Looking for some inspiration? Here’s an interview with Wisconsin governor Scott Walker

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker

This interview was conducted by John Hawkins, who runs Right Wing News.

Here’s a quick summary of why Scott Walker is famous – he stood up to the public sector unions:

Q. Outside of Wisconsin you are most famous for taking on the unions in your state; briefly tell us what you did legislatively and what the impact of it has been on the state.

A. The easiest way to explain it is we had a choice.  In the past the big union bosses had been in charge of both state and local government.  We made a change that ultimately put the hard working taxpayers back in charge and by that, what I mean is under the old system of collective bargaining, not only the state but local governments had to abide by union contracts that many times were run contrary to the best interest of the taxpayers and to the people they newly elected.  So we came in early 2011, we faced a big budget deficit, $3.6 billion per capita, one of the biggest in the country — and we knew to balance our budget we weren’t going to raise taxes, we weren’t going to do massive layoffs, we weren’t going to cut things like Medicaid.  Instead we put in place these long-term structure reforms that put the power back in the hands of, again, of the hard working taxpayers.

By pulling back on collective bargaining we empowered local governments, school districts, counties, cities, towns, villages, and the state to go out and control and not only get things like reasonable pension and healthcare contributions which were nowhere in line with the private sector, but they got to change work rules and everything else as part of running a government.  We went from a $3.6 billion budget deficit to today we finished our fiscal year off with just shy of a $760 million surplus.  We cut taxes a billion and a half and an unemployment rate that was once 9.2% is now 6.3% —  so we’ve had some positive results and we’re going to keep on that path.

What Scott Walker is famous for is that he passes laws that work so well that even in one of the bluest states, he can win elections. Why is that? It’s because if your policies are good, you will get good results. And people recognize good results regardless of their party identification. If you couple good results with sincerity and honesty, then you can win over a lot of independents and even some conservative Democrats.

And this is the part that made me the happiest to read:

Q. In your book you encourage Republicans to do something important that the GOP, much to its detriment, has gotten out of the habit of doing.  You said we should champion the vulnerable.  Talk a little bit about that, talk about why that’s important for Republicans to do.

A. Yeah, one of the things that frustrates me so much in the Presidential election is I thought there was a tremendous lost opportunity — and obviously the clearest example of that was when Republican nominees talked about the 47% and also in a similar conversation talked about not worrying about the poor because the poor had a safety net.  That really, truly doesn’t match where I’m at.  I don’t think it matches with people like Ronald Reagan who was a great inspiration for me as a kid.  I went back in the book and talked about how Reagan in 1980 at the National Convention in Detroit in his acceptance speech talked about things like saying if you’re living in poverty, we want to lift you out.  If you’re living in despair, we want to be hope, but that hope isn’t based on more government.  It’s based on empowering people with the skills and the talents and the abilities that they need to go out and control their own lives and so I think the message is really simple, I believe, and I think this was the missed opportunity.  I believe the president and his allies in Washington in particular measure success in government by how many people are dependent on government, by how many people are on Medicaid, by how many people are on food stamps, by how many people are on unemployment.  That’s why they want to extend unemployment benefits.  They want more people signed up, more people dependent.  I think we as Republicans should measure success by just the opposite — by how many people are no longer dependent on the government, not because we’ve got to be careful to articulate this correctly, not because we don’t care about people or because we want to push people out to the streets, but because we understand that true freedom and prosperity don’t come from the mighty hand of the government.  It comes from empowering the people to control their own lives and their own destiny.  One example that I give in the book that I’ve talked about before is we made a change in food stamps that said if you want to get food stamps, if you don’t have kids, you’re an adult in our state and you want to get food stamps, you’ve either got to be working part-time or you’ve got to be in one of my employment training programs, and I said it’s simple.

I don’t want to make it harder to get government assistance.  I want to make it easier to get a job and we’ve got to show people.  I think any of us who either have our own households or who have friends who have sons or daughters who are in their 20’s, they’re at college and at some point you say to your son or daughter eventually in their best interest, “Hey, it’s time to move out of the house.  It’s time to get your own job and your own place.”  That’s not about being heartless and cold.  That’s just the opposite.  It’s about you love your kids so much you want to get them out and help them get on their own two feet so they can have the pride that comes from work in controlling their own destiny.

Now, recently there was  post on Politico about 10 people who should give the Republican response to the state of the union address (SOTU), and Walker was in the top spot. I heard about this list on Dennis Prager’s show, and it came up again on Michael Medved’s show. Now I think Prager is more of a principled conservative, and Medved is more of a pragmatic moderate. And yet they both thought that Walker should do the response. I think that Republicans across the spectrum are realizing that we need to pick someone competent in order to be different from the Democrats.

During the Christmas vacation, I read governor Walker’s new book, which was a Christmas present from my friend ECM. If you want to learn more about governor Walker, I recommend picking that up. I actually got the audio version, and it’s read by governor Walker himself.

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One thought on “Looking for some inspiration? Here’s an interview with Wisconsin governor Scott Walker”

  1. Very interesting post! Thanks for sharing. I think it is interesting to see the contrast played out here. Republicans–particularly in the realm of fiscal policy–are often portrayed as being anti-poor somehow. But in reality, the issue is far more complex than that. Many Republicans simply believe that it is more important to empower those who are in need to get out of need than to simply take care of that immediate need for the duration. That is, it seems to me that many Republicans on fiscal policy are about teaching someone to fisher rather than giving the fish to them.

    I wonder if there can be some kind of bridge between these; is it possible to fulfill the immediate need (food) while also preparing for the long-term needs? Walker here presented an interesting solution: put people in job training programs.

    What kind of success has that had?

    Thanks again for the interesting post.

    Like

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