Wednesday, May 11, 2016

In Wisconsin, 'certainty' = spin about GOP agendas, favors

Let's have a meditation on the word "certainty" in Wisconsin these days, and especially in its role as th linchpin connecting a self-interested corporate sector and the lackeys they have installed atop and throughout all three branches of government and its oversight agencies  - - like the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the Wisconsin Public Service Commission and others originally established decades ago to serve the people and protect their rights.

When you see "certainty" in a GOP news release these days, or in Scott Walker utterance, or underlying a room-service/corporate demand on government, turn on your b.s. detector and break out your shovel to scrape away the propagandistic camouflage and find the truth that has been papered over or word-smithed away at your expense.

And along the way through this post ask yourself why people who needed available Medicaid funding, or who live a near huge animal feeding operation poisoning residential wells, or state transit users bereft of options, or people with difficulties obtaining now-mandatory voter ID's are not accorded the same certainty about their rights and needs by this administration.

But let's back up a bit.

It was just eight months ago that Wisconsin's major corporate organizations called in all their chits with an already compliant state legislature and demanded, in writing, that it rewrite state law and reinterpret the Wisconsin Constitution to give private interests more unregulated access to waters in Wisconsin which are held in trust for the public by the government:

The hand-delivered memo, its bold-faced language and the weighty array of powerful logos at the top tell the story:
An urgent communication to all Wisconsin legislators 
We are at a crossroads. It is imperative that the legislature assert its authority and bring certainty and sanity to the regulation of new and existing high capacity wells in Wisconsin.  
The key word "certainty was also put out there strategically by the dairy industry - - Commentary: Wisconsin Needs Certainty on High-Capacity Wells 

GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos got the message, fired off a request for an advisory opinion to fellow Republican Attorney General and corporate captive Brad Schimel, and yesterday Schimel followed through.

Pesky uncertainties, removed, as I wrote Monday and Tuesday:

As predicted, WI AG endorses public waters' giveaway

So now the Legislature is enabled with Schimel's blessing to write bills for Scott Walker's signature that will give Big Ag, industrial-scale animal feeding operations, sand mines, and multiple developers more freedom to pump groundwater for their narrow private interests at the expense of the capacity in nearby rivers, streams and lakes, and of downstream users, anglers, boaters, and the general public.

"Certainty" - - with  its companion buzzword "uncertainty" - - is the default, all-purpose verbiage rationalization that can lavish praise - - as one special interest said of Schimel's ruling - - 

Paul Zimmerman, executive director of government relations for the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, said the opinion "provides greater certainty and clarity for everyone..." 
- - or can embellish agendas or camouflage failures and facts - - but all parties on the right have got the same playbook and will use the word even if it begins to look less like a substantive label and more like a politician's tic or spinmeister's predictable punchline. 

Here are more examples that should remind you to certainly be on your guard when the far-right in Wisconsin says that is governing in your interest - - with certainty:

*  Walker called a special session to create jobs:

The one thing that I hear more than anything else is that employers and workers want a sense of certainty.  That is the main goal of this special session – to create as much certainty as we can for employers and workers at the state level so that they can create jobs.
*  But when the job creation stalled, he needed a scapegoat: 
There was a lot of uncertainty, particularly for small businesses, I know having held listening sessions all around this state, small business owners more than anything want certainty, they didn’t see that around the Capitol last year so that was one of the biggest challenges out there.
*  A mantra he repeated in Illinois:
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker told an Illinois business conference today that quote, “like a rocket, you’ll see businesses hiring” after the June fifth recall election – which he predicted he would win....During a question-and-answer period, Rockford business owner Skip Trotter asked about the one thing Wisconsin did to turn the state around. Walker replied quote, “Reform our fiscal space. The best thing we can do for government is provide stability, certainty.” 
A mantra fed back by GOP Majority Leader and Walker water-carrier  Vos:
RACINE – Once June 5 hits and Gov. Scott Walker is securely re-elected, “our economy is going to take off like a rocket,” state Rep. Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said Monday during a meeting with The Journal Times Editorial Board.
 ...Republicans said there needs to be certainty for businesses in order to give them the confidence to expand going forward. 
“If you would talk to any business person, the one thing they always want is certainty and we have given them anything but,” Vos said. 
Once Walker wins the recall, Vos said employers will be able to look ahead and know what the next two years will look like.
"Certainty" was everywhere in the debate over the iron mining bill.

