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Grover Norquist is officially a big fan of Gov. Scott Walker.

Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, penned a Thursday opinion piece for Reuters focused on why Walker would be a good choice for the GOP presidential nominee in 2016. In it, he argued that when looking forward to 2016, Republicans should look back — way back — to former President Calvin Coolidge, who served from 1923 to 1929.

“He reined in spending and reduced tax rates at a time when it was as needed as it is today,” Norquist and Patrick Gleason wrote. “One talked-about possible 2016 presidential candidate who shares many of Coolidge’s policy bona fides is Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who won his third statewide race in four years on Nov. 4. The two men have so much in common that it is worth seeing what Coolidge’s experience can tell us about a potential President Walker.”

They went on to describe the clashes both Coolidge and Walker had with unions, and their efforts to cut taxes.

Not everyone views Coolidge as a visionary, however. Writer Walter Lippmann once wrote of Coolidge’s “genius for inactivity.”

“It is far from being an indolent inactivity. It is a grim, determined, alert inactivity which keeps Mr. Coolidge constantly occupied,” Lippmann wrote.

Coolidge’s reputation suffered due to the Great Depression, which began in 1929. The nonpartisan Miller Center at the University of Virginia, which studies presidential politics, said much of the public “linked the nation’s economic collapse to Coolidge’s policy decisions. His failure to aid the depressed agricultural sector seems shortsighted, as nearly 5,000 rural banks in the Midwest and South shut their doors in bankruptcy while many thousands of farmers lost their lands. His tax cuts contributed to an uneven distribution of wealth and the overproduction of goods. Many Americans were deeply in debt for having purchased consumer goods on easy installment credit terms.”

But conservatives began reclaiming Coolidge in the 1980s, and former President Ronald Reagan hung a portrait of Coolidge in his Cabinet Room.

Norquist, founder of Americans for Tax Reform, is a well-known conservative who once famously called for the federal government to be reduced to such a size that it could be drowned in a bathtub.

Moving on up

Wisconsin ranks as the 32nd-best state for business, according to Forbes Magazine, the state’s best showing since the magazine started its annual list in 2006.

The state has often fallen among the 10 worst states for business, receiving that distinction in 2007-10 and 2012-13. Last year, it ranked 41st.

The ranking is based on performance in six categories: business costs, labor supply, regulatory environment, economic climate, growth prospects and quality of life. The magazine analyzes 37 data points, such as taxes, education attainment, job and income growth, unemployment and economic forecasts from Moody’s Analytics.

Walker issued a press release highlighting the state’s ranking of 18th in the growth-prospects category. That category showed the most improvement since 2009, when the state ranked 48th overall and 45th in future growth.

“Forbes’ positive rankings for Wisconsin confirm that not only is our economy getting stronger every day, but that the prospects for future economic growth here are significantly improving,” Walker said. “This is another indication the pro-business policies that we put into place are working, and the future is bright for all Wisconsin workers.”

In addition to future growth, Wisconsin improved its ranking in the regulatory and economic climate categories. Its business costs and labor force rankings were about the same as in past years, while its quality-of-life ranking fell from top 10 in several previous years to 17th.

When cabinets attack

We’re starting to suspect that the most dangerous room in the house may be the kitchen.

First, during a visit to the State Journal in October, Walker talked about the lasting effects of his run-in with a kitchen cabinet. (It resulted in his bald spot, he said.)

Again, he brought it up.

Then, earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel showed up with a conspicuous facial injury during a press conference.

“I engaged the corner of a kitchen cabinet,” he said, using combat forces terminology. “It didn’t work out well for me.”


Matthew DeFour covers state government and politics for the Wisconsin State Journal.