Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker took the stage Saturday at CPAC, praising the assemblage for its support during the fraught Wisconsin recall fight, which Walker won, allowing him to stay in power. His speech was themed around the idea that the states are the laboratories of policy -- "Real reform does not happen in Washington, it happens in the statehouses throughout this country," he said -- and that he, in particular, was leading the way to end "government dependency."
If future GOP presidential runs depend on silver-tongues articulation of dorm-room "makers vs. takers" arguments, then Walker's future is pretty bright.
WALKER: This president and his allies measure success in government by how many people are dependent on the government ... We measure success in government by just the opposite, by how many people are no longer dependent upon the government. Not because we kicked them out to the street. Not because we threw them out to the curb.
To that end, Walker insisted on the "need" for "real entitlement reform," to move Americans "from government dependence to true independence," and told the crowd that his decision to opt against
Medicare Medicaid expansion that would bring medical coverage to uninsured Wisconsinites was rooted in his desire to prevent more of this "dependence."
"In America," Walker said, in case his point wasn't clear enough, "people don't grow up dreaming of being dependent on the government. In America, people don't come to this country as immigrants because someday they want to become dependent on the government. In America, they live the American dream."
"Real reform," Walker insisted, "happens in the states." In Wisconsin's case, "reform" largely came in the form of controversially impoverishing working class Wisconsinites in public sector jobs, a cause for which Walker successfully stoked widespread enthusiasm across the Badger State. At CPAC, Walker cast this struggle as "standing with the taxpayers" against "special interests" and "corporate interests."
That's not, strictly speaking, true. Walker and the GOP-controlled state legislature have showered corporate interests with boodle, and Walker's been richly rewarded by corporate backers for his efforts. As Brian Beutler reported, much of Walker's budget shortfall was due to a self-engineered set of corporate giveaways.
Politico reported on Friday that Walker was "open to a presidential bid and pointedly declined to pledge to serve a full four-year term if he’s reelected next year."
[NOTE: This article has been corrected after "Medicare" was inadvertently used instead of the correct word "Medicaid." We regret the error.]