This weekend we learned that Scott Walker hopes his “Everyman” shtick will obscure the fact that, in the words of Esquire's Charlie Pierce, he was “hired by Koch Industries to manage their Midwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Wisconsin.” In New Hampshire the 2016 GOP hopeful won applause, Robert Costa reported, as he boasted of shopping at working class Kohl’s and Jos. A. Banks while busting unions, trying to draw a contrast with his better-dressed GOP rivals and liberal elitist Hillary Clinton.
Also this weekend came the news that Walker’s administration admitted it had overbilled two Wisconsin family planning clinics by 93 percent – or at least $3.2 million. The move was so blatantly ideological that the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel said the change “raised more questions than it answered.”
Walker’s New Hampshire “Everyman” performance was widely covered in the national media. His family planning screw-up was not.
One agency, which serves rural Northeastern Wisconsin, was billed $1.169 million for overcharging the state for contraceptive costs over two years – a charge that almost equaled its entire annual operating budget of $1.2 million. That was reduced to $180,000, which the agency is still contesting. The other clinic was billed $2.35 million, now reduced to $45,000.
Of course, the agencies incurred big legal costs in challenging the state’s faulty billing, so their leaders were galled to discover the change in billing came with “no apology whatsoever,” in the words of one director.
But why would Walker apologize? His anti-family planning agenda has already forced the closure of five Wisconsin Planned Parenthood clinics.
Longtime Wisconsin progressive activist and blogger James Rowen compares Walker’s purported billing “mistake” to an episode earlier this year, in which he falsely blamed ugly changes to the state’s higher education mandate on a “drafting error” – when they were clearly ordered by his underlings.
This weekend also brought the news that the budget cuts to the University of Wisconsin system that were approved (after the language changes were reversed) will cost UW-Madison 400 jobs. That translates to 320 fewer courses offered in 2016-2017, and 9,000 students missing classes, likely resulting in students taking more time to get their degrees. So far, according to Google, that hasn’t made national news, either.
But Scott Walker continues to run for president as “Everyman,” and much of the national media is buying it.
When Costa wrote his piece Saturday, he noted that Walker had stumbled in the spotlight after rave reviews in Iowa, fumbling questions on ISIS, evolution and whether President Obama loves America and/or is a Christian, but said that hadn’t hurt his standing in the polls. On Monday a CNN poll showed otherwise. In its last national poll six weeks ago, CNN found Walker narrowly led Jeb Bush 18 percent to 16 percent. This poll finds Bush still at 16 percent but Walker dropping to 12 percent, tied with Senators Marco Rubio and Rand Paul.
So in fact, Walker’s terrible performance would seem to have hurt him. It might also help Paul and Rubio that they have declared officially their candidacies, while Walker still apparently waits for God to tell him what to do.
In 2006, God told Scott Walker not to challenge Jim Doyle as governor. Let’s hope the Almighty gives him good advice once again.