Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Lunchtime Musings: Journal Sentinel wrong, Walker's failed jobs pledge matters

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial board is downplaying the importance of Scott Walker's promise to create 250,000 jobs during his four years in office:
The Walker critics argue you should care about this. But you shouldn't. It's just not that important. Walker's promise was always more rhetoric than reality, a nice sound bite.
"A nice sound bite?" That's not what the Journal Sentinel called it when they endorsed Walker in 2010, and it's not the standard Walker placed on himself while running back then, calling the number his "floor," the minimum he would accept.

The Journal Sentinel would like you to believe that these pledges didn't matter. They also want you to think that "politicians don't create jobs."

But if politicians don't create jobs, then why was it acceptable in 2010 for the Journal Sentinel to endorse Walker in the first place, in part for his jobs promises? It doesn't add up.

I wrote last month that Gov. Walker's pledge does matter. If it doesn't, then what's stopping him from making it again, or even doubling it? At what point is a politician meant to be held to their promises? And if we say it's no big deal, are other campaign promises fair game for dismissal too? Why make pledges at all?

The Journal Sentinel is wrong -- Walker's jobs promise DOES matter, and it's a failed promise that deserves to be recognized.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

At long last, the Republican Party answers my question: yes, they think we’re stupid.

Co-chair of national party, at an event featuring Lt. Gov. Kleefisch, makes embarrassing comment about state voters' collective intelligence

I’ve asked several times on this blog whether Republicans think we’re stupid.

In August, I asked if Scott Walker and state Republicans thought we were dumb for an ad they ran, in which the governor pinned the loss of 133,000 jobs on Jim Doyle rather than the global economic recession that occurred during his tenure:
[The ad] catches the attention of its viewers, but it also causes anyone with a critical mind to question: just how gullible, how stupid does Gov. Scott Walker think the average voter is?
And when he repeated the line days later, I asked again: does Walker really think we’re stupid?
This campaign of lies isn’t just disingenuous -- it’s also relying on the hope that the people of Wisconsin can’t remember the events of the past ten years. Walker is banking on the average voter -- you, me, your Aunt Irene, and so forth -- of having the memory span of a goldfish in order to win a second term.
In June, I asked if state Republicans thought Wisconsin women were dumb based on the passage of an abortion bill that required, in many cases, transvaginal ultrasounds in order to give those seeking an abortion “a full understanding” of what the procedure entailed:
The law -- as it stands currently, before this atrocious bill was even proposed -- requires [women] to be told what happens, and encourages them to seek other options.

It’s not too extreme to assume that Wisconsin Republicans think that women are dumb. If Republicans can’t trust women to make an informed choice after being counseled, waiting 24 hours, being offered an ultrasound, and generally being hounded by the issue, then it’s no wonder why Mary Lazich and her colleagues think women need more information in the form of an invasive ultrasound.
And again in February, I asked if WISGOP thought we were all dummies for not agreeing with them that the loss of 133,000 jobs during the recession was all Mary Burke’s fault:
Do the Republicans of this state, and moreover the national Republican Governors Association, think we can’t piece together recent history to understand that these losses can’t be blamed on Burke, for not just one but two reasons (the recession, and her being out of office at the time)?
After several months of silence, I figured that my facetious attempts to get the Republican Party to fess up were all ignored. Then, the co-chair of the national Republican Party, in a campaign event alongside Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, made it clear: yes, Virginia Wisconsin, they do think we’re stupid.
Sharon Day, the co-chair, told the audience, “It’s not going to be an easy election, it’s a close election. Like I said, much closer than I can even understand why.

“I don’t want to say anything about your Wisconsin voters but, some of them might not be as sharp as a knife.”
Emphasis in bold added.

I honestly didn’t expect a truthful answer from someone so high up in the party. But there it is, out in the open. And more importantly, the second half of the ticket, Lt. Gov. Kleefisch, didn’t dispute those words at that event.

They truly think we’re stupid.

Monday, October 20, 2014

For a real conversation on student debt, Mary Burke is the best choice

A tuition freeze is nice, but Walker won’t address student debt problem

On the campaign trail for governor, we often hear so much from candidates that what they really are saying to us doesn’t get the proper attention it deserves. The subject of college loan student debt is one of those issues.

Gov. Scott Walker talks a big game about his record on student loans. He frequently cites the fact that he put into place a tuition freeze across the UW system (although he neglects to point out in his first budget there was an 11 percent tuition hike.

While a freeze is helpful, it doesn’t fix the problem. It’s like turning off the faucet when you have a clogged up sink. Sure, there’s less water in the basin, but you’ve still got a mess to deal with in the pipes.

Tuition freezes are the first step towards fixing the bigger problems associated with the debt crisis. What Walker’s plan for student debt lacks, however, is the next step: finding a way to lower the burden on Wisconsin students so that they won’t be saddled with decades of debt after they graduate.

So who among the gubernatorial candidates is leading the call for student debt reform? Why, Democrat Mary Burke, of course!
The UW tuition freeze was a step in the right direction, but we need to do more to make college affordable for students, including bringing down the cost. That's why I support a plan to refinance student loan debt and would allow middle-class families to deduct more in tuition and fees associated with attending college on their taxes as a way to lessen dependence on costly student loans.
Burke described the tuition freeze as the best policy to be enacted during Walker’s tenure. Yet more needs to be done -- a tuition freeze is a stopgap measure, but it doesn’t make things easier for students in the long-run.

What’s Walker’s plan to help students? Another tuition freeze. Again, that’s a good first step...but it’s not a very effective second or third step. Unless something else is done, what good does a freeze do? Students are still paying huge bills, and the freeze itself doesn’t address that.

Let’s allow students the chance to refinance their debt. Let’s create more tax deductions for education. And let’s have an open conversation about how to really attack student debt, and how to make college more affordable to every Wisconsin family.

We’ll get that conversation with Mary Burke as governor. With Scott Walker...not so much.