A great little piece over at Crooks & Liars on the measures Walker went to in an effort to keep citizens from getting their hands on all of those e-mails he claimed he got showing “overwhelming support” for his union-busting measures in Wisconsin.
I particularly love the part where AP reporter Todd Richmond received an email from the governor’s lawyer, noting his request would cost more than $31,250 and that amount of money had to be paid in advance.
The author put it best when she said:
“Thirty-one thousand dollars for copying? C’mon. I can get a flash drive for $50 and you can put all of the files on that. I guess that’s too easy an answer.”
We’re used to politicians stretching the truth, but the level of deception and dishonesty Wisconsin’s governor has exhibited in the battle over his union-busting budget repair bill sinks to astounding new lows.
This pension for lying, this proclivity for exaggeration has pretty much been the hallmark of his tenure in office. As such, I figured it was about time to have a piece on Scott Walker’s greatest hits (and misses).
What follows are the ten plus lies I’ve identified in a quick review of the record:
1. “It’s Not About The Unions”
Walker: His bill is about fixing a budget crisis.
The truth: Even Fox News’ Shepherd Smith called bullshit on this one, declaring that it’s all about politics and union busting, and “to pretend that this is about a fiscal crisis in the state of Wisconsin is malarkey.”
2. “This Isn’t An Ambush, I Campaigned On This Stuff”
Walker: says he campaigned on his budget repair plan, including curtailing collective bargaining.
“We introduced a measure last week, a measure I ran on during the campaign, a measure I talked about in November during the transition, a measure I talked about in December when we fought off the employee contracts, an idea I talked about in the inauguration, an idea I talked about in the state of the state. If anyone doesn’t know what’s coming, they’ve been asleep for the past two years.”
The truth: Walker, who offered many specific proposals during the campaign, did not go public with even the sketchiest outline of his far-reaching plans to kill collective bargaining rights. He could not point to any statements where he did. In fact, he was caught on tape boasting to what he thought was his billionaire backer that he had “dropped the bomb.”
Walker: keeps saying that “almost all” of the protesters at the Capitol are from outside the state
The truth: “The vast majority of people protesting are from here — Wisconsin and even more from Dane County,” said Joel DeSpain, public information officer for the Madison Police Department.
4. “I’m Reasonable & Willing To Negotiate”
Walker: He wants to negotiate.
The truth: He won’t negotiate, but he’ll pretend to so he can trick the 14 Dem senators into allowing a vote on his bill. Walker recently offered to actually sit down and speak with the minority leader – something he should have done anyway and long ago – but only if the rest of the senators came back with him. Why? Well lets take a look at what he told the man he thought was a billionaire oil tycoon.
“…legally, we believe, once they’ve gone into session, they don’t physically have to be there. If they’re actually in session for that day and they take a recess, the 19 Senate Republicans could then go into action and they’d have a quorum because they started out that way…But that would be the only, if you heard that I was going to talk to them, that would be the only reason why. We’d only do it if they came back to the capital with all 14 of them. And my sense is, hell, I’ll talk to them. If they want to yell at me for an hour, you know, I’m used to that, I can deal with that. But I’m not negotiating.”
5. “This Bill Won’t Negatively Impact Worker Rights”
Walker: says his budget-repair bill would leave collective bargaining “fully intact”
The truth: Walker revealed his own lie in the same radio interview when he said it was necessary to use his bill to strip collective bargaining rights, and in his own Feb. 11, 2011 letter to employees about his plan cited “various changes to limit collective bargaining” to the rate of base pay.
6. “We’re Broke As A Joke”
Walker: “I don’t have anything to negotiate. We are broke in this state. We have been broke for years.” and “We’re broke. We don’t have any more money.”
The truth: The NY Times says “It’s all obfuscating nonsense, of course, a scare tactic employed for political ends.” Even the hyper-conservative Wall Street Journal calls out Walker on this lie. The notion that the state needs to refinance the debt because it’s broke and can’t make its debt payments is “completely wrong,” said Frank Hoadley, the state finance director. Joshua Zeitz, municipal finance analyst for MF Global, said, the shortfall — about 0.5% of the state’s overall budget — is a fairly inconsequential amount. “It’s becoming increasingly clear that this is a question more of politics than it is of a budget crisis,” Zeitz added. ”There’s a good amount of political theater in what you’re seeing,” said Tom Kozlik, municipal credit analyst at Janney Montgomery Scott.
If Walker were truly serious about balancing the budget, he would not be proposing a $36 million cut in the state’s capital gains tax or a $46 million corporate tax cut, on top of the millions of dollars in tax cuts he and the Republican legislature have already approved. Walker could balance his current budget by ending a variety of special interest tax dodging that is occurring in his state.
Walker: claims that states without collective bargaining having fared better in the current bad economy.
The truth: According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, three of the 13 non-collective bargaining states are among the 11 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 Wisconsin.
8. “State Workers Are Overpaid & Underworked”
Walker: Public employees are more richly compensated than their public sector counterparts.
The truth: 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 under-compensated by 8.2% in Wisconsin.
9. “State Workers Get Their Pensions For Free”
Walker: state employees pay next to nothing for their pensions and that it is all a big taxpayer give-away
The truth: Forbes — yes, the conservative Forbes! — says Walker is lying:
If the Wisconsin governor and state legislature were to be honest, they would correctly frame this issue. They are not, in fact, asking state employees to make a larger contribution to their pension and benefits programs as that would not be possible — the employees are already paying 100% of the contributions.
What they are actually asking is that the employees take a pay cut.
Pulitzer Prize winning tax reporter, David Cay Johnston, said so, too, at tax.com
Walker admin: The protesters did $7.5 million of damage to the Capitol building by putting signs on marble walls with tape.
The truth: No professional estimate for clean-up has been performed. The Walker-appointed state facilities administrator would not support that estimate and said he’s not seen any damage by the protesters.
Saving the best for last:
“I Don’t Hate Civil Servants”
Walker: “I have great respect for those who have chosen a career in government. I really do.”
The truth: Comedian Jon Stewart noted: ”‘I really do’ is a dead giveaway for ‘I really don’t,’ That’s what’s known in the business as the convincing clause. ‘I love you. I really do. That’s why breaking up with you right now is so difficult.’”
The contempt he has displayed — in his bill, in his refusal to negotiate with the unions, in his refusal to negotiate with the Democrats and in his phony phone call — reveals why he felt the need for a convincing clause.