*  In fact, the bill - - written with the help of the one company it was supposed to help, and which was later exposed as having secretly routed $700,000 to Walker's recall campaign, - - had the word "certainty in its title:

That's why both labor and industry are supporting Senate Bill 349, the Regulatory Certainty Act.
PauseCurrent Tim
Tort reform benefited, says the WMC:
“These reforms will add certainty, fairness and predictability to our legal system,” said James A. Buchen, WMC vice president of government relations. 
“Governor Walker and all of the legislative supporters of these new laws deserve tremendous thanks and praise because these reforms will improve our business climate.”
* As did growth, the WMC added:
Wisconsin’s business climate and job prospects will improve in the wake of Governor Scott Walker signing a no-tax-hike state budget that dramatically reduces income taxes for Wisconsin manufacturing, WMC said Sunday. 
“Governor Walker and legislative Republicans deserve tremendous credit for making tough decisions to balance the state budget without raising taxes,” said Kurt R. Bauer, President/CEO of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce. “The budget provides greater certainty for business executives and that should encourage job growth.”
* But "certainty" bit Vos on voter fraud, said PolitiFact:
...he said with "certainty" that there was fraud. Based on the information publicly available now, we rate his claim False.
*  A Walker lieutenant used the term to justify refusing federal Medicaid funding:
"Governor Walker should be applauded for putting forth a healthcare reform that gives certainty to how we're going to deal with this issue," says Committee Chair Senator Alberta Darling (R-8th Senate District).  
* And to justify more tax credits, with the bonus buzzword "flexibility" in the news release title and "streamlining" in the text - - a talking point trifecta:
“Signing this legislation makes Wisconsin’s business climate even more attractive by offering job creators flexibility in incentives for them to grow, expand, and create jobs,” Governor Walker said.  “Small business owners crave stability, and we are providing this certainty to them through our dedication to growing the economy, streamlining regulations, and investing in worker training.”
"Uncertainty" was fed back dutifully with streamlining references in buzzword salad by WI DNR Secretary Stepp:
...we're looking at real cost savings to Wisconsin businesses by helping reduce regulatory uncertainty, providing proactive support of job creation and providing permitting and regulatory assistance," said Stepp. 
* Fed back also by special interests to state highway planners:
 Businesses need more certainty in order to make rational business decisions. The uncertainty surrounding Verona Road Stage 2 construction question creates an unfriendly business environment for all concerned locally and on a statewide basis.

We urge you to advocate for a package of fees, taxes, and bonding to complete this vital though burdensome road construction in our communities.
* Fed back about funding to special interests by big-picture state highway planners, closing a loop:
  • Provides 5 years of funding certainty 
* "Certainty also showed up to spin UW system cuts:
The governor has said the block grant mechanism would provide the system with more financial certainty and more autonomy would help the system run better. 
And even in a bill to knock a potential rival to GOP Senate Majority Leader Fitzgerald off the ballot, as he explained:
Despite the talking points from opponents of this measure, this bill does not prevent any individual from running for office. It simply adds county executives to the list of elected officials who are already prohibited by Wisconsin’s constitution from serving simultaneously in the legislature, and in doing so prevents conflicts of interest and provides certainty to voters.” 
OK - - you get the picture. And when I was done with all this research, it occurred to me that I could have started by putting the word "certainty" in the search box on Walker's press release web page, where I found 33 examples. 

Read with certainty.


Jim Olson said...

What the ignorant, but malicious Republicans and their Governor don't understand that public trust rights are not an environmental issue, but belong to every citizen in Wisconsin and the government has no legislative or executive authority to diminish these rights. It is also the most reckless thing any Governor or legislature or attorney general could do, because it hands your water over to private interests amidst a growing world water crisis. China and Saudi Arabia will want to grow their food in Wisconsin very soon if your government keeps it up. The only thing that stands in the way of private takeover of citizens' most basic rights of survival and private landowners' protection from these larger interests is the public trust doctrine. It prevents anyone from privatizing the water and impairing it for future generations. See background papers and principles on public trust at by FLOW For Love of Water public trust education project.

Jake formerly of the LP said...

These Republican businessMEN aren't exactly the bold, risk-taking type, are they? But they get to call the shots and write the laws, which helps explain why we're dead last in start-ups, doesn't it?