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Blue Jean Nation 'Wisconsin’s Economy: An about-face in 4 steps' PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation   
Tuesday, 09 May 2017 14:02

skilledworkersFor many, it’s hard to find work that enables you to make ends meet. Change is possible, but it will require us to understand growth and prosperity gush up, they do not trickle down.


ALTOONA, WI - When it comes to Wisconsin’s economy, those in power go to great lengths to direct everyone’s gaze at moderating unemployment in the state. They don’t want to acknowledge or discuss that while it’s possible to find work, for many it’s extremely hard to find work that enables you to make ends meet and stay in the middle class. Persistent stagnation and rising inequality are big parts of the full story of Wisconsin’s economy.

For years now, Wisconsin has depended on an economic development strategy devoted to empowering a few thousand of the wealthiest among us in hopes that some of what they have will trickle down to everyone else. Not much has trickled. At the heart of these feed-the-rich policies are tax breaks targeted to the wealthy and taxpayer-funded subsidies for businesses with few strings attached.

Wisconsin needs to do an about-face. Instead of seeking to empower a few thousand people and then pray they work some magic for the rest of the population, the state should focus on empowering all of the more than 5 million people who live here. This turnabout can be accomplished in four steps.

The first step is to substantially boost wages. That means raising the wage floor and turning the minimum wage into a living wage. The federal minimum wage has been boosted more than 20 different times, and every increase was greeted by claims it would be a jobs killer. Jobs didn’t disappear. In fact, new ones materialized. The national economy grew steadily through every minimum wage increase. And states that increased their own minimum wages have seen faster job growth than those that didn’t. Makes perfect sense, actually. Put more money in workers’ pockets and they don’t pad their net worth with it or stash it in tax havens in Bermuda or the Cayman Islands, they spend it. And that stimulates the economy.

Step two is to restructure Wisconsin’s tax system. When you add up all  the state and local taxes we pay, the wealthiest 1% pay the lowest overall tax rate. That’s gotta change. There’s no need for new taxes, but there is a pressing need to make sure everyone pays the ones we already have. Requiring those in the top 1% to pay their fair share is key to doing something about economic inequality and empowering 5 million people who currently pay a bigger portion of their incomes in taxes.

The third step is to make education and job training as affordable for our kids and grandkids as it was for their parents and grandparents. Debt-free education and training has to be the state’s goal. A high school diploma alone is no longer a sure pathway to the American Dream. Wisconsin needs to clear a path that does not leave young people buried under a mountain of debt.

Step four is equipping every last person living in Wisconsin with indispensable 21st Century tools such as high-speed Internet and access to mobile phone service. Fully participating in the global economy and 21st Century American life is not possible without these tools. Wisconsin is lagging badly in this regard, and failing to catch up is a recipe for further economic stagnation and greater inequality.

An about-face is possible, and it can be done in four steps. But it will require a fundamental change of economic philosophy. Sustainable growth and prosperity gush up, they do not trickle down.

— Mike McCabe

Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 May 2017 14:21
 
Russ Feingold "Our Government May Have No Legitimacy" PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Russ Feingold   
Saturday, 06 May 2017 08:47

russ-gbLEGIT PAC standing up to demand a new Voting Rights Act for the 21st century.


MADISON - Without the right to vote, a democracy has no legitimacy and cannot exist.

Across the United States right now, this vital right is under attack. And it’s undermining our government’s legitimacy as we speak.

When millions of people are denied the right to vote, it means elections don’t reflect the true will of the people. And that means the candidates that win don’t have legitimate authority to govern.

That’s a big problem for all of us. To combat this legitimacy crisis, today we’re standing up to demand a new Voting Rights Act for the 21st century. Will you lend your name?

Sign on today. Demand a new 21st Century Voting Rights Act to combat the legitimacy crisis in our government.

It’s crucially important that we fight for the rights of those who are being denied the ability to vote. It is unfair and unjust.

But we aren’t just fighting for their sake. This is a matter of preserving and restoring the legitimacy of our entire government.

Just as the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965 addressed many of the worst voter suppression tactics of its day, like poll taxes and literacy tests, so must the new 21st Century Voting Rights Act address modern abuses like gerrymandering and racially motivated voter ID laws and felon disenfranchisement.

Show your support for a new 21st Century Voting Rights Act today. Add your name.

Legitimate democracy comes from the people. For every citizen prevented from casting a ballot, our democracy takes a hit. But just as with all good things in a democracy, this one won’t change unless the people demand it.

Thank you for showing your support today,

Russ Feingold

Last Updated on Saturday, 06 May 2017 09:10
 
Health Care Fight Just Getting Started PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Robert Kraig   
Saturday, 06 May 2017 08:23

2017-05-05People from all over Wisconsin are joining with Citizen Action to kill this disastrous bill in the Senate.


