The Assembly’s Bizarre War with Walker, Senate Over Budget

After unveiling their K-12 funding package at a press event yesterday, Assembly GOP leaders are hitting the road to gin up publicity, and they hope, support for the plan. An analysis can be found here.

Their proposal is the latest source of friction between the Assembly and Governor Walker and the Senate. Walker and the Senate have largely agreed on issues from property taxes, transportation, and Walker’s generous K-12 funding proposal.

Assembly leaders rolled out the funding plan in a press conference, then declared their intention to hit to road on a PR tour. Typically the time for such road shows – or as Sen. Leah Vukmir called it, a “dog and pony show” – would have been long passed and now would be the time for voting. However, the Joint Finance Committee cancelled both of its meetings this week, and whether the committee will meet next week isn’t certain.

By choosing to roll out their initiatives – which challenge Walker’s hard line on raising taxes both on property and gasoline – in grandiose fashion and then embark on a virtually unprecedented traveling circus to promote it, the Assembly appears to be waging a bizarre PR war against the Governor and their colleagues in the Senate.

The ongoing question is…why? MacIver Institute President Brett Healy talked about this on the Vicki McKenna Show today:


Trumping Conservatism

The smackdown over Donald Trump has been remarkable, and it looks like a robust debate is emerging as Wisconsinites realize we’ll actually have a voice in the nominating process next spring.

Right Wisconsin in particular has been a battleground over Trump in the past few days. From the Savvy Pundit to Rick Esenberg to Charlie Sykes himself, opinions of the bombastic billionaire run the gamut.

Trump is relatively strong in Wisconsin. A Marquette poll in November showed him tied for second place with Sen. Marco Rubio, both with 19 percent. In that poll, Carson was on top with 22 percent, but if Carson sees a similar slide in Wisconsin as he has in Iowa, frontrunners like Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio will likely benefit.

Republican leaders in Wisconsin have largely lined up behind Rubio. I also suggested upon Gov. Walker’s withdrawal from the race that much of his infrastructure would go to Rubio’s benefit. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and 19 other state legislators were quick to endorse Rubio following Walker’s exit, with several actively working on his behalf.

But Trump appears to remain relatively strong, forcing conservative activists to make a choice. The choice isn’t just whom to support, but which ideological direction the GOP and conservatism itself will take.

The choice writ large is a possible inflection point for the conservatism of modern times, which is a strong scaffolding built over the past 60-plus years from the ashes of classical liberalism. Efforts by thinkers and leaders from Goldwater to Buckley to Friedman to Reagan has built that scaffolding plank-by-plank since even before Buckley founded The National Review in 1955. In many ways, the electoral culmination of the work of the aforementioned visionaries was Reagan’s presidency.

Reagan embodied both the ideal of conservative style and substance, and Americans made their preference very clear – twice.

The choice now is whether to rip down that scaffolding.

Donald Trump presents coarse, low-context, unintellectual, tough-sounding, monosyllabic promises fit for the age of Twitter, in which kibbles and bits are fed to shallow people yearning to be entertained. A reality TV star from New York, Trump is the anti-Reagan.

The two are similar only in the age at which they’d take the oath of office: Reagan was age 69 when he took the oath; Trump is currently age 69 and will be 70 at the time next fall’s general election.

Or conservatives can pick some other candidate and continue building on the intellectual scaffolding that’s guided serious conservatives for decades. In that respect, any candidate would be better than Trump. Politically speaking, Rubio is among the best bets against Hillary.

I’ve contended Rubio could, in fact, defeat Hillary in a near-landslide if he’s the nominee, but that’s just the hunch of an armchair politico.

Unlike previous elections that were stitched up long before the Badger State went to the polls, it’s likely Wisconsin will still be in play when we vote on April 5 – and that Wisconsin voters will still have plenty of choices. In particular, Trump, Cruz, and Rubio are unlikely to fade before April.

Wisconsin will, in fact, have an impact on the course of the election if the field remains clogged following Super Tuesday and subsequent state primaries, which is likely. Ours is the only primary between March 22 and April 19, an eternity in political years, and Wisconsin alone holds a primary that day, so all eyes will be on the home state of the new Speaker of the House and a former heavyweight presidential contender.

Armchair conservatives who still think it’s too early to decide on a candidate are wrong – we now have four months left. Four months ago, Scott Walker was still a strong candidate. In politics, minutes can seem like hours, and hours can seem like days.

Now’s the time for conservatives in Wisconsin to reflect on who they’ll support, both at the polls, in discussions with family and friends, in opinion pages, and of course on social media.

Grassroots conservatives hold sway over their own respective circles of less-plugged-in voters. For conservatives who oppose the nomination of Donald Trump, deciding on an alternative now and evangelizing on his or her behalf could be a difference maker considering The Donald’s dominance of mainstream media coverage.

Few conservatives would advocate allowing the mainstream media’s editorial decisions to dictate the GOP nomination.

So for those in the conservative grassroots interested in the future of their party and ideology, nows the time to gear up and take the field.

The Ed: Winning Right to Work

This week’s Martinicast editorial:

So, right to work will soon be the law in Wisconsin.

It’s basically inevitable that the measure rapidly making its way through the capitol, which basically says an employee can’t be forced to pay dues to a union as a condition of employment, will pass.

While he’s been reluctant to prioritize the legislation, did not himself propose it to the legislature, and has called it a distraction from his own policy objectives, the governor will sign it. His hand is forced.

Morning Martini wrote before that if right to work is taken up, it would be because the governor has lost at least some control over the legislative process to ambitious conservatives in the legislature.

In their ranks are Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald. Some activists speculate Vos might be interested in the governor’s mansion – Walker has said he won’t run again in 2018. But considering his spectacular rise in the GOP presidential nomination process, he might not be around long enough anyway.

Fitzgerald resides in the congressional district of Jim Sensenbrenner, who was first elected to Congress in 1978. If the congressman retires any time soon, it would leave a chasm for his replacement.

A conservative will eventually replace Sensenbrenner – it’s a safe district for a Republican. In 16 elections since his first, he has never won with less than 62 percent of the vote. A bold push of right to work is just what Fitzgerald needs to position himself as the bona fide next-in-line.

Earlier we speculated that Walker feared an Act 10-like meltdown in Madison that would result from right to work. That’s the result of the governor’s renowned strategic savvy. But the fallout has been muted, to say the least.

While a scant few thousand gathered today and will tomorrow in Madison to protest, sing, and chant, they’re mostly the same old bleacher shouters. Meanwhile, Dem politicians have offered limp denunciations. The best One Wisconsin Now can muster is that “Right to Work is Not Right for Wisconsin.”

In the final tally, right to work will be regarded as anti-climactic. It also won’t create a trillion new jobs tomorrow – in fact its economic impact is being oversold by some. The reaction and protests weren’t a biggie. There will be no recalls or vacations to Rockford.

What right to work will do, however, is boost the careers of some bold conservatives. Vos, maybe. Fitz, definitely. And because of the ho-hum reaction muting the governor’s concerns over chaos at the capitol, Scott Walker – who now can claim Wisconsin has made America a 50/50 right to work nation – is, in a most unlikely way, the biggest winner out of the right to work maneuver.

LISTEN (apologies for the gaffes…)