Monday, May 14, 2012

Like Bush- Walker trying to create his own economic reality

In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend -- but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.' - from Ron Suskind's article, Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush , New York Times Magazine, October 17, 2004.
I can't help but think of the "we create our own reality" line when I see what the Walker Administration/campaign has been trying to pull in the last few days. Today's example is Scotty's attempt to say that Wisconsin job creation in 2011 was underestimated, and the BLS data used for every other state is somehow wrong when it comes to analyzing our state, and that we really created jobs. REALLY!
The data being released comes from reports filed by Wisconsin employers covered by unemployment programs showing job counts for the last three months of last year, Department of Workforce Development spokesman John Dipko said. The findings go to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics which releases it later as part of a quarterly report, he said.

The new numbers won't change the monthly unemployment data that has been used to measure how well Walker is meeting his 2010 jobs promise.
The Walker boys are also pointing to a video presentation from a Department of Revenue economist in which he indicates their revenue estimates correspond to something like 18,000-36,000 jobs gained in the last year, and that the BLS non-farm payroll stats are the ones that are wrong. First of all, the BLS stats show that Wisconsin has a jobs deficit of 65,000 under Walker, and is worst in the country over the last year. Even if you accept the Walker claims of 36,000 jobs gained as true, that still puts them well under the 60,000 that they would be at if they were keeping up with the rest of the country.

The "new data" also ignores the most recent Philly Fed survey that shows Wisconsin's economy to continue to be the worst in the Midwest for the 1st Quarter of 2012, and that the BEA showed that Wisconsin was DEAD LAST for income growth in the 4th Quarter of 2011. But the Walker folks claim that their data from their offices is the one that's the right one, and that these new figures have nothing to do with the recall elections three weeks away, close enough that there isn't enough time for the LFB or the Legislature to check the numbers.

Same holds for the magical budget surplus that was revealed last week, where Walker's DOR and DOA took two good months of revenue figures and parlayed it into a major budget turnaround. As mentioned previously, this is fraudulent partly because it uses good U.S. data while ignoring Wisconsin's awful economic performance in the age of Fitzwalkerstan, and because it gives "savings" from refinancing debt and cashing it out, as well as not counting required mandatory additional payments that must be made to Medicaid and other health care programs. Tom Barrett made a good callout of this sketchy surplus today, saying that if our budget situation is so good, could the state give back give back the $26 million in foreclosure settlement money that it used in February to plug a budget hole? Walker responded with a snarky letter filled with pathetic talking points.
Since it was a combination of fiscal restraint (unless you're a road builder or someone else on our side) and new job growth (cough-BULLSHIT-cough) that has led to a projected surplus, I believe it would be reckless to reverse course and immediately implement millions of dollars of new general fund spending commitments.
In other words, this election-time surplus is pretty damn shaky, and might not exist in a couple of months if we get a small hiccup in our sexed-up numbers. But why would Walker admit that when our lame Wisconsin media won't call him out on the convenience and questionable nature of these numbers?

This is what gets me so angry about what the Walker people are trying to pull. They know the real numbers are bad, and that Wisconsin is a horrible laggard compared to the rest of the country because of Walker's failed trickle-down policies. But instead of dealing with that reality, they will try to convince people that things are improving, and will make up stats and projections to match that image. As someone who works in the public service, I pride myself in dealing with the situation on the ground and coming up with solutions that improve people's lives. The Walker people want to tell me and millions of other Wisconsinites that reality doesn't matter, and much like the Bush Administration, can "create their own reality," ignoring the ramifications that result from their mismanagement, deception and incompetence.

We saw the disaster that resulted from red states deciding not to send the original Dubya back to Texas in 2004- we got quagmired in Iraq, and the incompetence and negligence that resulted from the second Bush term had much to do with the economic collapse that in many ways we still haven't recovered from. And Scotty Dubya is acting much the same way in Wisconsin, where a handful of red counties are so stubborn in rooting for their boy that they'd bring everything to its knees just to say "they won" and that they grabbed the power associated with it. And the huge economic and moral damage Walker has done to this state might be even more permanent if we don't send Scotty back to Tosa (and over to Faux News) in 3 weeks. The similarities between the Bush and Walker Administrations avoiding the "reality-based world" are getting scary, and we cannot allow this to continue any more.


  1. Did WI teachers association help do themselves in because they became too top heavy? "In 2008 WEAC’s payroll was top-heavy with seven six-figure salaries totaling over $1.3 million. Executive Director Dan Burkhalter, at $242,807, up from $162,034 the previous year..."

    1. This is a good example of "creating your own reality." Diane Hendricks being a billionaire heriress and having enough money that she can thrown $510,000 on Scott Walker while having her company pay no Wisconsin income taxes is no big deal. Having AmFam CEOs get pay increases while laying off 987 high-skill IT people? Just the way things work.

      But when a union CEO makes $242,000 GOD FORBID!!! These people are pathetic in their cognitive dissonance.

  2. Jake, are you aware of the fact that WI lost 150,000 jobs in the 3 years prior to Walker taking office? And WI 6.9% unemployment rate today is the lowest since 2009?

    1. I'm also aware that we were in the middle of the worst economic meltdown since the Depression, and that Wisconsin held up much better from 2008-2011 than our counterparts in states like Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Indiana. I also know that jobs were rebounding from the start of 2010 to March 2011...until Walker dropped the bomb.

      See, in the "created reality" of dead-end losers like these guys (who apparently they lack three things I have- a real job, a girlfriend, and outside interests), Bush was never president, Walker was never Milwaukee County Executive, and Reagan never raised taxes. Fortunately, we all know better than that.

      I also know better than to have RW trash stink up my place, so I'm moderating comments till further notice.