Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker really wants to be governor of Wisconsin. So does Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. In order to win over the hearts and minds of voters, they're making plans and promises, as politicians are wont to do, many of which may seem awesome -- but only at first blush.
Walker in particular has gone in for hyperbole, promising to create 250,000 jobs in his first term as governor. Barrett, on the other hand, has proposed the slightly more modest plan of replacing the 180,000 jobs that have been lost since the beginning of ye olde recession.
Walker's proposal of creating a passel of new jobs sure sounds great, doesn't it? I mean, who among us doesn't want hundreds of thousands of honest-to-goodness employment opportunities to come to our state? Well, who aside from Scott Walker, anyway.
The County Executive "said creating 250,000 was the minimum of what could be done under his plan that calls for lowering taxes, improving health care, education and infrastructure, ending frivolous lawsuits, and reducing regulations." In other words, cut taxes, make jobs. Sounds like the usual Republican line, but let's take a closer look at his plan, shall we?
There appear to be four major points in Walker's scheme for Totally Awesome Governing:
- Getting rid of Wisconsin's new "combined reporting" law, which treats corporations and their subsidiaries as the same entity rather than the old system that allowed companies to claim they were headquartered out of state, thus avoiding paying Wisconsin taxes.
- Repealing the increase in the top income tax bracket i.e. the meager increase in taxation on single folks making over $225,000 a year and married folks making $300,000 or more.
- Repealing recent changes in capital gains deductions, which have the most effect on this in the top tax bracket.
- Eliminating the tax on retirement income.
If Walker got his way on all of that, though, what would be the result? According to a post by xoff over at Uppity Wisconsin, "The price tag on those four items, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, is about $2-billion. The state's already facing a $2- billion deficit, so Walker's grand schemes would double it."
Hooray? Couple that with Walker's past railing against the jobs creation and stimulus bills coming from the Obama administration and it doesn't exactly paint a picture of a guy truly interested in economic prosperity for anyone save a few wealthy friends.
Barrett, on the other hand, seems to be placing quite a few of his job-growth eggs in the high-speed rail basket. You couldn't find a bigger proponent of the rail line than me (seriously, I want it up and running like yesterday), and I strongly suspect, as does Barrett, that good investment in the project will lead to long-term economic benefits. But it's important to remember that sustaining a good rail system means solid state subsidies once the federal money runs out. We have to understand that, like funding for public schools and roads, investment in public transportation is a social good that's worth paying for. Public officials who back the project, then, should grow a pair and be up front about that possibility, making the case at every turn for why it's a good thing and not the boogey man so many conservatives are trying to make it out to be.
It's also important for Barrett to explore as many avenues for job growth and economic sustainability as possible. According to his campaign website, he's doing just that, but the candidate would do well to expand upon these ideas--in public--more often. Attacking your opponent's alleged love of the Tea Party movement may endear you to a few folks who were probably already going to vote for you already, but Barrett will attract more wide-ranging support if he sticks to laying out a comprehensive plan for development.
Should states have the right to challenge federal National Guard deployments?
Well now this is interesting. On Tuesday an Assembly committee met to discuss the possibility of passing a law that would give Wisconsin's governor the power to challenge any federal orders to deploy our National Guard out of country.
Rep. Spencer Black, one of the sponsors of the bill, says such a law would help to better address questions of legality surrounding things like the Iraq War. It's definitely an interesting point. The National Guard was initially organized to be a reserve force mostly used to serve in times of local and regional need like natural disasters, foreign invasion, or to suppress rebellion. The trick, of course, is that state National Guard units are not allowed to leave U.S. soil unless consent is given by the governor that they be utilized for overseas action by the federal government.
The Wisconsin National Guard is classified as having dual state and federal roles, as are most state guard units. In addition to its classification meaning that units can be called up to serve in overseas actions, it also means that it receives funding from both state and federal sources. Another question worth asking, then, would be whether or not passing such a law would jeopardize federal funding, which I imagine to be an important part of keeping our guardsmen and women properly trained, equipped, and supported.
The bigger issue here should be how and why our country decides to go to war. We've undertaken military action for faulty and fallacious reasons far too many times with far too few consequences for those who misled us. I understand, then, why Black and others would be moved to pass such a law in order to regain some semblance of control over a seemingly out-of-control Executive. But I'm not entirely convinced that this should be our first line of defense, especially if it threatens the financial support of those men and women who serve.
I strongly suggest we as a nation look into ways of reining in the people with the power to declare war in the first place, and actually hold them seriously accountable when they lie to us. After all, people's lives and livelihoods are on the line and if that's not motivation enough for positive change than I don't know what is.
A quick note about polling
I had intended to do a follow-up to Tuesday's post about the WPRI/UW poll controversy and the ethics of public polling in general, but as I've started asking questions and doing some digging, the rabbit hole has grown ever-deeper.
A friend brought up the point that the UW contracts with several organizations for polling and research purposes, many of which could also be considered partisan. What's the difference between those relationships, then, and the one with WPRI?
While I'm not inclined to suddenly agree that WPRI is a perfectly peachy bunch for an ostensibly non-partisan university to ally itself with, I'm also curious to look further more closely at those other associations. Expect more in-depth coverage of and thoughts on the subject in next week's Post.