Speaker Boehner's Hasty Defense Of WI Gov. Covers Up Self-Inflicted Budget "Crisis"

February 17, 2011 6:32 pm ET — Alan Pyke

Speaker John Boehner's (R-OH) office released a statement today titled "Speaker Boehner Backs GOP Governor Scott Walker on Budget Reforms, Expresses Dismay Over Presidential Attacks." In the release, Boehner praised Gov. Walker (R-WI) for "daring to speak the truth about the dire fiscal challenges Americans face" and "daring to commit...to solutions that will liberate our economy."

via @brentgohde

The reality of the Wisconsin power grab doesn't match Boehner's rhetoric. The GOP effort to strip collective bargaining rights isn't a "solution," unless the GOP thinks the problem is workers having a voice in their contract negotiations. Taking away bargaining rights doesn't fill in the state's budget hole by a dime; it just silences teachers, nurses, sewer repairmen and other state employees when lawmakers look for ways to balance the books.

But Boehner's deception goes deeper. Walker isn't telling the truth about those "dire fiscal challenges." As it turns out, the state's nonpartisan budget wonks say that three of Walker's own policies, the largest of which is a $67 million tax break for state businesses, helped turn a surplus into a deficit. From TPM's Brian Beutler:

Furthermore, this broadside comes less than a month after the state's fiscal bureau -- the Wisconsin equivalent of the Congressional Budget Office -- concluded that Wisconsin isn't even in need of austerity measures, and could conclude the fiscal year with a surplus. In fact, they say that the current budget shortfall is a direct result of tax cut policies Walker enacted in his first days in office. [...]

You can read the fiscal bureaus report here (PDF). It holds that "more than half" of the new shortfall comes from three of Walker's initiatives:

  • $25 million for an economic development fund for job creation, which still holds $73 million because of anemic job growth.
  • $48 million for private health savings accounts -- a perennial Republican favorite.
  • $67 million for a tax incentive plan that benefits employers, but at levels too low to spur hiring.

In essence, public workers are being asked to pick up the tab for this agenda.

So the Republicans screwed up a budget and then blamed it on their political enemies in order to undermine workers' rights. 

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