Reggie Newson, secretary of the state Department of Workforce Development released far more accurate numbers (a move he claims he made on his own, without consulting Walker) from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, produced for inclusion in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ national report. They are based on actual job counts reported by 160,000 Wisconsin employers as required by law. They showed an increase of 23,300 public and private sector jobs last year. Because the official release date of the report was June 28th–long after the recall election–Walker took it upon himself to release them early, for obvious reasons.
Unsurprisingly, Barrett accused Walker of “cooking the books,” further contending that, because the numbers were released early, comparisons with other states could not be made. The Democrat Party announced it would file complaints with Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne and the state Government Accountability Board, alleging Walker was using state resources to illegally gain advantage for his campaign.
Walker was having none of it. “No matter what you feel about the timing, no matter what you feel about the process, the facts are the facts and facts don’t lie,” Walker said after speaking at a meeting of the Independent Business Association of Wisconsin, in Brookfield. Walker supporters note the new numbers are also buttressed by the unemployment rate dropping to 6.8 percent, and an increase in tax revenues over initial estimates.
Will the revised numbers matter? A new Marquette University Law School poll released the same day shows voters believe Walker would do a better job than Barrett in creating jobs, 48 percent to 41 percent–even as 37 percent said they believed the state lost jobs over the past year, compared with 20 percent who believe there have been job gains. Thus, it likely becomes a question of whether new facts matter more than old impressions.
Yet the most important number of all may be the one reflected in the same Marquette Law School poll conducted from May 9 to May 12 that showed Walker with a six-point edge: it revealed that only three percent of Wisconsin voters remain undecided. Such a small percentage of undecided voters may explain the DNC’s reluctance to spend a lot of money in the state. So may the fact that Walker beat Barrett by a similar 52-47 percent margin in the 2010 governor’s race. And apparently there is an “enthusiasm gap” as well: 91 percent of Republicans say they are “absolutely certain” they will vote in the recall, compared to only 83 percent of Democrats.
Furthermore, if this race is indeed a referendum on the general election in November as so many contend, the big picture doesn’t look good for Democrats either. Two-out of three of the most recent polls show Mitt Romney only one point behind the president in a state Mr. Obama carried by 14 points in 2008.
While progressives are making this a big deal about the “assault” on the collective bargaining power of public service unions in general, there is no doubt about what rankles them the most: the elimination of mandatory dues collection. Big Labor leaders are well aware of the reality that, absent the ability to require dues payments from their members, those members are far less inclined to pay them. Four states that enacted laws either requiring annual re-authorization of dues collection, or the end of automatic deductions, saw massive reductions in dues collections, led by Indiana where a 2005 law ending dues collection led to 90 percent fewer dues-paying members by 2011.
Breitbart reveals the total compensation received by the leaders of unions most actively behind Walker’s recall. They include Gerald McEntee of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) at $565,035; John Wilson, head of the National Education Association (NEA) at $492,484; Joseph Hansen, head of the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) at $352,758; Richard Trumka of the AFL-CIO at $293,750; and Dan Burkhalter, leader of the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC) at $242,000.
Walker is the most visible threat to that status quo, not Wisconsin public sector workers who, despite all the hysteria, still get raises pegged to inflation, and the overwhelming portion of their health and pension benefits paid for by the taxpayers–all of which yields a median compensation of $71,000 per annum. One that compares quites favorably when measured against the state’s median income of $39,718.
So far, the people of that state have refused to cave to union demands. June 5th will reveal how determined they remain.
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