Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Trump is usually way off, but he's right with Walker's bad record

I figured Donald Trump wouldn’t lay back and accept Scott Walker’s endorsement of Ted Cruz without responding. And sure enough, yesterday featured Trump ripping Walker’s record in Wisconsin yesterday, and giving a rundown of what he found to be Walker’s failures of leadership.
“There’s a $2.2bn deficit and the schools were going begging and everything was going begging because he didn’t want to raise taxes ’cause he was going to run for president,” said Trump. “So instead of raising taxes, he cut back on schools, he cut back on highways, he cut back on a lot of things.”

Trump also added of the Badger State in general: “Wisconsin has a lot of problems, plus there is tremendous hatred … I wouldn’t exactly say that things are running smoothly.”
Let’s break up the Donald’s statement into 3 parts, shall we?

1. The $2.2 billion deficit.
When pressed on it, Trump gave his typical answer along the lines of “I read it somewhere.” And while I’d normally not associate with a racist fool like Drumpf, I am “Midwestern nice,” and I do know this answer. So I’ll direct the Donald and his associates to where that number came from.

It’s in this document from November 2014, which summarized all of budget spending requests and projected revenues for the 2015-17 budget. And on Page 11 of the PDF (Table 4), it said the following:

Balance in Nov 2014 budget request for 2015-17
FY 2015-16 -$1.1 billion
FY 2016-17 -$1.1 billion

It was laughable to hear Charlie Sykes and the Journal-Sentinel and other local Walker allies try to claim Trump was wrong to quote that figure. Not because it was an honest assumption of where the budget stood at the time (it’s a wish list of spending, and nowhere close to all will be filled), but because it was the same calculation that the alleged $3.6 billion deficit Walker “faced” in 2011 came from. You know, the horrible “budget crisis” that required the union-busting Act 10 and the first round of massive cuts to K-12 education, the UW System, and local governments?

Funny how that standard didn’t apply when Walker’s own deficit appeared, isn’t it? Sorry WisGOP, fair is fair, especially when you were the one that started using that BS standard to claim a crisis in the first place.

Onto the next Trump claim

2. “So instead of raising taxes, [Walker] cut back on schools, he cut back on highways, he cut back on a lot of things.”
This is basically true as well. Walker and the Wisconsin GOP refused to raise taxes, or even reverse prior tax cuts. The only major revenue increases involved a raising of fees for camping and other outdoors activities, and they paused a couple of business tax cuts that were set to become larger in the 2015-17 budget (those tax cuts are set to balloon again in 15 months, unless further action is taken).

Instead, Walker and WisGOP chose to cut $250 million from the UW System, lowered the amount of money going into public K-12 education, and kept shared revenues at or below the lowered levels it has been at, in comparison to what those places received before Walker took office in 2011.

As a result of these Walker decisions, UW-Madison has fallen out of the top 10 for public universities in America), and a myriad of Wisconsin communities big and small have had to go to the voters to ask for their property taxes to be raised merely to keep their local schools upright and operational. This includes over 70 school referendum questions that are on the April 5 ballot throughout the state.

As for highways, Walker and WisGOP did the double-whammy of reducing needed road projects while increasing borrowing by $850 million in this current budget. The lack of funding and action have resulted in Wisconsin roads deteriorating to the 3rd-worst roads in the United States according to the U.S. DOT. In fact, Wisconsin local roads have become so underfunded that a bipartisan group of mostly rural legislators pleaded to have the chance to raise local sales taxes by 0.5% to pay for needed repairs, only to be rebuffed by TeaBag leadership in the GOP-run Legislature.

And finally:

3. “there is tremendous hatred … I wouldn’t exactly say that things are running smoothly.”
You aren’t kidding, Don. This used to be a pleasant place to live in where relatively minor political differences could be bridged by a good local beer on a Packer Sunday. It sure isn't that way any more. Add in the worst job growth in the Midwest since Walker took office, and $726 million in unspecified cuts looming for the fiscal year that starts on July 1, and it is safe to say that things are far from “running smoothly.”

Of course, the local Scott Walker cheerleaders (I’m looking at you, J-S Politi-“fact”) and the rest of the GOP establishment are denying these facts, and are trying to keep their rube followers safely tucked in their bubble of delusion. As the latest Marquette Law Poll confirms, the talk show sheep that vote GOP in eastern Wisconsin live in a separate world from the rest of Wisconsin. But the fact that Trump is a racist Republican might make the message to be taken a little more seriously by a certain pig-headed contingent that doesn’t want to hear stuff coming from us “book-learning lib’ruls.” I find it noteworthy that Walker’s name was roundly booed at Trump’s event in Janesville yesterday, and that Walker’s approval has sunk in the same areas of Wisconsin where Trump does best (Northern and Western Wisconsin).

Those of us who have been pointing these failures out for years are glad to see someone else cut through the AM radio spin and tells the truth about how this state has been damaged in the Age of Fitzwalkerstan. In other words, Mr. Trump:


  1. "[$2.2 billion 2015-17 deficit] was the same calculation that the alleged $3.6 billion deficit Walker “faced” in 2011 came from"

    Not quite: the corresponding 2011-13 document (pdf page 13, also table 4) showed a $1,489 million shortfall.

    The $3.6 billion deficit figure I remember very well as being thrown around liberally at press conferences by Walker for weeks and swallowed whole by the press without citation, until we finally got his working in the 2011-13 Budget in Brief, which starts out with a big fat lie in its third paragraph ("Governor Walker inherited a budget deficit totaling $3.6 billion").

    Table 1 on pdf page 10 (document page 7) builds from the $1,489 million figure and shows that $117 million of that $3,598 million claimed deficit was due to "2011 Jobs Legislation" (aka tax cuts) and so even if you take everything in there at face value (which I don't) then Walker did not inherit a $3.6 billion deficit as he claimed earlier in the same document, he created at least a part of it himself.

    1. The point is that the concepts are similar- here was a "worst case scenario" in 2011 (they added in past-due bills and end of stimulus spending, if I remember right), and they blew it up into $3.6 billion. But same thing happens in 2015, and it's somehow not true.

      Bottom line- things have sucked here economically under Walker, and aren't going to get better since WisGOP won't raise the appropriate level of taxes to pay the bills. Which was Trump's point

    2. And notably it's a bigger number from the same source for 2015-17 than it was for 2011-13.

      (Your memory serves you well, but the other major line item was that $800m projected to be saved from not paying public employees for furlough days became simply not paying public employees as much, with the $800m creatively accounted as deficit with the not paying as much part creatively accounted as cost saving).