LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Scott Walker on Monday touted tax cuts to boost the U.S. economy, a day before Michigan voters decide the fate of tax hikes to improve deteriorating road and bridge infrastructure.
Walker, in neighboring Michigan for the first time since forming a political committee to bolster his likely presidential run, said he cut taxes by $2 billion over four years in Wisconsin to help cut the unemployment rate in half since January 2010, a year before he took office.
He did not mention the Michigan measure being backed by Gov. Rick Snyder — a possible GOP presidential rival — that would raise taxes by $1.8 billion when phased in, $1.3 billion of which would go to highways, streets, bridges and public transit.
“We can charge you higher rates and a few of you might be able to afford to pay it. Or we can lower the rates, broaden the base. More people are part of the economy, we see revenues go up even while rates go down, and the economy gets better for everyone,” Walker told more than 100 people during an Ingham County GOP lunch at a Lansing car museum.
On Tuesday, he was expected to address the Oakland County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day dinner in suburban Detroit after spending the day meeting privately with potential supporters.
He also met the Michigan family of ex-Marine Amir Hekmati, who is jailed in Iran. He was arrested in 2011 while visiting relatives there and convicted of spying.
His death sentence was overturned and he was given 10 years in prison on a lesser charge. He and his family deny any wrongdoing.
“It’s the same country that our president says we need to negotiate with who’s holding someone like that hostage over there. We need a commander in chief who once and for all is going to stand up and take charge,” Walker said.
His visit came the same day that retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and former technology executive Carly Fiorina announced Republican presidential bids and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul attended an event in Grand Rapids.
Walker, who briefly answered questions from reporters in Lansing, sidestepped a question about whether he would have supported federal loans that helped General Motors and Chrysler rebound from the brink of collapse.
Mitt Romney’s stance against the bailout hurt him in industrial states such as Michigan and Ohio in the 2012 presidential election.
“That’s a hypothetical question of the past,” Walker said. “What we’re going to talk about is the future. How do we improve the economy to make sure that American automobile workers and plenty of other workers across this country are headed in the right direction?”