Protesters in the rotunda at the Wisconsin State Capitol in February 2011
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) realizes that his record on job creation is a bit of a mess, but he has an explanation he hopes voters will buy: don’t blame him; blame those rascals who didn’t like him.
“The first year we had a lot of protests in the state,” Walker said, during an appearance in Milwaukee to promote business growth in the city. “We had two years’, almost, worth of recalls. A lot of employers here I think can relate to the fact (that) uncertainty is one of the biggest challenges for employers big or small or anywhere in between. There was a lot of uncertainty. The good news is that’s passed.”
So, let me get this straight. Wisconsin ranks 44th in private-sector job growth, a ranking that’s been getting worse, not better – as recently as 2010, the year before Walker took office, it ranked 10th. What’s more, Wisconsin ranks 41st in personal income growth, which is what his critics predicted would happen after he essentially ended collective bargaining rights for most public employees in the state.
Asked for a defense, Walker blames … protests? As far as the governor is concerned, if only Wisconsin had let him gut collective bargaining in peace, the state economy would be better?
There are a few relevant angles to this, each slightly worse than the last.
The first is that, as economic argument, Walker’s pitch is ridiculous. The private sector is always dealing with uncertainty, in Wisconsin and everywhere else, so it’s a woefully unpersuasive excuse.
Second, for a governor to blame protestors – who happened to be right – for the failures of his own policies is pretty weak for a guy who claims to have presidential ambitions. Perhaps if Walker hadn’t broken his word on collective bargaining, the protests wouldn’t have been necessary.
And finally, I’m curious how comfortable Walker and his allies would be about applying his talking points to the national landscape. The governor blames his poor record on the fact that there were “a lot of protests” in 2011. If President Obama were to say the same thing, saying job creation in 2011 struggled due to “a lot of protests” from his critics, would the right find this persuasive?