarding direct democracy.

During this campaign, Walker and his supporters have been harshly critical of those who have sought to recall and remove the governor and his political allies. Though the Wisconsin Constitution is absolutely clear that the reasons for recall elections are to be defined by those who seek them—as opposed to the politicians who would like to restrict the scheduling of accountability votes—the Walker camp has claimed that the recall is an expensive and unnecessary political gambit.

Barrett challenged this spin with a suggestion that Walker is a recall hypocrite.

Referring to Walker during the debate, Barrett said: “He has signed recall petitions, it’s my understanding, against Senator Feingold, against Senator Kohl, not for criminal misbehavior, but because he disagreed with political decisions that were made.”

Walker did not respond immediately. But the next day the governor said, “I have no memory” of signing on for the recall of the Democratic senators when they were targeted in 1997 by anti-abortion groups.

Since organizers of the Feingold-Kohl recall effort say they’re unaware of whether Walker signed, and since the old petitions have been destroyed, this particular debate may remain unresolved.

But there is no question that Scott Walker has spoken enthusiastically about the use of the recall power. Indeed, he attained his previous position as Milwaukee County executive in large part because of a recall initiative. And that initiative clearly delighted him.

Back when he was a state legislator, Walker was an enthusiastic proponent of recall elections—especially in Milwaukee County.

Walker got even more enthusiastic about recalls in 2002, when he became the favored candidate of the group seeking to remove Milwaukee County Executive Tom Ament. After Ament resigned, Walker was elected to replace him.

When he ran for governor in 2010, Walker talked up the 2002 recall drive as an exercise in democracy.

Speaking of the Milwaukee County fight, Walker said: “You know the folks that were angry about this started a recall and they were told they needed to collect 73,000 signatures in sixty days. Well, not hundreds, not thousands, but tens of thousands of ordinary people did an extraordinary thing. They stood up and took their government back. In less than thirty days they collected more than 150,000 signatures. It was at that moment I realized the real emotion on display in my county wasn’t just about anger. You see, if it had been about anger, it would have been about people checking out and moving out or giving up. But instead what happened was really amazing. You saw people standing up shoulder to shoulder, neighbor to neighbor and saying ‘we want our government back’ And in doing so the real emotion on display was about hope.”

Well, not hundreds, not thousands, but tens of thousands of ordinary people did an extraordinary thing last winter. They have gathered more than 900,000 signatures seeking the recall of Scott Walker, more than 800,000 seeking the recall of Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and close to 100,000 more to recall four Republican state senators. Wisconsinites are again standing up, shoulder to shoulder, neighbor to neighbor, and they are saying “we want our government back.”

And, as the United Wisconsin activists who organized and advanced the recall drive will tell you, the real emotion on display across Wisconsin as the recall petitions were gathered last year, and as the recall fight has played out this year, has been about hope for Wisconsin’s future.

 

By: John Nichols, The Nation, May 29, 2012

May 30, 2012 Posted by | Wisconsin Recall | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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