Monday, October 17, 2011

In trying to explain broken promise, Gov. Walker lies to the people

"Extra credit" doesn't make up for broken campaign promise

In 2010, then-candidate Scott Walker made a lofty campaign pledge, that he would lead by example and pay the full amount of benefits changes he'd require of other state employees to pay, even before they (or he) would legally need to do so. But as the Associated Press pointed out, Walker didn't start making payments until he was obligated to earlier this summer, thus neglecting his pledge completely.

To me personally, this was a non-story: Walker DID screw up his campaign promise, but it wasn't a significant event. It could have been far worse: he could have paid nothing the first few months, requiring changes from other state employees but making no contribution himself.

However, that wasn't the case -- Walker made the same contribution he required of others. Yes, he broke his campaign promise, but it wasn't as if that promise significantly altered or affected Wisconsin in any way. In other words, Walker misled the people, but it's not the most damning thing he's done in the ten months he's been in office.

Yet Walker's response to criticism on the issue is something I take issue with.

From Channel3000:
Walker said he believes he exceeded the promise because he started making pension contributions in August at a higher percentage as required under the law than what he said he would voluntarily make starting in January.
That, in my mind, seems like a flat-out lie, further diminishing the character of "Eagle Scout" Scott Walker.

Here's two analogies I feel best explain the situation a little better. In the first, consider a student that has a project for school that is long-overdue. For months this project is never completed, and the teacher finally insists that the student turn in what he has. After discussing with the student potential grades for this project, the student offers to do extra credit assignments to make up for the lateness of his initial project.

Was the student's assignment late? And should he receive a worse grade for it being late?

In the second analogy, consider a person making payments on a loan. This loan isn't due for six months, but the person fails to make the scheduled payments on the monthly basis. Finally, on the day that the loan is due, the debtor surprises the creditor by paying it off completely, with interest.

Looking from the perspective of a credit rating agency, would this person receive a higher or lower credit score? Does their making the final payment mean that we can ignore the lack of payments from months before?

Again, as I've pointed out, Walker's broken campaign promise isn't as controversial as it seems -- it doesn't put Wisconsin in a worse-off state of being. Still, to insist that his promise wasn't broken because he's made additional "payments" to make up for that lost time is faulty logic: the governor promised within a set time-frame that he'd make those sacrifices, and he didn't.

At best, we can credit him with making up the difference in his paychecks following the law's implementation. But like the student who failed to turn his assignment on time (making up for it with extra credit), or the debtor who pays off a loan (without making payments for months beforehand), making up for a broken promise doesn't eradicate the broken promise itself.

Walker didn't make do on his campaign pledge to lead by example; and he's lying when he tells you that his extra contributions make up for his broken promises.

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