On jobs rhetoric, Politifact plays the Walker Word Game | WisCommunity

On jobs rhetoric, Politifact plays the Walker Word Game

UPDATE: It took four days, but Politifact Wisconsin decided to put a bit more room between itself and Scott Walker, changing its rating on his job-creation pledge from years of "in the works" to "stalled." Announcing this revision, Politifact said [emphasis added] that Wisconsin's paltry job growth "continues a trajectory that suggests it will be virtually impossible for Walker to meet his promise of creating 250,000 private-sector jobs in his four-year term. This is the view of two economists who follow the state closely and two business leaders who advised then-candidate Walker to make the promise." Well, better late than never! Here's our original blog post from May 18:

It took months, but Politifact Wisconsin finally caught up to Uppity Wisconsin blogger Jud Lounsbury on Gov. Scott Walker's claim that thousands of new businesses have been created under his watch. And the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel feature (URL below) promptly poured cold water on Walker's latest version of his claim, specifically, that 17,000 new businesses have started up in Wisconsin since he took office and that if each of them adds only few new jobs each to the state's economy, he will be able by mid next year to reach his campaign promise of 250,000 new jobs.

Even that optimistic forecast (wishful thinking is more like it) wouldn't be in time to meet Walker's specific pledge of new jobs by the end of his first term. Going farther, Politifact followed in the wake of Jud's solid analysis from last fall (URL below) to show in detail how Walker's reasoning is dubious at best. To his credit, Jud's much earlier reporting on this specious Walker thought experiment received mention in the Politifact piece, albeit near the end.

On the upside, Politifact moved this item to top position on the newspaper's Sunday front page. But the good news ended there as Politifact declined to issue one of its usual "Truth-O-Meter" ratings. Instead, it put its discussion under the alternative lens of its "Walk-O-Meter," which does away with rating the truthfulness of rhetoric or factual argument and just indicates whether a Walker campaign pledge has been accomplished. For now, Walker's self-imposed deadline for achieving his pledge hasn't arrived, so despite shooting down Walker's reasoning, Politifact merely rates his progress on achieving those 250,000 jobs -- a near statistical impossiblity at this point -- as "In The Works."

Nothing like undercutting your own reporting. After all, "In The Works" sure sounds an awful lot like Walker's own, optimistic "It's Working, Wisconsin" campaign slogan. We're not suggesting any conscious collusion between Politifact and the Walker campaign, but it sure could look that way to some casual readers. Besides, "In The Works" makes it sound like this jobs quest is moving along to some potentially fruitful conclusion. Why not say "Clock Still Ticking"? Or "Unachieved"? A quantified pledge like this one after all is either achieved or it isn't. Otherwise, the continuing series of Politifact meter readings on the Walker jobs pledge could turn out like this: "In the Works," "In the Works," "In the Works"...."Failed Miserably."

While we're on the subject of strange phraseology, take another listen to one of Walker's newer campaign slogans, "Wisconsin is back on." Back on Republican hallucinogenics, perhaps.

In one variation of this content-free slogan, Walker proclaims that "Wisconsin is on the right track." That's ironic, given that he's the governor who backed out of more than $800 million in previously conscripted federal funding to build tracks for a new high-speed passenger rail system that would have created economic development opportunities and thousands of construction jobs across southern Wisconsin. Walker's "right" track insofar as it applies to intercity rail transit evidently is a non-existent one.  Walker also insists "Wisconsin is back," but, economically speaking, what that might have some voters remembering is that our state is perilously close to "back of the pack" among all states. So, "back track" would be more descriptive.

Side note to Burke campaign: "Walker has Wisconsin back on ... its heels" has a nicer ring of truth to it, don't you think? And let's when he's turned out of office, someone please remind the environmentally clueless boy wonder that he should turn off the light switch in the governor's office when he exits for the last time -- saves energy, unlike Walker's own brand of wasteful political pyrotechnics.

h/t to Jeff Simpson at Cognitive Dissidence for earlier commentary on the Politifact report.


May 18, 2014 - 8:19pm