Republican candidate for Minnesota Governor, Jeff Johnson, famously announced that he plans to “go all Scott Walker on Minnesota.” Not only does that sound rather thuggish — a poor choice of words, perhaps? — but it isn’t at all inspiring.
Is Jeff Johnson merely a puppet or does he have ideas of his own?
Being patient and nice when dealing with empty men like this is no easy task. These people ask you to trust them to manage your state. Their ideas matter.
One is tempted to use an apt word like “idiot” and move on. But out of respect for the office of the governor and for a sense of political decorum, I won’t call Johnson an idiot, as much as that description might fit. I simply won’t.
Voters, on the other hand, if you support a candidate like Johnson, what are you thinking? Politics being what they are today tend to attract the crazy fringe, especially the tea-drunk conservative right, to public campaigns. These interests do not align with your interests and perhaps there is no better proof than Jeff Johnson modeling on Scott Walker.
Suppose Tea Party candidate Johnson wins. And let’s say he gets a GOP legislature. Remote possibilities, especially the former, but let’s pretend. Jeff Johnson says he’ll go all Scott Walker on the state of Minnesota. What do you think that would be like?
Well, let’s take a look!
Mark Dayton and Scott Walker have taken two entirely different courses steering his respective state since taking office. Walker largely embraced the less-is-more Tea Party agenda, the strategies that Jeff Johnson finds so appealing, while Mark Dayton has chosen instead to protect and even expand government, replace our systematic fiscal issues, and invest in a better future.
Minnesota recently reported a budget surplus exceeding $500 million, allowing Mark Dayton to put some away for a rainy day fund and reduce some taxes. Wisconsin, on the other hand, is looking at a shortfall that is more than three times that number, somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.8 billion short. What happened? Scott Walker.
While Scott Walker famously promised his state cuts would generate 250,000 new private sector jobs while in office, he achieved at most 90,000. Meanwhile, Minnesota gained over 126,000 through 2013. Why is this true? Mark Dayton is governor in Minnesota, Scott Walker is in Wisconsin.
(The most recent Bureau of Labor statistics show Minnesota’s increase tapering some and I am using those numbers here. Some took advantage of this news to complain that Minnesota indeed is on the wrong path after all. However, Minnesota’s overall quick job recovery accounts for some of the slowing now. After the recession, job growth exceeded pre-recession levels in Minnesota. This means we did some catching up then and now are closer to traditional “full employment” — a very easily misunderstood term — now. Minnesota is in a situation where doing more, not less, at the state level will help create more jobs and thereby stimulate more of the private economy. Households with incomes, whether those jobs are private or public, will help drive growth in Minnesota’s economy.)
Minnesota is one of only 14 states that have invested more in public education. Minnesota did this while covering its obligations and running a surplus. Why can’t Wisconsin do the same? Scott Walker. Jeff Johnson also has a record of cutting education spending.
Minnesota, already a state with strong health care insurance coverage, expanded Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act and helped another 35,000 Minnesotans attain needed health care insurance at very little cost to the state. Wisconsin? No. Scott Walker put his personal ideological priorities — priorities Jeff Johnson shares — ahead of the interests of the people of Wisconsin. Scott Walker rejected this basic medical assistance for his state.
Forbes ranks Minnesota 8th best state for business in the nation — up a dozen spots from the years when Tim Pawlenty was governor — and ranks Wisconsin a woeful 41st. Scott Walker’s “open for business” slogan doesn’t have any substance behind it.
Why would anyone want Jeff Johnson to bring Scott Walker’s ideas and methods to Minnesota?
In Minnesota we’re doing well and, more importantly, we continue to do better. Johnson would stop this in his “all out Scott Walker” attack on Minnesota. While I doubt Johnson would be able to pull off a Walker in Minnesota, he would still get in the way. (Remember Pawlenty?) Is that what we want?
Things are better here in Minnesota. Things are not nearly as good in Wisconsin. Unbelievably, however, we have a candidate running in Minnesota with the promise to make our state more like Wisconsin! Who would support such a plan? An idiot, perhaps? Let’s say fool…just a fool would vote against his state’s best interests and his personal ones, too. Remember, when Jeff Johnson says he is “going all out Scott Walker on Minnesota“, he is talking about you. You, you are Minnesota. Don’t forget that.