Neither President Obama nor anyone on his team have spoken publicly about who they think might win the Republican presidential nomination. It’s not, however, unreasonable to think they have one candidate on their minds.
In March, for example, Obama raised eyebrows by taking a not-so-subtle shot at Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) far-right agenda, and a month later, the president did it again, calling out Walker – by name – as a candidate who needs to “bone up on foreign policy.”
Today, the president will be in Wisconsin, where Walker will greet him at the airport, before Obama fleshes out his new overtime policy at a University of Wisconsin campus. Politico reported that Walker has “become the White House’s bete noire” – the conservative governor is the one Republican “the president’s aides always hold up as an example of exactly what’s wrong with politics.”
And it’s equally clear the president is on Walker’s mind, too. Today, the Wisconsin Republican has a new piece, published by Real Clear Politics, suggesting Obama could learn a few things from GOP policymakers in the Badger State.
Bright spots in the Obama economy are few and far between, as opportunities for small businesses and entrepreneurs are often quashed by a federal government that has grown too large, powerful and pervasive. That’s why it’s telling that the president is scheduled to be in La Crosse, Wis., this week for an event focusing on the economy.To be sure, Wisconsin’s economy has enjoyed a dramatic recovery over the last few years. But our fortunes have improved in spite of – not because of – the president’s big-government policies.
Walker’s piece added that he intends to tell the president how great far-right governance is, and “for the sake of hard-working taxpayers across the country, I hope he will listen.”
Whether he realizes it or not, the governor is picking a fight he’s unprepared to win.
Let’s put aside, at least for now, the fact that President Obama has a pretty amazing record on job creation and ending the Great Recession. Let’s instead focus on his critic because Walker’s boast about his state’s “dramatic” economic recovery is belied by, well, reality.
Just last week, the Chicago Tribune published a report with this headline: “Wisconsin economy lags after Walker’s spending and tax cuts.”
In 2011, new Republican Gov. Scott Walker set the creation of 250,000 jobs as the benchmark for success of his new administration. Walker missed that goal by a wide margin over his first term despite an embrace of sweeping tax cuts aimed at stimulating growth. Instead, the cuts helped dig a more than $2 billion hole in the state budget.Wisconsin ranked 36th among the states and District of Columbia in the pace of private-sector job growth during Walker’s term, trailing all Rust Belt states and all but one other state in the Midwest.
More specifically, when it comes to job creation, Wisconsin ranked 35th in the nation in 2011, 36th in 2012, 38th in 2013, and 38th in 2014. Walker not only failed to keep his promise about creating 250,000 in his first term, he barely made it to 129,000.
In May, the Washington Post reported that the state’s rate of private-sector job growth “is one of the worst in the nation” and Wisconsin’s middle class “has shrunk at a faster rate than any other state in the country.”
It’s against this backdrop that the state is also struggling badly with a major budget shortfall, which Walker still doesn’t know how to close.
This is the guy who wants to brag about his economic record? The one who hopes to teach Obama a few things?