My column for the Washington County Daily News is online. Here’s a taste:
We are almost three months into Governor Tony Evers’ term. He has had time to find the lunch room, rearrange his office, figure out his network access, and get his bearings. It is time to take a look at how those three months have gone. Frankly, it hasn’t gone very well. Seemingly every action has been marked by incompetence, rank partisanship, childishness, or all three — and he doesn’t seem to be improving.
Immediately upon assuming office, Evers made it clear that Wisconsin was no longer “open for business” by stripping that slogan, so often associated with Scott Walker, off of all of Wisconsin’s welcome signs. While well within his power, it was a ham-handed action that immediately confirmed what all thinking people already knew: Tony Evers’ administration will be bad for business.
Recognizing that Wisconsin is now in a period of divided government that would require compromise, Republicans in the Legislature immediately set about advancing several bills that were on the rhetorical common ground. First, the legislative Republicans advanced a bill to require health insurers to accept people with pre-existing conditions should Obamacare fall. This was a position advocated by Republicans and Evers during the campaign, but Evers immediately dismissed the bill while admitting that he had not even read it.
Then the Republicans in the Legislature passed a tax cut for the middle class. Evers had advocated for such a tax cut in the waning days of the campaign and the Republicans thought he was serious. Always in favor of cutting taxes, the Republicans passed a middle-class tax cut and even gave Evers credit for it. Evers quickly vetoed the tax cut using a fig leaf of an excuse.
Just last month, the Republicans tried again to work on common ground. Both parties strongly agree that the use of the term “mental retardation” is offensive in the modern nomenclature and should be replaced with a more suitable term in the state’s statutory and regulatory language. The Republicans passed a bill to this effect, but Evers moved to take credit on the issue by issuing an executive order before the bill could hit his desk.
In all three instances, Evers was presented with an opportunity to build bridges over common ground withthe Republicans in the Legislature, but chose to burn them instead. Not only were his actions partisan and childish, they were politically tone-deaf and will have the practical effect of hampering his ability to advance his initiatives through a Republican-led Legislature that he insists on affronting at every opportunity.