The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is refusing to raise the minimum wage despite an attempt Wisconsin Jobs Now “to use a little-known clause in state law to raise the state minimum wage of $7.25 an hour or at least force Walker, a Republican, to publicly oppose such a move just a month before the Nov. 4 election.”
Nice timing, and despite the fact that his opponent Mary Burke favors raising the minimum wage, no dice.
The problem for Wisconsin workers is that though Wisconsin law says the minimum wage “shall not be less than a living wage” (and the current wage of $7.25/hr clearly is) the governor, as the Journal Sentinel tells us, “is also allowed to consider the effect that increasing the minimum wage would have on the overall state economy and on the availability of entry-level jobs.”
This provides quite a bit of latitude for some mealy-mouthed maneuvering, and that is exactly what Walker has been engaged in for the past four years. Dodging a minimum wage hike required only that the state Department of Workforce Development to say “The department has determined that there is no reasonable cause to believe that the wages paid to the complainants are not a living wage.”
Wisconsin Jobs Now pointed out in response:
Governor Walker might be the only person in the entire country who actually thinks that anyone in today’s economy can survive solely on $7.25 an hour. His political stance against raising minimum wage is one thing. But for the governor to brazenly say to the working families of Wisconsin that $7.25 an hour is definitely enough to sustain themselves is not only misguided, it is incredibly ignorant and willfully obtuse.
The law in Wisconsin is very clear: ‘every wage paid by any employer to any employee shall not be less than a living wage.’ Anyone who works a full and honest day’s work should make enough money to pay for the basics. The fact that Governor Walker thinks that $290 a week is what it costs to cover the basics of life in Wisconsin is beyond comprehension. This decision makes it unequivocally clear that Scott Walker is more than out of touch: he is brutally neglectful of a huge percentage of his constituents.
If there is one thing the Walker administration has been over its four year term, it is willfully obtuse.
The governor’s spokesperson Laurel Patrick proved that talk is cheap when she claimed that Walker wanted jobs that pay “two or three times the minimum wage” and that “He is focused on finding ways to help employers create jobs that pay far more than the minimum wage or any other proposed minimum.”
He was also supposed to be finding ways to create 250,000 jobs over the past four years. You might remember his Tea Party mantra, that he would “get government out of the way of employers … who will then help Wisconsin create 250,000 jobs by 2015, and as we create those new jobs, we will be able to add 10,000 new businesses.”
According to Politifact.com, promise broken.
Here too, mealy-mouthed maneuvering was invaluable to Walker:
As it became more evident that 250,000 jobs promise would be unattainable, Walker and his supporters began to shift attention from the vow and began to parse the promise. He criticized the data. He argued the recall elections had spooked state employers. He claimed the tally was far higher than it was. He talked about how many jobs were lost under his predecessor.
If democracy scares corporations, the fault isn’t with democracy.
This is important because as the Journal Sentinel explains, “Walker and other Republicans say they oppose raising the minimum wage because many workers receiving it are teenagers and because increasing it would cause employers to eliminate jobs.”
Not raising the minimum wage certainly didn’t create any jobs though, did it? The Journal Sentinel reported in February that,
In a conference call with reporters, Burke said raising the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 over two years would help workers as well as the state’s economy. At $7.25 an hour, full-time workers remain dependent on public benefits programs, which “doesn’t make sense,” she said.
“Raising the minimum wage does not have an adverse effect on job creation,” she told reporters. “In fact, it can improve overall job creation.”
And though Walker is now bragging on his 100,000 created jobs, the simple fact is that he broke his campaign promise to create 250,000 jobs.
It takes real Chutzpah to campaign on a broken promise, but that is exactly what he is doing.
Of course, Walker is also claiming that his Democratic predecessor, Jim Doyle, lost Wisconsin 133,000 jobs, a claim Politifact has also pointed out is “mostly false.” Though the job loss numbers used by Walker are accurate, Politifact points out that,
[E]xperts agree that Wisconsin’s economy was caught in the same economic crash that crippled the entire country — the recession was deeper and more severe than any single state’s policies, including those of Doyle.
They note that Wisconsin actually fared somewhat better than the rest of the country. This leaves us with a statement that’s numerically true, but with scant evidence at best when it comes to blame. That’s Mostly False on our meter.
Mary Burke was Doyle’s state commerce secretary, so of course, the idea is that Doyle’s imagined failures are hers as well, so he is attempting to discredit not only his Democratic predecessor but the woman attempting to succeed him as governor in 2015.
Thus, what it comes down to in Wisconsin is a Republican governor who failed to create the jobs he promised, and who then tried to pin the blame for an economic recession brought about by his own political party in the White House on his Democratic predecessor, deciding that $7.25 is a livable wage for his constituents while he pulls in a six-figure salary for himself.
Clearly, all that is trickling down in Wisconsin is lies, and they are of a distinctly yellow hue.
Wisconsin Jobs Now is asking people to join them “in Madison on October 14th at the Capitol steps where we will tell Governor Walker that it’s time for him to find a new job” and that “Those interested can RSVP today: bit.ly/LWoct14.”
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.