Remember when Barnes said manufacturing isn’t coming back?

By M.D. Kittle

MADISON — Mandela Barnes has suddenly changed his tune on Wisconsin’s vital manufacturing sector, now that the liberal who wants to “stymie capitalism” is hustling for votes.

Barnes, Wisconsin’s lieutenant governor and the Democrats’ candidate going up against incumbent U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, hit the airwaves last month with a campaign ad proclaiming “our best days of manufacturing in Wisconsin are ahead of us.” The leftist climate change alarmist claims he will fight to “keep manufacturing at home, and to create better jobs in Wisconsin” in accusing his Republican opponent of sending jobs overseas.

Barnes is singing a different song than he did in December 2012 as one of the lefty young guns joining the state Assembly.

“Manufacturing is kind of like that girlfriend that got away,” Barnes told the Capitol Times. “No matter how many love songs you play in your car, she’s not coming back.”

Thus began a decade-long political career of attacking Wisconsin’s $65 billion manufacturing sector that has long provided family-supporting jobs for hundreds of thousands of Badger State residents. Barnes’ brief stint in the Legislature featured anti-business bills, including the usual liberal minimum wage and “living wage” legislation that ultimately cost employers and jobs.

As lieutenant governor he praised the budget proposals of his boss, Gov. Tony Evers, which included hefty tax increases and the gutting of one of Wisconsin’s most successful economic development incentives — the Manufacturing and Agriculture Tax Credit. The Republican-controlled Legislature nixed Evers’ proposals and rebuilt both biennial budgets the Democrat forwarded.

“If Tony Evers had his way, we’d probably be talking about a $500 million per year tax hike on middle-class manufacturing jobs,” Scott Manley, executive vice president of Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, told Empower Wisconsin. “Middle-class workers were the ones who were going to come out on the losing end of that policy.”

The incentive accounted for the creation of nearly 21,000 manufacturing jobs from 2013 to 2016, a 4.6 percent increase, and more than 42,000 total jobs in Wisconsin, according to an analysis by the Center for Research on the Wisconsin Economy (CROWE) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Barnes lamented the Legislature’s removal of the tax hikes on manufacturers and investors.

“The end of this budget gives us a decent start to reaching our priorities, but doesn’t nearly get us to where we should be,” he tweeted in July 2019. “Honestly, the veto process was like origami with crumpled up paper. The product was much better than what was sent back to us.”

The MacIver Institute called the 2019-21 budget, “the most irresponsible and anti-taxpayer budget in recent memory.”

“From Medicaid expansion, the end of recent welfare work requirements, an unneeded increase in the state’s minimum wage, a green pipe dream to make the state carbon-free, the creation of many new government programs, an assault on proven education reform programs, the decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana, to the end of the property tax freeze — the budget wasn’t just a big liberal wish list, but a radical progressive’s best dream,” MacIver reported.

Barnes backed a far left budget proposal that would have raised the state’s gas tax and indexed it to the rate of inflation. With inflation rates topping 8 percent and gas prices soaring over the last year and a half, the proposal would have made these days of skyrocketing prices even worse for the average Wisconsinite.

None of this should come as a surprise from an AOC-backed climate change warrior who told his fellow environmental extremists at the United Nation’s 2019 climate change conference that it was time to stymie American capitalism.

‘The reason why we’re in this mess is the pursuit of greed, it’s capitalism run amok,’ the lieutenant governor said, adding that the answer is to “stymie capitalism, the way it is in America.” To do that, communities have to organize, he declared. But only left-wing communities that buy into radical, redistributionist ideas, like climate change hysteria. Barnes boasted about his time as a community organizer, and blamed ‘larger corporations’ for many of the world’s ills.

“Until money is less of an issue, we’re going to continue on this path of destruction,’ he warned.

Barnes served as chair of Evers’ climate change task force. While he had a hard time remembering what, if any, of the committee’s recommendations the state has implemented, business groups, particularly manufacturers, warned the Evers-Barnes radical agenda would drive up energy costs.

A member of the task force asserted massive tax increases would be needed to pay for the “trillions” worth of new spending at the state and federal level.

No problem, Barnes said. It’s an investment in the future. The escalating costs would be nothing compared to the dire projected effects of intense weather events, the lieutenant governor insisted.

“The only hesitation, the only reservation will be political,” Barnes told

Barnes’ recent rhetoric on his “fight” for manufacturing in Wisconsin doesn’t reflect the would-be senator’s established anti-business record.

Empower Wisconsin | Oct. 27, 2022

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One response to “Remember when Barnes said manufacturing isn’t coming back?”

  1. BestBoy2 Avatar

    Mandela Barnes? his real name is Jesse Barnes.

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