noun US informal
a boxing tactic of pretending to be trapped against the ropes, goading an opponent to throw tiring ineffective punches.
It's not that Scott Walker is deliberately, methodically playing rope-a-dope. It's just that he discovered he can back into it, find a comfortable sweet spot and watch his political opponents flail themselves into providing him another victory to win his third term.
Now you might be asking yourself, what is this blogger writing about?
It begins with this. It's about a large disenfranchised constituency that had their wages and benefits deleveraged by outsourcing and through state legislation, voting hours cut, local control taken away and electoral districts gerrymandered - just for starters.
In general, they (we) have had our teeth kicked in. All the while a favored donor-class constituency picked up massive income tax cuts and tax credits including expanded lobby access into the halls of state government. So now, after all of those massive shifts in wealth transfer and political power, the "leaders" of the downtrodden are now joining in with their cruel masters begging Walker into raising their taxes and fees to pay for roads. Honest.
OK, you might be thinking, "What's wrong with that? Walker caused it, and the state's roads and infrastructure are crumbling right before our very eyes." True, but you have to put several things into proper perspective to understand where I'm coming from on this.
First, Scott Walker is a Norquist Tax Pledge signer. That overrides everything.
In a nutshell, Norquist pledgers have relinquished their constitutional fiduciary responsibility and handed it over to Grover Norquist. That means any new or increased taxes are prohibited by his pledgers and any new spending requests can be implemented so long as they are offset with cuts elsewhere in the budget.
"Raising the gas tax or vehicle registration fees without an equal or greater reduction in taxes elsewhere is not an option, and it would throw a wet blanket on our growing economy," Walker wrote.
See what I mean?
The idea is to give an effect of a budget neutral - tax neutral expenditure. Obviously, it's a huge campaign talking point for republicans. See mom? No new taxes.
So what does Gov. Grover Norquist allow? Well, borrowing is perfectly OK with Norquist. Because of that, Walker has been willing to borrow to keep road expansions on schedule over the past few years. But in his latest latest memo to WisDOT, he asked the department to keep new bonding levels low for the next budget.
Many believe, including myself, that Norquist's pledge is the primary driver responsible for most of America's $20 trillion debt note. But borrowing leads to increased debt no matter how noble the cause or low the interest rates, so many "conservatives" like Wisconsin republicans including Walker don't want to give their political opponents another talking point that can be used against them.
So what's left? "Conservatives" like to talk about cuts in spending, except Walker boasts about spending more on roads than his predecessor and his state budgets grew by 15% over the past five years despite his claim of taking less. So there's that.
Then there is the ever politically phony "savings" stunt. Oh boy. When it comes to savings on roads, State Sen. Duey Stroebel said he wants a full repeal of the state's prevailing wage law because it means reducing costs. Might as well bring in Chinese laborers on Paul Ryan's work visa plan too. Hey, why not?
In truth, Stroebel's idea of savings on roads means a few more kicks to the teeth for Wisconsin laborers.
Speaking of Duey Stroebel, he also takes Walker's side on Wisconsin's roads being not all that bad as part of his personal “No New Funding” campaign for Wisconsin’s crumbling infrastructure. No new funding really means no new taxes to an ideologue like Stroebel. Why? Because Stroebel is a Norquist Tax pledge signer just like Walker. It's a small world, huh?
That leaves me with the last suspect. The referendum. It's the only thing left. Grover Norquist is OK with referendums because he has nothing to hold hostage against citizen voters for a ransom and he can't blame his pledge signers for the referendum's result.
However, because of the rising anti-tax fervor fueled over the years in part by Norquist himself, places like Janesville Wisconsin and Michigan voters have both rightly rejected new tax referendums to pay for roads. So the expectation for a statewide referendum in Wisconsin to succeed is very low.
Except in Wisconsin, the neo-liberal media establishment (that includes certain blogs) have been working 24/7 lately to convince readers about the road lobby reports and rankings including our state's pay-ability among peers and apparent willingness to absorb higher tax obligations for roads. According to some reports, all sides want higher taxes.
The thing is; they know they will not convince Walker. Even WisDOT Secretary Mark Gottlieb has given up and Walker holds veto power over anything legislators might propose ...so who are they working on?
Walker of course would likely not recommend a state referendum, but he would welcome the voters decision regardless. If rejected, he could say he was right all along.
If approved, he could say "...after all the humiliation and resentment I put you through, including in-your-face income inquality tax cuts and credits for my wealthiest donor-class supporters (to the tune of $736 million over five years) while slashing and burning everything you ever stood for leaves you begging me for more spending and willingly approve higher taxes onto yourselves ...I'd say it's working and I kept my promise."
Every politicians dream. Walker could be governor of Wisconsin for life.