Thursday, January 12, 2012

Gov. Walker -- the "un-politician?"

Walker, as a "straight-shooter-in-chief," doesn't live up to the label

In describing Scott Walker's governing style, state Sen. Glenn Grothman created a new word:
"Scott Walker is a rare politician who doesn't try to make everybody happy with other people's money," says Grothman, a Republican state senator from West Bend. "He's the best governor of my lifetime. He's the least 'politician-y.' He's able to say 'no' to people."
That assessment may blindside some people -- after all, Walker has polarized Wisconsin like no other political executive has in generations. But Grothman's description of the governor is meant to be a compliment.

What Grothman means is that Walker doesn't act politically -- he's not interested in striking deals or working with the other side in any way whatsoever. In other words, Walker's not "politician-y" because he refuses to believe that his job requires him to be a politician, at least when it comes to working with Democrats or moderate Republicans. Grothman views Walker as a "straight-shooter," or to borrow a soda marketing phrase, the "un-politician."

A lot of people welcome this type of leader -- they govern from their own consciences (supposedly), and don't try to cater to the ideas of their opposition. There's no questioning where they stand on issues because they make it clear in how they carry out their business while in office.

But the flip-side of the "un-politician" -- at least the kind that Walker is -- is their inability to reach across the aisle to get work done. They have an unapologetic, almost dictatorial demeanor that leaves those who voted against them (48 percent of the state, in Walker's case) out in the cold.

Besides governing in an unforgiving fashion, Grothman's admiration of the "un-politician" Walker is off-base for a second reason: Walker is no "straight-shooter." He puts on the facade of being up front with the people, but in reality his words are at best distortions of his "accomplishments," and at worst outright lies about how "it's working."

For example, Walker constantly touts that he balanced the budget while not raising taxes. Both portions of that statement, however, are misleading. Walker balanced the budget, but under terms he previously criticized his predecessor of following. He also cut the Earned Income Tax Credit for lower-income workers, a move that increases the taxes of those individuals.

The most visible example of Gov. Walker's "faux straight-shooter" attitude was the ending of bargaining rights for state workers. During the 2010 campaign, Walker briefly mentioned that he would consider, as governor, ending these rights -- but only for health care, never an all-out removal of rights that came about almost 11 months ago.

That's not being straight-forward with the people -- that's being conniving.

Being the "un-politician" certainly has its benefits. For Walker, at a time when the state wants wants a non-political leader (perhaps more than ever), it definitely helps. But Wisconsinites don't want an abrasive governor, either. They want a DIFFERENT KIND of "un-politician," one who is atypical, not because they are hyper-partisan like Walker, but because they will transcend partisan lines to get work done.

The type of "un-politician" that Grothman admires and Walker tries to emulate is wrong for Wisconsin -- and in the end, destructive towards its discourses.


  1. As a point of fact, decreasing the amount of a tax credit does not increase a person's taxes. It may cause their net tax payment to be higher (or, in most cases, their net tax refund to be lower), but that is not the same as increasing taxes because their gross tax burden stays the same. If you get a raise at work but the cost of insurance goes up, you didn't get a pay cut. Your take home pay may be reduced, but your gross is still higher, and the gross amount is what is important.
    Bottom line: Walker didn't increase the amount people have to pay, he simply decreased the amount that they get handed back.

  2. I appreciate the comment, Anonymous, but I have to disagree: reducing a tax credit most certainly increases a person's taxes. Think about it: the effects of Walker's actions do what exactly? They raise people's taxes. Whether that happened by a reduction in a credit or a direct change in income tax rates is irrelevant -- in the end, people of that income level pay more out of their pockets to help fund the state's treasuries. That's a tax increase, no matter where it is derived from.

  3. Agreed, Chris walker. Cutting the 'earned income'tax credit- (a policy initiated by Nixon to reward the working poor, raises the taxes on a very vulnerable and low income sector of the population, at the same time that social services have been cut and co-pays have been raised.
    it's an extremely cruel policy to implement, especially when the state also passed measures that limit the DOR from collecting back taxes from corporations. But, it's the kind of 'bait and switch' we've seen with this governor constantly as he says one thing and does another.

    He's the least trustworthy political figure I've ever seen in his disingenuous claims, including that he is simply a victim of the big unions and that the citizens of Wisconsin support him completely.

    Wisconsin produces exemplary and visionary political leaders like Bob laFollette, Gaylord Nelson, and Russ feingold. But, we've also produced political leaders who gain power by demonizing certain groups and divisive tactics like Joe McCarthy and now, Scott Walker.

    His successful recall will help restore our political traditions.