Truthsquad on Wisconsin
Despite what you may have heard about Wisconsin’s finances, the state is on track to have a budget surplus this year.
Rachel Maddow, MSNBC on Wisconsin Budget
Source: MSNBC

Editor Findings

  • Silhouette_sml
    False
    Jon Mitchell
    On Feb. 18th, 2011, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow made this claim on air while covering the dispute between labor unions and Wisconsin's Republican governor, Scott Walker:
    "Despite what you may have heard about Wisconsin's finances, the state is on track to have a budget surplus this year."
    Maddow argued that Gov. Walker manufactured a state budget crisis in order to use the opportunity to clamp down on labor and other spending programs favored by liberals.

    Although Walker has been caught making false claims of his own during his dispute with labor unions, these do not bear on Maddow's claims about the state's budget. We find her above assertion to be FALSE.

    More »

Community Findings

Half True (3.2)
Show:
  • Jon Mitchell
    Jon Mitchell
    False
    Maddow could simply have asked the author of the memo she used whether her interpretation was correct. Better yet, she could have looked at the primary source: the actual budget. The Walker tax cut argument doesn't hold up; it's for the NEXT budget period, not the current one.
  • Fabrice Florin
    Fabrice Florin
    False
    Based on the factual evidence from the nonpartisan Lang memo, it appears that Rachel Maddow and her team did not do their homework thoroughly. By contrast, I found the analysis by PolitiFact AND the Journal Sentinel to be well researched and fairly presented. I'm disappointed that Maddow would make such a bold statement without checking the facts in more depth; at the very least, she could have qualified her statement with disclaimers. In my view, this type of opinion news does not help the public debate, no matter which side of the political spectrum it comes from. We need more factual verification, less opinionated assertions.
  • Gin Ferrara
    Gin Ferrara
    Not Sure
  • Subramanya Sastry
    Subramanya Sastry
    False
    Reading the politifact verdict, it looks like this is a false statement.
  • Caleb Waldorf
    Caleb Waldorf
    True
  • Fred Gatlin
    Fred Gatlin
    True
    If you look at the Legislative Fiscal Bureaus document Table I report, it shows an increase in the balance for 2011.
  • David Cohn
    David Cohn
    False
  • Robert Murtha
    Robert Murtha
    True
    Governor Walker is an extremist who has artificially created a deficit by irresponsibly reducing taxes and who now hopes to balance the budget on the backs of state employees and undermine their collective bargaining rights as well. his ultimate aim is to defund the state government and render it in effectual.
  • Linda Brayton
    Linda Brayton
    True
  • Marsha Iverson
    Marsha Iverson
    True
    http://crooksandliars.com/clsphinx?keys=wisconsin%20budget
  • Glenn LaBauve
    Glenn LaBauve
    True
  • Bob Herrschaft
    Bob Herrschaft
    Not Sure
    The statement may be true, but it circumvents the issue(the right to collective bargaining) when the public service unions have already indicated they are prepared to make pay concessions, as Maddow, herself, has attested.
  • Francis Lilly
    Francis Lilly
    Not Sure
  • Ben Ross
    Ben Ross
    False
  • Louise Auerhahn
  • Sherwin Steffin
    Sherwin Steffin
    False
    A very important question is raised, when someone who has been and/or is currently trusted as a news source is shown to be in error, for whatever the reason. For those having even a modest interest in the news, the tendency is to settle on an individual, or in this case a Cable station as the source to be trusted. Few individuals will do for themselves what NewsTrust does for its readers -- fact check, and that can be for only a few facts at best. It's a dilemma.
  • Carlos R. Candelaria
    Carlos R. Candelaria
    False
    When you check the data she uses; Yuo will find it to be very confusing. Not that the data is all that difficult,it's just that it's so poorly written that it is very easy to get confused or overlook something. But come on Rachel your a pro.Right?
  • Martha Rosler
    Martha Rosler
    True
    add even if not for the tax break for millionaires, the deficit is relatively minor and perhaps even based on outdated figures of the state of the market in previous years. In any case, taxpayers don't fund pensions.
  • Joel Kulenkamp
    Joel Kulenkamp
    True
  • Richard Carlson
    Richard Carlson
    True
  • Nick Penniman
    Nick Penniman
    False
  • Randi Slaughter
