Thursday, May 17, 2012

Another recall rant: The "politics of need" versus the "politics of greed."

Walker sides with corporate interests rather than help the less fortunate

"There is looming up a dark new power...The enterprises of the country are aggregating vast corporate combinations of unexampled capital, boldly marking, not for economic conquest only, but for political power. For the first time in our politics, money is taking the field of organized power. The question will arise, and arise in your day though perhaps not fully in mine: 'Which shall rule--wealth or man? Which shall lead--money or intellect? Who shall fill public stations--educated and patriotic free men, or the feudal serfs of corporate wealth?'"

Edward G. Ryan, Wisconsin State Supreme Court Chief Justice

The recall election can be summarized in one very short phrase, boiling down to the "politics of greed" versus the "politics of need." In other words, do we help those Wisconsinites most in need of assistance? Or do we create for ourselves a state that loses any semblance of sympathy for the downtrodden, favoring those who only want more?

Consider this: when more Wisconsinites had the need for health care, turning to the state's celebrated and often imitated Medicaid program BadgerCare, Scott Walker chose to under-fund the health care program instead, forcing 17,000 citizens to lose basic coverage in the process.

Or this: citing a need to plug an exaggerated budget deficit, the governor cut education funding by $800 million; yet at the same time, he had no qualms in giving tax breaks of nearly three times that amount to corporations, two-thirds of which don't even pay taxes to begin with. (It should be noted that the reduction of revenue from those tax cuts contributed to greater total spending in Walker's budget compared to his predecessor, including a $3 billion GAAP budget deficit.)

Or this: at a time when the working poor are still struggling with the effects of the economic recession, Walker's budget cut the Earned Income Tax Credit by a significant amount, effectively raising taxes by tens of millions of dollars on the poorest of the working class. A single mom working minimum wage, for example, will see her income taxed two percent higher this year thanks to Gov. Walker.

Or how about this: despite no documented lawsuit of any kind, Walker cited frivolous lawsuits as rationale for his repeal of an equal pay law in Wisconsin, making it easier for employers to pay women less for equal work throughout the state.

We see which side of "greed vs. need" Walker aligns himself with through his acts of malevolent governance. We also bear witness to him siding with greed more often in his private-but-exposed conversations with billionaires (imaginary or real), discussing proposed tactics to instigate trouble among peaceful protesters and strategies of "divide and conquer."

Wisconsin can't take any more of this. The priorities of the state were never meant to benefit a privileged few and to leave the rest behind. Indeed, our state began the movement to reject that philosophy, to fight against the politics of greed, more than 100 years ago.

To keep that fight alive, we must rise up. We must recall Scott Walker, who spits in the face of Wisconsin's values while he smiles and laughs it up with millionaire and billionaire campaign donors across the nation.

The Wisconsin of our beloved past cannot survive with Scott Walker in its future.

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