Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who came into office last year, blew out a multibillion dollar state budget deficit with his cost-cutting measures, fought off a recall and watched as his state soared in popularity among business owners as its unemployment rate plunged, has some advice for Washington.
“I hate big government,” he said. “But I really hate a government that doesn’t work.”
So when “they say we either have to raise taxes or cut core services,” it’s actually a “false choice.”
“The question isn’t about spending more money, it’s about spending the money we have more wisely,” he said at a “Tribute to Ronald Reagan” dinner, part of the 2012 Defending the American Dream Summit hosted by the Americans for Prosperity Foundation in Washington D.C. today.
The event opened with a prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance, the Star Spangled Banner and the words of Reagan, who urged Americans to realize that “America remains mankind’s best hope.”
Those words were part of a video montage featuring Barack Obama mocking “Americans For Prosperity” during numerous speeches juxtaposed against the words of Reagan, holding America up as a model for others to follow, rather than being ashamed of.
Walker, whose accomplishment in turning the ominous fiscal and economy situations in Wisconsin around, where his state soared from the mid-40s among attractiveness to business people to No. 20, said, “In education, they say either property taxes have to go up, or we’ll have poor education – that’s a false choice.’
He said school districts in his state now can “bid out” the health insurance coverage rather than being required to purchase from a union-affiliated company – and that has saved tens of millions of dollars.
“That money goes right into the classroom,” he said. “We [conservatives] are the ones who care about the kids. We want the money in the classroom.”
And he said staffing has been reworked.
“The unions say ‘last hired – first fired,’, we say hire and fire based on merit,” he said. “We want the best and brightest in the classroom.”
“Looking at America’s history, ordinary people did something extraordinary,” he said. “Leaders risked their lives for freedoms that we take for granted today.
“That’s what instills confidence.
“That’s us,” he said. “We will move forward and prosper because that’s who we are as Americans.”
Tim Phillips, president of AFP, earlier broke the news to the Washington crowd that a tweet had gone out from President Obama last night to Olympic gold medal winner Gabby Douglas upon her remarkable achievement, saying, “Gabby – You didn’t do that. That wasn’t you who won that medal. Other people made those roads that got you to the gym every morning. Gabby, you need to spread the gold medal wealth around.”
Of course Phillips cautioned that he was just joking about the tweet, but the message wasn’t lost on the crowd of Americans who signaled with their laughter and applause that Obama may live to regret ever uttering the words to American entrepreneurs, “You didn’t build that.”
Phillips reminded the crowd of more famous words from Reagan spoken in 1979, “A recession is when your friend loses his job. A depression is when you lose your job, and recovery begins when Jimmy Carter loses his job.”
The enormous applause thundered even louder when Phillips shouted over the crowd, “Our recovery begins when Barack Obama loses his job this November.”
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell urged Americans to return to the roots that this country was founded on, and said that this country’s citizens are hungry for people of character to look them in the eye and be honest with them.
“The American dream of life, liberty, and property came from God – not government,” he said, and the “role of government is to defend them,” and not “take them away.”
Wisconsin radio host Vicki McKenna briefly explained to the audience and all who were watching that Wisconsin recently survived an all-out assault on liberty – and won.
She said that for 15 months, “We were harassed, kicked, spit on, beaten, occupied, threatened, and eventually we were recalled.”
“Why did we walk through fire? Because we had two choices, Tyranny or Liberty. Tyranny is government absent choice, and Liberty is choice absent government.
“We chose Liberty,” she said. “We proved that you can make government work for people – it must – and the only way it does is when it gets out of the way.”
Conservative author and speaker Michelle Malkin then took the stage and reminded people what is wrong with the current administration.
“We can’t trust anyone with the job of limiting government, we have to do it ourselves,” she said.
Turning to the cameras, she said, “Let me say to our commander in chief while we have the cameras on,” and pointing at a large marquee with the words American Dream, said, “The American Dream – You didn’t build that.”
She explained what liberals have done for America.
“Radicals and their cronies build stone walls, pipe dreams, they dig holes in the ground, and when faced with failure, they dig deeper,” she said
Walker, who was elected in November of 2010, said, “It’s not just about elections, it’s what happens after elections that matter to your children and my children.”
He then talked about traveling around the state of Wisconsin and meeting the people who would elect him to be the CEO of the state, twice.
“I would meet workers, just getting off work after a long shift, big guys with grease on their shirts who would point their finger at me and say, ‘Governor, my wife and I are praying for you.’ Thank you,” said Walker.
He told how his campaign was not a campaign as much as a job interview, and that when he was sent to the highest office in the state, he wanted to be sworn in, in front of the state constitution which contains a “frugality clause.”
This clause, he explained “means moderation and frugality in government lead to freedom and prosperity for our people.”
He also relayed the shock conveyed by one reporter after taking over the governor’s office.
The reporter remarked that most new governors wouldn’t even have their bags unpacked, and Walker was already making the drastic changes Wisconsin is enjoying today.
He told the reporter, “If you’re the CEO of a troubled company, you don’t wait a year to fix it, you get to work on day one.”
His concept is simple: “People create jobs, not the government. Government should enforce common sense, not bureaucratic red-tape.”
He enthused the crowd with what would normally be dry statistics, when he explained that historically Wisconsin has been in the bottom 10 states for economic health, and in just two years it has broken into the top 20.
He said employers were surveyed just before his reforms about the direction of the state, and only 10 percent of employers thought the state was headed in the right direction. A recent survey, less than two years later, shows that a whopping 94 percent of employers, now say that the state is headed in the right direction.
“Being a competitive guy, I want to know what’s wrong with the other six percent of the employers,” Walker said.
His final statistic was explaining how Wisconsin went from having a $3.7 billion deficit, to presently having a surplus two years in a row through the comprehensive reforms.
“I want my kids to grow up in a Wisconsin at least as good as the Wisconsin I grew up in, and that means we’re going to pay our bills now,” he said.
Holding up Wisconsin as a model for the rest of the country, Walker urged voters to put the right people in office.
“It’s our duty to think about the next generation – not just the next election,” he said to a roaring, standing ovation.
Video of Malkin’s address:
And Walker's speech: