Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Wisconsin letter writer has it wrong: Mary Burke is what we need to get Wisconsin back on track

A detailed rebuttal against a Post-Crescent letter to the editor

Over the Easter weekend, I had the opportunity to read the opinion pages of the Appleton Post Crescent.

One letter to the editor, by a man from Menasha, Wisconsin, caught my attention:
Mary Burke, Democratic candidate for governor, appears to be everything liberal Democrats claim they loathe. She made millions in the private sector, making her a member of the evil “1 percent,” and, as a Trek Bicycle executive, was involved in sending good-paying American jobs overseas.

Is the Democratic Party so desperate to find a candidate to oppose Gov. Scott Walker that even Mary Burke will suffice?
This opinion of Burke is likely to come up again in the coming months of the campaign season, so it would do some good to take a look at it, and challenge it head on.

The problem with the writer’s assessment is that it is oversimplified, and it inaccurately describes what liberals “loathe.” We liberals don’t despise the private sector, or those who flourish within it. What we can’t tolerate is millionaires who feel entitled to more, who feel that their rate of taxation is unfair, and who blame the ills of society on the working classes that they themselves need to help keep their businesses running (as both workers and consumers).

Burke has amassed a huge amount of net worth -- but she has also shown herself to be a selfless philanthropist, working to increase access to education for children, and helping to fund programs meant to aid those who are homeless. She sold her own house and bought a smaller one, for example, to help fund a $450,000 donation to the Road Home.

And while most of the jobs at Trek are overseas, no other bike company in the nation employs more workers in the states than Trek. That makes it the best bike company in the nation for American workers. Yes, it’s not a perfect record -- more workers are overseas than stateside -- but it’s better than what the writer above is articulating. Trek treats its workers in Wisconsin well, giving them strong compensation packages to reward them for their hard work.

The writer continues:
We’ve already lived through the previous “tax and spend” administration of former Gov. Jim Doyle. Do we really want to go backward to that again? I hope not.
That again glosses over a significant chunk of history, parroting a favorite Walker line of the “tax and spend” administration that proceeded him. But that “tax and spend” economy actually fueled a time period where Wisconsin saw great prosperity, in many ways better than we are seeing today under Gov. Scott Walker.

During the time that Mary Burke served as Commerce Secretary (February 2005 to November 2007), for example, Wisconsin saw an increase of more than 72,000 employed workers across the state. During a similar time period of the Walker administration (February 2011 to November 2013), Wisconsin saw jobs increase at half the rate that they did while Burke was serving Wisconsin under Doyle.

So, to answer the letter writer’s question... “Do we really want to go backward to that again?” I would think that a rational mind would conclude that doubling our rate of job growth would be a better option.

The letter writer concludes:
Walker, on the other hand, has worked hard to get state spending under control to lower taxes for the middle class as well as improving the business climate, which has attracted jobs to the state. We need to keep moving this state “forward.” We need to choose a proven leader. We need to re-elect Gov. Scott Walker in November.
Gov. Walker “getting state spending under control” in the above writer’s mind means raising state spending while borrowing funds that won’t be paid until several decades from now. Lowering taxes means giving billions in tax breaks to corporations while diminishing the Earned Income Tax Credit on some of Wisconsin’s most vulnerable families, and cutting education funding by hundreds of billions of dollars. Moving “forward” means selecting cronies to high-paying government posts, and involving campaigns in illegal coordination.

No, simply put, the writer from Menasha has it all wrong: Wisconsin is going in the wrong direction under Walker’s watch. And Wisconsin needs a new leader to fix his messes.

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