Gov. Tony Evers bowed down to the biggest business lobby in Wisconsin yesterday.
In a speech to Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, which spent more than $1 million in nasty ads against him in his race for governor, Evers acted like they were his buddies.
“Thank you,” he said, shockingly. “My administration continues to support the work that you’re doing to create a better Wisconsin.”
The work that WMC has actually been doing over the last ten years has been ruinous for Wisconsin. WMC supported lots of bills that have damaged our environment: frac sand mining, Foxconn, wetlands destruction, to name a few. WMC was also a prime backer of Scott Walker’s assault on workers’ rights: Act 10 and so-called Right to Work, among them. And WMC vigorously supported bills that helped landlords at the expense of tenants and bills that made it harder for consumers to sue asbestos and lead manufacturers.
So what in the world was Evers talking about?
His speech was baffling from the very beginning, where he pretended that the budget battle this spring was something other than an attempt by Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Speaker Robin Vos to show him who was boss.
For some reason, Evers made it out to be an exercise in bipartisanship. He said it was “a bipartisan effort, even though the media would like to continue to portray it as anything but.”
He also promised the CEOs in the audience that he was going to make it easier to transfer the fruits of public research into the hands of private companies. He said he wanted to bolster “new investments in research and development in our University of Wisconsin system” and then help “remove barriers that we find when we look to pass on that research and development to the private sector.”
He also said he wants to “get behind our entrepreneurs in Wisconsin,” which is something that could easily have dribbled out of the mouth of Scott Walker.
When talking about the need to “make Wisconsin more attractive” for people to live here, he did stress the need to “have good natural resources” and “clean drinking water,” but he somehow forgot to mention that WMC was behind the very policies that have been destroying our natural resources and polluting our drinking water.
And while it was refreshing, in the Age of Trump, to hear Evers talking about the “need to embrace diversity and inclusion in our workplace” and to “make sure all people are welcome here,” that was the only thing that the media seemed to focus on.
They missed the bigger story: that Evers went into the lion’s den and rolled over.