Walker’s Jobless Job Talk
Anyone who remembers Walker and the Republican Legislature’s last jobs-focused session may be praying: “Please, God, not again.”
The first time around, we foolishly assumed Walker and Republican leaders meant they were going to create jobs for ordinary working people. After all, Walker had campaigned in 2010 on a made-up-out-of-thin-air promise to create 250,000 jobs in his first term.
Two years through that term, Walker now has created a grand total of 25,411 jobs. At this rate, Walker will only be 200,000 jobs short of his goal if or when he runs for re-election in 2014.
It turns out that Walker’s job-creation talk is just a cover for committing all sorts of public atrocities—destroying decades of public union rights, rolling back environmental protections and passing out millions of dollars in tax money to wealthy Republican contributors.
What he doesn’t do is create any actual jobs for working people in Wisconsin.
If Republicans cared about those jobs, Walker wouldn’t have refused nearly a billion dollars in federal funds to make Wisconsin a key connection in a nationwide high-speed rail system that would have created construction jobs and business expansions from Chicago to Milwaukee to Madison and all the way north to Minnesota.
If Republicans wanted people to work at really important jobs in our communities—educating our children—Walker wouldn’t have cut state school budgets by almost another billion dollars, the most drastic education cuts in the nation, forcing layoffs and early retirements of teachers statewide.
No. Walker’s jobless job talk is really about protecting the jobs of Republican legislators by hook or by crook, providing jobs and increased profits for political contributors and employing wealthy law firms to defend criminal acts and design corrupt legal schemes to skirt existing laws.
The State Lost Track of Loans to Corporations
For Republicans, nothing succeeds like successful corruption. As President Barack Obama and Sen.-elect Tammy Baldwin swept to victory in Wisconsin, it’s now been confirmed that Democratic Assembly candidates received almost 200,000 more votes than Republican Assembly candidates.
Yet, Republicans won 59 seats in the Assembly and Democrats won only 39. That’s 20 more Republican jobs and a huge majority, thanks to the gerrymandered redistricting plan designed by the Republicans’ law firm of Michael Best & Friedrich.
As crafty as those district lines were drawn, they were only the second biggest contribution from Michael Best & Friedrich to Walker and the Republicans.
The law firm’s greatest gift was the free services it provided to Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman as Gableman fought state ethics charges stemming from a false, racist commercial Gableman ran against his election opponent, Justice Louis Butler.
Those free legal services, easily worth six figures, helped Gableman avoid punishment by a deadlocked court. Now Gableman leads a right-wing majority on the court that is willing to side with Republicans regardless of legal merits.
Although you would be hard-pressed to find any news about jobs being created for working people by Walker and the Republicans these days, it’s become extremely common to learn about state job-creation agencies being in trouble for passing out large sums of money to Republican cronies.
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. (WEDC), a public-private agency created by Walker to replace the Department of Commerce, failed to track or seek repayment of 67 state loans totaling more than $12 million made to businesses that promised to create jobs. It’s hard for many of them to do that since they’re already out of business.
The Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) gave a nice job to Milwaukee financier Stephen Einhorn to invest a million dollars in tax funds, a possible violation of Securities and Exchange Commission regulations against political conflicts of interest.
That’s because the Einhorns contributed nearly $50,000 to Walker’s campaigns and bought anonymous billboards in black communities in Milwaukee and in Ohio during the last election to try to intimidate minority voters.
Environmentalists recognize Walker’s jobless job talk as an excuse to allow mining companies to write their own regulations on worker safety, poisoning our environment, polluting our rivers and cleaning up after themselves after they get through hauling away northern Wisconsin.
The dirty little secret is that neither Walker nor any other governor, Republican or Democrat, can do all that much during a massive recession to create jobs.
What Walker is counting on now is the continued economic recovery under President Obama to bring jobs back to Wisconsin.
The recovery will have to be especially robust to overcome the damage done by Walker’s draconian budget cuts, which eliminated jobs and reduced the wages of workers throughout the state the last time the governor and his fellow Republicans focused on jobs.