President Barack Obama followed up his tweet in support of Mayor Tom Barrett’s efforts to unseat Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker today with a blast email to Wisconsin email lists beloning to his campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
Sent early Tuesday morning, the email says Barrett has “been a dedicated congressman and a great mayor, and he would make an outstanding governor for Wisconsin,” but makes no mention of Walker. The email’s late timing means it’s unlikely to make much of a difference in an election that has dominated airwaves with tens of millions of advertising dollars.
BuzzFeed has a screen grab of the e-mail itself, which never mentions why Wisconsin voters should recall Scott Walker. It just says that Tom Barrett would “make an outstanding governor,” an issue that Wisconsin voters settled in 2010, when Barrett lost to Walker.
A better question to ask today would be why Obama suddenly felt it necessary to participate at all. He had made it clear that he wanted nothing to do with this race, avoiding the state entirely while flying over it — twice — on Friday. The conventional wisdom was that Obama wants to avoid making Wisconsin’s recall election relevant at all to his own re-election bid. Now he’s managed to do that by getting involved almost literally at the last minute, after close to 200,000 absentee ballots have already been cast, and in the least effective manner possible. An e-mail blast won’t convince anyone to run down to their polling station and cast a ballot for Barrett at this late stage who hadn’t already planned to do so, and a Barrett loss will now get linked to Obama directly. It’s a lose-lose proposition, which means that Obama must have felt compelled to do something to deal with rising anger over his inaction on behalf of the recall.
Barrett needs a big turnout today from public-sector employees to win the recall. However, Watchdog.org wonders whether these PEU members have actually listened to Barrett’s proposals. His 2010 “Put Madison on a Diet” plan, which Barrett endorsed again yesterday, would have cut benefits for public employees much more deeply than Scott Walker did with Act 10 by driving compensation into parity with the private sector:
If Barrett wins Tuesday and follows through on his pay equality objective, state workers could be in for a shock.
Even after Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s Act 10 reforms — legislation to curtail collective bargaining rights and require public workers to pay more for pensions and health care — public employees still fare much better than their private counterparts.
A May 30 study by American Enterprise Institute‘s Andrew Biggs, resident scholar, and Jason Richwine, senior policy analyst, showed that “pension benefits for Wisconsin public employees are roughly 4.5 times more valuable than private sector levels while health benefits are about twice as generous as those paid by larger private sector Wisconsin employers.”
In all, the report said, public workers make about 22 percent more than the state’s private employees.
To put all workers on a level playing field, public workers would be in for a drastic benefit and compensation cut.
“In dollar terms, the average Wisconsin state worker after Act 10 receives total compensation including benefits equal to $81,637 versus $67,068 for a similarly-skilled private worker, a difference of $14,569,” wrote the researchers from the think tank.
We’ll see. Some anecdotal reports hint at a big turnout in today’s recall election, but Madison — the center of Barrett’s public-sector support –might be lagging. This report might be one reason why, if so.