When he was running for the office, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker made a promise to create 250,000 private sector jobs and 10,000 new businesses in his state by the end of his first term. He is not making good progress. So far, under his leadership, Wisconsin has added only 5,900 private sector jobs. The governor got off to a bad start. In his first year in office, Wisconsin was dead-last in the country in job creation. It was the only time in twenty years of record keeping that Wisconsin suffered that indignity. The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showed that Wisconsin was the only state in the nation to suffer statistically significant job losses between March 2011 and March 2012. That was in large part because the state shed nearly 18,000 public sector jobs.
The public sector has been under sustained attack since Walker took over the government. In addition to massive lay-offs and the revocation of collective bargaining rights, the workers who remain are spending an average of 3,000 additional dollars a year on their health care plans and have taken a collective pay-cut estimated at $700 million. Another nearly billion dollars has been taken out of the Wisconsin economy through cuts to state programs and projects.
Walker’s radicalism has done damage across the board. By outright rejecting $553 million in federal funds ($390 million for high-speed rail and $130 million for Medicaid), the governor destroyed an estimated 4,700 private-sector jobs. In explaining Wisconsin’s anemic jobs performance, Walker can’t point to a down economy or outside forces. His state has been the worst performer in the country, and he has no one to blame but himself.
In the normal course of things, you’d think major industrialists and capitalists would be profoundly disappointed in Governor Walker’s performance in office. He’s not making anyone money. Wisconsin isn’t a place they want to invest. There has been no explosion of new businesses opening up. But these aren’t normal times, and Walker isn’t being judged on normal factors. Consider the biggest donors to his recall effort:
Walker’s biggest donors include Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate who kept Newt Gingrich afloat and fed $250,000 to the first-term governor; Rich DeVos, the Orlando Magic owner and Christian conservative founder of Amway, who also kicked in a quarter-million; and Texas home builder Bob Perry, known for bankrolling Republican causes ranging from Mitt Romney’s campaign to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, who gave Walker $240,000. Foster Friess, who earned renown as Rick Santorum’s benefactor, gave $100,000. Americans for Prosperity, funded by the conservative Koch brothers, shelled out $700,000 to run TV ads in Wisconsin. ”We’re helping him, as we should. We’ve gotten pretty good at this over the years,” Koch told a reporter from the Palm Beach Post in February.
For these billionaire conservatives, funding Walker isn’t about creating jobs in Wisconsin. It’s part of an ideological battle to destroy unions and privatize everything that isn’t nailed down. Just by applying some downward pressure on wages, Walker is making his benefactors happy.
Meanwhile, a 12th person has been granted immunity in a case close enough to Scott Walker that he was allowed to create a legal defense fund.
In Wisconsin, they have a governor who has the worst job creation record in the country, who is funded by ideological billionaires, who is under active investigation for committing crimes when he was the County Commissioner of Milwaukee, and whose actions have been so radical and polarizing that he could become only the third governor in the nation’s history to be recalled from office. Yet, a Rasmussen poll out today says he’s going to win. And he might. He has a better than 20-to-1 cash advantage on his opponent, Tom Barrett.