May 20, 2012

How would Tom Barrett have erased the $3.6 billion budget deficit in Wisconsin?

That's the question for the man who's trying to oust Scott Walker in the recall election, and Mike Gousha asked it straight to Tom Barrett's face on his show "Up Front." Video at the link. This is my transcription:
I would have done it the same way I've balanced 8 consecutive budgets for the city of Milwaukee. I would set priorities, and as the mayor of the city of Milwaukee, I've always set priorities, particularly as they related to public safety, and at the state level, I would set priorities as they relate to education, because we saw the largest cut ever in education in the state's history, 30% cut for the technical schools, university took big hits....
The question was how would you deal with the deficit, and Barrett goes right toward ideas about spending more! He's muttering out this list of things and Gousha jumps in with: "So you want to restore all that?" Barrett — whose face remains impassive — says:
Well, it's not going to be restored overnight...
He totally misses the cue in Gousha's question, which was: You're supposed to tell us how to cut the deficit! Instead, Barrett falls more deeply into the idea of how will we get back what Scott Walker took away. He goes on:
... and I have to be honest with the people: You can't restore all those cuts overnight, but that would be my priority.
So, he plans to erase the deficit by setting priorities, and his "priority" is restoring "all the cuts"!

And I want the people of the state to know that my funding priority for the next budget will be education. But I also would not have started out... We were in a hole, according to Scott Walker.
That ellipsis doesn't signify any words left out. Barrett stopped in the middle of a thought and switched to Walker's metaphor of "a hole."
And so, when you're in a hole, what's the first thing you do?
The old cliché. Thanks, Tom. When you're in a hole, stop digging. Oh! Apparently not:
The first thing you do is try to get out of the hole.
The only thing worse than a cliché is to miss the cliché. It's a telling miss, because Barrett seems blind to the obvious fact that to save money you have to save money. So yeah, the first thing you do is try to get out of the hole. Hello? So there was a huge hole in the budget, and you would just try to get out of it. Well, you did get out of it, when you lost the election to Walker in 2010. And Walker didn't try to get out of it. He didn't even just stop digging. He filled the hole! And now, for all we can see, Tom Barrett wants to re-dig the hole. And then maybe try to get out of it. What a plan!

I un-pause to continue the transcription and see that Barrett says that the "first thing" Scott Walker did was "he dug the hole even deeper." Oh? But Walker eliminated the deficit. He got us into a surplus. Barrett's idea is that the hole was dug deeper...
... because he had those corporate tax cuts, he had those tax cuts that benefited wealthy people, very, very, in a very good way — from their perspective. I don't think you solve the budget crisis by digging the hole deeper.
Still trying to get to the answer to how Barrett would deal with the budget, Gousha asks: So you would repeal those? Barrett's answer is stodgily cagey:
I'm going to look at those and see whether they are tied to job creation, 'cause for me — and I've seen this as mayor — I have people who come in or businesses that come in who want to have tax incentives, and my questions are always the same: How many jobs are we talking about and are they family-supporting jobs? So that, to me, is the tie.
That is, he doesn't want to generally lower tax rates to stimulate business. He wants particular businesses to come to him and ask for an individual incentive and convince him somehow that their business is the right kind of business, to work through him. He sees himself as a power broker, dealing in privilege. And, of course, in case you haven't noticed, he still hasn't expressed a single idea about how to deal with the budget. He adopted Walker's "hole" metaphor, ignored the fact that Walker filled the hole, told us the now-filled hole shouldn't be dug deeper, and keeps reverting to an urge to re-dig the hole!

