Saturday, February 19, 2011

Scott Walker's Top Ten Lies

It takes a lot of spin to sell a load of …., well, to sell an idea that is unpopular with most Wisconsinites. Here is a list of the top ten lies so far:

1) We’ve said it before, but we’ll say it again. The need for a budget “repair” bill is manufactured so that Governor Scott Walker can bring in a “Trojan Horse” of bad conservative ideas promoted nationally by the far right. The non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau said no statutory trigger was met to require a repair bill.

2) Governor Walker has said, "This is not a shock." The Republican who took office in January said "The shock would be if we didn't go forward with this.” He was referring to his claim that during his campaign he said he was going to do the things that are in his budget “repair” bill. Not so fast, Governor. This one is a make-your-own project: Google ANYTHING about getting rid of collective bargaining, allowing a single committee oversight over sweeping reductions of access to Badgercare, etc. No, really. Try it.

3) The question isn’t so much whether it’s a lie or not, but the size of the lie. Walker claimed if we didn’t pass his “repair” bill, either 1,500 or 6,000 workers would be laid off. Why its not 2,500 or 4,000, I don’t know but I do know it’s a lie. The total brought in by the changes to health care and pensions are $30 million. According to the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the average salary for a state employee is about $50,300 annually plus benefits. At that salary alone, the total would be $301,800,000 for 6,000 employees – a total cost way more than the policy changes about employees’ benefits would bring in.

4) He also stated that “close to 200,000 children who would be bumped off Medicard-related programs.” More manure. Legally, the state does not have the option to change eligibility requirements or remove kids from Medicaid according to the federal health care law until the year 2019. And by then, trust me, Walker will not be Governor.

5) Walker’s claims that states without collective bargaining having faired better in the current bad economy are wrong. According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, three of the 13 non-collective bargaining states are among the eleven states facing budget shortfalls at or above 20% (Texas, Louisiana, North Carolina). Another, South Carolina, comes in at a sizable 17.4%. Nevada, where state employees have no collective bargaining rights (but local employees do) has the largest percentage shortfall in the country, at 45.2%. All in all, eight non-collective-bargaining states face larger budget shortfalls than either Wisconsin or Ohio.

6) Public employees living high off the hog? Hogwash! The truth is usually people in public service work because they want to be public servants. According to the Economic Policy Institute, wages and salaries of state and local employees are lower than those for private sector employees with comparable earnings determinants such as education and work experience. State workers typically are undercompensated by 8.2% in Wisconsin.

7) Both Governor Walker and legislative leaders said we needed a “repair” bill to address a payment owed to the State of Minnesota of nearly $60 million and money owed to the Patient’s Compensation Fund in the tune of $200-plus million. The bill as introduced addresses NEITHER.

8) After getting heat for calling the National Guard instead of the unions to sit down and negotiate, he quickly backpedaled saying he merely put them “on alert” to take over the prisons if necessary. His handlers quickly realized that he over-reacted and needed to pull back before looking completely obstructionist. We have not had to put the National Guard into action due to a piece of state legislation in, well, pretty much forever. Instead of calling the unions to sit down and negotiate, he calls the National Guard and downplays (lies) about it later.

9) Walker has said that our budget problems are largely due to employee wages. Not even close, Governor. Total salaries and compensation in the last budget were 8.5%* of the entire state budget. Even with the changes being made to paying more for health insurance and pensions, the total is less than 1/10th of one percent. Our real problem is the same as every state – revenues in sales tax and income tax are down due to unemployment. Luckily, unless Walker really blows it, he inherited a lower unemployment rate and a better tax collection rebound than most states in the nation.

10) The Governor has over and over that the “repair” bill is about making state workers pay more for their health insurance and pension. As we all know, if that is all that the bill did he’d be sitting back at his mansion right now, sipping on a nice scotch, and playing on-line chess with Grover Norquist. This bill is about so much more. We all know it takes away people’s rights to collectively bargain. But it also allows for sweeping changes and reductions in Medicaid, makes it almost impossible for unions to exist, engages in a risky ‘scoop and toss’ debt restructuring, sells off state power plants and much, much more.

