In an op-ed published in The Washington Post, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker elaborated on his advice to our representatives in Washington, D.C. Walker’s way, according to himself, amounts to the making of “tough decisions” with the help of “the state legislature”:
“Tough but prudent decisions put us back on track. We enacted long-term structural reforms that include allowing schools to bid out health insurance, local governments to stop overtime abuse and the state to collect reasonable contributions for health insurance and pensions — all of which saved millions. Instead of austerity, we chose reform.”
Walker’s “we”, of course, is short for “Republican majority in both chambers” while his “reform” is austerity with a rose-scented name. Undermining state-employee unions and placing the “reform” burden on modestly-paid state employees, local government budgets and technical colleges while cutting taxes (including for the wealthiest and big corporations) and spurning all manner of federal investment–all in the name of improving the economy– is “reform” of the most austere sort.
Walker writes that “Like most Americans, I think government is too big and too expansive . . . .” Perhaps he was thinking of the Gallup poll of Dec. 2011 in which 64% of Americans chose “big government” as the biggest threat to the nation. The other choices were “big business” and “big labor.” (Big business came in second, at 26% threat-level.) And yet President Obama won reelection while small-government men Romney & Ryan went home. So much for polls, or perhaps the phrase “big government” implies not over-regulation and social programs so much as over-stepping its bounds, as in spying or the launching of foreign wars. No one, I assume, is in favor of a “Big Brother” government.
Walker’s idea of “big government” is anything that gets in the way of big business and big wealth. This conservative ideology was repudiated nationally in 2012, and may be overturned in Wisconsin in 2014. Whatever we call it, austerity is an anti-democratic idea we in Wisconsin would do well to reform.
- Scott Walker gives advice to Obama, Congress in column (jsonline.com)
- Scott Walker in talks with HMOs on shifting state employees to self-insured program (host.madison.com)
- What Austerity Has Wrought (dish.andrewsullivan.com)