Scott Walker spent an unprecedented $37.7 million to hang onto his seat as governor. Now he is advising Mitt Romney, who, with help from Walker's nefarious friends the Koch brothers, is out-fundraising President Obama.
"In addition to helping in Wisconsin, I've told Gov. Romney I'd help anywhere else, so they're sending me to a number of other places around the country," Walker told a group of big Republican donors in New York City this week.
Get ready for more jetting around by our governor to swank resorts and high-priced Republican fundraisers. Walker is a big national star these days. He has two things the Republicans value most: a whole lot of money and a whole lot of chutzpah.
He joked in New York about how he has antagonized Wisconsinites - all those teachers and firefighters he bravely stood up against - laughing about protesters giving him the finger in Madison. Lucky for him, he doesn't spend much time here anyway.
To audiences of Republican millionaires, he continues to use the word "reform" to describe his cuts to education and health care, and his tax giveaways to the rich.
This is the national Republican template. Watch for more from Walker advisee Mitt Romney. The question is whether, with enough money, the Republicans can sell their program of destruction for the middle class and greater wealth for the very few to a majority of voters across the nation.
This weekend, Walker is headed to the National Governors Association meeting in Williamsburg, Va., to learn, he says, about other states' economic development plans. Walker's fellow Republican Tom Corbett, governor of Pennsylvania, will be there to share tips with him.
Corbett, another star of the right, has just completed a doozy of a deal for one of his big supporters: the world's second-largest company, Shell.
Like Walker, Corbett has made deep and damaging cuts to school funding and health care for the elderly, and he's moved to disempower unions. He justifies all of it in the name of balancing the state budget and "job creation."
Now we get to see what his budget priorities really mean.
Good Jobs First, an economic development watchdog that has long exposed cronyism and graft in publicly financed projects, recently reported on Corbett's amazing sweetheart deal for Shell.
The same governor who cut $1 billion out of the public schools, causing school closings and massive layoffs across the state, has pushed through special legislation awarding $1.7 billion in tax credits to Royal Dutch Shell.
The 25-year deal, "one of the largest subsidy packages ever awarded to an individual company in the United States," the Good Jobs First blog reports, goes to a company that made more than $30 billion in profits last year, to help create an ethane refinery north of Pittsburgh. This massive giveaway is justified, of course, by the jobs it will supposedly create.
"The Corbett administration, Shell and the American Chemistry Council trade association sought to justify the sweet deal with a contentious claim that the project would create a total of 20,000 new jobs," Leigh McIlvaine of Good Jobs First reports. But, she adds, the Corbett administration later admitted the real number of jobs created would probably be less than half that figure.
Even that claim is laughable, McIlvaine reports. "The administration's revised 10,000 new jobs figure remains no less preposterous, given that the American Chemistry Council estimates just 400 to 600 permanent jobs will result from the new refinery."
But the long-term damage to Pennsylvania's public coffers, not to mention the environment, is staggering. Because of the way the law is written, the costs could mount well beyond the projected $1.7 billion.
This sort of inside dealing at the expense of the public is exactly what groups like the Koch-founded Americans for Prosperity justify on the grounds that the trickle-down effects will benefit workers everywhere. But the brazenness of the handouts to politicians' corporate cronies ought to make voters realize what is really going on.
Walker has been busy for the last two years taking money out of the pockets of middle- and low-income Wisconsinites - including $14 million from the Homestead Tax Credit and $56 million from the Earned Income Tax Credit - in order to make $2.3 billion in tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations, mostly in the form of capital gains and combined reporting tax cuts. That's on top of cuts to schools and BadgerCare.
Essentially, Walker and the Republicans argue that teachers, the working poor and the elderly on Medicare have it too good. But the top 1% and corporations are severely overtaxed and need relief.
The sheer bogusness of this argument is obvious to anyone who looks at a chart of declining taxes on the wealthiest Americans and rising income inequality over the last several decades.
President Obama has joined the fight with his proposal to extend the Bush tax cuts on the middle class while letting the massive cuts for the top 1% expire. Naturally, the Republicans call this "class warfare."
But the politician who may finally expose the Republicans as the real class warriors is Mitt Romney. Romney refuses to release information about his own finances, including tax-sheltered accounts in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands. Meanwhile, he advocates Republican tax policies that would directly benefit him.
Walker has his work cut out for him trying to spin that into a good story.
Ruth Conniff is the political editor of The Progressive.