Sunday, July 19, 2015

Walker's Minions Giving Wisconsin The Business

Just in time for Scott Walker's presidential campaign kick-off, his economic revisionists are spinning yarns about steady improvement and a bright future due to Walker's policies.

Tom Hefty (conservative shill, Wisconsin Policy Research Institute affiliate and Journal Sentinel contributor) started this wishing-and-hoping form of policy analysis back in March. As I described his actions then, "He just rattles off numerous surveys that say Wisconsin is headed in the right direction, Wisconsin is poised for job growth and Wisconsin has a bright job outlook. More or less, opinions masquerading as statistics."

Kurt Bauer, chief executive officer of Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, continued the wishing-and-hoping analysis.

First he claims it's really too early to tell if Walker's economic policies are working. Funny, when the data aren't on their side, conservatives are suddenly patient in their proclamations. Yet, the entire time Scott Walker has been governor has coincided with his cronies unrelenting boosterism, despite the fact that reality (the data) disproves their optimism.

Then, like Hefty, Bauer talks of many good business climate rankings and surveys showing good potential for Wisconsin. For conservatives, simply becoming a right-to-work state will somehow transform the economy. Too bad all the research looking at right-to-work has found no such definitive benefit. And, surveying conservatives about whether the policies they favor will be good for the economy is like asking a cocaine addict if he would like more cocaine. Despite the evidence of the damage being done, they still want more, more, more. 

Next, though, he details all of the actual economic metrics where Wisconsin trails Minnesota. You know, reality. Those unimportant things like per capita income, unemployment rate, and education levels. Take that, Minnesota!

This is followed by a host of historical excuses/reasons why/how this has hamstrung Wisconsin. Surprise! Cities and states have histories and experiences that have shaped their progression. Poor Milwaukee is caught between Chicago and Minneapolis. Yet, having these two economically vibrant centers nearby has been good for Milwaukee, not bad. And we would have an even more regional economy, drawing more from both of those cities and strengthening the region as a whole, if we had improved rail transit amongst the three cities. A terrible Walker policy (killing the train) that will have implications in the region for decades.

Bauer then abruptly switches gears claiming Wisconsin is more business-friendly and therefore Wisconsin has a brighter future. "A better Wisconsin business climate will lead to a better Wisconsin economy. The opposite is true for Minnesota."

Doesn't the fact that Minnesota's economy has been performing better than Wisconsin's for the past few decades tell us that they have a pretty good business climate and a productive set of economic policies in place? Wisconsin has improved in the business climate ranking - we're now 32nd. Minnesota's ranking is 9th.

Wisconsin ranks dead last for start-ups, despite Governor Walker’s goal of creating thousands of new companies [post]

Wisconsin is hardly even nipping at Minnesota's heels, even using the supposed indicators that the boosters claim show such promise for Wisconsin.

As was noted back in April, "Even the former mayor of Minneapolis, writing in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, felt the need to highlight the differences between Minnesota and Wisconsin policy-choices since Scott Walker took office:"
In Minnesota, Dayton turned a $5 billion budget deficit into a more than $1 billion budget surplus in just one term. By raising taxes on the wealthiest earners, Minnesota is now in a position to invest more resources into the state’s schools and infrastructure. 
In Wisconsin, Walker was unable to take his state out of the red and is still facing a $2 billion budget deficit. Walker made the decision to cut taxes for millionaires and billionaires, while slashing programs and refusing investments at the expense of middle-class families and Wisconsin’s financial well-being. 
In Minnesota, Dayton has moved forward Democratic policies like increasing the minimum wage, expanding Medicaid and investing in the middle class, and now we are seeing one of the most business-friendly states in the country. Just this year, Forbes ranked Minnesota as the ninth best state for business, seventh in economic climate and second in quality of life. 
In Wisconsin, Walker opposed a minimum-wage increase and equal-pay legislation, rejected federal funds to expand Medicaid, and attacked Wisconsin workers with right-to-work and anti-collective-​bargaining policies. As a result, the cost of doing business in Wisconsin is higher than the national average, and median household income is thousands less than in Minnesota. 
The facts are clear: Walker and the Republican trickle-down economic policies have made it practically impossible for Wisconsin to recover from the recession, and the state consistently sits at the bottom of the region in private-sector job growth.
Bruce Thompson's article, at Urban Milwaukee, asks, Why is Minnesota outperforming Wisconsin? He ultimately concludes Minnesota is doing many things correctly and, "Empirical evidence can lead to better solutions—but not if it is treated only as grist for a pre-determined position." Minnesota is following the evidence, Wisconsin republicans are merely digging in their heels continuing to push policies they know are unfair and inefficient.

For Further Reading:
Scott Walker & Wisconsin's Slow Job Growth
38th, For Republicans, Is The Head Of The Class

No comments: