Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

Rush Limbaugh tops our April High Five

Conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh, shown here in an Associated Press photo, topped PolitiFact Wisconsin's most-clicked items for April.
Conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh, shown here in an Associated Press photo, topped PolitiFact Wisconsin's most-clicked items for April.

Rush Limbaugh, the nation’s No. 1 talk radio host, topped PolitiFact Wisconsin’s High Five for April 2014, our list of the five most-clicked items from the previous month.

Limbaugh claimed that Wisconsin is "one of the bluest" states, but under Gov. Scott Walker its unemployment rate "is around 3.5%."

We rated that False, because the Badger state is far from an automatic win for Democrats. The state has voted for a Democrat for president in the last seven elections, but has swung between red and blue at the state level in recent years. Indeed, even the presidential margins make Wisconsin a perennial battleground.

Beyond that, Limbaugh was way off about the unemployment rate. Under Gov. Walker, unemployment has dropped to around 6 percent, nowhere near the 3.5 percent claimed.

The rest of the April High Five:

2. In second place was a claim from the governor himself. Walker said in a radio interview a recent poll shows 70 percent approval or higher for Act 10, his law that sharply curtailed collective bargaining for most public employees.

We rated Walker’s claim False, because no known poll asked voters about Act 10 around the time that Walker made the statement on April 1, 2014. A single poll question from 2012 found 75 percent support for one part of the law, but there is no known data -- and Walker’s staff didn’t offer any -- from a recent poll.

3. A claim from Mike Tate, chairman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, also rated False.  

Tate told a radio talk show that the governor had outsourced the making of the "Welcome to Wisconsin" road signs at a higher cost.

There was a key problem -- Tate got his signs crossed. There is no change being made to the Welcome signs at the state’s borders. The state gave a Georgia firm the contract for smaller roadway signs, but businesses and not taxpayers are footing the bill.

4. A Walker claim that 2013 private sector job growth in Wisconsin marked the best year since the 1990s. We rated it Mostly True.

The governor’s claim was based on the best-available data. But the figures he used are preliminary estimates subject to considerable revision. The final numbers come months later so the state’s ranking is subject to change.

5. Rounding out our High Five was Mary Burke, the party-backed Democratic candidate challenging Walker in November. Burke issued a statement saying actions by the governor left women in Wisconsin without equal pay protection.

We rated Burke’s claim False, because Walker reversed an effort to toughen Wisconsin law, but did not undo long-standing protections against gender discrimination in workplace pay.

Finally, among the most-clicked items was our monthly update to the Walk-O-Meter where we track the governor’s 2010 campaign promise to create 250,000 private sector jobs before the end of his first term.

Figures released in April show that the state has created an estimated 105,872 jobs since Walker took office in January 2011. That’s less than half of what he promised, and leaves him nine months to add 144,128 jobs.

For Walker to achieve his promise, employers would have to add about 16,000 jobs in each remaining month of this year. That’s a pretty tall order. The state hasn’t seen a month with an increase that large in years, and also hasn’t had nine consecutive months of job increases.