DART — To the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. for giving out $124.3 million in grants, loans and tax credits to businesses without a formal review of their viability. The awards went to 26 businesses during the organization’s first 15 months. Fortunately, WEDC’s policies have changed since then and a review is now required. Gov. Scott Walker created the agency and didn’t require basic due diligence from the organization before it handed out huge chunks of cash, including $62.5 million to Kohl’s.
In his re-election campaign in 2014, Gov. Scott Walker was successful despite his failure to deliver his most memorable campaign promise of 2010 — creating 250,000 new private-sector jobs.
But as he campaigns around the country as a still unannounced candidate for president, the evidence of his poor stewardship of the Wisconsin economy is building. Eventually voters are going to start paying attention.
DART — To Wisconsin government leaders for not creating a climate in which entrepreneurs are eager to bring their ideas. Our state ranks dead last in the Kauffman Foundation’s annual Index on Startup Activity, released this month. Greg Meier, a well-connected member of the state’s business start-up community, offered an alarming assessment: “The economic battleground of the 21st century is going to be technical talent, and, outside of Madison, the state has a shrinking pool of technical talent.” The Pew Charitable Trust reported in March that Wisconsin had the most rapidly shrinking middle class from 2000 to 2013. This is not a good time for Gov. Scott Walker and Republican legislators’ plan to cut investment in higher education by hundreds of millions of dollars.
The intense conflict between the European Union led by Germany and heavily indebted Greece continues. On June 22, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras proposed concessions involving more taxes. On June 25, Greece’s government rejected counter-demands, risking default on an impending payment to the International Monetary Fund.
Germany is firmly established as the dominant EU economy. That nation’s Chancellor Angela Merkel has insisted that the Athens government press austerity in return for financial aid.
Let me start out today with a suggestion regarding something that has come up since my last column. There’s talk about replacing Alexander Hamilton on the 10 dollar bill.
There are plenty of suggestions on who should replace him. I believe that since Hamilton put our financial system in place he deserves to stay on U.S. currency. But, as always, I have a solution that should work.
While numerous opinions have been expressed about the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., there has been little public comment from those of us who serve on the board of the organization. Many of us have been involved with WEDC since its inception.
We recognize there will always be some disagreement regarding the appropriate role of government in economic development. However, the competitive realities of the global and domestic marketplace is what drove the strategic decision to reposition the State of Wisconsin to more effectively leverage opportunities for sustainable economic growth through the creation of WEDC.
“This whole week,” said President Obama, “I’ve been reflecting on this idea of grace.”
That was the turning point of last week’s eulogy for Clementa Pinckney, the Charleston, S.C. minister who was, with eight of his congregants, murdered by a racist terrorist two weeks ago. It was the moment a memorable speech became a speech for history.
Of all the overwhelming news stories of the last week, there is one that has not quite made it across the Atlantic.
Oh yes, President Barack Obama suddenly was not the klutz the American right always made him out to be, but an overnight emerged visionary. Russia was close to invading Ukraine. ISIS may well be closing in on Damascus!
Thus was Chris Christie’s opening tribute to his hard-working parents and grandparents the most affecting part of his announcement on Tuesday that he is seeking the Republican presidential nomination. The New Jersey governor bestowed praise across gender lines, describing his grandmothers as women “who knew how to work and who knew that hard work would deliver something for their children.”
This section of Christie’s speech got little attention, probably because it was seen as political boilerplate, the kind of thing politicians like to say to connect themselves to the struggles of their fellow citizens. But work, its rewards and its discontents will be central to our nation’s debate going into the 2016 campaign. And President Barack Obama has laid down a marker for testing how seriously politicians take the obligation to make hard work pay.