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Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013

Republicans Against Wealth

Mary Burke
Mary Burke
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A funny thing happened after Mary Burke, a moving force behind one of Wisconsin’s most successful homegrown, international companies, announced her candidacy for the Democratic nomination to oppose Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

Republicans immediately began attacking Burke for being a millionaire out of touch with the needs of ordinary folks in Wisconsin.

This is from state Republicans who, until Burke’s announcement, never met a millionaire they didn’t want to shower with millions of state tax dollars claiming that, after gorging themselves on mansions and yachts, the obscenely wealthy will one day get around to creating some jobs.

Now you’d think being rich were as shameful a condition as being poor has always been in the eyes of Republicans. Republicans trashing Burke routinely use the epithet “Millionaire Mary Burke.”

Funny, we don’t remember the last Republican presidential candidate ever being introduced at a campaign rally as “Multimillionaire Mitt Romney.”

We don’t yet know whether any other Democrats will decide to run, but it’s pretty obvious why Walker and Republicans are so alarmed over Burke’s candidacy.

There’s nothing Republicans fear more than a fair political fight. The only way Republicans maintain control in the state Legislature and in Congress is through voting districts gerrymandered to create Republican majorities.

That little national crisis that’s been inflicted upon us lately with the Republican House majority shutting down the government and threatening to destroy the economy of the country?

It never would have happened if the 2012 election results had accurately reflected the desire of the nation’s voters. House Democratic candidates actually won 1.4 million more votes than Republican candidates nationally, but congressional Republicans have a 33-seat majority, thanks to deviously drawn districts in states controlled by Republicans.

We saw exactly the same thing happen in Wisconsin’s Legislature in 2012, with Democrats winning more votes in Assembly and state Senate races, but Republicans winning a majority of gerrymandered seats to control the Assembly 60-39 and the Senate 18-15.

Unfortunately for Walker, Republicans can’t gerrymander the governor’s race. Voting is statewide.

 

Walker’s 160,000 Jobs Short of His Promise

So Walker has been counting on another Republican advantage in politics—millions of dollars from the very rich around the country who’ve benefited extravagantly from conservative tax policies, resulting in the richest 10% earning half of the nation’s income in 2012 while everyone else suffered.

Walker tours the nation at the invitation of wealthy, right-wing donors such as the Koch brothers, who don’t care how poorly Wisconsin is governed as long as the rich get theirs and most of everyone else’s as well.

The last thing Walker wants is a wealthy opponent with a chance to even up campaign spending a little.

At least Burke’s millions were earned honestly right here in Wisconsin from her own oversight of the global expansion of the Trek bicycle company founded by her father in Waterloo.

Not only does Burke have business expertise and a successful track record of creating jobs in Wisconsin as commerce secretary under Gov. Jim Doyle, but Walker, with no background in business at all, has pursued discredited right-wing economic policies that have failed spectacularly.

Republicans have succeeded in discouraging opponents from ever mentioning publicly that Walker didn’t graduate from college. But there really are good reasons to elect intelligent, highly educated people to public office.

When Walker—with complete freedom from a Republican Legislature to do whatever he wanted to create the 250,000 jobs he promised voters—falls flat on his face, maybe a governor with a high school diploma should be replaced with an accomplished businesswoman with an MBA from Harvard who actually knows how to create jobs.

Walker has always had some political strengths. Chief among them is a pleasant, low-key personality that masks some really ugly right-wing social policies that have devastated employment, education and health care in his state.

But not even Walker’s strongest political supporters can claim he’s a competent job creator.  

Walker just keeps repeating his claim he will create 250,000 jobs in his first term as if saying it over and over would make it true. Three-fourths of the way through his term, he’s 160,000 jobs short.

With one of the worst jobs records in the nation, Walker would prefer to run against a completely fictional version of the Doyle administration, claiming the state was in even worse shape before he took over.

But Burke was there as commerce secretary when Wisconsin had 84,000 more jobs than it has today and she knows better.

Republicans really should show more respect for successful business people.

Many of them are decent people who use their wealth to get good educations and then enter public service to improve the state instead of lolling around on the dole waiting for handouts from Republicans.

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