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Blue Jean Nation - "Private Academies On The Dole" PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
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
Commentary
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
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"A New Economic Metaphor" - Blue Jean Nation PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
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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"From Me to We" - Blue Jean Nation PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation   
Tuesday, 19 April 2016 11:34

jfk_looking_upJFK asked us to serve our country, but we Americans have been mostly asking what our country can do for us since at least the 1980s. Republican politics especially has been of the “me first” variety. Is it time to ask what we can do for our country again?


ALTOONA, WI - For the last several decades, American politics has been “me politics.” Reflecting on the famous line in John F. Kennedy’s 1961 inaugural address, it’s hard not to notice that we Americans have been mostly asking what our country can do for us since at least the 1980s.

In their own ways, both major parties mirror the self-centeredness of the modern American psyche.

Republican politics has been of the “me first” variety, focusing on how best to enable the most ambitious and enterprising and ruthless and privileged among us to elbow their way to the front of the line. The result has been heretofore unimagined levels of prosperity for some, but also grotesque levels of income and wealth inequality.

Democratic politics has been of the “me too” kind, concentrating on getting previously excluded or disadvantaged segments of the population more rights and opportunities. As a result, historic advances have been made in such areas as civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights and disability rights. The gains have not come without a cost to Democrats as they have lost much of their appeal to blue collar Americans, especially working class white men.

Two generations worth of emphasis on individual advancement and self fulfillment have been both good and bad. Americans have grown more equal in some ways, more unequal in others. Some have prospered, others have been left behind. Many have finally secured a seat at the table, which is good. America is more divided and politically polarized than it has been in a very long time, which is not.

What “me politics” has done for us and to us is striking and significant, but equally striking is what is missing and can only be provided by a resurgence of “we politics.”

The list of missing things is long, but here are three in need of resuscitation for starters:

  • Public service. Doing for others at personal sacrifice has fallen out of fashion. Even serving in elective office now smacks of self dealing more than at perhaps any other time in our nation’s history, evidenced by the revolving door between Congress and the lucrative lobbying trade. The same game is on prominent display in statehouses across the country. True public service is not a training program to prepare for plum jobs paying six- and seven-figure salaries.
  • Mutual support. Being there for each other takes many forms. Neighbors helping neighbors. Communities pulling together. Service to country. This ethic is at the heart of “we politics.”
  • Common good. Me politics is about private interests. What is yours and what is mine. We politics is about the public interest and what is ours. It cultivates an understanding that we’re all in this together and we need each other. That understanding prompts us to act in ways that enrich the commonwealth. Such action has become too rare.

For a long time now, American politics has been me politics. Change is in the air. You can feel it. But we won’t move from me to we automatically. It has to be done consciously and will take concerted effort. It’s time to ask what we can do for our country again.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 April 2016 14:59
 
There Are Difficulties for Some to Obtain an ID to Vote PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District   
Friday, 15 April 2016 12:55

voter-idWhile it is not an undue burden for most people to obtain a valid photo ID to vote, it is too difficult for some people. Voting is a right for every eligible person, and no political party should place barriers in front of those who want to vote.

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Prisoners and the Right to Vote PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign   
Friday, 15 April 2016 09:34

jail-prisonMADISON - On Tuesday, I went to UW-Milwaukee to give a lecture about an under-appreciated aspect of our undemocratic system: the disenfranchisement of prisoners and former prisoners. In researching this talk, I discovered just how blatantly racist the policy has always been:

Felon disenfranchisement, then and now

In our never-ending sorrow at the demise of the Government Accountability Board, our worst fears have been confirmed: Partisans from both sides are being appointed to the new state ethics and elections commissions. This week, it was Peter Barca’s turn:

Barca’s appointees contributed $107K to Democrats

And as we look back at the legislative session, one hypocrisy jumped out at us. Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce talks all the time about the need for a highly educated workforce, but it didn’t put any of its money where its mouth is:

WMC, business groups AWOL on higher ed bills

Last Updated on Friday, 15 April 2016 11:16
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Russ Feingold on Wisconsin’s Opioid Crisis PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Russ Feingold   
Friday, 15 April 2016 08:52

prescription_drugsMIDDLETON, WI - The opioid crisis is a tragedy that ravages our communities, and it should never be a partisan issue. Addiction is a disease that we have to address comprehensively – that means treatment, prevention, and education.

So I am encouraged that leaders like Sen. Tammy Baldwin are fighting for bipartisan solutions that prioritize treatment & recovery, expand access to naloxone, and seek to strengthen monitoring of prescription medications.

What we cannot do is repeat the failures of the war on drugs. We can’t wish the problem away. More of our leaders need to step up to work in a bipartisan manner to provide our communities with the resources that our families truly need in order to reach those afflicted by this crisis. This is a public health emergency and must be treated as such.

