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Wisconsin Democracy Campaign "Un-rig the Budget!" PDF Print E-mail
Commentary - Commentary
Written by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign   
Saturday, 21 January 2017 10:09

health_care_dayWisconsin’s budget has been rigged in favor of the well-heeled who manipulate the system, so we need to work in coalition with other pro-democracy groups to make a difference.


MADISON - One thing we take seriously around here is the need to work in coalition with other pro-democracy groups in Wisconsin.

So I’ve spent a lot of time over the past couple months working with the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families and with Citizen Action and lots of other good groups to show how Wisconsin’s budget has been rigged in favor of the well-heeled who manipulate the system—and to show what we could do for the people of Wisconsin if we un-rigged it just a little bit by simply closing two big loopholes.

Here’s what we came up with:

A Wisconsin Budget for All: How We Can Invest to Help Wisconsin Communities Thrive

On Wednesday, we held press conferences in Madison and Milwaukee to unveil this exciting proposal. In the Assembly Parlor of the State Capitol, there were several good speeches. One of the best was from Bishop Froiland, whose inspiring remarks you can read here:

We can fund what we need to fund

In the upcoming elections here in Wisconsin, the only statewide race that is being contested is the one for Superintendent of Public Instruction. There’s no one running against Annette Ziegler for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, in part because Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce backs Ziegler, and WMC has made it clear over the last few years that it’s willing to spend whatever it takes to keep business-friendly justices on the bench. (Those justices should have the initials “WMC” embroidered onto their black robes!)

Anyway, here are the biggest donors in the superintendent race:

Top contributors to candidates for state school superintendent

If you know me at all, you know I believe in marching for our rights. So just in case you’re marching this weekend, I wanted to leave with you with a stanza of poetry from Andrea Hernandez Holm:

We make sense of the universe
When we march.
The pounding of our feet reverberates,
Returns to the life force
In all that surrounds us.

All the best,

Matt Rothschild
Executive Director
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Last Updated on Saturday, 21 January 2017 15:59
 
Blue Jean Nation "Why not repeal and replace?" PDF Print E-mail
Commentary - Commentary
Written by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation   
Tuesday, 17 January 2017 16:10

handsoff-medicareRepublicans simply say “repeal and replace”, but simple solutions don’t work. One well established and widely supported federal health care system is available as a model for all, Medicare.


ALTOONA, WI - Republicans have simple answers to every question, simple solutions to every problem. Simple solutions that don’t work.

Health care is no exception. Republicans simply say “repeal and replace.” They’re talking about the Affordable Care Act, more popularly known as Obamacare.

They’ve got the repeal part down. Since the law was approved in 2010, Congressional Republicans have voted more than 60 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act. It’s the replace part that has them stumped. They offered no alternative in the past, and haven’t yet figured out what to put in its place.

It should be noted that all those votes were taken to repeal the law when GOP lawmakers weren’t actually in a position to make it happen. They were merely posturing. Now they are in control of both houses of Congress and will be working with a Republican president who says he’s committed to repealing and replacing Obamacare. There’s nothing standing in their way anymore. Except for the politically uncomfortable fact that only about a quarter of Americans want to see the law repealed. And that pesky business of coming up with something to replace it with.

If the new Congress and the new inhabitants of the White House are bound and determined to repeal and replace Obamacare, then do it right. Do it in a way that makes health care more accessible and affordable. Do it in a way that makes the health care system less bureaucratic and brings down administrative overhead costs. Here’s how. Repeal the law, then roll the existing Medicare and Medicaid programs into one and call it Americare. Make every American eligible for it. No one would be forced to enroll. If you want to continue to buy private insurance, you should be free to do so. But Americare would be there for everyone who wants it.

Two federal programs and their accompanying bureaucracies as well as the federal infrastructure devoted to administering the Affordable Care Act and its insurance exchanges would be brought under a single roof, making the federal health care system more streamlined and efficient. Medicare provides a sturdy foundation upon which to build Americare. Medicare is well established and widely supported by the seniors it serves, so popular that one of the signs most commonly seen at Tea Party rallies carried the message “Keep Government Out of My Medicare” or some variation on that theme.

Any program that has earned that kind of loyalty from Tea Partyers and is so highly valued by the nation’s elderly should be made available to Americans of all ages. All Americans should be allowed to benefit from the fact that Medicare does a far better job of controlling costs and is much more administratively efficient than the rest of the U.S. health care system.

Our country is ranked at or near the bottom in the developed world in the efficiency and effectiveness of health care. We spend more and get less. We can do better. Way better.

Out with Obamacare. In with Americare.

— Mike McCabe

Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 January 2017 20:43
 
Wisc Democracy Campaign "Judges for Sale" PDF Print E-mail
Commentary - Commentary
Written by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign   
Friday, 13 January 2017 14:06

judgementJudges weigh in on Supreme Court recural rules, judicial raises, ALEC bill to protect special interests, and GOP efforts to repeal state’s mining moratorium.


MADISON - The corruption in the Wisconsin court system has gotten so bad that 54 former judges this week wrote the Wisconsin Supreme Court, urging the justices to change their permissive rule on recusal. Here’s what they said:

matt-rothschildDozens of retired judges ask Wisconsin Supreme Court for new campaign donor recusal rules

Ironically, the major political players in Wisconsin’s business community, having spent millions of dollars to elect conservative judges, now want you, the Wisconsin taxpayer, to give them a big raise. Talk about chutzpah! And remember, these bigwigs oppose raising the minimum wage for working people.

