Saturday, June 21, 2014

We used to be just like other Midwest states- then came Walker

As our governor desperately tries to spin away from documents showing he was allegedly at the center of a "criminal scheme" to help oligarchs launder campaign money and evade taxes, he tweeted this out yesterday.

At first glance, my reaction was "give me a break," but I figured I'd go to the Quarterly Census on Employment and Wages and see for myself. And if you do a skin-deep survey of the years 2005-2007, which is when Burke was Commerce Secretary under Doyle, it has a shred of truth, as Wisconsin was between 37th and 41st in private sector job growth in those years, while we've been between 35th and 37th in the 3 years that Walker has been governor. Granted, that's like saying losing 90 games in a baseball season isn't as bad as losing 95, (you still suck either way), but Walker's clearly trying for Politi-crap to give him a "mostly true" for that statement and trying to show the state wasn't well-off to begin with.

However, those 3 years mentioned by Walker happened to be the 3 lowest-performing years of job growth in the Doyle regime, as shown below. It's also important to remember that Doyle was viciously opposed by a GOP-led Legislature from 2003-2007, and only got a Dem majority in both houses for 2009 and 2010 (and you'll see Wisconsin kept afloat quite well compared to the rest of the nation), while Walker has been able to shove most anything he wants through the WisGOP rubber-stamps in the Legislature during his 3 years.

QCEW private sector job growth, Dec-Dec, 2002-2013

Doyle takes office Jan. 2003
2003 +0.23% (25th in U.S.)
2004 +1.69% (30th)
2005 +0.83% (41st)
2006 +0.92% (39th)
2007 +0.33% (37th)

Recession begins December 2007
2008 -2.34% (23rd)
2009 -5.05% (29th)
2010 +1.50% (11th)

Walker takes office, Jan. 2011
2011 +1.31% (35th)
2012 +1.47% (36th)
2013 +1.20% (37th)

Bad enough that we're reverting to the bottom half of the nation, as we did for much of the 2000s, but even that fact hides just how awful the job growth record has been for the Fitzwalkerstanis. And that reason is because the Bush years were brutal for the Midwest economy, in no small part due to massive offshoring of jobs in the previously-industrial Midwest, as well as lower population growth than the rest of the nation. In every one of the years between 2003 and 2007, more than half of the 7 Midwestern states had job rankings below 30th, so it's not that surprising that Wisconsin struggled in that same period.

Walker has been lucky enough to have his 3 years of office coincide with the jobs recovery under President Obama, and the new growth in the Midwest that has happened in the wake of the auto bailout and other measures that have helped reverse the decline under Dubya. With that in mind, let's take a look at how Wisconsin has shaped up in that same period with our Midwestern neighbors, and the Walker effect becomes much more pronounced.

Doyle takes office Jan. 2003
2003 +0.23% (1st of 7 states in Midwest!)
2004 +1.69% (3rd of 7)
2005 +0.83% (5th of 7)
2006 +0.92% (3rd of 7)
2007 +0.33% (4th of 7)

Recession begins December 2007
2008 -2.34% (3rd of 7)
2009 -5.05% (4th of 7)
2010 +1.50% (3rd of 7)

Walker takes office, Jan. 2011
2011 +1.31% (LAST out of 7)
2012 +1.47% (LAST out of 7)
2013 +1.20% (6th out of 7)

So Wisconsin was a fairly normal Midwest state when it came to job growth in the Doyle years (with the exception of 2003), but under Walker they have been horrible, and the 2011-2013 3-year total job increase of 4.04% is also the worst in our region. If you had a sports team that was consistent around the middle of its division, and then had 3 years at or near the basement, there's no way you'd accept that coach staying on if you gave anything resembling a damn.

But Walker has to somehow convince people that he shouldn't get run, so that's why he's desperately shelling out $250,000 for a negative ad blitz that basically says the Doyle/Burke years were even worse, and therefore you can't risk going back to them. Too bad for him that any kind of drilling down into the numbers makes the Doyle years look prosperous compared to the crap we've seen for the last 3 1/2 years.

Forget John Doe- THIS is the primary reason Walker should be bounced in 4 1/2 months. And messaging like this from the Wisconsin Dems would be a complete winner, combining the crookedness and economic failure that has been the Walker era, with a better way forward with Burke. It has the added advantage of being true.


  1. Love the ad graphic Jake.

  2. CJ- I got it from the DPW's Facebook feed. They include the 3 states west of Minnesota and Iowa, but the point is the same. I think it tells the story quite well about the Walker failures and contrasted with a positive vision to get the state back toward normal.

  3. The graphic should read 35th I believe.

  4. Say What?- Nope, it clearly mentions "in the Midwest", so the statement is true. And Wisconsin was 37th for private sector growth in 2013 anyway, which you'd also have seen higher up in the article

  5. You noted the exception for Doyle in 2003. Let us not forget that McCallum had gotten handed a bankrupt state by Tommy Thompson and then proceeded to implement many of the same things that Walker is infamous for today. You would think that the Dems would in fact try to get this message out as you describe but the Dems have shown again and again a rather remarkable inability to speak for themselves in a clear and unambiguous way.

  6. Bernie- I think you're often correct about how too many Dems beat around the bush over what should unambiguous. And we are well on our way to seeing Walker mess up the state to the point that it takes a long time for Burke to dig out from it (if she were to win in November), all while GOPs hoot and holler about "why aren't you doing better"?

    And screwing things up for the next Dem is a feature to GOPs, not a bug. Fight the good fight in Manitowoc, Bernie.