Scott Walker tore up Doyle’s fast-train deal but Wisconsin’s economy didn’t crash and burn

Remember when Scott Walker tore up Jim Doyle’s fast-train deal and spurned $810 million in Obama stimulus money? Remember how that was going to wreck Wisconsin’s economy?

Girl tracksAs Madison’s own Chris Farley used to say, “That was awesome!”

Seven years ago this month. Scott Walker had just defeated the Democrat, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (for the first time, as it turned out). The governor-elect set up a podium in front of the east wing of the State Capitol and said he would not be suckered in to a boondoggle that made no economic sense, “free money” or not.

“Walker creates jobs, but not in Wisconsin,” Comrade Nichols tut-tutted at the time.

Our liberal-progressive-socialist acquaintances did what they do best: they held a rally. Here is Big labor toady Roger Bybee reporting for the radical Left mouthpiece In These Times:

State Sen. Spencer Coggs, D-Milwaukee, was among the parade of speakers — from labor, the environmental movement, the faith community, Latino, and African-American neighborhood groups [Blaska: always the identity politics] — who addressed a spirited crowd of about 400 Monday. They denounced Walker’s move as destructive both to the environment and the state’s economic recovery.

That was seven years ago this November.

So many new jobs, not enough workers

This is now: “Wisconsin businesses grapple with a growing worker shortage.” That was the headline on the WI State Journal’s big Sunday spread a few weeks ago.

Unemployment in Wisconsin and the nation as a whole are the lowest this young century. The stock markets — whether measured by the Dow Jones, the S&P 500, or the Russell 5000 — are setting records. When the Dow Jones industrial average soars 331 points in a single day, as it did Thursday, people with retirement savings sit up and take notice.

economy“Consumer spending, home sales, and business investment show rising optimism,” the Wall Street Journal reports this morning. The GDP is finally growing at a 3% clip, and better.

Economists predict national unemployment, at 4.1% in October, will improve to 3.5% at the end of 2018, a rate not seen since the late 1960s.

Wisconsin’s employment numbers are even better — 3.4%, down from 9.2% in December 2009. Wisconsin’s gained more manufacturing jobs than any other state but one; we  were Number #1 in the Midwest. The percentage increase in all non-farm jobs is 7th-best in the country and the best-est in the Midwest-est. New unemployment insurance claims for 2016 were the fewest in 30 years.

Now Gov. Walker is asking the Republican legislature for money to beat the bushes nationwide for workers.

“Start-ups’ is a non-starter

So what does Your Progressive Voice tout as an issue?  “Lackluster’ start up success in Wisconsin could be prominent issue in 2018 governor’s race,” reads their headline this week. Nice try.

To be fair, they’re quoting the usually reliable television journalist Mike Gousha. Democrats have sounded this theme before. But as a campaign issue? As a vote getter? It just doesn’t ring. That bell has no clapper.

Cue football coach Jim Mora’s classic post-game meltdown: Start ups? START UPS? The biggest economic problem in Wisconsin is finding enough workers to fill all the jobs being created here and you’re asking about “start-ups”?

More likely, Democrats will try to make hay on the $3 billion incentives to land FoxConn and as many as 13,000 jobs. Just don’t tell anyone in Racine or Kenosha, which only happen to be two of the most Democratic enclaves in Wisconsin. Never mind that almost all of the incentives come in foregone future revenues rather than actual outlays.

BTW: Ohio’s governor John Kasich also spurned the Obama high-speed train stimulus. So the money went to California. How’s that been going?

The high-speed train to Palookaville

Federal stimulus money for California high-speed rail: $25 billion. Total cost of the project: $64 billion — up from the $40 billion originally sold to referendum voters. The Democratic state legislature just denied a request for an emergency audit. The last audit, conducted five years ago, “noted a number of concerns about finances and ridership,” a Bakersfield news outlet reported this week.

The project is seven years behind schedule. The first phase won’t be completed until 2025. Due to safety concerns, in many segments the train will be slow-speed, not high-speed. The venture is tied up in the courts over a spate of environmental lawsuits. (Forget it, Jake. It’s California.)

“Nobody wanted this train wreck,” the Orange County Register editorialized this month.

Blaska’s Bottom Line: Bucky defeats the Buckeyes Saturday in Native Americanopolis, 28-21, for the Big Fourteen crown and a berth in the college football playoffs.