Here’s what we wrote on this:

Big money groups back pay raise for judges

Wisconsin GOP lawmakers, in hoc to these same bigwigs, have just proposed a new bill that would make it even more difficult to regulate businesses in Wisconsin. This bill is – surprise, surprise! – modeled after one by the American Legislative Exchange Council:

GOP lawmakers offer ALEC bill to protect special interests from regulations

And Senator Tom Tiffany, one of big business’s best friends in the legislature, is proposing a bill to lift the mining moratorium in Wisconsin:

GOP lawmaker wants to repeal state’s mining moratorium

Those in power in Wisconsin are moving fast to reward their campaign contributors and impose their ideology, which says, “Everything private is good, and everything public is bad.” And in Washington, Trump may do to the country what Walker has done to Wisconsin. (Walker has actually urged him to do exactly that!)

So for believers in democracy and clean government, like you and I, this is a trying time.

But I remain hopeful because I know history is not static, and I see so many good people, right here in Wisconsin, doing so much good work behind the scenes and in the streets.

Best,

Matt Rothschild
Executive Director
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

*****

P.S. Tomorrow I’ll be going to the Rally for Immigrant and Refugee Rights in Milwaukee, starting at 11:00 a.m. at 1027 S. 5th St. If you’re near there, I hope you can make it.

Last Updated on Friday, 13 January 2017 14:30
 
Blue Jean Nation "A canary in the castle" PDF Print E-mail
Commentary - Commentary
Written by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation   
Wednesday, 11 January 2017 16:37

canary in coal mineWe have a new president who modeled his gold-plated New York City penthouse after Versailles. Wisconsin is a shadow of its former self. We’ve got so much more in us than we are showing today.


ALTOONA, WI - Heard it said the other day that America is about to have its 45th president and first king. What’s undeniable is a new Gilded Age has dawned. Literally. We have a new president who modeled his gold-plated New York City penthouse after the Palace of Versailles in France, making a mansion as grand as the White House a big step down in terms of luxury.

melania_trump_gold_trump_towerMeanwhile, large segments of the nation’s population are feeling left behind, struggling to make ends meet and watching their standard of living erode. Places like Wisconsin have more than their share of people in this predicament. Wisconsin is to the nation what canaries are to coal miners. What’s been happening to Wisconsin is a signal that there’s something toxic about current conditions in our country.

Wisconsin is a shadow of its former self. Once known as a beacon of clean and open government, that reputation is no longer deserved. Once an industrial powerhouse, the state now leads the nation in shrinkage of the middle class and is dead last in new business start-ups. Long known as “America’s Dairyland,” the state continues to lose farms at an alarming rate. Wisconsin ranks 49th in the nation in Internet speed and has crumbling roads, yet foolishly turned away well over a billion dollars in federal money that could have been used to modernize transportation in the state and expand access to everything from health care to 21st Century information and communications technologies.

Wisconsin proved crucial to Trump’s election, providing him with a narrow victory in a state that hasn’t gone for a Republican for president since 1984. Wisconsin voters didn’t choose Trump because they liked him. He is deeply unpopular in the state. People in these parts have a reputation for “Wisconsin nice.” Nobody is too big for their britches. Nobody acts the way Trump acts and nobody treats people the way Trump treats them.

People here know there is something the matter with the man, something seriously wrong with him. They voted for him anyway because they are desperate. They chose him because they intensely disliked their choices in the election and voted for the candidate they believed was most likely to violently shake up a system they feel is rigged against them. They are hoping against hope for change.

Wisconsin has lost a lot, and its people are starving for a vision of what it can become. The kind of vision that invokes rural traditions like barn raisings to make the point that we are all in this together and need to be there for each other. A vision that speaks to the need to create an economy that is of the people, by the people and for the people . . . an economy where if you work you won’t be poor. A vision that rejects failed feed-the-rich policies that make up what has been described as “trickle-down economics” but should rightly be called “golden shower economics.”

The times cry out for an unwavering commitment to creating living wages, making education as affordable and accessible for our kids and grandkids as past generations made it for us, and bringing high-speed Internet and mobile phone service to every doorstep in Wisconsin. A bright future for Wisconsin is one where no community should have to close a local school, where no small town should have to consider turning paved roads back into gravel because it can’t afford to maintain the pavement, where no one anywhere should turn on a water faucet and be afraid to drink what comes out.

Wisconsin needs to dream. Dream about how to become America’s renewable energy capital. Dream about being a laboratory of democracy again. Dream about how to be first in the nation, like we’ve been so many times before.

Wisconsin is a shadow of its former self. Becoming great again will require the pioneering spirit we used to be known for. That spirit has been missing for some time now. We’ve got so much more in us than we are showing today.

— Mike McCabe

Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 January 2017 16:54
 
Have Veterans Damaged Their Future Health by Voting for Trump? PDF Print E-mail
Commentary - Commentary
Written by Buzz Davis, Army Veteran & Activist   
Saturday, 07 January 2017 14:00

veteranAcross the country, 61% of veterans who voted chose Trump over Clinton. But how will a Trump - Republican administration affect the VA healthcare system which 7 million vets depend on for all or part of their medical care?

Last Updated on Saturday, 07 January 2017 15:00
Read more...
 
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