Barrett shifts to complaining that Walker's tax cuts haven't produced jobs, and Gousha pulls him back to the unanswered question: "Don't you have to make some pretty deep cuts?" Barrett says:
Well, let's look at this, 'cause this is where the lost year comes into play. Obviously, we've had a year of ideological civil war....
But Scott Walker erased the deficit! How was that a lost year? Barrett is trying to plug in his "civil war" theme: He can end the strife. But the question is the deficit: Don't you have to make some pretty deep cuts? I'm not transcribing every word at this point, because it's completely nonresponsive. It's his canned material about not enough jobs — as if he could bring more — and ideological civil war — as if the Democrats weren't at least equally belligerent. Barrett does eventually get around to saying if only there were a lot more jobs, then the government could collect more income taxes and sales taxes and property taxes, and that money would help fill "the hole." So that's sort of an idea about what to do: First, get a whole lot of new jobs! That's Walker's idea too. Encourage business; grow the economy. But it's not Walker's only idea. Walker got rid of the deficit.

Everyone knows growing the economy would be great. The question is what would work to grow the economy? Why would we think Barrett would be better? Barrett says he would "focus" on growing the economy, whereas Walker has "traveled around the country giving these speeches." I think most of Walker's traveling had to do with the need to raise money to fight the recall, but even if Walker did simply seek stature within the national conservative movement, why would that have a deleterious effect on the growth of the Wisconsin economy? If you were deciding where to locate or expand a business, wouldn't you be positively influenced if Scott Walker's message reached you? By contrast, would you be encouraged to hear that Governor Tom Barrett was focusing?

Barrett would focus, he would set priorities, he would look and see, he would try to get out of the hole. With all this effort, all this thinking, all this observing and focusing.... why is there nothing specific at all? When I think of focus, I think of getting greater clarity and detail. Based on this interview, I don't see any capacity to focus. The closest thing to specificity I heard was Tom Barrett's desire to increase spending and increase taxes. No wonder he wanted to stay fuzzy.

46 comments:

Paddy O said...

He would have done it the exact same way that Jerry Brown is doing it in California.

Chip S. said...

So, he's not saying explicitly that he'd raise taxes; that's just implied by his priorities.

That means that if he won the election and then proposed to raise taxes, a recall election would be justified. Because Walker's failure to state explicitly every single step he'd take is the basic justification for the current recall. Right?

Wisconsin: The Land of Perpetual Elections

Michael K said...

Jay Cost's new book, "Spoiled Rotten," points out that the Democrats now have so many clients mouths to feed that they can't govern for the good of the country. This sounds like that argument. Got to keep digging,

drozz said...

if that's the best challenger...

PatCA said...

Heh. Paddy O, you beat me to it!

Now, let's hope the electorate starts seeing the same disturbing trends in Dem governors.

Kensington said...

No, Chip S., the justification for the recall is that Scott Walker isn't a Democrat.

Since Barrett is, then no recall would be warranted under any condition.

Tom Spaulding said...

I've worked in the private sector. They expect results. - Dr Ray Stanz, Ghostbuster

Especially when the private sector pays for the public sector's salaries and benefits.

rhhardin said...

Look and see isn't going to work.

You need look and listen. A freight train is involved.

Rusty said...

Democrat economic thinking. it is to laugh.

edutcher said...

The Demos always portray themselves as the Party of New Ideas, but they haven't had one since 1932. This is more of the same.

PS The justification of the recall is that the public sector unions don't get to graft the way they used to and so the Demos don't get their cut.

We can't have that!

Pogo said...

The underpants gnomes plan at the state level.

Karnival said...

Barrett is clearly a student of the Steve Martin School of Economics. I roughly quote the esteemed Mr. Martin:

How to make a million dollars. First- get a million dollars. Barrett has no idea what he's talking about.

You good people of Wisconsin might have the most courageous governor in the land. Just look a bit south of you to the land of Pat Quinn (Illinois). His only hope is to raise taxes on the companies who are too locked in to leave the state. Or gaze over the left and look at Jerry Brown Land. California is beyond done. They just can't get themselves to say it out loud yet. I see no way to turn that thing around- public unions are so fully in charge there. Their only hope is for Mexico to buy them back at a discounted price. Like a short sell on a home.

Yes- Wisconsin is in the black again, and it's credit rating did something not seen anywhere in the US in 2 years- it went up. This used to be considered a good thing.

hawkeyedjb said...

