For the second year in a row, we find it impossible to come up with a single Cheap Shot Award for our governor, who continued to put politics before policy, cater to monied interests and sow division among an already deeply divided state.
Paying Tea Party Dues: So what if the conservative U.S. Supreme Court found Obamacare constitutional and President Barack Obama was reelected in Wisconsin with a solid majority? Just as he did in turning down $800 million from the feds for a high-speed train project that would have boosted economic development throughout the state, Walker decided it was more important to please his tea party backers than implement a state health care exchange. Instead the feds will create one, enabling individuals without employer-based coverage, as well as smaller employers with up to 100 workers, to shop for health benefit plans.
Supporters say these plans will cost less than what individual and small group policies typically do now. Who wants that?
The Wishful Thinking Award: Walker came into office promising to create 250,000 jobs by the end of his four-year term. It's not happening. The state was last in the nation in job creation in 2011, and things have not gotten much better. Nevertheless, Walker claimed on Dec. 12 that the state had gained just under 100,000 new jobs since he took office. The fact-checking journalism site Politifact gave that claim a "Pants on Fire" rating. Walker, according to imaginary sources, replied: "Would you believe 90,000?"
True Colors, Take 2: Last year, when recorded by a prank caller pretending to be conservative activist David Koch, Walker revealed he had "thought about [planting troublemakers]" to disrupt the protests that erupted over his collective bargaining plan. A documentary released this year caught Walker on tape saying he planned to use a "divide and conquer" strategy to break the power of unions. That's weird. We thought it was all about the state being broke.
Do As I Say, Not As I Do Award: Walker decided soon after the Nov. 6 election that an out-of-state perch, this time the Ronald Reagan Library in California, would be a good venue to call for the end of same-day voter registration. Though GOP lawmakers still appear high on the idea, Walker has since backed down due to the cost involved. Of course, it also came to light that both his 18-year-old son and his spokesman, Cullen Werwie, took advantage of same-day registration this year. Walker even accompanied his son to the polls. Sounds like voter fraud to us.
To Hell with Diversity Award: Though the religious right took a drubbing across the country in the Nov. 6 elections, Walker reminded citizens the very next day that in Wisconsin one righteous Christian still rules the land. "Governor Walker Invites Wisconsin's Youth to Decorate the Capitol Christmas Tree," read the headline on his news release. Thank God Walker decided once again to reject the moniker "holiday tree" and call it what it is: a sacred symbol of our Lord's birthday. Leave it to our governor to take a principled stand on things that matter.
Playing with Fire Award: The governor quietly signed a plan to rewrite rules designed to detect fire-causing conditions and to stop electrical shocks - all without consulting any of the state's safety councils or building code councils. It was only after the news came to light that Walker reversed course. Damn those pesky safety regulations.
Is There a CPA in the House? One of Gov. Walker's signature moves was to kill the old Commerce Department and create in its place a public-private agency that would make job creation a top priority. By most accounts it's been a disaster. An independent audit found that the agency lost track of some $19 million in loans (which doesn't include the $12.2 million in outstanding loans the agency earlier admitted it could not account for), engaged in sloppy accounting practices and failed to properly staff the agency, which saw the departure of veteran Commerce employees. If only more government agencies could be like the private sector.