Op Ed

Pendulum Swinging Against GOP

Voters could punish Walker, Republicans for cuts in UW and environmental protection.

By - Mar 4th, 2018 10:58 am
Newton's cradle.

Newton’s cradle.

Pendulum politics appear to be coming into play in Wisconsin and national politics in 2018, and they may have as much to do with the outcome of the fall elections as the knuckle balls thrown into the mix by President Trump.

When one party controls all three branches of government, as the Republicans have enjoyed at the state level since the election of Scott Walker in 2010 and at the national level with the election of Donald Trump in 2016, the agenda can shift faster than the majority in the country likes to experience.

The recent loss of a Republican state senate seat to a Democrat in a special election in the exurban area just east of the Twin Cities, along with a strong showing by a Democrat in rock-ribbed Washington County for the 58th District assembly seat, suggest that the pendulum has swung as far to the right as the voters will let it go. That portends a rough year for the Grand Old Party.

Gov. Scott Walker carried the 58th District by 49 points, compared to 13 points by GOP winner Rick Gundrum. President Trump carried the City of West Bend by 29 points. Gundrum lost the city.

Further. Walker’s polling numbers have not been strong of late, despite the strength of the state economy.

On top of the down draft of the Trump factor, the Hudson area may have been put off by the environmental rollbacks coming out of the statehouse in Madison. Hunter and angler organizations have expressed frustrations with a Republican platform that invariably puts economic development ahead of environmental improvement. They can need to and can work together.

For example, Republicans in the legislature are hell-bent on lifting the protections on a million acres of wetlands that are not connected to a major water resource. That’s one in five wetland acres in the state. Did the legislators ask hunters and anglers about that anti-conservation concept? Apparently not..

Long and short, on a range of environmental issues, state Republicans have come off as anti-conservation.

Another pendulum swing: The Walker Republicans have mounted a continuing hammer-lock on resources for the University of Wisconsin’s 25 campuses outside of Madison, including tuition freezes. Those freezes are an intelligent political response to rising student debt, but not without state dollars to offset the loss of revenues on the campuses.

Many voters in the state care deeply about the UW campuses. They or their family members are often alumni. There certainly was fat in the UWS, but much has been rendered by cuts that started of necessity under Democrat Gov. Jim Doyle in the Great Recession. Nonetheless, the anti-university budget reductions may have swung too far, as evidenced by a token increase to get back toward center in the last Walker budget.

Yes, most professors do groupthink left stuff, but the GOP needs to look past that.

Another pendulum issue: Has the state gone too far on subsidies for recruiting out-of-state companies? The $4 billion in Foxconn will be the test case. Polling shows a lack of high marks for the Foxconn investment. We will know in a decade if it pays off.

The reductions in university and conservation dollars arise from a shortage of dollars in state coffers, exacerbated by the unwillingness of Republicans and Democrats alike to address soaring health costs for state employees and Medicaid.

Gov. Walker made a run at cost savings when he pushed for self-insurance for the state employee health plan, but GOP leaders in the legislature bowed to the Medical Industrial Complex and its campaign donations and shot him down. B y the way. Gov. Walker real;ly understands health care economics.

Most votes are unaware that health costs are suffocating other state priorities. But they are aware that their favorite causes, like good roads, are under-funded.

The pendulum on soaring health costs has swung too far, and voters at the national and state levels are contemptuous of both parties for fumbling that ball. Neither party has an affordable platform for health care.

Did the parties talk to the payers and innovators in the private sector who have had some success in getting costs and quality under control? Not noticeably. They talk to the wonks and consultants inside their respective beltways, the guys in cheap seats who have never written checks for a health plan.

This is the biggest economic issue in the country – costs for a family of four now run more than $26,000 per year – and our leaders are taking a duck.

Voters expect political leaders to solve problems on a bipartisan basis. The majority detests the swing of the pendulum to hyper-partisanship.

The party in power – the Republicans – will bear the brunt of that frustration in the fall of 2018.

These major issues are intertwined, but it is clear that Democrats have a golden opportunity to ride the pendulum back to center, if only they could come up with a pro-growth platform.

John Torinus is the chairman of Serigraph Inc. and a former Milwaukee Sentinel business editor who blogs regularly at johntorinus.com.

Categories: Op-Ed, Politics

33 thoughts on “Op Ed: Pendulum Swinging Against GOP”

  1. PMD says:

    “Yes, most professors do groupthink left stuff”

    Oh good he’s still repeating right-wing talking points rather than thinking for himself. Thanks UM!

  2. Troll says:

    John the pendulum maybe swinging but your concerns brought in the article resonate with only the left. Get out and meet voters.

