The Corner

Wisconsin Spending: Apocalypse Not

“The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they are ignorant,” President Reagan once quipped, “but that they know so much that isn’t so.” He could have been talking about the liberal explanation for Scott Walker’s recall victory. They claim Walker won because he outspent his opponent eight-to-one. Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett was supposedly drowned in a flood of corporate cash.

It’s a convenient explanation, one that ties into liberal concerns about the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. It avoids admitting that many Wisconsin voters liked Walker’s reforms limiting government unions. It’s also completely untrue.

Yes, Governor Walker raised about $32 million and Barrett raised $4 million in the campaign. But Barrett didn’t organize the recall. Government unions did. And Barrett’s contributions number does not count the $21 million spent by three unions. No one who knows anything about the union movement could imagine they would declare a blood feud and then sit on the sidelines.

#more#Government unions were the top-spending outside group in the last election cycle, handily outspending both the Chamber of Commerce and American Crossroads. These unions wanted to send a message to other governors not to repeat Walker’s reforms. In their campaign against Walker, they were as generous with their own money as they are with taxpayer dollars.

The MacIver Institute tracked the recall spending by AFSCME, SEIU, the NEA, and the rest of the government-union movement. They reported spending $21 million on the recall. That total excludes the value of their “in-kind” contributions — manning phone banks, get-out-the-vote efforts, bringing in campaign workers from other states — that the FEC does not require unions to report.

The union movement spent more than enough to make their case against Walker. Walker spent enough to make his case, too. Walker won because, having seen his reforms in action, most voters liked them. He even got 38 percent of the union vote (as much as in his first election).

Governor Walker’s limits on collective bargaining in government enabled him to close a $3.6 billion deficit without raising taxes and without laying off teachers. He made paying union dues voluntary and held unions accountable by requiring them to run for reelection. These were good policies. If the voters had disagreed, then no amount of cash would have saved Walker. Just ask former New Jersey governor John Corzine. He spent his fortune losing to Chris Christie.

Most Popular

Elections

Put Up or Shut Up on These Accusations, Hillary

Look, one 2016 candidate being prone to wild and baseless accusations is enough. Appearing on Obama campaign manager David Plouffe’s podcast, Hillary Clinton suggested that 2016 Green Party candidate Jill Stein was a “Russian asset,” that Republicans and Russians were promoting the Green Party, and ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Elizabeth Warren Is Not Honest

If you want to run for office, political consultants will hammer away at one point: Tell stories. People respond to stories. We’ve been a story-telling species since our fur-clad ancestors gathered around campfires. Don’t cite statistics. No one can remember statistics. Make it human. Make it relatable. ... Read More
National Review

Farewell

Today is my last day at National Review. It's an incredibly bittersweet moment. While I've only worked full-time since May, 2015, I've contributed posts and pieces for over fifteen years. NR was the first national platform to publish my work, and now -- thousands of posts and more than a million words later -- I ... Read More
Culture

Feminists Have Turned on Pornography

Since the sexual revolution of the 1960s, the feminist movement has sought to condemn traditional sexual ethics as repressive, misogynistic, and intolerant. As the 2010s come to a close, it might be fair to say that mainstream culture has reached the logical endpoint of this philosophy. Whereas older Americans ... Read More
Economy & Business

Andrew Yang, Snake Oil Salesman

Andrew Yang, the tech entrepreneur and gadfly, has definitely cleared the bar for a successful cause candidate. Not only has he exceeded expectations for his polling and fundraising, not only has he developed a cult following, not only has he got people talking about his signature idea, the universal basic ... Read More
White House

The Impeachment Defense That Doesn’t Work

If we’ve learned anything from the last couple of weeks, it’s that the “perfect phone call” defense of Trump and Ukraine doesn’t work. As Andy and I discussed on his podcast this week, the “perfect” defense allows the Democrats to score easy points by establishing that people in the administration ... Read More
Elections

Democrats Think They Can Win without You

A  few days ago, Ericka Anderson, an old friend of National Review, popped up in the pages of the New York Times lamenting that “the Democratic presidential field neglects abundant pools of potential Democrat converts, leaving persuadable audiences — like independents and Trump-averse, anti-abortion ... Read More
PC Culture

Defiant Dave Chappelle

When Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special Sticks & Stones came out in August, the overwhelming response from critics was that it was offensive, unacceptable garbage. Inkoo Kang of Slate declared that Chappelle’s “jokes make you wince.” Garrett Martin, in the online magazine Paste, maintained that the ... Read More