In the past week, Milwaukee Executive Scott Walker has taken quite a beating by the left for his principled stance on preferring tax cuts over a federal bailout. But the beating is political posturing, it’s not based on solid policy driven ideas. The left believes that Walker intends to run for governor in 2010, and they will not wait for his official announcement before they launch a preemptive strike against his gubernatorial candidacy.
Currently, the Wisconsin deficit is at a record high of $5.4 billion. Governor Doyle has attributed Wisconsin’s massive debt to desperate economic times. However, Wisconsin has the fourth largest state deficit in the nation, and we do not have the fourth largest government infrastructure. If the economy is truly to blame for Wisconsin’s budgetary problems, then why are 46 other states faring better than us? Questions like these will put Doyle and his party in a vulnerable situation.
Right now, Congress is trying to push a stimulus package of $825 billion designed to combat what they call “a crisis not seen since the Great Depression.” $79 billion of that $825 billion is supposed to go to various states in financial trouble in order to avoid setbacks in education and other services. Governor Doyle has made it clear that Wisconsin would welcome any federal handouts. Scott Walker, however, is more skeptical.
Even with Wisconsin blogs and media pummeling Walker incessantly over his position, a liberal preemptive strike has never been made clearer than Eugene Kane’s opinion piece in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. On Wednesday, January 14th, Kane argued that Walker’s refusal to accept a federal handout was based upon his gubernatorial aspirations. What is particularly disturbing about the article is the complete lack of any evidence for his conclusion. Notice the logical leap from point 4 to point 5 in the syllogism below.
1. A caring parent usually has a child’s best interests at heart.
2. Walker laid out his opposition to the stimulus plan and his reluctance to seek a bailout, but most city officials disagreed.
3. Walker didn’t mention his intent to run for Governor in 2010.
4. Walker’s desire to be governor seems to be clouding his judgment.
5. Therefore, Walker's decision not to accept a bailout makes him a bad parent and a bad county executive.
It doesn’t take a logician to see that premises 1-4 are very loosely connected and that the conclusion doesn’t follow from the premises. According to Kane’s argument, Walker’s position is so untenable that his decision must be based upon his plans to run for governor – nothing else seems to explain it. However, Kane didn’t provide any reasons why Walker’s position is untenable.
There are many reasons why Walker’s position is economically feasible for Milwaukee. First, tax cuts would provide a more immediate stimulus to our local economy, whereas federal funding, if it provides any stimulus at all, would take longer to mature. Second, federal funds typically involve more local spending. And since Wisconsin’s deficit is massive, more spending will only contribute to its unsustainable size. And third, job creation via government is never the solution to our budgetary problems. We need real wealth creation from the private sector.
Trying to stimulate the economy by spending money on local public works projects is shortsighted, limited, and will have no lasting impact. Cutting taxes, however, provides individuals and businesses with a free hand to make investments in expansionary projects that will provide lasting economic growth immediately.
I cannot say for sure why Kane was so quick to jump on the “pummel Walker express,” but I’m disappointed that our own Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has provided this man with a platform to attack our public officials. To be certain, anyone can write a blurb or a ramble; this is why we have blogs. Newspaper columnists, however, ought to operate by a higher standard of research and factual support.
There is a lot of confusion over Scott Walker’s actual position on the federal stimulus package. For instance, the Shepherd Express published a piece by Lisa Kaiser who stated that Walker would refuse to participate in a stimulus package that provides “a secure platform for a new stage in this country’s economic growth.” However, Walker never stated he would give a wholesale rejection of any federal funding. Furthermore, she stated that Walker “argues - without evidence - that the federal government will ‘only’ foot 80% of the bill for projects.” But again, Walker never made such an argument.
In Scott Walker's editorial, he stated that “most federal transportation grants require a 20% (or greater) match from the local government.” He pointed out that there is a typical pattern when the federal government gets involved; he did not say this will be the case with Obama’s stimulus package. In fact, Walker made it quite clear that we don’t know any of the details in this so-called stimulus package because it has yet to be passed by Congress.
In Scott Walker’s editorial, he stated accepting infrastructure projects would be legitimate if:
These conditions are not unreasonable. Walker referred to an economic stimulus blueprint originally laid out by Reagan when he stated,
In 1983, the year that the Reagan tax cuts went into effect, the national economy started the largest peacetime economic boom in American history. During this time, 5 million new businesses and 20 million new jobs were created. Tax reductions led to economic prosperity.
Walker understands that the quickest way to jump start the economy is to put money into the hands of the people. Federal investments in environmentally friendly and difficult-to-tackle infrastructure projects are limited and inefficient, but tax-cuts are immediate, nonrestrictive, and more efficient in terms of economic productivity.
Liberal bloggers and the leftist media have launched a preemptive attack on Walker’s anticipated gubernatorial candidacy. Eugene Kane’s baseless and biased opinion piece is representative of a larger liberal attack machine that is sharpening their knives and biting at the bit to hurt Walker.
On Thursday evening, at an event organized by The Young Conservative Professionals of Milwaukee, I had the fortune of speaking with Walker personally about the media’s portrayal of his position. I won’t disclose the entire conversation; however he did make a mention that Kane’s article accused him of being a bad parent. I won’t say that he was frustrated by the article, but Walker was certainly aware of Kane’s accusations. It is unfortunate that the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has become a bully pulpit for liberals like Kane to air their libelous attacks. Eugene Kane owes Scott Walker a personal apology. Columnists have no business using a trusted media source to make character attacks on public officials especially if they don’t have factual support.