(By Eric Brehm, cross-posted at Bang The Buckets)
As the recall effort grows throughout Wisconsin, so too does my effort to present talking points about just why I feel Governor Scott Walker is worthy of being recalled. My continued thanks to Winning Progressive for providing me a space for this message.
While many Wisconsinites are already in favor of the recall, my hope is that there are also some Wisconsinites that are still on the fence, but could be convinced that perhaps they belong on the recall side of it. My hope is that the many wonderful volunteers doing the yeoman’s work of collecting signatures for a recall might find something in this series to combat those who question just why they are working so hard in the first place. Ultimately, of course, my hope is that the current Governor of Wisconsin will be recalled, and will lose that recall election. Why should he? Here’s four more reasons:
Scott Walker denies health coverage.
Governor Walker is proposing a cut of over $550 million to BadgerCare, a program designed to provide affordable health coverage to lower-income working families. This will be accomplished by moving about 215,000 people — children and adults — to a lower-cost “benchmark” program which would provide fewer benefits. Approximately 6500 people would be disqualified from the program entirely. Governor Walker is selling the change as a tough choice that needs to be made, but that rings a little hollow coming from someone whose own health care plan is probably rather generous.
Best of all (or worst, depending upon how you look at it), the proposal seeks a waiver from the federal Affordable Care Act of 2010. Right now, the federal law is freezing some state policies like eligibility requirements. Governor Walker and the Department of Health Services are seeking to change those requirements to force some people off Badgercare if they can be covered elsewhere. As often happens with the governor’s office, the move to seek the waiver is accompanied by a threat — if the waiver doesn’t happen, an estimated 53,000 people will be kicked off the Badgercare rolls. Walker has stated that’s not his fault. “If they fail do that (grant the waiver), the federal government itself has then forced this action.” (Source for this quote and other information can be found here.)
It’s bad enough, in my opinion, that the governor continues to cozy up to people like the Koch Brothers and hands out high-paying jobs to people who may be unqualified for them (see Reason #4 in this series). But to do it at a time when his actions seek to remove a viable healthcare option from lower-income people — including lower income kids — seems especially distasteful to me.
Scott Walker diminishes voting rights.
Under the leadership of Governor Walker, the Republican-dominated legislature of our state passed the strictest Voter I.D. law in the nation. What they said, of course, was that this was necessary in order to combat rampant voter fraud in Wisconsin. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald claimed “we continue to see these isolated incidents of people trying to vote five, six times a day.” That would be indeed be horrible, if it were in fact true. However, when Politifact looked into it, they determined it was false. An investigation into Wisconsin voter fraud was conducted in Wisconsin in 2004, and found that 7 cases of voter fraud had been committed, all by convicted felons.
What does this mean? It means there is an exceedingly small chance that voter fraud will occur in an election, and an even smaller chance that it will actually determine the outcome of an election if it does occur. By way of example, here are some things that are more likely to happen than Wisconsin voter fraud:
- Hitting a hole-in-one while golfing.
- Getting hemorrhoids.
- Being on a plane being flown by a pilot who has been drinking.
- Winning an Academy Award.
- Finding out your item is worth a fortune on Antiques Roadshow.
- Finding out your child is a genius.
- Fatally slipping in the bath or shower.
- Bowling a 300 game.
- Finding a person who speaks Cherokee.
- Injuring yourself from use of fireworks.
- Getting murdered.
- Finding a four-leaf clover on the first try.
- Being considered to be possessed by Satan.
Wisconsin’s new law requires voters to show a non-expired state or photo identification in order to cast a ballot. Other forms of identification that had been accepted — like student ID’s, state employee ID’s, out-of-state driver’s licenses, expired driver’s licenses, and even voter registration cards — are not permissible. Will this stop voter fraud? No. In fact, the 7 cases referenced above would not have been stopped if the felons had been required to show proper ID.
So why the new law? Because Governor Walker wants to take away rights. Not all rights, of course, but the rights of certain people. Those that will be most affected by the Voter ID law will be the elderly, college students, and minorities. Oddly enough, taken together, those three groups vote for Democrats a majority of the time. Hmmmmmm. The last time we saw this kind of targeted effort to keep people away from the polls, Dr. Martin Luther King and other Civil Rights leaders were marching about it.
