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CNN's Candy Crowley had a few things on her mind when interviewing Governor Scott Walker (R. WI) recently on State Of The Union:

Crowley asked Walker about the GOP’s positions on both minimum wage and unemployment benefits. Taking on the persona of an American who takes advantage of these programs, Crowley asked, “Why would I become a Republican?”

“How do you message that in any way to reach out to those who are disinclined to sign up for the Republican Party?” she asked.

“Because, in the end, what people want is freedom and opportunity,” Walker replied. “You don’t get that through the mighty hand of the government.”

“That’s not an uncommon argument for many Republicans,” Crowley followed up. “What makes this expand the Republican Party which desperately needs to bring in something other than what’s really been a shirking base in your party? How do you re-sell that message?”

Walker replied that the reforms he has supported in his state have resulted in people going back to work which is true freedom, and that message is what will resonate with the voting public. - Mediaite, 1/5/14

Here's the transcript from Crowley's interview with Walker regarding unemployment benefits and raising the minimum wage:

CROWLEY: Let me ask you about a couple of things that came up in my earlier interview with Gene Sperling. There are two issues that are likely to kind of dominate at least the early months of Capitol Hill that is, first, the extension of long-term unemployment benefits. Basically, for people who’ve been unemployed for six months or more.
In the states, they can get up to a combined state and federal unemployment benefits, they could get up to 73 weeks, close to a year and a half. Where do you stand on that?

WALKER: Well, two things. One, let's be clear, the reason why the White House is so actively pushing this is they want to desperately talk about anything but Obamacare. The best thing we could do to help people who are unemployed or underemployed is fix Obamacare, replace it with a patient-centered plan that put people in charge, not the government in charge, and got rid of the uncertainty that so many small businesses here in my state and across the country talk about.

But two, the specific benefits to me, any discussion about this should be focused on what sort of reforms are we going to put in place. You know, he talked earlier, the previous segment, about people looking for work. Well, the federal government doesn't require a lot. We just made a change last year so that people had to look five times or more a week for work without our requirement change.

They could go as little as two times a week. I don't know about you, Candy, but if I was out of work, I’d be looking more than twice a week for a job. I’d be looking for every day except maybe today. I take Sunday off to go to church and pray that I could find a job on Monday, but I think there need to be reforms in that system.

I also think Wisconsin is one of the few states in America that just changed things so that adults without kids looking for work now have to be enrolled in one of our employment training programs

A couple of weeks ago, we saw there were more than 50,000 people in one of our websites here in the state, or 50,000 jobs, I should say that were open on one of our websites, one of the biggest challenges people have who are either unemployed or under employed is many of them don't have the skills in advanced manufacturing, in health care and I.T. where many of those job openings (ph) are.

Instead of just talking about extending benefits, we should talk about getting people the training they need to fill those jobs. That’s much better off than just putting a check out.

CROWLEY: So, you don't, per se, have a problem with extending unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed, but you’d like it coupled with some other things?

WALKER: Yes. That's what we did with our food stamp program. We said, if you want it, we’ll help you out, but I - I've got two boys now in college. But for years, they used to play high school football as wide receivers and they would go in and out with the plays from the coach to the sidelines, from the sidelines to the quarterback. And I got to tell you, all those years watching football, I never saw one kid get in the game who didn't have their helmet on and their gear ready.

What I suggest is that whether it's unemployment compensation or food stamps or other benefits, we should require employment training so that people are ready with the skills. They’ve got their gear ready to get in the game. So, when the job become available, and it will, they’re ready to get the job.

CROWLEY: How about an increase in the minimum wage at the federal level?

WALKER: You know, again, I look at that. Years ago, I worked at McDonald’s when I was a kid. Actually, Paul Ryan worked down the road from me in Janesville. I worked in a small town called Delavan. Those were great jobs to start out with. My great fear is for young people like Paul and I were back then and my kids a few years ago when they worked those sorts of jobs, they’d be without work.

We have a high unemployment rate amongst young people. If we are to raise that artificially, we’d take that away. Instead, what we need to focus on is helping people find the skills they need to fill those much better paying jobs, those family-supporting career-type jobs that I just talked about. We have them here in advanced manufacturing, in welding, machining, information technology, certified nursing assistants, all sorts of great jobs out there.

One of the great challenge is we don't do enough and the federal government makes it hard for the states because they have all sorts of worker training programs with this bureaucratic mess it makes it very difficult to get people the training they need by getting through that maze and we need to change that so that people can get the training and get them to the jobs that pay more.

Artificially raising the minimum wage whether it’s at the state or the federal level is not going to do that. Creating an environment where employers create jobs will do just that.

CROWLEY: If I am an unemployed American and I hear from Republicans that, yes, we should go ahead and do that provided we do the following three things, if it’s a caveat approval of extending those benefits or if I am a minimum wage worker and I find - I see Republicans who say, you know what, it's artificial, it messes with the marketplace, it might mean some teens can't get into the job market, why would I become a Republican?

