Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, at a Monitor breakfast Thursday, also reflected on a lesson from his own bruising recall battle: Talk about the problem first, then fix it.
If he could have a do-over, Gov. Scott Walker (R) of Wisconsin says he would have done a lot more explaining before he pushed for austerity measures that cut the collective bargaining rights of most public unions in his state.
Governor Walker’s act-first, explain-later approach sparked public outrage, including the occupation of the state capitol, and led to a rare recall election last week that he won – but at a great cost, both in campaign spending and on the state’s psyche.
“My problem, I was so eager to fix it, I fixed it, then talked about it,” Walker told reporters Thursday in a breakfast hosted by the Monitor.
“If I had said to people in my state, do you know – this was before the reforms – do you know that most school districts in Wisconsin have to buy their health insurance from just one company, and that costs school districts tens of millions of dollars more than it has to, I think most voters would have said, 'fix it,' ” Walker says.
Most politicians talk about problems but never fix them, he says. The lesson, he says, is to talk about a problem, and get the public to understand it. “But don’t use that as an excuse not to ultimately fix things,” he says. “The two can go hand in hand. “
Walker arrived in Washington this week a conquering hero, having dealt a major blow to unions’ political clout. He rejects talk of a place on the Republican presidential ticket in November, instead pointing to Rep. Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin, chairman of the House Budget Committee – and a fellow “cheesehead,” Walker notes – as his choice for Mitt Romney’s running mate.