Paul Adair is a 21-year Germantown resident, retired scientist, writer, and lecturer.
By any quantitative measure, Wisconsin's job growth under Scott Walker has been anemic. In comparison to neighboring states and the rest of the country, our economy has woefully underperformed. The situation is so bad that the Governor recently started weaseling out of his central 2010 campaign promise to attract 250,000 jobs to the state.
In a July interview, Walker was asked what grade he would give himself for his sub-par job creation efforts. He gave himself a “B minus”, a quite charitable self-evaluation. He then launched into a litany of excuses, excuses that point the finger at everyone but himself. This behavior is not new. Walker has been making up excuses for his mediocre performance since early in his term, including:
Madison Protests- Walker frequently blames his crummy job numbers on the protests against his union-busting Act 10. He feels that Wisconsin citizens should have just rolled over and accepted his “dropping the bomb” and “divide and conquer” actions. He repeatedly states that companies would not hire statewide because of uncertainty caused by protests in one square block of Madison. Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana also underwent protests, but their governors are not making excuses.
Recalls- Walker blames the recalls. He claims that the uncertainty due to the 2012 recalls led state companies to delay hiring. I am sure that few, if any managers refrained from hiring needed workers because of an additional election or two. If anything, the tens of millions in campaign payouts to Walker from out-of-state billionaires probably stimulated our economy.
Unskilled Workers- Walker also blames the workers. He frequently claims that there are plenty of skilled jobs available, but not enough skilled workers to fill them. Several studies indicate this to be false. There are plenty of skilled workers, but companies are not willing to pay for experience.
Obamacare- Walker blames the Democrats. He often cites Obamacare as a reason for his poor jobs results. He claims that uncertainty surrounding the law makes managers hesitant to hire. Never mind the fact that the rest of the country is doing just fine with new rules that improve our access to healthcare.
Others- Those are Walker's top four excuses for his lousy jobs performance. Among others, he has blamed the uncertainty of the 2012 presidential elections, the sequester, Jim Doyle, unemployment insurance, the European debt crisis, wrangling over the debt ceiling, and even cold and rainy weather in April. His latest excuse is the unrest in Syria.
Obviously, Walker has never worked in the private sector. Managers do not make hiring decisions based on political uncertainty. They hire when they have more work than can be done by their current staff. They hire when demand for their product or service increases. To believe that hiring would be delayed due to some weekend marchers, a recall election, or bankers in Cyprus is beyond silly.
If Scott Walker wants some real reasons for our poor jobs numbers, he needs to look no further than the nearest mirror. Here are a few actual reasons for Walker's abysmal jobs record :
WEDC incompetence- Soon after entering office, Walker replaced the state Department of Commerce with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, or WEDC (pronounced wee-dick). This organization, responsible for attracting and retaining good jobs, has been a case study in gross incompetence and mismanagement. As the WEDC head, responsibility for this scandal-riddled agency lies squarely on Walker's shoulders.
Eyes off the ball- Our politicians who should be laser-focused on Wisconsin jobs have other priorities. Walker is much more interested in his campaign for President than in bringing jobs to our state. The legislature is focused on implementing their far-right social agenda and scheming to retain political power.
Rejection of Federal funds- Because of his ideological rigidity, Walker rejected $810 million for high speed rail in Wisconsin. This act alone killed an estimated 13,000 good paying Wisconsin jobs. Rejecting a $23 million grant for installation of broadband in rural schools, libraries, and government buildings killed even more. Not learning from the past, the Governor rejected Medicaid expansion, a program that the Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimates would have created another 10,000 new jobs.
Making enemies- There are two large metro areas just over our borders-the Twin Cities and Chicago. Both of these vibrant regions could act as agents for job growth. However, there is little effort to work with surrounding states to enhance regional growth. In fact, Walker loses no opportunity to antagonize our neighbors. Similarly, Walker seems hell-bent on working against the interests of the two largest cities in Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Madison. This peevish behavior by the Governor has been hostile to creating jobs.
Wisconsin has badly trailed the rest of the country in recovering from the recession. The people of Wisconsin are tired of hearing excuses for poor jobs numbers. We need a governor whose number one priority is economic growth, not his own political advancement.
During a 2012 CPAC Keynote address, Scott Walker likened himself to the Chief Operating Officer of our state. A private sector COO with such poor financial results, one with an unending supply of excuses, would be quickly removed by his Board of Directors. We have that chance to remove Walker from office in November 2014.