Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca fired the first shot, saying Walker "must do more to focus on creating jobs," and that "job loss is the overall impact Gov. Walker and the Republicans' economic agenda has had on Wisconsin."
Of course, just this week, Democrats voted to kill a proposed iron ore mine in Northern Wisconsin, depriving the state of thousands of good-paying jobs. When the bill was voted down in the state senate on Tuesday of this week, the mining company decided to pull their $1.5 billion investment and leave Wisconsin, realizing they had become collateral damage in a recall war. Democrats simply could not allow Walker to have a victory while trying to recall him from office.
Barca points out that even with the good January jobs numbers, since Walker and legislative Republicans took full control of state government last January, Wisconsin is still down 12,500 jobs. He calls for "bipartisan action on job creation legislation that will help put people back to work quickly and allow Wisconsin to take advantage of the strong national economic climate."
But it wasn't long ago that Barca and his Democratic colleagues had full control of the legislature and governorship in Wisconsin. Here's a handy chart that illustrates the employment trends for the past three legislative sessions:
As the chart demonstrates, within one year of Democrats taking full control of state government in January of 2009, Wisconsin lost 98,000 jobs. Actually, the number would have been even worse had Democrats not used federal stimulus money to create nearly 5,000 local government jobs during their two-year reign. It was exactly this kind of ineptness that provoked a Republican landslide in 2010, sweeping Walker and legislative Republicans into power. The public decided it couldn't take any more of the Democrats' job creation efforts.
Furthermore, the 12,500 job loss number includes government employees, many of whom retired voluntarily after Walker announced his collective bargaining changes. If you separate out the 13,400 government employee reduction, Wisconsin actually saw a 900 job increase in the private sector over the past year.
Finally, Barca complains that the BLS adjusted the state's employment numbers downward over the past year. For the full year, this is true. But the state's job numbers were revised downward 37,100 between January and June, and UPWARD by 12,900 between July and December. Barca fails to mention that for the first six months of the year, the state was running on the Democrats' 2009-11 budget.
Before Thursday, Democrats had been fond of saying Wisconsin had lost jobs for six straight months; yet the new numbers show job gains in at least three of the last six months. Having lost that talking point, they have begun to slice the data thinner than Paulie slices the garlic in Goodfellas.
Of course, there's still a lot of work to be done to replenish the jobs lost in the past several years. But publicly trashing impressive employment gains is like going on a date with Charlize Theron and complaining that she has a piece of broccoli stuck in her teeth. The public saw what happened when Barca's crew ruled the state; if the numbers keep getting better for Walker, the public is going to want more of what is clearly working.