About David Blaska

Madison WI
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18 Responses to Scott Walker tore up Doyle’s fast-train deal but Wisconsin’s economy didn’t crash and burn

  1. old baldy. says:

    “Seven years ago this month. Scott Walker had just defeated the Democrat, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (for the first time, as it turned out). The governor-elect set up a podium in front of the east wing of the State Capitol and said he would not be suckered in to a boondoggle that made no economic sense, “free money” or not”.

    Now, here is what you said about the CA project that got the $$ earmarked for WI, “The project is seven years behind schedule”.

    Looks like your timeline is a little biased, maybe even untrue.


    • David Blaska says:

      The bond measure that California voters approved in 2008 required that federal stimulus funds be spent by September 30, 2017. That was also the deadline for completing construction of an initial segment.The Orange County Register reports: “Completion is at least two years off, about seven years behind schedule.The voters may have wanted a train between San Francisco and Los Angeles, but first they’re getting a train between San Jose and an agricultural field near Wasco. Exactly how that route will operate without a public subsidy is a work of creative accounting, still in progress.”

      So, how is my timeline biased or untrue?


      • madisonexpat says:

        Gee David, its not like OB picks a nit, misses the point and gets the premise wrong, is it? As an analyst he’s a heckuva link poster.


      • old baldy says:

        Thanks for pointing out that the CA project and the WI project aren’t really related. Your attempt at making the scheduling and budget woes of CA apply to the “what-could-have-been’ in WI point out your bias. You could have just said we’ll never know what the success/failure of the WI rail project would have been because it never happened. A smart guy like you should know that.

        splat: Have you figured out the difference between Mattis and Kelley yet?


        • David Blaska says:

          They’re not related? Seriously? Federal government dangles stimulus money in front of the states. Wisconsin says no thanks, California swallows whole, experiences the cost overruns (which come out of local pockets), delays, environmental lawsuits, and broken promises that Gov.Walker predicted and people like Bill Richardson predicted. And they’re “not related”? You are a foolish man, Baldy.


  2. old baldy says:

    No, davey, I’m not. But for you to extrapolate that the two projects would have had the same result is extremely foolish. The WI train never happened, to argue that it would have been a failure is silly beyond measure. Even your mentor and long-time bromantic interest TGT was in favor of the train (until he was running against Baldwin).


    • David Blaska says:

      “But for you to extrapolate that the two projects would have had the same result is extremely foolish prescient.” (THERE, FIXED IT.) But then, researchers like Randal O’Toole (to name one) were already citing case after case. Some people learn from experience. Others think they can repeat the same thing over and over and still expect different results. Those people are crazy democrats.


  3. old baldy says:

    Lots of assumptions, no actual facts on the WI project that never happened. I’m glad the Wright brothers ( and other innovators throughout history) weren’t swayed by the short-sighted and pessimistic. And by the way, how much did the Talgo lawsuit cost the taxpayers?


    • David Blaska says:

      Truly, you are a piece of work, ol’ Baldy! Even with the benefit of hindsight, even with examples a-plenty of failed, overly expensive fast rail boondoggles, you insist that maybe, perhaps — who knows? — Wisconsin high-speed right might have been the exception that proves the rule. One would think that if you could have provided one example of a successful system, you would’ve proffered it here. Tell us why, then, of the 11 Democrats who have declared their challenge to Gov. Walker, not a single one advocates bullet trains? Why is that, Baldy? Do they know something you do not?


  4. old baldy says:

    Well for starters there isn’t that $$ available anymore. The R’s in power have decided to give it all to those already rich.
    And if you can say with a straight face that you know absolutely that the WI train project would have fail, you are truly delusional.
    You ever been to Europe? Ride a train there? It’s kinda kool drinking a great German helles at 200 mph.
    And how about those Talgo jobs. Wouldn’t have cost $3 biilion…..


  5. richard lesiak says:

    How much did the resulting lawsuit cost Wisconsin? Foxcomm deal is full of holes and may never get here. How about a talking about the bang up job the WisconsinEconomicDisasterandCorruption board has done.


  6. madisonexpat says:

    Ye gods Baldy, stop digging.


  7. madisonexpat says:

    Imagine the effect of no longer being able to deduct liberally high state and local taxes from your federal taxes. Hoo boy! Small Paul Soglin, Pelosi, all of Illinois, CA, CT, NY et al should start squealing in 10-9-8…


  8. madisonexpat says:

    Anyone like some yummy popcorn?


  9. Pingback: Election-year Democrats say Wisconsin is a XXXX-hole | Stately Blaska Manor

  10. Pingback: If you think you live in a s—hole and you don’t, does that make you a s—head? – Steve The Presteblog

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