Unlike Obama, Scott Walker delivers
Wednesday, most of the folks I know in Wisconsin will be looking forward
to a well-earned respite from what seems like a permanent campaign.|
Instead of taking a break from politics between elections, Wisconsin has for months been dealing with fugitive legislators, ugly protests, legal challenges and a series of recall contests allegedly aimed at overturning Gov. Scott Walker’s legislative agenda. There’s virtually no possibility that his successful reforms will be overturned, so one has to wonder: What exactly is the point of Tuesday’s recall vote?
The simple facts are the governor’s reforms have worked, and Wisconsin is open for business.
Since Walker and his allies in the Wisconsin state Legislature passed reforms that asked public-sector employees to contribute a small amount to their retirement and
These reforms have worked, and the people of Wisconsin recognize there’s no reason to return to the deficits of the past.
When Republicans took control of Madison in 2011, the Legislature was dealing with a gaping budget deficit. While most elected officials prefer to decide whether to boost spending or cut taxes, this team was different.
The serious-minded legislators elected in 2010 recognized that business as usual was ruining the state. Wisconsin’s business climate was worsening. Jobs were leaving. Budget deficits were growing.
The leaders stepped up and adopted reforms they knew might not be popular at first, but would — over time — put the state on sound fiscal footing. Facing serious fiscal challenges, they made the hard decisions and took the tough votes. So far, it looks like they were right.
We could use some of that fortitude in Washington. At the federal level, the problem is nearly 1,000 times worse than it was in Wisconsin — with Washington running annual deficits of well over $1 trillion every year since President Barack Obama was elected in 2008.
Given the size of the problem and the consequences if we fail to act, the last signal the people of Wisconsin should send to our nation is that elected officials who make tough decisions will be booted out of office. Instead, we should encourage elected officials — in Washington and elsewhere — to take practical steps to control spending and rising deficits.
That has not been the case in Washington, where the president has simply refused to lead. He has presented four federal budgets. None of them included reforms to save Social Security and Medicare. None included a plan to get this nation to a balanced budget.
Instead, the Obama administration is content to prevail over historic levels of spending, deficits and debt. The president’s most recent budget was so unserious, it was defeated in the Senate, 99-0, after being rejected in the House, 414-0. This isn’t leadership; it’s a complete abdication of responsibility.
Compare the president’s performance with the governor’s. Both benefited from voters who were deeply frustrated and disappointed with their predecessors and badly wanted a change in direction. Both were elected along with partisan majorities in control of both houses in their capitals — Walker in Madison and Obama in Washington.
But as both prepare to face the voters again, Walker has assumed responsibility for what happened on his watch, while Obama is doing everything he can to avoid responsibility.
Walker campaigned on a promise to control spending and encourage private-sector job creation. He’s governed as he campaigned — delivering the reforms he said Wisconsin needed.
Contrast that with the president, who campaigned against an
Is that what the American people expect in a leader?
What are the implications of Tuesday’s election in Wisconsin? It will tell us whether moderate and independents are willing to stick with an elected official who governed as he promised — even when it meant making tough calls on spending.
It will tell us whether voters in a middle-of-the-road state such as Wisconsin recognize the importance of a little belt-tightening now, instead of much greater shocks down the road.
Elected officials in Washington and elsewhere will be paying close attention to what the voters of Wisconsin have to say.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), a businessman from Oshkosh, is a freshman who serves on the Appropriations, Budget, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committees and on the Special Committee on Aging.