MILWAUKEE - Thursday Donald Trump and Paul Ryan forced through the House by the thinnest of margins their morally reprehensible health care bill.

But as long as we keep fighting the battle is far from over. The solution, as it always is in America, is more democracy.

The House would have passed this bill months ago if it was not for the unprecedented outpouring of democratic engagement from citizens like you. If we keep it up, we can kill this disastrous bill in the Senate.

Citizen Action of Wisconsin is leading the fight. We had 4 major rallies across the state during the vote on Thursday and had a big rapid response rally Friday in front of Senator Ron Johnson’s Milwaukee office.

People from all over Wisconsin are joining with Citizen Action in unprecedented numbers.

We need to keep on fighting until we have established health care as a fundamental right in America.

We can continue to organize a powerful opposition if we have the resources.

*****

Make an express donation to fund this effort by clicking here.

 
Shilling On U.S. House AHCA Vote PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Jennifer Shilling, State Senator 32nd District   
Friday, 05 May 2017 16:59

elderlyLA CROSSE, WI - Congressional Republicans voted Thursday to increase health care premiums, limit coverage and enact an age tax on older Americans.

Republican efforts to shift costs onto vulnerable families while giving massive tax breaks to the wealthy demonstrates a clear moral divide. The AHCA is a boon for insurance executives, drug companies and the wealthy at the expense of Wisconsin families and seniors.

shilling-speaksI am shocked that Gov. Scott Walker and Legislative Republicans would support this dangerous plan that will impact thousands of families and seniors in our state. Wisconsin families suffering from serious illnesses, individuals with preexisting conditions and older adults living on a fixed income will lose coverage through no fault of their own. The human cost of this bill is tragic.

I want to thank Congressman Ron Kind (WI-3) for his steadfast opposition to the AHCA and his vote against this dangerous proposal. I encourage individuals who want to express their opposition to the AHCA to call Sen. Ron Johnson at (202) 224-5323 and Sen. Tammy Baldwin at (202) 224-5653.

In scoring the AHCA, the Congressional Budget Office reported 24 million Americans will lose their health care coverage by 2026. It is estimated that at least 311,000 Wisconsin residents will lose their health care coverage under the Republican plan. Thousands more will face increased costs and reduced coverage of vital health services.

****

Wisconsin Senate Democratic Leader Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) released this statement Thursday following the vote.

 
Grassroots Groups Come Together in Defense of the Waters of Wisconsin PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Criste Greening   
Monday, 01 May 2017 08:58

lake_kegonsa_wiElected officials are sworn to uphold the Wisconsin state constitution. Voting in favor of SB 76 that endangers the Public Trust Doctrine is in direct violation of their oath of office.

Last Updated on Monday, 01 May 2017 16:36
Read more...
 
Larson on Recognizing Workers’ Memorial Day PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Chris Larson, State Senator, District 7   
Saturday, 29 April 2017 13:21

unionworkersWorkers’ Memorial Day is a day to remember workers who have been killed by incidents or illnesses caused by their work.


MADISON - Across the state and nation, services were held to honor workers who lost their lives or were seriously injured due to a workplace incident and to stand in solidarity with Wisconsin workers.

Wisconsin’s tradition of fighting for fair treatment and safe working conditions run deep in our history. From our factory workers, nurses, and firefighters to construction workers and teachers, these are the everyday heroes who help shape our future, keep us safe, and drive our economy.

All of our neighbors deserve to go to work each day knowing they have security and protection from preventable tragedies. Unfortunately, the GOP has continually betrayed these values. For instance, despite the facts from other states that show repealing prevailing wage protections drives down wages, promotes the outsourcing of workers, lowers productivity levels, decreases workplace safety, and limits access to health care, Republican still chose to gut this worker protection in the last state budget. Now, they have gone so far as to introduce a bill to complete their repeal of prevailing wage laws, further harming Wisconsin workers.

The right to organize, receive fair treatment, and work in safe conditions are fundamental values that we, as Americans, hold. We must recommit to these core principles if we want America to be a place of opportunity, fairness, and freedom. We must keep working together to improve and enforce workplace safety standards in order to ensure safe and secure communities. I hope my Republican colleagues take this Workers’ Memorial Day as an opportunity to stand with Democrats in supporting hardworking Wisconsinites from every corner of the state.

*****

Senator Chris Larson issued this statement regarding Friday’s recognition of Workers’ Memorial Day. Workers’ Memorial Day is a day to remember workers who have been killed by incidents or illnesses caused by their work and is also the day the Occupational Safety and Health Administration was established in 1971. This day also serves as a reminder that there is much more to be done to ensure everyone has a safe work environment.