  3. Eric J. says:

    “By the way. Gov. Walker really understands health care economics.” ??? Since when ?? ( ELECTION YEAR ) . Why did he not take the federal expansion money and spare the state locally from covering that expense ? ( Oh ; it was Obama offering the money )

    -“Repeal and replace Obamacare on day one “. One year and some months later and what have they done ?? Same as the previous eight years —Nothing.
    -While the citizens of America get the healthcare rollercoaster ride of their life , republicans dither and come up with no solution-That’s why they are on the outs .

  4. PMD says:

    Troll you are mistaken and myopic. Moderates and independents care about the environment and the cost of college.

  5. Michael Schwister says:

    Limited money in the coffers due to corporate welfare. Not the cost of public services. Funny you never talk about the elephant in the room. As for the rest of the blah blah blah. It’s nonsense and you know it.

  6. Troll says:

    MMD government owns 20 percent of state land there is no crime in making a sale of land Two, I agree state college should be more expensive lets end the subsidies.

  7. Jake formerly of the LP says:

    Of course Torinus doesn’t talk about corporate welfare and tax cuts. He’s the classic mediocre suburban oligarch that is first in line with his hand out to take his cut of that corporate welfare.

    There is no bigger “groupthink” than what exists in the WMC/MMAC crowd that Torinus hangs around. And we’ve had subpar job growth and have backslid on quality of life measures as a result. It amazes me that this Bubble World fool continues to be considered an expert on anything other than speaking in high tones about absurd, regressive right-wing BS.

    And by the way, notice how Torinus doesn’t even consider the health care change that would be more affordable and cover more people – Medicare for All. But then Johnny wouldn’t get his share of excessive profits, now would he?

  8. Andy says:

    If WI GOP voters are pissed NOW about conservation and the UW system, they can go F*** themselves.. the writing was on the wall seven years ago (or more) with regards to how Walker and the Republicans would respond to these issues. Voters had multiple opportunities to do something about it, but didn’t, opting for more of the same (and increasingly worse). Now look at our state. Some of the effects of environmental rollbacks will never be reversible. You don’t get to be mad now because “muh, fish and deer”. You are complacent.

    Sadly, I fear Troll is right… these concerns just don’t resonate with GOP voters, never have, never will, not here, not nationwide. Swing away, pendulum… these people are idiots and we are all screwed.

  9. PMD says:

    Oh they don’t resonate with GOP voters because they think caring for the environment means tearing down and polluting because capitalism. And rich Republicans don’t care what college costs because they send their kids to whatever college they feel like donating a building to in order to ensure their kids get admitted.

  10. Walker and his corporate welfare team that continuously shift the price of business to working people while they destroy the WI environment to benefit their campaign donors need to go. Foxcon is a perfect example. They are taking billions of our hard earned tax dollars and now they want 7,000,000 gallons of our precious Lake Michigan water to pollute everyday. No word on why or how they will clean it. No accountability and Republicans are all for it, as long as it is for foreign business interests and they get their kickbacks. The right wing base has always been played by these greed soaked Republicans and the rest of us suffer, trapped by their inability to follow what happening. Don’t even mention Trump and Lyin’ Ryan’s tax scam. $1.5 trillion hand out to themselves and to the wealthy.

  11. Joanne Brown says:

    Curious that you fail to mention Walker’s refusal to 1. Accept ACA money for Wisconsin to expand Medicaid to those earning the “enormous” level of 138% poverty wages, and 2. Set up a state level insurance marketplace to control medical costs. These two failures have a lot to do with the soaring medical costs of which you complain. Attributing blame to Democrats on this front is absolute nonsense.

    And that “shortage of dollars in state coffers” to which you attribute a “failure to invest” in conservation and the university — perhaps that could have been addresses by being less generous with tax credits to (mainly big) agriculture and manufacturing, to the extent they pay only 1/2 percent income tax. Or fewer tax credits for no provable jobs from WEDC. Contrary to Scott Walker’s mantra, good state government is not measured by how little tax it collects, but by how effectively it carries out all its obligations. By that measure, Scott Walker has failed miserably.

    There’s another reason the pendulum is swinging away from Republicans. They are really doing a rotten job of meeting their responsibilities.

  12. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    This si going to be one of most interesting years in Wis/ History with 17 Dems running, none with any money or any answers to our problems except the Bernie Sanders program.

  13. PMD says:

    As a conservative, which of those 17 candidates scares you the most because you think they could actually beat Walker? Or do you believe none of them has a chance because all 17 have the exact same policy positions (which of course isn’t true)? If none of them as a chance, then it’s not going to be that interesting is it?