"I would have raised taxes" is the honest answer that, for some reason, Mayor Barrett can't bring himself to utter. Not that it matters; everyone knows that's the answer anyway, and they vote accordingly. If you want a tax increase (and a lot of people do), you vote for the Democrat.

Curious George said...

"The question was how would you deal with the deficit, and Barrett goes right toward ideas about spending more!"

Well, to be fair, he actually doesn't. All he really said was that he would have spent more than Walker did. But his admission that 1) cuts would have had to been made, or 2) he would have had to raise taxes comes later when he counters the use of Act 10 in Milwaukee. Saying he was being fiscally in having public workers pay more into their pension and healthcare, because he didn't want to lay off workers or raise taxes is EXACTLY THE REASON FOR ACT 10! No way the public workers would have given in. Zero.

Rob said...

I reckon you've got a high-speed rail network between Milwaukee, La Crosse and Green Bay in your future.

Phil 3:14 said...

Math is hard!

greenlantern said...

The "hole" which would never be filled, it seems, begins and increases with the "hole" in Barrett's logic. I heard Hillary use the same terminology talking about W's tax cuts: He's dug such a huge hole that we may never get out of it. Obama does the same to justify his repeated requests for stimulus.

The "hole" the Dems are in is that they have to satisfy the huge, ever-growing cravings of the monstrous entitlement society they have spoiled rotten.

All Barrett offered were false memes: "He's dug the hole deeper", "ideological civil war" and some BS about unprecedented legal defense funds. If I were Walker, I'd be accumulating this fund, too, in anticipation of more Dem dirty tricks. Who knows where the Dem's blood feud against Walker will take them next as they are sure to lose this recall.

Beta Rube said...

Would his answers sound better if read by Gilbert Gottfried? Because they seem idiotic and non-responsive now.

KenK said...

Trying to interview politicians is as about as difficult as it gets. Athletes are pretty bad too. They have their talking points which stick to, and they're trying not to choke or gaffe.

kcom said...

"How would Tom Barrett have erased the $3.6 billion budget deficit in Wisconsin?"

The most charitable answer for him - he wouldn't have.

The less charitable answer - he would have doubled it.

Democrats have no interest in closing budget deficits. They pretend, every once in awhile, to get elected, but they have no real interest in living in the real world.

Ann Althouse said...

"Barrett is clearly a student of the Steve Martin School of Economics. I roughly quote the esteemed Mr. Martin: How to make a million dollars. First- get a million dollars. Barrett has no idea what he's talking about."

Exactly. I thought about that as I was writing this post. Might have something to do with my use of Steve Martin in the previous post, but I think I -- and you -- would have thought of it anyway.

Mitchell said...

It's not easy being a loathsome toad.

David said...

Wisconsin conservatives:

Please vote before you gloat.

John Smith said...

Barrett has no clue. I'm not saying he has ideas which he can't defend which would balance the budget, I'm saying he can't even formulate an unworkable plan which would do the job. I wish I could at least say he has ideas I disagree with. But, this guy has no ideas, nothing.

Sadly, Barrett will collect at least 45% of the vote and what does that say about the voters?

Jason said...

Barrett has a plan.

He just cant say it and get himself elected as governor.

Big difference between the two.

Jason said...

If Gousha was on the ball, he would have asked Barrett how he balanced his last budget in Milwaukee, considering the cuts in state aid to municipalities.

The answer, of course, is that Barrett used some of the tools allowed in Act 10.

I would have loved to hear Barrett try to answer that.

ndspinelli said...

Barrett not only can't hit a bp fastball, he can't even hit it off the fucking tee. No wonder he's going solo w/o Dem support. He's their red headed steppchild.

Everyone have an old hat ready when this loser completes the gubernatorial hat trick.

Steve Austin said...

The sad part is that If you're here in Milwaukee, you have had a front row seat at watching our version of the Movie Office Space's "Milton" run the city the past decade.

Jobs keep leaving, corporations bailing and a once beautiful city imploding like a mini version of Detroit. And the sewage district dumps so much crap in Lake Michigan every time it rains, that Barrett is arguably the Midwest's biggest polluter.

