How many jobs has Scott Walker created so far? | WisCommunity

How many jobs has Scott Walker created so far?

[img_assist|nid=46026|title=Air campaign|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=175|height=117]Wisconsin may be open for business as Scott Walker likes to say (uh, was it ever closed?) but are businesses creating more jobs thanks to Walker? National Public Radio aired a piece May 27 on how many jobs Scott Walker has created. NPR's Planet Money program interviewed Walker, reporting on his pledge while a candidate to create 250,000 jobs, and then compared rhetoric to reality. The reporters noted that opposing candidates Tom Barrett and Mark Neumann also eventually offered up hard-figure job pledges, after first pooh-poohing Walker's grandstanding but then seeing how it had gained electoral traction.

Walker's main method of creating all those jobs? Corporate tax breaks. Planet Money also pointed to Walker's $2,000 to $4,000 tax deduction for creating a new job, plus other financial incentives. 

Walker opens an interview with a "Planet Money" reporter by proudly showing her his official "Wisconsin is open for business" sign, and emphasizing that the state is not only open for business, it is "literally open for business." Wow. Really? What a concept! As opposed to symbolically open for business, I suppose. The reporter then asks Walker how his tax breaks and incentives, versus other possible non-Walker factors, such as economic recovery, will figure into the new jobs and how that could possibly be measured. He points again to several thousand new jobs created last January -- which was before he passed any business tax breaks or other economic development initiatives.

The reporter asks of those new jobs: "But how do you know that was you?"

"Well, it's not," Walker replies, in a moment of Freudian clarity.

In fact, it is true that the pace of job creation in Wisconsin is up during this economic recovery compared to last year. The program notes, however, that the particular person holding the governor's seat has nothing to do with that recovery, and that the vast number of jobs promised by Walker will happen without his involvement. The program quotes an official projection of 190,000 new jobs being created in the state by 2015, a figure arrived at by the Wisconsin Department of Revenue before Walker was elected. Meaning that Walker could spend all of his time playing solitaire and still get pretty close to filling his pledge. It was pre-ordained and predictable. [Indeed, one of Walker's earliest job-creation media opportunities was at a factory that had received help to create those jobs from ... the Doyle administration.]

"I think the way to think about Walker's plan is that he's actually going for 60,000 jobs," the reporter concludes. That is: the difference between the 190,000 that were guaranteed beforehand and his own, larger number.

The program's overriding point is that government really only affects job creation at the margins, so spending huge sums on tax breaks and incentives aimed at private job creators won't have major impacts on business decisions and the jobs that such policies do help to create will be costly to taxpayers -- sometimes approaching millions of dollars per job.

Also, many of the "new" jobs end up being only relocated jobs, with states vying with one another to steal one another's existing jobs in what adds up to an expensive zero-sum game. Short-term fixes are thus very problematic. But even less expensive, longer term government job creation investment isn't a sure thing, either, the show reports.

Stimulus spending that keeps existing jobs alive with work that otherwise would be withdrawn from the market is, however, more of a sure thing in the short run, though not a sustainable policy over the long haul. For that, you need a national industrial policy, like Japan and China have.

While he looks like just another political opportunist, this isn't about Walker, in other words. Rather, it's about overpromising and voter impatience and modern political rhetoric.

There's much more. Click here and go in to the player about 3:50 to find the start of the segment, which runs the rest of the half hour show and appeared within a regular edition of Planet Money:


May 30, 2011 - 1:22pm