Friday, March 13, 2015

Scott Walker: The Opposite of Anything Good

Scott Walker continued his political legacy of claiming his policies are accomplishing the exact opposite of what reality is telling us they are actually doing. He's got Wisconsin open for business, he's cutting taxes, he's growing jobs, etc.

President Barack Obama commented on Scott Walker's passage of right-to-work in Wisconsin:
"Wisconsin is a state built by labor, with a proud pro-worker past," Obama said. "So even as its governor claims victory over working Americans, I’d encourage him to try and score a victory for working Americans -- by taking meaningful action to raise their wages and offer them the security of paid leave. That’s how you give hardworking middle-class families a fair shot in the new economy -- not by stripping their rights in the workplace, but by offering them all the tools they need to get ahead."
Walker replied:
"On the heels of vetoing Keystone pipeline legislation, which would have paved the way to create thousands of quality, middle-class jobs, the president should be looking to states, like Wisconsin, as an example for how to grow our economy...Despite a stagnant national economy and a lack of leadership in Washington, since we took office, Wisconsin's unemployment rate is down to 5%, and more than 100,000 jobs and 30,000 businesses have been created," Walker told National Review Online. 
As usual, all of Walker's boasts are completely bogus! As Politifact reported, regarding Keystone XL, "The State Department expects that the project would only result in only a few permanent jobs that last past construction." Keystone is not only bad for the environment, it is also not the job-creator its proponents claim.

The Journal Sentinel noted, "Wisconsin's job creation remained sluggish in the latest 12-month report."

Speaking of jobs, Jelly Belly Candy is closing their Kenosha operation. Haven't they heard Wisconsin is open for business? And, we're also right-to-work! Businesses should be stumbling over each other trying to get in here, at least according to the (misguided) logic Republicans keep selling.

As a glaring example of Walker's misplaced priorities, even though Walker likes to use the City of Milwaukee as a convenient whipping-boy, City Center - Including Milwaukee - Noted For Growth In New Jobs:
In Milwaukee, the city-center employment gain averaged 1.4% per year — nearly three times the figure for the 41 cities as a whole. The rest of the four-county metropolitan area, meanwhile, lost 1.3% of its jobs annually, according to the report.
Right-to-work - yet another Orwellian-termed boondoggle being sold across the country by Republicans. Common sense tells us we're not going to get better work conditions or better pay by limiting our leverage (strength in numbers).

Florence Jaumotte and Carolina Osorio Buitron wrote, "The decline in unionization in recent decades has fed the rise in incomes at the top."

Also (probably not hard to believe), Unions that backed Scott Walker are faring better than others. Pay-to-play and cronyism are top priorities of the Republican Party platform.

Right-to-work is a pet policy of the Monied Republican Influence Peddlers right now, thus Walker wanted to get on board so he could get the campaign money that goes along with boosterism for right-to-work.