Yet somehow 45 percent of the people in the State view him as an acceptable choice as Governor.

As pointed out in this post, the guy is a tired lazy hack with no ideas for anything.

Paddy O said...

"You good people of Wisconsin might have the most courageous governor in the land."

Walker is who Schwarzenegger plays in the movies.

Schwarzenegger as governor, sadly, gave up entirely after being resisted at first.

Though, Walker has the benefit of a favorable legislature, that absolutely helps. As does a majority population that actually wants to solve financial problems.

Alex said...

#1 - liberals are batshit insane.

#2 - it's a great question by Ann - how do you grow the economy? Liberals always have the easy answer - hire more government workers and start up shovel-ready infrastructure projects. But the real way to look at it is you examine places that are booming like Austin, Seattle, Silicon Valley and you emulate them instead of vilifying them. For one thing, stop telling blacks it's ok for them to "not behave like whitey" and get with the fucking program. Then tell the other trash kids to pull their pants up and start studying math.

Alex said...

Sadly Wisconsin has tipped permanently into "batshit insane" status and will recall Walker and turn out the GOP legislative majority. This is what happens when you allow society to tip over from the producers to the takers. It happens every time across history. This is why Rome fell - it generated a parasitic class of city dwellers that produced nothing and took everything.

geokstr said...

Alex, this will then be described in the Zinnized history books as "bad luck", right? ( with apologies to R. Heinlein)

machine said...

I know, let's cut the corporate tax rater, cut the upper income tax rates, and then raise taxes/fees on the middle and lower classes..


seems fair...trickle down always works..

Mr. T. said...

"Sadly, Barrett will collect at least 45% of the vote and what does that say about the voters?"

It says that they were brought in on buses from Chicago.

Mr. T. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wally Kalbacken said...

Tom's headed for a worse beating than the one he took in West Allis.

Petunia said...

It says that the 45%, or whatever it turns out to be, are either so stupid, so clueless, or so Walker-deranged that they would vote for my cat's dirty litter box if it were on the Dem side of the ballot.

Unknown said...

This reminds me of a John Prine Song. To paraphrase, "There's a hole in Wisconsin's capital where the money goes..."

Michael Haz said...

This, my friends, is what crazy looks like, courtesy of Mike Tate, chairman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.

walter said...

More cowbell...and trolleys.

Tim said...

Listen, there's no better way to cannibalize your own future, your kids' future, and your grandchildren's future than to consistently vote Democrat.

They are the voters' self-inflicted cancer of the public fisc; the self-inflicted cancer of capital risk and reward; the self-inflicted cancer of productivity; the self-inflicted cancer of personal responsibility.

But just as people can rationalize themselves voting for the least qualified man ever nominated by a major party for president, so too can they rationalize themselves in consistently voting Democrat.

It's as if the Romans consciously voted for failure and collapse.

The saving grace for the Romans is, they didn't have themselves as an example.

Original Mike said...

"That is, he doesn't want to generally lower tax rates to stimulate business. He wants particular businesses to come to him and ask for an individual incentive and convince him somehow that their business is the right kind of business, to work through him. He sees himself as a power broker, dealing in privilege."

THIS!

TMink said...

So tax and spend your way out of a deficit you taxed and over spent your way to?

Brilliant!

Trey

Rusty said...

machine said...
I know, let's cut the corporate tax rater, cut the upper income tax rates, and then raise taxes/fees on the middle and lower classes..


seems fair...trickle down always works.



Shhhhh. Hush, now. The people with a clue are talking.
Sit still and pay attention.

walter said...

"And the sewage district dumps so much crap in Lake Michigan every time it rains, that Barrett is arguably the Midwest's biggest polluter."

Does he count that as manufacturing and distribution?

Amartel said...

"He would have done it the exact same way that Jerry Brown is doing it in California."

I could not believe we elected Jerry Brown, again. Dooooooomed.

Hole, what hole? Oh, that hole? We'll get out of that hole by continuing to dig through the center of the earth to the other side. And High Speed Rail Will Run Through It.