Earlier this year, the federal government worked out a stimulus package in an attempt to spend their way out of an economic recession . . . literally. As the federal spigot began to open, many local politicians were waiting bucket in hand lest they miss their opportunity.
Then enters Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker. Walker made it clear that he would not pursue federal stimulus dollars if it meant that taxpayers had to pitch in. In an editorial for the Wall Street Journal, Walker said that politicians [Doyle and Barret] were using stimulus dollars as an excuse to generate "new spending" and assume "new obligations". He said that borrowing against tomorrow to live for today would only lead to greater deficits and more taxes down the road, and he was right.
Since Walker made this stance, liberals have blasted him for allegedly politicizing the move to boost his gubernatorial credentials. Steve Schultze, of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, initiated the assault by painting Walker in a corner on stimulus funds. According to Schultze, while governor Doyle and mayor Barret were making their stimulus wish lists with enthusiasm, Walker went on record stating that Milwaukee County "was better off without the spending". Something we should keep in mind is that Walker didn't offer a wholesale rejection of all stimulus dollars, just those that required either a local match, continued operational costs, or a new overhead for the County.
Even now, after these distortions have been discredited, partisan sites like One Wisconsin Now continue to label the County Executive as "Anti-Stimulus Walker". They don't realize that current polls show that 60% of Americans believe that the stimulus package either hurt or had no impact on the economy. And unless this number changes significantly in the next year, labeling Walker as anti-stimulus will only help his popularity, not hurt it.
Chis Liebenthal, who runs two anti-Walker websites, started a new line of attack. He says that Scott Walker lacks the legal authority to set an acceptance criteria on stimulus funds. He says,
"Rodriguez than (sic) follows up with Walker's 'acceptance criteria' for accepting stimulus dollars. What he fails to mention (willfully fails, no doubt) is that Walker didn't have the authority to set any criteria. Setting policy is the County Board's responsibility, which they quickly pointed out to him."
I failed to mention this criticism because it has absolutely no bearing on the discussion. Walker is not "setting policy", nor has he ever claimed or pretended to. He is informing the public, quite clearly I might add, what fiscal policy he is willing to reject. Leibenthal has created what is known as a red herring. Stating that Walker lacks the legal authority to apply his own acceptance standard concerning stimulus funds is like saying that the U.S. President lacks the legal authority to veto a bill when it arrives at his desk. When the President says he will not accept a certain bill, he does not need to create a policy in order to reject it - and neither does Scott Walker.
The bottom line is that Scott Walker is using his legal power to protect the taxpayer from superfluous government spending, and liberals are giving him hell for it. So it seems, there is never a good time to cut government spending for a liberal - even during a harsh recession. Everything is always doom and gloom, and they try to rewrite history that conservatives neglect government services. An example should suffice.
For months, Liebenthal has complained that Scott Walker has run the Milwaukee parks into the ground, and he wasn't alone. His liberal buddies from the Political Environment and Dan Cody have been echoing similar grievances. The chorus of protestations even made me, for a moment, second guess Walker's management efficiency of the parks system until something ironically satisfying happened.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the Milwaukee County Parks was a finalist for a national award. Yes, you heard it right. The Milwaukee County parks system was a finalist for the 2009 National Gold Medal for Excellence in the Park and Recreation Management Program. Milwaukee County Parks Director, Sue Black, said that this recognition showed that the County [Scott Walker] has dealt successfully with a number of problems in the park system.
Talk about egg on your face! And here we were led to believe that the County parks were dilapidated and falling apart because of Scott Walker, and yet they are in the top four for the best managed parks in the nation. What a scum that Walker is. How dare he manage the parks in such a way as to win an award.
From that point on, I refused to trust any word that comes out of Liebenthal's blog. But I digress. Liebenthal's point that Walker lacks the legal authority to set policy is a non-starter. It's an attempt to characterize Walker as a public official who is inclined to abuse his authority. Don't believe the hype. There are those who are obsessed with destroying Walker, and as long as we know who they are, what they say will have no meaning.