If theres one thing new Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce board chair Tom Howatt and his corporate cronies at WMC enjoy more than anything, its a big ole handout from the government.
Take Howatts company Wausau Paper. In the final quarter of 2009, Wausau Paper reported its best earnings quarter in ten years, $9.2 million, the same year it took $2.6 million in Recovery Act funds. Compare that to the last quarter of 2008, when the Bush economy was collapsing like a house of cards, Wausau Paper posted losses of almost $2 million. Quite a nice little turnaround. Im still waiting for a big Thank You from Howatt to the Democrats in the state legislature, the Governors office, Congress, and the White House for bailing him out.
Then theres anti-gummint cheerleader, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel business columnist and current WMC board member John Torinus. Time and again, Torinus rails against public investment, taxes on corporations and any kind of regulation. He wrote last month in short, with survival in mind, embattled Wisconsin companies will keep guards up, worried about what outside forces – including government – will be doing to them, not for them. Torinus company, Serigraph, got $8.5 million in Recovery Act funds from the government he was supposedly keeping his guard up against.
Howatt, Tornius and the rest of the corporate cronies at the WMC lobbying luncheon today must be giddy at the chance to sop up even more taxpayer dollars. One of todays featured guests is Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, whose budget proposal is nothing but corporate tax breaks piled on top of tax breaks for Wisconsins wealthiest. Walkers proposed budget would shift another $2 billion dollars to corporations and the wealthy and double the states deficit. Of course, Walker hasnt mentioned what programs he would cut to pay for the handouts to Howatt and WMC, and I doubt that Torinus or any other CEOs at the luncheon today really care if Walker gutted BadgerCare or the UW System, as long as they get a big piece o pie.
As they have proven time and time again, the corporate interests at WMC have no problem talking tough against government programs that help working families (health care for example), and then turn around with hands out to the government when its policies benefit CEOs and the wealthy. No, the real challenge for the CEOs at lunch today will be how exactly to cheer and holler for Walkers $2 billion corporate welfare plan with hands full of champagne flutes and mouths full of duck confit.