Gov. Scott Walker criticized President Barack Obama’s handling of a range of national and international issues, including immigration and foreign policy, in his annual end-of-the-year interview with the Wisconsin State Journal on Monday at the Governor’s Mansion.
Walker, who is mulling a run for president in 2016, joined a lawsuit earlier this month seeking to block Obama’s executive action sparing as many as 5 million people living illegally in the United States from deportation. Obama announced the action in November, saying it was an important step to fix the nation’s broken immigration system.
“I and other governors, as well as attorneys general, feel that even though we have executive powers, we feel the president is misusing his. This is a dramatic overreach of his authority,” Walker said, “We think there are the potential for tremendous new costs that could be pushed onto the states in terms of public assistance, education, other related costs that this action potentially brings on — yet again without the federal government providing any funding or assistance.”
Citing his controversial 2011 measure to all but end collective bargaining for most of the state’s public workers, Walker likened Obama’s executive action on immigration to trying to “invoke Act 10 without the Legislature.”
On how he would resolve the problem of the estimated 12 million immigrants living in the United States illegally, he said he’d “leave that up to the people who are running for federal office or in federal office to decipher.”
Walker also knocked the president’s approach toward the emerging threat of the militant group that calls itself the Islamic State, and his handling of national security generally.
“I think when you make idle threats...in a bizarre parallel, it’s kind of like as a parent, if you tell your kids, ‘If you don’t stop doing that, something is going to happen,’ ” Walker said. “If you continue to make threats and never act on them, that child is going to keep doing it.”
Walker added, “If you keep making threats and fail to act on them, I think that weakens not only our credibility, but it weakens our safety.”
And he repeated his criticism of Obama’s announced plans to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba, saying he doesn’t believe there’s been enough substantial change in Cuba to warrant normalizing relations with the country.
On state policy, Walker said he expects to announce his plans for reorganizing as many as six state agencies during his annual State of the State address next month. But he also said that, after problems with the hasty transition from the former Commerce Department to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. in 2011, any consolidations or mergers involving the agencies — and changes to the people leading them — likely wouldn’t go into effect until late in 2015.
“We just decided in terms of honoring the legislative process it was easier to do it that way,” Walker said.
After drawing national attention for introducing his collective bargaining proposal early in his first term, a move that brought tens of thousands of protesters to the state Capitol and triggered historic recall elections, Walker said he doesn’t anticipate any major surprises as he begins his second term.
“We’re going to continuously find ways to reform government,” Walker said. “To not just nibble around the edges, but to continue to push big, bold reforms to continue to put the power back in the hands of the taxpayers.”