  14. GRNDPAKWH says:

    It is important for the Democratic candidates to not make President Trump an issue. They need to ignore him and concentrate on what they are going to do.I believe most if not almost all Trump voter’s are by now embarrassed by their vote. At least those who care and love this country are embarrassed. They do not need to be reminded of what they did.

  15. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Trumps popularity is up to 50% ahead of where Obama and Reagan were at that time.

  16. PMD says:

    Trump’s approval rating in Wisconsin is 41% as of January 31. That’s according to a Business Insider story and is the most recent number I can find for Trump’s Wisconsin approval rating. Do you have a different source WCD?

  17. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Zogby and Rasmussen. Tax Reform is just taking hold. It is fascinating to see the left just looking for ways all the time to destroy jobs.
    We grew up with Dems/Union guys and worked with them for decades to do everything to get jobs here, that paid well, now the Dems/left under the Sanders Socialists and the others work to ruin them, Doyle lost 130,000 in 8 years.

  18. PMD says:

    Aren’t those just national polls? They don’t have state polling right? Trump’s popularity in the state and in the nation are very different when you’re talking about a Wisconsin election.

  19. Anonymous Architect says:

    Not to point out the obvious, but WCD is wrong yet again.

    Real Clear Politics average is 41.1% approve for the period of 2.16-3.4
    Rasmussen, a right biased outlier has him at 48%.

    The category Trumps hits 50% in is DISapproval, ranging from 52% low (Rasmussen) to 60% high and averaging 55.4%. Perhaps WCD misread the polls…

  20. Jake formerly of the LP says:

    Zogby and Rasmussen are only believed by senile shut-ins like Bob Dohnal. Walker has seen the real numbers, and knows he and WISGOP are losing. He wouldn’t have broken the law by canceling elections if that wasn’t true (which made Scotty lose more in the process).

    As for health care policy, it is hilarious to see Torinus whine about corporate welfare, when,he and the rest of the WMC/MMAC crowd of mediocre white men are the first in,line to demand a taxpayer-funded handout.

    And if we’re really concerned with cost and affordability of health care, then Torinus should be fully behind single-payer Medicare for All. Otherwise, he is not being serious about the subject.

  21. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Inners which are real are over 52% far more than Obama at this time. the Lefty ones that showed Hillary winning by ten are what you clowns look at. Rasmussen was right on in 2016

  22. PMD says:

    Uh oh WCD Wisconsin voters don’t like Foxconn deal: https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/politics/2018/03/05/marquette-law-school-poll-wisconsin-voters-shows-skepticism-foxconn-deal/395210002/?hootPostID=d73142600ca03bfa4f6c1b4f91a3a98f

    WCD believes in alternative facts that show Trump’s approval rating is 90%.

  23. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    This is same poll showed Hillary up by ten so discount anything they say.
    Foxconn is the greatest business deal in our history promising to help us keep our kids, here, going big jobs to our college grads, acting as cataylyst for job/Tech growth in SE Wisconsin.
    Thank you Scott.

  24. PMD says:

    The people of Wisconsin don’t agree with you.

  25. Troll says:

    Lets speak some truth here about secondary education. Half these kids that attend the UW-System simply should not. They become Social Wefare majors or Criminal Justice Majors. Professors just pontificate community organization bullshit. Walker should end UW-education subsidies but he is married to the Suburban married woman voter. What a waist of money. MATC is where its at if they actually taught trades again and stopped teaching Obamanomics.

  26. PMD says:

    “A waist of money.” Best comment of the year so far. In a rant against the value of education no less. Priceless. Troll is a grade school dropout.

  27. Jake says:

    I think people realize that Republicans work for the rich and the entire party is white supremacist.
    Oh, and they are wholly incompetent when it comes to governing.

  28. Troll says:

    Jake, kinda hard to win elections with just rich and white. Last I looked the top five wealthy Americans have a cumulative wealth of 350 billion dollars. All five white Democrats.

  29. PMD says:

    That the wealthiest Americans identify as Democrats isn’t evidence of the GOP not being the party of rich people. If you hadn’t dropped out of elementary school that wouldn’t be so hard for you to understand.

  30. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    All the top guys like Soros are Dems casue they know the Dems are for sale and spend more money. GOP are the 90% of employers that are small business guys.

  31. Troll says:

    The billionaires become so big that they out grow the market. The little man come s after their business and they influence government to regulate the market. Small businesses get killed by regulations and lawyers. If someone like Bezos, Buffett, or Gates state s their a republican their is a Target on their back because it is except able to be wealthy and liberal. 1990’s Trump is a humanitarian and loved. 2016 Trump equal s Hitler.

  32. PMD says:

    Can you please share a link to a story that calls Trump a humanitarian? That seems like a word that has never been used to describe him. But prove me wrong, please. Don’t “waist” this opportunity.

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us