Friday February 23, 2018

Always Forward with Education & Reason

On John Doe, DAs Deserve Our Thanks! PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign   
Sunday, 01 May 2016 10:01

john-chisolmMADISON - The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign thanks the courageous district attorneys John Chisholm, Ismael Ozanne, and Larry Nelson for appealing the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision in the John Doe II case to the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday.

While the details of their appeal have not been made public yet, there are two solid grounds for the appeal.

The first is that at least a couple of the justices should have recused themselves from the John Doe case because of a conflict of interest.

The four justices on the Wisconsin Supreme Court who dismissed the John Doe investigation concerning alleged coordination between Scott Walker and so-called outside groups were aided enormously by some of the very groups that were party to the John Doe case.

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, Wisconsin Club for Growth, and Citizens for a Strong America—all of which were reportedly embroiled in the John Doe--together spent more than $8 million in support of Justice Patience Roggensack, Justice Annette Ziegler, Justice Michael Gableman, and Justice David Prosser.

ismael-ozanne-daThe second, and even more crucial, basis for an appeal is the fact that the Wisconsin Supreme Court blatantly misread forty years of U.S. Supreme Court precedent on campaign finance.

In tossing out the John Doe II case, the Wisconsin Supreme Court said that the First Amendment prohibits the state of Wisconsin from imposing a ban on coordination between candidates and issue advocacy groups. But dating back to Buckley v. Valeo in 1976 and right on through Citizens United of 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court campaign finance decisions have been predicated on there being no coordination between candidates and issue advocacy groups.

In Buckley, the court ruled that expenditures by outside groups that are coordinated with candidates amount to campaign contributions. “The ultimate effect is the same as if the person had contributed the dollar amount to the candidate and the candidate had then used the contribution,” the court ruled. Such expenditures, it said, should be “treated as contributions rather than expenditures.”

Only the lack of coordination reduces the risk of corruption, the Court stressed in Buckley. “The absence of prearrangement and coordination of an expenditure with the candidate or his agent . . . alleviates the danger that expenditures will be given as a quid pro quo for improper commitments from the candidates.”

larry-nelson-daEven in its infamous Citizens United decision, which allowed independent groups to spend unlimited amounts of money, the U.S Supreme Court stressed that such groups had to be independent; they couldn’t coordinate with their favored candidates: “By definition, an independent expenditure is political speech presented to the electorate that is not coordinated with a candidate.”

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that line. He will be the crucial vote in this case, assuming that the U.S. Supreme Court hears it. And if Justice Kennedy stands by his own reasoning in Citizens United, the district attorneys have an excellent chance of prevailing and getting the John Doe II decision overturned.

That would be a tremendous outcome because unless the John Doe II decision is overturned, we will have little hope in Wisconsin of limiting the corrupting influence of dark money over our politics.

Blue Jean Nation - "Private Academies On The Dole" PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation   
Wednesday, 27 April 2016 15:28

school-closed26 years ago, Wisconsin lawmakers started the Parental Choice Program in Milwaukee, the first Taxpayer-subsidized private schooling. It started with just over 300 students, now there are more than 30,000. Today, private schools are getting 20% more state aid per student than the public schools educating everyone else’s children. Why?

ALTOONA, WI - Some 26 years ago, Wisconsin lawmakers blazed a new trail by creating the nation’s first scholastic welfare program. It started in Milwaukee, expanded to Racine, and then was taken statewide. It started small, with just over 300 students. Now there are more than 30,000 in the program.

It’s officially called the Parental Choice Program. If there were truth in labeling, it would be called what it is: Taxpayer-subsidized private schooling. The small number of families getting the subsidies already had a choice. In fact,most of them were exercising their option to have their children privately schooled before handouts were ever offered.

So here’s what this boils down to: People who showed they have the means to send their children to private schools are now able to continue to send them to private schools but have the rest of us taxpayers pay their tuition for them.

The real kick in the teeth for taxpayers is that the value of the public-funded vouchers for private schooling is considerably higher than the amount of state aid for each student attending a public school in Wisconsin. The state is spending $236 million this school year on the Milwaukee, Racine and statewide “Parental Choice Programs,” and is cutting state aid to public schools by $75 million to help pay for it. Next year, the cost of the vouchers that scholastic welfare recipients receive will rise to $258 million and $83 million will be taken from the public schools to help cover the cost. This year, each voucher is worth $7,210 for elementary and middle school students and $7,856 for high school students. Next year, taxpayers will be picking up the tab to the tune of $7,323 for each elementary and middle school student and $7,969 for each high schooler. Meanwhile, when you look at all the different forms of state aid to public schools, the amount being spent on each of the more than 870,000 students attending public schools is less than $6,000.

