Jeb Bush has gotten an early start on his path to being 2016’s Mitt Romney. And the first non-Jeb to pull ahead of him is Scott Walker (and possibly Ben Carson, too).
It’s the perfect time for Walker to have his moment in the spotlight because no Republican politician better reveals the GOP’s true agenda better than the governor of Wisconsin.
Scott Walker is the master of what I call “The Supreme Con” — where the middle class votes itself out of existence by endorsing policies that give the rich a hand up while everyone else gets backhanded.
Here’s how it works:
Creating a deficit isn’t just the constant result of Republican economics, it’s also the goal. That’s its how you justify brutal cuts to essential services like education.
Walker’s tax cuts have primarily benefited the rich and corporations like George W. Bush’s. And, like W., his premise is always that he’s returning the taxpayers’ money to them. The truth is tax cuts to those who don’t need it starve the economy by flushing money to those who need it the least — and they stall the economy.
Contrast Walker’s policies with Minnesota’s Mark Dayton who raised taxes on the rich and you’ll see — and I mean see literally in these 7 charts — how much better Wisconsin would be doing if its goal weren’t comforting the comfortable.
“Two years after the tax hike, Minnesota’s economy is booming,” Mother Jones‘ Patrick Caldwell reports. “The state added 172,000 jobs during Dayton’s first four years in office. Its 3.6 percent unemployment rate is among the lowest in the country (Wisconsin’s is 5.2 percent), and the Twin Cities have the lowest unemployment rate of any major metropolitan area.”
Divide and conquer
During his 2014 election campaign, Walker aired a commercial implying that he supported a woman’s right to control her own body. Since then he’s been preparing for the GOP primary by vaunting his support of a “personhood” measure that would outlaw the ending of any pregnancy and some forms of birth control.
The governor probably figures this tacking to the right is safe after Colorado Republican Senate candidate Cory Gardner — who backed a similar proposal — neutralized the issue by supporting over-the-counter birth control, glossing over the fact that he’d raise the cost of such coverage for women and deny them access to IUDs, the most effective way to prevent unintended pregnancies.
Know this: Walker is an excellent politician. He knows when to get ugly and knows when to play nice.
And now it’s is ugly time.
His base of support in the conservative bubbles of the suburban Wisconsin — along with a lot of out of state money in his last two runs — has helped him win three off-year elections in a blue state. He fed them red meat and now national Republican voters are gnawing it up.
Walker’s willingness to duck questions about evolution and tacitly endorse questions about President Obama’s patriotism and faith thrill his base, even as they shock those who are new to his sly, cowardly politicking.
“In a more just world, Walker’s indecent and craven antics would disqualify him from playing any further role in the Presidential race,” The New Yorker‘s John Cassidy wrote. “But in the current political environment, his tactics, far from hurting him, may well bolster a candidacy that is already thriving.”
“Divide and conquer” has been the underlying conservative strategy that has reversed any gains for the middle class — and Walker is one of the only Republican politicians who has dared to say those words aloud.
The biggest reason I hope that Scott Walker is the GOP nominee is, that unlike Jeb Bush and many other Republican politicians, he doesn’t even pretend to care about the economic crisis of our time — the wealth gap.
America workers have been in a 40-year slump that is the result of conservative trickle down economics. Now conservatives like Bush want to push “reform” trickle down as the solution to the trickle down problem — since they can’t attack an economy that has seen the best job growth of this century, with more net jobs created under Obama than both presidents named Bush combined.
The right’s four-decade long attack on labor along with its trickle-down focuses on lower taxes for the rich and extracting cash from businesses have all compounded the forces of globalization.
And the Americans who have suffered the most are workers without college degrees.
“Real wages for men under age 35 have fallen almost continuously since the late 1970s, and those with only a high school diploma have experienced the sharpest losses,” reports The New York Times‘ Stephanie Koontz reports. “Between 1979 and 2007, young male high school graduates saw a 29 percent decline in real annual earnings — an even steeper decline than the 18 percent drop for men with no high school diploma.”
Walker doesn’t bother pretending to worry about income inequality. He’s just pursuing the GOP’s real goal — lowering wages. He does this by refusing to raise the minimum wage and by going after workers’ rights.
News of Wisconsin having to skip a deficit payment was quickly eclipsed by Walker’s “surrender” in endorsing the state’s Republicans’ further adventures in union busting.
In Salon, David Dayen illuminates how Walker’s policies have sapped workers’ wages in the state, which are $800 below the national average and have generally fallen since the passage of Walker’s first attack on labor in 2011.
States that have adopted union-busting legislation have lower median wages, lower hourly wages, higher uninsured rates, higher child poverty and lower high school graduation rates than Wisconsin.
In other words, going after workers’ power to bargain fits Scott Walker’s agenda perfectly.
[Image by Megan McCormick | Wikimedia Commons]