My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here’s a part.
In order to maximize the political benefit, Evers is taking great pains to spread our money around the state. There is $7.9 million for a dental clinic in Appleton, $6 million for a clinic in Tommy Thompson’s hometown of Elroy, a $4.3 million grant for Neenah, $2 million for low-income housing in Madison, $9 million for a Community Outreach and Engagement Center at Beloit College, $119,000 for Prairie du Chien to host a historical celebration, $250,000 for a parking lot for the Paine Art Center and Gardens, and on, and on, and on. It is Halloween and Evers is handing out the good candy that we bought.
Most infuriating is the $50 million that Evers allocated last week as an “investment in safer communities across Wisconsin.” After years of denigrating law enforcement and ignoring the victims of an increasing rate of violent crime — including dragging his feet to quell the violence in Kenosha — Evers is smart enough to read the writing on the wall. Crime is up. The public is angry about it. Supporting law enforcement is a winning issue this year and despite his lengthy history of supporting criminals, Evers is using our money to pretend that he supports law enforcement. It is as insincere as it is deceitful. Evers has not been willing to support policies that would reduce crime or lock up more criminals, but he is willing to throw a blizzard of our own money into our faces in an election year to distract us from his own legacy of supporting criminals.
Does any of this seem like it is reacting to a pandemic emergency? Establishing a pilot program to expand operations of two courtrooms to evenings for one day a week in Milwaukee? $29,640 for a chain link fence in the grandstand area of the Ozaukee County Fairgrounds? $100,000 for the village of Oregon to install public art?
Is this really what pandemic relief looks like? Is this not just government spending that could have been made in 2000 or 2010 or 2030? What emergency are we solving for? Why did this require an inflation-fueling emergency bailout? Or was the American Rescue Plan Act just a re-election fund for Democrats like Tony Evers to use to curry favor with voters in an election year?
While Evers’ actions are transparent, they are also effective. Spreading around taxpayer cash to buy loyalty and support is a time-honored tradition in American politics. It works and Republicans should not underestimate its power. Republicans have already lost once to Evers after underestimating him. They would do well to remember that lesson.