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Few Surprises in WI’s First of Two Gov Debates as Burke Dings Walker on Voter ID, Jobs, Medicare

via JS Online

via JS Online

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On Friday, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and his Democratic challenger Mary Burke participated in the first of two planned debates. They touched on subjects as disparate as the minimum wage and abortion just one month before the general election.  For Walker, much of the debate was spent defending his first controversial term in office. For Burke, this was an opportunity to show how her style contrasts Walker’s. She told viewers, “Governor Walker has had four years, and his top-down approach putting those at the top and special interests ahead of you is not working.”

The latest polling from Marquette Law School shows Walker with a five point lead over Burke (4.1% margin of error), so the debates are crucial for the challenger.  Throughout the race polling has indicated a close finish is coming.

The state’s new Voter ID law, which has been blocked by the Supreme Court, were discussed as well.  Walker’s argument in favor of the oppressive measure was shaky at best:

“It doesn’t matter if there’s one, 100 or 1,000,” Walker said, “amongst us who would be that one person who would like to have our vote canceled out by a vote that was cast illegally?”

MSNBC’s Steve Benen explains that this argument does little to address the reasons the law has so many objectors:

Walker realizes that there are no documented incidents in modern Wisconsin history of a voter committing voter fraud, at least not in a way that could be prevented by a voter-ID law. The Republican governor also realizes that independent estimates suggest more than 300,000 legal, eligible Wisconsin voters could be disenfranchised by this voter-ID law, which addresses a problem that doesn’t exist.

But note the calculus Walker makes: disenfranchising 300,000 legal voters is a price he’s willing to pay to ensure that one – not one percent, just one literal individual – fraudulent-but-hypothetical vote isn’t cast. Wisconsin’s governor is prepared to create the worst election-related chaos in the nation, on purpose, regardless of the costs or consequences, if it means one individual who might cast a fraudulent vote is prevented from doing so.

If this is the best argument Walker can come up with, voter-suppression proponents really need to come up with new talking points.

The minimum wage, which Burke wants to raise and Walker wants to leave as is, has been a hot topic in several races this election season.  Burke wants a $10.10 and says she, “wants the working people of Wisconsin to have the ability to earn minimum wage and still have the pride of not having to rely on government assistance.” Walker deflected the questioning arguing that he was concerned with “creating jobs that pay three times the minimum wage.”

The remark is comical considering Walker’s abject failure in terms of job creation. The state has been in the bottom half, and sometimes the bottom ten, in job growth. Burke took Walker to task for failing to meet his campaign promise of creating 250,000 new jobs in Wisconsin during his first term.  Walker admitted to falling 140,000 jobs short but said he was making progress.  He argued that the laws he has championed during his administration have saved the state’s taxpayers $3 billion.  

Burke also blasted Walker for not accepting federal funds to expand Medicare.  Burke argued that people across the state have lost their insurance because of Walker’s decision to turn down $206 million in federal Medicare assistance.  It has been estimated that 27,000 people are now uninsured due to the decision, which Walker stood by during the debate:”

“I think Obamacare has failed to live up to its promises,” Walker said. ”I’d like to repeal it. That’s the difference between my opponent and I. My opponent would like to expand it in the state, I want to repeal it.”

The candidates will debate once more on October 17th at the Milwaukee Area Technical College.  


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