Yesterday, Scott Walker posted a press release on the Governor's website, with the grandiose lede "The One Opinion Piece the New York Times Didn't Want You to Read." In the first paragraph he explains that while he has "introduced his reforms to balance the budget and protect middle-class taxpayers," the NYT has printed "at least seven editorials, op-eds, or columns" in which they have "repeatedly used its editorial pages to opine on the reforms." Apparently, however, the NYT declined to print Walker's piece, and boy is he miffed.
Sadly, it's pretty obvious why the Times declined to print the piece. In 12 paragraphs, Walker alternately whines about his persecution by liberals and trumpets his grandiose vision of himself as savior of all that "true" Americans hold dear. I've heard less trash talk and whining on school playgrounds during recess. But to summarize Walker's apparent bid to nominate himself for the next Nobel Peace Prize, so that you don't have to read it yourself, I've pulled a few highlights.
He explains his budget repair bill in his own special terms:
"In Wisconsin, we are doing something progressive in the best sense of the word. We are implementing reforms to protect middle class jobs and middle class taxpayers."
If only I had realized that state and unionized employees were NOT taxpayers! And What a neat spin on the word "progressive," as in thinking that it means "regressive."
He quickly loses me, though, when he claims that "Most workers outside of government would love our proposal" since "The average middle class worker is paying more than 20% of his or her (health insurance) premium." For some reason, I always fail to understand how making government employees pay more for their health care insurance directly benefits private sector workers. Do the increased premiums result in refunds to the private sector? Do private sector employees improve their own lives by making the lives of their fellow Americans worse?
He claims that "our reforms will improve the quality of our governments" by allowing schools and government to "make decisions based on merit and performance," then compares his plan to Indiana, where he claims that the whole union busting thing "works well."
"In 2005, Governor Mitch Daniels reformed collective bargaining. In turn, the government got more efficient, more effective and more accountable to the public."The only problem is, Mitch Daniels didn't solve his state's budget crisis. Aside from union busting, back in 2009 Daniels cut state government by 20% and eliminated nearly 3,000 state employee positions. Daniels also made substantial cuts to primary and secondary education, as well as Medicaid. Those cuts were not nearly as steep as those proposed by Walker, who is cutting nearly $900 million from the Wisconsin public school systems, and is proceeding in what most people believe is a plan to gut the state's Medicaid program.
But Indiana's problems were not "solved" and the newest budget that Daniels has proposed contains more cuts, including more cuts to education and Medicaid. Indiana's Medicaid program has instituted Arizona-like restrictions that force some poorer patients to die, like infants with curable diseases, primary and secondary education is being cut, again, and last night at a session of the Indiana Assembly, pretty much everything was cut. As one Republican Representative, Eric Turner, put it, "We just don't have the money." With their unemployment rate hanging stubbornly at 9.3%, I think everyone can agree that, contrary to what Scott Walker might believe, things are not "working well" in Indiana.
Walker then wastes a few paragraphs pontificating on his supposed "economic development legislation," his "commitment to the future," and reiterates my personal pet peeve saying, "Wisconsin is open for business."
In the last paragraph, however, we see how narcissistic Walker really is, and how out of touch with reality. He makes the astounding connection between his budget and the ideals that have made our country great, saying:
"We live in the greatest nation on earth because for more than 200 years we've had leaders who cared more about their children and grandchildren than themselves. Having the courage to make decisions in the best interest of the next generation -- despite external pressures -- is a concept that America has always admired, but is forgetting today."
What Scott Walker completely misses is that what really shows that we care for our children is, well, taking care of them; educating our children well in fully-funded public schools; providing them the opportunity to attend college if they desire; ensuring that they receive preventative health care, immunizations, and emergency care, as well as life-saving albeit expensive treatments for their illnesses; eliminating hunger by providing food stamps, unemployment benefits for laid-off parents, and other financial assistance to struggling families; and providing safe drinking water to all.
So no, Governor Walker, I actually haven't forgotten what it means to take care of our children and grandchildren. You have.