Not many politicians can say they have been elected for the same term twice, but Wisconsin GOP Governor Scott Walker now can after successfully defeating Democratic challenger and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in Wisconsin’s infamous gubernatorial recall election. In doing so, Walker becomes the first governor to survive a recall election and has thrown a figurative wrench into big government, union, and Democratic plans for other elections this year.
After announcing policies to cut Wisconsin’s $3.6 billion budget deficit by reducing power of public employee unions and limiting what Walker considered to be excessive expenditures on health insurance and pensions benefits for state, Democrats and unions helped to organize protests and gathered more than one million signatures in order to initiate a recall vote.
The issue here is simple and it worked: To lower the deficit, Walker looked at state employees, who were contributing only 1% of their pay to their own pension, and basically said, ‘this model is not sustainable.’ His legislation forced government employees to contribute 5.8% of their paychecks (up from 1%) to their own pension, which they obviously recoup at retirement, and raised the percentage of health care premium payment by employees from 6 to 12.6%.
Walker successfully lowered the deficit, decreased unemployment from 7.7 to 6.8%, created over 23,000 jobs, and has sent a message to Democrats that fiscal responsibility works.
GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney congratulated Governor Walker, releasing a statement saying, “Governor Walker has demonstrated over the past year what sound fiscal policies can do to turn an economy around, and I believe that in November voters across the country will demonstrate that they want the same in Washington.”
While this is certainly positive for Republicans, as it appears voters care that a government can actually live inside its means, it is in no way definitive of full Republican support; exit poll data revealed Wisconsin voters still support Obama by a 51-44 margin.
Democrats immediately went into attack mode as results poured in. The Obama campaign emphasized that a “strong message” was sent to Governor Walker. The message that many “took a stand against the politics of division and against the flood of secret and corporate money spent on behalf of Scott Walker” apparently means…you know what? I don’t know what that means. They failed and lost.
Tweets from Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and David Axelrod also looked to divert focus, but their messages fall on deaf ears. The empty words Democrats have been repeating for years are proving dysfunctional. In one year, a Republican governor made a few simple cuts that, in retrospect, were largely seen as a positive and helped balance their budget, but in four years, Obama’s egregious spending and stagnant job reports have failed to really ‘Change’ the country like he had ‘Hoped.’
The underlying message from this election is that confidence and positivity can win. Republican governor/candidate Walker stood strong with his (functioning) fiscal message while Democrats chose to incite anger by engaging in nasty protests during the campaign. Obama has literally been floundering for months, and his negative campaign could wear on Americans. Regardless of opinion, Romney has stayed true to keeping his campaign about the economy, and this could prove to be very beneficial as the campaigns go on.
No telling where this leads for certain, but it does give Republicans some hope and ammo for the presidential elections. Democrats will have a tough time explaining how and why their policies will work when a traditionally liberal state just voted a fiscal conservative into office for the second time in one term.
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