Stateside,  Vote 2016

And Scott Walker too

Sorry. No feigned or ironic enthusiasm for the egregious Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker as he becomes the 15th Republican to enter the contest for the 2016 presidential nomination.

I mean, Donald Trump is a clown. Scott Walker is no laughing matter.

As you may recall, Walker’s first order of business after winning election in 2010 was to slash the bargaining power of public employee unions. With utter cynicism, he exempted police and firefighter unions from the provisions of the new law.

For me, the most revealing moment in Walker’s governorship came when tens of thousands of union members and supporters descended on the state capitol in Madison, and liberal blogger Ian Murphy phoned him pretending to be rightwing billionaire David Koch. As I wrote at the time:

He got through and spoke to the governor for 20 minutes, doing what sounds to me like a caricature of a rich, greedy rightwing bastard. But if it convinced Walker, maybe it’s not such a caricature of the way these people think and talk after all.

The New York Times reported:

…Mr. Murphy [posing as Koch] suggested planting “troublemakers” in the crowd of protesters.

We thought about that,” replied Governor Walker. “My only fear would be if there’s a ruckus caused is that maybe the governor has to settle to solve all these problems.”

And Walker claims to stand for “hardworking taxpayers” against the “special interests”? Only, it seems, if those “special interests” do not happen to be Republican-supporting billionaires.

(If by some horrible chance Walker becomes president, I hope he will be able to tell the difference between, say, a phone call from Vladimir Putin and someone pretending to be Vladimir Putin.)

We were assured by Walker’s gullible or dishonest supporters that his only real problem was with public employee unions– that he had no problem with unions in the private sector. However shortly after he was reelected he proudly signed a so-called “right to work” law, outlawing union shop agreements in the state and allowing workers to receive union-negotiated wages, benefits and protections without paying dues.

Politifact pointed out the Walker’s support for “right to work” was a complete flip-flop from an earlier statement that he was “not supporting” it

Walker clearly thinks that one way to Republican hearts these days is through union-bashing and union-busting. It may be, but in the general population, a lot more people have a favorable opinion of unions than an unfavorable opinion.

(By the way, it’s fascinating that a number of people apparently think the decline in union membership has been bad for working people but good for the country.)

Further, large majorities of Americans favor the right of both public and private employees to unionize.

Meanwhile Walker’s image as a budget-slasher has been undercut by his push to use $250 million in Wisconsin taxpayers’ money to build a new stadium for the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team while cutting funding for schools.

“The stark political reality is that the proposal is a $250 million taxpayer subsidy for the Bucks and their billionaire owners in a budget rife with cuts for other programs,” Charlie Sykes, a popular and influential conservative radio show host in Milwaukee, wrote in a column that listed 10 reasons the deal “is a hot mess.”

And despite claims to be a job-creator, Walker’s actual record is less than impressive. It’s no surprise that a lot more Wisconsin voters recently disapproved of his record as governor than approved.

It’s worth recalling that two years after Walker was first elected governor in 2010, Barack Obama carried Wisconsin and the liberal Democrat Tammy Baldwin was elected to the US Senate. As in many states, Democratic turnout tends to fall off in non-presidential elections. If Walker gets the GOP nomination, I’d be surprised to see him carry his home state.

Update: Scott Walker says the minimum wage is a “lame idea” of “the left.”

In real world, voters in four Republican “red states” last year approved increases in their states’ minimum wages.