Scott Walker, while responding to questions at his recent breakfast engagement in Chicago, stated he would defend himself in a recall election by showing the people of Wisconsin “how well his programs have worked.” Adding, he would be happy to use Illinois as a comparison to how well Wisconsin is doing under his Administration.
Badger Democracy wondered exactly what economic measures the Governor was talking about, and emailed Cullen Werwie to find out. A response was received via email from John Dipko, Director of Communications for the Department of Workforce Development (DWD). The email received contained a link to the DWD website, and a “marketing” page titled “How Wisconsin Stands Apart.” Upon review of the tables, it became evident that Governor Walker is engaging in a campaign of pure propaganda, ignoring the facts about the economic situation in Wisconsin. The data displayed in the graphs pre-date Scott Walker’s time in office – the Labor Force Participation rate being from 12/07 – 12/10; the Tax Rates on Capital Investment survey from 2009. Not to mention that Scott Walker has had nothing to do with Wisconsin’s always high labor force participation rate.
Based on a follow-up email, Mr. Dipko revised the argument for the Governor by using the following information:
1. Wisconsin has a lower unemployment rate than Illinois, and has for all of 2011.
2. Wisconsin personal income growth grew at a higher rate than in Illinois.
3. Net per capita job growth in Wisconsin exceeded Illinois – by a mere .71% to .67%
At their base level, these statistics are correct, when confirmed at Wisconsin and Illinois Labor Department Bureau of Labor Statistics websites. The fiction here, is engaging in a “which apple is the least rotten” argument. Both states have economies that were badly damaged by the recession. Add to that the inherent corruption in Chicago politics (which effect the entire state of Illinois), the anti-labor stance taken by a majority of the Illinois state legislature, and the push to privatization of both Republicans AND Democrats (in name only) in Illinois, and it is easy to see the similarity of outcomes in both states. For Scott Walker to engage in running on HIS record by comparing Wisconsin to Illinois is an act of pure propaganda; as under Scott Walker, Wisconsin government has (sadly) taken a turn toward the style of politics Wisconsinites have long reviled. It is a rotten apple-to-rotten apple comparison. And the Walker Administration will spin any numbers available to their favor in their most desperate time.
Many of Walker’s policies have created greater personal income – at the highest level of earners. His tax cuts and incentives for the wealthy upon taking office created a spike in personal wealth. Again, spinning any numbers that benefit Governor Walker. What about numbers that really matter? Let’s set the record straight about Scott Walker’s record, and what he has brought to Wisconsin. These are the numbers that need to be attached to Scott Walker’s tenure as Governor; along with the lies he engages in to deceive the people.
1. Unemployment in Wisconsin has risen from 7.4% in January to 7.8% in September. The national rate has been relatively steady, at 9%.
2. The average workweek in Wisconsin has increased from 40.8 hours (1/11) to 41.2 hours (9/11). This while overtime wages have dropped. As population increases, the top 1% are earning more, while the average hourly employee earns less while working more hours. A number with great consequence to quality of life for the average Wisconsinite.
3. Initial jobless claims rose from 13,994 (1/11) to 14,739 (9/11). In December 2010, the number of IJC was 11,577.
4. While the number of manufacturing jobs (based on DWD definition-having no relation to wages, benefits, or employment status) rose from 437,000 (1/11) to 442,000 (9/11), the number has been on the decrease since July (450,000). In September 2008, there were 487,500 manufacturing jobs in Wisconsin.
5. Average weekly manufacturing earnings have dropped from $736.64 (1/11) to $718.07 in September.
6. Construction employment has been on a steady decline. From 117,200 (9/08), 94,800 (9/09), 94,500 (9/10), down to 88,200 in September 2011.
Generac has recently announced the creation of over 400 jobs; this has been touted as a success by Scott Walker. Generac has not responded to inquiry as to the ranges of wages for these new positions, stating they do not comment on “personnel matters.” It is interesting to note that over the years, Generac has given nearly $140,000 in campaign contributions to conservative GOP candidates including Scott Walker, Reince Preibus, Leah Vukmir, Mike Gablemann, and Annette Ziegler. It will be interesting to see what Generac considers to be “family supporting jobs.
Welcome to the new Wisconsin – or “Fitzwalkerstan.” Scott Walker has brought the state politics and economy down to the level of Illinois, then holds himself up as superior to the lowest common denominator. The People of Wisconsin deserve better. Wisconsin deserves a Governor who will serve the People, not wealthy donor corporatics such as Generac. Yes, Wisconsin needs the jobs – at what cost have those jobs come to us? And what will be the societal cost of those jobs – and for the future, if we become accustomed to the right-wing mantra of “just be happy you have a job.”
Wisconsin has always, and should always demand more out its political leaders. More honesty, more compassion, and more accountability to the people. Scott Walker has lied, and continues to spin propaganda to further his ideological crusade in Wisconsin. Share the real economic story in Wisconsin – you won’t hear it on the news.
Five more days, Governor. Wisconsin will say “Forward” with the recall.