By State Representative, Leon D. Young
It’s official. Scott Walker is now in the process of laying out his platform for his run for a third-term in office. It’s no secret that Walker is one of the least popular governors in the country.
With an approval rating mired at an all-time low of 38 percent, the governor is now in the process of devising a strategy to improve the electorate’s perception of him. Hence his decision to roll out his new welfare reform initiative and re-invent a convenient political foil.
Borrowing a page from the political handbook of his gubernatorial friend/ mentor Tommy Thompson, the governor wants to expand work requirements for food stamp recipients to parents of school-age children.
Under Walker’s sweeping welfare overhaul, Food Share recipients must either work a job or receive state job training to receive state benefits.
It should be noted that Walker’s proposal, likely, would require approval from the new Trump administration.
Federal law currently exempts parents or guardians caring for children from such work requirements.
What striking in Walker’s latest attempt to curry favor with Wisconsin voters is his pressing need to create a convenient political foil or bogeyman, if you will?
The ploy goes as follows: Walker wants to give the impression that he plans to save the hard-working taxpayers of the state millions by requiring a quid pro quo (work/training for state benefits) from food stamp recipients.
Subliminally intrinsic to this response is the notion that food stamp recipients are merely scamming the system at taxpayers’ expense.
This revolting political strategy is far from new. In his gubernatorial run for office in 1986, Tommy Thompson threw the state teachers’ union (WEAC) under the bus by insisting that outrageous teachers’ salaries were directly responsible for the state’s high property taxes.
Thompson would later use poor people as a convenient target as well, in advancing his welfare reform measures, known as W-2.
It should be noted that Walker was quick to acknowledge that his proposals would build on the welfare-to-work initiatives of former Governor Thompson, who is the longest serving governor in the state’s history.
Let’s consider two last points. First, Walker wants us desperately to believe that his welfare reform measures eliminate incentives to not work. But, in truth, the reason why these food stamp recipients are unemployed may have more to do with the fact that this governor has failed miserably in his pledge to create new jobs. And second, the location of the scant number of new jobs that have been created rest primarily outside the central city, and not readily accessible by mass transit.