Even John Torinus, conservative and former Journal Sentinel columnist, was taken aback by Walker and the Republicans push for right-to-work:
Another example: a low-key issue during the campaign was right-to-work legislation. Gov. Walker said it would be “a distraction” in his second term. A few legislators teed up the issue in their campaigns. But it was a minor issue at best, even though many voters guessed it would become a major GOP issue if the party controlled both houses and the governor’s chair. 
Even though low priority, it has become a page-one issue. Call it a head fake. It’s now high priority for the GOP, even though only 8% of the state’s private work force is unionized. Non-union high growth startup companies, which will define the state’s future economy, also don’t care.
Jon Peacock discovered "Right to Work" Bill Would Suppress Wisconsin's Already Anemic Wages. He cites recent research by Marquette's Dr. Abdur Chowdhury, economics professor:
The potential net loss in direct income to Wisconsin workers and their families due to a RTW legislation is between $3.89 and $4.82 billion annually. Using a conservative estimate of an impact multiplier of 1.5, the total direct and induced loss of a RTW legislation is estimated between $5.84 and $7.23 billion annually. Based upon the two estimates of lost incomes and an overall effective tax rate of 4.0%, the economic loss in state income taxes is estimated between $234 and $289 million per year...
Right-to-work legislation would provide no discernible overall economic advantage to Wisconsin, but it does impose significant social and economic costs. The benefits of right to work enjoyed by some prospective employers are overshadowed by the costs borne by other employers and the state as a whole. Low wages would weaken consumption. Higher rates of labor turnover and adversarial labor-management relations would decrease productivity. And low-wage employment would burden the state with “mop up” costs (including social services, housing assistance, subsidized day care, school lunch programs, etc).
Even the NFL Players Association issued a press release against Walker's passage of right-to-work legislation:
Devoted food and commercial workers who spend their Sundays servicing our players and fans at Lambeau Field will have their wellbeing and livelihood jeopardized by Right to Work. Governor Scott Walker may not value these vital employees, but as union members, we do. We understand how devastating it would be if they lost the ability to have their workplace conditions and wages guaranteed through collective bargaining. We do not have to look any further than our own CBA to see that a band of workers, joined together as a union, can overcome decades of poor workplace conditions and drastically improve pensions and benefits...
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that average wages across all industries in right-to-work states were $4 per hour lower than those in non-right-to-work states. One study determined that Wisconsin would see a net loss of between $3.89 and $4.82 billion annually in workers’ incomes. In fact, Governor Walker’s anti-union efforts have resulted in Wisconsin leading the nation in job losses for two months in a row. 
This proposed legislation unfairly risks the health and safety of employees by depriving them of on-the-job protections that unions have historically defended.
Minnesota's Republican billionaire (heir to the Target fortune) governor taxed the rich and increased the minimum wage. He took office with a $6.7 billion budget deficit and a 7 percent unemployment rate. By late 2013, Minnesota was the 5th fastest growing state in the United States. Forbes ranked Minnesota the 9th best state for business (Wisconsin was 32nd). Minnesota's current unemployment rate in 3.6 percent.

Derek Thompson, at The Atlantic, details one of Minnesota's star cities in The Miracle of Minneapolis:
In the 1960s, local districts and towns in the Twin Cities region offered competing tax breaks to lure in new businesses, diminishing their revenues and depleting their social services in an effort to steal jobs from elsewhere within the area. In 1971, the region came up with an ingenious plan that would help halt this race to the bottom, and also address widening inequality. The Minnesota state legislature passed a law requiring all of the region’s local governments—in Minneapolis and St. Paul and throughout their ring of suburbs—to contribute almost half of the growth in their commercial tax revenues to a regional pool, from which the money would be distributed to tax-poor areas. Today, business taxes are used to enrich some of the region’s poorest communities.
Republicans prefer the opposite strategy - Increasing Taxes on the Poor and Cutting Them for the Affluent. And based on this strategy, the New York Times found, "The bottom fifth of earners pay more than 10 percent of their income in state and local taxes, the top 1 percent pays closer to 5 percent."

Showing his care for women's issues and income inequality, in general, Scott Walker repealed Wisconsin's Equal Pay Law. The gender wage-gap in Wisconsin is predicted to be closed around 2068. Just 53 more year ladies!

If Scott Walker wants to help the economy and increase revenues for Wisconsin he could address our inequitable tax code. The Keystone Research Center and Good Jobs First report Tax Fairness: An Answer to State Budget Problems found, "If the top one percent were taxed at the same rate as the middle 20 percent, states and localities would raise $68 billion per year. Similarly, if the top 20 percent paid the same as the middle 20 percent, states and localities would generate $128 billion each year."

The Wisconsin Budget Project noticed the highest earners in Wisconsin already pay the smallest share of income paid in state and local taxes.

Walker's education cuts and tax cuts for the highest earners have not created anywhere near the number of jobs they claimed they would. In the end, these policies have lost revenue for the State.

Experience and the latest research point a pretty clear path for public policy and job growth in Wisconsin; if we care to actually follow such. Sadly, Scott Walker is only concerned with personal opportunity and the wishes of his paymasters. When it comes to policies that would be best for Wisconsin, Mr. Walker prefers to do the opposite.

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