By Ruth Conniff on April 24, 2012

If you want a preview of the Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan plan for America, take a look at Wisconsin.

Governor Scott Walker, who faces a recall election June 5, has pushed through just about every item in the GOP playbook.

Huge tax breaks for corporations--the so-called "job creators"? Check.

Deep cuts to health care, education, unemployment insurance, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and other programs that help the poor and struggling middle class? Check.

Rolling back environmental protections and gutting regulations on polluting industry? Check.

Waging war on labor unions, taking away public employees' collective bargaining rights? Check.

Cutting funds for Planned Parenthood? Check.

Rolling back equal pay protections for women? Check.

So where does this blueprint leave us?

Wisconsin is now dead last in the nation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, for job loss.

Between January 2011 and January 2012, while 44 states and the nation as a whole were adding jobs, Wisconsin was one of only six states to lose jobs--and Wisconsin's job loss was the worst among that handful of losers.

In its latest jobs report, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that Wisconsin shed 23,900 jobs between March 2011 and March 2012. Wisconsin was the only state with a statistically significant percentage change in employment to report a net loss, the report stated.

The jury is in. The GOP's trickle-down policies have failed in Wisconsin.

Walker came into office promising to add 250,000 new jobs in the state during his first term in office. Instead, month after month, Wisconsin has suffered job losses, finally drifting to the very bottom.

Worse, Walker's policies have set the state up for an even bleaker future.

One of the first things Walker did as governor was to eliminate the apprenticeship program for African Americans in Milwaukee who wanted to get into a trade.

His 30 percent cuts to the state's vocational and technical colleges have created long waiting lists for training programs in the skilled trades--for the kinds of jobs that attract employers and lead to stable, well-paid employment.

Just when Milwaukee thought that the Talgo corporation was going to create 500 new jobs in the inner city to make train cars for the high-speed rail line originally envisioned by former Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson, Walker killed the plan, turning away $810 million in federal money that was already allocated. Other states, including neighboring Illinois, took that money instead.

Walker's historic $1.8 billion in cuts to the state's top-tier public school system aims, ironically, aims directly at one of the biggest assets the state advertisers to employers.

The web site for Forward Wisconsin, the nonprofit corporation established to market Wisconsin to companies that might want to locate here, promotes the state's high-quality public schools and highly trained teachers as Wisconsin's number-one selling point.

The targets of Walker's austerity budget-- infrastructure, education, and job training--are the very areas of public investment that support a strong economy and a well-paid workforce.

Steven Deller, a professor of applied economics at the University of Wisconsin, who studied the ripple effects of Walker's budget as well as the attack on public employees' collective bargaining rights, projected that the plans would mean job losses for years into the future.

Perhaps most telling is the contrast between Wisconsin and Illinois, its nearest neighbor to the south, which passed the biggest business and personal income tax increases in the nation in January.

In a speech on April 17 in Springfield, Walker chided the tax-and-spend liberalism of Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, saying that, by taxing corporations, the state was going to lose jobs. “When you raise taxes on businesses, that wealth and opportunity and those jobs more often than not go somewhere else.”

But the Bloomberg Economic Evaluation of States Index shows just the opposite. Trickle-down economics have hurt Wisconsin, while Illinois is doing significantly better.

Illinois ranked third in the Bloomberg index. Wisconsin came in forty-second. (The index includes measures of personal income, tax revenue and employment.)

And while Illinois gained 32,000 jobs over the last year ending in February, Wisconsin lost 16,900 jobs.

Walker now claims that as soon as the recall election is over on June 5, businesses will finally start creating jobs.

"I think the big thing that people are waiting for is to have the certainty in knowing this positive outlook for job creators is going to continue," he told NewsMax. "And that's why I think after June 5 and after these primaries are done and the lieutenant governor and these senators prevail, I think it means there'll be a clear message to job creators -- the small business owners in the state -- that now's the time to add jobs."

That's like Mitt Romney saying the way out of the recession is a return to the George W. Bush economic policies that got us here in the first place.

There's only one explanation: The Republicans must think voters are stupid.

If you liked this article by Ruth Conniff, the political editor of The Progressive, check out her story "An Interview with Tom Barrett."

Follow Ruth Conniff @rconniff on Twitter

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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