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Monday, July 22, 2013

Walker Only Sixth Worst Governor

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Reaction to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker being named the sixth worst governor in the nation by a non-partisan, national organization tracking ethics in government depends upon your political point of view.

To Walker supporters, the name, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), clearly identifies the group as strongly biased against Republican governors who refuse to be constrained by responsibility and ethics.

To Walker’s opponents, the shock was: “Really? He’s only the sixth worst!”

It’s easy to lose perspective from being too close. As painful as Walker’s actions are to many in this state, it’s hard to quibble with Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, for instance, finishing ahead of him on the “worst” list.

But Walker’s strong national showing for irresponsibility and lack of ethics still could be important as he travels the country raising money and his profile for a possible 2016 presidential run.

The fact that 16 out of 18 governors CREW cited as the “worst in America” were Republicans may simply be an accurate reflection of the values of today’s Republican Party.

The biggest obstacle any Republican, including Walker, has in being elected president is that the candidate has to adopt so many irresponsible positions to satisfy the party’s extreme right wing that he or she will have trouble winning a national election.

 

Campaign Donors Benefited from Jobs Agency

Being the country’s sixth worst governor may not be a problem for Walker in seeking the Republican nomination, but we’re already seeing in Wisconsin how it can block his long-term political success.

Ask yourself why Wisconsin under Walker has one of the worst job recovery records in the country when Walker has total control of the Legislature and can do anything he wants to live up to his promise to create 250,000 jobs.

Walker abolished the state Commerce Department and created his own partially privatized Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. (WEDC). And it’s been an absolute disaster.

The reason is exactly what earned Walker his prominent ranking as the sixth worst governor—a brazen lack of responsibility and ethics.

An independent audit by the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau found that literally millions of taxpayer dollars and tax credits were passed around without following basic business practices such as tracking loan repayments, verifying collateral or determining whether any of those companies were violating state or federal labor laws.

Although the giveaways were supposed to create jobs, WEDC often didn’t bother to check whether any jobs were created or falsely credited jobs that already existed.

That either shows the agency to be a gigantic financial fraud or that it worked exactly as Walker intended by shoveling tens of millions of dollars in tax money and tax credits to the governor’s corporate contributors without any financial accountability.

Those companies were accountable in the only way that appeared to matter. The watchdog One Wisconsin Now reported owners and employees of businesses receiving WEDC funds contributed more than $614,000 to Walker’s political campaigns and to the Republican Governors Association, which then contributed lavishly to Walker.

Walker’s incompetence at job creation isn’t the only Walker initiative that has hurt the state’s economic recovery instead of helping it.

The biggest Walker political “victory” bringing him national support from the extreme right was destroying collective bargaining rights for public employees.

It’s actually a major reason Wisconsin lags so far behind most other states in the recovery. By intentionally slashing wages and raises for workers throughout the state and destroying the power of their unions to fight back, Walker blew an enormous hole in his own state’s economy.

All the income lost by Wisconsin workers across the state would have been spent to create higher profits and more hiring by Wisconsin businesses.

Similarly, Walker gave an absolutely amazing speech recently about the tremendous economic value of spending tax money on Wisconsin’s transportation infrastructure.

This is from the governor who confounded economic experts by rejecting $810 million in federal funds for a high-speed rail project that would have created jobs for construction workers and profits for businesses throughout the state.

So many of the extreme political positions taken by Walker and other Republican governors don’t really benefit their own citizens.

By joining Perry and others in attempting to shut down abortion clinics, Walker can’t really stop women, especially those far too young to give birth, from getting abortions. The very worst he can do—and it would be horrible—is stop them from getting safe, legal abortions.

It hurts Walker’s own citizens when he makes historic cuts in education and health care. Or allows a mining company to write its own environmental rules to destroy an enormous swath of northern Wisconsin and endanger its waterways.

The real reason to act responsibly and refrain from shady, unethical political deals isn’t just to avoid being named one of the worst governors in the country. It’s to be a successful governor of your own state.