Debunking The Rhetoric Of Gov. Walker’s Presidential Campaign Announcement
Scott Walker formally announced his candidacy for President of the United States last night, arguing that he is the candidate who would usher in a pro-growth era in America. He pledged that he is “for building a better economy where everyone can live their piece of the American Dream. That’s pro-growth.” But a closer examination of Walker’s record shows that he is only concerned about growth for the very rich.
Under Walker’s watch, the middle class in Wisconsin has suffered, but the wealthy few have flourished. This is hardly surprising as attacks on workers, stagnant wages, and favors for wealthy donors like the Koch Brothers have been hallmarks of Walker’s regime.
Since his speech yesterday, we have compiled a look at the gap between Scott Walker’s rhetoric and the reality of his policies.
Rhetoric: “To ensure that prosperity, we need to be for a pro-growth economic plan that helps individuals and families earn, save and achieve their piece of the American Dream,” he stated.
Reality: Middle class families in Wisconsin have found it harder to achieve the American Dream with their incomes falling under Walker’s watch.
- According to a new CAP Action analysis, median household income fell $728 from 2011 to 2013.
- Wisconsin ranked 44th for middle class income growth from 2011 to 2013.
Rhetoric: “Next, we need to help people get the education and the skills they need to succeed. This will help people find careers that pay far more than the minimum wage.”
Reality: Walker has refused to implement a Wisconsin law that would boost wages for workers. Instead, he is actively changing the law to evade paying higher wages for workers.
- Last year, Wisconsin workers sued Gov. Scott Walker for refusing to consider increasing the state’s $7.25 minimum wage under the state’s living wage law. Yet on Sunday, Walker signed a budget gutting Wisconsin’s living wage law.
- Wisconsin’s living wage is $10.13 per hour, according to research by MIT, but the state’s minimum wage is only $7.25. If Walker were to have followed the state’s living wage law, every minimum wage worker would earn $5,990 more per year, putting a total of $245,600,000 in the pockets of Wisconsin workers annually.
Rhetoric: “To help live that dream, we have a plan to help the people of this country create more jobs and higher wages.”
Reality: Job growth in Wisconsin has suffered since Walker took office.
- When Walker took office in 2011, Wisconsin ranked 35th in the nation for job growth.
- Wisconsin’s ranking has fallen since then. In 2014, Wisconsin ranked 38th in the nation for job growth.
Rhetoric: “And then, we need to lower the burden on hard-working taxpayers to improve take-home pay. …The government could charge the higher rates and a few of you could afford it. Or, we can lower the rates and broaden the base and increase the volume of people participating in our economy.”
Reality: Walker’s tax cuts have disproportionally benefitted the wealthy few who need it the least.
- Walker’s tax packages gave the richest 20% in Wisconsin the largest share of tax cuts—50% of all the tax cuts. Meanwhile, the middle class received only 15% of the share of tax cuts.
- In 2015, the richest 1% in Wisconsin paid a lower share of their income in taxes than any other income group, including the poorest Wisconsinites.
Rhetoric: “Since I’ve been Governor, we took on the unions and won.”
Reality: Walker often proudly points to his fight to strip collective bargaining rights from workers as one of his biggest accomplishments. But unions are integral to the health of the middle class.
- As Wisconsin’s union membership rate has fallen, so has the share of income going to the middle class:
BOTTOM LINE: Scott Walker is loudly trumpeting his goal as a presidential candidate to “fight and win.” But for whom? As Governor, the winners have been the wealthy few who benefited the most from his tax cuts and already pay lower taxes than anyone. The losers have been hardworking everyday Wisconsinites who have seen incomes fall, job growth slow, and the middle class under attack. That’s been wrong for Wisconsin, and it’s wrong for the country.
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