I happened upon something interesting while checking out the number of ‘likes’ on Facebook that Barrett (30K) and Walker (73K) each had. (Come on people, Barrett needs some ‘likes’.)
While I was at the Walker site I was struck by how utterly full of BS Ciara Matthews, the former Hooters gal and now Walker spokeswoman, was in her assessment of the first Barrett-Walker debate on Friday. First, Ciara claims Walker had an “exceptional debate” “handily defeating” Barrett. She needs to include the IMHO (In My Humble Opinion) qualifier, but that’s Ciara. Then she goes on to repeat the same whooper lies that Walker told during the debate:
“Governor Walker’s reforms transformed a $3.6 billion budget deficit into a $154 million surplus, saved taxpayers over $1 billion, and helped Wisconsin employers create over 35,000 jobs.” (1)
Lie One: The $3.6 billion budget deficit?
I know it can get a little confusing following numbers but hang in there, this is a tale that impacts each of us and all our children.
In July of 2011 the state’s Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimated a 2012-13 cash accounting budget deficit of $2.7 billion.
Cash accounting allows the state to transfer debt into the future – or count future revenue before it materializes – to make the books balance now. Delaying payments adds interest and cost to the taxpayer. Cash accounting is the method that Governor Dolye and other past governors have used for decades to meet the state constitutional requirement to balance the budget. In November of 2010 the Doyle Department of Administration released the statutorily required biennial report which projected the 2012-13 cash budget shortfall at $1.5 billion by June 2013. Estimates and projections are just other words for guesses.
In February 2011 Walker estimated a cash budget shortfall of $3.6 billion for the upcoming 2012-13 budget. This figure is a guess, based on state agency requests, not bills, what future tax collections and other expenses mightbe, not are, as well as other variable economic factors. Having Gov. Walker head into the budget sessions claiming a multi-billion dollar deficit is nothing new for Wisconsin. Gov. Doyle claimed a $3.2 billion deficit heading into the 2003-2004 budget and a $5.4 billion deficit going into the 2009-2010 budget negotiations. Both the 2003-2004 and 2009-2010 Doyle budgets were cash balanced in accordance with the state constitution. According to Poltifact, governors like to create these inflated budget crises “so they can come off as budget-cutting heroes when they submit their plan.”(2)
That’s three different 2012-2013 budget estimates, all from the state government, with a $2 billion dollar difference between them. Is Walker’s claim of a $3.6 billion deficit correct? Who knows? Walker’s claim, like the others, is just a guess based on conjured numbers punched into a hypothetical spreadsheet.
Lie Two: The $154 million “surplus”
During Walker’s 2010 campaign he promised to use GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) to balance all future state budgets. Unlike cash accounting, GAAP counts all future debt. Explaining the difference between GAAP and cash accounting, Todd Berry, president of the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance, said, “It’s sort of the difference between the federal debt and the federal deficit — one is an accumulated figure over many years and the other is a one-year number”.
According to Politifact Walker inherited a $2.9 billion dollar budget GAAP deficit. When it came time to balance the budget Walker reneged on his campaign promise to use GAAP and instead used the same cash accounting process used by previous governors. Had Walker used GAAP, the budget would not be balanced. Under GAAP the state debt has actually grown to $3 billion. Walker didn’t however completely abandon GAAP accounting, he used it when it was convenient to him to claim a deficit when filing a report to the federal government to get out of providing health care to the poor. (3)
Perhaps there is no better example of free-form ”Walker Math” than this: The state Department of Revenue conjured up the $154 million surplus based on cash accounting. Even if we accept the $154 million surplus, there are plenty of reasons to be suspicious of it, that would only reduce the state’s GAAP deficit to $2.85 billion if it was used for that purpose. It wasn’t. Just a slight of hand from a spin master. How then did Walker come up with the $154 million surplus? Walker Math: If you need some cash to claim a surplus one thing you can do is transfer some debt from your current cash budget into your future GAAP budget. Voila, a surplus!
