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Madison visitor Herman Cain gets an answer

February 22, 2011 - Mike Maneval
After several days of protests brought out supporters of teachers and prison guards to rally against Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's plan to restrict collective bargaining rights for many public-sector workers, opponents counter-rallied over the weekend. Former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain, the Associated Press reported, delivered some remarks, claiming the attack on public-sector workers is necessary because Wisconsin is broke and asking Americans who believe respect for hard work means more than just waxing philosophically about work but actually compensating workers for their time and efforts, "What part of 'broke' don't you understand?"

The part of Wisconsin being "broke" I don't understand is how a "broke" state can spend $25 million on an "economic development fund," another $48 million to launch a private health savings accounts boondoggle, and - to top it all off - another $67 million in tax breaks the state's fiscal bureau predicts will have neglible effect on hiring and job creation.

I have a hard time reconciling claims Wisconsin is too "broke" to pay the compensation for work it contractually obligated itself to pay with the list of grants available to Wisconsin's businesses for "disadvantaged entrepreneurs," expansion and relocation, "clean air assistance," local arts and crafts fairs, and many more. The University of Wisconsin's library system maintains the list of offices and agencies, and I haven't heard of any intention by the Walker administration to cut a single one.

Less than three months ago, when Walker took office as governor, Wisconsin had a projected budget surplus. Since that time, as Talking Points Memo's Brian Beutler observed on Thursday, Walker's administration has taken NONE of the steps that actually produce immediate or near-immediate cost reductions, such as furloughs or service rollbacks.

So light of all this information, I find it a great mystery how anyone could "understand" Wisconsin is "broke" - anyone who doesn't have an ingrained bias against the Americans on payroll who built this country, that is.


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