Thursday, May 3, 2018

Walker wants Foxconn as distraction from his 250,000 failed jobs pledge

Foxconn is now Walker's p.r. and career-saving fallback.

It's also at the root of a host of political, fiscal and environmental problems and contradictions that Walker has inflicted on the state which either get better or worse after the November election.

So while we have the long-standing US Clean Air Act.

And decades of proven, efficient, improving technologies that can minimize the release of harmful smokestack emissions.

We also know that:

a) The DNR just OK'ed massive air pollution at the Foxconn site;

b) The US EPA just OK'ed a pitch from Wisconsin to exempt much of SE Wisconsin from strong clean air standards and enforcement;

c) Which, not coincidentally, will exempt Foxconn from buying some expensive air pollution control devices

Meaning that there will be kids, joggers and seniors, and fishing holes, trout streams, swimming pools and even a Great Lake shoreline in some Wisconsin counties having to deal with levels of airborne contamination allowed 24/7 at higher levels than in Wisconsin counties and neighborhoods just a few miles away.

So you ask, how on earth - - like, literally Wisconsin's - - did this happen?

To get to the root of the issue you have to work backwards from Walker installation of "a chamber of commerce mentality" atop the DNR.

And certainly before Trump trumped Walker's full-on embrace of his WMC-donors' demands for deregulation did at the state level by putting the unapologetic corporate tool Scott Pruitt atop the US EPA.

Go back to Walker's biggest political self-inflicted wound, amateurish blunder and unforced error: his oft-repeated pledge to create as governor 250,000 new private sector jobs by the end of one, four-year term.

"Error" because elected officials and their strategist know that projecting a big round number into issues, let alone turning it into a promise, is flat-out stupid because so many things are out of an elected official's control.

Unforced and self-inflicted because no one told Walker he had to make bizarro commitment that was part bravado, part fuzzy math camouflaged in unproven assumptions - - that the state with a workforce in the range of 2.5 to 3 million would mirror modest national jobs' growth of, say, 2% annually - - and, well, 250,000 new jobs, there you are, voila! 

Prediction and promise met. Genius!

The promise had been so central to Walker's campaign and fresh gubernatorial persona that he told his cabinet officers they ought to have it tattooed on their foreheads.

I've posted several posts - - a 2012 example, here - - which included quotes and links to the promise taken from Walker campaign webpages, though many of those links are now dead. More genius!

By 2013, the promise had become "a goal," and, apparently, no longer the 'floor, not a ceiling," as the Journal Sentinel noted.

In 2014, I gathered several of Walker's statements into one blog post, including this 2011 Politfact item which made this point: 
It was the central promise of his 2010 campaign, and Walker has mentioned it routinely since taking office....At a recent appearance before the Waupaca Chamber of Commerce, Walker called the 250,000 figure "a minimum, not a maximum.
Then, after the Journal Sentinel said in March, 2017, that he was still almost 65,000 jobs and more than two years short of keeping his promise, Walker shifted gears again, saying his focus had shifted to getting people in job training. 
"I qualify that now saying ... I got more people employed than ever before," Walker said. "You ask people on the street who are hiring, it's not how many jobs are created, it's how many people are there to fill them. And so, I've shifted from that, and said my number one issue is workforce. I need to find those people."
So, Foxconn (full archive, here). 

And here we are, again. An election approaches. Walker's 250,000 new jobs/goal/workforce slots promise is still broken.

And Walker needs to change that narrative.

So, Foxconn! Anything for Foxconn and that helps treat Walker's case of Foxconn fever:

*  The biggest state taxpayer and local government subsidies ever recorded? Approved!

*  Environmental reviews and permits for the biggest-ever Wisconsin factory site  on which Foxconn can fill wetlands, build on lakes and reroute streams without state permissions? Gone.

*  The State Transportation Fund not flush enough to fill your potholes or keep the Zoo Interchange on schedule? Stripped

*  Threatened species habitat? Also stripped.

*  Lake Michigan water? So much to be taken out, so little to be returned and that could include so much of who knows what that the other Great Lakes states may have to say, not so fast?

*  And now, all the dirty air you can breathe in Greater WisConn?

All that and more is what Walker needs to make you forget all about that failed jobs pledge central to his election.

1 comment:

Jake formerly of the LP said...

Correct. They cannot run on a record of "25 straight quarters of subpar job growth," so instead it's using Foxconn and other WEDC-style handouts as a shiny object claiming "But our boom is just around the corner! Trust us this time!"

I also expect more juiced up jobs reports from Walker's Department of Workforce Development, which has consistent overstated job growth for the last 2-3 years, especially in manufacturing. Then, when the "gold standard" report comes out 6 months later and shows our job growth still sucks, they're on to the next exaggeration.

CMON PEOPLE. If the Packers or Brewers had a coach/manager that was this bad for 8 years, they wouldn't get a 4-year contract extension. They'd be GONE.