Let that sink in for a moment. The private schools serving scholastic welfare recipients are getting roughly 20% more state aid per student than the public schools educating everyone else’s children are getting.

The lobbyists who sold Wisconsin lawmakers on this scheme a quarter of a century ago insisted at the time that the program would create competition and ultimately boost student achievement. It hasn’t. Students getting taxpayer-subsidized private schooling are doing no better than their public school counterparts. If anything, they actually are doing somewhat worse. And that holds true in other states that followed Wisconsin’s lead.

So why does Wisconsin keep throwing good money after bad? Scholastic welfare is a raw deal for taxpayers and a decades-long failure as an educational policy, but it has been very good for the campaign coffers of state politicians.

And why is so much money thrown at politicians to keep expanding a program that has never delivered on its promises? This is all about propping up private and parochial schools whose enrollments have been plummeting nationwide. Sure enough, while private school enrollments in Wisconsin were falling statewide, they were increasing in the counties where the scholastic welfare program was started. Keeping failing private schools alive is the one thing this program has succeeded in doing. That’s why the program was expanded statewide in 2013.

PolitiFact Wisconsin Is Wrong, Carried Interest Is Corrupt PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Democratic Party of Wisconsin, Brandon Weathersby   
Sunday, 24 April 2016 12:00

tammy_baldwinMADISON – This past week, Politifact Wisconsin wrongly gave Senator Tammy Baldwin a "false" rating on statements she made pertaining to closing the carried interest tax loophole." Instead of looking at the big picture, Politifact Wisconsin chose only to see the numbers they wanted.

Fortunately, the group Patriotic Millionaires, a group of millionaires who want reform the tax code so the rich pay their fair share of taxes, did their own analysis and found that Senator Baldwin's statements were correct.

Read Excerpts from the piece below.

pantsonfireThe Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is certainly entitled to their own opinion that millionaires and billionaires shouldn’t be asked to pay their fair share of taxes; after all they have opposed the Buffet Rule, which would do just that. They also can offer their own editorial opinions about tax policy through “politfacts” but one thing that they are not entitled to is their own set of actual facts.

In a recent opinion from the paper’s “Politifact Wisconsin,” they claimed Senator Baldwin made a “false” statement about legislation she has introduced to close the carried interest tax loophole and require the managers of investment partnerships to pay the same tax rates on their income that most American workers pay.

Last Updated on Sunday, 24 April 2016 12:20
"A New Economic Metaphor" - Blue Jean Nation PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation   
Thursday, 21 April 2016 09:40

wallstreetEver since the 1980's, the American economy has been under the spell of "trickle-down economics", a theory that produces feed-the-rich policies. They have made the rich vastly richer, and everyone else’s earnings stagnant. But there’s a geyser ready to blow, if we’re smart enough to shift our attention from supply to demand.

ALTOONA, WI - For close to 40 years now, the American economy has been under the spell of supply-side theory, better known on the streets as trickle-down economics. The theory is that expanding the economy’s capacity to produce more goods is the best way to stimulate economic growth. In practice, that theory produces feed-the-rich policies — such as steep cuts in the income taxes corporations and the wealthiest Americans pay — aimed at encouraging private investment in businesses, production facilities and equipment.

Those policies have worked like a charm in one regard. They have made the rich vastly richer. With everyone else’s earnings stagnating, the gap between America’s rich and the rest has grown dramatically by every statistical measure since trickle-down took hold of our economy. Trickle-down economics has been a colossal failure when it comes to producing shared prosperity. George H.W. Bush called it “voodoo economics” for supercharging the accumulation of national debt, but its biggest sin is that America was growing together before the supply-siders took over and has been growing apart ever since.

There are conspicuous reasons why the only thing trickle-down economics does well is produce income and wealth inequality. Feed the rich and they don’t eat much of what they are fed. They store it away. They amass more wealth. Every dollar added to their net worth is a dollar out of circulation that creates no multiplier effect in the economy. Put more money in the pockets of everyday workers and consumers and they spend it. That creates demand. When someone wants to buy, someone else is eager to sell. The economy is stimulated.

Last Updated on Thursday, 21 April 2016 10:09
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