How did he do it? With a mix of conservatism and pragmatism. Walker’s first moves were resolutely Republican. The controversial 2011 “budget repair bill” proposed major cuts with the goal of saving $300 million in two years, including welfare reform and changes to public sector employees’ contracts. More recently, however, his fiscal policy has been cautious – a mix of targeted tax cuts and small rises in spending in the areas of workforce training and education. The fact is that Wisconsin’s recovery is real but fragile, and Walker has balanced the books without trying to impose on his state the kind of pure libertarian economics that his opponents feared. It’s an example of sensible conservative governance – not, as so much of the liberal media seemed to imagine, a Tea Party coup d’etat. No wonder he beat the recall effort.
Not only has he delivered the goods but (this is the best bit) Walker now wants to give those goods back to the voters in the form of a tax break. So the message to America, and the rest of the world, is this: get spending under control, cut business taxes, create a welfare system that encourages people to seek work and you will balance the budget, reduce unemployment and be able to let people keep more of their money. It turns out that conservative economics, applied with determination and care, can work.
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