The Esenberg Factor: Re jobs, more Walker apologism from the Journal Sentinel's guest columnist | WisCommunity

The Esenberg Factor: Re jobs, more Walker apologism from the Journal Sentinel's guest columnist

Frequent Milwaukee Journal Sentinel guest columnist Rick Esenberg, a conservative lawyer and think-tank boss, is once again busy constructing false equivalencies.

In the newspaper Thursday morning (see link below), Esenberg writes that the political left persistently claims that Gov. Scott Walker's reforms "are not working because Wisconsin's economy was sluggish for the first few months after they were implemented."

First few months turning out to be, if you actually look at the data, the remainder of the year that followed. And if, by "sluggish," you mean the worst and mostly negative job creation performance in the nation.

By comparison, Esenberg writes, "When it comes to the Democratic president (as opposed to the Republican governor), the last few months of modest job growth are supposed to override three years of sluggish performance."

Last few months turning out to be 13 out of 14 months in which job creation numbers were positive and continued to gain steam, after a near depression loomed just as Obama took office.

Esenberg's sleight-of-hand evidence that Walker's policies (calling them "reforms" seems an ideological kindness) are working? Cutting through the rhetoric, that's precisely one month of good job creation results (January 2012). His evidence against President Obama's policies ("the last few months of modest job growth")? Even more bogus.


The national job creation chart shows steady, growing progress. The Wisconsin chart shows serious backsliding from early 2011 until this January. And, lest we forget, the last time we had similar job creation numbers in Wisconsin, June 2011, the increase was later revised downward to nil.

So, not only is there as yet no trend line suggesting Walker's policies are beginning to work after one year in office. There is a trend line showing the national economy during three years of the Obama administration is beginning to pick up real momentum -- and that despite heavy efforts by opposition Republicans to prevent any meaningful stimulus efforts.

Of course, Esenberg makes his defense for Walker, then -- buried near the end of his piece -- he covers his butt, noting that the ability of elected officials to create jobs is way overstated.

[img_assist|nid=164357|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=287|height=136]In some respects, maybe so. But when a nation is on the verge of a neo-depression and the private sector is in severe retraction, the only recourse for job creation is the government, as FDR demonstrated when he created the WPA, the CCC and stimulated the economy in the face of the Great Depression. That validated Keynesian economics, a concept validated over and over since then by any number of politicians, including monetarist Republicans beginning with Richard Nixon, who, when a recession in his first term required a stimulus, admitted: "We are all Keynesians now."

Sitting on your hands, or worse, engaging in contractionary, austerity budgeting is precisely the worst thing you can do to shake an economy, state or national, out of a crisis. Yet that's what Walker has attempted. He balanced the state budget with accounting tricks he denounced in his campaign and by whacking public employee compensation and clawing back $800 million in public school aid. Yeah. Job creation and economic development have nothing whatsoever to do with educational quality.

The only consistency in Esenberg's argument is that the Journal Sentinel editorial board likewise thinks Walker's policies haven't had much to do with the bad shape of this state's economy. But that newspaper, which endorsed Walker in 2010, would not be likely to withhold its praise of his policies if the state's economy were now at least tracking the rise in the national economy. And in that same event, Esenberg would likely be playing dittohead.


March 15, 2012 - 9:11pm