Gov. Walker Can't Shrug Off Recall Effort

November 29, 2011 5:38 pm ET — Alan Pyke

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's (R) message to voters continues to evolve. First, Walker moved away from his combative stance towards pro-worker protesters and Democrats in the spring and onto a conciliatory footing by late summer. Now, with 'Recall Walker' organizers reporting that just 12 days into their two-month petition drive they've already collected more than half of the signatures they need, the union-busting governor is employing a novel message: a shrug.

The ad, which began airing about a week into the recall effort, identifies the woman above as a teacher named Kristi, and she summarizes her support for Walker thusly:

The person that I'm going to stand behind and that is going to get my vote is the man or the woman that says what they mean and means what they say, and it's not about being popular, y'know, it's not about getting the votes. It's— this is what is right. I mean, Scott Walker said from the beginning, I'm going to do what's right for Wisconsin, and he did. He did.

The audio appears to have been edited to get Walker's name into the final sentence, but never mind. The message is that Walker's a man of his word who's doing "what's right for Wisconsin." If you disagree you can have this apologetic shrug, but please don't go signing any recall petitions. Again, this isn't working: Organizers say they're getting 1,000 signatures per hour of 'Recall Walker' canvassing.

The recall seems almost certain to happen, giving Walker another opportunity to make Kristi's case that his policies are "what's right for Wisconsin." But even ignoring strong support for collective bargaining rights, Walker will have to talk around the inconvenient reality that his policies have not revitalized the state's economy. Madison journalist John Nichols wrote recently that the state has been shedding jobs for four months, most of them in the private sector. And the contrast with national figures makes it truly ugly:

Under Walker, Wisconsin now leads the nation in job losses.

In fact, of the states that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics described as experiencing "statistically significant unemployment changes" in October, only one actually lost jobs: Wisconsin.

Wisconsin lost 9,700 jobs in October, almost all of them in the private sector.

But that is not the worst news. The worst news is that the job losses are part of a pattern that began around the time that Walker's "reforms" took hold.

Wisconsin did not just lose jobs in October.

Wisconsin lost jobs in September.

Wisconsin lost jobs in August.

Wisconsin lost jobs in July.

Back in May, when Walker was bragging about how he had "fixed" Wisconsin, the latest figures put the state's unemployment rate at 7.3 percent.

Now, the latest figures put the rate at 7.7 percent.

How does that compare with the national average? During the same period when unemployment went down one-tenth of a percentage point nationally, it rose four-tenths of a percent under Scott Walker.

So the Tea Party governor succeeded in pinning budget problems on workers, in busting their unions, and in passing "solutions" to the problem he'd fabricated, but none of that is producing jobs. Put that bottom-line failure together with Walker's penchant for hiring cronies, his willingness to lie about his past promises, the $50,000 in illegal campaign contributions he got from a railroad magnate, and the ongoing FBI investigation into members of his inner political circle, and the rapid success of the recall petition drive starts to make a lot more sense.

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