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Walker: DC can learn from him how to end stalemate

Oct. 3, 2013
 
Gov. Scott Walker said Wednesday the federal government that’s shutdown due to a partisan stalemate could learn from how he’s run Wisconsin.
Gov. Scott Walker said Wednesday the federal government that’s shutdown due to a partisan stalemate could learn from how he’s run Wisconsin. / File

MADISON — Gov. Scott Walker said Wednesday the federal government that’s shutdown due to a partisan stalemate could learn from how he’s run Wisconsin — apparently content to ignore the bitter fight over union rights and the efforts to recall him and other officials that marked his first few months in office.

While blaming both Republicans and Democrats in Washington for the shutdown, Walker also reiterated his 2010 campaign pledge to create 250,000 private sector jobs in a campaign-style speech before the state’s business leaders.

“I think not just in Wisconsin, but in states across the country, there are a lot of governors and lawmakers from both parties who wish the folks in Washington in both parties would act more like the states and less like our nation’s capital,” the Republican governor told reporters at the World Dairy Expo.

Unlike in Washington, Republicans are in complete control in Wisconsin. The Republican Legislature followed Walker’s budget-balancing plan in 2011, which included effectively ending collective bargaining for public workers. That led to the most bitter partisan fight Wisconsin had seen in decades, with all 14 Senate Democrats fleeing the state for two weeks in opposition to the move and rallies that grew as large as 100,000 people against the GOP plan.

But Walker was able to force his plan through the Legislature, despite the Democrats’ absence, and easily won a recall election last year spurned by anger over the union law. Now, as Walker eyes re-election next year and a possible 2016 presidential bid, he is putting Wisconsin forward as an example of how Washington can move past its partisan budget showdown.

“I think blame can go around for everybody,” Walker told reporters at the World Dairy Expo when asked for his views on the shutdown. “The best way to resolve it? Just look at what we did in Wisconsin. We had a $3.6 billion budget deficit, we now have more than half a billion surplus.”

Democrats said Walker shouldn’t hold himself up as an example for the rest of the country. Walker made Wisconsin “the most polarized, divided state in the country,” said Democratic Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca in a statement.

“The resulting failure at job creation with Wisconsin lagging the nation is proof his style and policies are not exemplary,” Barca said. “They are not even working.”

Wisconsin Democratic Party spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff said it was “beyond laughable” that Walker would think anyone should look to him as an example.

“Much like House Republicans, Scott Walker has pursued a divisive, ideologically-driven agenda that puts tea party extremism ahead of investments in jobs, infrastructure, health care and education,” she said.

The latest report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the figures Walker chose to measure his job-creation promise, showed Wisconsin was 34th in adding jobs for the 12-month period ending in March.

Only about 63,000 private sector jobs have been created in Walker’s first two years in office, keeping him far off pace from the 250,000 he pledged.

“I’m still committed today to help the people of this state create 250,000 jobs,” he told about 500 business leaders at the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce meeting. He even took it a step farther, saying he wants to make sure everyone in the state who wants a job can get one.

Walker also touted the recent report from the Department of Financial Institutions that 11,590 new businesses have been created since he took office. Walker promised in 2010 that 10,000 new businesses would be created during his first term.

The WMC is a strong supporter of Walker’s and in recent weeks has spent an estimated $800,000 on a television ad bolstering his job creation performance.

Speaking before the friendly crowd, which greeted him with a standing ovation, an energized Walker said he knew he was “preaching to the choir,” but he extolled them to spread the message about what’s happening in Wisconsin across the state and worldwide.

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