New Wisconsin Election as Test Case
May 31, 2012
The gubernatorial recall election in Wisconsin next week is important as an imperfect test case to indicate how Democratic propaganda will work against facts this election year.
Liberals are usually the ones who arrogantly throw around the charge that Republicans and conservatives are fact- and science-challenged and averse to reality. But their claim itself is based on nothing but their generic, nonfactual presuppositions, whether on “climate change” or same-sex unions.
What I’m suggesting is different. I’m saying that Democrats in Wisconsin are basing their case against Republican Gov. Scott Walker on anything but facts; they are distorting his policy actions, his motives for undertaking them and the effect of those actions. Coupled with their distortions, they are seeking to make the election about anything but Walker’s impressive record.
Their strategy has been to pour an enormous amount of money — much of it from outside the state, the national Democratic Party recognizing the national implications of the election — to inflame the passions of their constituencies and boost voter turnout enough to overcome the comparative unpopularity of their positions.
What’s going on is so patently obvious that it surprises me the big-labor-based Democratic Party isn’t further behind in the polls. The unions’ position is so manifestly selfish and the Democratic Party’s support for it so obviously opportunistic — as opposed to what is in the best interest of the state — that it’s amazing they don’t do a better job of masking their symbiotic corruption.
New York State AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento said his state’s labor leaders are throwing everything they can into the election to oust Walker, recognizing that Walker’s success would embolden other state governors to follow in his footsteps to take on their unions when necessary.
How does Cilento frame his appeal to his fellow unionists? He says, “What Gov. Walker has done is reprehensible, to try to silence the voice of working people.”
Silence the voice of working people? How about the voice of all the people (many of whom “work” even though they are not in public-sector unions, thank you)? Walker wanted people to have a voice as to whether they would have to join unions. As to silencing them, Walker’s reforms curbed the unions’ collective bargaining rights, but not — as others have noted — concerning their wages.
Reprehensible? Before Walker implemented his plan, most state employees who were part of the Wisconsin Retirement System contributed a minute fraction of their wage compensation — 0.2 percent — to their pension plans and 6.2 percent toward their health care premiums. Now they are contributing 5.8 percent and 12.6 percent, respectively. Taxpayers are still contributing the lion’s share.
Have Walker’s reforms worked? The Heritage Foundation reports that prior to Walker’s reforms, Wisconsin’s state workers received health benefits 2.3 times as valuable and pension benefits 5.7 times as valuable as those received by employees in large private firms. After the reforms, their health benefits are still twice as valuable, and their pension benefits are 4.5 times as valuable. Their total compensation was 29 percent higher than private-sector employees before the reforms and is now 22 percent higher. After the reforms, the average public-sector employee’s total compensation is $81,637, whereas the similarly skilled private worker’s is $67,068.
How about the reform’s impact on Wisconsin’s fiscal health? Walker inherited a $3.6 billion budget deficit, enormous overspending and the fourth-highest tax burden among states. Walker implemented structural reforms without raising taxes, without major layoffs and without cuts in Medicaid. Walker reports that for the first time in 12 years, his state’s property taxes are going down on medium-value homes, and the state has a $154 million surplus.
Those are the facts. But if Democrats succeed in their propaganda effort in Wisconsin, it will be a setback for the Republicans’ prospects in 2012, about which I am now very optimistic. But I would feel more sanguine if Republicans treated the Wisconsin election with the same urgency as Democrats do and demonstrated they are willing to take the gloves off in the 2012 campaigns. For though the facts are on their side, those facts do not ensure electoral victory against Democratic money, distortions and election chicanery.
President Obama has a miserable record by every measure I believe most Americans care about, which is why his propaganda team has already begun fraudulently sanitizing his record, such as the risible claim that he has not been a big spender, and demonizing Mitt Romney. I know Team Romney is equipped to respond factually and promptly, but I am not sure it has the political will and courage to go after Obama in ways that John McCain wouldn’t. We shall see.