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Books by and about 2020 presidential candidates
Crippled America,
by Donald J. Trump (2015)
by Cory Booker (2016)
The Truths We Hold,
by Kamala Harris (2019)
Smart on Crime,
by Kamala Harris (2010)
Guide to Political Revolution,
by Bernie Sanders (2017)
Where We Go From Here,
by Bernie Sanders (2018)
Promise Me, Dad ,
by Joe Biden (2017)
Conscience of a Conservative,
by Jeff Flake (2017)
Two Paths,
by Gov. John Kasich (2017)
Every Other Monday,
by Rep. John Kasich (2010)
Courage is Contagious,
by John Kasich (1998)
Shortest Way Home,
by Pete Buttigieg (2019)
The Book of Joe ,
by Jeff Wilser (2019; biography of Joe Biden)
by Michelle Obama (2018)
Our Revolution,
by Bernie Sanders (2016)
This Fight Is Our Fight,
by Elizabeth Warren (2017)
Higher Loyalty,
by James Comey (2018)
The Making of Donald Trump,
by David Cay Johnston (2017)
Books by and about the 2016 presidential election
What Happened ,
by Hillary Clinton (2017)
Higher Loyalty ,
by James Comey (2018)
Trump vs. Hillary On The Issues ,
by Jesse Gordon (2016)
Hard Choices,
by Hillary Clinton (2014)
Becoming ,
by Michelle Obama (2018)
Outsider in the White House,
by Bernie Sanders (2015)

Book Reviews

(from Amazon.com)

(click a book cover for a review or other books by or about the presidency from Amazon.com)

A Governor's Story and a Nation's Challenge

by Scott Walker and Marc Thiessen

(Click for Amazon book review)

BOOK REVIEW by OnTheIssues.org:

This book is Governor Scott Walker (R-WI)'s memoir of his budget battle of 2011 which resulted in his recall election in 2012. While it is autobiographical, it's only about that one story in that one period, not Walker's life story. But this is quite a story. From the perspective of 2015, Walker considers his "courage" in this budget battle to qualify him for a presidential campaign -- and many Tea Party supporters and other Republicans agree. To summarize the basics of the budget battle:

  • Walker was elected in 2010 and his incoming administration was faced with a very large budget deficit, left over from the Great Recession and the policies of Walker's predecessor, Governor Jim Doyle (D-WI).

  • Walker faced limited choices to close the budget gap: he had promised in his campaign not to raise taxes, so his only real choice seemed to be massive layoffs of government employees, including teachers, police, and fire, as well as state government staff.

  • Walker instead asked the government employee union (AFSCME) to accept benefit cuts rather than layoffs, particularly higher employee contributions to healthcare and retirement. AFSCME leaders said no, preferring layoffs to benefit cuts.

  • So Walker instead pushed for legislation to disempower AFSCME by restricting their right of collective bargaining: specifically, to exclude the union's power over benefit cuts which Walker saw as necessary to balance the budget, but also to remove the mandatory union dues required of all government employees. Removing the dues requirement effectively defunded AFSCME, and hence was described by opponents as "union-busting." Walker described it instead as "collective bargaining reform" (p. 83-8).

  • The bulk of the book details the legislative battle that ensued, which made national headlines for many months. In summary, Walker won. In detail:

  • Republican legislators supported disempowering AFSCME only if it were explicitly tied to balancing the budget. The bill, known as the "Act 10 Budget Repair Bill" passed the Wisconsin House with both provisions.

  • AFSCME rallied union supporters during this entire period to "Occupy" the State House (which Walker credits as the initiation of the "Occupy Wall Street" movement); the protestors were present in the State House for several months continuously.

  • The Wisconsin Senate rules require that budget bills have a "quorum" present for a vote. Since Republican Senators were insufficient to make quorum alone, fourteen Democratic Senators fled the state, hiding out in Illinois.

  • Republicans then "split" the bill into two bills: one on the budget (which required quorum) and one on AFSCME rules (which did not require quorum), and quickly passed the AFSCME bill.

  • Walker quickly signed the bill -- that quick passage and quick signature led to lawsuits that proper process had not been followed; those lawsuits delayed implementation of the law but were eventually found unwarranted.

  • AFSCME supporters then filed "recall petitions" to force recall elections of Governor Walker and several Republican legislators. Some legislators lost, but not enough to force a vote to overturn the law. Governor Walker won his recall election against his Democratic opponent, Tom Barrett (p. 166).

  • Walker portrays his recall election victory as demonstrating that AFSCME and the Democrats were "out of touch" with the Wisconsin electorate -- i.e. that they were acting for their own self-interest rather than in the interests of the general population (p. 130).

