Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Scott Walker: That Man Is An Idiot

Good grief, how many stupid people do we have in this country? And how come we keep electing them as Republican governors?

In a had-to-be-seen-to-be-believed budget speech this afternoon, Wisconsin's pet rock of a chief executive, Scott Walker, barely touched on the firestorm that has put his slightly cross-eyed, startled-looking mug on the national map. Absent were references to violating court orders to keep the Capitol open to protesters. No mention was made of unilateral decisions to bolt the Capitol windows shut. There wasn't a word in there about the no-holds-barred campaign to demonize the Unions as if they were al-Qaeda. Only in passing – by referencing those Democrats who interrupted the knee-capping of collective bargaining rights – did Walker even come close to mentioning the issue that his lit up the night sky of America's Dairyland.

In short, Walker's speech sounded about as in-touch and pertinent as one of Hosni Mubarak's. No; check that; Mubarak eventually got it. When it comes to tone-deaf speechifying (not, obviously, bloodshed), Walker is closer to Colonel Gadaffi.

Not only did Walker ignore the headline, but when he did flit gently into its neighborhood, he exploited the moment to actually try to slip by a 'Do-What-I-Say-Or-I'll-Shoot-This-School' threat as some kind of call to bipartisan responsibility:

Again, this is why it is so vitally important for the Senate democrats to come back and do their jobs. If they do not, our schools face massive layoffs of teachers.

So, if the 14 protesting Democratic state senators come back from Illinois and participate in the Kangaroo Court passage of the euphemistically titled "Budget Reform Bill," there will not be massive layoffs of teachers?

Well the Governor didn't exactly say that...

However, if they do come back, overall savings for schools across the state will outweigh reductions, ultimately allowing schools to put more money in the classroom.

In the speech, Walker meandered from these two sentences – which are indeed consecutive – to initiatives for improving the third grade, which is evidently the level at which he believes most residents of Wisconsin now reside. Notice that in exchange for the Democrats dropping the logistical equivalent of the Republicans' Friend (The Filibuster) he does not forswear massive teacher layoffs. He promises only some future Utopian day when the classrooms will see "more money...ultimately."

So in one fell swoop, Walker is saying that if he doesn't get his way on his Koch Brothers Approved knee-capping of the unions, he will precipitate the firing of more Wisconsin teachers. And he will blame it on the Democrats. Unless they return from exotic Illinois and vote. In which case...he will precipitate the firing of more Wisconsin teachers anyway (I'm going to guess at what he left unsaid here; when it comes time to lay off the teachers, he will find some equally specious excuse to blame the Democrats for it).

But beyond this disturbingly see-through edition of "Heads I Win, Tails You Lose," in an excellent post in his blog at the Alt-Weekly in Madison, The Isthmus, Bill Leuders pointed out the new crap hidden behind Walker's regurgitation of his old crap. Though staring at a recall movement that is already counting the days until his first anniversary on the job makes him eligible, and polling showing that in a theoretical re-vote, enough Republicans would abandon him to get Tom Barrett elected, Walker is still beating the tub for the GOP agenda: More money for corporations, less money for...everybody else:

...by prosperity he meant delivering even more tax breaks to businesses. Walker said he would "eliminat[e] the capital gains tax for investors in Wisconsin companies" and "include tax relief for employers who hire more people to work in our state." Moreover, he'll "provide real tax relief for homeowners across the state by implementing property tax reform that locks in property tax levies at the local level."...yes, it does sound as though the governor may have just dropped another bomb and announced his intention to end the ability of local governments in Wisconsin to raise property taxes to meet needs in their communities. And with the governor saying he plans to cut state spending to local government by "just over" $1.25 billion, this might be flexibility local governments will want to have?

Leuders perceptively points out that Walker is now trying to cut it both ways. State funding for local school boards and local governments will be cut, and the state will merrily neuter every local government's ability to raise local property taxes to cover the shortfall – even if a municipality's residents agreed, as they so often do when local budgets are put to the vote and residents get to decide how much school they want for their kids. In other words, his agenda is to deliberately lower the quality of life for the average resident of his state, while denying that resident the opportunity to do anything about it.

Scott Walker wants you to not have your cake, and not eat it, too.