Op-Ed by Joe Wineke, DPW Chair

Political observers were left scratching their heads last week when Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker essentially said, “thanks, but no thanks” to President-elect Barack Obama’s proposed stimulus funding to help create jobs in Walker’s own county and across Wisconsin.

Most Wisconsinites were not too concerned about Walker’s stance, however, assuming he was all alone on this issue. Surely, we thought, Wisconsin would still benefit from the thousands of jobs the stimulus will bring to our state because there would be no widespread opposition to accepting this funding.

This week, however, the Republican Party of Wisconsin did something inconceivable: they rushed to Walker’s defense. It is now the official position of the Republican Party in our state that we should turn away the Obama stimulus and the job creation it would deliver. 

Let’s be very clear about one thing: there will be a stimulus. We are not debating whether or not there should be a stimulus package; we are debating whether or not we should accept Wisconsin’s share of the hundreds of billions of dollars that will create thousands of jobs in our state.

The question that now desperately needs to be answered is this: given that the Chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin has laid down the law on saying, “no thanks” to Wisconsin’s share of this money, is this also the position of our Congressional Republicans? Is it the position of Republicans in the state legislature?

If so, the Republican leadership in our state stands alone in the world. Virtually every economist is debating not whether a stimulus is needed, but rather how big it needs to be. Yet Wisconsin Republicans seem to know better. Their solution is a stubborn adherence to bad ideas: tax cuts for the wealthy and nothing for middle-class Americans.

Fortunately, our state can rely on Governor Jim Doyle and our Democratic leaders to fight for Wisconsin families. It would be a lot easier, however, if Wisconsin Republicans could put partisanship aside and join us in the effort to create jobs in Wisconsin.

Yet, unbelievably, Scott Walker and the Republican Party of Wisconsin are fighting against federal stimulus money that would put people back to work and create thousands of new jobs for Wisconsin families.

There are no quick or easy fixes to this crisis, but we have an opportunity today to seize this moment to transform our economy, create and save thousands of jobs, invest in our economic future, and strengthen the middle class for years to come.

We can’t let Scott Walker and the Republicans get in the way of this opportunity.