That’s ten for now. I’m sure they will keep piling up. But seeing it all in one place sure is illustrative of Governor’s Walker accounting of the “repair” bill has no merit.

Governor, c’mon. You owe us better than this.

*The 8.5% figure from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau excludes two agencies: Corrections and the UW System. No one is talking about reducing critical public safety staffing at corrections (you can't) and many positions at the UW are largely if not excusively based on federal funds. If both agencies were included, LFB puts that number at 17.7% (a number that is skewed because of federally funded and other critical public safety positions). Thus, Walker 's proposed employee pension and healthcare changes remain a very small percent of total state employee salary and thus, a small portion of the state's budget and a small portion of the state's budget deficit.

UPDATE: The list of lies is growing fast. Check out this PolitiFact debunking Walker's statement that under his budget 'repair' bill, collective bargaining rights are "left in tact."


  1. Good stuff. Please clear up for me the "structural deficit" and how Wisconsin is supposedly going to be $3 billion in the red for the next biennial budget (July 2011-June 2013). Walker claims that the so-called "repair bill" is needed in part to fill a deficit in the current biennial budget, yet the Legislative Fiscal Bureau says there was no deficit hanging over us. What does the LFB say about the so-called structural deficit in the coming biennial?

  2. The Grover Norquist chess line is classic. Nice pic, too. Thanks for being awesome, Mark!

  3. Thank you Mark! Keep fighting the good fight! We are all proud of the risks and dedication all of you are putting into this!

  4. Right on Mark. It is helpful to see the top ten in one place.

  5. I think you should submit this to the State Journal and the Wall St Journal while you're at it. Doesn't hurt to try. But don't forget the replacement of impartial civil service employees with political appointees.

    Joanne Brown
    Madison WI

  6. Fox News is reporting today that Walker has threatened to lay off not 1,500 or 6,000 public employees, but 10,000-12,000:

  7. Thanks for all you do! I will keep voting for you, Mark.

  8. Thanking you for repping the 78th, Rep. Pocan! Keep fighting for Wisconsin workers and families.

  9. His bill also reaches deeper into the civil service system and makes even more positions subject to the whim of the governor. Tommy Thompson removed a whole layer of administrator jobs from civil service, and now Scott wants to get at even more.

  10. You forgot that he restructured the debt, saving 165 million this year. Since we had a surplus at the beginning of the year, the 200 million and 60 million to Minnesota results in a debt of 136.7 million. The 165 million should cover this, so there is no budget crisis.

  11. Thanks Mark. Very helpful and useful post. Keep up the fight!

  12. "Governor, c’mon. You owe us better than this."

    Yes. No matter what side of the aisle you fall on, politics can be so much better than this!

  13. Mr. Pocan,

    Thank you for standing up to Governor Walker and standing with the working class. No matter what happens, history will remember that you were on the right side of this debate.

    I am giving serious consideration to running for political office. Please keep up the good work!


    Dan Lathrop

  14. Thank you for everything you do for us, Mark! We elected you to represent our voice & we very much appreciate you!

  15. When you have a governor willing to approve a $1.9 Billion Zoo Interchange rebuild, when it needs perhaps a $300 million fix, you must look at his $75,000 campaign contributions from the road builders as a catalyst. And killing the train? Coincidental???

    Mark, we MUST get passed public funding of campaigns!

  16. Mark, thanks for giving the many Americans who are not living in Wisconsin FACTS!

    I read lots of blogs and the Right Wing talking points are not based on facts. Sadly, we see these Lies repeated over and over.

    Hope it is okay if I use your information to try and educate others. Thanks, afisher

  17. Thank you Rep. Pocan for continuing to fight the good fight!

    Please don't forget about the destruction this bill could cause to state programs such as medicaid and food share.

