Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker knows a reckoning might be coming for Republicans in this year’s midterm elections. He’s been one of the loudest in the party to sound the alarm. And as countless polls show that Americans aren’t seeing a bump in their paychecks as a result of last year’s tax cuts, Republicans are looking for other issues on which to run. Walker has another idea: just hand out free money.
In what some have described as a blatant publicity stunt to ‘buy votes,’ while others say it’s a legitimate attempt to alleviate financial stress on Wisconsin families, Walker is offering parents $100 for each kid they have ⏤ no strings attached. Starting May 15, Wisconsin parents can go online and register to receive a $100 check for each of their children.
According to the website, the $100 is being offered as a “rebate for sales and use tax paid on purchases made for raising a dependent child in 2017.” So while it’s not technically the same money families were supposed to get as a result of the Republican cuts, it’s still a way to put money back in voters hands. And while it seems like a natural win for struggling families ⏤ who couldn’t use an extra hundred dollars ⏤ not everyone is convinced it’s the best way forward.
Critics from both sides of the aisle have come out against Walker’s plan, with conservatives lambasting it as nothing more than a liberal government giveaway, the same kind they’ve been fighting against for years. Meanwhile, Democrats see it as a publicity stunt that pretends to help poor families without providing any substantial long-term solution.
It’s true that the timing clearly coincides with the staunch conservative’s run for a third term as Governor. It’s also accurate to say that even a few hundred dollars are unlikely to radically change a family’s financial status in any lasting way. Still, some are praising Walker for attempting to help families in need, even if his intentions and methodology are likely either devious or flawed. In fact, Dylan Matthews of Vox wrote “an incredibly tepid, caveated defense of Walker’s quasi-bribe” in which he gave credit to Walker for at least prioritizing poor families, something that politicians as a whole rarely do.
That said, if it smells like an election-year gimmick, it usually is. And voters are often pretty astute at sniffing them out. Whether this one pays off for Walker come November, we’ll have to wait and see.