 
Russ Feingold Statement on Equal Pay Day PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Russ Feingold   
Tuesday, 12 April 2016 10:59

womenMIDDLETON, WI - Women have played an invaluable role in growing and strengthening Wisconsin’s economy; their hard work, dedication and ingenuity have built strong families, businesses and communities. Yet, women still lack the legal protection to guarantee the pay they deserve.

Equal Pay Day marks how far into the year women on average have to work to catch up to men’s earnings from the previous year. Women in Wisconsin still earn only 79 cents for every dollar a man earns, and we clearly have much more work to do to ensure that women and their families have every opportunity to succeed. We not only need equal pay legislation, but we must also raise the minimum wage, guarantee paid family leave, and ensure access to quality, affordable women’s healthcare -- including access to reproductive care.

Unlike my opponent, the incumbent senator, who believes that equal pay legislation does “more harm than good,” I firmly believe that we must do more to ensure that all of Wisconsin’s women are able to fight pay discrimination. All of the hardworking women in Wisconsin and across the country deserve the respect and dignity of their work.

 
Republican Voter Suppression Exposed PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Lena Taylor, State Senator, 4th District   
Sunday, 10 April 2016 11:27

voter-idMILWAUKEE - On April 5th at a Republican Election Night party, Congressman Glenn Grothman was asked why he thought Republican’s will win in the upcoming presidential election. He said, “…And now we have photo ID, and I think photo ID is going to make a little bit of a difference as well."

It didn’t surprise me that he thought voter ID would suppress enough Democratic votes to make the difference in a presidential election. But it did surprise me that he’d actually said it out loud… to a reporter… on camera.

On the same day, a former GOP Senate staff member, Todd Allbaugh, dropped a bomb on Facebook. Here’s what a man who was in the room to hear the “private” discussion about the motives behind voter ID had to say:

“You wanna know why I left the Republican Party as it exists today? Here it is; this was the last straw: I was in the closed Senate Republican Caucus when the final round of multiple Voter ID bills were being discussed. A handful of the GOP Senators were giddy about the ramifications and literally singled out the prospects of suppressing minority and college voters…”

Yup, you read it right. Behind closed doors, Republican Senator’s discussed an elaborate plan to deny people their constitutional right to vote and they were giddy about it.

lena-taylorOn the floor of the State Senate, I fought for ensuring people’s right to vote. Since 2000, there are only 10 proven cases nationally of in-person voter fraud. More people are struck by lightning than commit in-person voter fraud.

That’s why I believe voter ID laws will keep way more people from even going to the polls on Election Day than it ever catches. Several years ago Republicans figured out that people of color and college students were most likely to not have proper ID for voting.

You know what else college students and people of color have in common? They are both groups that are more likely to vote for Democrats than Republicans. Republicans didn’t believe they could win fair and square, so they had to rig the rules.

Only, this isn’t a game, this is people’s constitutional right to vote. The discriminatory voter ID law is ageist and racist, period.

See more of Todd Allbaughs story on my Facebook page.

 
Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce and the Supreme Court Race PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign   
Wednesday, 30 March 2016 16:57

rebecca-bradleyMADISON - For the past few months, we’ve been checking, almost every day, to see when Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce was going to start spending money on behalf of Judge Rebecca Bradley in her race against Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg for the Wisconsin Supreme Court. But we’ve found nothing, which is very puzzling.

One answer to the puzzle may be that WMC is funneling its dough through a dark-money group, as we discuss here:

joanne-kloppenburgIs WMC hiding its $$ in the Wisconsin Supreme Court race?

For a look at all the independent groups, including PACs and bogus “issue ad” groups, that are throwing money around in this race on both sides, just click here:

Hijacking Campaign 2016 updated with new independent spending

And for a look at the biggest individual donors to both candidates, check out this posting:

GOP, Democratic donors continue to give big to high-court candidates

Aside from this Supreme Court contest, and the Presidential race, there is one other important bit of balloting on April 5: In 11 communities in Wisconsin, citizens can vote on referendums to amend the U.S. Constitution to proclaim that corporations aren’t persons and money is not speech. See if your community is on the list here:

Vote to overturn Citizens United on April 5 in Wisconsin!

In any case, please vote in this election. You can still do early voting, also known as in-person absentee voting, this week at your city clerk’s office. Early voting closes at 5 p.m. or the close of business for the municipal clerk (whichever is later) on Friday. Or please show up at your regular polling place on Tuesday. And if you don’t know where that is, just fill out your address here:

https://myvote.wi.gov/Address/AddressSearchScreen.aspx

Last Updated on Wednesday, 30 March 2016 17:25
 
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