The recall all started when Gov. Walker sought to eliminate Wisconsin’s $3.6 billion deficit. He did so by persuading the state legislature to take away the union rights of most public workers and requiring those workers to pay more for their health insurance and pension benefits. The legislature also passed and Gov. Walker signed new laws that cut spending for public schools and higher education as well as legislation requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls. All of this upset the state Democratic Party and unions who gathered 900,000 signatures forcing the recall election.
Despite claims by Democrats to the contrary, this election has significant implications for the fall presidential election. Wisconsin, a traditionally blue state that gave President Obama a huge victory in 2008, elected a Republican Governor in 2010 and has voted for fiscal conservatism in 2012. Democrats would have sung a much different tune if Walker had been defeated. They and the unions would have claimed a major victory over Republicans and proclaimed that this is a sign for the re-election of President Obama. But instead Democrats and the unions lost on election night, and the losing side is trying to put its best foot forward. They know they took it on the chin, and they know that come November they will have a big fight on their hands to carry the state for the president.
Even President Obama himself knew that Gov. Walker was a likely winner. That is why he stayed away from Wisconsin during the recall election. He did not want a victory by Walker to be interpreted as a sign of weakness on his part. Instead he sent Bill Clinton to rally the troops for Walker’s opponent Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D). The president paid lip service to Wisconsin Democrats and unions while not directly tying himself to Barrett’s defeat.
Republicans are right when they say that the Wisconsin election is a sign for November. It is a positive sign. It shows that traditional Democrats are willing to listen to a message of fiscal responsibility, but it will be up to Republicans and Mitt Romney to convince them that they are the ones to make it happen.
Now don’t be surprised that President Obama himself will sing the tune of fiscal restraint. In fact he already has. His problem is that common sense dictates that his claims are all smoke and mirrors. The deficit has skyrocketed under his administration. This is a fact that even his spin doctors cannot turn around.
We are being told by the President and his minions that the real reason for our woes is the mess in Europe. Poppycock! Our economic problems are our own doing. Our national debt is rapidly approaching $16 trillion. In 2008 it was $9.86 trillion. By 2016, it is estimated to reach $21.9 trillion at the current rate of spending. The national debt per citizen and the debt per taxpayer have each increased by more than 50% since 2008. This is a financial train wreck destined to happen unless immediate fiscal sanity is brought to bear in Washington, and no justification or blaming someone else as the President wants to do will make the problem go away. Only strong action, some of it likely unpopular, just ask Gov. Walker, will be needed to straighten things out.
The issues for a presidential campaign are great in number. But insofar as fiscal responsibility is concerned, the issues in Wisconsin and Washington are pretty much the same no matter how laudable the spending might be. Government, like people and businesses, cannot spend money it does not have. Deficit spending is a path to disaster. In November the American people will face their own question of how to handle America’s budget crisis. In a new term President Obama can be expected to continue spending America deeper and deeper into debt while Republican Mitt Romney is promising, if elected, to straighten out the spending mess created by Washington politicians.
So while the race for president will address many issues including national security and U.S. military superiority, immigration, business expansion and growth, a tax policy that promotes economic growth and opportunity for everyone, and ending the housing crisis, the question of federal spending and Washington hypocrisy will take center stage. One can only hope that the American people realize just how dangerous our fiscal crisis is and that voters send a loud and clear message to Washington and state houses all across the country, like the people of Wisconsin just did, that they are tired of politicians mortgaging our future and our children’s future for political gain.