Gov. Scott Walker has begun his transition back into re-election mode by stepping away from his 2010 campaign promise to help the state create 250,000 jobs during his first term. The 250,000 jobs promise was the biggest campaign promise Walker made, and it will be the standard he is held to throughout the election. Now that he knows his promise is unattainable, he is running away from it.
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Wisconsin added 4,500 jobs in December of 2012, resulting in a net total of 37,511 jobs created since Walker took office in 2011. This is 212,489 jobs short of his goal.
Other Republican leaders are also worried they might be blamed for the lack of job growth in the state. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Racine, has been backing away from the jobs promise as well.
In an interview with The Badger Herald, Vos said, “It’s not [his] job to pick a specific number.” Vos cited several reasons why the promise was unattainable, including the recall elections, “Obamacare” and tax increases from Washington. Vos said this in spite of the fact that, with the exception of the recalls, the other two factors affect the entire nation and not just Wisconsin.
The United States has seen 6.35 million private sector jobs created since President Barack Obama took office in 2008. Obama’s policies have been put in place for the entire nation, and to argue that Wisconsin alone is suffering economic stagnation because of them is simply not logical. It is the conditions in the individual states themselves that determine whether or not they are experiencing job growth.
Recent job growth data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show between June 2011 and June 2012, Wisconsin managed to rank 42nd in the nation in job creation. This was down from the state’s previous position of 37th in job creation between March 2011 and March 2012. The reasons Walker provided for being unable to keep his promise, including the recalls he and state senators faced, the Affordable Care Act and a weakened national economy, were similar to Vos’s.
Walker told Wisconsin Public Radio his decision for his jobs goal number was simply, “You start out with a high goal to begin with.” Walker said he meant this statement to be one in which he would be seen as a tough-loving type of parent pushing his kids to try harder. However, to put it in a more accurate light, Walker simply chose an arbitrary number everybody could live with, and if he had managed to reach it, he would be able to throw a nice old “kudos to you, Scotty” parade. Unfortunately for him, he will not be accomplishing this goal, and his most apparent and quantifiable campaign promise is now his worst nightmare. He is simply trying to avoid saying he chose the number because it was big and he wanted to win.
The 250,000 jobs promise will be the biggest challenge Walker needs to overcome in the 2014 gubernatorial election, and the first step he has decided to take is to downplay its significance rather than take responsibility for his failure to keep his promises.
Jared Mehre ([email protected]) is a sophomore majoring in political science, sociology and legal studies.