Wisconsin Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

By Jim Goodman

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) campaigned as the “nice guy” who carried his lunch in a brown paper bag, a regular guy who just wanted to cut state spending. That, apparently resonated with the electorate. After the election, Wisconsin met the real Scott Walker.

Gov. Walker stated that Wisconsin was broke, yet in his first month in office he signed tax cuts for corporations that would put the state $117 million deeper in the hole. This caught the attention of the Wall Street Journal who exposed his “we’re broke” story as mere political grandstanding.

I’m sure he did want to cut spending, but apparently not on his corporate friends. Walker is clearly far more interested in making political hay than he is in sound fiscal policy.

His “Budget Repair Bill” was about stripping union members of their rights, not fiscal responsibility.

It was part of the GOP strategy to de-fund the Democratic party by crushing unions. But the most insidious effect of the Wisconsin bill and others like it, was the political climate it created. Rich vs. poor, discrimination against women, disenfranchisement of people of color — it was about class warfare.

The bill was a partisan political tool that could only hope to balance the budget at the expense of those who could least afford it.

Union busting and oppressing workers has always disproportionately affected women, the poor and people of color.

The bill also turns control of Medicaid programs over to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHS), giving the administration the power to, at their discretion, cut the state’s public health programs; FamilyCare, SeniorCare and BadgerCare without benefit of the legislative process or public input.

Corporate tax cuts are more important to the governor than funding the health care programs that affect so many Wisconsinites from infants to seniors.

BadgerCare, (a plan recognized as a national model of health coverage for the poor and middle class) is the only health care option for many farmers and self employed workers. Walker’s pick of Dennis Smith as head of DHS is a telling sign of Walker’s feeling about Medicaid, tax policy and budget priorities in general.

Take from the poor, cut taxes on the rich, get rid of unions and deny health care to those most in need — now that’s a budget repair plan.

Gov. Walker has no ethical problem in stripping union members of their bargaining rights or denying health care coverage to over a million Wisconsin residents. For Walker, ethics and people can be easily tossed when it comes to party politics and giving his due homage to the Koch empire.

He chooses to ignore the poor and the elderly on a fixed income.

He has no concept of what union workers do, so he misrepresents union benefits and in effect, vilifies union members as slackers — beneficiaries of a big taxpayer give-away.

Does he know what it’s like to care for the terminally ill and comfort them as they approach death? Does he know the difficulty in caring for special needs children mainstreamed into the public school system, or of teaching in a system chronically short of funding? Does he know what it feels like, as a firefighter, to watch as a home burns despite your best efforts and see a family become homeless?

Or as a police officer to tell a parent that their child has just been killed in an auto accident? Does he know what it’s like to work all night to restore power or get the streets plowed during a blizzard?

I could be wrong, perhaps he does understand the work of the union members, the struggles of the poor and middle class. If so, he doesn’t care. Not knowing or not caring about the people whom he was elected to serve, it makes little difference.

There are far too many people who have already suffered from his plan and far too many who who know they may be next. The police and firefighters who were exempted from the bill saw through his plan — they joined the protests.

His agenda is not the people’s agenda, it is the agenda of the Koch brothers and the corporations.

Calling him a wolf in sheep’s clothing is altogether too kind.

Jim Goodman is a dairy farmer from Wonewoc, Wis. Margot Ford McMillen will return soon.

From The Progressive Populist, June 1, 2011


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