The Wisconsin Experiment

I’ve written before about the left’s obsession with our neighbor to the east.  Progressives appear convinced that if Republican Governor Scott Walker’s tenure in Wisconsin is seen as a success, the larger progressive project will be threatened.  If conservative governance can succeed in historically-blue state, like Wisconsin, the fear is that it could succeed anywhere.

Meanwhile, national liberals have sunk millions of dollars into turning Minnesota into a progressive policy laboratory.  As a result, we have a full court press by the legacy media and political scientists to discredit the Wisconsin experiment and play up Minnesota’s successes.

New York Times reporter Monica Davey, having already pre-written her conclusions, traveled to the Twin Ports of Duluth, Minnesota, and Superior, Wisconsin, to see the dueling experiments up close.  Davey reports,
Since Republicans in Wisconsin took control of the State Legislature and governor’s office in 2011, and since Democrats gained full dominance in Minnesota last year, people here have watched essential elements of their daily lives—their savings plans, job expectations, personal relationships and health insurance—veer apart.

In 2010, Wisconsin voted in Scott Walker and the Republicans in response to years of Democrat misrule.  That the GOP has survived wave after wave of recall elections indicates that Wisconsin voters still believe in their 2010 choices.

One of the best features of our Federal system is its diversity.  Truth be told, you just cannot uproot and transfer, say, the Texas system to Vermont any more than you can transfer the Vermont model to Utah.  At some point, direct state-to-state comparisons break down.

That said, it’s worth pointing out that—according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics—Minnesota’s labor force peaked in May 2013, the month Democrat Governor Mark Dayton signed into law a massive tax increase.  Ditto Minnesota’s employment figures.  Minnesota workers have been voting with their feet.  Minnesota’s falling unemployment rate has been an artifact of a shrinking labor force, not a growing jobs market.

Across the river, Wisconsin’s labor force and, more strongly, its employment have grown—in fits and starts—since Walker took office in January 2011.  No matter the facts, Wisconsin must be shown as a failure, hence the flurry of compare-and-contrast stories.