As posted in the West Bend Daily News today.
Burke isn’t qualified to create jobs plan
After months of being badgered for lacking an economic plan, Mary Burke released her much-heralded “Invest for Success” jobs plan March 25 of this year — the day after Gov. Scott Walker signed a $525 million tax cut into law. In releasing her plan, Burke condescendingly derided Walker’s 2010 plan saying, “I’ve seen eighth-grade term papers that have more work put into them.”
The news broke last week that substantial portions of Burke’s vaunted jobs plan was plagiarized from at least four other people. Even eighth-graders are expected to do their own work.
BuzzFeed broke the news. It is worth noting that it again took a national reporter to uncover bad news about Burke because the Wisconsin news media has been too invested in her success to be real journalists. BuzzFeed compared Burke’s jobs plan to those of other candidates and found that large passages were exactly the same as those from the jobs plans of Democratic gubernatorial candidates Ward Cammack, Jack Markell and Terry McAuliffe. A Wisconsin GOP aide also pointed out another passage copied from a White House news release.
Burke promptly blamed the plagiarism on a campaign consultant and fired the consultant. At the same time, she defended her jobs plan as her own saying, “I stand by it. I would not have put those ideas into my plan, if I didn’t think they were right for Wisconsin.” Which is it? Is the plagiarism a result of a rogue consultant or did the plan originate with Burke? She can’t have it both ways.
The most problematic aspect of this episode for Wisconsin voters is that Burke has touted her business acumen as the reason to elect her as governor state. Her Harvard MBA and private-sector executive experience were supposed to make us believe that she was supremely qualified to lead the state’s economy to the Promised Land. Now we find out that she was not even capable of producing her own campaign jobs plan.
A closer examination of Burke’s rsumperhaps explains why Burke was incapable of drafting her own jobs plan for Wisconsin. After earning her illustrious Harvard MBA and spending a couple of years as a consultant, she landed at her family’s company, Trek. From 1990 or 1991 to 1993 (Burke has given different dates for when she started at Trek), she was Trek’s director of European Operations. She claims to have been responsible for vastly expanding Trek in Europe at this time, but Trek has not verified her claims. Given the recent revelations of her taking credit for others’ work, her claims should be taken with a grain of salt.
After an exhausting two or three years at Trek and in her 30s, Burke took a two-year snowboarding sabbatical. She spent four months in Argentina with a boyfriend or just some friends, again her story has changed, and the rest of the time in Colorado. When asked about this period, she had to resort to old receipts and passports to remember what she was doing. Most people do not need to resort to documentation to answer simple questions about their own lives.
In 1995, now presumably rested, Burke returned to the family company for the next nine years where she does not even attempt to articulate any definable accomplishments. In 2005, she left Trek to be Gov. Jim Doyle’s commerce secretary. Her tenure there was unremarkable and she resigned in 2007 saying that her department “sat on the sidelines while other states vie to recruit new businesses.”
Burke was unemployed from 2007-12, but this did not stop her from generously giving almost $10,000 to President Barack Obama’s campaign. Finally, from 2008 to present, after self-financing the most expensive campaign for school board in state history, Burke has been a member of the part-time Madison School Board.
An examination of Burke’s job history explains why she was incapable or unwilling to come up with her own jobs plan for Wisconsin. Burke has only been gainfully employed for 17 of the 29 years since she graduated from Harvard in 1985. Twelve of those years were at her family’s company and two of them were as the commerce secretary. The remaining 12 years were spent doing what rich people have the luxury of doing — bumming around snowboarding, volunteering for pet causes and generally enjoying a life of leisure. It is a nice life, but not one with which most Wisconsinites can relate. And it is not a life that qualifies Burke to lead Wisconsin.
Burke decided to fill her jobs plan with plagiarized failed economic ideas of other liberals because she is unqualified to do anything else. It is as simple as that.
(Owen Robinson’s column runs Tuesdays in the Daily News.)