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Issue of the Week: Facts Refute Walker's Image Rehab

Dec. 27, 2011
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Let's “put our differences aside and move forward together,” Tonette Walker urges in a “holiday spirit” ad featuring the first family of Wisconsin.

But the warm-and-fuzzy 30-second spot isn't intended to remind Wisconsinites that we should look out for each other during the holiday season.

Instead, the ad is meant to gently persuade voters not to support a recall effort against her husband, Gov. Scott Walker, without explicitly reminding them about the historic effort to remove him from office as soon as possible.

In the past few weeks, the unpopular governor has been attempting to rehabilitate his image from the hardhearted ideologue who will kick more than 60,000 low-income folks off of BadgerCare by year's end to one who contributes to the needy by doling out food in a soup kitchen—ironically, to the very same families his policies are crushing.

But the ad and Walker's pity-party interviews can't air often enough to drown out the bad news resulting from the governor's own office.

Although Walker now says Dec. 31 isn't a hard-and-fast deadline for making his massive BadgerCare changes, he isn't looking for ways to shore up the popular program and keep the cost of health care low for struggling workers. In fact, he's doing just the opposite by announcing that the state won't move ahead with implementing federal health care reform. Walker says it would be irresponsible to implement the reform while its constitutionality is in doubt. Actually, it's irresponsible not to implement it, since the state will likely have to return $38 million in federal grants and have to play catch up later this year if the law passes U.S. Supreme Court review, since the state must submit its plan to the federal government by 2013. That's closer than you think, especially since the Legislature will be out of session for much of the year.

But the Grinch-like BadgerCare deadline is not the only negative story Walker is trying to outrun. Employment continues to slide in Wisconsin while it grows nationally, due in part to shrinking paychecks for public employees. The ongoing John Doe investigation allegedly involves a number of Walker's aides and people connected to his gubernatorial campaign. And Walker is continuing his assault on public education, announcing that his already-tight budget still requires more tightening. A hefty chunk of the new $123 million in cuts is aimed at the University of Wisconsin System, which already received a historic $250 million cut in Walker's original budget. Now it has to slash another $46.1 million. Apparently this is what you get when a governor thinks so little of higher education that he couldn't see fit to finish his own degree.

That's why Walker is trying to burnish his media image as a kinder, gentler guy in ads that were bought with virtually unlimited funds he's raising from ultraconservatives outside of the state.

But Wisconsin voters aren't dumb enough to fall for his propaganda. They're signing recall petitions in droves to drive him out of office in 2012 before he can do any more damage to the state. And if you ask us, that's the best way we can look out for our neighbors during this holiday season.


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