Sunday, January 18, 2015

The $20 Scott Walker primer

[Updated from 1:15 p.m.] Readers of this blog know I track some of Scott Walker's history, policies, motives and impact.

At times I have posted summaries that archive various themes - - Walker's southern strategy that plays to resentful voters, or threats to Wisconsin water, for example, or his partisan and destructive disdain for rail transit that killed Amtrak construction jobs and train assembly and maintenance labor at a Milwaukee train factory now shuttered.

Or the disrespect he has heaped on certain groups for political advantages. It's a long list.

And, more recently, I posted an accounting of programs and initiatives which undermine his recent, self-serving claim to a national talk radio audience that he is "nice...midwestern nice."

So, about "nice" - - let's review one telling Walker action which never got the broad attention it deserved, though it spoke volumes about his hard-edged Tea Party modus operandi and willingness to tilt the playing field through Big Government power and hammer people who are generally without the means to fight back.

I am referring to an item buried in his first budget - - an across-the-board $20 per month cut from W-2 recipients.

I'd written about it here, with language taken directly from the budget's text, on page 65, in the "Health and Human Services" section:
"To further encourage W-2 recipients to recognize that the goal of W-2 is for participants to secure unsubsidized employment, reduce the monthly benefit check by $20."  
And the negative impact was multiplied by other Walker budget changes that reduced the value of two tax credits that helped low-income families stay in their homes and on a payroll.

There's a straight line from that kind of thinking and arbitrary punishment by government action - - the loss of a few boxes of disposable diapers, or maybe seven or eight gallons or milk, or bus fares to a job, a day care or the pediatrician  - - to Walker's more recent slams at the poor - - a refusal to increase the minimum wage of $7.25/hr., and his stated plan to mandate urine testing for food stamp recipients.

You cannot escape the irony that Walker's GOP allies in the State Assembly leaders just pushed through a hefty increase in the tax-free expense account money from Wisconsin taxpayers the legislators can file for to reimburse themselves for lodging, meal and other expenses run up when they are in Madison on state business.

I understand that serving in the Assembly comes with certain out-of-pocket costs - -  though serving in the Assembly includes decent pay - - $50,950 annually - - for part-time work. 

That's on top of generous perks, access to power, visibility for other jobs they can hold at law firms, accounting offices or hometown businesses, as well as potential careers in lobbying firms, the executive branch or higher office not foreseen when an Assembly seat had first opened up.

But go back to the removal of $20 "to encourage" W-2 recipients to get cracking on that job search.

That was some kind cold, dispassionate calculation, and it said a lot about Walker and the kind of people he brought in run the show.


Yes, to themselves.

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