This magic trick costs the taxpayer more in the long run but, hey, you can claim a cash surplus in a massive PR campaign. (3) As Tom Barrett said during the debate, Walker “used the credit card” to “push over $500 million in debt on our children and our grandchildren.” (4)
Another method Walker used was to project an increase in income tax revenue collected, because everyone got such a big raise this year. What, you didn’t? (5)
The projection of a $154 million surplus coming less than four weeks before Walker’s June 5 recall election is an obvious ploy. Don’t fall for it. The surplus is based on dodgy Walker Math and is even more suspicious when one considers that in February the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimated a two-year budget deficit of $143 million based on declining property values and the resulting lower property tax collections. (6)
The bottom line is Walker has added half-a-billion – that’s $500,000,000 - to Wisconsin’s deficit.
Lie Three: Walker saved taxpayers over $1 billion
Only a sociopath could actually increase our deficit by half a billion and still claim he saved taxpayers over a billion.
Examining the figures Walker released to support this billion dollar claim show this is the result of slashing public workers take-home pay under Act 10(7). Act 10 reduced the employer contribution – or the value of the employee’s total pay package - thereby making the employee pay for these benefits out of his take-home pay. A pay-cut. The argument goes that the state was broke and needed to balance the budget, so part of Walker’s budget solution was to TAKE (pay-cut) from a select group of taxpayers (public employees). No shared pain for all state taxpayers and certainly none from the corporations.
As Barrett said in the debate, “Scott Walker has never asked for shared sacrifice. He has asked for others to make sacrifice”.
Budgets are about balancing revenues versus expenses. Walker’s choice was to balance the budget by raising revenue by taking more from public employees, school chilldren, the poor and elderly while decreasing tax rates on corporations and the wealthiest.
When did we become a people who feel it is okay to TAKE from some among us (public employees), because they happen to have a little better insurance and retirement benefits, instead of saying, “I want that better insurance and retirement, too”.
Why don’t we instead ask, “What did they do right to achieve those better benefits and how can I achieve them as well?”
Lie Four: Wisconsin employers created over 35,000 jobs?
Wisconsin has never before released state employment numbers until after the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has verified them. The DOL will not verify these numbers until, the end of June, well after the election. How convenient.
Walker has not released the raw data used to come up with his jobs claim, however Politifact has assessed Walker’s claim as ”Mostly false”. (10)
16 Lies in 90 Seconds: Is Walker a sociopath?
Sociopaths are predictable personalitiies. They tend to be pretty cool and smooth, they can charm the birds off the trees and lie with nary a flicker of guilt or a trickle of sweat. They lie like others breathe and it is almost impossible for the sociopath to not lie, dissemble and shade the truth, even about the littlest of details.
“The debate started with each candidate giving an [sic] 90 second-opening statement. If I was playing any sort of drinking game, I would have been blotto by the end of Walker’s opening statement. I counted no less than sixteen separate lies in those ninety seconds. That’s a lie every 5 seconds,” noted Wisconsin blogger Cognitive Dissidence.
A sociopath is an authoritarian who will gin up a web of lies and get caught up in a complex belief system about their own powers, specialness and abilities and distort reality to support their fantasy world. The consequences of all this delusion on the lives of others is of no consequence to the sociopath who sees those who might get hurt as simply collateral damage. Thus the fact of thousands of public employee families losing purchasing power isn’t even a consideration for Walker and the state Republicans.
A sociopath has no real friends, only those he sees as useful to his purpose. Just like the Walkergate 6 now snared in the John Doe investigation of Walker’s activities in Milwaukee County. A sociopath’s goal is the exploitation and enslavement of his victims. With Act 10, the end of collective bargaining, Divide and Conquer, and recent executive orders Walker is well on his way to enslaving public workers. We had better stop Walker before he enslaves the rest of us. (9)
On June 5th vote Tom Barrett for Governor and Mahlon Mitchell for Lt. Governor