    Randi Slaughter
    False
  • Mark Pettit
    Mark Pettit
    False
  • David Saul
    David Saul
    True
    The statement is taken out of context and doesn't reflect what the editorial actually intends to convey.
  • Danny Perrucci
    Danny Perrucci
    False
  • Charles Aylworth
    Charles Aylworth
    True
    Substitute "was" for "is" and this is completely true. The gist of the piece is that Gov. Walker engineered the "crisis" by sponsoring huge tax cuts. That is true, and the point that the state workers are not to blame is true.
  • Steve Turner
    Steve Turner
    True
  • Michael Shaver
    Michael Shaver
    False
    Just as Bob Herrschaft stated Rachel Maddow's quote, entertaining as it might be, does not address the central issue which is "collective bargaining". What confounds me is that no one is asking how we got here in the first place?
  • Doug Greer
    Doug Greer
    Not Sure
    Maddow did clarify on her show. Prior to the Governor's tax cuts, they were projected to have a surplus... Even if that was an error, not even a very big deficit would justify busting the unions. It may justify union concessions, but not taking away bargaining rights... BTW: Newsbusters issues a constant stream of lies... If the politifact article is true (http://politifact.com/wisconsin/statements/2011/feb/18/rachel-maddow/rachel-maddow-says-wisconsin-track-have-budget-sur/), it doesn't change the fact that the overall Recession which killed jobs were caused by the financial industry and ideological allies of the Scott Walker types out there.
  • Lynn R. Willis
    Lynn R. Willis
    True
  • Alexia Katz
    Alexia Katz
    False
  • Melva Hackney
    Melva Hackney
    True
    If I must choose between Fox and Maddow, it's Maddow by a mile! Unfortunately, in order to get rid of Fox and CNN, I lost MSNBC. I very rarely see her online, but she was much more interested in reporting NEWS, instead of the silly rhetoric and lies of the other two stations.
  • Kim C. Maynard
    Kim C. Maynard
    False
    I wish this were true, and without paying its bills and obligations it probably is. I have also heard that the surplus was sucked up by a Walker tax cut for businesses, but my understanding is that the tax cut is for the next budget, not the current one. Certainly Walker turning down the $800 million plus and the more than 5,000 high paying jobs and continued maintenance jobs (mostly paid for by the Federal Govt) and related businesses won't help Wisconsin's budget problems. Those things would have brought in much needed revenue to Wisconsin.
  • Christopher Siple
    Christopher Siple
    False
    MD had the same variety of budget surplus, which will be used to plug its own Medicaid issues. The "net truth" of the statement leans in the false direction
  • Jim Caruso
    Jim Caruso
    True
  • Richard McIlnay
    Richard McIlnay
    True
  • Lucy Sells
    Lucy Sells
    True
  • Dave Joseph
    Dave Joseph
    Not Sure
  • Floss Shahbegian
    Floss Shahbegian
    True
  • Don Bingham
    Don Bingham
    False
  • Lisa Holt
    Lisa Holt
    False
    I voted "not sure"; not "false". And my comment wasn't included, either. This did not pass the smell test...
  • Frank Whitman
    Frank Whitman
    True
    IF IT IS LIKE A WEEKLY PAYCHECK,IT IS PERTY WELL SPEND BY THE TIME IT IS RECEIVED,BUT THAT DOES NOT MEAN THAT,I AM IN A BUDGET CRISIS,JUST THAT I NEED MORE FUNDS FOR FUTURE BILLS
  • Jeff Harris
    Jeff Harris
    True
    I trust Rachel. She will also tell us if she is in error.
  • Randy Truman
    Randy Truman
    True
  • Michael Fain
    Michael Fain
    Not Sure
  • Albert N. Milliron
    Albert N. Milliron
    True
  • William Duroe
    William Duroe
    True
  • Gilda Werner Reed, Ph.D.
  • Barbra Watkins
    Barbra Watkins
    Not Sure
  • J H Bud Paulson
    J H Bud Paulson
    False
  • Mehmet Ekrem Koseterzi
    Mehmet Ekrem Koseterzi
    True
  • Merry Bern
    Merry Bern
    False
    Truthsquad's analysis is correct. The "fine print" of the budget report documents at least $137 million in unpaid bills and unfunded obligations looming.
  • Patricia W. Neal
    Patricia W. Neal
    False
  • Joseph Shirk
    Joseph Shirk
    True
  • Mary Murray
    Mary Murray
    Not Sure
  • Tim Waters
    Tim Waters
    True
  • Sue Harris
    Sue Harris
    False
    Out of the 36 individuals that watch MSNBC, 29 of them watch Maddow, how many are represented here?
  • Firaydun
    Firaydun
    True
  • William Lovsmith
    William Lovsmith
    Not Sure
  • Patricia Ann Abraham
    Patricia Ann Abraham
    False
  • lawrence pearlman
    lawrence pearlman
    Not Sure
  • Miguel Wickert- Pineiro