How do you message that in any way to reach out to those who are disinclined to sign up for the Republican Party?

WALKER: Because in the end, what people want is freedom and opportunity. You don't get that through the mighty hand of the government. I think as a kid, when I grew up in Delavan, nobody I knew in my class said someday, my goal is to grow up and become dependent on the government.

The same way for all the great people I’ve met who’ve immigrated from other countries, be at Mexico, or India, or Germany or anywhere else, all those folks I know who are successful small business owners don't say to me that they came here because they want to become dependent on America. No. The American dream is given a chance, given an opportunity, the great thing about this country, greater than just about any country in the world, is that you have an equal opportunity but the outcome's up to you.
The problem is too many Americans right now don't have that equal opportunity and we should be making a case about how we're going to make it easier to create a job, easier to get in the workforce, easier to get the skills that they need to fill those jobs, artificially raise things.

CROWLEY: That's not an uncommon argument for many Republicans that I have heard in the past saying this is about empowering people, not about, you know, raising benefits and making them dependent, but it hasn't worked. What makes this expand the Republican Party, which desperately needs to bring in something other than what's really been a shrinking base in your party? How do you resell that message?

WALKER: Yes. Yes. Candy, well, part of it though, part of the reason why it hasn't worked as well elsewhere, a good example is that reforms be put in place for food stamps this past year in Wisconsin is not often was money put in place to make things happen. I say you got to put your money where your mouth is.

Part of the reason why most states don't require childless adults to work or be employment training to get food stamps is because you have to put money behind that to fund the worker, employment training programs. We do just that. We put $17 million behind that in our last state budget because I want to make sure people have those skills. I think when people see that, when they see that what we care is about is not just people going out and looking for work but giving them the skills, giving them opportunity.

A young woman I mentioned last year named Elizabeth, on her own, before we made this requirement, went out, got the training, got the experience. I wanted to invite her to my budget address to talk about it, but I couldn't. Not because she didn't want to be there, but because she was working as a certified nursing assistant. And that night, liked her job so much, she was going to back to school to be an RN.

Those are the sorts of stories we want to tell people across my state and across America, because I think people realize that's where the real freedom and opportunities. It’s not getting a check each week, each month from the government. It’s by getting the opportunity and the skills needed to get out and control their own lives and their own destiny. - CNN, 1/5/14

Yeah good luck trying to sell that message Scott.  Meanwhile, people are starting to make the argument that voters shouldn't write off Walker's likely opponent, Mary Burke's (D. WI) chances:

Burke has stepped into a likely mean, tough and ugly race. Only a candidate with enormous self-confidence, spunk and a vision for a different better Wisconsin would jump into this political arena. As a lifelong Wisconsinite she has been clearly concerned about how low our state has fallen. Wisconsin used to be regarded as a state that was well-governed by Democrats and Republicans. It set the pace for the rest of the nation with the Wisconsin Idea: clean / open government, environmental protection, unemployment benefits, worker's compensation, a progressive income tax, civil rights protection based on race, sex and sexual orientation and more. Democrats and Republicans cooperated to assure collective bargaining and expand health care coverage.

But Gov. Walker has taken Wisconsin backward with his ideological crusade and self-inflicted wounds to the state's economy, rejecting federally funded high-speed rail and Medicaid expansion. Walker is a doom and gloom politician, predicting the sky is falling. Unlike his Democratic and GOP predecessors Walker does not believe in inclusiveness, compromise and problem solving - the essence of effective governing. Mary Burke stands within the bipartisan "Wisconsin Way" of moving the state forward. She has the can-do American spirit, a relentless optimism and above all, listens. Burke can appeal to independents, moderates and Republicans horrified by Tea Party extremism. While Walker bets on failure, e.g., the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and makes pie in the sky promises, e.g., 250,000 jobs (only 42 percent realized), Burke bets on success and reality. And, the latest ACA enrollment numbers bear her out: two million enrolled in private health insurance plans, almost four million set to get Medicaid coverage and tens of thousands of Wisconsinites on the road to private or Medicaid enrollment.

Above all Burke is a straight shooter. She would not govern with a magic wand. Instead, Burke will bring a battered and bruised Wisconsin together. No "divide and conquer". Forward to effective governing and making the state economy work for all Wisconsinites. Perhaps there will be an unnecessary Democratic primary, but splitting hairs between Democrats will not help. Sen. Tammy Baldwin did well without one and beat Tommy Thompson who never recovered from his divisive primary. Finally, the late Senator Ted Kennedy said it best: "Don't let he perfect be the enemy of the (very) good". History is knocking at our door. - Wis Opinion, 1/2/14

If you would like to get involved or donate to Burke's campaign, you can do so here:

Originally posted to pdc on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 10:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Badger State Progressive and The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

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