Thursday, May 10, 2012

Scott Walker blames Barrett for job losses despite mayor's limited role

Governor takes credit when numbers are positive, shifts responsibility to others when jobs tank

Gov. Scott Walker is trying to have it both ways. In 2011, when much of the state -- Milwaukee included -- was seeing gains in job numbers (hard to believe that now), Walker humbly took credit for improvements in the state and the city itself, using it as proof that his "reforms" were "working."

Yet now, a different tune is being played. Walker has shifted the responsibility of job losses to his recall opponent, Tom Barrett, who just happens to be mayor of Milwaukee.

In short, Walker takes credit when things are good, and brushes it aside when things get ugly.

But those criticisms are entirely unwarranted. For starters, Milwaukee's economic conditions are primarily handled at the county level, and the city has only a limited role in job creation:
The City of Milwaukee...has an unusual power sharing arrangement between the county and the city whereby most of the power to effect real change and provide needed vital assistance rests largely with the county...

When one reviews the powers of the city, it is clear that there is no such authority within Milwaukee city government. While the city has the ability to create incentives, via local tax credits and other such devices, the ability to make the types of investments that can help lift areas of the city out of poverty rests with the county and the state governments.
A second point to ponder is that Milwaukee actually did better than the rest of the state when it came to job losses that it had. From Jake's Economic TA Funhouse:
...the Milwaukee area (ID'd as Milwaukee, Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington Counties) may have lost jobs in the last 12 months, but at a slower rate than the rest of the state did.

Job change, Milwaukee vs. Wisconsin March 2011- March 2012(seasonally unadjusted)
Milwaukee area- -4,300, -0.54%
Rest of Wisc.-25,700, -1.35%
No doubt the fact that Milwaukee County did better than the rest of the state in tourism last year helped in buffering losses. Perhaps it's coincidence, but it's worth noting the rate of tourism increased in 2011 within Milwaukee County from the previous year...when Scott Walker left his post as County Executive.

As Walker continues to place blame where it doesn't belong, let's remember that on jobs the "buck" has never stopped with him. It's time for the governor to start taking responsibility for his own failures. After all, following blaming losses on the debt ceiling crisis, the president, health care reform, protesters and unions, and his recall challenger, what's there left to blame anymore?

Same-sex marriage, perhaps?

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