CAVALCADE OF CORRECTNESS: Your mainstream news update | WisCommunity

CAVALCADE OF CORRECTNESS: Your mainstream news update

Yesterday I ranted about how the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel had, on its editorial pages, evaded the top two issues in the Wisconsin gubernatorial election: The Walker administration's crossing of a legal "bright line" when the governor and his team coordinated campaign themes with supposedly independent and apolitical interest groups, and Walker's terrible job-creation record.

Well, the good news is that the score is now 1-1, thanks to the newspaper's editorial this morning that focuses on Wisconsin job creation since Walker took office. Despite their view that governors don't have much impact on job creation, the editors went ahead and bit the bullet. The editors said that after all is the standard by which Walker himself sought to be rated when he campaigned for the office. Now, the results are nearly all in. The editors cited "tepid" and even "anemic" job numbers as "bad news" for Walker, whom, they said, was "reckless" in promising 250,000 new jobs by the end of his first term. Instead, actual job growth has been noticeably less than half that level.

The editors went on to observe the disturbing fact that state revenue is way down under Walker budgeting, presenting the threat of a serious deficit in what was billed as a "balanced" budget. That, the editors noted, is because Walker unwisely enacted huge tax cuts.

Meanwhile, in the same edition, the paper's Politifact column rated job rhetoric by Walker and his challenger Mary Burke in paired, front-page articles jointly entitled, "How can Scott Walker's and Mary Burke's job claims both be right?". The obvious answer: They crunch or spin the data differently. Nevertheless, in considering recent Burke ads that say "Wisconsin's dead last" in Midwest job creation, Politifact awarded a "true" rating. Meanwhile, Walker's own claims -- that Wisconsin's performance is third in the Midwest -- rated a "mostly true." 

It's also mostly true that, overall, past Politifact ratings on Walker statements, including some on job creation, usually come up as "false." And -- just based on the newspaper's own editorial -- you'd have to ask why this latest review of Walker wasn't a bit more skeptical. After all, in his latest jobs ad, Walker was using monthly data he had previously decried as unreliable.

Oh, well, the facts do come out -- if only haltingly, in dribs and drabs, and barely in time for voters to absorb, if they hear those facts at all before the election.

Although it did mention Walker's choice of data, Politifact underplayed the fact that Walker shifted his statistics from what he regards as the "gold standard" of measurement -- quarterlies -- as opposed to monthly data. The Journal Sentinel editorial made a bit more out of this shift. "For all of 2013, Wisconsin's growth rate was a dismal 1.2% growth [sic] -- 37th among 50 states and about half the national rate." That's the "good" news, in context, that the latest Walker ads are touting as proof he deserves re-election.


September 1, 2014 - 9:17am