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Seven Rather Pointed Questions for Scott Walker | The Nation

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John Nichols

John Nichols

Breaking news and analysis of politics, the economy and activism.

Seven Rather Pointed Questions for Scott Walker

Wisconsin Governor Walker and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett will face off tonight in the second—and final—debate of the Wisconsin gubernatorial recall election campaign.

Barrett, the labor-backed Democrat who seeks to oust Walker, wanted more debates.

Walker, the controversial governor whose draconian budget measures inspired mass protests last year, did not. In fact, in the first debate last week, Walker was barely present—declining to participate in a segment where the candidates were to ask one another questions, failing to respond to challenges from his opponent or questions from journalists on the panel.

Why is Walker so disinclined to debate? Apparently, the Republican governor, who has raised $31 million to $3.9 million for Barrett, prefers to let his attack ads do the talking.

But Walker will face one more round of questions tonight. And it will be harder to avoid them, as one of the state’s ablest broadcasters, Mike Gousha, will be asking them.

In case Gousha runs out of questions, here are a few he could toss Walker’s way:

1. In October 2010, you told the Oshkosh Northwestern’s editorial board that you would work with public-employee unions and respect the bargaining process. You said: “You still have to negotiate.” But you did not negotiate with public-employee unions. Now, you acknowledge that you and your aides began developing legislation to strip away collective-bargaining rights immediately after your election. Did you lie to the Northwestern’s editorial board?

2. In February 2011, you told the people of Wisconsin in a televised address that you were forced by a fiscal crisis to introduce a budget-repair bill that created dozens of new political positions for your cronies, proposed the sell-off of state assets and attacked the rights of public employees and teachers. Now, we learn that the drafting of elements of the legislation began months before the “crisis” developed. Did you lie to the people of Wisconsin?

3. In April 2011, you told Congress that you began developing your anti-labor legislation in response to actions by the unions. Now, you acknowledge that the legislation was being drafted before you had any interactions with the unions. Did you lie to Congress?

4. In April 2011, in the same sworn testimony to Congress, you said that you had not spoken to anyone about using anti-labor legislation to punish or undermine political foes. Now, we see a videotape showing you speaking months earlier to your largest political donor, about using a “divide and conquer” strategy to undermine your political foes and to make Wisconsin “a completely red [Republican] state.” Did you lie to the Congress about this, as well?

5. In last week’s debate, when asked about healthcare programs for low-income workers and families (such as Wisconsin’s BadgerCare) you suggested that you are expanding them and providing them with unprecedented support. Yet under your administration more than 60,000 Wisconsinites have either been stripped of coverage or denied access to coverage for which they qualify. Did you lie in response to that question in last week’s debate?

6. Throughout the current campaign, you have been asked to answer basic questions about who is funding the criminal defense fund that has been established to help you respond to the “John Doe” inquiry into illegal actions by your aides and campaign donors. You have suggested that you cannot answer these and other questions related to the probe because of constraints placed on you by prosecutors and by state law. But veteran prosecutors and the state Government Accountability Board have suggested that you have a good deal of flexibility when it comes to answering these questions. Did you lie when you said you could not answer even basic questions relating to the “John Doe” probe?

7. Throughout the current campaign, you have been harshly critical of the use of the recall process to hold you to account. Yet in 2010 your campaign produced a video in which you hailed the recall campaign that cleared the way for you to become Milwaukee county executive as a hopeful expression of direct democracy. Did you lie in that video about your attitude toward recall elections? Or are you lying now that it is you who are being held to account by the people?

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