  18. Great post! Solidarity forever!

  19. The bill is also a Koch-servative giveaway of WI assests thru no-bid contracts & redefining "public interest" as whatever a corporation says. Not our elected leaders and their administrators. Jeebus this is revolutionary, like forget everything Washington, Jefferson & Paine fought King George for... Link:

  20. Don't forget Section 16.896 It authorizes no-bid sales or contractual operation of state−owned heating, cooling,
    and power plants at whatever price some Walker appointee determines to be OK

  21. Mark, can you post your thoughts on the power plant sell off clause in the bill? This reminds me of Margaret Thatcher selling off all the British governments assets for a song. While the public did have the option to buy shares and make a killing, obviously only those with cash reserves could do this. In other words, she paid off the people that voted for her. Is Walker doing the same thing here at the expense of the WI tax payer?

  22. Don't forget, Republicans know these policy ideas are as unpopular as a sharp stick in the eye and therefore they MUST use deception in order to jam them through.

  23. Whatever Walker says seems to be a lie! Before this budget repair bill I didn't trust Walker and now for sure not! During his campaign he said that he'd work hard to recruit and retain the best school teachers--LIE!!! Taking aggressive action in the budget repair bill that not only takes away money from teachers but the ability to collective bargain will attract and retain teachers is certainly not going to make it attractive for teachers! If this was truly about the budget he would've accepted the union leaders' offer to accept financial aspects of the bill BUT it's all about politics. DOES IT NOT SCARE OTHERS THAT THE FITZGERALD BOYS ARE IN EACH HOUSE & DADDY FITZGERALD IS HEAD OF THE TROOPERS? I THINK IT SHOULD SCARE EVERYONE THAT WALKER IS ON SUCH A POWER TRIP AND IS TRYING TO INTIMIDATE ALL PUBLIC EMPLOYEES. IT'S WALKER'S WAY OR THE HIGHWAY, RIGHT??? IS THAT WHAT ANYONE WANTS AS A GOVERNOR? THANK YOU TO THE BRAVE DEMOCRATIC SENATORS!

  24. I'd say it's the Unions way or the Highway! Just reviewed this email from Bob. Please share.

    Last weekend, tens of thousands of us rallied in New York City and around the nation. We demonstrated our solidarity with workers in Wisconsin and around the nation who are under attack by Tea Party Republican...s like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

    Step by step, we're creating a powerful grassroots response to the Tea Party: a Job Party.

    On Tuesday, we're joining with Moveon again to rally across the nation. Will you join us after work?

    Sign up to join your local rally here.

    Scott Walker isn't backing down. When Wisconsin Democrats bravely refused to surrender, Republicans crammed their union-busting bill through, breaking laws in the process.

    And in Michigan, Republicans passed an "Emergency Manager" law to let Gov. Rick Snyder appoint virtual dictators to rule struggling towns by breaking unions and selling local utilities.

    These two actions are being called the "Ash Wednesday Massacre" - not of people, but democracy. And so we absolutely must respond on Tuesday after work:

    Sign up to join your local rally here.

    Our Job Party movement is just beginning. On Wednesday March 16, we'll join Progressive Democrats of America in lunch-hour "Brown Bag Vigils" at local Congressional offices to demand Jobs not Cuts, Healthcare not Warfare, and Corporations Out of Politics.

    On Monday April 4, we'll join the AFL-CIO in "We Are One" rallies to mark the date in 1968 when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated while helping Memphis sanitation workers form a union.

    And on Monday April 18, we'll mark "Tax Day" with Moveon by demanding an end to tax dodging by corporations and billionaires.

    I've been a progressive organizer my whole life, and I've never seen so much unity, passion, and determination. Workers, students, parents, the unemployed, veterans, feminists, Democrats, and a true rainbow coalition are coming together to protect our basic economic rights.

    And we're not just on defense - we're organizing recall elections and building support for a 21st Century WPA.

    So let's hit the streets, make new friends, broaden our coalition, and increase our demands for change - because our economic and political survival is at stake.

    Thanks for all you do!