Scott Walker’s tenure as Governor of Wisconsin has been one of the most successful exercises in conservative governance in recent years. Walker rescued Wisconsin from its financial troubles, broke the power of the public sector unions, withstood unhinged attacks from the Left, and prompted a sharp uptick in Wisconsin’s economic performance. But yesterday on ABC’s This Week, Donald Trump casually denigrated Walker’s accomplishments. First the tape, then the transcript. The discussion of Walker and Wisconsin starts at around 6:45:
Stephanopoulos: You talked about Scott Walker just a minute ago, and he drew a lot of headlines this week talking about his efforts to maybe out-Trump you. … Are you worried?
Trump: Well, I’m not worried because his state is really in trouble. I mean, it’s a fantastic place, I love the people of Wisconsin, but if you look at what’s going on, they have a $2.2 billion deficit. They were supposed to have a surplus of a billion and they have a 2.2 billion. There’s tremendous division throughout the state, the roads aren’t being built properly, you know he stopped a lot of work because he didn’t want to raise taxes, so instead of raising taxes he’s borrowing to the hilt, the state is very over-leveraged, and it’s number 38 out of the states, it’s ranked number 38, that’s not good. … His state has not performed well.
Two points: First, Trump criticizes Walker for not raising taxes. If you were under any illusion that Trump is a conservative, this should disabuse you. Second, everything Trump says here is straight out of the Democratic Party’s anti-Walker talking points. The idea that the state has a $2.2 billion deficit is ludicrous, although Democrats have tried to float that number. Wisconsin’s budget is required by law to be balanced; one of Walker’s triumphs is that he balanced the budget in the face of a projected shortfall without raising taxes. For a true picture of the state’s budget go here. The “borrowing to the hilt” that Trump refers to consists of bonds to pay for road construction.
Why would Trump attack a fellow Republican by parroting the Democrats’ talking points? Probably because Trump doesn’t think of Walker that way. When Walker was the point man for Republicans nationwide, absorbing more abuse than any politician within memory while beating the Democrats in three elections in four years, Trump was contributing to Democrats’ campaigns, explaining why the financial collapse of 2008 was the Republicans’ fault, and telling reporters that he agrees with Democrats on most issues.
Anyone who thinks Scott Walker’s administration has been bad for Wisconsin is 1) ill-informed, and 2) not a conservative.