I suppose Scott Walker is still polling a little too well for the comfort level of liberal commentators. If that weren’t the case, one wonders if they would still be so obsessed with the financial situation of one of the least wealthy candidates for the presidency. But since this tired story is being whipped up for another lap around the campaign track, let’s check in on the latest financial burdens being discussed around the kitchen table in the Walker household. (National Journal)
Gov. Scott Walker has two credit-card debts of more than $10,000 apiece on separate cards and is paying an eye-popping 27.24 percent interest rate on one of them, new federal financial documents disclosed on Monday show.
The Republican presidential candidate has cast himself as both a fiscal conservative leader and a penny-pinching everyman on the campaign trail, often touting his love of Kohl’s, the discount department store. His newly published financial disclosure shows that, like many Americans, Walker has few assets, some major debts (including more than $100,000 for student loans for his children), and a punishing interest rate on his credit-card obligations.
Walker incurred one credit-card debt with Barclays in 2014, according to the financial disclosure form, and owed between $10,000 and $15,000 at a 27.24 percent interest rate as of July 2015. Most financial advisers recommend shedding credit-card debt as quickly as possible, especially when paying interest rates that high.
Completely aside from the political knives being unsheathed in this story line, I would offer a suggestion to Scott Walker; get a different credit card. I’ve seen (and received) plenty of offers for credit cards with those astronomical rates but they go straight in the trash because there are far better deals out there. We currently have two cards. One long time family account has an interest rate which is currently just barely above ten percent. (It’s from USAA, by the way, in case you’re interested in looking into one.) The rate used to be higher – though never anywhere near that high – but they reward members with lowered rates over the years for on time payments and other “good customer” factors. I do have another one that’s closer to 18%, but that’s only used for business travel or vacation and is paid off each time it’s used before any interest is charged. Honestly, I only have it because it’s tied to my travel rewards program and I get points for using it.
In either case, Walker could probably do a lot better than the rate he’s paying. The other possibility is that he might have gotten behind on his payments at some point. Many cards have ugly little provisions in their terms of service where they can skyrocket your interest rate if you miss even a single payment. If that happened, it’s hard to say what other options might be available to the governor.
More curious is the implication in the left side coverage of this story that having that debt burden somehow casts doubt on Walker’s bona fides as a fiscal conservative. He’s not a rich guy and never has been. He’s paying off huge student loans for his kids, a mortgage and, yes, he has some credit card debt. That’s not an ideal situation, but don’t you think that it’s one that many, many Americans can relate to, particularly in the middle of the Obama economy? If Walker is managing his debt, taking care of his family and handling his responsibilities that sounds like far more of a positive than a negative to me.
Bonus coverage: The National Journal article couldn’t resist dropping in this nugget.
His carrying of high-interest credit-card debt makes Walker the second major candidate with some eyebrow-raising personal finances. Earlier this year, rival Sen. Marco Rubio, also among the less-well-off politicians in the field, reported cashing out one of his retirement accounts, another move not recommended by many financial professionals.
Well, at least Rubio isn’t renting out his handsome brick driveway yet.