If the polls are right, the vote tomorrow in Wisconsin on whether to recall Gov. Scott Walker, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, and four Republican state senators could amount to a redial of their original victory. Voters who first elected the conservative Walker on a promise to fix the state's dismal economy and crushing debt appear ready to reaffirm their judgment.
They would be making the right decision given the results Gov. Walker appears to have produced.
When Walker ran for governor, he promised to eliminate the state's $3.6 billion budget deficit without raising taxes. He says he has done this. In fact, the Walker administration projects a surplus of $154.5 million by the end of the 2013 fiscal year. In this Walker mirrors Virginia Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell, who also turned a deficit into a surplus in his first months in office without raising taxes.
Walker promised to create a "Waste, Fraud, and Abuse Commission" and identify $300 million in savings to taxpayers. The commission identified $450 million in savings. According to Wisconsin's Dept. of Workforce Development, unemployment in Wisconsin dropped from 7.5 percent in 2011 to 6.7 percent in 2012. A survey conducted by the Manpower Group shows state employers expect to increase their hires in the second quarter this year. And according to the Chief Executive Group, Wisconsin jumped from a ranking of 41 on a list of the best/worst states for business under former Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, to 20th under Walker.
Republicans, who too often flee the political kitchen unable to stand the heat, will see that political fire can often strengthen backbones. Walker has stood against the heat of labor unions, not only in his state but from others as well, that descended on Wisconsin, occupying the state capitol for weeks last winter. He has also withstood the media onslaught, which, with few exceptions, has favored unions and Democrats in their pursuit of unaffordable benefits and unlimited spending.
If Walker survives the recall, he will send a message to President Obama and Mitt Romney that taxpayers are ready to consider a reduction in the size and cost of government, along with possibly returning it to its constitutional boundaries. Wisconsin went for President Obama in 2008. This year it's considered a swing state.
When the public is treated like adults and issues are carefully explained to them, they make decisions that are in their government's best interest, as well as their own. The left has thrived on emotion and superficialities in selling nonstop spending and government expansion to the public. The right now has an opportunity to drive home an ancient truth: When the price of something exceeds the ability of an individual or a government to pay, we must conclude that we can't afford it.
In our anything goes era, that truth, which was widely accepted by those who lived through the Great Depression and World War II, may seem foreign to many. But it is based on a belief system that once served us well and can again. Letting our "wants" exceed our ability to pay is what gave us the housing crisis and led to recession. Living within our means heals government and individuals.
The University of Wisconsin fight song contains these words:
"On, Wisconsin! On, Wisconsin! Fight on for her fame. Fight, fellows, fight, fight, fight! We'll win this game."
Except that Tuesday's vote is not a game. It is about whether Wisconsinites and perhaps all Americans are fed up with nonstop spending and overreaching government. I'm betting they are and that they are unwilling to let the USA, the nation they love, be converted into a giant ATM.
© 2012 Tribune Media Services Inc.