Scott Walker wants to control Wisconsin poll workers.
Recent Wisconsin news suggests that the Republican Party intends to use a little-known law to control who will be working at the polls on the day of the recall election. According to the article just linked:
The law, which had been used only sporadically before, allows political parties to submit lists of poll workers to municipal clerks, a rule intended to give each party representation at polling locations to oversee the accuracy of the process.
Clerks must choose workers from the submitted lists, the breakdown of which is based on the number of votes each party’s candidate received at that polling place in the previous gubernatorial or presidential election.
For many years, clerks have been left to choose and train their own poll workers without much input from the parties, state election officials said this week. That is changing this year, though the GOP is not saying why.
(Wisconsin State Journal, November 22, 2011)
This isn’t quite fraud, but in my opinion it does provide some telling insight into the character of Scott Walker. Now, in fairness, I don’t know Scott Walker. We’ve never met personally. We’ve exchanged mail once or twice, which is how my whole blogging experience began, but beyond that I know nothing about him that I can’t read in the papers. I don’t like many of his policies, but I may not be qualified to judge him as a man.
Still, I have to admit, when a fake recall began on November 1 so Governor Walker could begin collecting campaign contributions . . . When Republican lawmakers threatened to make it harder to collect recall petitions by passing a law to have them notarized . . . when the news broke about “stacking the deck” with poll workers . . . when the Governor’s team began to press the courts to use new, gerrymandered districts of the Republicans’ design for the recall election . . . these items troubled me.
This type of behavior, especially when it is shown repeatedly, strikes me as petty. I can understand that those in power want to stay in power, but for a party that talks about small government, they are sure using a lot of government right now. For a party that talks about the value of American freedom, they would seem to be attempting to influence the basic freedom of the vote.
If Scott Walker and the Radical Republicans were seven years old, I would hope that any good parent or teacher would tell them that their behavior is unacceptable, and make an attempt to correct it. Again, I don’t know the governor and I don’t know the extent of his character, but in my opinion this seems small. It seems petty. It seems mean-spirited. And I have to question whether the voters of Wisconsin want small, petty, and mean-spirited to be qualities that reside in the Executive Mansion and control the Executive Branch.
Scott Walker ignores the Wisconsin State Constitution.
Like any governor of the state of Wisconsin, Scott Walker was required to take an oath of office upon assuming the post. In that oath of office, he had to solemnly swear that he would “support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the state of Wisconsin.”
The Constitution of the state of Wisconsin is relatively clear on a couple of points:
Article I, §4 – ANNOT.
The legislature cannot prohibit an individual from entering the capitol or its grounds. 59 Atty. Gen. 8.
Article I, §4
Right to assemble and petition. Section 4. The right of the people peaceably to assemble, to consult for the common good, and to petition the government, or any department thereof, shall never be abridged.
And yet, under Scott Walker’s watch, the Department of Administration has updated the Wisconsin State Facilities Access Policy, which applies to the Capitol. Now, according to the update, all activities and displays in state buildings must be permitted, and the application for that permit must be received 72 hours in advance of the proposed activity or display. You may have missed it, but the new policy was put in place on December 1.
Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t imagine why a sitting governor would allow his Department of Administration to pass a rule that violates the very constitution that a sitting governor has sworn to uphold. Even if the goal was altruistic — for instance, if Governor Walker thought it necessary to protect the public from the state prisoners that were used to set up the Capitol Christmas tree – the greater obligation has to be to the state constitution, in my opinion. Of course, this is nothing new for Scott Walker, who was restricting access to the Capitol way back in February, when protests against what was then still known as the “Budget Repair Bill” were going strong.
My own expectations for politicians — of either party — has dwindled significantly over the years. But it seems to me that at a bare minimum, we should be able to expect that an elected official will actually uphold their Oath of Office.
If you live in Wisconsin, please sign a recall petition. Please tell your friends and neighbors to do so. If you live outside of Wisconsin, you can still help by calling friends or family in their state to see what they’re thinking. The rich Progressive history of the state of Wisconsin is at stake. That history is worth fighting for; it is a fight that, together, we can win.