  • In retrospect (Walker wrote this book after all the smoke had settled), Walker claims that "collective bargaining reform" allowed local public school districts to be more flexible with their spending, so that they could hire more teachers and provide better education rather than pay for union-favorable requirements. Walker claims that teachers benefited also, as evidenced by the majority who chose not to pay union dues once they were no longer mandatory. And Walker claims (with numerous statistics) that Act 10 closed the budget deficit and greatly helped Wisconsin's economy.

Walker does not hint in this book that he is planning to run for president. Walker does spend many pages reviewing how other states and cities also attempted "collective bargaining reform" (pp. 156-178), which one might view as an attempt to portray himself as a national leader worthy of running for president. Walker has, as of early 2015, done nothing to dissuade supporters from portraying the story in this book the same way. But if he DOES run, he'll need a more thorough autobiography which explores his political past and his political philosophy beyond this one episode. So read this book as just one story in the chapter of Walker's life -- it certainly makes for compelling reading, and offers the other side of the story not portrayed in the mainstream media.

-- Jesse Gordon, jesse@OnTheIssues.org, Jan. 2015
 OnTheIssues.org excerpts:  (click on issues for details)
Budget & Economy
    Jim Doyle: OpEd: $2.1B deficit from borrowing while expanding programs.
    Scott Walker: Refused to participate in federal stimulus package.
    Rick Snyder: Closed $1.5B budget deficit while eliminating business tax.
    Scott Walker: Use inmates to cut grass on state highway medians.
    Scott Walker: Pass "castle doctrine": defend home with deadly force.
    Mitch Daniels: Created largest low-income school choice program in US.
    Rahm Emanuel: Canceled teacher raise; lengthened school day.
    Scott Walker: Liberate schools from the grip of the unions.
    Scott Walker: Schools should choose teachers based on merit, not seniority.
    Scott Walker: Breaking union monopoly saved schools $10M.
    Scott Walker: Expand options at charter schools and choice schools.
    Scott Walker: Expand school choice from Milwaukee statewide.
    Scott Walker: Expand vouchers statewide for low-income families.
    Tom Barrett: Ending collective bargaining saved Milwaukee $25M/year.
    Tom Barrett: 2012 governor campaign focused on environment & community.
Families & Children
    Scott Walker: Stopped state funding for Planned Parenthood.
Government Reform
    Bobby Jindal: Enacted comprehensive ethics reforms in state government.
    Milton Friedman: County level better than state; state better than federal.
    Scott Walker: Wisconsin "citizen filibuster" gave birth to Occupy movement.
    Scott Walker: Prevent voter fraud: require voter ID at polls.
Gun Control
    Jim Doyle: Vetoed concealed carry of firearms.
    Scott Walker: Allow concealed carry as part of right to bear arms.
Health Care
    Scott Walker: Passed tort reform & cut taxes on HSAs.
    Scott Walker: Pushed ObamaCare for state choice on Medicaid expansion.
    Barack Obama: No assault on unions: don't denigrate public employees.
    Butch Otter: Restrict collective bargaining in public schools.
    Jimmy Carter: 1978 Civil Service Reform Act limited collective bargaining.
    John Kasich: No strikes allowed for public employees.
    Mitch Daniels: Got rid of collective bargaining for state employees.
    Mitch Daniels: Make union membership optional for government employees.
    Mitt Romney: Message of Wisconsin: no more teachers, firemen, or cops.
    Scott Walker: Make union membership optional for government employees.
    Scott Walker: Union bosses donate to campaigns, then get sweetheart deals.
    Scott Walker: When given the choice, employees don't choose union.
    Scott Walker: Federal employees have limited collective bargaining power.
    Tea Party: Wisconsin: counter-protest to abolish collective bargaining.
    Tom Barrett: 2011 TV Ad: Wisconsin dead last in job creation.
Principles & Values
    Scott Walker: Book "Unintimidated" isn't my biography, but about reforms.
    Mitt Romney: OpEd: "R" seemed to stand for "Rich", not "Reformer".
    Saul Alinsky: Tactics must begin with the experience of the middle class.
Tax Reform
    Scott Walker: Tax increases reduce state revenues in the long run.
    Jim Doyle: Gave up on high-speed rail line because successor opposed it.
    Mitch Daniels: Privatize Indiana's toll roads.
    Scott Walker: Opposed high-speed rail line: $810M federal but $110M state.
Welfare & Poverty
    Ronald Reagan: For those without skills, we'll help get them skills.
    Scott Walker: Public workers should contribute 18.4% to health & pension.
    Scott Walker: Able-bodied must work or train to get food stamps.

The above quotations are from Unintimidated:
A Governor's Story and a Nation's Challenge

by Scott Walker and Marc Thiessen.

All material copyright 1999-2022
by Jesse Gordon and OnTheIssues.org
Reprinting by permission only.

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Page last edited: Feb 26, 2019