Burke vs. Walker vs. Johnson

Cindy Kilkenny notices the reporting of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Dan Bice:

I suspect the reason Daniel Bice from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is fanning the flames of Burke’s wealth again is that desire to sell papers, I.e., feign relevance in a seriously slow election. Incredibly slow. One certainly wouldn’t guess there’s a gubernatorial election in Wisconsin in less than three months.

In the last couple of weeks Bice has taken to task both the combined wealth of Mary Burke’s family and Ron Johnson’s comments on the Walker campaign using her wealth as a talking point.

Bice writes:

Records show Burke, her mother and three siblings living in Wisconsin paid a total of $1.77 million in personal income taxes in 2012. That would mean the five Burke family members reported a total adjusted gross income of at least $22.8 million during that year.

Once again, no wonder we have such trouble enticing good candidates to run in Wisconsin. Burke’s wealth a target; now her mother and siblings get a thorough examination, too.

However, Bice does provide credence to the argument that not only is Burke rich, but that wealth isn’t exactly new money. Nor is she self made. Though Democrats in the state are pushing back that Burke wasn’t born with a silver spoon – her father started the company when she was a teenager – it’s rather difficult to argue that daddy’s money didn’t pay for her snowing sabbatical when he guaranteed every child a job with Trek.

What makes this issue even more interesting is Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson popping up to defend Burke.

“Far too often in the political realm, we demonize success, we demagogue against it,” Johnson added. “What we should be doing is incentivizing success.”

Ya think? No seriously, Johnson is playing this just right, after all he is by implication defending his own right to be rich. If he happens to score a quick political Bazinga! in Governor Scott Walker’s direction, well, those are called bonus points.

Kilkenny’s tweet makes a point few seem to catch:

@Burke4WI ‘s filthy-rich tag by opponents is only useful because @WisDems have demonized wealth.

Kilkenny makes a point Wisconsin Republicans should pick up on:

That’s not news, of course. But it’s where the core of Walker’s campaign should focus. Democrats in Wisconsin have brutalized the wealthy here. That did not stop them from proffering what is likely the wealthiest gubernatorial candidate the state has ever met.

That is the hypocrisy the campaign should take to the voting polls. Not Burke, per se, but the WisDem policy of saying one thing to garner votes, but doing another when it comes to political survival.

Kilkenny’s contention is interesting because there are probably more really wealthy Democrats in the U.S. — to name three, Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and George Soros, and before them Franklin Roosevelt and all the Kennedys — than really wealthy Republicans. But to Democrats, wealth is OK if you support the correct political things, and if you don’t, you are the scum of the earth. (That’s why Democrats think Burke is OK and Johnson is not.) There are very, very, very few Wisconsinites that have enough family money to go off on a year-long sabbatical to find themselves, or whatever Burke was able to do with her family’s money.

I maintain, as you know, that the state GOP is wrongheaded with its attacks on Trek Bicycle, a company Republicans would be lauding from Superior to Kenosha were it not for Mary Burke’s political views. The GOP should be pointing out that the policies Mary Burke espouses would be, in fact, bad for Wisconsin businesses, because they would increase costs (by opposing tax cuts and espousing minimum-wage increases) without making Wisconsin businesses more profitable.


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