Thursday, June 3, 2010

When It Comes to Spending, Does Walker Get It?

Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Neumann made headlines this week with a press release detailing candidate Scott Walker's record on spending as the Milwaukee County Executive. From Neumann's release:
WAUKESHA, Wis. – June 2, 2010 – Scott Walker’s own proposed budgets increased government spending at a faster rate than Governor Jim Doyle. Both Walker and Governor Doyle proposed budgets from 2003-2010 and Walker proposed increasing spending by 29% more than Governor Doyle....

“Over the last decade Republican politicians spent too much and strayed from our core conservative values of limited government,” Neumann stated. “I’m running because I’m a conservative who believes government spending is out of control. We must stand strong for cutting wasteful government spending and smaller government.”
This seems like a predictable attack given that Walker is currently in public office, and something his campaign should have been ready for. The real trouble for me came in Walker's response (emphasis added):

FACT: It appears that Mark Neumann is using the same cooked up numbers from the bloggers at One Wisconsin Now for a “comparison.” What Neumann has conveniently left out, is that Scott had the foresight to take advantage of one-time, low interest federal government Build America Bonds by proposing three years of building in one – a move that saved the tax payers $3 million dollars. Without these bonds Scott’s 2010 capital budget reduces spending by 4.9%. Voters are smart enough to look at the hundreds of millions of dollars Scott has saved for the taxpayers, instead of listening to the rhetoric and skewed numbers coming from the Neumann campaign and One Wisconsin Now.

FACT: Mark Neumann has opposed capping property taxes, WPRI interview June 22, 2009.

The opposition to a property tax cap is an absolute red herring. Dad29 destroys this particular talking point, noting that local control of property taxes absolutely is a conservative position, but he does so without criticizing Walker himself.

It was the line about one-time low interest bonds that really jumped out for me. Does Walker actually believe how we pay for government spending is actually more important than how much we spend? Does he not realize that government borrowing today is simply a commitment to future taxation? This is true even if we get a really low interest rate.

Arguing that getting a good deal on borrowing to spend is a good idea is analogous to the notion among many Democrats that it is fiscally responsible to keep spending as long as we raise taxes so we don't have to borrow as much. Is there anyone in the GOP that would agree with that statement? I don't think so. But how many will read Walker's response above and be reassured?

Fiscal responsibility is about spending, how we finance that spending is simply a detail. But you won't get that from Walker's response in this case.


D said...

Among the many economic fallacies that populate the universe is that we can spend now and make up for it later in added tax revenue. This is a dubious clam at best and justification for irresponsible behavior at worst. What is forgotten is that the effective size of government is the amount it has to spend.
And, of course, debt is a tax... to be paid now or later.

Dad29 said...


Thanks for the link!

I saw Walker's comment and was equally unhappy.

Now for the nitty-gritty:

It all depends on what Walker SPENT the money on. If it was for necessary capex (like, e.g., repairing the Courthouse which was literally beginning to fall down), then who could argue? If the money MUST be spent, then spend as little as possible.

I don't know what he spent the money on--so I can't offer an informed opinion.

But the press release was very, very, badly written, indeed. Walker should amend it ASAP.

arod said...

I think that people are missing the point. Walker didn't increase government spending, but condensed the 3 years of spending (that would have occurred anyway) into a 16 month window, and by doing so, he saved the county $3 million.

As an aside, if people don't have the facts, they shouldn't be blogging about it.

Jeremy R. Shown said...


My point was that in this particular response, the Walker camp clearly is confusing how we spend with how much we spend.

Any conservative voter should be concerned by that.

It's not to say that Walker doesn't have a good response to Neumann's claims, it's just that the response he did give is not it.

As an aside, don't let your partisanship overtake your principles.

Dad29 said...

"arod" also is more than a little confused by the Arizona law.

Like some others (GWB), he seems to think that pulling 35% of the Hispanic vote is actually the same as pulling 75% of the Hispanic vote.

"arod" hints that the Hispanic community is 'conservative' and believes in 'family values.' Well, OK. So illegal entry into the US is a "conservative family value"?

He and I probably agree that 144,000 licit Mexican immigrants/year is a ridiculously low number, and it MUST be changed.

And we also probably agree that most of the illegals are here because they are leaving economic and social hell.

So my question to arod: what has he done about changing the immigration quota?