If you want to know how much worse our economic recovery could be, check out Scott Walker’s austerity-rocked Wisconsin — which has gone from 11th in job creation to 44th in just two years.
Walker stormed into office in 2011 on the crest of a Tea Party wave and immediately added $117.2 million to the budget deficit with a series of tax cuts that did nothing to spur job creation. He “paid” for these cuts in part with an attack on public workers that he failed to mention in his campaign that he was going to pursue.
The governor and his Republican majorities cut workers’ salaries by about eight percent across the board, eliminated collective-bargaining rights and essentially tied any future wage increases to the rate of inflation.
The growing budget deficit Walker inherited was mostly the result of the financial crisis. Investors enabled by conservative politicians had collaborated to create the worst economic crash since the last time investors and conservative politicians had crashed the economy.
But who was Walker going to make pay for this downturn? Teachers — and other state and local workers — because they still had decent jobs, unlike the millions who lost their livelihoods thanks to Wall Street.
Where did Walker get the idea to go after workers? It was a well-concealed fact in the run-up to the 2010 election — as Republicans were still trying to pretend their goal was to “protect” Medicare — that the Tea Party was a sleeper cell for some of the nation’s most powerful anti-tax, pro-corporate billionaires who had been trying to trigger a “non-partisan” populist movement for decades to destroy the one thing standing in the way of completely privatizing the American government — unions.
Walker saw himself as a new Ronald Reagan — who had led the assault on public workers when he fired all of America’s air traffic controllers during his first year in office. We know this because Walker made the comparison himself when he was crank-called by someone posing as billionaire David Koch.
The state erupted, triggering recalls, including one of Walker himself. Walker won — thanks to voters rejecting the idea of a recall and Walker’s right-wing allies outspending Democrats and labor by an 8-1 margin.
So Wisconsin still has Scott Walker and Wisconsin has fallen to 44th in job creation.
Why? Let’s ask the governor.