    Miguel Wickert- Pineiro
    Not Sure
  • Ian Francis
    Ian Francis
    False
  • Jon
    Jon
    True
  • Debbie Shapiro
    Debbie Shapiro
    True
  • Hugh Malchesky
    Hugh Malchesky
    False
    While one nonpartisan state official did issue a report with a $45 million dollar budget surplus listed for the year ending his report is specifically made to not include possible or expected buget actions before the legislature. The budget, when taken as a whole, could not be considered to be in surplus (Politifact has an excellent WI page up). However it remains, all indications are this was the hail mary pass of union busting. For whatever it is worth, the Koch brothers were big contributors to Walker's campaign. Please note, this is a change in position on this matter.
  • Mark Walker
    Mark Walker
    True
    Wouldn't be surprised. Liars, damn liars and politicians.
  • Jess Henryes
    Jess Henryes
    Not Sure
  • Sally Dunford
    Sally Dunford
    True
  • Donald Barnes
    Donald Barnes
    True
  • Jeff Sharon
    Jeff Sharon
    Not Sure
  • Pam Soreide
    Pam Soreide
    True
  • Micah Oliver
    Micah Oliver
    False
    This is one of the worst cases of cherry-picking I have encountered. I am honestly amazed that people are still evaluating and arguing over the 'truth' of this statement. It is flatly and obviously false...and that was precisely Rachel's point. It is SUPPOSED to be false. Instead of picking out this one statement from her opening segment where this quote appears, we should evaluate the other content before and around it as well. Indeed, we should be evaluating her entire stance or 'take'(as PolitiFact calls it) on Wisconsin in context. Guess what happens, almost every thing she says leading up to the correct status of the budget is false...again, it was the entire point. It was all a rhetorical device used to grab the audience's attention. You are arguing over whether or not something which was intended to be false is true.
  • Geneva Chapman
    Geneva Chapman
    False
  • Allan Edwards
    Allan Edwards
    True
  • Lerinti Sorin
    Lerinti Sorin
    True
  • William F. Shults
    William F. Shults
    True
  • gil goldstein
    gil goldstein
    Not Sure
  • Patrck F Fitzgerald
    Patrck F Fitzgerald
    False
    they should send her on the same boat as her buddy, Kieth oberman, they're both talk through the side of there mouth,(and I am trying to be polite) I have always though she was a moron and gets her talking points for the other moron in the white house
  • Aaron Beach
    Aaron Beach
    Not Sure
  • Jerome Freehill
    Jerome Freehill
    True
  • Felice Bachrach
    Felice Bachrach
    True
    Politifact lost it's credibility. Maddow wrote them, showed them a clip WHERE SHE SAID THE OPPOSITE. They refuse to issue a correction. Politifact is no longer my source for facts.
  • Shane Garrity
    Shane Garrity
    Not Sure
  • Sandra Korn
    Sandra Korn
    True
  • Robert Ruderman
    Robert Ruderman
    False
  • Paul Manner
    Paul Manner
    False
  • Chris Farley
    Chris Farley
    False
    They are all referring to the Lang memo. That thing is always confusing. He claims that he doesn't want to presume what the legislators will do. AFter that "surplus", there are subtractions for medicaid and a debt owed to Minnesota and a few other things, coming to the $137 million deficit figure. One thing NOT included is a pending court judgement that could jump the deficit to $340 million, but likely won't hit until the next fiscal cycle. The tax cut to businesses doesn't take effect until next cycle, so it is NOT the reason there is a deficit. If Maddow is so smart, how come she can't figure this stuff out? All the regular reporters in WI know how to read that memo.
  • Virginia Kortenkamp
    Virginia Kortenkamp
    False
  • Mark Breyfogle
    Mark Breyfogle
    True
  • Alene Cisney
    Alene Cisney
    Not Sure
  • Sara Olsen
    Sara Olsen
    Not Sure
  • Don Hilston
    Don Hilston
    True
  • Jake Barck
    Jake Barck
    False
  • Mr Eric Bischoff
    Mr Eric Bischoff
    True
    I heard it was on course for a surplus until the new tax cuts for businesses.
  • Robert Modica
    Robert Modica
    True
  • Randy Karrh
    Randy Karrh
    False
  • JoshC
    JoshC
    True
  • Lisa Dee
    Lisa Dee
    True
  • Barb Campbell
    Barb Campbell
    Not Sure
  • imran farooqi
    imran farooqi
    Not Sure
    sir i am a publishar?
  • Allan Holender
    Allan Holender
    True
  • Neil Webb
    Neil Webb
    Not Sure
  • Roger W. English
    Roger W. English
    False

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