As the election for Wisconsin governor winds down, cheap shot TV ads aside, the differences between Scott Walker and Tony Evers have become abundantly clear.
On the bottom, bottom line, Democrat Evers would spend a lot more money and raise a lot more taxes. Republican incumbent Walker would hold the line on taxes and therefore control spending.
Evers, for example, would raise the gasoline tax and put more money into roads. Walker has always opposed a gas tax increase and has used borrowing for a middling roads program.
Evers would more aggressively raise spending for education at the K-12 and university level, which would obviously require higher taxes. (Medicaid and state employee health costs chew up most of new tax revenues.) Walker had responded by matching Evers on two-thirds state funding of K-12 education. His recent budget raised K-12 support and added a small increase for the University of Wisconsin System. He also has not talked about the source of those funds.
Campaigns deal in promises, not ways and means.
For example, Evers proposed a 10% cut in taxes on the middle class, where most tax revenues are raised to pay for government programs. He hasn’t explained his calculus for balancing his proposed spending increases and revenue raising.
One of his answers is to take more federal Medicaid money, while Walker sees a trap should the feds ever back off their support. And added federal Medicaid money would go to expanded coverage, not other purposes.
Evers would roll back parts of Act 10, Walker’s signature push back on public employee unions. Walker would, of course, stand pat on Act 10. Most tax experts would agree that the Act 10 provisions to allow benefit management at the local level have put a brake on property tax increases.
Evers would try to rework the massive deal that Gov. Walker cut with Foxconn, calling it “a lousy deal.” Evers has not voiced substantial pro-business concepts, in contrast to Walker’s core theme that “Wisconsin is open for business.” Walker would press ahead with the heavily subsidized Foxconn project and would continue recruiting outside companies as his main jobs program.
In a stark difference, Evers would eliminate the tax exemption for manufacturing and agricultural businesses that Walker delivered.
Evers called for the elimination of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), a public-private partnership created under Walker, and replace it with a stage agency. He labeled WEDC as “a black eye.” Recall that the former Department of Commerce was also controversial.
Neither candidate has addressed health cost inflation, but both have adopted
coverage of pre-existing conditions in some manner. That coverage has become accepted doctrine by both parties. Be aware: it is those covered people who drive up premiums. Five percent of the population drive more than 50 percent of the nation’s health bill.
Evers has expressed support for science-based conclusions on climate change. His policies would seek mitigation of human-driven emissions. Walker and his party are not concerned.
Evers would take the legislature out of redistricting (aka gerrymandering). Walker and the GOP like it like it is.
Evers would take a harder line on gun controls, favoring background checks on gun buyers, a 48-hour wait on a gun purchases and limits on assault weapons and high capacity magazines. Walker essentially lines up with the NRA.
Evers is pro-choice, supporting government funding of abortions. Walker is pro-life down the line.
To sum up, at the bottom-bottom line, Evers has revealed himself as an unwavering liberal, as a big government Democrat in favor of higher taxes and spending. Walker continues as a hard-core conservative, a limited government Republican who deploys targeted tax reductions.
For voters of all stripes, the contrast between the two candidates on Tuesday’s ballot is as clear as it ever could be in American politics.
The major unknown in this contest is the Trump factor. Will the president’s support of Walker help him or hurt him with swing voters?
Those are the voters who pushed Walker to victory three times. They are unpredictable in the polls, so we won’t know if they are still with him until the ballots are counted Tuesday night.