Scott Walker hopes to overcome Jeb Bush’s millions and broad establishment backing by consolidating the conservative base.
One problem: He’s beginning to lose some of that base over his support for spending $250 million in taxpayer funds on a new basketball stadium benefiting the billionaire owners of the Milwaukee Bucks, Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry, who don’t even live in the state.
CATO Institute’s David Boaz slammed Walker last week for defending “corporate welfare,” puncturing his claim that it’s an investment that will pay off for taxpayers by noting “economic projections for subsidized stadiums are always vastly overstated.” Boaz added, “Any presidential candidate who believes that taxpayer-subsidized stadiums are ‘a good deal’ shouldn’t be anywhere near the federal Treasury.”
Conservative commentator James Bovard also criticized Walker as a “stadium socialist” promoting “crony capitalism at its worst” in a USA Today op-ed. Bovard also noted Walker’s recent flip-flop on ethanol subsidies and concluded, “Walker has done a stalwart job of fighting government unions: Will he show the same toughness resisting special interests favored by Republicans? It doesn’t look good.”
And some Iowa conservatives are put off by Walker’s constant flacking for Kohl’s department stores. Walker likes to talk about shopping there to burnish his middle-class bona fides. But he leaves out of his stump speech that he gave the company tax breaks worth up to $62.5 million so it wouldn’t move its headquarters elsewhere. A county GOP chair told the Des Moines Register: “Now it comes out that there were tax incentives. … What was he doing to us caucusgoers … Was he just giving us half the story? Was he withholding information that would’ve changed people’s opinions?”
While Walker is giving millions away to these corporate executives, he’s proposed a $300 million cut to the state university system.
While Walker claims he is spending taxpayer in order to keep businesses in his state, he turned down $810 million in federal funds for high-speed rail, which prompted train manufacturer Talgo to abandon its Milwaukee factory.
Walker is having such a hard time balancing his budget, that he’s delaying debt payments, a hallmark of fiscal irresponsibility.
To top it all off, the next budget has to be approved by the legislature in two weeks, and a brewing Republican rebellion may actually kill it on the state Senate floor.
It’s enough to give socialism a bad name.