 
Wisc Democracy Campaign "Another Koch group comes to Wis!" PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign   
Saturday, 29 April 2017 10:42

matthew_rothschildMADISON - A huge Texas-based think tank, funded by the Koch Brothers, just set up shop in Wisconsin, as Mike Buelow, our ace researcher, found out this week:

Koch-backed Texas group lobbying in Wisconsin

Meanwhile, legislators in Madison have been up to their same old tricks this week:

GOP bill goes after local control on wheel taxes

Authors of bill coddling polluters get $ from manufacturers

As for me, I went back up to the State Capitol this week to testify in favor of a good, sensible bill that would require lawyers to disclose any donation to a judge or justice while that judge or justice is hearing their case. Here’s what I said:

WDC supports bill requiring more judicial donor transparency

Really, who could be against such a bill? Well, for one, Representative Samantha Kerkman seemed hostile to it. I’ll try to let you know who else when the final votes are cast.

Have a nice weekend.

Best,

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

****

Check out the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign at www.wisdc.org

 
Larson Pushes Right to Internet Privacy PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Chris Larson, State Senator, District 7   
Thursday, 27 April 2017 20:29

chris_larsonMADISON – The reasonable expectation of privacy and the right to protect our sensitive personal information is a right important to all Wisconsinites. With the federal government recently reversing course on implementing common sense FCC Internet privacy rules designed to address the capture and use of a customer’s personal information by an internet provider, state governments have an urgent responsibility to step in to protect the privacy rights of our neighbors.

uw-mdsnIf enacted, the Internet Privacy Act would protect consumers by prohibiting an internet service provider from using, disclosing, or permitting access to a customer’s proprietary information unless the customer approves of the data usage. Additionally, this bill would offer stronger protections for sensitive personal information, such as financial or health information or information pertaining to a child. For non-sensitive information, the customer must object to the provider’s request to use, disclose, or permit access to that information. The bill also prohibits providers from refusing to provide coverage to a customer because they do not grant approval to use information.

The Internet Privacy Act would allow those wishing to protect their privacy the opportunity to do so. Making sure our neighbors can protect their privacy should be a bipartisan priority, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to recognize and safeguard that right for each of our neighbors.

****

Senator Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) issued this statement regarding the circulation of LRB 3273, the Internet Privacy Act, for co-sponsorship. The deadline for legislators to sign on to the bill is Friday, April 28.

Last Updated on Friday, 28 April 2017 10:03
 
Blue Jean Nation 'Wisconsin’s biggest problem' PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation   
Thursday, 27 April 2017 15:19

wisconsin-rustedIn recent years, Wisconsin appears to have lost its ambition to be first or best. Roads are going to hell, we rank 49th in Internet speed. We’re lagging badly in renewable energy development and jobs. Recovery starts with wanting to be a state of firsts again.

Last Updated on Thursday, 27 April 2017 15:45
Read more...
 
WI Democracy Campaign 'Inspiring/Appalling' PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign   
Friday, 21 April 2017 10:48

madison_capitolReferendum to overturn Citizens United, hate Jill Stein bill is bad, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, and more...


MADISON - I spent a lot of time in the State Capitol in Madison this week, and some of it was inspiring and some of it was appalling.

matt-rothschildOn the inspiring side, I attended a terrific press conference on Wednesday, where Rep. Lisa Subeck and Sen. David Hansen discussed the legislation they were introducing for a statewide referendum on amending the U.S. Constitution to overturn Citizens United. Grassroots organizers from around the state held up hand-made signs saying how popular the vote was in their communities for just such an amendment. Here’s our post on this:

Why we need a statewide referendum to help overturn Citizens United

On the appalling side, I attended a hearing on a lousy bill to limit the ability of candidates to call for a recount, even if they agreed to pay for it, and I was astonished by how rude the Republican legislators on the committee were to their Democratic counterparts, whose questions repeatedly were interrupted or cut off. Here’s the testimony I gave on this bill:

Why the “We Hate Jill Stein” bill is bad

Also appalling in the Capitol this week was an effort by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce to torpedo a good bill brought by Republican Sen. Robert Cowles that would help homeowners pay to replace their lead water pipes. God forbid we help homeowners deal with a public health hazard!

WMC opposes bill to help you get rid of lead pipes

And finally, I went to the Wisconsin Supreme Court this morning to watch the justices debate whether they should pass a tighter recusal rule. I was disgusted by what I saw:

Hack job at high court in Wisconsin on recusal petition

But back to the inspiring side of the ledger: It’s Earth Day on Saturday! I’m looking forward to all the celebrations and protests, and I hope you can join in, too.

Best,

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

P.S. Please send us a tax-deductible donation to support our urgent work. Just click here. Or mail it in the old-fashioned way: Make the check out and send to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign at the below address. Thanks!

 
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